Matthew “Smatt” Hodgson starts his tSG career off with a quick preview of #ukumt1.
With teams attempting to prepare for the World Club Championships this year, the Tour will feel simultaneously significant and insignificant. Whilst results won’t “matter”, the worlds teams will want to prepare as best they can and notch some wins against the other teams going, and the teams not going to worlds will be eager to cause some upsets. (Note: as far as I’ve seen, the qualification method for EUCF in Frankfurt hasn’t been announced).
Below is an analysis of the top 10 seeded teams for UKU Mixed Tour 1 this weekend in Cardiff.
Teams going to WUCC
Bear Cavalry: The focus for Bears is worlds. They have retained almost the entire squad from the European Championship winning team, brought in D line contributors, and comfortably handled business at Winter League (not conceding more than 5 points in a game). The Bears are out to win the tour and continue their legacy as a mixed powerhouse on their route to WUCC.
Cambridge: have taken the interesting decision to split their worlds team between O and D lines for Mixed tour 1 (and possibly beyond?). Whilst this will undoubtedly provide plenty of exposure to the highest level of mixed ultimate across the roster, and get more game time and grow connections along the two lines, I see them losing some games on the decision as well. Having said that, with this long to go before WUCC, losses likely won’t provide as much of a sting if the progression is there.
Royal Goaltimate Society: did not enter Nationals or Euros last year due to their players prioritising open and women’s, despite winning tour. You can’t argue with the results of the respective open/women’s clubs results, but it means they have had to re-tool this offseason and therefore have not had as much time to gain team cohesion. The core of RGS this year appears to be Ka-Pow! guys and SYC girls, which are arguably two of the better teams in the Open/Women’s divisions to not be attending worlds, and therefore there will be pockets of team cohesion throughout the team, but it awaits to be seen as to whether they will be fully ready for Mixed Tour 1. Having said this, RGS will be using this as one of the first steps on their road to worlds, and have a strong squad so should come away with plenty of positive results this weekend.
Established mixed clubs
Thundering Herd: The cow print always play the top teams close, and are always training hard and putting in the time to develop as a specialist mixed club. The Herd have selected large squads (53 players between the two teams) which should help given there are some injury concerns, and they have remained committed to their rigorous pre-season training schedule. The herd have been bolstered by plenty of new faces and will be hoping to take more than a few wins this weekend and throughout the season.
Brighton: For the past few years, Brighton have not been able to re-capture the magic of their xEUCF winning team from 2009, whilst still hanging around at the top of the mixed tour. The renewed focus on Open and Women’s has put mixed on the back burner, but Brighton should not be overlooked as they always come with a strong squad, even when understaffed. It remains to be seen whether every Brighton club will be playing the Mexican offence that seems to have taken hold in the city, but regardless, expect Brighton to be unconventional on offence regardless of the formation, and play hard on defence.
Bristol: They have had the potential to really challenge on the mixed circuit for a couple of years now, which has only been helped by the continued development of the women’s club. With a renewed focus on the guys training to keep up with the girls and get back to UKU Nationals, Bristol could put in a serious contention for the top spots. I picked them as underdogs last year when they went into Mixed Tour 1 seeded 13th and by the end of Saturday they were the top seeds, but there won’t be many teams surprised by them this year.
Black Eagles: After coming up short in their quest to reach Europe last year, falling at the last hurdle at nationals against a DED team they had beaten earlier at the tournament, the Black Eagles may be using the tour to redeem themselves and build towards nationals and Europeans again. If they retain enough of their players from the squad which finished 3rd overall across the tours last year, they can definitely be finals contenders.
Shiny Happy Meeple: This club established last year that they were prepared to play above their perceived potential, and managed to finish in the top 10 over the three tours (maxing out at 8th place at MT3). Whilst they may not be contenders for a top spot, and generally don’t focus on results, they can definitely put pressure on the top teams.
Dyn-O-Mixed: Dyn-O-Mite has typically been a bit of a boys club, frequenting Glastonbury and indoors tournaments, and up until now they have fallen short of their potential at these events. Entering a mixed tour is a new realm for this team though and after drafting in some strong female players they start the mixed season with the 8th seed. If their squad is made up of the top level talent that has played with them before, and if their guys and girls have built up enough chemistry they could definitely make some noise.
Great start Smatt and we look forward to more from Smatt and his KaPow teammate Matt Dathan! Make sure to check out the liveBlog feed on the home page!