UKUltimate Reveals 2021 Club Series

A new season format from the UK!

UKU Season Diagram 2021

UK Ultimate has revealed their plans for the club series in 2021. As the United Kingdom gradually returns to play, UKU are prioritizing smaller, one-off game events called fixtures over weekend tournaments. Si Hill, UK Ultimate CEO, sees this year as an opportunity to trial a new system that may improve accessibility in the medium term. Hill states that the 2021 structure “[opens] up what used to be the Tour to a fixture-based UKU Rankings, and having a push to encourage more informal, local play. Structured, weekend tournaments have really dominated play in the UK for a while, but it creates an accessibility problem and we feel like there’s a chance to get some long-term good out of all this disruption.”

There will be a national championship1 on August 28-29 with eight teams per division and this event will decide which teams qualify for WUCC 2022.  But qualifying for nationals will be very different than in previous years. In lieu of regional tournaments, there are two different pathways: a National League and a National Cup. While some of this structure depends on the availability and interest of clubs throughout the United Kingdom, this is the current plan for the UKU club season.

UKU National League (Three bids to Nationals)

The National League is made up of the top six clubs in each division from the 2019 season based on a combination of regular season ranking and UKU Nationals finish. The teams will play out a round robin through various events from May to July.2 Each event will be either single games or fixture dates that will consist of one or two games in a day. The teams have to all play each other once throughout the season. After the full round robin, the top three teams directly qualify for nationals in August. The bottom three teams are relegated to the playoffs.

The following clubs have been invited to the National League.

IceniDeep SpaceChevron Action Flash
SCRAMMighty HucksDevon

UKU National Cup (Two bids to Nationals)

The rest of the clubs in the UK are invited to sign up for the National Cup. The National Cup is a single-elimination knockout event that is expected to have three or four rounds depending on how many teams sign up. The rounds will be played throughout June and July at fixture events. The two teams in each division that make the final of the cup are automatically qualified for nationals in August.

The two teams that lose the semifinals are invited to the playoffs. The four teams that lose in quarterfinals will play out a semifinal and a game-to-go, with the winner of that game also invited to the playoffs.

UKU National Playoffs (Three bids to Nationals)

The bottom three teams from the National League, the losers of the National Cup semifinals, and the winner of the game-to-go from the National Cup quarterfinal losers all get a final chance to make nationals through playoff games. League teams will each be matched against one of the Cup teams for a single game and the winner of each of those three games will also qualify for nationals. This fills in the eight spots for UKU Nationals.

Fixtures Over Tour

The regular season in the UK is usually made up of Tour events which are weekend-long tournaments. As this does not seem likely to be possible in 2021, UK Ultimate is using a new Challenge League system to rank teams throughout the regular season. Club teams sign up in the league and can organize one-off matches with other clubs in the system. These results, along with the official UK Ultimate results from the events above, will be tabulated using an ELO ranking algorithm to determine the final Challenge League standings. 2021 is a trial year for this system and the results have no bearing on nationals, EUCF, or WUCC qualification.

  1. Unlike in recent years, Irish teams will not be allowed to participate in UKU nationals this year. This is due to concerns with international travel and the fact that the EUF canceled the EUCR events this year, meaning that UKU Nationals will no longer serve as a regional qualifier for the EUCF. 

  2. In all likelihood, there will be few events in May and the season will start in June. 

  1. Ravi Vasudevan

    Ravi Vasudevan has served as Ultiworld's European editor and a host of the podcast EuroZone. Emails about EuroZone should go to [email protected]. Ravi played for WPI in the US until 2008. He has been living and playing in Europe since 2009 and has competed at WUGC 2012, WUCC 2014 and WUCC 2018.

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