European Ultimate Championship Finals: Open (Preview)

Mooncatchers come in riding a perfect season. Can they complete it?

Clapham and Alba compete for a high disc at UKU Nationals 2022. Photo by Andy Moss.

We’ve discussed what has happened in Europe ahead of EUCF, but who’s going to win? What teams are the ones to watch? Here’s what you need to know about the teams fighting for the title in Wroclaw.

Tournament Profile

Date: September 29 – October 1
Location: Wroclaw, Poland
Weather: Warm with temperatures between 19 and 25 C/66 to 77 F, with light showers on Saturday
How to watch: On Ulti.TV’s YouTube channel
Schedule: EUF website

Pool A

Mooncatchers (Brussels, Belgium) draw FAB (Bern, Switzerland) and Otso (Espoo, Finland). Moon should have no problems here, while it would be a surprise if Otso can top FAB. Moon are the team on everyone’s minds in this division. They won Tom’s, they won Windmill and they won Elite Invite with a crushing statement victory over Clapham. Several of this team were on the Belgian under-24 team that won a spectacular silver in Nottingham, while more still were on the Belgian team that captured an inaugural gold at EUC in the summer. Players like Arvids Orlovskis and Daan De Marrée are on the very short list of the most talented players in Europe, while others like Sofiène Bontemps and Toms Abeltins are not too far behind. The team is deep, confident and has learned how to win the big games that had eluded them in previous seasons. They have the emotional push of some injured teammates not being able to join them in Wroclaw and have dedicated this tournament to them. Everything seems to be in place for a historic run. Watch out.

Pool B

Clapham (London, UK) have had an excellent season by the standards of any other team on the continent. Their only problem is that they are not any other team; they are the standard by which European teams measure themselves. 21 national titles and ten European titles will do that. After losing their UK Nationals streak to Chevron they will be extremely motivated to do well at EUCF and to take back the title after losing to Ranelagh (Dublin, Ireland) in last season’s final. Connor McHale returns from duty with Chicago Machine, while Will Rowledge returns after missing Nationals.

They will face old foes Bad Skid (Heilbronn) in the pool. These teams met in the 2017 final and have played dozens of times over the years. The top players here know each other extremely well. Bad Skid have lost their perch at the top of German ultimate over the last couple of years and may not have the legs they once did to reach the final stages of EUCF and compete regularly with the top teams. Their first game of the tournament, though, shouldn’t represent any issues with fatigue or weariness. That game is against Clapham.

Uprising (Poznan, Poland) are the third team in this pool. They’re a very solid team and could do well in some of the other pools but have gotten pretty unlucky here. They’ll need huge performances to take down either of the other two teams.

Pool C

This pool is wide open. Panthers (Wroclaw, Poland) won their qualifying region and so were seeded highly, and have been put in a pool with Ranelagh and Tcach (Pornichet, France). Any of the three teams could win here. Panthers come in with the confidence that winning brings and will be in their home city. The Dobronowski brothers, Michał Dul and Michał Rudy are all very experienced and surrounded by a roster of solid players. Ranelagh are missing some key pieces from last year with Jack MacNamara on Alba (Edinburgh, Scotland) here and Tadhg Deevy now in Canada but still have Ferdia Rogers, Sam Murphy and several other vital players on the team that stormed to the title last year. They have also picked up Ciaran Costello from XVI, the team that beat them to the Irish Nationals title, and Ireland mixed. Tchac are always athletic and aggressive with the disc, and have added Elliot Bonnet for EUCF. Any winner here wouldn’t be a surprise.

Pool D

3SB (České Budějovice, Czech Republic) won Spring Invite and qualified automatically. They have been up and down on the European circuit since, with a slightly disappointing Elite Invite performance. They missed out on the quarters narrowly last year and will be aiming to reach that stage at least this time around.

Alba haven’t reached the same heights as they did last year so far, when they beat Chevron (Nuneaton, UK) and made their first UK Nationals final. They seem to have the whole band back together for this tournament, though, with GB mixed captain Cammy Agnew joined by pretty much all of their top players. The few players they are missing, like Andrew Cleary, are somewhat balanced out by the addition of two recent Irish champions – the aforementioned MacNamara and handler Conor Selkirk. Panthers (Bern, Switzerland) won Swiss Nationals last year but haven’t quite been as good this season. They have the talent to cause problems but seem likely to finish third here.

Pool E

BFD La Fotta (Bologna, Italy) look as imperious as ever. All their top players are back, with David Barzasi coming off a storming summer for under-24 open and Italy mixed at EUC. Sebastian Rossi is a beach European champion as well, while many of the other players made Italy open’s first-ever EUC semifinal. It would be a huge shock were they not to win the pool and miss out on the semis.

KFK (Copenhagen, Denmark) are one of the most fascinating teams at the tournament. Always a good team, they have added seven players from Carleton CUT to the roster. With the players split across the O and D lines we may not see a full CUT line at the tournament but the addition of such talented depth could well make a significant difference as the Danes look to repeat their top eight performance of last year. Bristol Open (Bristol, UK) have been building for a few years now and the addition of some ex-Chevron players in Sam Cameron, Eddie Mason, Adam Vaslet and Chris Allen as well as the addition of ex-Alba handler Andrew Warnock has pushed them to the next level. They will do well to win a game in this pool, though.

Pool F

Chevron are joined by Gentle (Ghent, Belgium) in this pool. After winning their first UK title, Chevron will be pushing to get back to the bracket after losing out in the quarters to La Fotta last season. They finished third as recently as 2019 and have long been one of the best teams in Europe, so the extra confidence that winning Nationals has brought may be enough to push them on here too. However, the Gentle match up is a brutal one. The Belgians also feature plenty of players riding high on confidence after winning EUC – Tobe and Lander Decraene are on the path to being elite players for a long time, while Pieterjan De Meulenaere, Benjamin Zwarts, Arthur Fieuws and Benjamin Vereecken add experience and the Vande Weghe brothers add guile with the disc. These two look very well matched and will have a great tussle for the top spot.

FWD (Vienna, Austria) will have chances to win games, but it would be a big surprise if they do so in the pool. They beat Terrible Monkeys on universe for a spot at EUCF so just being in Wroclaw seems to be a huge achievement for the team from Austria.

Pool G

Wall City (Berlin, Germany) are the overwhelming favorites here. The German national champions lost in the quarters to fellow Germans Heidees last season, a huge shock that won’t be repeated since Heidees missed out on qualification. Wall have the talent to reach the semis but haven’t quite been able to put it all together on the European stage. Conrad Schlör is one of the best players in the world while Phillipe Kaye and Christian Gaffney are reliable options to generate offense. Watch out for Paul Herkens who was excellent for the German under-24 open team.

Smash’D (London, UK) have reached this level for several years now and will be looking to push on. They seem well positioned for a crossover with Outsiterz (Bratislava, Slovakia) a surprise qualifier in the pool. They performed well at qualifiers, though, and may be a tougher matchup than the British team is expecting. That game is one to watch.

Pool H

Another wide open group sees JetSet (Leuven, Belgium) match up with MUC (Munich, Germany) and Cotarica Grandes (Rimini, Italy). JetSet won Spring Invite in their hometown but played with players like Daan De Marrée and Tom Blasman on the team. They have neither here. The roster still has talent, with several Belgian EUC winners suiting up for them, but this will be a pool MUC and Cotarica enter with confidence. MUC have been at this level for some time and feature German World Games player Torben Hörnschmeyer alongside the Maierhofer brothers, while Cotarica feature Italy mixed captain Andrea Fantini as well as experienced Swiss player David Moser. All three teams could win this one, and if this came down to points difference it wouldn’t be a huge shock.

Bracket

It’s slightly harder with this format to predict things with too much accuracy, but what we can expect is that Moon, Clapham and La Fotta will be there when the dust settles and we have a final eight set. Wall City will be contenders as well, but they’re probably closer to the pack of chasing teams behind the top three – Ranelagh, Bad Skid, Chevron, Gentle, KFK, 3SB and Tchac could all be in that group as well. Moon are the favorites here, but a wounded animal is often more dangerous. Bullfrogs aren’t generally seen as the most dangerous of animals but in this instance it would be wise to be wary.

  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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