Strange Blue Tournament Report

University Outdoor Nationals

13-14.Mar.2010 - Sheffield

Kia Ora,

I'm sure some people haven't realised yet (where on earth have you been), but last weekend we went to uni open outdoor nationals in Sheffield. And ate a load of carvery. We also played some sweet frisbee, and came 4th in the country (i.e. won the quarterfinal), which when you look at the teams above us (probably on balance better than us) and the teams below us (all unequivocally worse than us) is fair. Plus Flatball came 15th. HA HA HA HA.

We drove up on Saturday morning, which was uneventful until Frank the Tank had to stop behind some utter loser who was turning into a nursery. We lost a good half hour waiting for him and that made us really late for the warmup, and also stressed out Ioffe no end. Not that he needed any more encouragement.

The structure was 16 teams in 4 pools of 4. Top place goes straight into Sunday morning quarters, while 2nd and 3rd place get a Saturday afternoon crossover. So obviously we wanted to win everything. This was not as simple as it sounded, despite coming in seeded 3rd, which gave us probably the easiest pool out of the 4.

And one last note before the match reports: it was a glorious weekend to play outdoors, easily the best of the season so far. Beautiful sunshine, warm (well, mild, say), and only occasionally hurricane-dly windy.

SB 12-9 Exeter Uriel

Mark huddled us up before facing off against the 3rd seeds in the pool and told us not to be complacent - they're still a good team - we'll need to play hard - and we did play at least reasonably hard. We warmed up our weapon of the weekend (clam D), which started slow but they couldn't cope with it that well and we got a few breaks to win what in the end seemed actually a fairly comfortable victory. The highlight for me in this match was Adam Morgan's ludicrous grab of some crappy windswept outside-in forehand put into the endzone for the winning goal.

SB 10-8 Newcastle Too Many Pies

Ahhh, the 4th seeds in the pool. Probably gonna be an easy game, right? Well this was definitely the tightest game of the day, by far. They tossed for O and scored the first point, and then zoned our handler-heavy line into a mild headwind. What followed was a 50-pass sequence between Shannon, Gary and Nimbs that involved a lot of little handler popping, pushpasses (from Gary) and absolutely no-risk throws. Then we turned on the goal line, they boosted it, turned downfield. Zoned again. Cue another 60 strung-together passes for the goal. It was a pretty sweet exhibition of patient handling against a not-particularly-awesome zone, and they ended up changing their chase 3 times (heheheh).

Despite the good bodings of that point, we didn't play particularly fantastically (lots of unforced errors and unimpressive man D) and we traded all the way to the hooter at 8-all. And then we scored the last two points to win it. So despite not playing well we still won. I'll take that.

SB 13-2 Dundee Shooting Stars

Well this was a bit of a cakewalk, especially compared to Pies. Dundee had already lost two players in their second pool match, and would go on to lose another during this one. Plus this match was up on the hill, where the wind was noticeably more of a factor. So basically the match turned into a bit of a procession, given they were playing 8 against our 15, and we clammed them for the entire match, which worked fantastically, due to their fatigue and being short a handler or two. There were butterflies for those with a memory at 6-1 up (ahem) but Dundee didn't have the legs to pull off anything special. Thank god.

So that was us top of the pool, which was sweet - we got to watch the crossover that determined our quarterfinal opponents. Flatball looked, well, flat against a Mohawks team that was fired up, and as the sun set and the wind picked up we left with Mohawks 6-3 up.

The evening was pretty relaxed; we went to a carvery and ate a large, large, large pile of roast food (why do we get served one chipolata? I'm still getting flashbacks to that meal too. Bowels don't cope well with that sort of meal, lemme tell you). After that it was back to the hotel and in my room at least we watched Innerspace (Adam B's greatest movie of all time) and the second Matrix movie (Keanu Reeves' bum. Classic). I heard some people got some ice cream.

Yeah we were pretty lame.

SB 11-8 Sussex Mohawks

So here comes the moment of truth: the quarterfinal against Mohawks. We clammed them the entire match and it worked well, inasmuch as we forced them to turn over on numerous occasions, even if they were comfortable busting through the wall. Obviously given the scoreline we didn't convert every turn but it felt like we were forcing them at least once or twice every O point they had. Sussex were notable for their terrible fouls (at one point Paul had the goal in the redzone and was pivoting to throw a forehand, when his mark actually *grabbed* the disc while it was still in his hand. And then claimed ignorance. Nice one.).

As I've said, the pressure of our sweet clam D was too much and they basically crumbled under it; towards the end of the match there was a lot of shouting within the team at each other, and Mark's throwing the final goal was preceded by a long discussion about travels and restarting play and more shouting. But we won. Sweeeet. In the huddle the Mohawks captain said we'd probably have to pick it up to beat Sublime.

In the gap between matches we went and watched Jesters v Ubu. Jesters put down a pair of absolute class chickenwings (including a 3/4 pitch length one. In the endzone. *Loser*). Ubu started singing that they were the best around. Classic.

SB 0-8 Portsmouth Sublime

Well as you can guess, the Mohawks dude was totally right. We didn't pick it up and got a beatin'. If you had an objective observer, they'd say Sublime were totally money and we were definitely not the best around for this game.

The wind had really picked up by this point, howling, massive gusts making it basically into an upwind/downwind game. Sublime threw a very tight, probably illegal (double-team-y) junk combined with excellent behind-the-wall D and Parslow sitting in the endzone pulling everything down, and we just couldn't handle it. On the flipside, their handlers coped with our clam both ways extremely well, busting the wall with ease, and they also had upwind rips that our deeps couldn't bring down. So all in all a recipe for a pretty awful defeat.

The second point was notable as a terrible exhibition for the game of ultimate. A 30 minute turnover extravaganza. We had the downwind and were terrified of turning in our third, so Shannon would put ludicrous, massive pitch-length hucks that would evade Morgan and Hammad or be D-ed by Parslow. When we did get the disc in the final third (it happened at least 5 times!), the cuts weren't there, the disc was jammed into the end zone, and a turn assuredly followed. Sublime going upwind against the clam looked better than we did going downwind against their zone (to be honest, few things would've looked worse than our downwind O at some points), willing to put it long and take their chances, but again they showed a lack of composure in the red zone and couldn't convert. The net result was a point with at least a dozen turns and the disc going the length of the field each time. (I had a guy from Aye-Aye come up to me halfway through the match and ask me what the score was. 1-0.)

Portsmouth scored that point, though (on about the 8th attempt). We just couldn't pick ourselves up after it, and their junk continued to totally dominate our O, while they worked the clam with impunity, and marched away to an 8-0 victory.

SB 10-12 Warwick Bears

Hmm. That didn't really go to plan, did it? Bears lost their semifinal against Ro Sham on account of not picking the wind (Smiley picked offense. Not which endzone to start in. Whoops) and then the game not having any breaks at all. Which meant that Midlands would fight it out for 3v4 mediocrity, whoop!

I really enjoyed this match, Bears are good fun to play against and the pressure seemed all off so everyone was fairly relaxed in it. This may have been the reason we didn't win (it didn't feel like we were particularly in it... but the cap did come at 10-8, and after Smiley agreed to play a 2 point cap, his team went "dude come on what the hell're you thinking!"), but it was a good game to play. They totally busted our clam through the middle, which was probably the difference - we did play some tight man D as well but couldn't carry it off.

Notable highlights: Hammad footblocking Mum after he'd turned the disc on the endzone line; Morgan pulling off a RIDICULOUS grab down the right-hand sideline, chasing full-pelt after a huck and coming down with it right in front of a bunch of pretty impressed LSE spectators.

So yeah, that's the story of the weekend. We came, we won 4 matches against worse teams, then we lost against two better teams. Which on balance was probably fair. Still... didn't make up for getting dicked on in the semi though.

The final was a hugely entertaining match - Sublime going 5-1 up and then 7-2 at half, before "Ro Sham-bles" (thanks, Hammad) really picked it up and starting tearing the Portsmouth junk apart with massive crossfield i/o rips through the wall. And also tonnes of irresponsible crossfield hammers (half of which were dropped... and probably the difference in the end). There were a couple of massive layout Ds by the boys from Edinburgh but that deficit was too big to overcome, and while they got within a break or two, Sublime ran out winners 10-8 (or something along those lines). Parslow was Paul's mancrush of the final, and he did play pretty awesomely, with sweet upwind backhand boosts.

There we go, the story of the final act of the open student season. Roll on tour. Woooooooooo!

- Mike