27 April 2009

Australian Ultimate Championships 2009 - an overview

Nationals wrapped up yesterday and it was one for the history books.

A smaller field of entrants this year (14 mens teams and 12 womens teams) and the massive fields actually made 450-plus players look small. As the venue for Clubs 2006, UWA Sports Park is huge.

In the women's final, Wildcard met Team Box, a rematch of the 2007 final. Both swam through the draw confidently to reach this game, and the game didn't disappoint. Box took half 9-7, but wavered thereafter as Wildcard pulled to an consistent 2-3 point lead. It seemed like Box fulfilled more of their promise this year - 6th last year was a temporary dip for a very talented club. However, Wildcard were too deep - even their young players are veterans.

Sugar Mags (3rd) and Honey (4th) attained club-best finishes.

In the men's division, a few teams from 2008 were missing - the Taipans (Aussie Masters team), New Zealand and Barefoot to start with. Higher spots were up for grabs for the keen, younger clubs out there.

Returning to an X/Y split, Fakulti didn't yield a top 3 finish for the first time in their club's history. Fakulti Y did fight hard though, falling 2 points shy of the 5th and 6th place finishers, Firestorm and Karma. Sublime were inches from their first return to the semis since 2000 (another WA-hosted Nats), losing to Heads of State in the pre-semi. JD pretty much played savage in that one.

I-Beam had the smoothest offence at the tournament, and claimed 4th. Heads of State pushed Chilly hard in the semi-final (leading 8-6 at one stage), but couldn't hang on. We then took 3rd with a barnstorming defensive run at the end of the 3-4 match vs I-Beam.

Fyshwick's win over Chilly in the rounds seemed to promise lots for them. But it wasn't to be in the final, as Gack hucked and hucked, and the other Chilly players shared the wealth, with every man looking like an option deep. Fyshwick's zippy handler resets of 2008 seemed absent, and they regularly hit 6-7 counts with the disc trapped on the line.

So where are teams tactically in 2009?

Karma and I-Beam ran sidestacks to then iso one cutter, with I-Beam also running split stacks (the "U"). Chilly ran everyone deep, with the occasional Gack feldrenner. Defensively, Chilly showed some 1-pass transitions. Fyshwick would bring out their super-saggy diamond zone as a mix-up D, which I first saw in 2007.
And on Heads of State we started to evolve a straight-up meets force middle, mid-tournament, to combat hucks down sidelines and from the middle of the field. Offensively, we brought in north-west American horo offence ideas. 

Sublime vs Fyshwick United