UKU Mixed Tour 2 North Preview

Josh Coxon Kelly previews this weekend’s Mixed Tour 2 action taking place in Durham.

And just like that, spring is in full swing and the UK club season is underway. Cardiff rewarded travellers with shockingly mild conditions that, save a few slips and slides, would be tough to complain about at any UK event. The wild combination of WUCC preparations, first tournament of the year, and a schedule that started with an element of chance and encouraged big jumps all contributed towards a thrilling opening Tour that brought big shocks as well as some business seemingly as usual.

Firstly – it’s clear from a brief look at results who had a really great tournament. York City Ultimate leapt up seven seeds to start at 22nd for MT2, whilst also posting very solid spirit scores of 10.5 overall. Flyght Club and Nemesis also managed to hurdle at least four seeds whilst posting high spirit scores, with Flyght Club placing second in spirit overall at 11.50, and the most spirited team from MT1 to enter MT2.

Reading A were only bested once throughout the weekend, by Guildford in a gripping pool matchup that suggests Guildford’s lack of seed change to be a potential understatement of their potential going up to Durham. Despite a suspiciously low seeding, nobody will have been too shocked to see Reading A climb a huge nine places for a dramatic Tour victory. The team played with a style and confidence that bodes well given the challenges ahead. Whilst a flat 10 spirit score isn’t grave in absolute terms, it is relatively low compared to teams returning from Tour 1, and presents good opportunity for improvement in Durham. SMOG 2 posted a performance that can draw parallels, climbing an impressive 10 seeds and averaging 10.20 (albeit with only five spirit submissions). This is an ascent matched only by Cambridge 1, and will help soothe the sting that SMOKE and MIST will have felt, dropping down by six and one respectively and arguably underperforming compared to expectations across the board.

Disappointing tournaments were also had ranking-wise for Deep Space, Brighton Breezy and Black Eagles, who all dropped at least four places. Solace will be provided with solid to excellent spirit performances for all of these teams but the Eagles. Tripped up early into the weekend by a star-studded Flat Perth who had nothing to lose, Black Eagles will be looking for a wholesale turnaround in Durham. The location is only going to help with this; the Scottish teams have come out in force. Eagles are splitting into two, Glasgow are sending at least two squads and the ever underrated Sneeekys are coming with two teams as well. SMOG are showing their depth by adding a fourth group, ensuring that the overall team list, whilst smaller compared to Cardiff, is no less competitive.

Schedule-wise, it’s a savage one for those outside the top eight with no way of getting in, and a lot of Sunday movement from fifth seed down. A peer-pool top eight and straight-to-semis format will be familiar to Open players who have spent time in the endless yo-yo of A/B Tour promotion and relegation zones, and the feeling of being outside looking in that comes with this. The benefits are clear for all, especially the WUCC teams who should only have rock-solid matchups throughout the weekend. For those squeezed out of the elite groups on this occasion, there remains a very good reason to get themselves up there for the future which can only be a good thing for development.

SMOG, Relentless and University of Sheffield legend Tessa Hunt with a signature grab. Photo by Alice Hanton.

I’ve been lambasted by a certain other co-editor of tSG to make the mistake that is committing to some sort of seer-like predictions for outcomes of the weekend. Rather than provide a tentative ranking with caveats, I thought I’d take the bait in full (Ed’s note).

SMOKE are going to take Pool A, partly because Reading A have taken the chance to use their high seeding to work on undernourished player connections, and practise new strategies at a high level. This will see Reading place third in the pool, behind Glasgow who will want to keep the Eagles down and will be raring to go after missing Cardiff. Over in Pool B, all teams will hold seed. Hucks, buzzing from their finals run will continue their huck-driven dominance. Cambridge and Herd will push hard, but neither will swim upstream. The SMOKE vs. Eagles semi will be the game of the weekend, with SMOKE edging it to face Hucks in the final after Glasgow run out of steam and luck in their semi-final. SMOKE, still smoldering from their Cardiff results will use their depth to win fairly comfortably (after a close first half, of course) in the final. Both Reading teams will float towards the top of the 5v12, with a resurgent Deep Space taking the chance to leapfrog local rivals Thundering Herd (sorry Sean) (Ed’s note). Guildford do well on the Sunday also, and take at least one more surprise scalp. Lastly, and nowhere near least, spirit scores average at 11 for the tournament against a traditional Durham backdrop of 17 degrees, 5mph winds, and dry. Offence weather.
Feature photo by Andrew Moss.