Russian Ultimate Championship 2021: Tournament Recap

Cosmic Girls and Sokol win gold in Russia!

Sokol’s Anatoly Nazarov catches the universe point goal in the final. Photo by Yegor Yakushin

Familiar faces shined in Nizhny Novgorod as Cosmic Girls (St. Petersburg) cruised to a title in the women’s division, and Sokol (Moscow) upset Real Five (Dzerzhinsk/Moscow) on universe point in the open division.

Unlike most countries, Russia did have a 2020 season that included a national championship tournament. In fact, Russian ultimate has been going almost uninterrupted since June 2020. Last season saw SouthWest and Real Five take home gold medals in their respective divisions, but neither team were able to defend their crown this year.

Cosmic Girls roll the competition

The past few years have seen quite a bit of roster turnover for St. Petersburg’s Cosmic Girls. Sasha and Anya Pustovaya moved to Moscow, Natalya Mashyanova moved to Germany, and many of the more experienced players have been less and less involved in the team. On this, Sasha Pustovaya noted that it wasn’t just Cosmic Girls who have seen a great deal of turnover, but nearly the entire women’s division in Russia. Cosmic Girls’ roster, like Real Five’s, is split between two cities. The Moscow part of the roster trained with six to eight people for the entirety of the season. Asked if that made it more difficult to play together, Pustovaya, who lives in Moscow, said it was much less complicated than she had expected, and heaped praise on the team’s less experienced players for stepping up.

They met very little resistance this weekend in Nizhny Novgorod. Over five games, they managed a point differential of +46, but both Sasha Pustovaya and Yulya Akramova were quick to point out that the scorelines didn’t necessarily reflect how each game was played. The final against Southwest finished 14-8 in their favor. Their only close game was a 10-9 pool play game against SouthWest, a game that finished 10-9.

They met SouthWest again in the final. The game was even until 6-6. Cosmic Girls then took half at 7-6. They received after half time and got a hold. Then they put their zone on, and went on a run of  four breaks that SouthWest weren’t able to recover from.

On the final, Pustovaya acknowledged that their zone in the mercurial Novgorod weather was key to beating SouthWest: “We didn’t complain about the weather. For us, because we like to play zone, that kind of weather is advantageous.” Yulya Akramova added, “We didn’t necessarily come into this tournament as favorites. Our ace in the hole was the bad weather and strong wind. Our team has the most experienced handlers, and our zone caused problems for our opponents.”

On the difference between the two games, SouthWest captain Alyona Vinogradova acknowledged that they were punished by Cosmic Girls’ zone in the final, “In the first game they threw their zone a handful of times, but after we played through it a for a few points, they switched back to person defense, which we are more comfortable against. In the final, they played more zone. We lacked confident handlers, and that was their advantage.”

Women’s Division Results:

  1. Cosmic Girls (St. Petersburg)
  2. SouthWest (Moscow)
  3. Elvis Presley (St. Petersburg)
  4. Lemongrass (Moscow)
  5. Euphoria (Moscow)
  6. Banshee (Nizhny Novgorod)
  7. The Huuuge Animal (Emerald City)
  8. Blues (Nizhny Novgorod)

Spirit of the Game: Euphoria (Moscow)

MVP: Olga Kochenova

Sokol takes the final on universe point

Sokol is the only team in Russia that seems to have Real Five’s number on a regular basis. After falling 13-10 in group play, they were able to take their revenge. The final finished 11-10 to Sokol, in a game that had only 3 breaks. There were plenty of turnovers, but both o-lines managed put the disc in the end zone just about every time.

Sokol received to start the game, and it stayed on serve until 5-5. A miscommunication between Roman Fedorov and Anatoly Nazarov gave Real Five an opportunity to break. After failing to punch in earlier opportunities, Mikhail Khudobin  found Kirill Zolatarev with a hammer over the stack to the opposite side of the end zone, 6-5. Both teams then held, so Real Five took half 7-6. Real Five received to start the second half. Sokol broke early in the second half to tie the game at 8-8, and then broke again three points later as time expired to take the lead 10-9. The game was capped to 11. Sokol scored on universe point without turning the disc over. Andrey Soprunov reeled in a contested huck ten meters shy of the end zone and dished it to Petr Skoropupov. Skoropupov then found Anatoly Nazarov free for the goal.

Asked about the difference between the two games, Sokol player Roman Fedorov said that their first game helped Sokol to release some nerves and rearrange the composition of their offense and defense to find a more stable attack. “We turned the disc over almost every offensive point, but we managed to score with our share of luck. We were broken at an inconvenient time right before half time, but our defense was able to respond and connect in the second half, and then we scored on universe without turning it over.”

On the other side, Vladimir Kochkin lamented Real Five’s inability to convert break opportunities, “Speaking about breaks, that was our issue this weekend. We got turnovers but we weren’t able to convert them in the red zone, either in the end zone or in front of it. Why? I don’t know. We stressed generating turnovers, forgetting about the importance of converting afterwards. We should have scored our early opportunities and gone into halftime with more than a two point cushion, but we didn’t, and, as a consequence, that probably affected the path the game took.”

Open Division Results:

  1. Sokol (Moscow)
  2. Real Five (Dzerzhinsk/Moscow)
  3. Rampage (Moscow)
  4. Nizhny Novgorod (Nizhny Novgorod)
  5. Me & My Monkey (Moscow)
  6. JuPiter (St. Petersburg)
  7. Leningrad (St. Petersburg)
  8. Flying Steps (St. Petersburg)
  9. ITMO (St. Petersburg)
  10. Ural (Ekaterinburg)

Spirit of the Game: Nizhny Novgorod

MVP: Alexander Rudometkin

  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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