Contributors: Slender (Sheffield), h.christou (Dundee, tSG Div. 1 Preview writer), AnnieB (tSG head of coverage for UMWIN), Clackers (tSG Div. 2 Preview writer), Alun P (Leeds)
Additional Contributions: Rossi (Glasgow), andrew (tSG Men's Western writer), jonnyarthur95 (ex-Sussex)
ShowGame Division 1 Preview
ShowGame Division 2 Preview
Reddit’s TheNoGame Pool A, Pool B and Pool C previews
Men’s Division 1
1 [M] Glasgow 1 (Sc3)
2 [M] Strathclyde 1 (Sc1)
4 [M] St Andrews 1 (Sc4)
5 [M] Manchester 1 (NN1)
6 [M] Loughborough 1 (YE2)
7 [M] Bath 1 (SW2)
8 [M] Edinburgh 1 (Sc5)
9 [M] Durham 1 (NN3)
10 [M] Oxford 1 (SE1)
11 [M] Bath 2 (SW1)
12 [M] Dundee 1 (Sc2)
13 [M] Imperial 1 (EL1)
14 [M] Liverpool 1 (NN2)
15 [M] Surrey 1 (SE3)
16 [M] Warwick 1 (WW1)
17 [M] Hertfordshire 1 (EL2)
18 [M] Aberdeen 1 (Sc6)
19 [M] Reading 1 (SE2)
20 [M] Sheffield 1 (YE1)
Men’s Division 2
21 [M] Nottingham 1 (YE4)
22 [M] Bangor 1 (WW3)
23 [M] Bristol 1 (SW3)
24 [M] Cambridge 1 (EL4)
25 [M] Leeds 1 (YE3)
26 [M] Sheffield Hallam 1 (YE5)
27 [M] Heriot-Watt 1 (Sc7)
28 [M] Newcastle 1 (NN4)
29 [M] Exeter 1 (SW4)
30 [M] Sussex 1 (SE4)
31 [M] Strathclyde 2 (Sc8)
32 [M] Chichester 1 (SE5)
33 [M] Warwick 2 (WW4)
34 [M] LSE 1 (EL3)
35 [M] Liverpool John Moores 1 (NN5)
36 [M] Northumbria 1 (NN6)
City of Glasgow proves dominant, with Uni of Glasgow coming out on top in fierce final.
Birmingham stop Scottish whitewash, indicate that glory days aren’t quite over yet.
ShowGame predictions are most accurate ever - we let writer Haydon gloat a little, and note how hard it is for new teams to break through in Men’s.
Bath 2 beat Dundee twice, claim 11th. Bath 1 claim 7th. Bath Uni claim strongest club award.
Many close games across all the seeds - was this the toughest Nationals yet?
Yorkshire and East Midlands dominant in Div 2
Welcome to the University Men’s Indoor Nationals chat! We were treated to a fierce weekend down in Ravenscraig. And, we’re going to start at the top, with the all-Glasgow final. While there were a lot of close games, Glasgow were (once they were out of the pool stage) pretty much untouchable in my opinion.
What were people’s thoughts. Did they look like the favourites to you?
I thought Strathclyde had enough to beat them.
They really did look like the ones to beat. I don't have a long version of this answer- Glasgow are just really good.
|It was very hard for our writers to separate Glasgow and Strathclyde.|
Photo by Ed Hanton for the ShowGame
They certainly looked very impressive when I watched them dispatch Edinburgh in the quarters but I wouldn't say they were the stand out favourites (I feel this says more about the general standard of other teams in division 1 though and less about Glasgow's ability). They've been a team at the top for a good few years now and I felt that really showed, especially with how professional they appeared in the later rounds.
I honestly thought Strathclyde would win. I think Glasgow did a great job of shutting them down. Maybe they learned from their Semi-final loss at Regionals, but even that game was super tight.
But yeah agree that Glasgow are good. Always in the podium spots in my head, happy for them that they finally got a gold medal which they've been threatening for a while
I had to leave half way through the final unfortunately but I heard there was a spirit time out. Did that actually happen?
That did happen! I was streaming the womens final, so I'd also love to know what happened there.
Correct. From my understanding there was a little physicality from both teams. Nothing too malicious but Joel Terry called one to discuss it.
Joel Terry immediately called his own bad bid and the spirit timeout, but the bid was absoulutely atrocious.
I was able to ask Glasgow captain Joel Terry about why he called it afterwards. Interestingly, it wasn’t because the spirit was overly bad. He was worried the play was getting a little bit too physical, and just wanted to get everyone on the same side before continuing the game. He’d just been the one to make a play, and I think realised himself that he’d gone too far.
A good call before things escalated IMO
I was involved in the spirit timeout. It wasn't called because the physicality was unbearable. There is a lot of history of "bad spirit" between Horses and Flung, and it was called because of the manner in which both teams were reacting to and discussing calls. The outcome was that the calls were all well made, that they weren't bids that we wouldn't do in other tournaments, but that they way they were being discussed needed to be amended.
For me, that was actually a theme for the weekend. A fair amount of physicality, but only a couple times where it got to anything to discuss.
Is that a response to having nice big pitches to move around on?
One of those time was actually with St. Andrew’s (who had a great weekend themselves). Gabe Schechter had a couple dangerous bids in our game, but he realised that and showed a great instance of avoiding contact at the end (on a place I felt he would have bid at the start of the game). Taking time to check your own play is tough. But yeah, having big pitches (and being on 3G) meant everyone could play a bit more physical, while staying safe.
|St. Andrew's weren't afraid to claim the space.|
Photo by Alice Hanton for the ShowGame
Men's and Mixed nats this year were the first times I've played indoors on 3G and it's utterly convinced me that at the very least Nationals should be on 3G. I feel the bigger pitches facilitate more athletic play and removes an element of "throw to the tall person" the smaller hard courts have.
Do you think your Regional results would have been different on 3G? And is there a natural advantage for the Scottish in having such a good venue to select their top teams?
I think having such a good venue nearby is one of a few reasons Scotland is set up to do well at indoors, yeah. It potentially could have had an impact, we stopped Loughborough and forced a turn at a key moment at regs that we might not have been able to do had we been in the bigger endzones.
On that note, let’s turn to the one team to stop Scotland cleaning out the medals - Birmingham (uBu). Men's Captain James Firth had this to say:
Well we came into the weekend confident that we were capable of beating any team in the competition. In recent years we’ve just been poor at closing out tight matches but after a very strong Saturday we felt a medal was definitely within our grasp. We were ultimately disappointed not to beat Strathclyde, the game was essentially won by the toss (with one break apiece) but there was one D point that we got many turns that would have put us ahead, but we just couldn’t convert.
This lead to a very enjoyable third place play off against St Andrews that I feel was a much better game than the final which we won by a couple of points after their buzzer beater put them within one point in the final second of normal time making us close out the match.
We’d seen the showgame preview and were delighted to win a medal that we apparently we had no chance of winning (“medals? heck no”) and that our “fortunate journey” included playing all the other teams that finished top 6, only losing to Glasgow.
Yes. I'm sorry lads.
|Birmingham were able to strike some fear into Scottish hearts.|
Photo by Sam Mouat for the ShowGame
You had Manchester as the English team up there as well, right?
Yup and Loughborough. I called 7 of the top 8 correctly, of course the 1 incorrect one went on to win a medal.
Well, they came 5th/6th, so that’s not too unfair. Does anyone have any thoughts on how Birmingham managed to pull through?
They certainly helped themselves with a lot of clutch Ds against St Andrews in the 3rd place game. Though shout-out to Arek Aspinwall for the buzzer beater to take it to Universe. There was a certain inevitability they were gonna put a high one up to him in the dying seconds and he managed to take it down in double coverage.
The main thing I would say about Birmingham (both here and in mixed) is that they never really got fazed. In our game, and others too, they showed that they were adaptable and didn’t really panic. It’s probably why it’s so hard to pin down their strength - across multiple games, they will have the mental fortitude to help them beat the odds.
Ok, let’s run down some of the other top eight teams quickly. Feel free to add your thoughts on St. Andrew’s managing 4th, Manchester only coming 5th, L’boro in 6th, or Edinburgh coming in 8th - possibly below predictions. I’ll do Bath shortly.
Loughborough Men's Captain Omar Khan:
Very happy with how the weekend went as a whole! With a much changed squad from last year (only three from the team that came fifth last year) I thought everyone stepped up to the occasion. In the quarter we let ourselves down (a bit like last year), but looking at the other matches they were all final-worthy games so I really can’t complain.
I thought the quality of the teams was extremely high, with the top teams having an increased amount of depth compared to last year. There were so many sudden death games it was unreal. That being said I do think our pool in particular was much simpler to navigate than the others (no offense to those teams!) but I suppose we have the U24 program to thank for that!
Scotland dominating is no surprise to me, but I wish we could’ve played one of those 3 top four teams! I finish my uni indoor career on a high!
|Loughborough came highest in their pool, and got quite high on pitch too.|
Photo by Alberto Rossi for the ShowGame
Flatball in amongst the medal positions isn't a surprise. Maybe lacking a fully fit Gabe. Their handler weave looked weak without him in both their final two games.
I liked the way they used him as a fourth man in a handler weave though. Was an alteration I hadn’t seen much before.
I'm gonna stick up for Manchester here. They came up against Glasgow in the quarters and won their other Sunday games. They definitely could have got a medal had they not come up against Glasgow so soon. Though I think they were running on fumes by the end of the weekend.
That’s fair, although a 5-1 loss to Birmingham in the pool stage means I feel they can’t have too much to complain about.
I also like how fumes for Halcyon still sees them come in 5th.
We had a fantastic game against Edinburgh, probably our best. Unfortunately, it looks like they also had one of their best games against us. I think they took a bit of a knock to their confidence - they were down 7-1 against Strathclyde in their quarter before a three point roll to save face at the end. Some real talent, but couldn’t quite get it working consistently. Although they did have a good win against Dundee in their prequarter.
They took a bit of a battering against Glasgow in their re-seeding match which might have played into that.
Ok, onto Bath. Their first team came 7th. Their Women’s team came 3rd. Their second Men’s team managed 11th. Even with Strathclyde’s two silvers, I think that rates as the most impressive club performance of the tournament. We played Bath 2 though, and, being brutally honest, they didn’t seem fantastic. It was first game on Sunday, so I can give them some slack - you can get lucky, but you still need some really talent to get to 11th, even with luck. h.christou, what was your thoughts on Bath 2?
A solid team I think. We lost twice for a really bad reason. Arrogance. We expected to steamroll both games and didnt. Once we got frustrated we crumbled. Really terrible from us which I apologised for to them, they didn't get the respect they deserved. Got good fundamentals and offensively decent as a team. Deserved to finish 11th.
I think I would agree. Even in our game when the decisions were getting a bit rushed, their fundamentals were still remarkably solid. Andrew, reckon we’ll rate Bath a bit more highly outdoors this year?
Well, they’ve absolutely dominated our region as usual and a great performance at last year’s Nationals can’t be discounted, even with some turnover. No easy victories against them, I wouldn’t take them lightly.
I’m actually going to take a second to reflect on how impressive Strathclyde’s two silvers are as well, since we didn’t do so at the start. The only unifying theme I could see for the teams was a love of scubas, perhaps too much so.
Yeah brilliant effort from that club. A 2nd team in Div 2 doing respectfully well too! They've been doing something right recently...
Even if Jonny Shaw is asking to be referred to as the Scottish Dylan Freechild, you can’t find much to fault at Strath.
Let’s round out the top half then. Durham managed 9th, and Oxford managed 10th. Oxford had beaten Durham in the pool stages, and I want to blame lack of legs (we brought seven players, and had six for most of the tournament). However, I do think a meeting between the sides could have ended either way any time we played. Alexis Long, Steve Gillman, Dylan Spiers and Will Collier are all high calibre players, in previous years that would have been enough to see you into top 6.
This a very bold statement I know, but I feel Durham got their tactics wrong. They throw a lot of flat, leading throws to handlers running deep. We (Sheffield) managed to shut that down using help defense at the end of our game with them and I feel better teams were able to punish them when they realised.
Yeah Durham didn't seem to utilise their individual abilities as much as they could have. Seemed like some friends who turned up to nats. Those 4 guys are quality players, should have done better IMO
Once we (Oxford) realised in the first game, I think that is how we pipped them. Durham's tactic turned out to be the right one against a tired team at the end of a weekend though. As for Oxford - we missed Dylan Saltzman leaving us last term. And there’s three/four other guys who circumstance ruled against for various reasons, including probably the best male player in the club (Aiden Penn). I’m incredibly proud that, despite that, we came top half in a tough tournament. And also hopefully kept our spirits up, and our spirit scores a bit higher than at Regionals. We’ll have to wait and see.
h.christou, any word on Dundee in 12th, or shall we move down the tournament?
Maybe a surprise to some but generally we had a decent tournament. No Dickers or Asif. Two huge losses, but our game vs. Sheffield to D-roll a win to play Edinburgh to make quarters. That Edinburgh game we were 5-2 up and lost 8-6. Some horrific drops but a really good game. I'd say around 10th was about right for us, so 12th isn't too far off. We had fun and remained positive amidst some of the bad things.
Even after managing second at Scottish Regionals?
Yes. At Regionals, St. Andrews were without Gabe, Arek, and Chun Lee for our semi. Strath knocked out Glasgow in that side of the bracket. And Edi were without Chris Habgood and Lochlan Fisher. We did well to finish 2nd and it wasn't easy, but can't deny the differences for those teams at Nats
Ok, moving down the bracket. And I have some awards to give out.
Unluckiest schedule award: Aberdeen. Having the pool of death (Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Reading) meant that, like in mixed, they couldn’t finish higher than 13th. Their women got Edinburgh in their quarter too. I’m convinced someone in UKU doesn’t like Aberdeen.
Wildcard award: Reading. They put up a good result (a narrow loss) against every top half team they played. This included being up on St. Andrew’s 7-6 in a seeding game. Then they crumbled against Surrey and Aberdeen.
And, toughest cookie award: Sheffield. Seriously, when half your games are sudden death losses and you’re still fighting hard, I’m impressed.
Yeah it sucks losing in sudden death, let alone in doing it five times. Not many of our players have played at this level before though and I think that showed, we really lacked an ability to close games out and didn't hold our nerve enough. It COULD have been a very different tournament for us but it's an experience we can learn from and a target to improve on for next year.
Right. Let’s have all-star teams from Slender, h.christou and myself then. Either five or eight players from different teams.
Gio Cabrera (Strathclyde), his layout D got Strath to the final. Arek Aspinwall (St.Andrews), Steve Dixon (Manchester), Chris Habgood (Edinburgh), Adam Vaslet (Birmingham), Ernest Simons (Heartfordshire) and a Glasgow player (a lot of them played amazingly and I can't really choose between them).
Based off of the performances I saw (i.e. the crunch games when it mattered). Joel Terry, Iain Campbell (both Glasgow), Cameron Mackie (Horses), Arek Aspinwall (Flatball), Jeremy Hill (uBu). Didn't get a watch of Manchester or Bath. I'm sure they have players in that discussion too
Gio close to making my list too...
Joel Terry (Glasgow) - he was on fire in the final with D’s and grabs all over the shop.
Arek Aspinwall (St. Andrew’s) - there was not a more effective endzone shot in the tournament than the ones taken to Arek. Really impressive
Sam Finley (Glasgow) - Glasgow couldn’t have asked for a finer traitor from their local rivals. Solid on D and O.
Oli Grey (Manchester) - May have been keeling over by the end, but incredibly good player on pitch whenever I saw him
Gio Cabrera (Strathclyde) - Workhorse of the team. I think covered more yards on pitch than any of the other horses.
Alexis Long (Durham) - He’s solid and quick. I view him and Gabe as similar players, but I’m only having one shorty on my team and Lexi is that bit more consistent for me.
Andrew Bunting (Oxford) - Personal bias. But he’s one of those player who doesn’t play club, so you only know him if you play with him. Never angry, always tall.
Hannes Ludewig (St Andrews) - Again, tall, well spirited. He held himself well, and didn’t seem to put much of a foot wrong when I saw him.
I managed to predict both finalists in the top 8, which I'm pleased with. But Nottingham barely put a foot wrong all weekend. Also Bangor as well, they started off in the same group as Bristol where they lost their initial encounter, but managed to take the win in the semifinal where it mattered.
Nottingham were good. I wasn't actually blown away by them, but that might be because they've been playing the same way forever, and I remember when it was Brodie and Tom Tounge and Ben Poole running those shapes. They played their game, and really the only way of stopping them is just to outrun them, which we (Leeds) did, and I guess no-one else could.
Bangor looked very strong. Ed Simpson and Dom Knight were strong at the back, and Hari Tidswell was a good receiver for all their shots. Nottingham just looked like a strong team too though. I don’t think they’d quite have made top 12 in Div 1, but I think they’d have been disappointed for not doing so.
Extra thought on Nottingham (not that I’m bitter and dwelling on it): in the past I’ve described their play as formulaic or predictable, which I think leads to them performing better at Nationals than at Regionals, where teams have seen their play before, whereas at Nationals having a set pattern to fall back on might help with possible nerves when up against better teams or strategies you aren’t used to. Or I might be overthinking this.
They were very close to losing to Cambridge in the semi.
Were we surprised to see Bristol take third then?
I was a bit sad, but not surprised. I've learnt to expect anything with Div 2 results
It did seem like Cambridge had a strong side for Div. 2. James Richardson still survives from the Cambridge team that did the double, Niall Jackson is a two season veteren of Fire 1, and Canadian Adam Borchert was a good pick-up. I think it says a lot about Div 2 that a team like this can still not come away with medals. Also, I personally know Henry Mattinson is great at catching knives, although I'm not sure Cambridge used that to it's full ability.
Did we catch Heriot-Watt at all? I'm sure a lot of the Scottish were predicting they'd win the division comfortably.
I caught a couple of their pool games, where they performed the best out of everyone in the division. No idea what happened against Cambridge.
|Cambridge don't seem to have much idea what was happening in the match either.|
Photo by Sam Mouat for the ShowGame.
The one glimpse of Heriot I got (vs Cambridge), it looked like they were in one of those places where nothing goes right. Every 50-50 seemed to go against them, all the little errors were from them, that sort of thing. Not sure why.
Leeds seemed to only narrowly miss out on the top spots too. Alun?
Anyone want to mention any other top-half teams?
Newcastle were (for me) our toughest game, Bangor excepted. Thier weave play was relentless, and if they'd had another handler, they could have turned some tight losses into wins. As it was, the sheer ammount of running they asked their top four players to do started to tell, and their D fell off hard towards the end of both games.
What about Sussex? Going from silver medallists to 10th in Div 2 is a real drop. Does just Ash Yeo make that much of a difference?
|Sussex didn't seem as intimidating as they were last year.|
Photo by Ed Hanton for the ShowGame
I didn't catch them much, I thought they looked ok, but most teams did
Ok, let's end with the two debutants to the scene - Liverpool John Moores and Northumbria. Both showed some promise, but ended up at the bottom. Was it just inexperience at this level that caused the drop, you feel?
Both teams used zones in Regionals to win, which they were unable to use here. LJMU did quite well though, and only missed out on being in the top 8 by 1 point, from there they may have just lost energy.
Chichester were Men's debutants last year on a wild card spot, and I think the experience showed as they pushed higher this year. Reckon we can expect good things from LJMU and Northumbria next year (or even outdoors?)
LJMU don't have an outdoors team, and by the sounds of it their future next year is bleak. However Northumbria has a more solid foundation, and next year they can use this experience to do well in the future
Sweet. Well, in which case, I'll say well done to Strathclyde 2 for winning the Div 2 battle of the second teams over Warwick, and move to close. Any final words and/or All-Star Div. 2 team?
Div 2 is always a close contest, and only a few goals going a different way would have led to vastly different results throughout the division. No one was undefeated, and everyone won a game.
Good work all. Big thanks to all my contributors, and particular thanks to Annie and Clackers for giving up their weekends to go and provide coverage for everyone, which you can find on the ShowGame's Facebook page! Also to Alberto Rossi, Will Foster, Danny Strasser and Henrik Young for fliming. Then again to Tonks for coming up all the way just to take photos (and all the other photographers too for giving up time to take photos and edit). No thanks to Haydon for being so resistent to commentating, which he then of course proved great at. A lot of work goes in behind the scenes, but we think it turns out worthwhile. We hope you appreciated our coverage, and catch you at the next tournament!