GRUT are yet again overwhelming favorites in their last season
September 29, 2023 by Sean Colfer in Preview with 0 comments
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.
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
Reading Ultimate (Reading, UK) won the Elite Invite earlier this year but finished fourth at UK Nationals. They will be missing some key players like Molly Wedge, Conor Hogan and Helen Roberts thanks to injuries, but the squad is still very strong with several players who played for Great Britain earlier this year – Andy Lewis, Becky Thompson and Sam Wilson on the mixed team, Emma Klima and Rachel Naden on the women’s team and Mark Bignal on the open team – and has experience of doing well in Europe. The team reached the final last year and will be looking to go one better here.
Joining them in the pool are FRuBB (Frankfurt, Germany), the Wroclaw Spring Invite winners, as well as reigning Polish mixed champions Savage (Poznan, Poland) and Turkish debutants Zoom (Istanbul, Turkey). FRuBB finished sixth at the recent German Nationals so may find the game against a talented Savage team to be a tough one. Reading should win this pool.
DISConnection (Freiburg, Germany) won the Spring Invite in Padova and reached the final at the Elite Invite later in the season. They seemed to be one of the powers of European mixed ultimate but also struggled at German Nationals, finishing fourth after losing to Nullacht! (Münster, Germany) in the third-place game, 15-14. The roster features some well-known names like the Förster twins Miriam and Mareike, Arne Groß and Phillipp Haas as well as veteran handler Marco Müller, so they’re one to watch despite their recent results.
Nullacht! are an intriguing young team, coming in as bottom seed but with a recent win over the top seed in the pool. Flow (Wroclaw, Poland) have home cooking on their side and come in as the second-best team in Poland. They’ve reached the semis at EUCF before and are not to be underestimated. Three-time UK champions SMOG (Durham, UK) round out a very competitive pool. SMOG have not translated their domestic results to Europe as they haven’t been able to bring full teams over and this year is no exception. Several players from SMOG’s second team are on the roster but it features enough talent to top this pool if all breaks right. This one will be one of the pools to watch.
Deep Space (London, UK) won their first national title in qualifying for Euros and seem to be on an upswing. A good Elite Invite saw them reach the semis and push both DISConnection and GRUT hard before finishing in fourth. Hannah Yorweth was one of the breakout stars for GB women in Limerick and stars like Leila Denniston and Axel Ahmala were huge at Nationals. They are the top seed, but will play against Monkey (Grenoble, France) who won their regional qualifier despite tough competition. The French team features some excellent players including France mixed and World Games player Pauline Berté.
These two teams will likely fight out for the top of the pool, but Tartu Turbulence (Tartu, Estonia) will be a fun team to watch. Many of the best Estonian players are on the team including indoor superstar Jakob Tamm, who played for Mooncatchers earlier in the season. Reigning bronze medallists Left Overs (Brno, Czech Republic) are the other team in the pool but may struggle after losing some players from last year and in a tougher pool than they saw in 2022.
GRUT (Amsterdam, Netherlands) are in their final season (for now) as a mixed team. It seems obvious that their exceptionally talented roster will throw absolutely everything at this tournament to try and bow out on a high after dominating European mixed for the last few years. They are without Ben Oort as he continues his American odyssey but the rest of the stars are here. They will be very, very difficult to stop.
The rest of the pool is intriguing. Leamington Lemmings (Leamington) and Glasgow (Glasgow, Scotland) both come from the UK where they finished second and fifth respectively at Nationals. Lemmings also finished second at Spring Invite in Padova to secure their spot early, and feature many talented young players who played in the under-24 division earlier this year. Glasgow have been rebuilding since going to WUCC in 2018 and their spot here is reward for that work. Manchots (Mans, France) are another talented team that won second in the south region over Sesquidistus (Strasbourg) and have since added a few talented players, like French women’s player Maëlle Barentin. This one will be another to watch as the three below GRUT could be a battle.
With GRUT and Reading in pools they should win, two of the top eight seem set. Deep Space and Monkey will battle for the third spot while the final bye, winner of group B, seems wide open.
GRUT will be difficult to stop and come in favorites to retain the crown. The top four teams from the UK could all be threats for the semis if things go their way, as could both French teams. The Germans are more difficult to pin down but the talent is there for DISConnection if they can prove their Nationals performance was a blip.
If both win their pools, we won’t see a GRUT vs Reading final as they’re scheduled to meet in the semis. The other side of the bracket is open and we could see at least one new semifinalist. This division is difficult to predict outside of one thing: the trophy will surely be flying home on GRUT airways.