A look at the first of the big traditional European tournaments!
May 5, 2023 by Sean Colfer in Preview with 0 comments
Tom’s Tourney will be the first opportunity to see some of the national teams that will be vying for the title at the European Ultimate Championships later in the summer. It’s also an opportunity to see some of the strongest teams on the continent after many of them chose to eschew the Spring series in April.
Dates: May 5-7
Location: Bruges, Belgium
Weather: Wet and grey throughout, temperatures around 60-65°F/15-18°C and moderate wind throughout
Schedule: Tom’s Tourney website
Streamed on: Ulti.TV YouTUbe
Club strength at the top
The field for Tom’s Tourney is always good, but there are some particularly exciting matchups in prospect this year. BFD La Fotta (Bologna), Tchac (Pornichet) and Gentle (Ghent) are in the same pool. All three are heavy hitters in the European scene and the games between them should be tight and exciting. Former European champs La Fotta split their lines for Tom’s last year in preparation for WUCC so seeing them back at full speed will be useful to see what level they’re at ahead of the Elite Invite.
Mooncatchers (Brussels) are the main club team in their pool, although UK Nationals runners-up Alba (Scotland) will be ready to put up a fight to the Moon boys. Moon have added some players that won’t be with them for the bulk of the season for Tom’s, including WUCC additions Gael Ancelin and Paul Arters and Estonian indoors star Jakob Tamm. It would be a surprise if Moon didn’t win pool B.
Pool D features Iznogood (Noisy-le-Sec) and Wall City (Berlin), two teams who couldn’t quite turn red-hot starts last season into longer-term success. Izno are the reigning champions here and will be fighting hard to keep hold of the trophy. The battle between these two will give us an indication of whether they’re ready to resume their spots at the top, although Izno will be without last year’s star Joe White, who has returned to the USA.
JetSet (Leuven) are a team to watch out for, although they start in a tough pool we’ll discuss momentarily. Fresh off their win at the Spring Invite in Leuven, they’ll be looking to continue the feel-good factor while close to home although will be missing some key pieces.
National teams take their first competitive steps
The European Ultimate Championships are in July this year in Limerick, Ireland. The big European tournaments usually turn into a preview of EUC in these years, and Tom’s is no different. The added presence of the World Under-24 Championships in Nottingham, England, means that there are eight national teams on show in Bruges.
The primary team to keep an eye on is in pool C. Great Britain have won four of the last five EUC titles1 and will likely be favorites going into the tournament again. The team features many of the key players from WUCC bronze medalists Clapham (London), including talisman Justin Foord on another tour, as well as a good group of young, up-and-coming players from other teams in the UK. They will face Ireland, who will be without many of the Ranelagh (Dublin) contingent that defeated Clapham in last year’s EUCF final2 but will still feature plenty of talent and an all-out, aggressive style that will be tough to play against.
Denmark and Spain will also be at the tournament but will likely be in the level slightly below the best club teams and Great Britain. Both are certainly capable of making quarters if all goes right and they can get into an early rhythm. Netherlands will also be a tough test for these teams with some strong players at the top of their roster.
Two under-24 teams will be in Bruges; Great Britain and Belgium. Great Britain are generally one of the strongest European teams in the division and feature players like Chevron’s Andrew Sweetnam, Rhodri Williams and Ethan Morrell. This Belgium group looks particularly exciting, though. Daan De Marree, fresh off his star turn for JetSet at Spring Invite, captains a team featuring players like Ben Jonkers, Sofiene Bontemps and the Decraene brothers Tobe and Lander, all of whom are outstanding for their usual club teams.
Great Britain masters will also be at the tournament, preparing for the European Masters Ultimate Championships in October. The team features plenty of familiar names for those who have been observers of UK ultimate in the last decade or so, led by Matthew Beavan of Chevron.
Prediction: The power pools make it tough to know what to expect, but Great Britain and BFD La Fotta are likely to be standing near the end. Mooncatchers and Wall City are also good bets to be in the running late on.
Losing in controversial fashion to Sweden in 2011 and going on to win a world silver in 2012 after that. ↩
Many of Ranelagh’s top players have elected to play mixed instead. ↩