Sean Colfer reports on the first day of action at UKU Nationals
The first day of UKU Nationals 2015 brought a number of surprises, as well as some beautiful sunshine. Here’s a quick round-up what you need to know from day one, ahead of the finals tomorrow afternoon.
Josh Coxon Kelly previews the 2015 Open Division of UK Nationals
International duties are over for now, and the UK Ultimate Open division finds with Nationals the first tournament of the year in which domestic teams will be competing with anything close to full rosters. Rather than a re-hash of the years’ early Tour events then, Nationals holds an extra degree of excitement as souped-up squads look to smoothly incorporate big name returners, and compete to be named the best club in the nation.
The only newcomers this year are the Fantastic Mr. Fox who feature Oxford alumni players including GB Mixed captain Sam Vile. This team starts in 16th after qualifying third in the South-Eastern region, but will be hoping to surprise teams later into the tournament in placement games. Noticeably absent are Cambridge’s CUlt, who were pipped to the final Midlands spot by Blue Arse Flies.
Claire Taylor and Felicity Perry give us the UKU Women’s Nationals outlook
Surprisingly UK Nationals is the only tournament in the women’s calendar that hasn’t seen a marked increase in the number of teams each year. Perhaps the heated competition in the middle ranks of Tour will see interest and entries into UK Nationals growing in future years, but for now we have a tournament that seems to provide less of a draw. This year, eight teams are entered, less than anticipated and rumoured, but more teams than in some recent years.
It is something of a shame that there aren’t more and with the increasing depth of competition at Tour, it seems irregular that there is such a drop in interest to attend Nationals*. Is it possible that club teams prioritise Tour, and Nationals is not an event that piques their interest? Or is it the prospect of another long journey down south that some teams cannot manage – perhaps the division is further impacted by the concurrent mixed division at Nationals.
Thomas Cliff looks back at Mixed Tour and ahead to UKU Mixed Nationals this weekend.
Having just experienced the most unstable Open and Women’s Tour seasons that I can remember, it could be easy to forget about the mixed season that preceded it.
However, Mixed Tour wasn’t without its share of uncertainty. 2014’s top squad and the combination of former European champions Bear Cavalry having disbanded, and Cambridge mixed, sixth place finisher at WUCC 2014 having had a severe drop off in top talent, really set the stage for the pack of wolves nipping at their heels to have a shot at the top. Further to this, GB Mixed seniors, GB U23, and Ireland Mixed took many fantastic players away from the rankings, leaving things absolutely wide open.
Mixed Nationals this year is likely going to be a tale of teams who stepped into the void left at the top from 2014, as there is a strong correlation between the Tour rankings and the Nationals line up: seven of the eight teams entered at Nationals finished in the top 12 over the course of the season, with the eighth competitors being 2014’s second-place finisher Pingu Jam. Notable absences are Glasgow, who have a real shot at making Euros in the Open division, and Bristol, who are likewise placed in the Women’s draw.
UKU Nationals were held in Southampton this weekend just past. Here’s how it went…
Qualifying for EUCF 2014 held in Frankfurt are:
- Clapham (Elite Division)
- Chevron Action Flash (Elite Division)
- Fire of London
Josh CK looks at some concerns voiced about the 2014 UKU Regionals…
[Edit – this post contains views expressed by writers that are not necessarily that of The Showgame. Our aim here is to generate a fair and intelligent discussion – please see and add to the comments below for continued discussion as well as a further elucidation of many, if not all of the points brought up. JCK]
This year’s Regionals and Nationals were not without their share of controversy. Nationals was a formerly an event that looked very much like a final tour event, held in order to find a national champion on an annual basis as well as acting as qualifiers for the European championships. The regional qualification process for the Open division was debuted in 2010 to ‘a mostly positive response’. With a lighter 16 team knockout, the new Nationals also featured a permanent site in Southampton, featuring a show pitch with live streaming. With broad changes made with long-term plans in mind (increase in competition at Regionals and Nationals, the creation of ‘the UKU’s primary “showcase” event’*), a certain amount of adaptation is arguably to be expected. However, certain decisions (specifically in the London region) have both caused confusion and incited some strongly voiced concerns. Matt Dathan writes:
Nationals comes on the back of a controversial Regionals this year, with Clapham given a bye at London qualifiers and only having to play two games to decide their seed. This meant they rocked up at 2pm in the afternoon to play their two games, in contrast to their eventual opponents, Ka-pow and Fire of London, who both had to turn up five hours earlier and play three games before playing a fresh Clapham team.
With the drama of Lecco now over the focus returns to domestic competition in Southampton at the UKU National Championships.
|Bristol will once again be looking for a long-wanted win over domestic rivals Iceni. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss