Windmill 2022: Tournament Recap

Floor Keulartz of GRUT gets down for a catch in the Windmill 2022 mixed final. Photo by Oliver Hülshorst.

Three days of ultimate in Amsterdam concluded today with three winners that were all among the favorites in their respective divisions. The weather was cooler for much of the day than it had been for the rest of the tournament and the gusts stronger, which affected some teams more than others and let to plenty of long points as players struggled to adapt what had been working up to that point. Here’s a look at what happened in the finals along with a final review of the teams going to WUCC in July.

GRUT reclaims its crown

Dutch powerhouse GRUT (Amsterdam) had won this tournament twice before but lost to France Mixed in the last final in 2019. In the early part of the tournament it looked as though there were still things that needed to be worked on and improvements that needed to be made, an 11-10 loss to SMOG (Manchester) highlighting that most starkly. However, as soon as bracket play started the Dutch team flipped a switch. It took half 8-2 in all three bracket matchups1, and despite a wobble in the second half of the final ran out convincing 14-8 winners against a previously undefeated PuTi (Helsinki).

Captain Ben Oort was delighted with the performance of his team in bracket play:

“We showed the intensity yesterday in both our quarter and our semi. We were super happy to start out that way again, you can’t ask for much more than to go out 8-2 for half. It was pretty rough for them to come back from that but they did well, they got two or three breaks back so we had to work for it and not step off the gas but most of the work was done in the first half.

“I think in the second half we dropped our level because of the lead maybe and they also tried some junky, force middle defenses that switched things up and made us second guess a few times. I think there were some personal errors on our side too. They were quite good on the conversions, they didn’t give the disc back easy to props to them for that.”

When asked about what comes next for GRUT and how the team is feeling ahead of flying to Cincinnati, he was feeling confident:

“We’re feeling good ahead of WUCC. We set out the goal 13 months ago when we had tryouts on this very field, we want to win EUCF, Windmill and worlds. Two of those three things have now been accomplished so we’re ready to go. I think we’ve proven to ourselves and to everyone else that we are the best mixed team in Europe so we’re focused on the Americans, the Japanese, the Canadians and the others and we’ll see what we can do against them.”

Primadonna Girls take anticipated win

The quality of Primadonna Girls (Denver) was obvious before the team even stepped on a field in the Netherlands. Just looking at the team list was enough to suggest that it would be strong favorite against anyone else in the division. All they did at Windmill was show exactly why that was the case. In a final that featured several long points, offensive miscues due to the wind and a number of tired-looking mistakes from both teams, the Americans their heads and executed at a level defensively that opponents 3SB (České Budějovice) couldn’t match to run out to a 6-1 lead early in the game. The Czech team was able to get some of its long game going eventually and pulled some points back in the middle part of the game but that early torrent proved the main difference as Primadonna Girls secured a 15-9 triumph, fittingly sealing it with a break.

Nikki ‘Tucker’ Ross of Primadonna Girls expressed how much the team enjoyed the experience:

“This was probably the most fun tournament that any of us have ever been to. We were trying to compare it to TEP because we went there in 2019 as a kind of Molly Brown mish-mash of a team. [Windmill] was just so fun, all the European teams are so nice and it was a great experience, great competition with a great party. It was very well run, it’s so nice to have camping and everything else in one spot. We’re definitely coming back.”

Despite seemingly running roughshod over the competition, Ross and the rest of the team enjoyed the challenge that the European teams presented:

“The level was good! The spirit was definitely a lot higher than American teams, people are friendlier here whereas in America it’s a bit more competitive and physical. We had to adjust to that and lower our level of physicality a little bit but everyone was super friendly, the competition was good. We had a few close games and we really had to adjust because the style of play is so different to what we’re used to, every game we had to fix something and communicate so it was awesome.”

The Denver outfit also completed a rare double in coming away with the spirit prize, so clearly those adjustments worked well.

Clapham eclipses Moon to win title

Ahead of the open final much of the discussion was whether Mooncatchers (Brussels) would be able to challenge Clapham (London) defensively. Moon is a team that can challenge anyone with the disc in hand, such is the throwing talent and cohesion that it possesses across the team at its best. Clapham grind teams down offensively, though, and make defenses run hard yard after hard yard to try and get the disc off them. Clapham started on offense and the teams traded to 5-4 pretty quickly, but from there Clapham’s D line took over. It took half 8-4 with a three-point roll and scored two more out of half. A Moon hold gave some brief respite but two more Clapham breaks left the score at 13-5, a blistering 8-1 run to end the game as a contest. The teams traded out from there for a 15-7 final score.

Clapham captain James Mead was glad to be back at Windmill and played down the suggestion that the team was relieved to get back to winning ways after losing at Elite Invite and Tom’s Tourney:

“The tournament was fantastic, it was really good to come back here again. The caliber of teams maybe wasn’t the usual Windmill but it’s such a good environment, the whole setup is quality and it’s definitely our favorite tournament that we usually come to so really good to be back.

“We weren’t really worried about [not winning] the other tournaments because we were working on specific things at each of those, one was a D line and the other was an O line. This was our first as a proper group, a proper tournament structure so it was good to get over the hump. We had a close game with Iznogood on the Friday and then yesterday so it was good to get over that and then the final, it was good to play as a proper D and O line and put out a really good showing. I think what we did today was a good level, O line was clean and D line was good from the start so we’re just looking to do that again next weekend.”

Next weekend is London Invite, the final big preparation tournament for WUCC and a new addition to the European calendar organised by Clapham. The tournament will feature Clapham and seven other open teams alongside eight women’s teams, with all 16 drawn from the best in Europe.

WUCC watch

In the women’s division the five WUCC teams had a wide range of outcomes. Spice (Nottingham) narrowly missed out on the bracket after drawing with Panthers (Wroclaw) in the last round of the Swiss draw and ended up in 10th. Gravity (Dublin) recovered after a difficult first few games to top the teams outside the bracket in ninth, while Flying Angels (Bern), Seagulls (Hamburg) and SCRAM (Scotland) all made the bracket and finished third, fifth, and seventh respectively. Gravity will likely be disappointed but the other teams will all have taken some positives from the experience.

In open there were ten teams here heading to Cincinnati. Only three didn’t make the bracket – KFK (Copenhagen) which finished ninth, Ranelagh (Dublin) which finished 17th and Force Elektro (Amsterdam) which finished 19th. Ranelagh brought a huge squad including a number of players who will not be going to WUCC and rested many of its top players to guarantee playing time for development players. After Clapham and Mooncatchers was Iznogood (Noisy-le-Sec) in fourth2, Tchac (Pornichet) in fifth, Chevron (Nuneaton) in sixth, Guayota (Lanzarote) in seventh and Flying Angels in eighth. There were close games between many of these teams and all look to be getting to their peaks ahead of worlds, and most will be happy with what they were able to learn about themselves in Amsterdam.

The mixed division had 13 worlds teams, with only three finishing outside the top half of the 40 teams – Crazy Dogs (Stans), Pie Wagon (Newcastle) and Valhalla (Stockholm) finishing 27th, 26th and 23rd respectively. GRUT, SMOG, Disconnection (Freiburg) and Reading Ultimate all finished in the top eight while Colorado (Karlsruhe), Monkey (Grenoble), Njord (Copenhagen), Deep Space (London) and Manizelrenner (Mainz) were able to finish with positive coefficients. With so many WUCC teams, strong pickup and all-star teams and several club teams that will not be attending worlds it was difficult to tell exactly how strong some of these teams looked, but GRUT are certainly pointed in the right direction and Colorado ended with an impressive 15-9 win over a Zurich team that had previously been ranked 11th. SMOG had an excellent first day and a half but the nature of its losses in the semi-final and then in the third-place game against Ambush (Goa) will be a slight worry for a team with high expectations and a lot of talent.

  1. Defeating Reading and SMOG in the quarter and semi-final respectively. 

  2. FUJ finished a very impressive tournament by beating the French champions 15-9 in the 3/4 game. The Czechs will not be going to WUCC but look to be a team to watch for at EUCF later this season. 

  1. Sean Colfer
    Sean Colfer

    Sean Colfer is based in London. He’s played for teams across the UK since 2006 and has been writing about and commentating on ultimate since 2010. Follow him on Twitter @seancolfer, or follow @ShowGameUlti on Instagram for more on UK and Irish ultimate.

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