EUF Elite Invite 2022: Tournament Recap (Mixed)

Guayota from the Canary Islands capture the crown.

Guayota celebrating during the final of the EUF Elite Invite 2022. Credit: Elite Invite 2022 – EUF, CUS Bologna
Guayota celebrating during the final of the EUF Elite Invite 2022. Credit: Elite Invite 2022 – EUF, CUS Bologna

BOLOGNA, ITALY — Despite strong fields heading to Bologna in the split-gender divisions, the Mixed division at EUF’s Elite Invite 2022 was notable for the absence of the continent’s premier programs. None of the semifinalists from last year’s xEUCF — GRUT, Salaspils, PuTi, and Flow — made it to Italy for the season’s first major event. Familial commitments no doubt played a part, combined with the ever-present issues around travel related to COVID and the fact that 2022 is already expected to be an expensive year for those traveling to Cincinnati to play WUCC. Instead, we got a showdown of the next tier of Europe’s mixed programs, with seven of the top eight non-semifinalists from xEUCF squaring off to lay down an early marker for their 2022 ambitions.

Final Standings

  1. Guayota (Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands)
  2. Sesquidistus (Strasbourg, France)
  3. KFUM Örebro Frisbee Mixed (Örebro, Sweden)
  4. Catchup Mixed (Graz, Austria)
  5. Monkey Grenoble (Grenoble, France)
  6. Left Overs (Brno, Czechia)
  7. PUC Ultimate (Paris, France)
  8. DISConnection (Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany)

Top Seeds Ease Through Pool Play, Semis

Sesquidistus topped Pool A with relative ease, with the French team besting Catchup and Monkey during Saturday pool play. Left Overs gave them a bit of a scare on Sunday morning by keeping level with them, but the French managed to eke out a universe point win to take the game and the pool, 12-11. It was one of two strong performances from the Czechians during pool play, who also cruised to a 15-8 win over Monkey — good enough for the largest points margin in any game in the Mixed division all weekend. Unfortunately for Left Overs, they weren’t quite as sharp against Catchup; the Austrians were able to dispatch Left Overs to take second place in the pool and secure a semifinal spot against the winners of Pool B. Monkey, meanwhile, fell to the bottom of the pool, going winless through the first three rounds of play.

In Pool B, the final standings shook out as expected with Canarians Guayota coming out on top, but on closer inspection, there was one surprise. The lone competitor in Bologna who wasn’t at xEUCF last fall, DISConnection, after losing to both Örebro and PUC the day before, notched a Sunday morning universe point victory against eventual tournament winners Guayota, who had already clinched the pool. It was too little, too late for Freiburg, but they will certainly be a team to keep an eye on this season. In the other Sunday morning matchup, Örebro took second in the pool after a close game against PUC.

Sunday afternoon brought a pair of tightly matched semifinal contests to earn a chance at the Elite Invite crown. Catchup missed out on the final in heartbreaking fashion; after taking an early 3-1 lead on Guayota, the Canarians chipped away at the deficit until bringing it level at 5-5, and then went on a three-point run to take half. Guayota maintained that advantage until 13-9, when a fantastic late-game comeback saw Catchup live up to their name and take three points in a row to close to within one. Sadly for them, Guayota then held on their final offensive point to put an end to the nearly 2-hour long game.

On the other side of the bracket, Sesquidistus and Orebro had a similarly nail-bitingly close game, but the French held their nerve and beat the Swedish on universe point, 14-13.

Guayota Deep Game Powers Past Sesquidistus in the Final

Monday morning dawned bright and cold in Bologna. Sesquidistus, confident and undefeated to this point in the weekend, lined up against Guayota, who’d had to fight harder through their pool to get to the final. It was a rematch of a fifth-place semifinal at xEUCF last year, with the Canarians squeaking out a universe point win in Bruges. But everyone was anticipating something very different this time around, given that the surface and conditions were somewhat more favorable.

Guayota won the flip and picked offense, as the breeze that had swirled around the showcase pitch all weekend was still evident, though not so strong that it threatened to turn the match into a strict upwind/downwind battle. The Canarians came out energetic, immediately looking long to Alvaro Monterde. A foul by Sesqui saw the disc brought to the front of the end zone and Monterde flung out a high-release backhand break to Sergio Diaz to put the first goal on the board. This was to be one of the few turn-free points in the final.

The next few points saw both teams struggling against both barometric and defensive pressure, the wind pushing discs over the heads and under the hands of intended receivers. Despite each side having numerous chances to break, at 2-2 it had all been traded holds.

After the fifth point of the game had seen five turnovers, Sesqui’s Justine Bru called a time out and the D-line found the focus they needed and earned the first break, Bru striking across the front of the end zone for Jon Kofi after the Strasbourgians worked the disc calmly up the pitch. The French D-line was heating up, but Guayota, unfazed, ripped a massive backhand for the score. Sesqui tried to hit back with a long shot of their own, but Loris Petiteau found himself boxed out between two Guayota defenders. The Canarians were clearly finding their groove, keeping the momentum flowing up the pitch, capped off by a visionary cross endzone backhand from Martina Kmecova put Guayota back on serve.

Sesqui were clearly rattled, and it kept getting worse. A simple miscommunication on an under cut gave Celso Gil the chance to intercept the disc a few feet away from Guayota’s end zone line, and in the confusion, Jose Gabaldoni snuck in another goal. Guayota were starting to pull away. But Sesqui, though down, were far from out. Forgoing the long shots, their strong handler core of Pierre-Alexandre Monet and Gaël Ancelin, wove the disc up the pitch, rediscovering their quick changes of direction and acceleration that had been so crucial for them all weekend. Ancelin caught the score to keep it within one, 5-4. The French offense was catching up to speed, but their defense had yet to find an answer to Guayota’s deep game. The Canarians went ahead 6-4 with another huck, Carla Eller trailing behind Patricia Navasa as Guayota put in another quick hold.

The turn-filled points of earlier in the game seemed to be a thing of the past as Sesquidistus also held cleanly, but at 6-5 the focus slipped, both teams turning over on hucks. Eventually, Guayota held again, putting them within sniffing distance of breaking to take half and putting themselves three points ahead of the team from Strasbourg. Indeed, they had several chances to do so in another point with plenty of turns, thanks to both defensive pressure and some the fault of the wind, but eventually Sesquidistus held their nerve and their offense to make the score 7-6 to Guayota. Here the French team took their second timeout of the half, but whatever was said in their huddle was unable to conjure much pressure on Guayota’s clinical offense, who took half after Kofi overcommitted on the mark and allowed Gabaldoni an easy backhand to Marta Aneiros.

For the first five points out of the break, both teams held cleanly, Guayota notable for their controlled upline momentum, Sesqui for their perfectly timed breakside continuation. Then, with the score at 10-9, directly after centering the disc, disaster struck for the Canarians. A huge hand block from Cédric Wagentrutz flopped the disc onto the floor, and the French wasted no time in putting in the break to bring the game level once again, with less than 25 minutes left before the 90-minute soft cap.

Feeling the pressure of a tight championship match, both teams found it hard to string passes together for the next few minutes, and despite a heroic layout block by Benoit René in the end zone, Guayota regained possession and maintained their lead. A clean hold from Sesqui was followed by another clean hold from Guayota.

With 15 minutes left on the clock, the French team were running out of time and chances. Another turnover on a long shot to Petiteau gave Guayota the chance for yet another break, which they hungrily accepted, Gil skying Ancelin to receive the huck and immediately looking to a streaking Aneiros, bringing the game to 13-11.

A curse seemed to have fallen upon the Sesquidistus deep game, as the same thing happened in the next point, and Guayota yelled in excitement as they broke to put themselves within touching distance of the golden trophy sitting next to the announcer’s desk. It was all over bar the shouting. Sesquidistus found Ancelin in the endzone once again, but down 14-12, the French defense could not find an answer to the oncoming tide of brown shirts. A deep shot to Diaz gained them the yards, and then it was simply a matter of being patient, keeping the disc moving around the outside of the endzone until Gabaldoni shook off his defender up the line for the chest pass from Patricia Navasa. The Canarians were victorious, earning a hard-fought 15-12 victory and title in Bologna.

  1. Ali Thomas
    Ali Thomas

    Ali Thomas is a commentator for ulti.tv, based in London.

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