Another preview ahead of WUCC, this time it’s Chevron. Sean Colfer has his say on how they look going into the tournament.
How did they get here?
Chevron Action Flash have been the second-best team in the UK for eight of the last ten years, finishing third in 2012 and fourth in 2009 – although they did win the European title in 2009. That kind of consistency is incredibly impressive for a team that has based (and prided) itself on bringing in players from the Junior ranks and giving them important roles in an elite team. Established in 1995, they’ve become a fixture of UK and European Ultimate despite the core of the team leaving and moving around – they were once based in Manchester but now primarily train in the midlands.
Chevron finished last season as runners-up at Nationals, giving Clapham a firm test in the first half, leading the whole way until Clapham broke for an 8-7 lead to take half. After that, things went slightly awry for Chev as Clapham won the second half 7-4, taking the title once again with a 15-11 win. That still meant that Chevron qualified for both EUCF and WUCC, and they went on to finish 13th at Euros after losing to Freespeed (Switzerland) and Ragnarok (Denmark) in knockout play.
How has this season been?
This season has been notable by the fact that they’ve managed to beat Clapham twice. True, it was against split squads at Tour 1, but still, they beat Clapham’s O line and then their D line in order to take home the Tour 1 trophy, a huge confidence boost for the team ahead of Worlds. In those games, their defensive intensity really shone through and some adjustments made to the O line seemed to work wonders. They skipped Tour 2 in order to train with bigger objectives in mind, so we haven’t seen them domestically since that win.
They were at Windmill too, where they had another strong showing. They lost in sudden death to CUSB La Fotta (Italy) and FUJ (Czechia) but went through to knockouts after beating Ragnarok and Freespeed. They avenged their defeat against FUJ in the quarters, defeating them 15-13 after allowing FUJ to level the game up at 13-13. They ran into CUSB again in the semis, and fell 15-9 at the second time of asking. CUSB are the second-best team in Europe at the moment, so there’s certainly no disgrace there. They finished out fourth after losing another rematch to Ragnarok in sudden death – that’s three teams they played twice in the tournament. Fourth in a high-quality field is a nice way to launch into WUCC.
How do they play?
Chevron have played the same kind of style for years. Their handlers are excellent at keeping the disc moving, getting traction on the break side and wearing out handler marks with quick give-and-go cuts. One thing they have struggled with in the past, though, is the big gains that make the game easier for handlers – when the offence relies so much on the handlers working so hard it’s a real grind all the way through a high-level tournament. They’ve been better at that this season, though, having added handler Joe Wynder and moved receiver Rollo Sax-Dixon to the O line. The offence can become bogged down a little at times, and the handlers can hold on to the disc for a little too long which helps the defence set, but generally there are enough athletes here to give anyone a stern test. The big concern for this O line is getting the disc back if they turn over – there are some excellent defenders on the line (Ben Burak and Rollo Sax-Dixon in particular) but they have struggled at times against top teams to wrest control of a point back from their opponents.
Defensively, Chevron play a physical brand of Ultimate. Their man marking is very tight and they’ll go for a lot of bids, while they manage to get bodies under deep shots. They have a fair few very tall, very fast and very active defenders on this team and that makes using the deep game against them a risk. They’ll mix things up with zones as well, usually a cup with three or four players up front restricting handler space. Their D line offence is a real key for them, with some really experienced players mixed with some younger guys in their first Worlds tournament. Marrying the two will be the challenge, but the raw ingredients are here for a stifling D.
Can you give me three players to watch?
As with the other teams, there are some players of great experience on this Chevron squad. The three I’ll choose are all going to be crucial elements of the O line:
Burak is one of the best players in the UK. He’s able to do every job on the field at a very high level; he’s an excellent defensive player who excels at staying close to his mark and challenging catches without making contact or fouling, he’s an excellent offensive player who can get free at will and make any throw in the book, and he’s a very intelligent player with excellent field awareness. He’s a key cog in the Chev O, and if needed he’ll switch lines to get a key block. One to watch for the next few years.
One of the things that every team needs is deep receivers who work selflessly and tirelessly to open the field up for everyone else. Nick is one such receiver, as evidenced by some of the highlights he’s created already this year. He’s one of the quickest players in the country and is able to chase down hucks that look impossible to catch, as well as go up and take down difficult catches under intense defensive pressure. He’s a strong defensive player too, something that gives his line a much-needed boost.
Joe is in his first year with Chevron but isn’t a stranger to those in UK Ultimate circles. Previously with EMO, as well as two GB under-23 teams (leading the Mixed division in assists in 2015), he is a handler who opens up the entire field with his throwing ability. Blessed with some of the biggest throws in world Ultimate, he can hit any of his receivers anywhere on the field at any time – something he did to great effect at Tour 1 and at Windmill. The flick huck is particularly dangerous, but really any open deep receiver can expect a catch on a plate if Joe’s on the disc.
What do they say?
Tom Martin-Hall, one of the captains of Chevron this season, said: “The team is feeling strong and confident that we’ve prepared as well as we could have. We’ll lean on all the graft we’ve put in up to this point to overcome difficult situations that we will no doubt face during WUCC. As for our aims, we’ll keep them close to our chest for now.”
How are they going to do?
Chevron finished outside the top 16 last time around in 2014 and will be looking to right that wrong. They have a relatively friendly pool to start with – yes, Doublewide is a really difficult match but outside of the Texans, Chev will fancy their chances. Otso finished ninth at Euros last season but finished 12th at Windmill, while Relempagos from the Dominican Republic are something of an unknown. PELT will be bringing some players who haven’t played with the team for long so they’ll have a pick-up feel which won’t be of huge concern, despite the obvious talent they possess.
If Chevron finish second in their pool, they’ll move on to play against General Strike, the second-best team in Canada, and either Flying Angels Bern (Switzerland) or Juggernaut, the second-best team in Australia, in power pools. It’s really tough to predict who’d win out in those games, but I would probably slot Chev in at third in the power pool – either way, they’d be in a playoff for the top 16. That game would be against someone like Wildcats (New Zealand), Euforia (Colombia) or even Devon. Assuming they won, they’d be facing the loser between GOAT (Canada) and Colony (Australia) for a space in the top eight. The division gets very difficult, very quickly.
Overall, they could be facing a much tougher route. I think they’ll finish in the top 16 this time around, having learned lessons from the last few years and prepared well this year. Still, I don’t see a quarter-final spot coming their way. I’ll say that Chevron will finish 15th.