What Went Down At: EUCF Mixed (from an EUCR-C perspective)

This piece is complementary to the discussion piece on EUCF Mixed held by our British contributors, and seeks to answer the question posed by Ultiworld about why one region was so strong. As GRUT (1st), Colorado (2nd) and Hässliche Erdferkel (4th) all came from the same qualifying region (EUCR-c), we were really interested to hear their perspectives on the tournament. Here are some short interviews held with each team's Facebook page. Enjoy!


GRUT

How satisfying was it to come away with gold this time, after coming so close in 2016?
Winning gold this year felt great. It was very different from last year: we didn't qualify for EUCF, we got there by luck. Back then there was no pressure, nobody knew us, and that made us play better. Until the final. The zone D from Reading, the wind, the nerves, all made us play so much worse than we were capable of. This year was different. We won Windmill, we were in the spotlights. There was more pressure. To beat Reading in the pool, Hässliche on universe in the semis, and Colorado in the final - it felt like a reward for our season.

Do you feel the strength of your region (with teams such as Colorado and Hässliche) has helped you develop and get stronger? Or is there another key to your success?
Our region is very strong indeed. Don't forget to mention Mainzelrenner who are also on the top level in Germany. I do think that helps us to improve but I think our biggest key to success is that we play with our whole squad. We are not a Mixed team based on good male players (Erdferkel & Colorado are) and we play with the whole team. Male and female.

How do you encourage discipline and patience with such a young, athletic squad?
We don't really encourage discipline and patience. We did practice our zone offence in the only practice we had before EUCF. Also, we are all getting older and our stupid errors have decreased a lot over the last few years.

What are your opinions overall on the mixed division at EUCF?
Pretty strong. Nice to see lots of upsets happening in both pools.

What did you think of Spirit circles before the game?
We didn't do them all the time but when we did it was fine. Nothing too special.

Anything else - any players/coaches you'd like to give special thanks to?
Our coach Jeroen Oort helped us during the tournament. He helps us mentally before, during and after games and he makes sure the team stays together.


GRUT and Colorado push each other to the limit in the EUCF final.
Photo from the EUF Facebook page, by Get Horizontal's Quentin DLT. 


Colorado*

How did you feel about finishing second? Was it more/less than you were expecting? Or just annoying to be so close to keeping GRUT away from the title?
We knew we could be strong and went into the tournament with the goal of getting into semis. This task was hard enough as only two teams of both initial pools could make it. Losing against SMOG on Saturday showed how tough this task was going to be. The next day we went into our fifth (!) match against Hässliche Erdferkel Marburg this season. Record so far: 3-1 with a bitter universe loss in finals at Nationals. This time, we played one of our best games this season, especially mentally. Erdferkel winning over SMOG made the three-way tie perfect, going badly for SMOG. 

Playing Reading in semi-finals was a surprise for us. Since this was the first time in ages that Colorado was playing highly competitive Ultimate, we didn’t really know what to expect from the reigning champions. Taking the game to universe showed how close this game was and that the top teams are really on one level. We had played GRUT only once before (at Regionals this year, where we lost on universe point). We went into the game knowing that we could beat GRUT but that we would have to play our best. In the end we could not quite keep up with the youngsters and they totally deserve the title. We are really happy finishing second at Euros, it met our expectations very well.

Do you feel the strength of your region (with teams such as GRUT and Hässliche) has helped you develop or get any stronger? Or is there another key to your success?
Playing strong opponents is the best way of preparing to play against strong opponents. Having National Qualifiers early this season made us confident going into what was to come. Every tight game makes a team stronger. We also had friendlies with French Champions Strasbourg twice in order to practise playing at a high level. Personally I think having good games all season makes a team gradually better. But making a good team a title contender takes a very talented coach. Ours knows what the team has to improve on and knows every player's strengths and weaknesses. Making the right long and short term decisions all season long really is what makes us so strong - at least in my eyes.

What do you think will be the key taking Gold at next year's Euros? Or is it all about WUCC for your team?
Having rewatched the final already the key of winning is making less mistakes than the opponent we had some uncommon errors like drops and mis-throws.
This year our main goal was to qualify for World's next year. WUCC will be what we put our focus on. EUCF is a nice preparation on the one hand and fighting for a title there is a good finish to the season.

What are your overall opinions on the Mixed Division at EUCF?
We had great games that were hard fought but nevertheless highly spirited. At Nationals we had games where we dominated our opponent and they couldn’t keep up with us. At Euros (most) games are hard fought scrimmages. Having a strong opponent every game is what we came for and is what we got.

What did you think of the pre-game Spirit circles?
Getting in touch with the other team and introducing yourself is a really good idea. Usually only the captains meet. Now everyone hears what the other team is expecting Spirit-wise. I'd be happy to see pre-game Spirit circles more often in the future.

*Colorado's Facebook page/EUF results also list them as Gummibärchen Ultimate Karlsruhe, for those wanting to look them up. This interview was actually held directly with Colorado player Malte Voss, rather than the team Facebook page, as per their wishes.
Colorado return the favour to GRUT in a close final.
Photo by Get Horizontal's Quentin DLT.

Hässliche Erdferkel Marburg

How did you feel about finishing 4th? Was it more/less than you were expecting? Or just annoying to be so close?
We had mixed feelings after finishing 4th. Coming into the season we didn't expect things to go that well. After we lost some players who left Marburg we had a few kind of rebuild years in which we aimed to integrate new additions, have a good team structure with a new leadership and play our best, whatever that might be. Quarters, maybe semis at Nationals was the goal, but no focus at the European series.

After Nationals and EUCR-C went surprisingly well, we knew that we were able to compete with our region's best opponents and our expectations for EUCF developed. But contrary to GRUT or Colorado we didn't play the season with a constant squad. For example, we only had13 players at the first weekend of German Nationals and EUCR-C, so we knew that lack of chemistry could be an issue. Under these circumstances 4th place is absolutely a success! But after being so close to the final and a clear loss in the third place game it didn't feel as good as it should.

Do you feel the strength of your region (with teams such as GRUT and Colorado) has helped you develop or get any stronger? Or is there another key to your success?
I think it's more the strength of Germany than of the Central region because we get a lot of reps against other good German teams like Mainz, Stuttgart, and Düsseldorf throughout the season, and we only play GRUT (who seemed to be the only real not-German competitor for the last two years) once a year at EUCR (and maybe a second time at EUCF). But, of course, teams like Colorado, GRUT and also Mainz are the opponents you have to consider when you’re looking to improve your team. 

In my opinion the relatively strong German Mixed club teams clearly profit from the fact that German Mixed Nationals aren't at the same time as Open/Women's Nationals, like they are in the UK. There are many players (and some of Germany's best) who play both Mixed and single gender, and maybe wouldn't if they had to choose.

What do you think will be the key to breaking back into those medal spots next year Euros?
Probably the key will be to have a constant squad next season which consists mostly or totally of players who played last season. We had this kind of continuity 2015/16 and it led to a breakout season in 2016/17.

What are your overall opinions on the mixed division at EUCF?
We got the impression of an increase in quality and balance compared to 2016. Great to have a lot of tight matches! Looking at the age of GRUT's players they will probably improve steadily over the next few years and it will be challenging for all the other teams to keep up with them.

What did you think of the pre-game spirit circles?
Pre-game spirit circles... we just did it once and don't have anything bad to say about the idea. But our feeling is that it isn't that necessary if teams don't have any kind of bad history against each other or there haven’t been spirit issues in the past. We prefer a short chat between the spirit captains before the game if things are expected to go well. And we had good experiences.

Anything else? (People/teams/coaches you'd like to give special thanks to)
Thanks to you for increasing the coverage, really appreciate that! Congrats to GRUT on a deserved title! See you all in 2018, we're hungry for the final.

Hässliche take a creative approach onto the field in their bronze medal match vs Reading.
Photo by Get Horizontal's Quentin DLT.

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