Strange Blue Tournament Report

University Open Outdoor Regionals

3.Mar.2007 - Cambridge

SB dominate midlands. Discuss.

The intrepid SB first teamers arrived nice and early on Saturday morning (well, some of us anyway) to help set up and get the tournie up and running. Proudly donning the blue were: captains Aidan and Fatty Jon, Magic, Pedro, Paul R (aka Icecock, Cooldick or simply n00b), the James twins (S and K), Paul H, Danny Boy, myself along with debuts for Mark Ioffe, Nick Colam (aka Satan) and Tom Rosoman. The 13 players represented 12 different colleges, which shows the diversity of Cambridge's Ultimate talent.

Our first three pool games against OW! 2, Random Fling 2 and TNT all passed without too much of note with the possible exception of someone pulling the disc the sum total of 5 yards (probably less actually) and the same fella getting the worst injury of the weekend, not whilst laying but rather playing Khabbadi as a call. I forget who this person is. The game against OW! 2 also featured pretty much all the points of zone D that we played, the decision to henceforth stick to man D in no part influenced by the fact that they schooled our deeps and wings with a scary number of Nancy Drew's (that's bad reads to you and me) from the boys in blue. Anyway the scores were 13-1, -0 and -1 respectively.

Next up was the big game of the day against South East buddies Aye Aye. We'd been psyching ourselves up for this all day and it showed. Aidan bravely called to play D having won the toss to get in their heads and so he played D; getting a huge layout block on their best player. Really tight marks on their handlers and a crazy high intensity meant that we went into half time with a 7-0 lead. Get in! Alas the pace of the first half dropped away and it finished 13-5ish. High point of the second half was undoubtedly Icecock's decision to attempt to hit the completely free man in the endzone with a wanky knife causing 5 people on the sideline, including my mother, to call him a n00b. This set up a semi final against our best friends Oxford in the morning, with the winner guaranteed a place at nationals.

Parties in the midlands are rubbish. Parties in the south east are much better. The SE party featured Aye-Aye 1 and 2, ARU and SB 1 and 2. The midlands party featured Apocalyptic Cows who were led by an ex-Cambridge type, so they came to the SE party too. South East 6 - 0 Midlands.

Sunday: There was a 15 minute delay to all matches due to the frankly awful organisation displayed by the various TD's who, to be honest, were pretty shocking in all areas, especially the colour in the captains pack. In spite of this, seeing SB2 beat Apocalyptic Cows served as excellent motivation and we warmed up visualising collapsing the cup as well as they did it (really really well). And now, to the first point of the OW! game, possibly my favourite ever point in any Ultimate match, certainly top 5. We played some D, they set their zone confident that with the wind in our faces and a hill to climb (literally) there would be a turnover. The handlers swung it patiently and when we got in behind the cup some fast breaks made lots of yards. Not once did we even look like turning it over and the inevitable score came. Bloomin' marvellous. Needless to say, they planned man D on us from then on. We kept up the early momentum and generally found it a lot easier to put the downwind points away whilst our hot man marking gave them very few easy passes. I certainly remember a layout D or two for Satan, some huge upwind puts (and pulls) from the Portuguese maestro and a sweet grab from Tom but I was having so much fun that it's all a bit of a blur. Final score was 15-4 or 5.

The final was against a strong Bears team who'd edged us out in the indoor regionals semi and we were hungry for revenge. Jon was just hungry. This time round they won the toss and elected to try and get in our heads by playing D. We'd heard lots about their zone which had completely shut down 4th seeds Random Fling (who they beat 13-1) and stopped the Haze O. Again we swung it about a bit and popped it forward a bit but it was our rigorous pre match preparation that come to the fore, running through Strachan's head was Magic's tactical insight "when the handler receives it on the line he should look up and see someone free far downfield". So he received it, looked up and pinged it a goodly long way straight to hungry Jon for the score. This was downwind so we were pleased but didn't get carried away, the real test was still to come. Upwind and we faced the same zone... two thirds of the pitch had gone by with swings and small gains when Strachan again received it on the line and again sent it to Jon for another score. Well that was the last of the zone for the weekend. We stepped up our man D which gave us a quick downwinder, to Jon, who, with his appetite now sated, decided to sit the next point off.

Some chilly handling and lightning quick breaks from Magic (which he did all weekend) helped us to notch up two more points to give us a 5-0 lead and we looked to be comfortably in the driving seat. What also helped was our religious iso calls: first Jesus attempted to cut but didn't get free, so then we tried Satan. But Bears, to their credit, came back really strong and succeeded in getting their own upwinder whilst our O looked a tad tired and cuts were hard to come by. It became a battle as we attempted to keep our 2-1 upwind lead and conditions worsened. The pitch had become pretty muddy which made for some huge layout bids, undoubtedly the best of which was Paul H's one to get a D block... no wait, get a score... no, no.... ah yes, it was to stop the disc from rolling (c.r. tournament report, nationals, 2006). It also meant you could get some proper distance, on one failed D bid I didn't manage to get the mark on till stall 4 due to overshoting so far. They didn't really threaten too much going upwind until the last point of the match (which had become very much huck and D) when they worked it all the way up the line before my filthy lazy poaching was rewarded with a layout D block. Anyway, we did finally put it in, Jon getting the score, he mentioned something about his pudding stomach. 11-8 the final score.

All in all a pretty smashing weekend, Midlands champions due to a great team effort. Some loser called Wong managed to sneak away with the MVP award, no doubt due to some gratuitous bids in the mud. The top teams from the midlands will have gone away remembering two things more than any other should they face the mighty SB again. Number one is that we come out really hard and really fired up. Number two is that we play very well against the zone. Sounds just like Strange Blue doesn't it?