Main Contributors: connormch (EMO, former Clapham), amazzon (SMOG, former Clapham, former Ka-Pow!), dp (ShowGame cofounder, Fire 1) , h.christou (Glasgow 1), tadhgb (Ireland U24s), callum.spiers (Manchester)
Additional Quotes/Contributions: Ben Norris (Ka-Pow! co-captain), Matthew Carson (YOpen)
Welcome to the post-Open Tour 2 chat! Here we'll be discussing what went down at OT2, whether it was what we expected, and look ahead to Open Tour 3.
Here are the headlines, some of which we'll be discussing:
Clapham return to being unbeaten, finish first and second.
EMO/Reading show that Tour 1 wasn't a fluke, round off the top four spots.
Ireland U24s beat Chevron to take fifth. How is this Irish team so strong?
Manchester/Ka-Pow recover from disappointing Tour 1s, make the top 8.
Flump survive another round in A Tour, this time convincingly.
Tour splits for the first time in years. How did we find it/did we notice?
Some handy links:
The ShowGame preview
Schedule (+ B Tour North Schedule)
Fanseat: Saturday Pitch 1, Saturday pitch 2, Sunday Pitch 1, Sunday Pitch 2
Prediction Watch: Sean got eight of the top ten, and three of the top four! Very well done. DP did not make predictions again.
For ease, we've included the top 20 here
1. Clapham A
2. Clapham 1
4. Reading 1
5. Ireland Under-24 Men
6. Chevron Action Flash
7. Manchester 1
9. Fire of London 1
10. GB U24 Darwin
11. Devon 1
14. GB U24 Brisbane
16. Brighton City
18. Fire of London 2
19. Cloud City 1
B Tour North
2. Rebel Ultimate
3. The Brown
Right, let's start at the top. Clapham suffered a rare defeat at OT1, and looked like they wanted to leave no doubt in everyone's minds here that they are still number one. Did anyone play them? Did anyone notice any difference between how they were here and their Tour 1 performance?
I caught a few games from the sideline. As far as I could tell everything looked the same, even though both teams were pretty short on numbers. The focus was on the process as always and it seemed to pay off.
Clapham made thirteen of the fifteen man GB squad that won silver at WCBU (the Beach Ultimate Championships). I'd have said they were Clapham's best players too. Was it those players missing? If so, that makes it doubly impressive.
Pretty much everyone at worlds was at Tour as far as I can tell.
I only had the chance to play one of the teams, but yeah it seems like most of the WCBU squad were present.
Only Jamie Cross and Alex Brookes were missing, and Magnus Wilson was injured. Plus a bunch of non-GB players were at Worlds and there at the weekend too.
It seems as though the strength of their second half really overcame EMO. 6-6 in the semi final to a 15-8 victory. Very similar to their EUCF victory over CUSB.
Clapham only had two games that could remotely be described as close in pool play. 14-9 win vs EMO, and 14-11 vs Chevron. Every other game was a seven point margin or greater. Particularly of notice - 15-3 win vs Reading (although that was a back-to-back game after they beat Chevron). I think Clapham really had a point to prove after OT1.
I think that should quash any voices of 'the dominance ending' after T1...
Reading weren't a full strength team, moving some players (like Sam Gunbie) onto seconds to help their development. They also managed it with only 13 players. It's almost enough to wonder if they'll focus on Open for Worlds. I mean, they wont. But it's almost enough. (Note: They'll likely enter an Open team, but their top Men will all play Mixed.)
Big sign of things to come going into Nationals I think.
Let's look forward at a promising team that will be entering Open for Nationals then - EMO. Two Tours. Two top-three finishes (and only ever behind Clapham). Is it fair to call EMO the second-best team in UK Open Ultimate right now?
Not sure we can say that yet. Have they beaten Chev yet?
Yup, Tour 1!
Oh yeah, my bad.
I wouldn't like to be the one to make that statement personally, we are delighted to be performing as we are so far, and T2 really solidified that belief that we can push to be in the Top 2 at Nationals. I think the best statement would be 2nd best performing team in the UK so far.
That seems fair to me. Anything can happen between now and Nationals.
I think this weekend showed how close the Top 8 can be, Glasgow beating EMO in sudden death. Reading beating Chev for the first time. It will be interesting to see how that transfers to Nationals.
Any thoughts on how EMO looked in that sudden death game against Glasgow? It's often those match-ups that really let you know the character of a team.
Want to throw something out there: not to discredit the quality of EMO and their results but they were somewhat fortunate to make the top 4 bracket (although I believe they would have finished best in the other bracket). Glasgow really should have beaten Devon, but couldn't close out a 14-12 lead with uncharacteristic turns. But I understand that at least you (Connor) and Joe Wynder were back for Sunday? (Anyone else missing? EMO vs Glasgow was a weird game.)
We were also missing Alec Buchanan, who is currently watching the Lions Tour in NZ. Usually a mainstay handler on the O line. And I would have said the same however we did then beat Devon by 6 to finish the day. But yes Devon did do us a favour in their comeback against Glasgow.
I agree, a strong win by EMO. It's quite fun to note that Glasgow were so close to a guaranteed 4th spot and then ended up 12th.
Losing 15-10 to - guess who - Devon, in their final game. ;)
Goes to show 1 or 2 strong games in Tour format can really benefit your standings.
Well we had 12 players to start the weekend and finished with 9. We were just exhausted by that final game vs Devon.
UK Ultimate posted a lovely play/commentary from the Devon vs Glasgow pool game. The full game is one of those on fanseat.
While we're talking about Glasgow, do we reckon the hype-train of Scotland Ultimate (a combined EDI/Glasgow team that'll enter nationals) might be able to take them over the top?
So, Scotland Ultimate. I honestly don't know how this will shape up in the respect of a final roster for Regionals/Nationals. Trials are next week, but will be more of an elite training session for anyone interested. I understand that Glasgow are taking Mixed seriously, Black Eagles are yet to announce teams, and there are numerous players unaccounted for outwith GU and EDI teams this Tour season. Should be a strong team, but tough to gauge right now. Literally no idea who could be on it really.
Not like that helps your discussion much...
Alright. Away from Scotland, onto Ireland.
|Not only do they look good, the Irish U24 Boys play well too.|
Ireland U24s. What. Happened.
Watch the final few points v Chev if you can. SCENES
Game 1 or 2?
Game 2. Game 1 was incredible too though.
Game 1 was filmed, so should be available on fanseat.
It went badly, then it went well basically. This was the first tournament that the finalised squad played together for so we weren't too sure what to expect but obviously wanted to build on the Tour 1 performance. Saturday we came away with two universe-point losses to Reading and Chev (despite a 4 point rally to bring it to universe) and missed out on the top four. Refocused for Sunday and got the wins over Fire, Manchester and Chev to take 5th. I think around two thirds of the team never really played A Tour before this year, so we're fairly happy with what's going on. The weekend for us was pretty much characterized by the battles with Chev, lots learned both on an individual level, and as a team heading towards Perth.
Fire were looking really strong after a disappointing Tour 1. Buoyed up by a good result at Windmill, the Irish team was their only loss all weekend. Any insight into why Fire couldn't get past them?
They were bloody good.
Plus we had a short lines on Saturday (7-man O and 8-man D) which was upped on Sunday (8-man O and 9-man D). So a bit of tired O line giving the disc up too often (and the Irish really took advantage well) plus a very tired D line not able to get turns. But they totally deserved the win this time. But yes feelings after Windmill were pretty good and we knew going into T2 we didn't a full team (again) so we took every game as it came up and attempted to remain positive throughout. We are still building up to Regionals and Nationals.
In fairness to Fire, we wanted that game to be turning point for for us for the weekend. If it was the day before, it probably would have been a much closer contest.
OK. Let's move across London to a team that really did manage to come back from a disappointing Tour 1. So much so, they were supposed to be in B Tour. But Ka-Pow! weren't having any of it, and instead rushed to a top 8 position. I asked co-captain Ben Norris for some thoughts on the different Tours.
"We have a young, athletic squad, so T1 was a valuable learning experience, despite some tough losses (Manchester on universe, GB U24 by 2). We were confident coming into T2 that we could make some waves and prove that we are still a top 8 team, regardless of the heavy turnover from last season. Even with a smaller squad than we will have at any other point this season, we put up strong results against SMOG and Manchester in pool play, and then played some of our best ultimate of the season against Devon in our Sunday crossover. As our young players continue to grow and gel with the more experienced members on the squad, we are confident that we will keep improving all the way up to Nationals."
Any thoughts? Did they look like a top-eight team, or did the schedule go their way?
Ka-Pow! beat Manchester last game of the day Saturday, having lost to GB U24 first game of the day. (MCR avenged that loss in the last game of the day on Sunday). That win avoided a three-way tie for second place, that GB U24 might well have won. In terms of playing, Ka-Pow! looked great with the addition of Mike Noblett from beyond the wall. He slotted into the O line very well and added a powerful dimension. Unfortunately, he was injured by the second Ka-Pow! - MCR game (possibly due to a ridiculous grab between two Manchester defenders, leaving him banged up).
I was quite happy to see the results, from a personal point of view. I know Ka-Pow! have the personnel, but from last year their mental game make the difference between B tour and, well, Euros. It'd be a great shake-up if they were able to manage themselves now.
I think Ka-Pow! definitely look developmental, and they are assimilating youth into the team. Never forget Nationals 2016!
Manchester had much better results this Tour too. EMO and Ireland were the key losses at Tour 1, unlucky seedings just meant that pushed them down quite far. Were Manchester actually stronger this time around?
MCR have been plagued by injuries all season, leading to consistently lower training turnout than last year. 3 key players missing at Tour 1: Tom 'Yellow' Lees (captain, injured), James Jackson (away), Sion Regan (captain, away) meant we were low on handling firepower. The lower training turnout has lead to issues with chemistry, particularly on the O line, and the injuries haven't helped. The return of the handling firepower of Regan and Jackson helped to propel the D line into life at Tour 2, and Yellow helped stabilise the O line. Santiago Zuluaga, Hamish Rankine, Alban Vilaseca, Ewen Buckling were all still struggling with injuries
They looked solid against us (SMOG). Plus a good blend of experience and development players it seems.
Are the injuries looking to be season long? Or are we going to see a stronger MCR team as we progress?
MCR will lose Dale Walker and their U24 stars at Tour 3, but should have the rest of the cast. Manchester have improved offensive conversion rate for both D and O lines, finishing 7th out of a possible 5th. Tour 2 was a great success and the team can't wait to have a crack at the teams in the top 4 again!
Alright. I'd quickly like to mention Flump's success in staying in A Tour again. It looked a little fluky first Tour, but they really showed the doubters this time. Well done. They'll be pleased to finish above Fire of London 2 (and a surprisingly strong Cloud City side) to keep their title as fourth-best London side (counting both Clapham teams as one). Captain Sean Colfer gave us the low-down.
At Tour 1 we were bedding in some new players and it took some adjustments. We were also missing some important parts of the O line which necessitated some movement of players into roles they'd not had to fill before. At T2 we were close to full strength and had the full O line. Our games on Saturday, while all losses, were all competitive and we felt confident going into Sunday's crossover that we were good enough to remain in A Tour. BAF struggled against our zone, their experienced players knew how to break it but there seemed to be a disconnect between the handlers and the cutters. We took advantage of that. After we had that first win we rode the confidence and the momentum to two sudden-death wins. We didn't make any changes between Tours really so it wasn't a tactical thing that kept us in A Tour. I think what we did at this Tour really well was focus on positives and keep our intensity and our effort at a high level. We maintained a high level all day Sunday and it was the difference, particularly when we came from behind and beat GB.
Finally, I'd like to ask how people found the splitting of B Tour into South and North? The Tour season is structured this year so that B Tour teams have two chances to cross into A Tour - Tour 1, and whichever one of Tour 2/3 has A Tour in their region. Fire 2 notably missed out crossing up this time around.
|Andy Garner of Vision, getting the grab against Joshua Brassington of YOpen in B Tour North.|
Photo courtesy of Rachel Turton
The increased space at Tour meant you got time on the pitch before your game started, which was amazing. We got a game-on-game-off schedule, which was great (I think some teams still had a couple of games back to back on Sunday).
At South? We had back to back in the morning on Saturday.
We also managed to watch a bit of the Tour final, thanks to the offset scheduling (i don't know if that was intentional), but I loved being able to catch that.
Was nice to have a little more space ... did feel more spread out. Almost every game we had drill space on the field. Well noticed Callum!
Games were also 80 minutes, instead of Nottingham's 70 minutes. I guess this might have lead to more teams reaching 15 and not eating into the time between games, and that's where the drill time comes from.
Excellent, thank you all! We're going to finish with a summary from B Tour North, seeing as how most players will need an update on what went on there. Matthew Carson of YOpen gives us the breakdown.
B Tour north at Salford was certainly a different experience. Compared to the huge Wind Farm venue the (relatively) small field in Salford gave the whole tournament more of a Winter League / Regionals feel. There were 12 teams playing games on 5 pitches, with the fifth only needed for potential emergency schedule rewriting (which turned out to be necessary!), so compared to the 70+ teams that descended onto Nottingham 4 weeks ago it certainly didn’t feel like a Tour event.
Once games started, however, the atmosphere changed. The group set up had us (YOpen) as the bottom seed in a group with two B Tour teams so we knew we needed to seriously up our game in order to have a hope of competing, and through a determined will to find some way of proving ourselves, we managed to sneak two victories to top our group. It certainly felt more like Tour after these back-to-back games: with dehydrated bodies, sunburned necks and adrenaline-filled blood streams we settled in for our game off just like we would at any other Tour event – by going to watch some of the top-level games.
Overall, the small size of the tournament didn’t feel like it justified splitting the Tour event. You would usually find the teams you play fit into one of three brackets:
teams you’ll probably beat,
teams you’ll probably lose to
and teams with whom you’ll have close games.
However, with such a small tournament, that morphed into:
teams you’ll almost certainly beat,
teams you’ll almost certainly lose to
and teams with whom you’ll have close games.
That relative increase in the quality span between the best and worst teams you play reduces the competitiveness and enjoyment of the tournament, for me. An example – after working so hard to win our close group games from the bottom seed, we (YOpen) had to try and prove our worth in the top 4 with a seeding match against EDI, a game we lost 15-3, a score line which completely represents the game and one not commonly found at larger Tour events.
Thanks Carson! We'll end with a Liam Kelly tweet about B Tour North, and see you all at Tour 3.