What Went Down At: Mixed Outdoor Club Regionals

Editor/Main Chair - hazard (Reading*/Facebook Live commentator)
Editor/Assistant Chair - ali (ShowGame preview writer/Facebook Live streamer)
Contributors - k-j (SMOG), h.christou (Glasgow*), geegee (Mighty Hucks), catpope (Deep Space), rupalghelani (JR), nads (Reading)
Additional Contributions** - Nicky Shaw (Black Eagles), Bea Perks (Thundering Herd), Deep Space Captaincy Team, JR Co-Captains Ally Lead/Charlotte Kennedy

*These players played for the club at Mixed Tour, but didn't play this tournament
**These people were kind enough to give us quotes, but didn't have access to the full chat. We have placed their words in italics for clarity.

Alright. Here are the headlines the Mixed chat will be discussing.

What we expecting going in/Qualification structure (basically a primer to allow anyone reading the piece to understand) 

Northern Regionals

Bleagles beat everyone, look really strong going into nationals. Not really a story here, but if anyone has anything to add, I'll leave a space.
SMOG finish a strong second, but never play third placed Glasgow Ultimate. Do we reckon one of those teams could take the extra spot to Euros?
Mighty Hucks didn't look as strong as their tour form. Is it fair the write them off early?
Also of note: Only six teams? Was it worth it?

Southern Regionals
Reading dominatine, win every game
JR qualify in second 
Deep Space narrowly sneaking a victory against Herd (second time of asking) to qualify for National
Also of Note: Reading beat Deep Space for the first time this season, look much stronger than their tour form
The gap between the top four and everyone else

General points
Did we enjoy the addition of the first ever Mixed regionals?

Link to a Facebook group where you can find a lot of the streams from Southern Regionals


The ShowGame previews
North (Prediction Score - 100%!)
South (Prediction Score - Nearly everything right. Top four correct, late Purple Cobras entry/Curve resurgence not predicted)

Final Results

Mixed Regionals (North)
1 Black Eagles
3 Glasgow Ultimate
4 Mighty Hucks
5 Red Leicester
6 Black Sheep

Mixed Regionals (South) 

1 Reading Ultimate
2 JR
3 Deep Space
4 Thundering Herd
5 Purple Cobras
6 Curve
7 Guildford
8 Brixton
9 Zero Degrees

Finally, the pools for Nationals

Pool A:

Mighty Hucks

Pool B:

Deep Space
Gravity (Ireland)

Welcome to the UKU Club Mixed Regionals 2017 chat! Here we’ll be taking you through what happened in both UK regions, and also having a quick look ahead to Nationals.

To start with, here is a quick overview of what Regionals is, and what we expected going in.

In terms of formats, the Northern region was fairly simple: six teams, two pools of three, with finals and a 4v5 game to go. There were essentially four shoo-in teams (Black Eagles, Glasgow Ultimate, Mighty Hucks, SMOG) for four qualifying spaces. Simple.

The Southern region was not so clear cut. With nine teams (Purple Cobras making a late entry), there was a pool of five and a pool of four. Those in the top four on Sunday morning who won their semis were safely through to Nats, those that were not so successfull ended up in a 3-6 ‘bracket of death’ scrambling for a single qualifying space. JR and Reading faced off in the final, while Deep Space, Curve (having beaten Guildford in a minor upset), Purple Cobras, and Thundering Herd battled for a shot at the 3v4. Herd and Deep Space came out on top, and while I won’t even try to describe that game, I don’t need to, as you can watch it in full here.

It was bound to be a weekend of close Ultimate in the Mixed Division.
Photo shows Felix Miron making a grab for Reading against Deep Space.
Photo taken by Tristan Millington for the ShowGame

Business pretty much went as expected in the Northern Region. There were four spots to qualify, and (apologies to Red Leicester and Black Sheep) four teams you’d expect to qualify. What might have been slightly surprising was the dominance with which Black Eagles won the region.

Bleagles player Nicky Shaw had this to say:
We were pleased with the first tournament performance from our smaller squad against some strong competition and familiar faces from the Mixed Tour season.  We look forward to Nationals where we expect tough games across the board.

Does anyone have any comments on the Bleagles team? Will anyone challenge them at Nationals?

Yep. SMOG will. Black Eagles were an extremely strong side, with 21 players meaning that they had lots of fresh legs and a very enthusiastic sideline, and were a spirited team as well as being strong competition. However, from my entirely neutral standpoint, I think that they can and will be challenged at Nationals, by both the Northern and Southern teams.

Black Eagles beat SMOG in the final 15-6. What do you reckon will change between now and then?

SMOG knew that we had qualified so used the final at Regionals as an opportunity to try new plays - and are aiming high and training hard for Nats. However, I'm not trying to lessen their victory in the slightest - their D was especially strong and challenged us to not just be clinical but to be be smart as well.

They will be challenged but I don't think any team will come within two points of them. The team is just so strong and will be dominant again at Nationals in my opinion.

I agree, Black Eagles have stepped it up this year with their performance, attitude and strength. Their squad is huge as well which is fantastic to see.

So, we know SMOG will be going hard at Nationals. However, due to the odd Regionals schedule, they achieved second place without ever facing third-placed Glasgow. Given Glasgow only lost to Bleagles 14-9, who do we reckon (in the North) has the best chance at the second EUCF spot? *

*Currently EUCR-West (UK/Ireland Nationals) is only expected to have two spots.

I back Glasgow to challenge but I’m not 100% sure they'll beat Reading to that 2nd spot (if there's two EUCR spots). I know they were a little frustrated not to have been able to play SMOG for 2nd at Regionals.

How were Glasgow looking? There were some thoughts that some Black Eagles players (after being cut) may return to them, but it looks to me like they’re doing just fine with the players they’ve had all season. 

No Black Eagles players have gone to Glasgow, they've trusted their current crop from what I've seen.

Let’s close our section on Northern Regionals with Mighty Hucks. They were looking really fearsome at tour, but I feel may have been disappointed with some of the weekend results.

Hucks have so far had an incredibly consistent season over Mixed Tour and this is the first time that we have actually ventured into Regional/National territory. We expected to qualify for Nationals, but losing some of our male players to their respective Open teams (Connor McHale to EMO, Rollo Sax Dixon to Chevron, Lloyd Cheesman to Clapham) we did unfortunately also lose some of our quality.

The strength did lie in the ladies, and for a team that doesn't train together we feel pretty happy with the result. Going into Nationals the only thing we want to do is improve upon how we performed at Regionals and play some high quality Mixed Ultimate.

Any particular approaches you’re hoping to take to achieve that goal?

Our offence needs some work, that was our downfall ultimately at Regionals against really tough defence, and our lack of chemistry. We seem to have solid defence for the most part so holding onto that is important to us.

Was it weird only playing one day in Northern Regionals?

It was a bit bizarre, especially going back to watch the Open finals on the Sunday. But with the number of teams there it was a good call only having one day!

Right. Onto the Southern Region! Arguably the more interesting region, since there were four teams all thinking they were in with a good shot at qualifying. Reading, JR, Thundering Herd and Deep Space all had respectable Tour Seasons, but I don’t think any of them performed quite as well as they would of liked. As such, this would be a real test of how the post-Mixed Tour training (and the different approaches they all took) had paid off.

I think the real drama on the first day definitely came from Herd’s victory against Deep Space in the pool games. 

Bea Perks gave us this quote:
The energy from our Guildford game set us up nicely to take on Deep Space. What a game. Taking a 3-0 lead Herd were feeling strong with O flowing very nicely and our zone causing problems for DS early on. DS started working through our zone very nicely and once broken, they took full advantage of their incredibly athletic men and women to make the most of their long game and gained a few points back. Herd switched to man to mix things up a little and pressure them in a different way which proved successful, with a couple of run through Ds and a few unfortunate drops/overthrows from DS. A number of incredible layouts and beautiful hucks led us to an intense universe point at 9-9; Herd were able to remain calm to take the final score of 10-9 to Herd.

What was the feeling in the Deep Space camp after that game?

Going into the weekend we knew there would be tough games against Herd/JR/Reading. We definitely started slow against Herd (going down 3-0) which left us in a big hole to come back from, but we also learnt from that on Sunday and started much better in those games. I think the general feeling was that it was a tough loss; on a different day we could've won, but at the same time Herd did play very well and capitalised on our errors. We put ourselves in a tough position for Sunday (semi -final against Reading) but we also picked our heads up quickly, and prepared ourselves to fight for Nationals.

Quote from the Deep Space captaincy team*: Deep Space went into the weekend aiming to qualify for Nationals and in that respect we achieved what we set out to do. We will aim to continue building as a team, also as a club for the future by learning from what happened at Regionals. We know we've still got a long way to go to become the club we want to be, but it's amazing to see the dedication from our players, even at this early stage in the club's history, to self improvement and to the club as well.

*Matthew "Smatt" Hodgson, Sam Vile, Dom Norton, Ange Wilkinson

One side result of that game was that JR ended up playing Herd in their game to go to Nationals. @rupalghelani, how was that game for JR (or the weekend in general)?

Old rivals Reading and JR put aside their differences for a photo op.

The weekend was pretty good for JR, the fact they had trained as a mixed team all season really showed as the girls looked stronger than ever, taking match-ups against guys confidently and giving JR a quicker pace to their game. Qualifying for Nationals was the main aim and the final against Reading was a closer score than we managed to muster up last season so the progress is definitely there!

The Herd semi-final was one of the best games we played all season, knowing there was a spot at Nationals at stake meant both teams really went for it so the quality was good despite the windy conditions. Both teams played what looked like some of their best offence and defence resulting in a close and well-spirited game with big plays from both sides. There’s a lot of potential in the JR squad and I'm very excited to see what they can do over the next couple of years!

The JR captains (Ally Lead and Charlotte Kennedy) also gave us this quote:
In general we were pleased with how the weekend went and felt we improved as it went on. Managed to get results in the games we needed to. Definitely stepped up in our semi-final vs. Herd and were pleased to get a second shot at Reading in the final. Looking forward to Nationals.

Speaking of Reading, they had a great tournament and went unbeaten throughout (although did show some love for JR on Twitter).

@nads, is there anything about the Reading team that you reckon gave them the edge this weekend?

Reading has the benefit of a very strong core of players that have known each other for a long time and also train together pretty much every week. This has created a lot of trust within the team and everyone backs each other to bring any disc down, and there's always lots of positivity.

Our final game against JR definitely wasn't the strongest (perhaps due to the weather) but it will definitely give the squad something to work on. There's a lot of momentum behind this squad and we're all excited for nationals.

Score wise, it looked like your game against Deep Space was the closest all weekend (12-10). Did they cause you any panic @nads?

The Deep Space game was personally my favourite game of the weekend. It was a change-up in terms of intensity with some great match-ups for both men and women. It's been great to watch Deep Space develop over the season and they pushed us to play some great Ultimate. I think we lost focus towards the end of the game and Deep Space definitely capitalised on that, however we kept our cool and ground it out for the win. I'm excited to see what they bring to Nats.

To follow on from Nads, the Deep Space v Reading game was really great, and the team are looking forward to some more top match ups at Nationals.

The final game-to-go was a rematch between Deep Space and Herd.

Rematches are always challenging, but when the wind is raging, it’s the game-to-go and last of the day, it’s really testing. The tables were turned and DS started strong with a 3-0 lead. D game from Herd was strong, coming out with zone again but somehow DS were able to work through it much more smoothly this time round, once again making the most of their long game. I think the strong wind and the fact our zone was less effective in this final game really affected results for Herd. There were a number of overthrows from both sides but overall DS’s ability to swing the disc more successfully worked wonders for them. The intensity on D from both sides was really something else - a number of point blocks, stall outs, run throughs and layouts is testament to that.

How do you prepare for a rematch like that?

The team mentality of Deep Space was to focus on one point at a time, I think that focus might have been lacking in the previous Herd match. We didn't talk about the final outcome, but just put loads of intensity into every single point. And I think that made a huge difference.

Final question for everyone then: was it fun? There was a significant gap between the qualifiers and the non-qualifiers in both regions. I know some of the non-qualifiers were a bit fed up by the end of Saturday, how was it for the qualifiers?

Super fun. I guess the Southern region was a lot more interesting given there was a fight for the top three spots, with four strong teams.

It was fun, and another opportunity to practice together, and especially to play against the teams going to Nats, however there was a big variation in team experience. @catpope  I can imagine the 3v4 would have been very intense.

Overall, the weekend was a lot of fun and there was a lot of high level Ultimate across the board.

Very intense, and good practice for the kind of intensity we'll need at Nats!

Any thoughts on general set-up, or the way brackets and seeding were done?

Overall great setup and location, not sure Reading enjoyed playing the first and last game of the day, but nice to see nine Mixed teams.

Well, that’s it for Mixed Regionals. We’ll be covering Open Regionals tomorrow, but until then, enjoy this tweet about a spontaneous “Southern Women Regionals” from the SYC twitter.

(I am reliably informed that SYC won one game 5-4, and Iceni won the other 5-0)

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