Strange Blue Tournament Report


19-20.February.2011 - Birmingham

Kia ora, Well here's the story. We sent a bunch of people to Birmingham for outdoor (YAY) regionals. This is what the 1sts did; I'm sure someone from the 2nds'll step up with some sweet stories too.

Last Monday the schedule came out; we were 4th seed (!) with Aye-aye (!) and Haze (!!?) both seeded above us. #1 was Bears, of course, which meant that if we topped the group we'd play the 1v4 semi on Sunday morning (9:05). That would be An Important Match (ominous music).

On the other hand, being 4th seed meant we were in the short pool (5 not 6 teams), which in turn meant we had a 1045 start on Saturday (say WHAT).

The team was - O line: Shannonsaurus (spoiler: we found out his hucks do just fly out the back if there's no wind), Nimbs, Sam T, Cell Block H, Fatty (et beard), Carnott (ground jumps rule), myself.

D line: Elliott, Ruben (the two halves of the "the D line really need to practice their pulling" show... no offence guys but your %bricks over the weekend was abominable ;p), Polish (layout D specialist), (massive) Humphs, Boothness, Claws, Pete, Rob G (who managed to do his hammy in the warmup before our very first match and couldn't play all weekend. That's NOT EVEN FUNNY).

Saturday pool matches:
11-0 over Cranfield Apocalyptic Cows;
11-1 over Nottingham Fling 2;
11-2 over Warwick Bears 2.
I'm not really gonna talk about these, cos the scoreline sums it up pretty well. They were all done in about, oh, 20-25 minutes (of the 40 minute pool match slot). We did, interestingly, find out that our clam D just didn't work (which might've been due to the ABSOLUTELY still conditions. I mean, best conditions for ulti I've ever played in at Regionals).

SB1 9-8 Jesters 1
Oh maaaaaaan this was close. Jesters had a big, motivated squad, and we were worried after 3 easy matches that the intensity wouldn't be there. And it kinda wasn't, yet still kinda was. Leicester definitely showed they wanted to win, coming straight outta the blocks with layout Ds all over our offenses. They ran an interesting offensive structure based on a deep stack and heavily reliant on i/o breaks to get them moving upfield, with the occasional reset to a handler who would often boost long. And in this they proved very successful.
So we won the toss and started on D. That blew up in our faces when they comfortably scored off a put, and then ominous signs appeared when they got a layout block in our very first O point. But the O line dug hard, a layout D of our own got possession back, and we put that disc in. After that it seemed (relatively) simple to get to a 6-3 lead at half.
Of course the teamtalk at half was all about continuing and not letting up; that instantly went awry as they went on a run to level it at 6s. Then there was a lot of frantic shouting, a lot more intensity from D line D and O line D, and a large number of ludicrous bids off boosts from both teams: Elliott made a steamer of a bid off a put from Ruben which didn't come off; but he did toe the line in on another. Jesters were effectively poaching off those hucks, though, which meant we had more success when we looked under.
It came to 8s and the buzzer went: game to 9. We scored.
I was quite happy.

So we kept 4 seed, playing Bears in the 1v4 on the Sunday a.m.
We celebrated by going for a sketchy-as curry. Elliott talked a load about how he had oranges, but not apples. Or was it the other way around? It was a classic straw man. There were loads of Indians (the American kind. And by "the American kind" I mean "uni medic hockey teams fancy dressed as Indians"). While Humphs took a posse off to his hot tub, we hit up a Spoony's for a drink, then went back to our host's for N64 (a weirdly competitive side came out which I've never seen before in SB) and phat beats from the party next door until 12a.m. Classic!

1v4 SB1 13v9 Bears 1.
Well, Sunday morning. Well, playing Bears 1 in the semi. Well... I'll put it out plain: we DOMINATED them.
The huddle and warmup was all about our intensity: we knew we had to come out fighting HARD and putting it in ASAP. Bears were going to run a handler-heavy O reliant on their star players, with deep shots to receivers (if open). We focused on playing across our squad and using our depth: beating their team with our 15 against their top 8, not trying to nullify their top 3 with ours.
And BOY did we get in their faces. DEFINITELY the best half I've ever seen SB play on a Sunday morning. Our O line played immaculate ho-stack O. Our D line blew up HUGE and put their handler-playmakers under pressure, such that even their stars started making silly drops, and earning precious breaks. Both lines forced middle to push their O back into the stack in the field, not letting them get into positions where they could boost it. And when they did boost it, it was into coverage where we took them down, or it was simply overcooked from the pressure. We took a STORMING half at 7-3, thanks to the D line getting all up in their face.
OH YEAH. The half teamtalk was the same as for Jesters: don't let it up. And while we didn't quite reach the heights of the first half, we still traded points out to a comfortable 13-9 victory; Bears got more desperate with speculative boosts and big puts in the red zone and while they lifted briefly to go on a short (2? 3?) point run at the end, they never looked like they'd pull back their deficit.
My favourite D line memory of this match: their captain (and star handler) sets up at the back of a vert stack just out of their endzone. JP takes him about two steps deep. Their captain immediately goes under, break, assuming he'll easily get the disc with 1-2 yard's lead. The handler breaks, assuming it's an easy initiation; the disc is above his head, JP's two steps behind... and then just ACCELERATES past the Bears captain and literally CLAWS the disc out of the air before it's caught.

1v2: SB1 9-8 OW
Hahahahaha oh man another ridiculous match. When the cap came on I felt like I wanted to vomit from anxiety/physical exhaustion. But as the scoreline says: we DID IT.
So OW came into this match with 9 (!) players. Again our plan was as for Bears: run hard, wear them down. Except this time it didn't work. They had a good O system in which they cut hard to get the open sideline and then looked deep. Both of our lines looked tired, which meant their poaches worked well and our D line didn't seem to have the fire it did v Bears - the turns were coming but the conversions to breaks weren't.
We started on D and the first point kinda set the tone: the D line got a couple of turns but couldn't convert either. As the half wore on, with each team's O line keeping a 100% record, it became more and more worrying. At 6-5, catastrophe: they FINALLY broke our O line (which had been playing comfortable ho until then) and took half 7-5.
This was the time to dig. O line came out, scored the first point after half: 7-6. Their O did the same: 8-6. Hooter goes: OW 8-6 SB. Game to 9. SB needs 3 on the trot to take 1 seed and avoid 1 or 2 more matches (possibly a 2v3 rematch vs Bears...!) .
Our O line comes on. Calmly works the disc down-field in our ho. I get the disc on the endzone corner. Sam T cuts to it, he ain't open. His man hangs in my face right on the corner. I shout at Sam to back up a few steps, and throw some dicey piece-of-crap rollcurve forehand around his poaching marker for the goal.
8-7. Game on.
The power line comes on. We need two breaks in a row to win the match. We hadn't even gotten a break until this point. We'd come close but never converted.
The power line pulls uphill. Good pressure on D gets us a turn. Nimbs (? I think!) gets the disc on the forehand open sideline, sends up a O/I forehand to the back corner of the endzone. Humphs safely clapcatches it.
8-8. One more break. ONE MORE BREAK.
Power line pulls downhill. It's a GOOD pull, back of the endzone. The D sets up and marks them out, with all their undercuts completely taken away - OW were finally showing their fatigue. Their handler movement works it around and eventually, out of desperation, puts up a floaty disc up the forehand sideline. It floats into a crowd.. Nimbs gets a hand to it, it comes down...
... Matt Shannon grabs it.
Calm offence. Downfield. Tired legs working. Nimbs (? I think!) again ends up with the disc on the endzone, open-side corner. Polish cuts up-line from the dump position. His mark's just too tired, he's way open - the only worry is poaches from downfield. A little rollcurve pass goes up... GOAL.
Cue rushing the endzone. Shouting. More touching. etc.

We got a cup. We got medals. We came from 4th seed to win the region. We DESTROYED Bears. We dug hard and beat Jesters and managed to do the possibly-highly-implausible against OW.
Yeah, blue.

Our MVP was Adam M, for awesome deep cutting all weekend (including some fantastic grabs off hanging boosts) and ludicrous layouts (one sticks in my mind v Bears on the endzone line).

So big ups to everyone on the team. And I mean EVERYONE. This really was a squad performance: everyone in the team played their part, and everyone blew up huge on Sunday. The contrast with Bears 1 was pretty stark: they had a number of guys on their team who looked nervous with the disc, who were looking to their playmakers. But we trusted everyone, and it paid off.

Sweet. Enough rambling from me. It don't matter cos we are GOING TO THE BIG SHOW.


- Mike.