The match between Kisumu and UCT Flying Tigers was significant. Sean Colfer explains why.
Two teams facing each other in a pool on day three of a tournament is usually nothing that would be considered too significant, given how much of the week is left. However, the match-up between UCT Flying Tigers and Kisumu Frisbee Club was not an ordinary match. It was the first time that two African teams had ever met each other in any Ultimate World Championships.
Sean Colfer spoke to six of the Neals to find out what it’s like being at a tournament with your family.
One of the best parts of covering any international tournament is seeing the joy relating to anything outside of the Ultimate. The new friendships that are forged, the unforgettable moments experienced between games and the pride of representing a club, team or country on such a stage are all indelible parts of any world championships. One aspect that’s always been a personal favourite of mine; watching parents enjoying their children’s games.
There are several kinds of Ultimate parents. There’s the parents that have played themselves; those are pretty rare. There’s the kind that have absolutely no idea what is going on but find the mix of athletic prowess, throwing skills and raucous team spirit intoxicating and enjoy it nonetheless. There’s usually quite a few of them. And then there’s an increasingly common kind – those who have seen so much Ultimate that they take on some knowledge by osmosis and begin to understand exactly what they’re watching. Two parents that fit very snugly into that bracket are Terry and Raymond Neal.
Sean Colfer watched the reigning UK Mixed champions Black Eagles match up against the strong Canadian team Banana Cutters.
Black Eagles and Banana Cutters entered this match with identical records – three wins and one loss, to Philadelphia AMP, meaning that this was for second place in the pool. The prize awaiting the winner was a round-of-32 match against IKU from Tokyo, while the loser would face Sydney’s Friskee.
Sean Colfer watched Reading and RusMixed face off in a crucial pool game.
Reading Ultimate have approached this tournament with a professionalism to be admired. They’ve been preparing a team for several years, they’ve practised together extensively and they scout their opponents in great detail. That has all come together nicely for them in Cincinnati as they sat with three wins in three ahead of their match with RusMixed, the Russia champions who beat Black Eagles at Talampaya. RusMixed lost to Wild Card, but otherwise had been in great form, topping GRUT 14-13 earlier in the pool. The winner of this match would have the inside track on second in the pool, though if Reading won they’d have a chance to top it against Wild Card.
Glasgow, starting second bottom in group F began the day with a 15-8 win over second seeded Freakshow from Singapore. This made things exciting. Sesquidistus, from France and also in this pool showed their hand at Windmill, and were known to be beatable by the Scots. The french pushed the pool leaders Crash to 15-13 in the first round of play, which altogether rendered Glasgow’s upcoming matchup as surprisingly human despite both the high seeding maple leaf next to their name. Whilst all Canadian and North American teams undeniably arrive with inherited respect at WUCC – a hand up before the game has even started – the narratives of this pool were starting to look like things might not be so simple, and Glasgow would have a decent chance.
Sean Colfer watched this match up at the top of Mixed pool H to see how SMOG, one of the UK’s best teams, matched up against an elite Japanese team.
There are few elite teams so shrouded in mystery at this tournament as Café de Luida. They are the Japanese Mixed champions, we know, but otherwise little is available about them. Even their name was a mystery until it was explained that it’s based on a game called Dragon Quest, where a bar called Bar Luida is the place that players can gather and chat. The founders of the team wanted to engender that same atmosphere, hence the name.
Sean Colfer turns his attention to SMOG, and how they might fare in Cincinnati.
How did they get here?
SMOG are still a relatively new club, being founded in late 2012 by players from Durham, Newcastle and York universities. They have developed into a true regional powerhouse in that time, though, taking players from all over the north and transforming into one of the best clubs in the UK – probably second only to Reading in terms of being a three-division, multi-team organisation. They’ve progressed through the divisions, playing Open and Mixed in 2016 – finishing ninth in Open and fifth in Mixed – before progressing to Women’s in 2017 (they finished fourth).