Coming off the highs of winning Nationals and going to EUCF 2014, the ’14-15 season could have been one that seemed a little uneventful in comparison – but we reached some big milestones this year, which become even more impressive when we remember that this was only our third competitive season as a club!
After a little break, we started the season off with a few indoor warm up tournaments, stringing together four semi-final appearances in 4 tournaments to end 2014. This led us nicely into the start of 2015 at ‘Northern’ Indoor Regionals… in Stoke.
Despite there being 7 qualifying spots, the competition at the top looked strong, not to mention a couple of horribly under-seeded teams (i.e. the eventual winners in 10th)! With an extensive pool and power pool format in use there were a lot of hard fought games to negotiate in order to secure a nationals berth. The first team fared pretty well though and eventually made it to the final, where a slow start meant we never really looked like taking the ‘regional’ title.
Unfortunately for the seconds, they started seeded right near the bottom, which meant landing in a pool with three teams that ended the weekend pushing for Nationals qualification (including the aforementioned winners). Despite pushing two of them really close we came away with 3 losses and a win to leave us 4th in the pool. From there on though, results went a bit better and we clawed our way up to a 13th place finish.
The second place finish for the first team meant qualification for Open Indoor Nationals which this year was held in Plymouth, a decision that saw a lot of teams opt out. This left a wide open competition and an opportunity for us to go and beat our 9th place at nationals last season. After battling through the pools we won a regional rematch, lost to the defending champions (and eventual winners) and then won another regional rematch to finish 3rd. 3rd at Nationals!
This led us nicely into Mixed Indoor Nationals, where our good indoor season continued. Again we made the semi-finals, before losing out to the eventual winners (again) and then also dropping the 3v4 game to finish 4th. However, this again signalled improvement after our 7th place last year! And all this with a team that barely featured any players from our Open Indoor Nationals team! #depth
From there the focus swiftly turned to the outdoor season – and more specifically Mixed Tour. The less time spent talking about Mixed Tour 1 the better; the weather was awful, I’ve heard rumours of some Frisbee being attempted, but I’ve also heard that was a terrible idea. A couple of close wind affected losses meant we were stuck as 33rd the highest we could reach, and we did all that we could before the final game was cancelled! We finished in ‘tied-33rd’.
Mixed Tour 2 was a chance to make amends now that the weather had fixed itself. It took us a little while to click, but eventually we made the most of the position we had got ourselves into at MT1. Climbing back up to take 22nd after losing out in sudden death to Manchester 2 – who eventually finished higher than Manchester 1…
By Mixed Tour 3 then we were heading back towards the level we were hoping to be at all year, playing some great stuff and getting some revenge for those losses suffered at MT1. We went undefeated to break into the top 16 for the first time, finishing 13th!
Despite the disappointment of MT1 we finished the Mixed Tour season in 15th overall. Another improvement on last year! Hopefully that’ll be high enough that we don’t suffer the same ‘seedings fate’ as we did this year – in ’13-14 we climbed from 33rd at MT1 to 17th at MT3, but due to the averaging done in the overall results started MT1 this year as the 28th seed and had to do it all again!
The emphasis from there had to quickly shift onto Open Tour, with another trip to the Fog Lane Cup as a warm up. We endured a tough first day losing to GB Masters, Cambridge and Fire 1. But we brought things back on track with three wins on Sunday against BAF, Bristol and GB U20s to get us a bit more prepared for Tour.
That lead us nicely onto Open Tour 1 in windy Nottingham. Brum 1 started in A Tour after a strong finish last season and spent the weekend battling to stay there. After some tough losses on Saturday we won the crucial game on Sunday morning to conserve our A Tour status, finishing exactly where we started in 16th (of 20).
The seconds had a tough group which left them confined to a maximum finish of 17th in bracket play. They almost went all the way, losing out in sudden death to finish 18th in C Tour. Although a little disappointed by the placing at the end, some of the Frisbee on display hinted at massive potential for this team to climb on up in some better conditions.
Just a couple of weeks later Tour 2 rolled around in London. Bolstered by the international teams, the A Tour looked tough and Brum 1 would again be fighting for survival. A strong showing however meant that relegation was never really a threat and we only lost to one team (although they beat us twice!). All that added up to a 14th place finish – which when the international teams were removed was about equal to 6th.
Not to be outdone, the seconds had an even better weekend, losing only once – to the #1 seeds in C Tour. Had the crossover against the #2 seed been played (it was cancelled due to the massive downpour!) things could have been different, but the lack of crossover restricted us to a best possible finish of 9th. Going one better than at Tour 1, Brum 2 went on a roll and came away with that 9th place finish! This was Brum 2’s highest ever finish at Tour, but they weren’t done yet!
After a small interlude at FishBowl we were back for Tour 3. The seconds were on fire. Tearing through the competition, again only losing one game – this time against Vision in the B Tour crossover! By all accounts Vision were unlucky to be where they were, and we were unlucky to have drawn them in the crossovers, but even so we took them to sudden death before losing out. Winning every other game could only mean one thing though: Brum 2 had won C Tour, finishing 33rd overall! An absolutely massive achievement for the club!
The first team got in on the winning act on Saturday too, going 3 for 3 against Cambridge, GB U23s and KaPow! to take top spot in the group – and with it the top spot in A Tour!!! For that one evening we were 1st in the whole of Tour. Unfortunately it didn’t last too much longer, as we fell at the first hurdle against Manchester on Sunday morning. It was a close game that we had chances in, but after we were edged out we never really got going again and ended the weekend in 8th. At the time 8th almost seemed disappointing, but considering our first priority at the beginning of the year was to avoid relegation – to finish in the top half of A is another huge milestone.
Again this year we hosted Midlands Outdoor Regionals in Birmingham, with Brum 1 looking to improve on our results from last year and make it back to Nationals in Southampton. Brum 2 faced some tough matches, but battled hard to end the day in 9th.
After the Tour season we had had, Brum 1 were optimistic heading in but couldn’t take anything for granted as we learned last time around. This year, however, we took care of business and made our way to the final against EMO, where they showed their class and took the game away early and with it the regional crown. No matter, as this second place finish had earned us a spot at Nationals!
And so to Southampton. Here we faced club teams that were back at full strength after regaining GB players and unfortunately our lack of big game experience showed through a little. We played really quite well all weekend, but too often we failed to show the clinical edge needed to put the points on the board at that level and we were quickly punished. Although we lost 5 of 6 games to end with a 12th place finish, it’s the games like these that we want to be competing in and the experience gained can only be a good thing for the club heading into next year…
So a great year for Birmingham Ultimate; top 4 at Indoor Nationals in both the Open and Mixed divisions, top 16 finish at Mixed Tour for the first time, an overall top 8 finish at Open Tour for the first time and Birmingham 2 climbing all the way up win C Tour at Tour 3, not to mention challenging some B Tour teams along the way!
All things considered, a good year to be Brum!