The mixed season is over once more, so we head into the dubiously-named WORE (Women’s and Open Ranking Event) season. It kicks off this weekend, as you all know, with Nottingham WindFarm. I’ll save you any more preamble and dive right into the preview of the Open division!
A warm welcome to Maya Israel as a ShowGame debutant and for giving us her view on the Women’s division in Nottingham.
This weekend, Nottingham Windfarm tournament will mark the launch of the new ranking events in the Women and Open divisions. It is due to be a particularly intriguing weekend for the Women’s division who will have five national teams present: GB u20s, u24s, Seniors and Masters as well as the Irish u24 team. Last year at this tournament, Iceni were victorious, followed by Reading 1 and Bristol Women’s Ultimate. The likelihood of a similar outcome is difficult to ascertain. GB Women will most likely take one of the top spots, with GB Masters pushing in close behind. However, it is difficult to predict how greatly the loss of club team players to GB will affect the top club teams’ performances. Yet one thing is for certain, the finishing table will be shaken up.
Once again it’s time for outdoors! Everyone knows outdoors is real Ultimate. The rain, the slippery mud, the four loads of laundry per week. The big throws, the zones, the layouts that don’t hurt. Outdoors is the best. Last year, around the country, University Women’s Outdoor Regionals was called off due to weather. This year it’s supposed to be a balmy 8 degrees so we can safely assume that the Scottish weather will act in a totally reasonable and predictable manner and this event will go ahead.
Northern University Women’s Outdoor Regionals is down in Nottingham this year and will be a battle between Leicester, Sheffield, York, Durham, Nottingham, Lancaster, Loughborough, Newcastle and Leeds. Unfortunately last year’s Regional winners (Huddersfield) aren’t going to be at Outdoor Regionals this year due to lack of women, and neither is Manchester for the same reason.
It is still going to be an incredibly competitive event. The five Northern teams in Division 1 finished in the top 12 (out of 20) at Indoor Nationals less than a month ago – four of them in the top eight – and I doubt that outdoors is going to be much different. The North is full of experience and incredible skill, and it’s only getting stronger.
With all of that in mind, let’s find out a bit more about each team…
Charlie Blair continues her previews of the upcoming Eurostars additions…
Thanks to Luci and Isa, Spain is the only nation to have more than one new player represented on Eurostars this year. This is a hugely significant achievement when you consider that the Spanish national teams do not sit with the usual European powerhouses such as Russia, France, Great Britain or Germany. Neither of these players headed out to Cincinatti for WUCC this year. However, this has allowed them the time to prioritise their training and more importantly, their on field connection for Eurostars having made a conscious effort to play together as much as possible this year since the roster was revealed.
Making her debut with the ShowGame, Alice Nicholas has previewed Women’s Tour 3 for us. Here’s her view.
With the top teams away representing the UK at the World Club Championships in Cincinnati, the rest of the Women’s Tour will be descending upon Birmingham this weekend where the Tour 3 crown is anyone’s for the taking. It has been an exciting season so far and this weekend will be no different.
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.
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.
10. Cloud City