UKU Open C Tour 1 2015 Preview

#ukuowt1, C Tour, news, Open Tour, Previews

Jordan Brown previews the C Tour.

The third division of Open Tour is likely to be a bit more interesting in terms of upsets. Judging by the many, many posts to Britdisc, Camden have done a lot of training and will be unlikely to cough up their spot at the top of C Tour easily. St. Albans did a fair amount of work last year to climb to the top of the division as well but their pool is looking strong. Devon 3 have a squad tough enough to rival Devon 2, so they’ll be difficult opposition. However, the team probably most mis-seeded is Gravity. Despite having not played in Open Tour since 2012, the team used to compete in the middle of B Tour. They now find themselves seeded 17th in C Tour and will be looking to head towards the top of the table.

Dear C Tour: Why Trialling Might Be Worth A Shot

A Tour, C Tour, DED, Kapow, Trial Season, xEUCF
Harry Mason sends a message to all trialling hopefuls in 2014…

Trials season is approaching. For many hopeful players, they’ll be turned away, having gained experience from the trials but that’s it for the year. Some players, having worked their way up the tours (or been on the training squad last year) might have their eyes on finally breaking the squad. And, just occasionally, there’ll be an amateur who dares to dream big.

Last year, I was one such hopeful. In 2012, I played just one open tour. C tour. We battled well and were proud of how we’d done, and I enjoyed playing with them. I wasn’t the best player, I wasn’t able to single-handedly swing games, and at times I was a liability. Yet still I dreamed.

In C tour, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that sometimes you have to avoid putting certain team-mates in certain situations, I personally wasn’t trusted with the disc as much for any assists, and in the wind everything went to chaos. At A-Tour and Euros, there isn’t that luxury. You have to trust every team-mate. And I did. I can’t identify anyone whom I would be uncomfortable giving the disc to and in return really didn’t want to be the one player they couldn’t trust. After those games I finally realised I could be trusted. That it wasn’t beyond me.

Harry Mason skying for DED Mixed at MT3 in 2013. Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.

So, swallowing my fears and with a scared lump in my throat I applied for DED open. I remember my heartbreak when injury knocked me out of the second trial. Then elation when, during the 3rd trial, Luke Tobiasiewicz came up, clipboard in hand, and said I was being strongly considered. Taking his advice I gave it my all.

A short while later, I received the email every C tour player would layout into a wall to receive. I had narrowly made the cut. Courtesy of a follow up email from Graham Bailey about how to improve (still flagged in my inbox) it was clear I was being taken on for my potential, not my current skill. This is the first difference I noticed: I was expected to have a much greater understanding of the mechanics of the game, I’d have to work harder, and be able to identify weakness in myself like I hadn’t before.

I also trialled for DED mixed, and was told in no uncertain terms that, while they liked me and all that, I hadn’t made the team. I was distraught, but looking at the squad I couldn’t argue. However, thanks to international duties, they now needed an extra guy. I was brought in, permanently aware I was very much the final choice. That’s how I started the season after 2 tough trials – a player taken for potential, and there to prove a point.

I’m not going to go through DED’s season – it was brilliant and painful in equal measure – but there are a few things to highlight. Mainly, everyone at top level is tough. There’s no easy match ups. Small things (like being pumped up, or an extra half hour of drills beforehand) give big advantages in these situations. It was a lot more professional, a lot more marginal and there was never a game where I was allowed to come away thinking “they were the better team, there was no way we could have won”. I wasn’t taught to beat myself up, but in nearly every game I now knew there was always a chance, on a different day, that it could have been ours.

My very first A tour level game was vs Kapow! on a huge 3G indoor astro and I was scared. People at the top may not understand this, but there is still an aura and mythology surrounding A tour and it’s players. They’re supposed to be giants, faster than Grove Farm wind and, if not able to fly, then at least give gliding a dang good shot. A Kapow! player layout D-ing through me on my very first point didn’t help. But it wasn’t just the layout, it was the fact that it apparently meant nothing. It was expected, rather than anything spectacular, and that blindsided me at least as much as the actual play.

Ka-Pow’s trials started last weekend, but who will make it from these young hopefuls? Photo courtesy of KaPow Ultimate. 

Distraught, I went to the experienced players for advice. Then, the impossible occurred. I started to get the disc, and pass it without being blocked. I got free occasionally! This wasn’t supposed to happen. Not supposed to happen at all. The game was faster than I was used to – much faster – but it was still the game I knew. It wasn’t much, yet to me it was the world. We lost that game, but it still meant a lot as the biggest jump I have ever, and probably will ever get in Ultimate.

The other huge moment came when playing for DED mixed at tour 3. Our first game was against GB World Games. Always fun. This was at Cheltenham, the same venue and (I’m fairly sure) the same pitch I’d played my first ever game at Tour back in 2010. Now, 3 years later, I was playing the best in the country.

Again, we lost that game. Badly. The margin that those players had over me was, to say the least, humbling. (At most, soul crushing, but let’s ignore that). Yet, even playing against the royalty of Ultimate, you started to realise they were just players. Very, very good ones – clinical and dominant in equal measures – but players nonetheless. I actually managed to score (twice!), though mainly due to the throwing ability of my team mates (and being too insignificant to notice sneaking deep in a zone).

These games probably meant very little to most others involved. They were both games I lost, and very little was at stake for the result, so why should they mean anything to me? This season I played my first ever Club Nationals, and then my first ever Euros with DED Mixed. These tournaments were much more competitive, way more enjoyable and helped my physical skill improve far more than I can possibly measure. But it was those two games that let me break the mental barrier and say to myself that, yes, I had earned my place in high level Ultimate.

So, to all aspiring players let me tell you: it’s possible. I wasn’t the strongest player. I had to work harder than I’ve ever worked. I had to face the fact that, hey, Uni life was fun but, until exam time, it came second. But in one season I made the jump. It requires a lot of trust from the people picking. You’ll have to face the fact the odds are against you, that it may not be your year. Well, it may not be, but it might be.

At the very least, like most times in Ultimate, it’s worth a bid.

Good luck to all players trialling over next few weeks!

Tour 2 Review – C Tour

C Tour, Kent Ultimate, nottingham, Open, Tournament Reports, UKUT2
Bradley Andrews brings us the Kent Ultimate perspective on T2 and the C Tour.

After the excitement of Tour 1, the second C tour of the season at Tour 2 in Nottingham presented an opportunity to be victorious against old and new rivals alike. Teams had to step up their game just to hold their seeding, let alone potentially move up the rankings and even make B tour: every team brought intensity and determination, making C tour as competitive as ever.
All players, both experienced and new to the game, from C tour up to A tour, were finding the weather conditions difficult to play in. There was a strong wind on the first day as well as torrential rain (and some hail). It meant that most set plays that teams had practiced became difficult to run, as discs were harder to grip and muddy fields made cutting much more difficult. This was Ultimate at its most gruelling.
The future of UK ultimate battling in C tour – Devon 3 vs GB U17s. Photo Courtesy of Andrew Moss.

Conditions limited the play, especially on ‘up wind, down wind’ pitches. Everyone was using similar plays, using the wind to send a huck to a deep cut and taking advantage of the space underneath when defending teams sent extra men to prevent the deep shot. This ‘huck and d’ strategy was common practice for many teams as scoring an upwind point was extremely difficult in the conditions. There was a lot of zone defence on show, using the wind to limit opponents and force them to complete a lot of passes.

 Due to conditions Tour 2 was a real test of throwing and catching ability, as well as how well teams co-operated and worked together to score points and keep their zone defence working effectively. While Saints, Ireland U20 and Flyght Club 1 all progressed to B tour, all of the teams in C tour played competitive Ultimate to a good level, showing the increase in the quality of Ultimate in recent times. Sneeekys and Curve also finished high in C tour, capitalising on the weaknesses of other teams and playing hard defence as well as well co-ordinated offense. 
Lemmings player going for the high grab in Nottingham. Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.

All teams in C tour played with their hearts on their sleeves, enduring the miserable weather and playing conditions. Brighton Pier Pressure, for example, started the weekend with only eight players and were down to six players by midday Sunday but never gave in to the fatigue and weather, showing their determination to win no matter what. During the game they played against Kent Ultimate they lost yet another player to injury but showed their class and continued to play when many teams in their position would be all too happy to throw in the towel. 
On Sunday the time cap was changed from an hour and a half to an hour, meaning that the point cap was also changed, with teams taking the half at seven points rather than eight. The shorter format changed the games dramatically as many teams were finishing matches and reaching tie breaks before the half. Shorter games also made an upwind score a larger asset as teams would have less time to take back the upwind point than on the first day.

C Tour movers. Courtesy of Wayne Retter.

Though the weather was almost unbearable and everyone was soaked the weekend ended in good spirits. The atmosphere of the Ultimate community could not be dampened by the rain, with friends and rivals coming together to create an unforgettable weekend.

Almost there and only 3 days until #ukut3!! First things first; comment, like and share. DP @ tSG.

London’s Calling Review – C Tour

C Tour, Flump, Lemmings, London's Calling, Mustard, Open Tour, Tournament Reports
Matthew Parker from Flump Open gives us their view of C Tour at London’s Calling.

The first C tour of the season brought many exciting opportunities for competitors. New teams with something to prove, seasoned teams looking to push into B tour, but all teams looking forward to a fantastic weekend of competitive ultimate unlike any other competition in the UK. With the largest C tour has ever been, and the inviting sun, London, was indeed, Calling. 

Complaints of seeding issues ruffled through the teams as the first day produced a collection of significant upsets, including the top seed Lemmings being toppled after a dominant display from newcomers Birmingham, who would prove to be a dominant force over the weekend. Flump also put on an excellent performance on the first day, conceding only 5 points in the group stage. Other seeding issues saw a reduced Yopen squad drop out of qualification after being dispatched by Mustard and an exceptionally close game against Rhubarb, who rose quickly up the seedings from the bottom half. As is consistent with C tour, the mix of standards saw relatively easy saturdays for the teams finishing top of their group, with dominant scores in their group. 

Flump Open take C tour by storm! Photo courtesy of David Gate. 

The start of the Sunday brought the prospect of closer games for all teams in C tour, with the quarter finals producing dominant displays again from Flump and Birmingham, knocking Saints and our hosts, St Albans, out of the running for the coveted 3 B tour slots. The other quarter finals displayed some exceptional ultimate, with Mustard edging  out Trigger Happy in sudden death in a tantalizing finish, and Devon 2 producing an exciting and dominant performance over Guildford in a game that was a mixture of everything that made ultimate exciting, layouts, long hucks with huge grabs, and some superb D. After a long break, the C tour semis of Flump vs Mustard, and Birmingham vs Devon 2, commenced in sight of coveted B tour slots, the winner of these matches guaranteeing themselves entry. Flump and Birmingham seemed destined to set up a tantalizing final, with dominant semi-final performances. The scores however, did not represent how close these games were, or the excellent quality of the ultimate on display. Indeed, some A tour players watching on the sidelines were overheard commenting; “What tour is this?”, “C tour semis”, “Holy S**t, this is C tour!? Wow.”  

In an unfortunate scheduling issue, the finals were played immediately after the semis, however, this did not stop the players leaving everything out on the pitches and producing some fantastic ultimate. Shielded by the trees in the corner field, the wind became less of a factor, as beautiful overhead play through the Flump zone by Birmingham saw points trading at the start of the game. However, after the success of a few set plays and some fantastic use of hammers saw Flump take the half. Flump looked set to round of a weekend of dominant victories, however Birmingham did not drop their heads and pushed Flump to up their game and take C tour 15-9. From neighboring pitch, calls of “we’ll see you in B tour” resonated from Devon 2 after a victory over Mustard. 
C tour movers. Courtesy of Wayne Retter.
Overall, this exciting weekend, complete with sun, wind, and great ultimate, was a fantastic showcase for the improvement in the standard of UK Ultimate. However, it seems that there is still an ever-persistent crevice in seedings for C tour, with the qualifying teams dispatching lower teams to cap with relative ease, meaning that their first truly competitive matches are not until well into the second day. Nevertheless, C tour will continue to serve as a fantastic, competitive platform for developing and recreational teams, and this tournament, especially at St Alban’s beautiful venue, will remain the highlight tournament of the year for many teams.

Nice one! We have had Irish and C tour, tomorrow B tour. DP @ tSG remember to like, share and contribute!