Windmill 2024: Tournament Preview (Women’s and Open Divs.)

Two national teams seem to be favorites but who could stand in their way?

Team USA player AJ Merriman puts on a force at the World Under-24 Championships in 2023. Photo by Carl Mardell for WFDF.

One of Europe’s most popular tournaments returns in style this coming weekend. Windmill, in Amsterdam, perhaps best known for its mixture of wild parties and top-class competition, will see a whopping 80 teams battle it out for trophies across three divisions in its 18th installment. This year, the tournament will feature 40 teams in the Mixed division, 22 in the Open division and 18 in the Women’s division. And, to add a little spice this year, in the run up to the World Ultimate Championships taking place on Australia’s Gold Coast this summer, we’ll see an epic number of national teams who have travelled from far and wide to test out their rosters before the tournament. We’ll preview the teams in the same way the schedule is set up – we’ll start with a combined women’s and open and finish with mixed.

Tournament Profile

  • Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Dates: June 14-16
  • Weather: Cloudy but warm with moments of sunshine and a chance of showers all weekend. Highs of 19C/66F. Low to moderate breeze
  • How to Watch
  • Games between 8:00 and 19:40 on Friday, 09:00 to 17:45 on Saturday and 09:00 to 17:00 on Sunday (times all CET, -6 ET)

Note: Windmill uses a Swiss draw so the initial seedings aren’t too key here. We’ll likely see teams move seeding quite a lot throughout the weekend.

Women’s Division

Starting out with the women’s division, coming in strong are the Berliners, jinX Midnight, currently the top team in Europe according to the EUF rankings. jinX came second at EUCF 20231 and won Elite Invite in Leuven this May. The roster is diverse in strengths and the team features World Games players in captains Nici Prien and Rike Wagener alongside German teammates Anna Gerner and Levke Walczak, although Walczak is on the SuperTeam in the mixed division which may limit her involvement2. It also has imports like Sarah Melvin, Paulina Lewandoska, and Oda Homlong. I’d put my bets on this team reaching the final, but I wouldn’t want to jinx it3.

Up alongside jinX, we should see Great Britain Women. GB is the only WUC national team headed to Amsterdam in this division4 and, after winning a silver medal at Euros last year and coming runners up at Tom’s Tourney this year, this team is likely to strike gold at Windmill. They are unfortunately missing a few players to injuries and absences, but there’s no doubt that those present will be coming in hot. Captains Hannah Brew and Rachel Naden will be steering the ship alongside a roster featuring a good blend of youth and experience. Kate Gibson has had a strong start to the season with GB and Deep Space, while the additions of Tessa Hunt, Amelia Kenneth, Alex Benedict, Izzy Collins, Marina Symington, and Emily Hill add some new impetus to the team.

A team I’m expecting to push for semis is GRUT (Amsterdam). The local team came second at Spring Tour 2024 in Grenoble and lost out on playing in the final at Tom’s Tourney after narrowly losing to GB in the semis. That said, they won bronze at Tom’s and looked very strong. A standout player for me at Tom’s was Aurora Lešnik who relentlessly put her body on the line. I’d tell you to keep an eye out for her, but you probably won’t have to. It’s exciting to see her back after a few years away. ‘One-time addition’ Fiona Mernagh also appears to be back for more and the Dutch superstars are all back for more. One name to note is Paula Baas – while Baas trains with GRUT and has done for a couple of years now, they are rostered with YAKA for the EUF series. That means they will have to sit out any games that count towards the rankings if they want to continue playing for the Parisians later in the season. Considering Baas’s throwing power, it would be a huge boon for GRUT if they can play most of the games.

Looking at the rest of the field, there are a number of evenly matched teams. That said, 3SB (České Budějovice), East Block (Bohemia) and Mooncup (Brussels), who are all ranked from fourth to seventh in Europe at the moment, have a pretty strong chance of making quarters, if not semis. 3SB is currently on a winning streak, having won all of its rostered games so far although not against any of the other top teams. Last time the team came to Windmill it reached the final, losing to the Primadonna Girls from the USA which swept everyone aside that year. East Block is the only team besides jinX to have won against BFD Shout, the imposing reigning European champs, and has been building a program for the last few years. Mooncup has also had some impressive wins, beating Iceni, LMU (both London) and East Block to start out this season.

It is very likely, though, that Mooncup will be without the Bornot sisters Eva and Lison, two of their best players who are playing with France Mixed this weekend, while East Block’s star player Kristýna Tlustá is playing for the SuperTeam too.

Slightly below these teams in the EUF rankings, but still definitely in with a shot at quarters are FABulous (Bern), JetSet (Leuven) and Box (Vienna). JetSet finished sixth at Elite Invite recently and feature a number of Belgium Women’s players includingElla Cromheecke, Silke Delafortrie and Esther Vanwijck. Box finished eighth at the same tournament and cutter Katharina Scheidl will be an important player for opponents to take note of. FABulous will feature talented handler Laura Niederhauser alongside Azra Avdukic and Dace Cirule, who are also important players for Switzerland Women.

Seagulls (Hamburg) have had a slow start to the season but shouldn’t be discounted with players like Inga Narjes, Svenja Pruns, and Saskia Neubert, while Black Widows is a team with players from across south and east Asia. It’s exciting they’ve been able to all attend and the team is a real wildcard in terms of where they might finish.

An outside bet in women’s is Dublin Gravity. Gravity will likely be better at Windmill than their recent record indicates. Captained by Kate Daly and with much of the squad that has performed well in Europe over the last few years back together, I think this team could really turn some heads. Watch out for the Gilheany sisters, Áine and Clare, and Jane Linehan, all of whom played excellently for Ireland Mixed on the way to bronze medals at EUC last season.

Open Division

The Open division is going to be top notch this year, with one very obvious elephant in the room. Let’s start the party with the only American ‘club’ team, Austin Disco Club. A quick look at their roster tells me they have a good shot at a very high finish in Amsterdam. This Texan team have their fair share of Irishmen; we know that Ranelagh (Dublin) stalwarts Ferdia Rogers5 and Sam Murphy have both played over in Texas and they’ve brought fellow EUCF winner Jack MacNamara6 along for the ride. A number of the team plays for Austin Doublewide and Tim Stuhlert plays on the Germany Mixed team. This team is packed with talent and if they can get over the jet lag (and probably the pretty intense partying), they’ll surely give us a show worth watching.

Next up is the reigning European champions, Clapham, also Windmill Champions in 2014, 2017, 2018, and 2022. I think Clapham’s history speaks for itself in that we should be expecting a high finish here, and if it were any other year, I’d definitely put my bets on a top two finish for Clapham. That said, with a list of strong national teams present, the looming strength of Mooncatchers, and some other wildcards around, Clapham have an unusually stiff challenge on their hands to make the final. They lost in semis last year against France Open so it wouldn’t be unheard of. Still, almost all of the top names and Axel Ahmala, who had such an impact with Deep Space last season, are back in black this year. Only a handful have opted to play with their national teams instead – Hugh Knapp is with Canada Open while Josh Briggs and Harry Ogden are with GB Mixed.

Mooncatchers (Brussels) is currently the top ranked side in Europe with an impressive 12-0 record, and we can expect a clean, quality performance from them at Windmill. This team may still be reeling from their loss to La Fotta’s resilience in in the last few minutes of the Tom’s final back in May but thankfully for Mooncatchers, they didn’t elect for this game didn’t count towards their EUF ranking. They’ll be keen to put this loss behind them and will be coming in absolutely firing at Windmill. They return Paul Arters from Chicago Machine, and local imports Ben Oort and Tom Blasman are looking more comfortable at every event. The talent is undoubtedly here for the Belgians to challenge anyone, and potential games with Clapham and the two top national teams are tantalizing.

Turning to the national teams, this is the first time we are going to see USA Open and Canada Open teams in a warmup tournament in Europe for a very, very long time. This is an unusual, but welcome, move from the North American teams who we’d never usually expect to come so far to test out their squads. Having said this, it has been eight years since the last WUGC in 2016, and you can’t blame them for wanting to cover all bases on preparedness before heading over to Australia. Canada have had a bit of a lull in international tournaments of late, but the ability on this team is still undeniable: Tim Tsang, Mike MacKenzie, and the returning Mark Lloyd to name a few. The USA, meanwhile, feature as intimidating a roster as you’d expect. The D-line, which you would assume will feature lock-down defenders like Antoine Davis, Jibran Mieser, AJ Merriman and Nathan Champoux, will be a nightmare to score on even with the kind of early-stages chemistry you’d expect from a team with minimal practice time. The O-line might take a bit longer but it’s tough to limit players this good.

Germany finished third at EUC and, despite some changes to the team and a few losses on the score sheet, are still looking solid, especially with some younger talent on the roster. Expect well-connected player from Jonathan Meyer Bothling, Paul Herkens, and Tobias Maierhofer, all of whom played for the bronze-winning under-24 team last year, as well as obvious stars Conrad Schlör, Stef Dösscher, and center handler Nico Müller, who will still be pulling all the strings. On the topic of talent, France has got Sullivan Roblet from the World Games in Alabama alongside some players from the excellent recent under-20s teams, although the other World Games superstar on this team last season, Quentin Roger, appears to be playing mixed with EuroTrash. Spain also looked solid at EUC and feature class players like Alvaro Monterde and Francisco Romano. Their offense will be tough to handle when it’s firing.

GRUT is used to winning at Windmill in mixed and whilst this team won’t win open, its games will be worth watching with players like Dan Eppstein and Walt Jansen. Ranelagh is younger than we are used to but have some good players even without Sam Murphy and newly minted Berliner Ferdia Rogers. Otso (Espoo) has pedigree but it’s going to be a very tough field for the Finns. Bristol turned some heads with a win over La Fotta at Tom’s and features Canadian legend Morgan Hibbert in one of the more unexpected pickups at this tournament. You would assume that, if Bristol plays Canada, there’s going to be some strong motivation to cause an upset. 3SB Open will likely be pushing for quarters as well after a strong few seasons and new leadership from mercurial Irishman John Doherty. GenSet is a mix of Gentle and JetSet, two quarters teams from EUCF last year, so is definitely a team to watch out for even without the two most recognisable names in the Decraene brothers. Arthur Van Der Weghe went absolute ballistic at Elite Invite, scoring five assists and five goals in a close loss to Mooncatchers in the final to cap off an 18-assist, 14-goal overall performance. He and his brother Aaron are both key Belgium Open players, as are a number of others on this team. It is definitely not a group to sleep on.

  1. Losing to BFD Shout from Bologna, which is not here this weekend. 

  2. At Windmill players can technically play in both mixed and their single gender division, but the games are back-to-back all weekend so it would be a very punishing schedule. 

  3. Sorry. 

  4. Germany Women Masters are here as they prepare for WMUC in California. 

  5. Like Walczak, Rogers is playing for SuperTeam as well. 

  6. Who previously played for Ranelagh but moved to XVI (Dublin) last season and helped the team steal the Irish title from Ranelagh. 

  1. Maya Israel

    Maya is based in Manchester. She's played ultimate since 2014, and has been writing since 2019 (intermittently). On pitch, she plays for SMOG Women and off pitch, she's a paralegal.

TAGGED: , , , , , , , ,



More from Ultiworld
Comments on "Windmill 2024: Tournament Preview (Women’s and Open Divs.)"

Find us on Twitter

Recent Comments

Find us on Facebook

Subscriber Exclusives

  • StellO vs. PUMAS (Masters Women’s Final)
    Video for standard subscribers
  • Fawkes vs. regret. (Masters Mixed Final)
    Video for standard subscribers
  • Boneyard vs. Voltron2020 (Masters Men’s Final)
    Video for standard subscribers
  • Deep Look LIVE: The State of the Club Division ft. Patrick Stegemoeller; UFA Playoffs, Masters
    podcast with bonus segment