10 Takeaways from: Open Tour 1 2018

Writer: Hazard
Editor: None

With thanks to Will Foster for suggesting this article style to me.

Want the lowdown for the watercooler? Here are 10 takeaways from: Open Tour 1.

1. Clapham are not unbeatable
At Open Tour 1 last year, one Clapham split-team suffered a loss to Reading. This year, both split-teams lost to Chevron. A one-off loss is basically ignorable. Both team losing in a WUCC year is really significant. I'd love to hear what the Clapham captains were talking about afterwards.

2. Chevron claim their first victories against Clapham against Chevron in a few years*
As far as I am aware, this is the first ever time a Chevron side has beaten a Clapham side. Context is needed. The Clapham sides were smaller, likely tired, and facing an in-form Chevron side training for WUCC themselves. With that said, they still weren't the favourites going in. Consider this a huge confidence boost for them, and a big spike in foreign scouts actually taking notice of them as preparation.
*This originally read first ever victories. Josh CK corrected us on TCLF's facebook page: Chevron won the Tour 2 final in 2010 against Clapham. Both squads were full strength, leading up to WUCC that year. Since then, there has been at least 2 Chev over Clapham victories, the two I remember both squads were very short sided (one in Nottingham, one in Cardiff). Earlier than that, in 2008 Euros Chev beat Clapham in quarters. I'm not sure about tour results that far back, but remember very close battles between Clapham against Fire and Chev from 2007-10. Clapham undeniably dominant since then, but certainly not unbeaten

3. Ireland is still strong
I wouldn't say Ranelagh and Pelt were unbeatable this weekend. Both Devon and Reading put in decent showings vs Pelt. Glasgow and SMOG only lost to Ranelagh in sudden death. The British sides do seem to be closing the gap after a slightly dower showing at EUCF-W (aka UKU Nationals) last year. But final results can't be argued - they finished 4th/5th, and only lost to Chevron/Clapham. They also may not have brought full strength squads for the weekend - it's only Tour after all.

4. The boys playing Mixed are still quite good
We didn't see any of the upsets we saw in Women's Tour, but SMOG/Reading/Glasgow still put in a respectable show for themselves. All of them ended up top 10. SMOG and Glasgow both won their way through the 9-16 bracket on Sunday (with SMOG taking the final game), and Reading came out on top after beating both sides on Saturday. Reading even finished above Devon, but since they didn't play them (and both had wins vs Ka-Pow! and losses vs Pelt in the 5-8 bracket), it'd be unfair to draw any conclusions.

5. Devon aren't at WUCC by chance
I don't think Devon will be overly happy with the weekend. They only narrowly beat EMO and Brighton in their pool stage games, and weren't able to put up the strongest showing against the Claphams. With that said, I think they were the 3rd best UK side this weekend (that wasn't going to WUCC in another division). This would have been the weekend for another team that was in the fight last year to make a statement against them. It didn't happen, and Devon came out with a decent 7th place.

6. Fire need to rebuild.
Alex Cragg provided good context to Fire's tough weekend (they ended up losing all Saturday games to get demoted to B Tour, and lost the B Tour final to flump).  Fire have lost a lot of players, and are in the midst of rebuilding. With that said, it wasn't too long ago that Fire 2 were a solid A Tour side. Seeing Fire 1 down in B Tour is a striking reminder of how tough tour has become, and how little you can take for granted as an elite-level side.

7. Ka-Pow! are looking strong
With all that said, Ka-Pow! gained a historic victory to start Fire's downward spiral this weekend (I'm not counting the loss to Pelt). The Fire vs Ka-Pow! rivalry is one of the most intense in UK Ultimate, and the fact Ka-Pow! managed to win out and then fight their way to top 8 is a real positive for the comic strip clan. Although with two Clapham sides attending, they can't claim to have finished as the second-best London team just yet.

8. Haydon Slaughter is good
I was lucky enough to see him get the greatest which kept Brighton City in A Tour. It was great. Purple Cobras put in a great fight against them to take it to sudden death, but sometimes you just have to stop and admire a great play.

9. Development works
We saw SMOG split their squads and put some WUCC players on SMOG 2 - something which is bound to help those players develop. But Reading are the real development story. With two teams in A Tour (the second team winning their crossover vs Fire), and an extra two teams further down the rankings, it is kind of clear how much depth that club now has. EMO 2 and Fire 2 also defended their B Tour status.

10. Tour is pushing its limits
With 57 teams in the Open division (and 28 in the Women's), the Nottingham venue felt crammed with Ultimate. The physios did a fantastic job, but told me they'd be working non-stop most of the weekend. The TD team always seems to be growing. The VC/Lookfly and Tokay stalls seemed to have a lot of traffic all weekend. The photographers were spoilt for choice. And I can personally say the Media Crew worked themselves ragged covering two pitches and trying to provide the best footage they could (getting highlight packages sorted with the games) - and yet there was still a call for more! So many people put in so much effort this weekend. More volunteers and/or more money could push it to another level, but right now we are pushing limits, and non-playing people putting their time into making it the event it is is valuable beyond measure.

Thanks guys! For further reading, I enjoyed Brummie's post over on Reddit, which I'd recommend you check out.

I wasn't joking when I said I wouldn't be leading a chat for Open Tour. No one volunteered, so we're not getting one! Instead, I'm set myself a half hour limit and wrote as much as I could. I'm literally not at Open Tour 2, so consider this a glorified plea for volunteers, because I'm not doing anything for that one, and I'd kind of like to read what happened there too. Message the TCLF Facebook page if you're interested.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What Went Down At: UXON 2018/19

Editor/Chair: hazard (Oxford) Contributors: Becky Greenwood (Loughborough), Clackers (Lancaster), geegee (Birmingham), Alice Hanton (Leeds...