UMIR 2021: South West preview

With men’s indoor regionals this weekend, we’ve got some previews for you! Here’s Ollie Pattinson talking about what might happen in the South West.

Although still very much feeling the effects of Mixed Regionals, we are already looking ahead to Men’s Indoor Regionals this weekend. The South West region produced a high level of ultimate for the first tournament back, with tight games between a range of teams, and ultimately deciding the final results. 

Now the men’s teams will be attempting to recreate this level in Bath. Could this be the year that a competitor knocks the home team off of first place? Bournemouth will be making their first competitive appearance of the season, and joining the other six universities fighting for the spot that Bath have held for many years. With six nationals spots available (four for Div 1 and two for Div 2) the rewards are plentiful and all the first teams, plus numerous second teams, will have their eyes on qualification. 

Bath

Bath have started the season showing they have no intention of relinquishing the title of best in the South West. A first-place finish at Mixed Regionals shows that the level of the Bath team has not diminished, and they will again be the top target for the other universities seeking first place this weekend. Bath also had the highest place second team at mixed, showing depth among their teams. Bath 2 are also a team that have to be mentioned within the region given their incredible history of results. Twice in the last six years taking the top spots themselves, teams will have to be sure not to underestimate this second team. Bath will surely be looking at the qualification spots with the goal of once again finishing with two teams heading to nationals. 

Bristol

Bristol took second place and Div 1 qualification from Mixed Regionals. This result, and the fact that this was achieved in spite of more than a whole line of players getting injured during the weekend, shows that Bristol mean business. At Men’s Nationals in 2019-20 Bristol stormed Div 2 and took home first place. The other teams this weekend can expect that Bristol will have higher competition in their sights, and will be one of the toughest opponents this weekend. Bristol are also hoping their second team can take advantage of the extra qualification spots, and make their way to nationals as well. With a comfortable first BUCS win of the season, Bristol will see their opportunity to give Bath a run for their money and want to take first place.

Bournemouth

It is extra difficult to predict the Bournemouth team this year. The team did not get to have a first run together at Mixed and so will debut their season at Men’s Regionals. It will be an important test for the club following the disruption of COVID. The team is split between experienced players, including some GB U17s experience, as well as some freshers who will get their first chance at a competitive tournament. There are sure to be challenges for this Bournemouth team, but they aim to win as much as they can and most importantly enjoy themselves. As we have seen other teams face similar difficulties following COVID, Bournemouth will have lots of opportunity for close matches, and will hope their fresh squad can catch some teams out.

Exeter

Exeter not only come off of a second place finish at Men’s regionals 2019, but also a second team qualification in fifth, giving numerous developing players high-level experience. While the COVID delay may have disrupted this, we can still expect an experienced team and huge challenge presented by Exeter this year. A fourth place finish at Mixed Regionals may be disappointing compared to previous finishes, but having held two of the higher finishing teams to draws, Exeter will expect to improve on this for Men’s Regionals. Also coming into the weekend with a BUCS victory under their belt, the Exeter Men’s team will have confidence and high expectations. 

Plymouth

Plymouth were the unfortunate team to miss out on qualification for Mixed Nationals by one spot last weekend, but were a team that hugely improved as the weekend went on. Having exceeded their own expectations, Plymouth may come into Men’s Regionals with extra confidence and a big desire to improve further. While still rebuilding the team, and some freshers getting an opportunity on the first team, Plymouth will face some difficult opposition at the weekend. But with the extra qualification spots, Plymouth will be fighting hard to qualify and will be aiming to cause upsets. 

Southampton

Southampton have high expectations for Men’s Regionals. With both a BUCS win over Bath and  taking home the trophy at SICKO beginners, this year Southampton have demonstrated they can beat the toughest of opponents. Following their best Mixed Regionals in recent years, and only two losses both by a single point, they will believe they have what it takes to not only qualify but also compete for first place. With the addition of Andrezj Zarod (Wroclaw Flow) and Leo Micklem (UCD and Ranelagh) to that successful mixed team, Southampton have the talent and experience to expect nationals qualification. Southampton also have a strong, experienced second team who will want to be one of the many contenders for the qualification spots over the weekend.

UWE

UWE come off the back of a difficult Mixed Regionals, with a very new team coming back from the COVID break. However, strong experienced players on the team will be looking to rectify that at Men’s Regionals. With incredible performances in recent years, UWE is no stranger to nationals and will want to see their team return. Following some impressive displays of athleticism at the weekend, and now more experience playing together, UWE will want to bring a higher level to Men’s Regionals. 

The weekend is likely to involve numerous revenge battles from Mixed Regionals, and teams wanting to prove themselves. The predictions could again go either way, but with a some accurate guesses last week, I have a bit more confidence this set:

Predictions

  1. Bath
  2. Southampton
  3. Bristol
  4. Exeter
  5. Plymouth
  6. UWE
  7. Bournemouth

With the short turnaround between tournaments, teams will be hoping to bring the same level of competitiveness shown last weekend, with their new knowledge of the competition maybe helping create even tighter battles. I again predict some great excitement around the weekend and anticipate some exhilarating ultimate will be played.

Good luck to all teams heading to Bath this weekend!

UMIR 2021: Scotland preview

With men’s indoor regionals this weekend, we’ve got some previews for you! Here Nick Byrne previews what might go on north of the border in Scotland.

Well, we have all just about recovered from mixed regionals last week; a tournament which included a team with four players winning a game, a second team winning a bronze medal, and a stuffed animal coaching a team to a gold medal. Let’s hope this week is just as action packed and fun. There are four Div 1 spots up for grabs as well as three to Div 2, so plenty of teams will be making the trip to nationals. Who’ll take those top four could be close, though.

Aberdeen

Aberdeen has some very strong players in their squad going this weekend. A key player will be Josh Baillie who is not only a skilful and experienced player, but also has the advantage of height. 

Aberdeen started extremely strong at mixed regionals, taking third seed into the second day. They unfortunately just missed out on a Division 1 nationals spot, so they will be hoping to come out and make up for that by getting to Division 1 this weekend. 

Dundee

Dundee has some extremely skilful players. They suffer somewhat from a lack of tournament experience across the roster which is the only thing holding them back from being one of the top teams, but if they can play sensibly and keep their heads together for a whole weekend then they should be able to get a qualification for one of the divisions at nationals.

Their standout and go-to player is Johannes Umlauf, whose height and catching skills make him a difficult target man to stop and often a very good bailout option to beat strong defences. Young player Louis Fong also played exceptionally well at mixed regionals, getting multiple layout Ds and so will be looking to carry that form onto this weekend.

St Andrews

Having had a long conversation with new coach Balthazar, it is clear that St Andrews have very lofty expectations for themselves this weekend. He told me that despite losing Katie Trim, the only player in Scotland that can sky Ian Tait, they should still be able to hold their own and aim for two gold medals in two weeks.

Balthazar has further spoken about how he has watched Fraser Park playing for a number of years and he is really coming into his own this year and hitting his peak; his athleticism and throwing capabilities make him an extremely dangerous player on an indoor pitch.

Overall Saints have a very good chance to win this weekend and, with the roster they will be bringing backed by some very strong backroom staff, they will be disappointed with anything less than gold.

Stirling

Stirling are still in the middle of their big development push. They have done extremely well with recruitment both last year and this and so will be looking to go out and help their players gain as much experience as possible from this tournament. This does not however mean that they will be an easy game for anyone, they will be looking to play smartly and consistently and hoping that some of their new and inexperienced players can step up and make a name for themselves this weekend.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh had a very interesting weekend last week, with their second team coming away with a Division 1 nationals spot and a bronze medal. This week they will be looking to solidify this achievement and put together a stronger first team performance. 

Andrew Cleary is a player to really watch out for. Having played for Alba this summer he knows how to go out and win a bronze medal, although I’m sure Edinburgh will be hoping for better than that this weekend. 

Edinburgh have shown that they have skills and ability to beat the best teams this season and if they can put together more consistency this weekend, they should have a very good chance of a Division 1 nationals spot at least. 

Heriot Watt

Heriot-Watt come into this weekend with a mixed nationals spot already in the bag, hoping to claim a men’s nationals spot to go with it. From last weekend we can see that they have a lot of height and they know how to use it. Teams will struggle to stop Heriot’s high discs and tall defence. The only real weakness in Heriot’s game at the moment is its depth through the squad, and so if they have managed a strong recruitment year this season and are able to bring some depth as well as their height and throws to the tournament then they could definitely come out as a surprise package and threaten the top spots.

Strathclyde

Strathclyde are hurting at the moment. They have had a week to sit and think about that one-point loss in the final of mixed regionals to St Andrews and they do not want it to happen again. 

Captain Laurens Kok and GB Ian Tait add a lot of height to the squad which is a big advantage indoors, and means that most teams will struggle to pull off any overheads or deep shots against them.

Jonny Tang has just turned 28 and is finally ready to win a gold regionals medal, claiming he is going to get at least one layout D per game; anyone he is marking should be worried.

Will we get a repeat of last week’s final? I expect so. Will we get a repeat of last week’s results? Only time will tell, both teams are extremely well matched and it may well come down to who wants it more on the day.

Glasgow

Far Flung have managed to get a special delivery from down south in the form of GB U20 player Leon Williams. Not only does Leon have great abs but he has the ability to mark any uni-level player out of the game completely and run them ragged on defence. This addition, coupled with Joel Terry being on the team for the whole weekend, means that it would be a mistake to count Glasgow out of any game.

While they are not the favourites, if they are underestimated this Glasgow team definitely has the players to win every game and take home a surprise gold.

Second teams

I like to write about second teams often because you sometimes see them managing to grab a Division 2 nationals spot, and it’s always fun to see a second team beating a first team.

Edinburgh 2 last week however changed this completely as now apparently second teams are going for medals at these tournaments.

Edinburgh 2s are unlikely to make quite as much of a splash as they did last week since a lot of the guys that were on that team will now be on the first team, but they will still be looking to push every team they play against.

Both Strathclyde and St Andrews second teams will be looking to try and push for a nationals spot, and they both have a very good chance of doing so.

Prediction

  1. St Andrews 1
  2. Strathclyde 1
  3. Glasgow 1
  4. Edinburgh 1
  5. Dundee 1
  6. Heriot Watt 1
  7. Aberdeen 1
  8. Strathclyde 2
  9. St Andrews 2
  10. Edinburgh 2
  11. Stirling 1
  12. Glasgow 2
  13. St Andrews 3
  14. Strathclyde 3
  15. Aberdeen 2
  16. Glasgow 3
  17. Edinburgh 3

ShowGame Podcast: Episode 13 with Hannah Pendlebury and David Pryce

Sean was joined by DP and Hani to talk about the news that WUGC 2021 has been cancelled by WFDF, and that Great Britain have qualified for the World Games through the backup qualification process. It morphs into a discussion about where we might go from here and what ultimate might look like when we all come back, and ends on a pretty positive note!

RUNDOWN

The 2021 international calendar has been cleared. Is this the right call? Is this the right time? (0:28)

With whom should this decision lie, is it one for the players or should the federations be making these decisions? (4:21)

The 2022 calendar looks packed now – how tough will it be to fit all of these tournaments in? (09:51)

How much pressure does this all put on players? What’s the impact on them? (11:41)

The good news (if there is any): Great Britain is in the World Games field. Do we deserve it, and how excited should we be? Features wild speculation! (14:45)

How might qualification for WUCC 2020 work, what will ultimate look like if nationals can’t happen as normal this year? Come for the considered views, stay for *someone* moaning about Irish teams (20:00)

What benefits might we see from the new normal following the pandemic? (26:14)

Final thoughts on trying to ensure the local set-up isn’t London-centric, and trying to harness the social trend of people leaving London, a ‘sinkhole’ according to one guest (31:33)

UKU response to WFDF announcement

Si Hill, CEO of UK Ultimate, described the news as “sad and disappointing”, but said that he thought “on balance, I agree with the decision and I agree with making the decision now”.

Hill added: “I think certainty is good for everyone. Making the call on this tournament, as well as on the beach and under-24 tournaments, is the right thing and I think it shows that the decisions have been made based on safety. It’s sad to have to cancel another world championships but I’d encourage the players and everybody else to take some time to think, and to give people the benefit of the doubt on the motives driving their decisions. These decisions are really difficult for everybody and a great deal has changed even in the last six weeks, not only in the UK but globally as well. It’s a tough situation but I think this is the right decision.”

He added that the WUCC qualification element was something that UKU have not looked into in any great detail, but that he remains optimistic that some ultimate can resume by summer.

“We remain somewhat optimistic that we can play somewhat competitive ultimate in summer,” he said. “It might not look like tournaments but we intend to run a national championships in some form. It might be based on fixtures involving two or three teams playing fixtures locally rather than weekend-long events, but we think that we’ll be able to run something. We have a provisional booking for Nationals at the usual time but it’s impossible to know right now whether we will be able to run that event in the usual way.”

WFDF confirms that 2021 events are off

The World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) today announced that it would not be holding any events in 2021 due to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic. The decision means that WUGC in Leeuwarden and WU24C in Limerick, both scheduled for later this year, have effectively been cancelled.

A press release issued by WFDF said that it was “primarily concerned about the health and safety of athletes, volunteers, and others involved in planning and holding events” in making the decision to clear the 2021 calendar. It added: “WFDF has concluded that it is simply not feasible to plan cross-border events through 2021, due to varying regulations and restrictions. There can be no certainty as to the ability of athletes to travel and compete safely in various events in 2021.” WFDF confirmed that money paid by teams in 2021 will be fully refunded as soon as possible.

The decision was made following an extension to lockdown conditions announced by the government of the Netherlands on 12 January. The measure was extended to 9 February with ongoing border restrictions part of the response to the virus.

WFDF President Robert ‘Nob’ Rauch said: “While the development of several safe and effective vaccines is good news, the limited availability and slower than expected distribution plan guidance by governmental authorities suggests that a return to whatever our ‘new normal’ will be on a global basis is not going to occur until late this year. After taking into consideration all of the data available to us, in consultation with our event organizers, our review of WHO and other international guidelines, the status of the distribution of a vaccine, and the advice of our medical team, WFDF has concluded that it will not be possible to run large-scale events in 2021 in a way that protects the health and safety of all participants, and it is not even clear that travel and other governmental restrictions will be lifted until late in the year.”

The decision to not hold events in 2021 has a number of effects for the ultimate calendar in 2022. First, qualification for the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama in July 2022 has, according to established WFDF rules, been based on the last completed qualification tournament – WUGC 2016 in London. That means that Great Britain have qualified for the tournament, alongside hosts USA, Australia, Canada, Japan, Colombia and European rivals France and Germany.

The other events scheduled for 2022 include:

  • World Ultimate Club Championships (WUCC), which will be held as planned in July or August
  • World Beach Ultimate Championships (WBUC) which had originally been planned for November 2021 but will now be held in April 2022
  • The second edition of WMUCC, the master’s version of WUCC, in June or July
  • The World Junior Ultimate Championships scheduled for July or August

Rauch went on to talk about the possibility of more ‘local’ events being able to occur in 2021, adding: “Although large cross-border championship events will be slowest to return, we are hopeful on behalf of our national federations that local and national level competition can resume within the next six months. While athletes have been able to continue to participate in individual disciplines like disc golf, which grew exponentially this last year, we expect a gradual phase-in of team and large event activity, starting with personal training, socially distanced team practices, smaller local events, to full blown competitive events and tournaments.”

As part of that gradual phase-in, WFDF has already spoken to a number of federations who have taken the early decision to cancel their 2021 national championships, events that would effectively serve as qualifiers to WUCC 2022.  WFDF says that it will spend time working with federations to find ways that teams can be selected while keeping local and national health guidance in mind.

WFDF also confirmed that, having paused bid processes during the pandemic, it has engaged with potential bidders for 2022 events and will be moving forward with evaluations. The UKU has previously indicated that it will bid for WUCC 2022 in Nottingham, using a venue very close to the traditional WindFarm fields.

ShowGame Podcast: Episodes 8-12, the 2010s in review

The 2020 season has been scrapped due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It feels like none of us have left our houses for more than a quick walk around the block for months on end, and the last time there was a sanctioned ultimate tournament in the UK was August 2019. In the midst of this fallow period for the sport, we decided to take a look back at the last decade to reflect on what we saw, what we learned and how far we all came.

Sean spoke to a variety of people in the sport – from commentators to players and writers to those who run companies relating to the sport – to get to grips with the main topics that came up in the 2010s. You can listen to all of those reviews here, or find them wherever you listen to podcasts.

Episode 8: Tom Styles on the performances of the decade

To kick off the decade review series, Sean is joined by the voice of ultimate Tom Styles to talk about the best performances of the decade, as well as reminisce about some of the less glamorous experiences they’ve had working together.

RUNDOWN

2:00: What Tom has been doing during the pandemic.

4:12: What are you looking for in a great performance?

7:34: GB’s performance in hosting tournaments last decade.

10:45: The performance by a number of parties in improving media and fan access to the sport.

15:38: The role of Game Advisors, and their performance.

21:52: GB won a number of tournaments that they came into as favourites – how do you assess those?

28:43: GB’s performances on the beach, particularly in 2015 and 2017.

34:20: Bristol and Leeds winning UK Nationals.

36:20: Geo-focused mixed teams, particularly Reading, performing well throughout the decade.

39:45: The inevitable Clapham discussion and how you rate a team that doesn’t lose.

44:31: A brief discussion of the best university performances (stay tuned for more).

49:08: GB reaching great heights but not necessarily performing as they’d like once there.

53:38: The red letter year for Irish women’s ultimate in 2019.

58:32: Tom struggles to pick a performance of the decade.

60:36: BEST LINE – Tom picks a best mixed line that asks an awful lot of the female players.

Episode 9: Jon Pugh on fashion in ultimate

In this episode, Sean speaks to Lookfly manager Jon Pugh about the fashion changes of the 2010s and what factors have changed what we all play in, including technological advances, more divergence in how people want to look while playing and the effects of more gym work! There’s also some chat about changes Lookfly are making to how they describe their merch, and Pugh picks a best line.

RUNDOWN

How has the pandemic been for Pugh? (1:15)

How have things been since joining Lookfly? (2:10)

What changed for frisbee players in the 2010s? (3:35)

Have the designs and colours that are used for kit become more reserved? (8:33)

A change in socks – where have the long football and hockey-style socks gone? (11:20)

Let’s talk about shorts (and a shoutout to the skort wearer). (14:10)

Talking about the change to cut descriptions following a survey in the summer, changing to non-gendered descriptions. (19:16)

Why have there been so many changes with the different cuts? Features some advice for Valeria Cardenas. (23:23)

What’s behind the rise in tanks? (27:00)

What’s the coolest kit addition that Pugh has ever seen? (30:50)

What about the kit that has moved things on and been the most impactful? (32:30)

A moan about numbers! #keepthingsboring (33:59)

BEST LINE: Pugh picks his best line that goes against many of our rules and blames Sean for doing so. (35:19)

Episode 10: Fiona Mernagh and Dominick Smyth on Irish ultimate

The decade review series continues, with Sean speaking to Fiona Mernagh, a player in the silver and gold medal winning Ireland teams in the 2010s, and Dominick Smyth, a longtime player and coach in Dublin, about what the last 10 years looked like in Ireland, how things changed over the course of the decade and what changes are being put in place to capitalise on the huge steps taken in that time.

RUNDOWN

How have things been since March? (1:42)

Where was Irish ultimate at the beginning of the decade? (4:12)

Was there a point where things started to change, or has it been a longer development road? (7:18)

How much has the college scene impacted the development of the clubs in Ireland? (10:08)

How important has it been that there’s more than one base for ultimate – Dublin, Cork and Limerick all developing teams and communities to push each other? (12:31)

Has there been a particular emphasis on physical conditioning, and being able to maintain fitness throughout a tournament and a season? (15:57)

The impact of the GAA and the foundation provided by Gaelic sports (22:21)

Is it fair to say that the depth across divisions isn’t there at the moment? How can that be changed if so? (25:25)

Are you seeing the younger generation of players coming through into the sport now? (28:00)

What plans are being put in place to ensure that the last few years haven’t just been a ’golden generation’, and that development continues? Features a discussion about the importance of good coaching (31:25)

BEST LINE: Fiona shares her best mixed line (36:35)

BEST LINE: Dominick shares his line, an open one (38:36)

Episode 11: Harry Mason on university ultimate

Sean is joined by eternal student and longtime ShowGame uni editor Harry Mason to discuss the decade in uni ultimate, and work out who the best teams of the decade were using a highly scientific process. They also discuss the impact of BUCS, whether the quality is better now than it was in 2010 and the proliferation of divisions within the uni game.

RUNDOWN

Harry has finished his studies, finally (1:20)

What has been the biggest change in the last 10 years in uni ultimate? (02:18)

The impact of the difference between BUCS league and the usual ultimate structure (03:15)

Is uni ultimate better than it was the previous decade? (05:18)

There are a lot of divisions (08:25)

What would Harry change? (09:03)

THE COUNTDOWN (10:39)

11th and 10th (11:27)

9th (16:23)

8th (and this team’s legacy) (18:42)

7th, the only team with medals in two divisions and not all three (22:31)

6th and 5th, starting a run of four Scottish teams in a row (25:31)

4th and the biggest surprise to both of us (29:51)

3rd, the most consistent team of the decade (33:12)

2nd, featuring a special guest (36:18)

1st, which is probably quite obvious (51:13)

Who is the best single-year, single-division team of the decade? (58:08)

Episode 12: Hannah Pendlebury on the players of the decade

In this final decade review episode, Sean is joined by Hannah Pendlebury to talk about the players who defined the decade. While the open and women’s division discussions are pretty straightforward, there’s some disagreement about who to pick in mixed and plenty of chat about which played shaped the decade in UK ultimate and who might do so going forward. Also Hani moans about losing to draft champion Sean in 2017.

RUNDOWN

What do you factor in when thinking about the best players of the decade? (2:48)

How have the changes to the way ultimate works in the UK complicated this discussion? (4:52)

What attributes are you looking for in a player, is it playing style or team success or anything else? (9:32)

How do you factor in the mixed division? Features bitterness from Hani about historical events (12:07)

OPEN: Who is the best player of the 2010s in the open division, and is it really as simple as it seems? (14:03)

WOMEN’S: Is the discussion here slightly more complicated? (18:44)

What’s next for our two picks? (24:30)

MIXED: A much more complicated question given how transient success has been in mixed – is it even possible to pick someone here? (27:51)

Do we need two players for mixed? (38:42)

Who’s in the frame on the male side of the mixed division? (40:50)

What about on the female side? (45:04)

Who might be the players of the coming decade? (50:38)

BEST LINE: Hani picks a mixed line of people she’s played with in the UK (61:11)

ShowGame Podcast: Episode 7 with Liam Grant

Sean is joined by commentator, WFDF athlete commission chair and TD of next year’s planned World U24 Championships in sunny (?) Limerick, Liam Grant. They talked about all those things, what it’s been like organising a tournament under the shadow of Covid, and how much they both loved Japan. Liam also turns in a stellar performance in BEST LINE, throwing shade at everyone else’s line and claiming multiple players for Pelt.

How’ve you been during the pandemic? (1:24)

Under 24s next year in Limerick (3:30)

Why did you decide to put the bid in for this tournament? (4:11)

Is there anything else you might try to get there, any larger strategy? (7:15)

What are the facilities there like? (8:27)

How weird has it been organising this during Covid? (11:25)

Anything unexpectedly difficult? (16:38)

What’s it been like on the athlete’s commission? (19:20)

On commentary, has there been any event that stands out? (25:12)

BEST LINE: Liam picks a mixed team (28:37)