October 1, 2022 by Sean Colfer in Recap with 0 comments
EUCF 2022 has kicked into gear. Today there were some tight, hard-fought games, there were some slightly fiery matchups and there was one particularly dramatic and polarising game on one of the streamed fields. Our quarter-finals are set so things are approaching the business end and the tournament is finely poised for an outstanding knockout round.
We have to start with the game everyone in Caorle is talking about. Mooncatchers (Brussels) played Chevron Action Flash (Nuneaton) in the first game of the day for both teams. Given the result between Ranelagh (Dublin) and CUSB La Fotta (Bologna) yesterday, both teams may have been aware that the winner of the game (and therefore likely the pool) would be on the same side of the bracket as CUSB and Clapham (London), the two teams that have met in five of the last six European finals. With that in mind, there was a lot of discussion about whether either team would play its hardest.
Moon took half 8-5 and both teams seemed to be giving it 100% on the field. Moon didn’t play some of its best players as frequently as they might do in bracket play, but given this was early in the tournament that was potentially understandable. In the second half, Chevron started to pull things back until the game reached 14-14, with Moon coming out on O. That’s where the drama really started.
Moon received the pull and worked it over to the open sideline to Reph Jonkers, one of the best players in Europe this season. Jonkers threw an almost unbelievably expansive hammer backwards across the field, ostensibly aiming for Benoit Spapens but the disc flew out of the side of the field1. Chevron took the disc and worked a slick endzone set, gaining massive amounts of separation for a universe point, and scored for the win.
Chevron’s celebrations showed how eager they were to win, and captain Seb Allen said the team was pleased to be going into the quarter-finals unbeaten. It’s a big win for a still young and developing Chevron team, with players still finding their feet in new or expanded roles.
Mooncatchers coach Pierre-Alain de Laminne de Bex said the team was disappointed following the game:
“We were obviously aware of the situation, that we might face a stronger path if we won but we said let’s not focus on that. We discussed it and said the outcome wouldn’t change how we’d advance, we still had to play Outsiterz (Bratislava) and play the pre-quarter, so let’s rotate players and rest some people because we had more games coming up.
“We wanted to try some stuff, but Chevron raised the level in the second half more than we expected so we were surprised. We stuck to the plan though and didn’t call any power lines. It’s disappointing to lose like that, it’s not a nice feeling. We’ve had a really good season so far and we wanted to win every game, that’s our philosophy. It’s not a happy feeling but now we know we can’t afford to lose another game if we want to win the tournament.”
The end of the pool stages game us some interesting pre-quarters. Clapham faced Iznogood (Noisy-le-Sec) in a game that we have seen several times this season already but with Izno missing several of its best players from previous tilts. The Frenchmen were unfazed, though, and with their full EUCF squad together for the first time this weekend2 pushed the odds-on title favorites further than any other team here so far. Izno was able to break back late in the game and hold its nerve to bring the scores to 14-13, and a Clapham turnover on the endzone line gave Izno the chance to force universe point. A Conrad Wilson layout block got the disc back for the Clapham O-line, though, and a shot to Ashley Yeo ended the game. The surprising closeness of the contest is something that Iznogood should take great heart from but will no doubt be disappointed with given their chance to take it to universe. Clapham captain Josh Briggs was sanguine about the game and praised Iznogood for raising their level over the last year: “I think it boiled down to us capitalising on a couple more chances than them in the initial stormy section. Once the rain abated both teams’ O lines were clean. So really those first 20 minutes in the rain were the difference maker. Iznogood hold themselves to a high standard now, they clearly train well; physically and with discipline. The turnaround between xEUCF last year and this year is stark.”
Mooncatchers played 3SB (České Budějovice) in a tough pre-quarter, a result of the Czechs losing a close game to Gentle (Ghent) and Moon losing to Chevron. The game was very tight in the first half with only one break, a booming flick huck by Arvīds Orlovskis that was brought down with a massive layout from fellow Latvian import Toms Ābeltiņš. The Belgians pulled away in the second half, though, eventually running out 15-11 winners. 3SB would in most other years be good enough for quarters and may have had an outside shot at the semi-finals, and will feel hard done by with the draw.
Chevron beat young Italians Cotarica Grandes (Rimini) 15-9 and Ranelagh comfortably defeated Panthers (Wroclaw) by the same scoreline, while Wall City (Berlin) made short work of Gentle in a 15-10 win that demonstrated the Germans’ depth. CUSB beat Bad Skid (Heilbronn) 15-12 in a good game that pitted two strong teams against each other. Bad Skid will be a strong contender in the 9-16 bracket, but CUSB moves on to the quarter finals.
The final two quarter-finalists were slightly more surprising. KFK (Copenhagen) beat Alba (Scotland) 15-9 in a game that featured two second-placed teams. The Danish team made quarter-finals in 2021 as well, but would likely not have been in many quarter-final picks before the tournament. KFK lost in the pool to Bad Skid but has been very good otherwise, and soundly secured its place in the next stage against Alba. The other team is Heidees (Eppelheim), which beat Alba in the pool and secured a pre-quarter against one of the best third-place teams in PirU (Pirkanmaa). Heidees won that game 15-10 and so progresses to the quarter-finals having been pushed to universe point on the first day by Cotarica.
The next round and beyond
That means the quarter-finals are set:
- Clapham vs KFK
- CUSB La Fotta vs Chevron Action Flash3
- Ranelagh vs Mooncatchers4
- Wall City vs Heidees
Clapham will again be strong favorites, while the all-German quarter is a rematch of the German national final which Wall City won. The other two quarters are fascinating battles. The offensive power of CUSB against a talented and fearless team like Chevron will make for an exciting game, while the free-flowing, expansive style of Moon will be a great foil for the way Ranelagh plays; grinding out yards and isolating its athletic cutters in space downfield on offense and playing a lot of tight, physical match D. Those two games in particular will be ones to watch, but the whole round should be fascinating. The winners of the first two quarters will play in one semi, while the later quarters will determine the other. This time tomorrow we’ll know which teams are playing for the trophy, and hopefully there’s more drama to come before we get there.
EUF has introduced MVP voting for the first time at this tournament, so if you’re watching along at home or taking part, you can vote for the most valuable player in your division (and all the others too) here.
He had thrown very similar options twice before in the game and both were completed. ↩
Some of Iznogood’s players were delayed due to issues with flights. ↩