Updated: Apr 5, 2018
With only a few days until the 2018 Brisbane Canberra Invitational, let’s take a look at the eight mens teams contending for the title. This year's BCI has some promising new contests, with the draw matching many teams that didn’t compete at SMO in Sydney two weekends ago. For players and fans, BCI signals the imminent end of the regular season and is often a good indicator of performance at the Australian Ultimate Championships.
The host team, with a point to prove after placing second in 2016 and contending for first (in a rained-out final) in 2017, will use home ground knowledge to their advantage this weekend. With US import Timothy McAllister from the U24 opens team and an almost full line of Australian U24 players, Mammoth is primed to contend for the top spot. Boasting a roster including Barramundi Myles McCallum, U24 opens captain Liam Grimmond and Australia’s highest vertical jump Trent Thompson, Mammoth has the talent, experience and the athleticism to push the likes of Colony and Chilly. Despite an exemplary work ethic and competitive mindset, Mammoth is yet to (officially) take the title at BCI since the team's inception. Captained by Barramundi John McNaughton (playing with Colony for the World Ultimate Club Championships (WUCC) in Cincinnati), teamed with vice captain and Goannas bronze medalist Sam McGuckin (out with ankle injury), Mammoth are looking to make waves in 2018 as they ramp up for AUC in late April. Expect to see some cheeky fat side dimes and well timed deep looks from the traditionally trigger-happy Brisbane team.
Sydney Colony Plunder
Colony Plunder are possibly the most noteworthy team this year within the Australian ultimate scene. The community is abuzz with the “signing” of USA Worlds players Jimmy Mickle and Chris Kocher, as well as professional rugby player and 2015 GB U24 mens captain, Ben Powlay for the 2018 WUCC campaign. Colony Plunder have already taken gold at SMO and Boon Rockstar Cup in Manila, beating the Buzz Bullets in the final. Even without the imports Plunder has an impressive lineup, with captains Tom Tullet, Rob Andrews, Mark Evans and Alex Ladomatos.
Looking at just the lineup, Plunder are favourites to win BCI in 2018. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. They’ll need to break through the pool and, with names like Wise, Copland, Rogacki and Isherwood in opposition, Plunder are going to need to earn the title. Plunder know they can make their team dynamics work in Queensland, and we know from SMO they’re in a good groove as they hype up to WUCC later this year. That is, if they get their registration done - as of writing this article Plunder only has Benjamin Sutas registered. In the words of Pepper Brooks, “that’s an bold strategy Cotton, let’s see if it pays off for ‘em”.
Melbourne Hot Chilly
After having a possible title robbed by an act of god in Canberra last year, Chilly will come into this weekend firing all cylinders. Lead by hall-of-famer Tom Rogacki, Hot Chilly is mostly an unknown entity going into this weekend, having only featured in Southern Regionals a couple of months ago (where they lost to Melbourne Juggernaut in the final). Building on a strong history of youth development in Melbourne, this team sees a lot of up-and-coming talent getting a bunch of field time. Names like Lucas Sentou Cayrol, James Osmond and Joshua de Bell may not be familiar to you now, but perhaps they will after the weekend. Chilly will look to improve as a team, testing themselves before AUC and building towards WUCC later in the year.
Sydney Power Lunch
After taking ninth at SMO, Power Lunch has their work cut out for them at BCI. With Martin Linus opening dips, Zac Chodos dishing out the meats and U24 opens player Alex Gan cutting up tomatoes, we know they have the right ingredients for success. BCI is their next opportunity to clinch some hardware but before they can eat their cake they'll need to take out Fyshwick, Chilly and Plunder. Not an easy task. Lunch will need near pristine execution, any leeks [sic] in their hull and they’ll be toast. But at least with IOU editor and Halibut back-to-back champion Max Halden at the helm, Power Lunch are likely to win the party.
I-Beam had one of the most impressive focus shifts in Australian ultimate last season. After finishing middle of the pack at SMO in 2017 and not winning a game at BCI last year, I-Beam kicked into gear, taking third at 2017 AUC and second at Eastern Regionals and SMO in 2018. A great start to the season; their biggest rival is likely to be Plunder as a result. After beating host team Mammoth for third place at last year’s AUC, I-Beam can definitely contend. Let’s hope they haven’t peaked early and can keep their competitiveness building into the BCI weekend and beyond. Ryan Davies is quickly becoming one of the best players in the country, able to deliver on both sides of the disc. With a host of youthful receivers backed by veteran talent in Tim Lavis, Chris Stoddard, John Greenfield and Tim Lindsay-Brown, I-Beam will use their disciplined, no-bullshit play style to push far into the tournament.
The third WUCC team in this preview, Melbourne Juggernaut are going to be looking to improve on their 4-2 SMO result as they work towards competing with the best in Cincinnati. With big hitters like Lochlan Wise (Crocs 2017) and Mark Isherwood (Dingoes 2016), as well as former Mammoth alum and Goannas assistant coach Timocles Copland, Juggernaut certainly have the experience to do well in Brisbane this weekend. Heads of State have always played a scrappy, defensive brand of Ultimate, looking to goad opposition into cheering wars and physical battles on-field. The likely still conditions in Brisbane won't work towards their favoured zone strategy, so it will be interesting to see what other defensive sets they have up their sleeve.
Sydney Colony Pillage
Colony Pillage have had an interesting season so far. Usually the other half of an X/Y even split squad, this side of the divide has lost a little talent to the WUCC team in Plunder. Despite this, Colony has never been short of talent. Dani Alexander has taken the job of head coach for this team, employing a vast array of alternative strategies to throw off opposition. And with Rory Connell stepping up big as captain and throwing to speedy targets like Bluebottle Oskar Francis and Dave Andrews (younger brother to Rob), Pillage will still take it to the best Australia has to offer.
Canberra Fyshwick United
Representing the “C” in BCI, Canberra’s Fyshwick United will be bringing their A-game this weekend in Brisbane. They’ll be out for blood against host Mammoth after losing to them at SMO by a mere two points. With a traditionally lacklustre performance at BCI, Fyshwick are working to make an impression this year. With the Matthews-Hunter brothers on the line, as well as Bill Foreman coming off a fantastic performance with the Goannas in January, Fyshwick will be looking to outwork their match ups and take each game point by point. They’ll take whatever advantage they can and milk their experience for all it’s worth.