Exploring new frontiers in ultimate.
April 17, 2019 by Daniel Prentice in Preview with 0 comments
Ultiworld has taken me to a lot of cool places — Dallas, San Diego, Milwaukee, New York City. I’d never even flown on an airplane before I joined the staff to cover Club Nationals in 2015. I think this weekend will top all of those experiences, though, as now I get to go on my first ever international excursion to cover TEP in Medellín, Colombia.
Torneo Eterna Primavera, the world renowned international club tournament, was highlighted by our own Sion “Brummie” Scone as one of the must-do tournaments for every ultimate player in 2015, and the time I spent embedded with Medellín Revolution at the 2018 World Ultimate Club Championships was one of my favorite Ultiworld experiences to date. So I’m excited to get the in-depth look at the one of a kind Colombian ultimate tournament experience.
I’m also excited for my first real immersion in another culture. There’s no better way to get your first international experience than on the Ultiworld credit card, am I right?1 If you have any tips for touring the city, please let me know.
Above all else, though, TEP is an ultimate tournament. So here are the things I’m most looking forward to at the tournament itself.
Everyone knows by now that Revolution is one of the best club teams in the world. But more than that, I think they’re probably the most fun club team in the world. They’re fast, athletic, have huge throws, and play an all-out style of ultimate that sets the world on fire. Any time they line up against other elite teams from around the world, we should all watch.
Hopefully we’ll get to see them run back last year’s WUCC final against Seattle Riot at some point over the weekend, but with a handful of American club teams in attendance, as well as a handful of other top end teams from around the world, Revo should get to play in some exciting games no matter what. They’re in a pool with club nationals quarterfinalists Portland Schwa and U.S. Open attendees Black Widows, which means pool play won’t be a total cakewalk for the WUCC 2018 silver medalists.
But with Denver Molly Brown and the aforementioned in the other pools, it will still feel like a waiting game for Revo to get to play those two. Revo dismantled Molly Brown the second half of their power pool game at WUCC, and the two also put on a thriller in the final at the 2017 U.S. Open. There’s also the Manuela Cardenas connection, with Manu plying her trade for Molly Brown in the U.S. series the last two seasons. And, of course, you don’t have to hype up a rematch of last year’s gold medal game at WUCC between Revo and Riot.
Cardenas is joined by her sister Valeria, and other explosive playmakers like Yina Cartagena and Laura Ospina, who have all earned major media attention in recent years. Like I said, they’re arguably the most fun club team in the world, regardless of division, and they’re must-watch ultimate whenever they play. But if and when they matchup with two of the four best women’s club teams from the U.S., there’s potential for an instant classic.
Preview of the American Men’s Club Season
Four teams that will all have national championship aspirations in the summer will be in attendance this weekend. Defending champs New York PoNY will be in action for the first time since they pounded Revolver into submission in the national final and flipped the division on its head. And Grant Lindsley will be suiting up for PoNY for the first time in Medellín!
The defending champs are joined by that very Revolver team, who will be looking for some revenge. It could also be a first look at a fairly new roster for Revolver. Lindsley is for sure gone, but word on the street is a number of other Revolver veterans may be joining him through the exit door. Is this weekend one last hurrah for some of those Revolver vets, or do they show up with a new look roster and try to use the weekend as an early stepping stone into the club season?
The teams that PoNY and Revolver bumped out in semifinals last season will also be in attendance: Seattle Sockeye and Raleigh Ring of Fire, respectively. Both clubs have been within sniffing distance of a USAU club Championship in recent seasons but haven’t quite been able to get over the hump. Sockeye may have a major addition or two to unveil, and their coach Roger Crafts will probably really enjoy getting to play some ultimate in April.
Regardless of how the teams’ rosters shape up, it’ll be fun having the top four teams from last year’s nationals all playing this weekend, especially since both of those semifinals games were so great last year.
Colombian U24 Teams
Colombia has ascended the rankings of world ultimate powers in recent years, and their burgeoning youth scene is a big reason for that. The U24 women’s team will be playing in the elite women’s division; there’s a pair of mixed teams playing in the elite mixed division, where they’ll be able to test themselves against defending American club champion Philadelphia Amp; and three different U24 teams will be playing in the elite men’s division.
There will also be four different youth club team divisions in action, so the potential for a new, young Colombian star to emerge is high. We just saw the Colombian U20 women’s team take silver at the 2018 WJUC tournament in Canada, and while the other youth national teams out of Colombia haven’t yet been able to climb quite that high, it feels like they have some real momentum going in the country’s youth systems.
Could one of the U24 teams give a real scare to one of the top teams in attendance in front of their home crowd? Could the next Cardenas twins emerge to bolster the country’s already flourishing women’s scene? Any time there’s young players at a tournament like this, there’s a chance of a new breakout star, and that’s always exciting.
The Start of the PUL
I buried the lede here, but the start of the inaugural Premier Ultimate League season is very high on my list of things I’m looking forward to this weekend. Atlanta Soul vs. Medellín Revolution should be a good one. Medellin are the heavy favorites to win the whole league, let alone their season opener against the Soul, but it’ll be cool to witness this piece of ultimate history.
One of the best things about following Revolution at WUCC was the crowds they generated. It seemed like virtually everyone in the stands and on the sidelines was rooting for Revo whenever they played. I’m sure that will be amplified 10x when they’re playing on their home turf. It’s actually the only home game Revo will get to play all season, so hopefully their supporters will be out in full force. Great ultimate crowds are unfortunately a pretty rare occurrence, but it makes them all the more special when they do come around, and this one sets up for an all-time atmosphere.
It will also be great to see all the hard work that went on behind the scenes before the season come to fruition in the form of a real, pro women’s game. Even if the game were to take place in front of absolutely nobody, that’s still a pretty neat thing. But the fact that it should be played in front of Revo’s most passionate supporters will definitely add an extra level of import to the moment.
You can watch the game live here on Saturday, April 20th,
Just kidding, Charlie. ↩