Mixed Tour 2 Review: A mixed bag.

A review of the second Mixed Tour event held in Manchester. 


Last weekend saw 52 teams from all around the UK converge on Manchester for Mixed Tour 2. The seedings for this Tour were, on the whole, more accurate as they were based on the finishing positions for Mixed Tour 1 but some teams still felt they had a lot to prove and wanted a shot at the top spot currently held by the World Games squad.
With the WG squad being selected we lost one team from the tour, as well as the Irish u23’s. This paved the way for a couple of teams on the waiting list and bumped a few teams up a seed or two.
DED vs Herd 1: Matthew Hodgson grabs over his team mate whilst pressured by Luke T. Courtesy of BlockStack.


The info graphic below shows how teams moved from their initial seed to finishing place.
Fun fact – Five teams retained their initial seed: WG (1), DED (6), Bear Cav 2 (29), Brixton (46) and Flyght 2 (48).


Notables jumps:
  • Team Shark +13
  • Flyght +12
  • JR 1 +11
  • Devon +9
  • Magic Toast/Some Team 1 +8

…and falls:
  • Curve -11
  • Golden Ants/Lemmings -7
  • Peeps/Halcyon -6
This was Team Shark’s first appearance of the season and they were probably slightly under seeded but a great jump up into top of the bottom half. Great work from Flyght, JR, Devon and Some Team to truly beat the system. Magic Toast (having picked up some of the WG trial players) got themselves back where they belong in the top 4.

The final, between World Games and Royal Goaltimate Society, started off a rather one sided affair with WG taking the first half convincingly. However, RGS were not going to sit back and let them win easily. A second half comeback brought them within a couple of points, but the athleticism and experience on the WG squad told in the end and they finally pulled away to take the title 15-8.  
Guess the WG player? Courtesy of Rien de Keyser.
My final note is one on the sadder side of our sport: injuries. In rather innocuous circumstances, a Scarecrew player suffered a dislocated knee and broken ankle that not only ended her game but the entire game. Josh and I would like to wish Eley Haslam a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing her on the field when the time is right.

To everyone else, please stay safe and do your fitness!! See you at Mixed Tour 3 in a couple of weeks in Cheltenham.

The ups and downs of Mixed Tour 2 (comparison of initial seed to final position).

Want to contribute please email us at showgameblog@gmail.com. Or simply like what you see? Comment, like, tweet any feedback is welcome! 

Lessons from Japan

GB Open and World Games coach Sion “Brummie” Scone tells us what he and the Open squad learnt at the World Ultimate and Guts Championships last summer. 


Brummie: This is an article that I originally wrote for Ultimatum (the UK Ultimate annual magazine) in the days immediately after my return from Japan last summer; however, I managed to forget to click “send” on the email, so it has been sitting in my drafts the whole time.  Oops.




As expected, Worlds showed a wide variety of new offensive and defensive strategies.  Here is a collection of thoughts centred around GB Open’s performance, but also looking at all the games I saw in all divisions – particularly the impressive Japanese women’s team – and a group of lessons that we can take home as things to work on over the next four years.

1.    Throw, throw, throw

Our throwing ability is short of the top teams; particularly USA and Japan who had strong throwers across their entire team. They also were comfortable with a wide variety of throws;  bladey throws and inside-outs over short distances being two main ones that other nations use well for handler resets and zone breaking.  The Japanese women were probably the best throwers across their entire team, and they won handily.

Lesson: Throwing skills are massively overlooked in the UK in favour of athletic ability. We need to continue to challenge our throwers to improve; why not use games and drills which force your players to use new throws? Don’t worry about turns – there will be plenty! – but the long term improvements will be huge.  GB Open used a modified version of Lou Burruss’ Kung Fu Throwing routine for a year before WUGC, and I highly recommend using it (or the Wiggins alternative) as a starting point.


Throw, Throw, Throw! Wessex vs ManUp, 2012 season. Courtesy of Kat Smith.

2.    “Safety First” makes you dangerous

We need to have better resets; Japan Open in particular had very strong resets that led to continuation and constantly kept us on the back foot, while the USA were confident at recycling the disc under pressure.  Both teams were great at turning a reset into an attacking position.

Lesson: Our resets need to be more than just “get the stall back to zero”, and should instead come with brutally effective continuation. Consider continuation as being part of your reset; failure to hit continuation is failure to reset properly.


  

3.    Legal, active marks

Most European teams play with static marks that are too close and foul often. Good throwers will abuse these with ‘contact’ calls or calling ‘foul’ during the throw.

Lesson: be mobile and legal on the mark for the most effective defence; sometimes being in the cutting lane, outside 3m of the thrower, is the most effective thing you can do to prevent flow, and is certainly better than fouling.


4.    Improve your offence by coming up with new defences

Your team needs to be adaptable if they are going to be effective.  Man-zone hybrid defence is going to become more and more prevalent in the future; when teams know precisely when and where they should be poaching and how to switch effectively, these defences are tough to beat (Sweden, Japan women). It is important to note that these zones were mostly effective because of good work ethic away from the disc; early repositioning and timely switching helping to stifle flow, rather than apply pressure on the disc, then quickly repositioning as the disc is swung.
GB Open’s zone offence generally failed to keep the disc moving against zones (Sweden / Japan), even once the cup had been bypassed, and this comes back to the issues with handler resets (as mentioned above). Only by swinging the disc with fast throws, and constantly taking small gains with handlers, is it possible to take these zones apart (see USA / Canada / Japan Open teams).  Short range overheads, and short leading throws, are also areas we need to improve on. 

Lesson: learn to throw the disc hard and play fast if you want to beat any non-man defence; continuation is just as important with zone O as with resets. All teams also need to be able to effectively switch and poach if we want our clubs to understand and be able to combat these types of defence.  I would encourage all teams to think about creating a new defence, and *stick with it*; they take time to work, maybe two years or more.


5.    Gritty defence starts with knowing your role

As a defender, know what you’re taking away, i.e. “Know where your kitchen is”, and what you can allow. (GB Open called the area just in front of the disc on the open side “the kitchen” and being beaten into this space was a big no-no.)  Most defenders are purely reactive, seen chasing their man around the field, rather than proactively adopting a body position that will prevent the bad guy getting into your kitchen and flirting with your mum!  So, regardless of where you are and where the person you’re guarding is, make sure you know your relative position with respect to your “kitchen”, and never allow them to slip through and steal your dinner.
 
Lesson: To play great defence requires great focus, and that focus only comes through training under pressure, but, more importantly, every member of the team needs to be a great athlete. You have to be in great shape to be a contender; this is no great surprise. We should be proud that “British defence” is strong enough to get the disc off any team in the world.  We need to focus on improving our D team’s ability to score more consistently under pressure to take advantage of these hard-won turns, particularly against teams like Sweden, Canada and Colombia that try to change the pace of the game to take you out of your comfort zone.

6.    Play fast and small

The faster you play, the harder you are to stop. Being able to work at high speeds, and in tight spaces, are the key factors that will be vital in years to come. “Old skool” offences which isolate a single player in a large proportion of the pitch were not hugely effective at Worlds. Likewise, failing to swing the disc quickly (fast throws) plays into the hands of poach sets.

Lesson: offences need to be adaptable enough to take advantage of momentary advantages which will be presented by poach sets, but everyone needs to be on the same page to prevent costly mis-communication turns. Learn to throw fast passes to stationary players to minimise hang time and reduce the effectiveness of poaching. In short, offences need to be comfortable playing in the small space in front of them, rather than needing large areas of clear space to advance the disc.


7.    Take the most damaging option, but keep the risk as low as possible

GB Open broke the mark more consistently than all the teams we played other than USA, and we had success because of it. Japan’s approach was more along the lines of “avoid the mark, but get it to the undefended side anyway”, which was brutally effective and tough to stop.

Lesson: be confident breaking marks, but you don’t necessarily need to break the mark in order to get the disc where you want it, which is generally in the hands of a receiver cutting towards the break side of the field. As long as their defender has no bid on the disc, it is a great option. If you don’t need to risk breaking the mark to achieve that, that’s perfect. One way to achieve this is to isolate a cutter on the open side and have them cut to the break side; the resulting pattern will be an open side throw for the thrower, but will still be away from the receiver’s defender. Win-win.


GB Open take Silver at WUGC 2012 in Japan. Courtesy of nzsnaps.com.

Liked what you read here? We hope to hear more from Brummie in the future. Do support him and the World Games team in any way possible. Don’t forget to share, like and tweet this piece and our blog too!

A long road to Europe

Mark Earley tells us about Irish open teams and the challenges they face on the road to European Ultimate Championship Series.

Last Friday night saw the final game of a three team round robin take place in Dublin, Ireland. The Open teams involved were playing for a spot at EUCR-S in Bern this August with the long-term goal of securing a spot at xEUCF in Bordeaux. In effect they were qualifying for a qualifying tournament.


There are lots of reasons for this. Firstly, Ireland’s performance at previous European club competition is practically non-existent. Rarely has an Open team come from Ireland to compete at EUCC or xEUCF. Ally this to the fact that the national Open team has not improved on 2007’s 6thplace finish and it looks like the Open division teams merit little more than one spot at a qualifying tournament. Furthermore, Ireland has moved region. Irish teams used to be a part of the EUCR-W region, which uses the final standings of UK Nationals as qualification. However, the Irish Flying Disc Association decided that it would be in the clubs’ collective best interests to look to qualify elsewhere. At the time this was a wise move with teams rarely finishing higher than the 12-16 bracket at A Tour. Whats more, it was thought that the variety of European competition would stand to Ireland’s best players, not to mention the chance to play Ultimate in a warmer climate! As a result, Ireland’s clubs now play in the South region along with Italy, France and Switzerland.

Irish Ultimate Frisbee (IFDA)


Over the past few years it has become apparent that Irish teams can, and do, hold their own when competing against the top clubs in the UK. While no team has managed a win against the ‘big two’ of Clapham and Chevron, teams like Ranelagh, Paddy Murphy, Dublin Ultimate and Rebel Ultimate have picked off wins against most of the chasing pack at some point or another. With the strength of Irish university Ultimate proving itself (most recently courtesy of the ever-impressive UCC Ultimate) it will be interesting to see if this will translate up to club form this summer, which has brought people to wonder if the IFDA’s decision to change region was the correct one.

The UK has 6 places available to Open teams where the South region has but 4. Furthermore, the style of Ultimate played in the UK is one that Irish teams are both accustomed to playing against and to playing themselves. With UK Tour set to be as competitive as we have seen in a long time it’s hard to tell how Ranelagh and Rebel will fare. With Clapham sending two teams, Chevron building on European silver medals, and a host of teams impressing pre-season including Ka-Pow who have recruited strongly, Fire, always there or thereabouts and last year’s surprise package DED, there will be an intriguing power struggle in the top 8.

So how does that compare to the South? Well, the top Swiss teams are among the strongest in Europe with FAB and Freespeed consistently dangerous. Crazy Dogs are another excellent outfit, whose Juniors program is producing very tangible results and it would be hard to overlook Solebang, another Swiss powerhouse. Italian teams are traditionally temperamental and it’s hard to tell how they will perform but in CUSB Bologna and Cota Rica they have two teams full of athletic ability and skill. Finally, the French. French Ultimate has flattered to deceive for a while now, but as seen in 2011 when the Open team picked off some huge scalps, the produce of their successful Juniors teams is beginning to make it’s presence felt at Open level. Tchac are an example of this and Friselis, reigning French champions are another side with obvious pedigree. Ultimate Vibration might not be the force they once were but along with Iznogood, have ample experience to run with any strong team. All of these teams are competing for 4 spots in Bern.

Ranelagh FC

Which brings us back to Dublin last Friday. Going into the game there was little to separate the two teams involved. Rebel Ultimate have dominated Irish Ultimate for a few years now, winning most domestic tournaments in all divisions. Their Open team lost the finals of both the Indoor and the Outdoor All-Ireland Championships last year (one to Broc and one to Ranelagh) but would argue that they didn’t play their best, especially in the outdoor final. Ranelagh are their main rival and the Cork team currently has a 4-1 record against them, the most recent win coming in February’s Indoors final, albeit against a weakened Ranelagh squad. With the focus this season thus far on university Ultimate, both teams have only played one competitive game, against Pelt Ultimate from Limerick, which they both won with ease, so the stage was set for a good battle.


Despite the cold and windy conditions approximately 50 fans turned up to watch the game in Dublin and they were treated to a great battle. The game started in sunshine with a gentle crosswind (that by the end of the game was a strong, cold wind) and with Ranelagh on offence. Rebel came out fired up and broke to score the first point. The game settled a little and both offences took control, with the teams trading after Rebel’s early break. Ranelagh got a break back and after a few more scores took half 9-7. The second half proved a slightly more cagey affair with both teams able to go on runs both due to big Ds and some unforced turns. First was Ranelagh who courtesy of some huge plays from young guns Rob Holland and Robbie Brennan jumped out to a 4 point lead to go 12-8 up. The strong wind was having more of an effect and Rebel decided to introduce their zone. It was an inspired decision and some huge Ds from John Doc and Mark Fanning got them to within 1 score. At 12-11, in a game to 14 it was all to play for and Rebel had their tails up. Ranelagh were able to close the door though and despite more big bids from the Cork team Ranelagh veteran Dominck Smyth broke the force for the match winner to another young player Cillian Flynn. 14-11 to the Dublin team.

So, this August Ranelagh will travel south to Bern where they will face very stiff competition for the chance to represent Ireland at European clubs top table. With three UK Tour competitions to come it will be a battle-hardened team by the time August comes around and not one to be taken lightly. 

Watch out for Ranelagh at Open Tour 1 at the end of May in London.  Have something to say? Comment below or email showgameblog@gmail.com. Remember to like, share, tweet and contribute!

Mixed Tour 2 (2013) – Manchester

A quick preview on this weekends Mixed Tour in Manchester.

The schedule is out, the weather doesn’t look too bad. We are all in for a great weekend. 

Topping the tournament are the newly selected World Games squad, who look to hold onto that spot. They will be challenged by Brighton, RGS and Bristol tomorrow and most likely one of Black Eagles, Cambridge, DED or Bear Cavalry on Sunday.
Some great match ups there, go watch and support our GB teams!

Teams that did well last tour have been rewarded with their higher seedings, as expected. Sadly we are missing Ireland U23 but we have also gained some new faces: Halcyon, Team Shark, Devon and Brixton to name a few. Expect a few movers from this lot.

Finally, GB U23 are yet again using this event as training (pitch 24 for Open) with the Mixed squad out in full force once again and fundraising from the Women. Please find them give them money, water and support for Toronto.



Dont’ forget to like, share and follow us and use the hashtag #ukumt2 for on the move results and news from the weekend!

The Grapevine – 26/04

Every Friday – A summary of some of the latest Ultimate based posts from UK, Europe and beyond…

Ka-Pow! repeat last year’s win at the DED warm-up, write up by Eddy Van Der Kloot.

Our friend and contributor Mark Earley gives us another great interview with the Ireland u23 Open coach Leo Yoshida.


Barry O’Kane talks to the one and only Ultimate Rob in Episode 15 and aforementioned Mark Earley in Episode 16 (with a great shout-out cheers Mark!) on UTalkRaw.


UKU AGM takes place at MT2 in Manchester, agenda here.


PushPass have filmed 20 games at Uni Nationalsbuy and watch for only £8.99.
Also check out the latest post in ‘Drama‘ discussing the recent ESPN/USA Ultimate deal.

Cardiff beat Swansea in their University varsity, watch some footage here.

WFDF announces the number of preliminary slots countries are allocated for their club teams at WUCC 2014 in Italy.


The GB World Games team was announced a fortnight ago for Cali 2013 


Do you own or know of a blog or website that should be here? Let us know!

University Nationals Review: A Gaelic Affair.

David Pryce reviews an exciting weekend at University Open Nationals in Nottingham.

Last week I previewed this event and made a tentative attempt at predicting the outcomes.   Yet again the University teams gave us some great action but most of all some surprising results. The full version of these can be found here.


Division 1 was very hotly contested from the start where my predicted pool of ‘death’ befitted this title with a three way tie. Early on Sussex beat Edinburgh then Sussex would get beaten by Manchester who would lose to Edinburgh. Manchester (finishing 4th) came out on top, giving Sussex and Edinburgh the crossovers. They managed to power through to quarters where sadly Sussex could not pass Cork and would have to be content with 5th. 

In the other pools Sheffield battled their way into top 8 but couldn’t quite hold onto their momentum for Sunday finishing 8th. Three teams of pool D managed to get into top 8 places and Birmingham eventually beat Manchester to take 3rd. 

The final was between Edinburgh and Cork, this turned out to be a one sided affair where Cork only conceded a handful of points. This was not for Edinburgh trying with some great plays on both ends of the field. However, everyone will agree that the boys from Munster were out and out the best team there this weekend and congratulations to them, taking the UK University Nationals title.

Edinburgh vs Cork in the final. Courtesy of Andy Moss 2013

Division 2 was, as predicted, full of surprises:

  • All three Scottish teams finished in the top 8
  • Limerick (the other Irish team to attend) were very strong and got themselves to the final
  • Only one SE team (Imperial, finishing 3rd) made it into top 8.
The final was in fact between Nottingham and Limerick. Both teams had looked strong throughout Saturday. To get themselves there they had to battle somewhat harder against the likes of Warwick and Imperial but deserved their finalist positions. The game itself was still going on well after any other game had ended with one of the last points lasting a good 20 minutes. Calls were made, disputed and discussed with eventual resolution the score was held at 6-6. Then Nottingham powered through to score two on the trot and take the title. 

The Alumni Cup was also running alongside and after a day and a half of play Bangor and defending champions Leeds were in the final. Leeds could not quite hold onto that title and Bangor are now the best Alumni team in the country. Did you play university ultimate and want to challenge them? Well make sure to enter next year!

With two Irish teams doing well, including Limerick who actually came 4th at their ‘regional’, one question was heard all around the tournament: should the Irish region get another slot? Well this would mean one less slot for another region or a bigger tournament. We shall have to wait and see what the UKU does. I for one saw the strength of both these teams and was very impressed, the work done by the IFDA to bring through juniors and create the ultimate hotbeds around Cork and Dublin has clearly paid off. 

Regardless, Irish university ultimate have thrown down a gauntlet this year – will the mainland teams be able to step up to the challenge?

Limerick and Cork bring a top class game to Nottingham. Courtesy of Andy Moss 2013

Women’s and Alumni will be covered by the end of the week. Any suggestions for pieces? Got some cool photos? Submit them to showgameblog@gmail.com. Also follow us on Twitter and FB.

University Open Outdoor Nationals

David Pryce brings us his brief preview of University Open Outdoor Nationals being held this weekend in Nottingham.

This weekend 32 open teams will travel from their respective corners of the country to University Nationals. Regionals was (for most) a month ago, the snow has cleared and we have even had some sun. I will now attempt to give a brief preview of the upcoming weekend and, after 7 years of failing, attempt to make some predictions about both divisions. 


The schedule and pools are out and in Div 1 we have:


  • Pool A: Sussex, Manchester, Edinburgh, Leicester – some would say the pool of death with current champs and a lot of strength in all four clubs. I would say Sussex and Edinburgh to edge it and take the top two spots. 
  • Pool B: Cork, Cardiff, Surrey, Aberdeen – A very similar pool to last year for Cork, Aberdeen and Cardiff. These three are at a similar strength to a year ago and so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a three way tie here.
  • Pool C: Bath,  Cambridge, Sussex 2, Sheffield – All props to Sussex 2 for making it this far but I cannot see them getting higher than third in the pool here. With Alex Brooks pushing Bath all the way and Elliott Moore and Dom Dathan doing the same for Cambridge few would bet against one of those two topping the pool. 
  • Pool D: Dundee, Southampton, Birmingham, Durham – Of the four pools I would say this is the most open but if asked to go for it, I would put Dundee and Southampton as the top two but very closely contested by Birmingham.


This would make the top 8 look something like: Sussex, Edinburgh, Bath, Cambridge, Dundee, Southampton and two of Cork, Aberdeen or Cardifff. With a couple crossovers, quarters and semis to play before the final and the Nottingham venue known for it’s windy temperament you might favour the Brighton and Scottish teams but as is the way with our sport it’s about who peaks at the right time. I predict a Sussex versus Edinburgh final. 


From a very open Div 2 we have:


  • Pool E: ExeterLeeds, Strathclyde, Portsmouth – A real tough pool to call here with a lot of strength across the board. Exeter still hold the edge at top for me and one of Leeds or Strathclyde. Too hard to call between the two but 12:10 on pitch 17 will decide for me.
  • Pool F: LoughboroughLiverpoolSt AndrewsPlymouth – Another hard one however the Loughborough and St Andrews teams have very strong training programs and so I would put my money on them.
  • Pool G: Bristol, Newcastle, NottinghamImperial – I am slightly biased here so for integrity will avoid talking about Imperial directly however I wouldn’t write us off in this pool. Another three way tie between Bristol, Nottingham and Imperial? 
  • Pool H: Warwick, Glasgow, LimerickLSE – An Irish team are always a tasty addition to Nationals but I think the strength of Glasgow and Warwick will power through to the top 8.



This make the top 8: Exeter, Loughborough, St Andrews, Glasgow, Warwick and three of Leeds, Strathclyde, Bristol, Nottingham or Imperial. As you can see and know div 2 is much more open than div 1. There are definitely more teams able to sneak into the top 8 and to the point where these predictions are pointless. Expect some upsets and unexpected finalists here.

All in all, look forward to big plays at both ends of the field, old postgrads getting angry and even, fresh faced first years skying and laying out for everything. Not forgetting the Alumni Cup in it’s second year, anyone can win it BUT can Leeds defend their inaugural title? Can’t wait, see you there UK!



Push Pass Productions will be filming predominantly on pitches 11 and 12 so look out next week for releases of finals etc, like them on Facebook to stay informed!
Blockstack.tv will also be covering the event with team photos and gameplay photos too: contact Andy Moss for more details.

Twitterazzi have already started commenting with the hashtag #ukuuon and follow all the teams’ tweets for results. David will be at the tournament with Imperial so if you have any ideas or questions go ask him and don’t forget to like and follow us too!!