Masterclass is ended by Soar! *sore

Masterclass, the ‘home’ team here at WMUCC, had a great run to the quarterfinals of the competition. Three consecutive losses at the start of the tournament proved to be the only times they would lose in the pool as they reeled off five wins in a row to take their place in bracket play when it started today as the seventh seed.

Their opponents, the Texans Soar! *sore won pool A despite losing a game. Molly Grey defeated the Texans but lost to Canadians lowercase, who Soar then beat to complete a three-way tie. Soar came out top there and so went into quarters as the second seed.

The game started well for Masterclass with Claire Pugh catching the score for a quick break. The teams both worked their offence well for the next few points until 4-4. At that point Soar started to chip away at Masterclass’s offence and make disc movement more and more difficult. By this point the wind had started to pick up from an already breezy day to something much more challenging, and the Americans seemed more accustomed to dealing with it and were executing slightly better in the gusts.

Two assists from Brooke Woolridge gave Soar two breaks in a row, flipping the advantage from the Irish team to the Americans. Masterclass stopped the rot with a hold for 5-6, but the weather continued to deteriorate. Two long points ended in holds and the teams went into half with the score at 6-8 after another Soar hold.

Half-time saw the wind reach its apex for this game. Pulls from the left side of the pitch were lucky to reach the brick, and movement for both teams against the other zone was tough and attritional. Soar took advantage and punched in another break to extend their lead and snatch away any advantage that starting the second half on O might have provided the Irish. The teams exchanged more holds, with throws taking advantage of the wind proving successful; two loopy flicks that sailed on the breeze floated perfectly into receiving hands in the endzone. The score was now 8-10, the Americans up narrowly but seemingly playing with comfort and calmness despite the chaotic weather.

A fantastic layout catch by Krystina Morris preserved possession against the Masterclass zone and from there Soar seemed to be able to work it around well and scored for a three-point lead. The points were flying by with both teams executing impressively on most throws, but errors seemed to be made in the worst spots giving the other side a short field they could work through quickly. Soar were doing a better job of taking big chunks of yards and leaving themselves less open to those quick scores against.

Krystina Morris with a diving catch to save possession. Photo by Sam Mouat

Just as it had in the later stages of the first half, the Soar D came to the fore. A big attempted Soar block hung in the wind and was caught by Irish hands, but the turn came a few passes later and was slotted home by the Americans giving them the wind advantage. An upwind Masterclass point was stopped with a block by the cup after an attempt was made to thread a throw through and Soar worked the disc nicely to take a commanding 8-13 lead.

At this stage the work seemed done. Masterclass stuck with their zone and caused the Texans some problems but the smooth offence and all-around throwing ability of the Americans proved too much. Masterclass got a block with the score at 10-14 but turned on the first throw, and Soar didn’t look back. Final score Soar! *soar 15-10 Masterclass, and the Americans progress to play StellO who surprised Molly Grey in their quarter.

Masterclass captain Jennifer Kwan was delighted with how the week has gone despite the loss in the quarter:

“We knew it was going to be a really tough game. We were delighted to be in the top eight, just getting here is as well as an Irish team has ever done, but it was a tough game. We started out strong with a break on the first point but then they were just so clinical both upwind and downwind and it was hard for us to claw it back once they got hold of the disc but it was a great game, we loved it.

“The wind was building when we were warming up but it just picked up, it was weird because the downwind discs were floating rather than zooming so a tricky wind and I think they dealt with it a bit better than us. They had some fantastic pulls that went out on the sideline and trapped us really quickly, made it difficult to even get started.

“As a group I think we’ve had the best week we’ve ever had as a women’s team other than 2019. We’re having a great time, we came with no expectations and wanted everyone to play, play against teams we’ve never played against before and play competitively. I think we’ve done that and we’ve turned up to every game, given really good fights and won battles against teams we knew we could beat and given good battles to the top teams. This is our home ground so to speak but when we go abroad we have to deal with everyone else’s still weather and this time maybe we have some of the advantage.

“We’ve said the whole way through we’re going to have a nice time and we win and lose as a team. As long as everyone is enjoying it that’s enough for us.”

Soar! *sore player Brooke Wooldridge was equally happy, and looking forward to the next stage of the competition:

“The game was absolutely terrific. We had such a great game against the home team, we are so grateful to be here in the first place and in terms of a quarterfinal game they fought until the end and we were very happy with our performance. Obviously we still have more games ahead of us and we are looking forward to tomorrow.

“We come from Texas and the conditions there can be very windy. In preparation for the tournament we have been practising together, we played for the first time as a team last year in June for USAU masters nationals. When we learned we had gotten the bid in winter of 2021 we decided to take it very seriously and we’ve been practising together in winter and spring. We’re pleased and think it’s paying off.

“This is not an extension of an existing club team, our captains Hien [Le], V[eronica Coombs] and Maricar [Lafita Navarro] decided to put this masters team together last year. For me, a player who’s trying to get to the highest level they can, I can’t speak highly enough volumes about the work they did in getting it together in order to get us here.”

Game recap: opening showcase from the hosts

WMUCC 2022 kicks off with a showcase match from the women’s division. The Irish home team, Masterclass, faced StellO from Canada’s capital Ottowa.

StellO had the first pull, meaning that Masterclass started on offence going downwind. The first point was long, with both teams struggling to complete passes in very wet and windy conditions. Deep shots failing to find receivers were common from both sides to begin with. StellO eventually managed to get the score, a huge boost for them having started both on D and going upwind.

In the first few points we continued to see plenty of “huck and D” type tactics, with players attempting to get the disc down the field, even if it came at the expense of losing possession. When they had possession, it seemed that Masterclass players were looking up field with no good options and StellO eventually scored again, making it 2-0.

Masterclass then had the wind with them, and the connection of talented Irish veterans Fiona Mernagh and Sarah Melvin allowed them to reel in their first score, taking it to 2-1. StellO then scored again, making it 3-1, and soon looked like they were going to put in another one, but they called a timeout just short of the endzone line. This didn’t pay off for them and after a few more turns, Masterclass scored to bring them to 3-2.

Points so far had been long, and all but the very first point were scored downwind. The upwind team was typically finding themselves stuck on their own endzone line, unable to move the disc very far up the pitch. StellO stuck to playing slightly poachy defence, while Masterclass mostly played their zone.

The teams continued to trade over the next couple of points as the wind made it incredibly difficult to get a break. StellO were very patient working it around Masterclass’ zone and a few points later the score stood at 5-3. Masterclass scored again with O’Mahony taking a shot into the endzone and finding a McMorrow laying out to make it 5-4. Despite this, the strong wind meant Masterclass were unable to equalise and StellO instead took it 6-4 before half time was called 55 minutes into the game.

After seven minutes break, StellO came out on offense going downwind. This point was long, but eventually won by StellO, who then quickly put in another to take the score to 8-4 and widen the gap.

Masterclass, however, did not give up and a great read from Jen Kwan allowed her to poach off and get an unexpected turn. The disc then quickly made its way upwind towards the endzone, where Melvin reeled in another score, taking it to 8-5.

Masterclass then had both the momentum and the wind with them, allowing them to score again, making it 8-6. There were then some promising connections from the Masterclass players, but they couldn’t quite put in the upwind break they needed. The two teams then traded again in a series of quick points, taking the score to 10-8 to StellO after a bold hammer from Masterclass’ Kwan across the endzone and into the hands of McMorrow.

After another slightly longer point, StellO’s Rioux put one up for Polowyk to make it 11-8 just before the soft cap went. The rest of the game felt like Masterclass had slightly lost momentum. StellO scored again, confirming that it would be a game to 13. At 12-8, Masterclass would have had a lot of work to do if there were going to pull this back. It wasn’t long, however, before StellO scored again, with Green coming down with the game-winning catch, ending the game at 13-8.

Although the score got away from Masterclass slightly at the end, this match was closely fought as both teams got accustomed to the wind and rain. The women’s division is organised into two large pools, with nine teams in each. This means both Masterclass and StellO could go on to do well in their pool, but we’ll have to wait to see how things play out.

Windfarm: Women’s recap

Making her ShowGame debut aking a look at the Windfarm women’s division is Marina Symington, who’ll be covering WMUCC in Limerick for us later this month!

After several years of either cancelled or scaled-back events, Windfarm 2022 marks the first full-scale Tour event in close to three years. A total of 63 teams across all divisions travelled to Nottingham’s familiar Riverside Sports Complex for a weekend many will have been delighted to see return.

The women’s divisions featured a nice spread of the familiar top British teams, as well as newly formed Horizon, junior players from GB U20s, and Dublin Gravity and Masterclass coming over from Ireland. Let’s take a look at a few highlights as these players converged in the Midlands.

Bristol remain champs

The reigning national champions proved themselves still dominant, prevailing in the same city as their 2021 national title. Their road was not without some tight games. In the pool stages they finished second in their group, comfortably beating Thundering Her but having lost 12-11 in a tight match against a Masterclass team that featured Irish stars Sarah Melvin and Fiona Mernagh in a squad featuring a number of other Irish national team veterans. Wins against Dublin Gravity and SMOG then saw Bristol facing Masterclass for a second time in the semis. After another close game, Bristol came out on top this time, winning 15-14 and securing their spot in the final against SYC. SYC’s route to the final was also not plain sailing. They lost to their big rivals Iceni in the pool stage, but then went on to beat them the second time they met, this time in the semis, reflecting just how tight the competition is between the top few women’s teams. Bristol’s experience and composure in the final ultimately saw them victorious once again, with World Games players Carla Link and Molly Wedge again central to their success after being absent for other tournaments this season. Perhaps this sets the tone for what we can expect to see more of from Bristol.

Carla Link throws to Molly Wedge in the semi. Photo by Sam Mouat.

SMOG dominate in their pool but drop a few seeds

The next pool saw SMOG face SCRAM and Cambridge Women. The women from SMOG, a club who we typically see dominating in mixed, had comfortable wins against both other teams. In their last game on Saturday, they lost a tight match against LMU in a pre-quarter crossover. Sunday then saw these two teams come head-to-head once again in their final game of the weekend. This was another close one, with SMOG coming out on top this time, winning 11-9, placing them fifth and leaving LMU, who had come in as fourth seed, in sixth place.

Dublin Gravity struggle in a tough pool

Arguably the toughest pool in Division 1 featured London rivals SYC and Iceni, alongside Dublin Gravity. This was unfortunate for a development Gravity team, who had to face eventual second and third placed teams right off the bat. Their luck didn’t improve as they then had to play eventual winners Bristol in the crossovers, putting in an impressive performance and narrowly losing only 12-10. This, however, put Gravity in the 9-16 bracket, where they dominated in their next three games and comfortably took ninth.

Close competition in the middle of Division 1

The final pool in Div 1 contained LMU, Spice and Reading. LMU narrowly beat Spice and both teams beat Reading, ranking the three teams LMU, Spice then Reading. Reading had to play both Spice and LMU again on Sunday, where they lost to both again. The three teams finished the tournament sixth, seventh and eighth in the same order they ranked in their pool. This is only the second season for Spice, who are heading to worlds this summer and might have hoped to cause more upset in the top of Div 1. They did get the opportunity to play both SMOG and Masterclass, which will have been good experience for them going forward this season.

Cambridge and Thundering Her displaced from Division 1

The bottom two spots in Div 1 were given to Cambridge Women and Thundering Her (the women’s entry from mixed team Thundering Herd). Both teams had a tough time in their pools, facing some of the best talent in the country. Cambridge were missing some of their key players that lead to this season’s indoor success and had teamed up with women from RED to field a full roster. Thundering Her also struggled in their pool, but then faced some closer matches on Sunday. After losing to Flamingos (the Flyght/Lemmings joint team) they went on to convincingly beat GB U20 women and finished the weekend with a narrow win against Horizon: Forbidden West to take 13th.

Horizon enter a massive three teams

It’s worth also mentioning the success of the brand-new women’s club, Horizon. Formed this year with the hope of filling a gap in women’s ultimate in Yorkshire and the North, they managed to enter and incredible three teams to their debut tournament. The three teams were not ranked on ability, with the more experienced players instead distributed across them. Nonetheless these teams were not out of their depth. Horizon: Zero Dawn even went on to finish 12th, putting them at the bottom on Div 1. The other two Horizon teams finished 14th and 17th, firmly establishing Horizon as a club to be taken seriously moving forwards.

Needless to say, overall Windfarm was a great success for the return of Tour and an exciting insight into what this season will bring. Congratulations to all the teams that took part!

Windfarm: The Return

It has been nearly three years since there has been a proper, full Tour event. Windfarm, once derided for the difficult conditions it inevitably provides (hence the nickname we gave it that eventually became the official tournament name) will be something of a triumphant return for the super-event we were all so used to before the pandemic, with more teams and pitches than any of us will have seen for years.

The 63 teams are split between open and women’s, with 41 and 22 respectively. It’s been a busy week at ShowGame towers and there’s a lot of teams that I have only a passing knowledge of so I’m afraid you’ll have to make do with a preview of the top teams for now, and we can take a look at the teams throughout the draw once the dust has settled and we’re able to have a better idea of where everyone stands.

The schedule is a little odd, with the open semis and final at 90 mins compared to 70 mins on the women’s side. It does seem as though there are fewer games for the top open teams so that’s likely the logic here, but there’s definitely some annoyance over it. Given that the women’s final slot is last it seems like there could have been a pretty easy compromise here, and some advance discussion probably would have avoided the issue entirely. Still, scheduling is hard (I assume, it looks hard) and everyone is out of practice with all elements of tournaments at the moment. Still, this is probably something that’s best thought through a bit more comprehensively in future.

WOMEN’S

Let’s start on the women’s side. The top seeds are the national champs, Bristol, and they are largely at full strength after fielding some varied teams at their events so far this season. Talismanic playmakers Carla Link and Molly Wedge have been occupied with World Games trainings up to this point but should be back, and the squad retains enough talent and depth to win this tournament. They face Masterclass and Thundering Her in the pool. Masterclass are the Irish entrant into WMUCC in Limerick and should pose quite a few problems to Bristol, not least with the return to these shores of Eurostar superstar Sarah Melvin. It’ll be very fun to see a Wedge/Melvin matchup, so hopefully we get to see that play out. Thundering Her is (predictably) the female side of Thundering Herd, entering Tour again as they did in 2019 to get some extra reps with the mixed season in mind. Both Masterclass and THer have reasonably short rosters but both will be looking forward to taking on a big name early on.

The next pool features the reigning National League champions, SMOG. They defeated both Bristol and Iceni in the midlands last year and return to the (kind of near) scene of the triumph to try and repeat the feat. As we have seen in both women’s and mixed competition, the women of SMOG are extremely strong and we can be pretty confident that they’ll be challenging their opponents with some nigh-on-impossible-to-stop deep shots. They face Scots SCRAM who have had a nice start to the season and will be looking to push themselves and keep developing ahead of their trip to WUCC in Cincinnati in a few weeks’ time, as well as Cambridge Women. SMOG should win this group but SCRAM against Cambridge could be a fun game, with some strong Cambridge-based players having played largely in mixed in the last few years.

The next pool seems like a pool of death. Iceni and SYC will renew their rivalry, the two London teams having played recently in a pretty close one. Iceni came out on top there and the expectation would be that they do again since they are reasonably close to full strength with only a couple of absentees. SYC will be confident having played their rivals close so recently, and have a reasonably full team although there will be one or two absences. Also in this pool are reigning European bronze medallists Dublin Gravity. When last the Gravigals were in the UK they left with the national championship title, so there’s clearly quite a legacy of success behind them. The team that was in Bruges was extremely adaptable and cohesive, with excellent frisbee IQ pairing with ability to make them one of the best teams on the continent. They’ve been at a few warm up tournaments and will be heading to WUCC as well, but this team may well be a bit more mixed with non-WUCC players and guests. Either way, this pool is one to watch.

The final pool in division 1 sees LMU face Spice and Reading. LMU defeated Spice last season in the inaugural National Cup final after coming from behind. LMU will be strong, as usual, but will have a pretty small squad, as usual. It’s always difficult to predict exactly who will be around but I understand that Jenna Thomson is around, which means they have more than a shot of being competitive. Pairing a team this smart and experienced with a team like Spice, full of players nearer the beginning of their elite frisbee careers, is a nice clash of styles. Spice will also be heading to Cincinnati and look to have added well this spring and will pose a tough test to the masters. Reading round out the pool and will, like SMOG, be extremely good despite minimal experience together in women’s. Players like Bex Palmer, Helen Roberts and Ania Godbold have all played at the highest level and you can always expect that Reading teams will be well-drilled and prepared.

This is a tough tournament to call with the strength at the top, but if Gravity are anywhere close to the team we have seen before, 10th seed looks low. They could cause some chaos in the later brackets. An Iceni/Bristol rematch could be on the cards but last time LMU faced Iceni, at Tom’s, the masters won, and SMOG loom with their League title in hand. I daresay it’ll all be a bit clearer come Saturday evening but for now it looks like a tough call! I’ll go for a SMOG win with LMU, Bristol and Iceni finishing the top four and prepare to eat those words.

OPEN

First thing to note here is the split schedule, and second is that Clapham are absent. That means the field is a bit more open at the top, and may mean we get a barnstorming finale. The top section of the open division is four pools of three, with the next section starting as a bracket to give teams the chance to progress upwards.

The first pool sees top seeds Chevron up against acronymic teams PELT and EDI. Chevron were largely untroubled last season in reaching the national final and finishing second in the National League. They have long mixed experience with youth, and had a sizeable contingent of less experienced players last time around. Those players will all have gained a great deal from last season and could position the team well to grow this year. They did as well as expected at Tom’s, beating both French teams (Iznogood, the eventual winners, and Tcach who finished fourth) and losing only twice, to GRUT men and one of the CUSB teams. This pool puts them up against Limerick team PELT and Scots EDI. PELT usually travel with pretty small squads but are always tough to beat and come with a huge amount of cohesion and confidence. Chevron will back themselves but it’s unlikely the Irishmen will roll over without a fight. EDI have been building for a couple of years and have done a good job developing into a competitive outfit with Alba growing as a regional power. It’ll be a good test for them to play against two teams that have been to EUCF in the recent past.

Speaking of Alba, they are second seed and lead the next pool. They are the only team other than Clapham that seriously pushed Chevron last season – in fact, the last three times these teams have met on these shores have ended with sudden death Chevron wins despite Alba having the disc (Chevron ran out comfortable winners at Tom’s, though). The Scots will be aiming to turn those tables late on Sunday. They match up against the Smash’d boys and Fire. The latter two teams met in the first round of the cup last season, a brutal draw considering the relative strength of both, and will be very up for a rematch. Smash’d have had some roster turnover from last year but are still young, aggressive and athletic and will be a stern test for a rebuilding Fire outfit. Alba should have enough to stay above the fray but this will certainly be the most physical pool so there could be some variance based on how each team deals with that.

The third pool is the most intriguing at the top of the open division. Devon are a longstanding national power nowadays, having qualified for WUCC 2018 and consistently finished in the top four since then. Last year they overcame a very tight call with Smash’d to solidify that spot and make the Nationals semis. The team has a way of playing that has worked for them for years, has great chemistry and a very solid internal culture that keeps them at the top of the division. In Nottingham they face the men of SMOG and Leamington Lemmings, the story of 2021. SMOG will, of course, be good. Just like the women’s team, this is a team of serial winners that have back-to-back national titles in their back pockets and have been preparing to take on the best in the world at WUCC as a whole squad, given that they have two teams going to Cincinnati. They can match Devon’s athleticism, but the boys in green have a bit more experience in open and might have the edge in physicality too. Lemmings qualified for Nationals in both open and mixed last season and have a range of good players to call on. Whether they can mix it with the big teams in open remains to be seen but if they consolidate the best players from both those teams they have a good chance to make two elite teams very uncomfortable here.

The final pool sees Reading’s men face Ka-Pow! and Bristol. Reading’s squad is obviously strong but is missing a few of the men that will make up the male side of the WUCC team so might have less top-end depth than some of the other top seeded sides in the division. They should still have enough to top the pool here, although both Ka-Pow! and Bristol can certainly cause them problems. The Londoners are still going through a rebuilding process and had a relatively young but talented squad last year, while Bristol have been developing slowly but surely for a number of years. Ka-Pow! won this matchup when they faced at Nationals last year but Bristol have had competitive outings already this year at Tom’s so might be slightly sharper.

It’s difficult to pick anything but a rematch of Alba vs Chevron in the final, such is the strength that these two teams continue to possess. Hopefully we get another exciting instalment in the series if that does come to pass. Look out for SMOG and Reading to challenge the top teams, I would expect one of them to make it into the semis unless Smash’d can step up and take that fourth spot.

Further down the open draw there are some fun teams to watch out for in the middle bracket. Zimmer, now a grandmasters team but still full of quality GB players from the mid-2000s that can absolutely still play if the final of EMUCC is anything to go by, are around and will be fascinating. Birmingham are always a tough team, Cambridge have some very good players that have been in the mixed division with their women in recent years so could cause some issues if they are able to cross up and both Manchester Ultimate and Rebel have been top 12 teams at UK tours in the recent past. YCU made Nationals not long ago, so as far down as the late 20s could see teams that eventually break into the top bracket.

Good luck to everyone in managing the wind this weekend. I’ll be playing for Thundering He so feel free to come and tell me how rubbish these pared-down predictions are.

tSG Awards ’21: Best Defender

The easiest one to define yet! Offence is great but in almost every game you’re going to need blocks. These players get blocks.

MIXED

Third place: Ben Wilson, Reading

Not to be outdone by brother Sam, Ben was a huge asset for Reading defensively this season. Taking on the most difficult matchups and generating turns is a rare pairing that he managed to pull off this season. The Reading defensive unit was so strong all year, and Ben’s breakout club season was a big reason for that.

Second place: Rachel Naden, SMOG

Rachel was one of the best defensive players in the country when she played for Reading in the mixed division in 2018, and has continued to dominate since then. She was phenomenal in the National League season and carried that form into Nationals, taking on tough downfield matchups and throwing bombs on the turn. Not only can she do a bit of everything offensively, defensively she’s a star.

WINNER: Bex Palmer, Reading

Bex won the Best of the Rest award and now adds another award to her collection. She’s always been one of the best handlers in the division but really showed her value on the defensive end this year. She was not only able to mark out handlers but was extremely effective on cutters too, showing hugely impressive versatility as she took on whoever was causing Reading trouble and made life harder for them.

WOMEN’S

Third place: Claire Sharman, London Masters

Claire’s work as a defender this season was incredibly impressive. Her footwork is impeccable and she’s able to block off the space that cutters are trying to attack seemingly with ease. She’s also a great help defender, peeling off her mark to muck up the space in front of the disc or to challenge a deep throw. Claire can do everything that good defenders need to be able to do, and does it all at a very high level.

Second place: Lynden Chiang, Bristol Women

Lynden emerged as a vital player for Bristol this season and showed that value on defence most of all. Versatile enough defensively to match against top cutters and to play in the middle of a hybrid zone defence, her speed, intelligence and positioning meant she was able to generate blocks but also able to smother her mark and keep them out of the game altogether.

WINNER: Amelia Kenneth, Iceni

Amelia has been one of the best defenders around for a while now, and this season was no different. Her speed and aggression mean she gets blocks against anyone, and that she’s a huge threat going long after the turn. One of Iceni’s leaders as they reached the final of Nationals, she had another dominant defensive season to add to her CV.

OPEN

Third place: Joel Terry, Alba

Joel has been one of the top defenders in Scotland for some time, previously starring for Glasgow in the mixed division. Still only 24, he’s one of a number of Alba players capable of taking on hugely challenging matchups and making life very unpleasant for them. Pairing great instincts with rock solid fundamentals, he’s another to watch in the coming years as he continues getting better and better.

Second place: Nathan Wragg, Clapham Ultimate

Some defenders are all positioning and smarts, but some defenders bring those tools along with a dash of all out chaos. The ‘Peroxide Demon’ (shoutout Lorcan Murray, and yes I did see who I guess was someone in Nathan’s family say that the colour is natural but the nickname works too well to pass up) flew around fields all over the UK this season, ready to punish any throw that was even slightly off-target. His athleticism and quick reactions meant he caused plenty of turns, and he was a reliable asset once those turns were secured too.

WINNER: Andrew Hillman, Clapham Ultimate

Andy was one of the leaders for Clapham this season but that responsibility didn’t mean his level of play slipped at all. Long one of the two or three best handler marks in the country, this season he was able to completely smother the best disc handlers on the other team and pressure them into bad throws when they were able to shake free of his vice-like grip. He was also crucial once the disc had turned, his crafty lefty throws giving Clapham’s D line a reliable source of yards.

tSG Awards ’21: Best Cutter

This is another fairly easy award to define. Some people pick the disc up a lot and do most of the work swinging and generating movement in the backfield. Those people are not the people we are thinking about today. There are some players on this list that you could call hybrids, but largely these players are the ones who start further down the field and generate big gains with both their legs and their throws.

MIXED

Third place: Eddy Codd, SMOG

Eddy was metronomic and reliable for SMOG this season, using his height and huge catch radius to make a difference downfield. He was also consistent and safe with the disc in hand and was excellent defensively when needed. He hasn’t enjoyed the same kind of profile as some of his teammates in recent years but his role has been crucial in getting SMOG to the top of the tree in UK ultimate.

Second place: Leila Denniston, Deep Space

Leila was a dominant downfield cutter this season. She was unstoppable at times at Nationals, using her speed, height and great hands to bring down some grabs it seemed she had no shot at. Her goal in the penultimate point of the Nationals final was a great case in point; speed to run the disc down, great hands to catch it at full extension and a defender trailing with no ability to affect the play. A great season for a great player.

WINNER: Sam Wilson, Reading

Sam’s season was something of a breakout, as we discussed yesterday, and it was all based around his ability to beat his marks with his speed. He was able to live in the deep space and then beat people underneath once they started trying to take the long cuts away. He’s been a great addition for a Reading team that was already packed with talent.

WOMEN’S

Third place: Claire Sharman, London Masters

Claire was central to the LMU success this season, with her ability to keep churning yards and getting blocks when they were needed. Her ability to get open reliably always gave the LMU handlers an option and her ability to take away the best cutters on the opposition and challenge deep throws whether they were to her mark or not meant that teams had to account for her at all times on both sides of the disc.

Second place: Molly Wedge, Bristol Women

No new player made a bigger impact than Molly this season. She was a shutdown defender, a reliable source of yards as a cutter and a dominant force with the disc in the air. She was a huge part of the title-winning season for Bristol, as her POTY runner-up spot shows, and was one of the best downfield players in any division this season.

WINNER: Ellie Taylor, Iceni

You could talk about a lot of things with Ellie’s game. She’s a very solid thrower who rarely turns over, she’s able to go up and challenge in the deep space when the disc is hanging and she rises to the big moments, making plays when her team desperately needs them. The main thing, though, is speed. Ellie is probably the fastest female player in the UK and has zoomed around pitches making big plays for Black Eagles, Great Britain Mixed and now Iceni as they all played in huge games.

OPEN

Third place: Cameron Agnew, Alba

Agnew was a vital part of the Alba team that has performed so well for the last two seasons and will surely be a part of the success they seemed primed to enjoy in the coming years. Pairing speed and shiftiness downfield with big throwing ability and great fitness, he’s as tough a cover in the open division as there is.

Second place: Justin Foord, Clapham Ultimate

Perhaps a victim of some voter fatigue, nevertheless Justin has had another imperious year this season. He’s still arguably the most vital part of Clapham’s O line and when things start creaking slightly and a play needs to be made, he’s still very often the man that steps up to the plate. His game-winning layout block at the Madrid Invitational was just one example of what he’s still capable of over a decade into his Clapham run.

WINNER: Ollie Gordon, Clapham Ultimate

Ollie was shifted from his longstanding role on the D line to play offence for the Clapham machine this season and was wildly effective. Not only did he show that his throwing was good enough to survive at the highest levels in Europe on the O line, but his height, athleticism and smarts meant he was open basically all year. Maybe the best season he’s had with Clapham after a long time with the team, he now has his sights set on Cincinnati and the prospect of a second World Games appearance.

tSG Awards ’21: Best Thrower

We’re looking to recognise great throwers here. Most of the time these players are the ones entrusted to pick up a dead disc, the hardest spot in the game to throw from, but there’s a few people who are also fantastic first cutters who can cause damage to defences when they get the disc slightly higher up the field.

MIXED

Third place: Sam Vile, Deep Space

Sam is one of the best handlers in any division in the country. A wide array of throws isn’t his only strength – he’s also got a lightning quick release and his give-go movement is probably the most difficult to stop in mixed. He’s played for and run Great Britain teams in the past, and with WUCC and the World Games both coming up in 2022 it’ll be a pretty big one for him.

Second place: Helen Thompson, SMOG

Helen was a brilliant addition to SMOG in 2021, bringing disc skills and smarts to their backfield. She was excellent throughout the season but was particularly good at Nationals and helped bring the title back to the north. She’ll be captaining the champs during their WUCC campaign, looking to build on finishing 21st in 2018.

WINNER: Tom Bennett, SMOG

The main field-flipper for SMOG is the winner here. TB has a huge arm on both sides and can hit the endzone from pretty much anywhere on the field. His return from Chevron gave SMOG’s deep game a huge boost with his ability to hit one of their many extremely talented cutters in stride once they had roasted their mark. The national final showed very clearly how much of a weapon that is, and how useful it will be heading into 2022.

WOMEN’S

Third place: Jenna Thompson, London Masters

Jenna is one of the best of any kind of skill, really, but her throwing is really the skill that sets her apart. She can do whatever she wants with the frisbee, and remains one of the most dangerous throwers in the country.

Second place: Hannah Brew, Iceni

Hannah has been one of the best handlers in whatever division she’s played in for several years. Moving from Brighton mixed to Iceni and the women’s division has been a huge gain for the Londoners for the past few seasons, as she brings her composure, ability to break marks and throw long with equal aplomb and leadership skills to the table.

WINNER: Becky Thompson, Iceni

Going one better than her sister, Becky has been a huge addition for Iceni this season as well. She can play on both sides of the disc, she can push the disc downfield in a hurry and is also able to carve up marks in the shorter game (as well as pull pretty well too). She and Brew are two of an outstanding handler set for Iceni, a brilliant building block as they seek to get back to the top of UK ultimate in 2022.

OPEN

Third place: Josh Kyme, Chevron Action Flash

Josh has been a central part of Chevron’s handling corps for years, with the relationship between him and Dom Dathan forming an important part of the offence. This season other players took on handling duties as well so his role shifted slightly but he remains one of the best mark breakers in the country and has added some big throws to his repertoire to round out the ways he can attack defences.

Second place: Andrew Boxall, Alba

Andy has a full range of throws, able to attack defences at every level with equal ability. His composure and ability to control points is huge for the Scots and has been a key part of their improvement. He’s shown that he’s one of the best handlers around and will get to show that against competition from Europe and wider afield next year.

WINNER: Josh Briggs, Clapham Ultimate

Josh’s backhand is an excellent throw, but it’s his flick that’s really the defining part of his game. He can throw it to any spot on the field with a rapid release that’s incredibly difficult to stop. It means that almost every team in Europe now forces the 10-time European champs backhand just to avoid being burned deep by Briggs’s bombs. Chevron tried more poachy looks in the Nationals final and Briggs duly obliged with three big assists on the flick side. Once they took it away, he obliged with a backhand one too, because that’s what great throwers can do.