Nate Sanders previews the men’s side of indoor nationals and predicts what’ll go down in Scotland this weekend.
14 of the teams at Division 1 this year competed at this event last year. The new arrivals are LJMU, Exeter, Heriot Watt, Swansea, Imperial and Leicester. All of last years top eight are returning to the fold this time around. We’re going to take a little look at who’s coming, what to expect and an outrageously ungrounded prediction.
Bath are consistently challenging at this tournament but regularly fall short of a top-three finish. This year could well be different, with more GB experience than you can shake a stick at and the self-proclaimed “best indoor player in UK Ultimate” Andrew Sweetman still to be added to the male half of the mixed roster that performed so well at UXIN this year, the boys in blue will be well on for a medal this time around.
Exeter are having a good year after narrowly missing out on Division 1 last year they have had a resurge for this season, coming a comfortable second behind Bath at regionals they’ll no doubt put a good showing in at nationals but the top eight spots may be just out of reach this time around.
UWE have qualified for Division 1 for the second year in a row. They didn’t finish that highly last year but had notable wins against Sussex and Manchester showing they can play with the big boys. I imagine they’ll struggle to adapt to the bigger fields and the rubber crumb, but they have the talent to produce an upset if they catch a team off guard.
I’m sure nobody is surprised to see Durham up in Division 1 Nationals. With access to players like Will Collier (SMOG), Steve Gillman (GB Open) & Callum Mcgowan (He’s quite good) who have been playing together for several seasons now, you’d expect these boys to be up there.
Liverpool John Moores, on the back of what has been a good season, they will again be competing at Division 1 this season. They’ll be relying on key players Ben Oliver and Tom Jackson to steady the ship if they want to compete at this tournament. A good performance at regionals and a respectable placing at UXIN, I think they’ll be likely to upset someone’s weekend.
Yorkshire & East Midlands
Loughborough have qualified two teams to indoor Nationals this year seeing their second team claim a spot in Division 2. They’ll bring the usual Loughborough athleticism, characteristic weave and unnecessary amount of lefty scoobers but even if you expect it, you’ll still struggle to keep them out for too long. History shows they’ll have a good Saturday and then lose a quarter final so expect to see these boys in the 5v6.
West & Wales
Swansea will be pleased to be at this event but without much big tournament experience the weight of Division 1 will likely be too much for them. They’ll be relying on product of Junior Ultimate Ryan Kapma to put a shift in if they want to win games.
Birmingham are an athletic group of guys, lead on pitch by an athletic anomaly, Isaac Davis. Playing frisbee together is one of their favourite past times along-side the occasional spot of bird watching. Despite some big losses thanks to recent graduations, Birmingham never fail to provide a strong output.
Warwick are no strangers to indoor nationals. With players like Adam Carver and Dan Wilson they’ll be able to challenge well at this tournament. Having played their regionals on a 3G pitch they’ll have had a good chance to feel out their offence on the different style of pitch and that will stand them in good stead ahead of the tournament.
South East & London
Sussex struggled last year at UMIN leaving themselves in the bottom of their initial pool only finishing above fellow south east counterpart Surrey. After a more respective 10th place finish at UXIN they may be able to pick themselves up this time around
Surrey boasts a lot of young talent including recent U24’s Tom Davies and Jonah from Bears. They will be alongside new signing from Swansea, Ross Hurley, who will add a big aerial threat. After a lacklustre outing at UXIN finishing 18th at UXIN and 20th at UMIN last year. Surrey will have something to prove on the trip to Edinburgh.
UCL have remained strong after the big loss of Axel and CJ Colicchio who brought them into the spotlight last year. They’re showing a real display of depth in their squad as they barely seem to be feeling the departures.
With an outrageous (but not undeserved) five spots at Division 1 we will be seeing a lot of Scotland at this event. Scotland always have a strong showing at UMIN and with the home-turf advantage this year we’re all expecting big things from them especially locals Edinburgh.
Strathclyde dominate this event year after year, and I’d be surprised after their showing at regionals if we didn’t see that again. The Dark Horses are my favourite for a Gold medal, consistently sitting at the very top of UK Ultimate, they certainly have the class to see out nationals in a familiar setting.
Edinburgh, with a tidy second place at UXIN (Division 2) they’ve got a lot of ability and experience on the spacious 3G Pitches. Lochlan Fisher stands out amongst other less easily recognisable athletic talent and they will be difficult for any team to contain. The home turf will likely see this team battle it out for a Semi-Final.
Glasgow have suffered a lot of graduations which means that only two of last year’s bronze medalists remain in the squad for this year; not helped by captain Iain Cambell who will be missing out due to a concussion. Expect to see some fresher faces on this Glasgow team but they will be punctuated with players like Joel Terry, of recent U24 and Alba fame, so they’ll still be competing in the top half of this tournament.
The rest of Scotland is a mystery to me, but I’d expect Heriot-Watt and St Andrews to both perform relatively well as they usually do.
The Fight for not bottom
The remaining teams in the division (Sheffield, Leicester, Imperial) I think will struggle to compete with some of the other big teams and may find themselves coming a long way for some losses, either that or I don’t have a good understanding of their ability but I’d rather make a guess than ask for help.