Strange Blue Tournament Report


29 - 30 October 2011 - Nottingham

SB @ University Open Indoor Regionals

So, this is the story all about how our discs got flipped-turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how SB came 8th at indoors in Nottinghamshire.

After nearly not even getting a squad out to open indoor regionals this year, we actually managed to get ten eager guys to wake up and catch a stupid-o-clock (i.e. 0515 am) train. Those people were: Sam T, Lionel ‘Cell-block-H’ Freeman, Fraser, the three Nicks (SD, Owen and Tsao), Mike, Dom, Tom and Tejas. A new-look Cambridge you might say (well, people did say actually, three teams in fact: “so, where’s the rest of your team?”)

The train journey seemed to last a small number of millennia, but we passed some time by discussing the merits of stall counting in binary and conjuring up plans for an alternative industrial revolution involving swans. I urge everyone to try and see Tom’s impression of a swan-shovelling railway stoker. It’s pretty legit. Once in Nottingham, we stumbled into a classy breakfast establishment and consumed a hefty proportion of the city’s sausages, before heading to the sports centre to start the day’s work.

SB 7 – 2 UBU2

I can’t remember that much about this game. Nick SD made some grabs. We tried some 2-1-2 dice and man backhand on D, both coping well enough to prevent Birmingham from scoring much. Our 3-2 O was a little less perfect, with our cutters starting too deep and not utilising the limited space well enough. But hey, a win’s a win, and we knew what we had to do better in the next game.

At some point during the morning, the face of Jesus may or may not have been discovered on a Ritz cracker. Also, Tsao makes really good cookies.

SB 11 – 1 AyeAye2

Score says it all really. Our O clicked way better, with some nice discs from Mike and co at the back combined with a much better positioned cutting pair. We played a bit more dice and totally frustrated their handlers, and Dom as chase nabbed a Callahan. Tejas revealed he was in fact a Ninja.

Also, note that there was absolutely nowhere in this place to warm up or practice anything pre-game, so we made use of whatever cramped space or roadside bit we could find to jog and stretch out a bit. Note to all tournament organisers: warm up halls are good. The car park ended up as our warm up venue of choice, and we tested our new marking idea: need a force? Why not Zoidberg? I may have compared my forcing method to the child catcher. It was awkward.

SB 6? – 4? OW2 (maybe)

In a mini-Varsity matchup, we fought out a pretty close game and they rattled us quite a lot at the start with their fairly well-drilled short game. After tightening up on D once again, playing some aggressive dice and taking away their deep shots when they were forced to throw them, we managed to clinch it.

SB 4 – 2 Aston

This was easily one of the weirdest games of Ultimate I’d ever played. Aston didn’t really have any particularly disc-skilled players and obviously had a few beginners amongst their ranks, but they were tall and willing to run. Our defence was solid all the way through, although our offence was again lacking that final punch. Their unorthodox style I think troubled us a little and they nabbed a couple of scrappy points to close a strangely low-scoring affair.

SB 4 – 7 Fling 1

Being seeded 4th meant our pool was really divided between the top two (4/5 seeds) and the rest. This wasn’t helpful going into what we knew would be our only real test of the day in our final game against Nottingham. They ran an offence similar to Bears, with a fluid two handlers and centre iso, and then two cutters in a small stack in the endzone who would split upon the iso receiving. We knew that getting aggressive on the iso and stopping the up-line dumps would be vital on D, so we set about forcing to the backhand line to make it more difficult for them to hit the first option.

Despite the sound plan, we got nailed up the line too much and they were happy to throw break blades to their tall receivers when necessary. We traded points at some stage, but they came out fired up and we couldn’t quite match their well-drilled O play (I hear they train a load for indoors). Also, JP’s brother is tall, wears a headband and scores points.

After showers and the mysterious case of SD’s missing shoes, we dumped our stuff at our home for the night (the famous Lenton Centre) and hit up the town centre for some good ol’ pub grub. Using the wonders of modern technology, we eventually found our way to the bar where everyone was supposed to meet up. We had some drinks, some brownies, and then left just as everyone else started arriving pre-9.30 pm. Party on SB, party on.

SB 6 – 5 Bears 2

First game of the morning and man was this was a close one. They ran a very similar offensive structure to the aforementioned Nottingham Fling, but with a more structured handler weave. After some lacklustre D, we finally picked up our game, got aggressive on man backhand, forced them out of their comfortable weave and punched in some goals for ourselves. The ending was dramatic: all tied at 5-5 with seconds remaining, a disc heads towards Morgan in the endzone, who makes a majestic toe-line lay to reel in the win. It wasn’t a perfect game, but we stayed mentally tough and fought back hard. Onto the 5v8 we went!

SB 4 – 9 UBU1

UBU came out really hard and took it away from us initially by scoring something like 5 in a row. We lost the plot a little on our own offense, and struggled to cope with their intense O. We called a time-out to group together and sort it out. BAM, we then take 3 in a row, forcing THEM to call a time-out when they were 6-3 up. They had a bit of a shout and came out with a vengeance to take the win (and eventually qualify for Div 1 Nationals – more on that later).

SB 6 – 8 Trent

7v8, we needed to win this to be in the Div 2 game-to-go. Trent’s game plan consisted of big, hanging throws to two v. tall receivers, playing classic indoors with their height advantage. We dropped a lot of easy stuff, and our timid offence didn’t cut it. We started to pull it together towards the end with some hard running, big throws and bigger skys, but it was too late. A disappointing defeat to a team we should really have beaten in a game where our inexperience showed. That was our tournament over – our prize was 8th place in a field of 24 teams. It doesn’t seem that bad looking from the outside – an inexperienced side with only a couple of players having previous competitive indoors experience taking 8th – but we all knew Div II qualification was still well within our reach, and that we really should've been in the game-to-go.

The loss obviously affected me because I subsequently confused myself enough to spend five minutes failing to locate the changing room door I’d just walked out of. After watching the rest of the games, we headed back towards the station, stumbling across the most disinterested Subway service I’ve ever had the displeasure of receiving along the way. Nick O lost it twice: once when Mike, upon being asked if he wanted any sauce in his sandwich, delivered the line “I think it looks obscene enough as it is”; and again upon what will now be known as ‘mint sauce-gate’. We tried to put Dom in a highchair. He didn’t fit. Although he did fit inside Tom’s hobo-coat. The train journey back was eventful. Shit went down in a furious game of squares; Nick O got served by Tom to give Dom victory.

OW1 took the regional win over runners up Haze, with UBU1 putting the final nail in the Bears coffin, triple-eliminating them down to Division II qualification (sounds familiar…), with Fling and Lincoln taking the other two Div II spots. Teams really moved a fair bit from their seeding, showing how crazy indoors can be. For example, our friends at AyeAye1 ‘pulled a Furious G’, dropping down to 13th from their initial 3rd seed, and UBU soared up the ranks on Sunday to take the last Div 1 nationals spot.

Overall, the weekend was a major learning experience for everyone involved. Here are some of the things we learned:

One of the main positives from the weekend I think was our mentality and spirit. If we went behind, we sure managed to stay strong and claw the points back, sometimes to win the game but sometimes too late. We saw a bunch of teams rock up, shout and swear at each other a load, blame each other for mishaps etc, but we never found ourselves doing so, and that’s something to continue.

Play more Ulti,