WUCC 2018 previews – Devon

Devon, Open, WUCC Previews

Devon are our final team, with Sean Colfer analysing their potential at Worlds.

How did they get here?

Devon have been a top A Tour team for some time now, often finishing in the top eight and making a challenge against the best teams in the country. They have a really solid pipeline of young talent from local Junior powerhouses Air Badgers, and have done a very good job of retaining those players despite moves to universities across the country (and bringing them back after a few years away). They’ve qualified for Euros a few times, always surprisingly, and have maintained a strong core throughout the last five or six years.

WUCC 2018 previews – PELT Ultimate

Open, PELT, WUCC Previews

Aidan Kelly scouts the second Irish team at WUCC, Limerick lads PELT. How will this new look squad do in Cincinnati?

How did they get here?
In what began as essentially an extension of University of Limerick’s college team, PELT have come a long way in their six year existence.

Even since their fledgling days, the team has had Worlds ambitions, as they directly competed in qualifiers against Rebel and Ranelagh for Ireland’s spot in WUCC 2014, coming up short.

Tour 3 Open preview – while the cats are away

Open, Previews, Tour 3

Sean Colfer is in Cincinnati with the cream of the UK crop, but the Tour season continues regardless. This looks like the most wide-open Tour in years, so how might it go?

Tour 3 is going to be an odd situation for UK Ultimate. The best teams are all away in Cincinnati (we’ve been previewing it, maybe you’ve seen) and it leaves the field very open. No Clapham, Chevron and Devon means three of the top four teams from Tour 2 aren’t there, the Irish teams are both over in the USA, and then SMOG and Reading – who have been playing in the top 10 of Tour all season as Open teams – are both across the pond too. All told, it means that this is probably the best chance several teams will ever have of winning a Tour event.

Ka-Pow! come in as top seeds, a reward from their trip to become sacrificial lambs for Clapham’s unerring march to the Tour 2 title. They have a gigantic squad of very solid players with a few stand outs – they’ll be tough to beat because of sheer numbers but also because they have some players that can make things happen against anyone. They’ve beaten most of the teams in the UK already this year and will be feeling confident that they can repeat the feat from a few years ago and win Tour 3. They will be missing some people though, particularly Marius Hutcheson who is with Black Sheep, a Kiwi Mixed team, at WUCC.

Marius Hutcheson – playing for Ka-Pow! at Tour 1 here – won’t be at Tour 3. Photo by Andy Moss.

EMO are second seed. They split their squads at Tour 2 and may well do the same again this Tour, but it would be very interesting to see how they fare against Ka-Pow! with a full team. They are chock full of excellent athletes and if they can all get on the same page they’ll be tough to stop. They used a new line system at Tour 1 and could well go back to that. Ben Poole gives them a lot of room for error because he’s an outstanding athlete and all-around player, but their defensive line will be the difference maker. If they can get turns and breaks then they’ll be the favourite in my eyes.

Fire are granted a third seed they’ll be familiar with, a good spot to build on what has been a tough year. They’ll be missing a couple of players through either injury or picking up with other teams at WUCC, but the squad they have is still going to be pretty tough to beat at this tournament.

Bristol are the other top seed and have had a solid season, but Brighton could be a tough nut to crack for them. They were given a very tough pool at Tour 1 and are a good side – although they, too, are missing several players to WUCC since James Wotherspoon and Tom Mannings are both with Mooncatchers. EMO 2 and Reading 2 join them in their pool, and will be difficult to predict. I think they’ll be battling for third, though.

Birmingham have a lot of good players but have a relatively small number of handlers. Still, their level of overall athleticism will allow them to at least hang with the teams up at the top of the draw. They will play Cloud City (who feature a lot of Herd players so will be familiar with Brum) and Brighton Gritty Legends (who have played Cloud three times this year already) in what could be an exciting pool.

Ka-Pow! will face Flump, who have had a decent season so far despite their relegation at Tour 1, LLLeeds and Camden. Leeds were promoted at Flump’s expense in Nottingham and Camden have been around A Tour all season, so this group could be a really interesting one to watch. Flump and Leeds should both have too much for Camden, but the match between them will be fascinating.

Manchester, SMOG and BAF join EMO in a group with lots of capital letters. Manchester have been pretty good all season and so will fancy themselves to finish in the top two – particularly since SMOG will be missing many of their top players. It’ll be interesting to see how SMOG do against BAF, but I think that’ll be for third and fourth in the pool.

B Tour features some decent teams at the top – Vision, Gravity and Purple Cobras have all been pretty good all year, and Glasgow 2 will feature some good Glasgow players not at WUCC. Tribe and Rebel come over from Ireland so it’ll be interesting to see how they do (Dublin Gravity as well, although they’re in C Tour so are either dramatically underseeded or not quite the force they are in Mixed) and EDI return after some time away – though they’ll be losing some players to Black Eagles.

Outside of that, it’s tough to find many storylines to look for. LED have been pretty good in Mixed but are seeded quite low, and Fluid have been one of the stronger C Tour teams so far. Cambridge will be intriguing since it’s tough to know who they have, but generally I see C Tour sticking to seed.

So, who’s going to win this most open of Open tours? That is the big question. Here’s how I see the top 10 shaking out, but to be honest there’s about five teams who could win. It’ll be fun to see how the tournament ends up without Clapham there to ruin everyone’s fun by winning.

1. EMO
2. Ka-Pow!
3. Fire
4. Brighton
5. Manchester
6. Bristol
7. Flump
8. Birmingham
9. Leeds
10. Cloud City

WUCC 2018 previews – Clapham Ultimate

Clapham, Open, WUCC Previews

Clapham just lost out on a semi-final spot in 2014 so will be incredibly motivated to reach that stage this time around. Here’s how Sean Colfer thinks they’ll end up doing.

How did they get here?
I don’t think I really need to explain this one, but they got here by winning. A lot. Specifically, they’ve won 17 national titles in a row and six European titles in a row to go alongside four Windmill trophies and plenty of other prizes. Most of their roster has played for Great Britain at some point, and a lot of those that haven’t have played for either another national team or age-group Great Britain teams.

WUCC 2018 previews – Ranelagh

Open, Ranelagh, WUCC Previews

Did you think we were going to leave out the Irish? Never! Aidan Kelly gives us some insight on how his club-mates will do in his (cagey) preview for Ranelagh.

How did they get here?

Four time Irish Nationals champions, the Lagh recaptured their All-Ireland title after a two-year dry spell in 2017, beating rivals PELT in the final, which also saw them qualify for WUCC for the second time.

WUCC 2018 previews – Chevron Action Flash

Chevron, Open, WUCC Previews

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.

UKU Open Tour 2 Preview – B and C Tour (Cardiff)

Open, Previews

With B Tour North taking some teams away, the middle section in Cardiff is severely diminished. C Tour is also only four pools, much smaller than usual, so this preview shouldn’t be too long at all.

Cloud City suffered two close losses to the villainous Gravity and the contemptible Leeds before heroically triumphing in the rest of their games at Tour 1. (No comment on who I’ll be playing with.) They top B Tour here, and their reward is a pool against Devon 2, who struggled in B Tour in Nottingham and fellow Devonians ExeTour, who won C Tour last time out, and Brighton Gritty Legends. Gritty faced Cloud twice at T1 and lost both times by a few, but the addition of the word ‘Legends’ gives me pause. Brighton Legends were an A Tour-level team for some time over the past few years and have the kind of throwing know-how and experience to trouble anyone. The pool at first blush looks straightforward at the top with some interesting battles lower down, but Brighton could delight in throwing a spanner in those works.

The other B Tour pool will see EMO 2 fight to maintain their position against Vision, Leamington Lemmings and Red. Red will be pleased to have a shot against their local rivals EMO but will need a lot to go their way to have a shot in that game. They could, however, have a very interesting game against Leamington since the teams finished next to each other at T1, Lemmings in 36th and Red in 37th. Vision had a tough time in Nottingham, finishing second to last in B Tour, but they should feel confident in finishing at least second in this pool.

These pools will all cross, the top two up and the bottom two down. Cloud and the second placed team in that pool will likely play Camden and Bristol respectively, while EMO 2 and Vision should probably play Reading 2 and Birmingham (according to my A Tour predictions, anyway, so make of that what you will). I feel good about Cloud’s chances there, and EMO 2 v Reading 2 would be fascinating in that situation.

Photo courtesy of Rachel Lee

B Tour is more of a seedings stage in this Tour, with the crossing meaning the Tour structure of years past has disappeared. The quality looks lower than it has in the past here too, but hopefully we see some interesting results and games regardless.

  1. Cloud City
  2. EMO 2
  3. Brighton
  4. Vision
  5. Devon 2
  6. ExeTour
  7. Red
  8. Leamington Lemmings

That leaves us with C Tour. Bristol 2 are the top seeds here but are coming off a winless Tour 1, so are not in the best of form. Cambridge, on the other hand, lost in sudden death to Flyght Club (who ended up in B Tour) but won every other game. Their final win was over Plymouth, who top another pool in C Tour, and both finished just ahead of Kent who are the top seed in the final pool. Brixton were a tip I made before the last Tour but they lost a crossover to YOpen and are now seeded below Plymouth despite topping them in the pool. The GB Juniors are in with Bristol 2 and will be intriguing to watch as they usually contain excellent talent but combined with relatively little experience so can find it tough against teams with veteran players who know how to grind out result. The Cambridge v Brixton and Bristol 2 v GB U20s are probably the games that matter here to see who gets to cross up against the B Tour teams, but I wouldn’t be confident that any of these teams would win those crossovers – the best chance probably comes in the 24v25 game, but I’d fancy Lemmings to beat GB U20s.

  1. Cambridge
  2. GB U20s
  3. Plymouth
  4. Kent
  5. Brixton
  6. Bristol 2
  7. Cloud 2
  8. Horsham
  9. South Wales Storm
  10. Reading 3
  11. Sharbear! 1
  12. St. Albans
  13. Sharkbear! 2
  14. Dorset
  15. South Wales Storm 2