London Invite 2022: Open Division Tournament Recap

London Invite is a new tournament in the European calendar showcasing some of the highest performing European club teams. Hosted by Clapham Ultimate (London) and BE Ultimate Apparel this past weekend, London Invite was a successful final pitstop before these teams travel to Cincinnati for WUCC. With eight teams playing in the open division, the tournament offered an insight into how the competitors have been preparing for the biggest outdoor club tournament of the year. Day one was extremely gusty with challenging winds, while day two saw those winds calm slightly. Still, conditions all weekend were difficult for everyone.

Tournament Profile

  • Location: Isleworth, England
  • Dates: 25 – 26 June 2022
  • Weather: Sunny intervals on Saturday and sunny all day on Sunday with temperatures up to 20C. Moderate wind all weekend.
  • WUCC teams: 8 (Clapham, CUSB La Fotta, Chevron Action Flash, Gentle, Ranelagh, Wall City, Bad Skid, Alba).
  • Link to watch games: 
    • Saturday – Games for Patreon subscribers here, with open showcase game on YouTube.
    • Sunday – Finals streamed for free on YouTube.

Clapham wins again after a topsy-turvy final

Clapham came into London Invite on the back of a successful run at Windmill. Until then, it had a few iffy performances at the Elite Invite and Tom’s Tourney where they lost in the final to Wall City (Berlin) and semi-final to Iznogood1 (Noisy-le-Sec) respectively. Since London Invite was at home another advantage for Clapham was the whole squad’s availability to play.

The Bullfrogs came here with clear focus areas after working on the offensive system at Tom’s and ironing out defensive setups across the last few tournaments. Throughout the weekend, Clapham not only won all its games but did so with comfortable margins. The offensive system rarely seemed out of sorts other than a handful of points on the show game pitch with a strong crosswind. The defensive structure was the most successful among all teams. The D-line managed to stop any set plays or powerful hucks in the first few passes with the zone look, which is a “secret weapon” according to captain Josh Briggs.

In the final game, the score line mostly stayed within a two-point difference until the final stretch where Clapham pulled away for an 11-7 win. The game had a few scrappy points with questionable throws and intensive defensive effort on both sides.

CUSB La Fotta (Bologna) for the most part had sensational O-line plays. Sebastien Rossi caught a point blocked disc with a split-second reactionary diving catch and Orion Cable seemingly hopped to sky a pack of Clapham defenders on a loose disc. The American imports, Jonathan ‘Goose’ Helton, Kurt Gibson, and Orion Cable worked well within the CUSB system. Over the weekend, CUSB had a few plays with Goose coming in to collect the disc and simultaneously Rossi or Cable busted to the endzone for a score. CUSB showcased its athletic prowess in spurts but lacked the consistent structure and calm focus that Clapham brought to the game.

The wind dictating play

If it is windy in Cincinnati2 then these teams will have had a perfect test for throwing prowess in the wind. Plenty of teams were able to throw in these conditions, and in particular players like Sebastien Rossi (CUSB), Ferdia Rogers (Ranelagh, Dublin), Andrew Dick (Alba, Scotland), and Phil Kaye (Wall City) showed effortless throwing skills alongside most of Clapham’s roster. Most teams had extremely high accuracy on throws but there were a few errant discs and overthrown deep hucks, and some struggled against zones more than others. Bad Skid (Heilbronn) and Gentle (Ghent) had lower conversions on their deep hucks because the wind impacted the flight path of these throws, particularly on day one.

Gentle co-captain Arthur Vande Weghe said, “We are not used to playing in these windy conditions, so this weekend is good practice. Our handlers aren’t used to taking the bold throws from the inside channel against winds or the big shots that we are seeing on other teams here. We did take some shots that didn’t convert but were happy to risk and learn.”

The takeaway here is that the European teams have a deep arsenal of throwers on their squads. However, there is room for more consistency. In terms of being crafty with off-hand throws, blades and more, most teams kept it simple and basic at London Invite which worked well.

Expected Performance at WUCC

Most teams here had the same response when asked about WUCC ambitions; to perform as well as they can.

Chevron (Nuneaton) captain Seb Allen said: “We are missing seven to ten of our O line players and so our lines are mixed up currently.” It is still not clear whether Chevron’s full squad will play at worlds but the team is aiming to make the pre-quarter rounds of the top 16, and then finish among the top ten.

Clapham’s Briggs said, “We don’t know where we will be at worlds. Once we get to Cincinnati, we have warm-up games with two US teams including PONY. From these games we’ll get a wake up to the level we need to play against the top American competition.” He added: “We want to be the top European team at worlds,” a fitting aim for the reigning European champion.

Gentle’s captain Vande Weghe had a different viewpoint on his team’s performance. He said: “We are focussing on building up local Belgian talent. We’ve had a few requests from American athletes to join the team which we’ve declined. We’ve had a few veterans leaving the team and new young talent joining the squad. We want WUCC to be the opportunity for them to grow.” Young brothers Lander and Tobe Decraene are definitely on the ‘star player’ list for this Belgian side.

Alba captain Cameron Agnew expressed disappointment at the end of day one: “Without taking away from our first game win, we are ending the day in frustration and annoyance. We know we can play better.” The team’s fortunes did not improve on Sunday and it finished eighth. Alba has been a team that is close to causing upsets at a national level. At London Invite, the team had some impressive moments but just lacked a touch of finesse and consistency. The O line play has been tweaked by improving spacing between handlers and cutters and moving the disc relatively smoothly between handlers, and the Scots will hope the changes bear fruit.

CUSB adding the American flair to their squad is a deliberate attempt to unlock the Italian side’s best potential at WUCC, and other European teams have added pickups to try and add a dash of star quality. All eight teams at the London Invite are working to outdo opponents irrespective of their style of play. After WUCC they’ll return to Europe and will try to do so again for EUCF in September.

Success of the debut London Invite

This was the first time Clapham has ever hosted a tournament, and by all accounts it was a big success. Briggs was very positive about the experience: “We invited the top teams from European Ultimate Championship 2021 and are pleased that most of them came to play this weekend. Now that the word is out and there is some amazing footage, we hope to keep the momentum and host again next year. Maybe we plan this tournament for the different National teams across Europe.”

With a calendar that already includes a number of big, exciting tournaments the addition of another could be great news for ultimate fans in Europe.

 

 


  1. Which was not present, with one Izno player suggesting with tongue in cheek that its absence was due to Clapham and CUSB, and in particular Italian stalwart Davide Morri, being scared of them. 

  2. Unlike the roasting temperatures teams had to deal with in 2018, at least until the hurricane showed up… 

  1. Richa Patel
    Richa Patel

    Richa Patel picked up the sport of Ultimate Frisbee at 30 to fight off Asthma. Now she fights off patriarchal norms both on-the-field as a tiny defensive beast and off-the-field as part of multiple grassroots initiatives for gender equity in Ultimate. Her Ultimate career started in the west coast of India with club teams like West Coast Rascals. She has represented India at the AOBUC 2019 and was selected for the WUMC 2020. As a recent immigrant in London, U.K., she is on the hunt for a team rich in diversity and bad puns.

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