Vienna Spring Break 2019: Tournament Recap (Men’s)

M.U.C. wins Vienna without their national team stars!

M.U.C. vs FAB in the Vienna Spring Break Final. Photo by Maruša Lešnik

High level, early season ultimate was all around this weekend at the third edition of Vienna Spring Break. Blustering winds pushed teams out of their comfort zones on Saturday, and eventually gave way to nearly perfect conditions on Sunday. Sunburns were on full display as spring finally arrived in Austria. Here’s a look at some of the main storylines from the men’s division.

M.U.C. hold their nerve after early wobbles

M.U.C. (Munich, Germany) hobbled through the group stages, emerging second in their group. They started the tournament with a nervy game against Catchup Graz (Graz, Austria), where they squeaked out a 14-12 win. Their second round game was a tight, relatively low-scoring affair against Prague Devils (Prague, Czech Republic) that finished 10-9 to Prague. Munich player Yegor Naumov acknowledged that Prague were able to stifle their offense by playing zone. M.U.C.’s lack of handlers1 combined with the blustering winds, prevented the offensive line from finding much rhythm. Things got better for them afterwards. They beat LOL (Budapest, Hungary) soundly in the last group match, and held off Sieben Schwaben (Stuttgart, Germany) to earn a place in the semifinal. After games finished on Saturday, captain Michael Remy stressed that M.U.C. needed to stay focused throughout entire games, as he felt that they hadn’t managed to do so in pool play.

In the semifinal, they faced a Brighton City (Brighton, UK) team who were the big surprise of Saturday. Brighton topped a group that included Yellow Block (Prague, Czech Republic) and CUSB Red Bulls (Bologna, Italy)2. Brighton also won Saturday’s most exciting game, a thrilling quarterfinal against FWD>> (Vienna, Austria) that ended in double game point. Munich’s Remy said before the tournament that he was looking for his team’s defense to grind teams down, and they did not disappoint here. Their offense sputtered, but always seemed to do just enough. However, their defense absolutely shut Brighton down, who had come into the game playing confidently. The Englishmen spent much of the game throwing deep, as M.U.C. seemed to contest almost every under cut. The Germans took half 8-3, and the end result seemed a foregone conclusion from there. M.U.C. won 14-6.

M.U.C. met Flying Angels Bern (Bern, Switzerland) in the final. Both teams took similar paths to the final: nervy Saturday, second in the group, and confident bracket play performances. FAB posed a very different threat than Brighton. They spent the weekend playing short, disciplined offense and a variety of defensive looks. Munich started very strongly, jumping out to a 7-2 lead, before eventually taking half 8-4. Again, it was their defense that did the heavy lifting. For long periods, Bern had no answers. The second half was much more competitive, and FAB had some opportunities to close the gap. At 9-6, the Bern defense generated a turn, centered the disc, and immediately launched it towards the end zone. The Munich defenders were trailing by a couple meters, and it looked like the game would be finely poised at 9-7. Unfortunately for FAB, the disc drifted out the back of the end zone, landing on the grass just ahead of the receiver. The Munich offense converted on the next possession, and it seemed as if Bern had just missed their moment. FAB eventually closed the gap to two points, but they just didn’t seem to have the mettle to execute when they absolutely needed to, and the final finished 14-11 to the Germans. M.U.C. will no doubt take confidence from Vienna, having won relatively convincingly, even without key players. They look well-positioned to improve on their finish at EUCF if they’re able to maintain the level of defense they showed during their knockout games, and improve their offensive chemistry.

Flying Angels Bern show impressive discipline, but fall just short

Like their final opponents, FAB finished second in their group. They fell 12-8 to Sieben Schwaben in a cagey affair blighted by harsh winds. The boys from Stuttgart used a tight, tough zone that forced the Bern handlers to play in front of them for long periods. They were happy to allow short passes, and it often seemed as if FAB were literally walking up the field meter-by-meter. Execution errors ultimately let them down. Unbeknownst to them, the loss prevented the finalists from meeting M.U.C. in the quarterfinal round.

Instead, they met Prague Devils, who were dispatched confidently. Early Sunday morning saw them up against FUJ/3SB (Czech Republic) on the livestream. Strong defense and clinical, disciplined offense saw them convert their first half break opportunities, and they able to go into halftime with an 8-5 lead. 8-5 turned into 9-5, and it seemed like FUJ/3SB just didn’t have the answers. FAB closed the game out 15-11.

Captain Severin Ris bemoaned their slow start against M.U.C. in the final, claiming the team felt it was their worst twenty minutes of ultimate all weekend. Overall, he acknowledged the weekend as a positive for the team, giving them the opportunity to try out a variety of new tactics and play in adverse conditions, which should ultimately help the team. It’s hard to argue with him, as they did show some flashes of brilliance throughout Vienna Spring Break. Players like Ris, Tore Harms, and Sebastian Gloor looked especially sharp. They’ll be happy to take the loss in Vienna if they can turn it into some wins at the business end of the season.

FUJ? 3SB? Who knows, but they looked good anyway

One of the main questions on Saturday morning was about exactly which Czech team had shown up at the tournament. Registered as FUJ, they showed up with nine players from fellow Czech team 3SB, and even played in 3SB jerseys. It didn’t much matter, as they brushed every Saturday opponent to the side. They played with swagger, confidence, and chemistry all day, and you would have been forgiven for thinking that they’d sail right through to the finals. They were genuinely fun to watch. Unfortunately for the Czechs, they fell to Flying Angels Bern in the closer of the two semifinals, and eventually took bronze over Brighton City. Player Vojtěch Prušák says the team came into the tournament knowing they had the potential to win it all, but left happy regardless. He says their prospects for the season remain excellent, and Vienna Spring Break has given them some concrete issues to solve.

Other Storylines

Brighton City were certainly the dark horse of the weekend. They topped one of the weaker groups of the tournament, beating Yellow Block on double game point. Brighton then managed to take down FWD>> on double game point in what was one of the craziest games of the weekend, booking a semifinal berth. Speaking of the boys from Vienna, FWD>> will be disappointed in their performance this weekend. They finished seventh, and were probably their own worst enemy. The good news for them is that their troubles have an easy fix. For most teams, the results will be immaterial, as almost everyone entered the tournament with the mindset of using the weekend to improve themselves without defined placement goals. Everyone will have something to ruminate on after this weekend.

Final Results:

  1. M.U.C.
  2. Flying Angels Bern
  3. FUJ/3SB
  4. Brighton City
  5. 7 Schwaben
  6. Yellow Block
  7. FWD>>
  8. Prague Devils
  9. Catchup Graz
  10. INNsiders
  11. Ka-Pow!
  12. COSMO
  13. thebigEZ
  14. Hardfisch
  15. LOL
  16. CUSB Red Bulls

  1. who were at a training camp with the German national team 

  2. Note this was a much weaker Red Bulls roster than the one that attended Tom’s Tourney earlier this season 

  1. Ned Garvey
    Ned Garvey

    Ned Garvey is a member of the European staff. After graduating from the University of Vermont in 2015, he’s been living and playing in Russia and Latvia. He currently lives in Riga, Latvia, and plays for Salaspils Wild Things.

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