Northern Uni Open Indoor Regionals

Chester, Durham, Hallam, Hull, Lancaster, Leeds, Leeds Met, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, North, Sheffield, UK Ultimate, UKU Regionals, University, York
Andrei Mandzuk from Bangor Ultimate takes us through the Northern Region.
The weekend marks the start of the Northern University indoors season, with teams from across the region converging on Leeds to battle it out for prestigious spots at Nationals. The north consistently proves itself to be a strong but very open region, with an array of teams feeling that they’re in with a shot of qualifying. After going through what many felt was a developmental period for the region last year, it is expected to return to full strength with many key players reaching their final years of study.
I shall begin by providing short previews of top teams in the region in order of their predicted seeds. All content below is based on predictions from team captains and information gathered from the UK Ultimate rumour mill.

One of the biggest regions and what a region! Image courtesy of UK Ultimate.

Manchester will undoubtedly be going into Regionals as top seed after consistently winning the region in recent years, and claiming a silver medal at Division 1 Indoor Nationals last season (ED: Second in 2012, 2011, 2009 and Bronze in 2010). Despite a high turnover from last year’s squad they have retained Chevron player Jake Aspin for another year running. Alongside this, their strength will be sustained by the maturation of GB u20 Simo Low and picking up GB u23 Mixed MVP Steve Dixon as an undergraduate. A 3rd place finish at Sheffield Experienced has shown them to be the region’s top team once again.

Sheffield are a team who’s strength lies in the A Tour experience at the top of their roster with Manchester Ultimate’s Dan Sumner and LeedsLeedsLeeds’s David Sparks. Along with this, their core is completed by the pickup of Will Jackson from Halcyon. They’re expected to run the same strict iso which proved so effective on the large pitches at Ponds Forge last year, and will keep the disc in the hands of their key players whilst challenging teams with athletic man-to-man defence. Although they gathered mixed results, Phat’eds are a team who managed to enter three warmup tournaments and this pitch time together may prove invaluable at the weekend.
Leeds almost caused the upset of the tournament last year, reaching the final and taking Halcyon to double game point. They will look to run a traditional offense, controlled by veteran Nick Moss, and captain Joseph Fisher, both of LeedsLeedsLeeds. They have tended to throw a mix of solid man defence, alongside a poachy zone which looks to prevent breakside throws. With disappointing results at warmup tournaments and losing varsity to local rivals Leeds Met, Regionals is their chance to prove themselves as a force in the North for another year running.
Newcastle are another team who qualified for Division 1 at last year’s Indoor Regionals but have been struck with a high player turnover from last season. This has given role players the chance to step up and it’s expected that Alex Mazzon will top the score sheet, with Ben Withers getting a lot of touches on the disc upfield. Despite getting incomplete rosters to warmup tournaments, and chalking up results at both ends of the spectrum, they’re a team who will be looking to show that their strength runs deeper than in previous years.
Durham are not a team who are known for strong indoors performances, instead using it as a chance to build their team for the outdoors season. Although they’ve suffered with large numbers of players graduating from the team that qualified for Division 1 at outdoors last season, they too will be looking to show a strength in depth that’s built on their impressive collegiate participation. A solid 6th place finish at Sheffield Experienced shows that they’re going to be hungry to push for indoors qualification this year.
Liverpool will be looking to avenge a poor showing at Indoor Regionals last season and show more similarities to their solid performance at Div 2 Outdoor Nationals. With last year’s handler core graduating, Sion Regan will be looking to experienced players Stuart Johnston and Andy Garner to control the disc upfield whilst he produces a downfield matchup to be feared. Despite being a team with their eyes on the bigger picture of outdoors, they’ve shown to be well organised and produced an impressive 4th place finish at Liverpool Experienced. It would be foolish to write them off again this season.
Leeds Met have fostered an impressively growing program in recent years, shown by qualifying for last year’s Division 2 Indoor Nationals after winning the game to go. Chevron player James Mead will look to make plays both on and off the disc, and Cambridge Mixed’s Dave Littler will control the disc upfield. Coming off the back of mixed results at warmup tournaments but a convincing victory over local rivals Leeds at their varsity, this is a team who are hungry to sustain last year’s success.
Bangor are a team who have graduated only one player from last year’s outdoors squad. Despite this, a run of poor luck on the injury front alongside personal issues has left them shorthanded for this year’s Regionals. Expect big plays on both sides of the disc from Daniel McLean and GB u23 Mixed’s Cameron Burgess as the team tries to gel after being forced to take a skeleton squad to Liverpool Experienced.
Lancaster are a team who are going through a rebuilding phase currently and are still reeling from losing all of their Nationals qualifying first team. Despite this, they reached the game to go last year against Leeds Met and will look to go into the tournament to cause upsets this year around. Captain Reece Stanton will aim to find Michael Sharkey downfield for large gains.
Sheffield Hallam are another team who, similar to Leeds Met, pick up a sport-minded group of beginners each year. This is shown by their success yet again in beginners tournaments and is always promising for future years. Hallam, led by GB u23 Mixed’s Alex Walsh will look to take advantage of this, as he tries to find athletic cutters downfield. Teams should expect a hard running defence and tough match-ups all across the pitch.
York are set to be the big story of this year’s Regionals. A team which has been built from the ground up is set to peak this season in spectacular fashion. They have had strong results at warmup tournaments, and been tipped by many captains to be the team to watch. This year’s York team looks to establish themselves as a force in the North. Cohesion gained from the core of the team playing on the successful ‘fun’ team SMOG, and 2 years of university pitch time together will serve them well as they look set for their most successful year in recent history. Joshua Briggs will be throwing the bulk of their assists to tall cutter Max Moseley, although any of their athletic core can be a force downfield.
Hull are an inexperienced team who will be looking to use Regionals to develop. Led by captain Nick Brownbill and tipped to be a team who keeps working until the buzzer, it’s not hard to see them scaring some of the less well organised ‘big’ teams.
Chester are another growing program in the North. Captained by GB u23 Mixed’s Ben Main they produced impressive results at Liverpool Experienced, making their way into the top 8. They are fielding an inexperienced, but enthusiastic team. Main will try to control the disc on offense and their offensive flow comes out of a traditional vertical stack. Going into Regionals with no expectations and everything to gain they can look forward to a productive weekend!
On the back of this all, I’ve based predictions on the surveys we had returned and pre-season results.

6.Leeds Met
As with previous years, Manchester are expected to top the region, albeit not without serious pressure from other contenders, and will hope to go on to replicate their impressive performance at Nationals last year. With impressive pre-season results, and mentions from many captains as being much stronger than previous years, it wouldn’t be surprising to see York secure themselves a second place finish this weekend. Rounding off the qualifiers for Division 1 are Sheffield. Selected by all captains to be up there, and with solid pre-season results, they should be able to secure the final spot.
Division 2 is far more open, with as many as six teams having a genuine shot at making it. Both Liverpool and Newcastle performed well at Liverpool Experienced (despite Newcastle’s depleted squad) and could take the 4 and 5 spots respectively. Rounding off the qualifications places, it’s hard to avoid the romance of a home town varsity rematch in the game to go, with Leeds Met facing off against Leeds Uni. It’s a tough one to call, but I’m tipping Met to win this one and repeat their varsity success.
Outside of the top 6, other contenders for qualification are Durham and Bangor. I suspect Durham’s pedigree for not quite clicking indoors will continue, whilst Bangor’s lack of pitch time together will be their unravelling.
With the Northern Region seeing one of the most open battles to date, I look forward to seeing all the drama and upsets that University ultimate can produce.
Good luck to all competing in Leeds this weekend, and I’ll see you Saturday!

That’s all for the uni indoor regional previews, sadly we were unable to hear from the Western region but good luck to everyone competing across the country! DP @ tSG.

Scottish Uni Open Indoor Regionals

Glasgow Ultimate, Indoors, Scottish Ultimate, UKU Regionals, University
Rory Curran sizes up the competition at this weekend’s tournament which doubles as University Scottish National Indoor Championships and University Regional Qualifiers

Following Scotland’s impressive showing across all four University Nationals last year, they have now been awarded a fourth Division 1 spot, maintaining three for Division 2. Last year’s British national champions Dundee University look to start the tournament as favourites. Despite losing Graeme McDowell and Jocelyn Trottet, Dundee have been a club growing for many years now under Graeme’s watchful eye and he has left them in a very strong state. The team placed seventh at Outdoors, losing their quarter final match to eventual finalists Edinburgh.  

The Scottish region, if you weren’t sure. Image courtesy of UKU.
Glasgow Ultimate had a very successful club season, and this high level ultimate appears to have filtered into the two Glasgow based teams – Strathclyde and Glasgow University. My predictions see these two teams taking the next two spots and pushing Dundee the hardest, and possibly causing an upset.

Strathclyde see the return of GB U23 mixed player Jonny Ferry joining captain Matt Scott who, between them, will run the show. By no means is that where the team ends with numerous other players having improved massively playing Tour with their clubs over the summer, notably Asif Arshad – a recent Glasgow Ultimate MIP candidate starting his Strathclyde Career. A well-knit team, and comfortable on the disc; if these guys keep their heads they will be right up there on Sunday afternoon. Strathclyde could be the dark horses of the tournament.

Glasgow remains a very similar outfit to last year. Ex-Flatballer Rory Curran has been using his Div 1 experience to strengthen the team, with the assistance of the vastly experienced Webb brothers, for the past two seasons. A very versatile team, Farflung possess both an aerial threat and multiple players able to play in multiple positions. Rory is considered the playmaker, with Joe Crisp expected to bring down anything thrown near him. Iso has been Glasgow’s go-to play and with those two we don’t expect to see anything new. Expect this tall team to put up a lot of discs, and if they bring most of them down they too could be real contenders. Any weaknesses? They do love to party!

Edinburgh has been a keystone in Scotland’s top three ever since 2007, and it is unthinkable that they wouldn’t remain so. Ro Sham Bo can always rely on a healthy import of “Muricans” to bolster their team and as such are expected by most to place highly. However, with the loss of James Glover and Michael Noblett, do they have a leader to teach them how to play indoors in time for this years early regionals? Rumors circulated at Tune-up suggested they had picked up a top American O line handler so, if true Ro Sham Bo could well maintain their long Division 1 history. A team keeping their cards close to their chest, not many will know exactly what to expect.

Heriot Watt have been building year on year since their birth as a team about 4 years back. This year sees them really fancy their chances as the majority of the team has now been playing together for that time. John Stainsbury is their key player and provides the most experience; but a strong team now also backs him up. Ex-fusion captain and GB player John Leach has been coaching them for two years, and this was evident in their performance at the Glasgow one day warm up tournament.  Not many teams rate Heriot Watt higher than sixth but personally I think you underestimate them at your peril. Their relative lack of experience may see them fall just short of Division 1 but I expect these guys to cause a few upsets and at least qualify for Division 2.

St. Andrews. Benji Heywood is the key man at flatball; he provides structured training and very structured teams. St. Andrews always produces a very reliable offence. They have lost their two key players to graduation, but following a week long preseason and dedicated first team training this team is already looking competitive. They are on a two year plan but victory last weekend at Edinburgh beginners has spirits high, with Captain Miles as their new key player. If Flatball nurse their injuries through the tournament and avoid their newly characteristic Sunday dip in form they will make Division 2.

Stirling were looking weak following the disintegration of their team that did so well at Division 1 last year. However, with a cheeky masters degree for Matt Tomlinson all of a sudden these guys (and one gal) are throwing their hat into the ring. Division 1 is probably out of their reach but they think differently. Division 2 would be a good result for them considering how they looked in June. I think they will sneak seventh place in a close match against Aberdeen.

Aberdeen has a lot of height and home advantage this weekend. Daryll will be leading the show, although the loss of GB U23 player Doug Olley will likely be evident. Aberdeen had enough numbers to take them to outdoor nationals last year and some of these remain, it might just be enough to sneak them into one of the last two division 2 spots. Hosting the party could be their downfall nursing hangovers on Sunday, but if they get their mojo up who knows what upsets they could cause.

Predictions see everyone placing Dundee as favourites. Beyond that there is a lot of debate. The general consensus is that Glasgow and Edinburgh will complete the top three  (excluding teams backing themselves). The fourth and final Div 1 spot will be very hotly contested and who its goes to depends on who you ask and what knowledge they have. No one puts themselves outside the top 7 and most put St. Andrews at the front of the chasing pack.

My bold predications are as follows (in order): –

Qualifying for Div 1 
Dundee, Glasgow, Strathclyde, Heriot Watt

Qualifying for Div 2
St. Andrews, Edinburgh, Stirling

Leaving Aberdeen missing out but probably winning the party.

Keep an eye out for more University Indoor Regional Previews coming soon… JCK @tSG

The Grapevine – 09/08

EYUC, Open, The Grapevine, UKU Nationals, UKU Regionals, Ultiworld, Understanding Ultimate., Womens

The Grapevine: where Marvin Gaye heard it and where you hear all about UK Ultimate!

Nationals is only a couple weeks away and there are currently 7 Women’s teams competing if you are not playing Mixed and can get a few friends together to form a team, go! It’s a great tournament and worth the experience! So enter a team now and make it a full on 8 (or more) team division, maybe even cause an upset! 

Regionals has happened, read our coverage and also read how the Open Nationals brackets had to be amended giving us the first round games ready to go!

Benji writes about personal bias on the field in Understanding Ultimate.

In the ever present debate of USAU (observers) vs WFDF (let the players decide), Ultiworld have published an open letter to WFDF calling for observers in making line calls and sorting disputes at major WFDF events from 2014 written by one of the USAU Junior Coaches . A great read, sparking many comments; what do you think about it?

The German made ultimate film “The Invisible String” is available from, sounds like it is amazing so go grab one and also looking forward to the “Flatball” documentary in October!

Finally this week has been the European Youth Ultimate Championship in Cologne, Germany. Great Britain have been fairing well and the 4 squads today will start by playing:
Junior Open – QF vs Switzerland [Finished 4th]
Junior Women – 5-8 Semi vs Czech Republic [Finished 7th]
U17 Open – 6W’s last pool game vs Sweden  [Finished 1st: GOLD]
U17 Women – SF vs Austria [Finished 3rd: BRONZE]
Full results can be found on the ultiorganizer. A special mention goes out to the U17 Open squad who went 9-1 down to Austria, then 14-7 down and game point to comeback and win in sudden death 15-14. Watch their triumphant final score and en masse celebration, keep it up GB! 

Keep reading and commenting away! DP @ tSG. 

UKU Regionals Results

Chevron, Manchester, Tournament Reports, UKU Nationals, UKU Regionals

This weekend saw 16 teams from 6 regions earn their place at UKU Nationals 2013 and the first round match ups they gain.

Full results

South West

  1. Devon 1 (Q)
  2. Devon 2 (Q)
  3. Devon 3
South East
  1. Brighton City (Q)
  2. Reading Ultimate (Q)
  3. Release (Q)
  4. DED Open
  5. DED Mixed
  6. Guildford
  7. Brighton Echo
  8. Brighton Pier Pressure
  9. Team Shark

Greater London

  1. Clapham Ultimate (Q)
  2. KaPow (Q)
  3. Fire 1 (Q)
  4. Flump (Q)
  5. Fire 2 (Q)
  6. Burro Electrico
  7. Tooting Tigers
  8. Curve
  9. Jekyll and Hyde 1
  10. Brixton
  11. Jekyll and Hyde 2


  1. EMO 1 (Q)
  2. EMO 2 (Q)
  3. Birmingham Ultimate (Q)
  4. Jest Ridisculous
  5. Flyght Club
  6. Cambridge
  7. Leamington Lemmings
  8. Sharkbear

  1. Manchester Ultimate (Q)
  2. Chevron Action Flash (Q)
  3. LeedsLeedsLeeds
  4. Vision
  5. Black Sheep 1
  6. Black Sheep 2

  1. Glasgow (Q)
  2. Fusion
  3. Black Eagles
  4. Glue Factory
  5. Glasgow 2
  6. Sneeekys
The surprise being Manchester beating Chevron in sudden death to top the North and 6 of the qualifiers coming from outside the top 16 Tour teams. For a comparison on how our predictions did against Smatt’s blog, read his post! ED: We weren’t far off though.

We take the seedings from the UKU Nationals document which gives us the full 16 as:

  1. Clapham Ultimate
  2. Manchester Ultimate
  3. EMO 1
  4. Brighton City
  5. KaPow
  6. Fire 1
  7. Flump
  8. Devon 1
  9. Reading
  10. Chevron Action Flash
  11. Glasgow
  12. EMO 2
  13. Birmingham Ultimate
  14. Release
  15. Fire 2
  16. Devon 2
First round games will be in the knockout format: 1v16, 2v15 etc which will go up on the UKU Nationals website soon. 

This notably gives a possible second round (due to low impact criteria) regional rematch for Chevron and Manchester.

Cannot wait for Southampton now! DP @ tSG.

UKU Regionals Preview – South East

Brighton, DED, Previews, Reading Ultimate, Release, UKU Nationals, UKU Regionals

Brighton Echo player Miles Tincknell finishes of the regionals previews with a hotly contested South East, who have 3 bids and will compete on Sunday.

With only three places up for grabs the SE region will be experiencing a heated game to go while the top two battle for the prestige of taking the region.

DED (Dog Eat Disc) were last years years victors of the region after finishing a comfortable 4th at Tour in 2012, however a stronger and more fleshed out squad from Brighton brought it back hard at Nationals, beating them comfortably 15-5 while DED where were lacking some key players. This year they have slipped 6 places in the tour rankings down to 10th place, but will still be fighting for that vital qualification if they are again to establish themselves as the biggest contenders in the regionals tournament. With them placing in a mixed squad into the region, it is clear that DED’s focus is not just on the Open side of things. It will be interesting to see how they split their guys between the two teams, trying to find a balance can be difficult. DED will be looking to get comfortable with the mixed team but should be doing so without cutting too much depth from the DED open squad. If this team is to continue it’s growth, it’s important that it tries hard to find this balance and not sacrifice the few spots that are on offer, which will be highly contested from Reading and Brighton Echo.
DED at T2, but which men will go play mixed from this bunch? Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.

Brighton City, long time standing club and rumors suggest; the biggest Ultimate club in the UK, are on a mission that transcends that of single tournaments and instead places itself on the timeline of decades. With discussions rife about sorting out who will play Breezy, Echo and City, it is clear that Brighton City are thinking of nothing else but a Nationals qualification, a given seeing that they finished 4th at Tour over all this year, rising two places from 6th last year. However who they face in the final could be a different story. Trying out a new approach to Ultimate, City will be looking to see how their offense fares compared to last year not just in the region but all the way to Nationals. With Brighton putting up their best ever performance against Clapham this year (15-11), it will be interesting to see how they contend for the Euros spot as their team grows in strength and depth. 

Brighton Echo, a team that is seen as more of an extension of the first team within the club than a second team will be looking to prove a point in the SE. Meeting defeat upon defeat against Reading, they will be looking for revenge, but with Reading being comfortable in their victories, surely that 3rd place is destined for them and them only. Echo, however, will be sporting their strongest team yet, coupled with a few new tricks in their arsenal, their aim is to solely prove that Reading caught them on a bad few days. 

Reading as previously mentioned had comfortable victories against Echo this year and broke into A-tour after Tour 2, only to drop back out of it in tour 3. Proving that they are on the cusp of promotion, they finished top of B-tour, taking 17th, 4 places up on Echo who stole 21st from EMO 2 (a team that had previously given them trouble).  Going from strength to strength this year, they are in a prime position to take their game up to the next level. Lacking Mark Bignal (who is going to be playing for DED Mixed), their Captain and so goes without saying, a key player, the rest of the players will be looking to step up to the mark and prove that their depth is withstanding. 

Release have seen key players lost to Wessex last year and a few to Brighton over the years, they will be looking to rebuild their team back to full capacity; with regionals providing a perfect opportunity to do that. Sporting lots of fresh talent from Skunks, it will be important to see if these players build the club loyalty to stay or will their talent be head hunted by some of the bigger clubs as the younger players look to make plays to get noticed. Possible exciting moments from this team.

Pier Pressure being another part of the Brighton contingent will be looking to bring a hard game, with a lot of experience and ability, they have the potential to cause some upsets to the rankings. Wanting to further themselves in the regionals scene, Pier Pressure will be looking to bring a hard game to whomever they play. Expect tough defence and a hectic offence from these guys, who proved last year that given the right moment and their years of playing together, they can upset teams!

Team Shark and Guildford will also be appearing, hoping to utilise this as an opportunity to match up against the big players and teams, taking from it what they can in a hope to continue the growth they have been experiencing so far. 

Predictions for this region?

1. Brighton City
2. DED
3. Brighton Echo
4. Reading
5. Pier Pressure
6. DED Mixed
7. Release
8. Guildford
9. Team Shark

So that’s it, all the regional competitions will take place over the weekend. Follow the action on twitter! DP @ tSG. 

UKU Regionals Preview – Greater London

Clapham, Fire of London, Flump, Kapow, London, Open, Outdoors, Previews, UKU Nationals, UKU Regionals
James Burbidge tells us the London regionals story. Greater London has 5 bids for Nationals and will be held this Saturday.

With 5 qualifying spots, London is typically the richest Region in the country and for the past 3 years 4 teams from London have finished in the top 10 at Nationals.

With the uncontested top seed in the country ruling the roost in London, it’s unlikely that Clapham will lose a game at Regionals. Things get more interesting from then on. Fire are keen once again to get both squads to Nationals, and – going on results thus far this season – shouldn’t have much problem doing so. In fact the regional tournament structure should give Fire 1 the chance to prove to the heckling doubters their dominance over their second team – but you can bet that Fire 2 will be more fired up (excuse me) for that game than any other. Ka-Pow!, having come into a run of form (with the mooted return of Captain David Pichler), will also be out in force as all three teams battle for the higher positions that should give them better seeds and easier matches at Nationals.

Giacoma Maltman lays out for the D against his putative teammate Andy Mitchell (actually playing GBu23 here).
Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss via Blockstack.
Things get interesting when you look at the teams vying for the fifth spot – and depending on your taste, this could provide the most interesting story over the weekend. Teams in the hunt for that final spot will be perennial contenders (well, the last 3 years anyway) Tooting Tigers and Burro Electrico,* alongside a revived Flump team.

All three teams have had a topsy-turvy season so far, Flump rising unexpectedly quickly out of C-tour to the top section of B-tour, whilst (following Newtonian physics) Tooting have matched them with a fall from the middle of A-tour to the middle of B-tour. Burro have plodded along with solid results and unfavourable schedules that saw them finish ‘in A-tour’ at Tour 3. Burro has beaten Flump and Tooting this season, and Flump has beaten Tooting twice. To further complicate matters, both Tooting and Burro will be losing players to the mixed division and there are always late season injuries to be accounted for too. (One team who might be expected to make an experience in this area is ABH but they are focusing on mixed too.)

Chung Leung from Burro Electrico misses the goal at Tour 3. Photo courtesy of Louise Smith.
Further down the seeding will be some teams looking for a bit more pitch time together, the chance to play a big seed and perhaps even cause an upset for the 5th spot. Whilst the teams entered haven’t yet been released, likely teams in this bracket include St Albans, Curve, and perhaps PAF. Iceni is not believed to have entered a team this year.

So there you have it – a Region that should provide some top-quality games between some of the best teams in the country, as well as a classic qualifying battle. Stay tuned for a schedule.

*Full disclosure! I captain this team. 

Five regions down, one to go. DP @ tSG. 

UKU Regionals Preview – the North

Chevron, LLL, Manchester, Previews, UKU Regionals, Vision
Dale Walker tells us how he thinks the Northern region will pan out this weekend. The North has 2 bids to Nationals and will be held this Saturday.

With the introduction of the Regionals/Nationals structure to UK Ultimate over the past few seasons, the UKU has taken a glance across the pond to find a structure that allows for a flagship event to be created whilst encouraging local teams to come out and see the best in their proximity battle for the privilege of representing their region at the National Championships.

Whilst thinking about how best to introduce the Northern region and to truly describe the dynamic we have, my mind glanced across the pond as well for inspiration. Whilst not the learned observer I have been in years gone by, I still keep an eye out on the blogosphere and ultimate outlets to see the latest trends – where the talent is heading, who are the top contenders in USAU etc. – and whilst thinking of a direct comparison my attention swung to 2011 NW Regionals.
David Sparks makes a bid for LeedsLeedsLeeds at T2. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.

This particular tournament featured 4 of the best teams in the country at the time, battling for 2 spots to Nationals in a hugely under seeded region based on regional trends over the previous years. Revolver were at the peak of their powers – Kittredge, Cahill, Watson, Sherwood et al – and dominated the Regional and National scene. Sockeye had come off a very strong regular season, and were being heavily tipped to take the second berth to Nationals. Furious have been notoriously slow in the regular season and didn’t look tooled up to keep Rhino down, nevermind knock Sockeye out. Rhino (with the addition of Seth Wiggins, Chasing Sarasota era) had come off their best ever year and threatened to break the monopoly the afore mentioned trio had enjoyed.

Revolver took the Region. Furious knocked Sockeye out. Furious had beaten the bookies, and despite not coming close all year had taken them down when it really mattered.

First off, I am not drawing a direct comparison in terms of ability between the North of England and the North West of North America. The comparison lies in a region with 2 berths and 4 teams fighting – whilst one spot might be sown up, the latter is completely up for grabs and is 2012 taught me anything it’s that no-one is safe from the dark horse.

Chevron have been a powerhouse over the past few years in Northern ultimate. Their population is more diverse these days, featuring players from Manchester, Liverpool, London, Leicester, Leeds, Bristol, Exeter but the ethos remains the same – gritty, athletic ultimate with an explosive game based on dominant cutters. With some of the old guard moving on, Chevron have revamped in recent years and boast no fewer than 9 GB U23s in the Open team returning from Toronto. Lead by the Chevron veteran Matt Beavan and ably captained by 2010 U23 captains James Jackson, Mark Penny and Josh Coxon Kelly they will look to use Regionals as a tune up event having featured for the past 7 years in the top 4. Expect them to take the region comfortably.

Manchester Ultimate (the rebranded ManUp) have similarly rebooted their programme this year with an active focus on becoming the competitive arm of a hub of UK ultimate. Training weekly since October focusing on skills and fundamentals, Manchester were able to secure an 11th place finish Tour 3 having been promoted from B Tour earlier in the season. Losing in sudden death to KaPow and Ranelagh showed that this team can compete at the top and they are laying claim to be the dominant force in the North. Expect to see Adam Irving rip a few hucks to Nick “Bambi” Smith and Santiago Zuluaga make plays on both sides of the disc. Lead by captain Ewen Buckling bringing a humble intensity to the D line, with Sion Regan and Ben Brierley making explosive plays to keep the D line in with a shout against any team.

Having been part of the exodus from LLLeeds to Manchester between 2012 and 2013, this writer feared they may struggle to recover from the blow of losing 5 starters to Manchester. Leeds have done a superb job of starting from scratch and working with local talent to create a very strong team who have shown all year that youth can be a virtue. Bringing in talent from the local universities, Leeds managed to come up with Manchester at Tour 1 and have stayed in the top 16 so far. Rich Hims has been making plays all his career for LLL, and sets the tone for a young squad who don’t lack in legs (although rumour has it he may be playing Mixed therefore ineligible for Regionals). Ben Bruin keeps the offence ticking over with solid throws and good speed, whilst Chris Rodd and Sam Rayner keep picking the legs up to threaten any D. Having lost to Manchester 3 times this year, they will be determined to make sure they stop the rot and give themselves a chance.

Vision have bled their best talent to their competitors in the past few seasons (Liam Kelly, Sion Regan and Paddy Hart to Chevron, Manchester and EMO respectively) but have always been focused on bringing through local junior talent and giving youth it’s chance. They have always been a passionate team with a lot of fire, but have always struggled to retain depth to the squad and having lost the voice and wisdom of Mark Cooper and Mark Ansdell respectively this season they have relied on some newer faces to get the job done. Paddy Hart looks to control the offence with big throws and has willing runners in Pete Garnett and Dave Baxandall. Alex Walsh and Ben Smith Richards came through the GB Junior ranks together and possess pretty throws capable of hurting defences. Having secured a headturning sudden death victory over LLL in 2012 to secure a Nationals berth, don’t put anything past them in 2013.

Filling out the field is Black Sheep 1 & 2 who have spent the season growing as a team and splitting relatively evenly in Tour events (featuring in the C Tour). They will be approaching the tournament with a view to learning and growing further, with a set of games against the region’s top talent sure to boost them as a club in the future.
With the schedule just released, it appears the crunch game comes down to Manchester vs Leeds in the group stages. At this stage, it is unclear if both teams will elect to carry the result from the Group stage or potentially replay in the 2v3 (assuming Vision don’t cause another upset) but with a place at Nationals on the line for the victor, expect a dogfight. With the results this season in Manchester’s favour (15-10, 15-10 and 15-13 respectively all in crunch games) the smart money would be on Manchester joining Chevron in Southampton. 

I’m sure the smart money would have been on LLLeeds joining them last year.

What do you think? Tell us below, on FB, Tweet, email, ask away! DP @ tSG.