Updated: Nov 29, 2019
The Central Chaos by Troy Stevenson
What a year for New Zealand Ultimate! We’re moving from a huge 26 team Mixed National Championships to a small but perfectly formed sample of 12 of the best teams New Zealand has to offer.
This year we have the benefit of the three regional qualifier tournaments to inform any NZMUC picks. These were held across three regions - the North, Central and South. All teams began their journey to NZMUC at one of these tournaments, but only one club dominated with clinical performances each time. Known by 3 simple letters (and no, it’s not “HMC”!), it is none other than the powerhouse MDC!
2019 has again seen Marvellous DC split into two to give the opposition a better shot at the title (and try and give itself some decent competition). However, if the start of the season is anything to go by, that won’t be happening. Marvellous DC Civil War (CW) and Marvellous DC Dawn of Justice (DoJ) both qualified through the Central region at Tuparara Tussle, with DoJ taking the top spot and CW coming a close second. CW were keen for a taste of gold before heading to NZMUC, so headed up to Tamaki Throwdown to show those Northerners a thing or two and snatch the win.
MDC are looking forward to NZMUC where we will be full strength after missing a few key players at both qualifiers. We will of course be working hard on field to get a MDC vs MDC final, but there are some talented teams to match up against, and some unknowns.
We’re looking forward to seeing the Southern teams especially, word on the street is that HMC have some youthful energy to overcome (led by MDC-alumni Ryan Sheridan), and Mobility Scoober with their centuries-worth of experience will always bring a good match-up.
Credo will be an interesting one to watch, having only just scraped through in the last Southern spot after being in championship contention last year. It’s hard to know if that’s a sign of their strength this season or just that they have timed their training to peak at the perfect moment – only time will tell. The Auckland teams looked fairly evenly matched at their regionals, and present reasonably similar playing styles (with a few exceptions), so although those will be fun, it is unlikely to bring the same anticipation as the Southern teams.
In particular we'll be interested to see how Space Invaders go - this team has similar origin story to MDC, but are perhaps still a little too green to cause too much trouble. As for the Central teams, well, let's just say it'll be nice to have some new faces to match up against on the line.
As for players to watch on MDC? Well, everyone. We have too many to write down, every single person on these squads can step up and dominate when needed. It’s why we are the reigning champs.
Balancing The Central Scales by Mel Connolly
It could be argued that the central region is currently the strongest in New Zealand, with MDC who have had back to back wins at Mixed Nationals and Squall who have had a third and fifth placing over the last two years.
This year sees MDC entering two super competitive teams, Civil War and Dawn of Justice. Both teams are packed with super heroes. For Dawn of Justice (the winner of the Central Qualifying tournament), Eva Weatherall and Danielle Paul can rip up the field with their relentless disc bids and well timed cuts. Lauchy Robertson confuses and disorientates the opposition with his controlled, banking pulls and Angus Hines whose sly but subtle style makes offence look so easy.
Civil War, gives us the machine-like qualities of Ben Waller who is strong in every facet of the game and Liam Haberfield whose ability to read and out-muscle players makes sees him skying players all day long. Not to be forgotten are Zoe Risner and Samm Ruhlman. Zoe’s long reach makes a force meaningless and Samm’s inhuman ability to snag all sorts of misguided throws is enough to drive her marker crazy.
It will be very interesting to see if any team can find a chink in the MDC armour this year.
Squall has an exciting new look this year with eight new players. The team is anchored by Daniel Aldridge whose speed and hops make him almost unbeatable in the deep on both offence and defence. Hamish Thornton can literally throw anything anywhere with either hand. Respect. Peter Boardman’s quick thinking and reactions make him one of the main play drivers. Workhorse, Niki Botes has a mean change of direction that baffles her mark over and over again. Newcomer Amelia Mance is one to watch. At only 17 years of age, she already has impeccable timing and positioning.
Squall’s main strength is defence, so if they can consistently convert their turns they will be very competitive.
The Southern Shuffle by Tom Fraser and Samuel Linnartz
At the Ōtautahi Classic, the 3 Div 1 bids allocated to southern region were predictably taken by the teams from Christchurch. What wasn’t as predictable was the order in which the teams took the bids. The tightly contested tournament saw Mobility Scoober’s off-season recruiting come out on top. Speedster Eunice Ng proving to be a great pick up especially when combined on a line with Alice Stolpe and Crystal Lenky. The three of them together provide a very fast and agile downfield. Karl Moore’s throws seem to be aging like a fine wine, routinely picking out receivers all over the field. Keeping a consistent squad and dropping old man Waz could be a master stroke for this team looking to go all the way this year. They have again had zero organised trainings in order to save their legs for the three days at nationals. So veteran, much panadol.
The second bid and overall 4th seed was taken by a new look team, HMC, who led the regional tournament in retracted foul calls & H5APA (High-5 After Points Allowed). Although they may not agree with what their team’s acronym stands for (it’s definitely Hold My Cosmo), they definitely agree that pulling out a universe win against Mobility Scoober at regionals was a big statement to make, and “OK Boomers” was that statement. A new team by name, HMC have many existing connections with most players coming out of the powerhouse University of Canterbury Ultimate Club. What the team lacks in experience it makes up for with energy and dance music. Hammer at My Cut will have a tough time in their pool, as they need to beat regional rival Mobility Scoober, after NZ Ultimate failed to use a new technology called “logic” when they created the pools, placing the top two teams from two different regions in the same pools. But it’s hard, there are three whole regions in big ol’ NZ.
Last year’s runners up at nationals, Credo, are a different beast this year after starting anew as Credo Badminton Club. Some say HMC stands for Half of the Males of Credo, so the formation of a new club as well as some injuries has meant a host of players were required to step up from their development team, Ethos, following Credo’s very strong performance in 2018. After a good showing from those players at regionals, nationals will be the big test. The last minute sign up of Lochlan Wise along with another Heads of State transplant, Ewan Weymer, adds an extra honey pass to the mix for HoS - Christchurch Branch. With the likes of Sam Cording and Campbell “Camel” Nauman, Credo might have the receivers to make up for the optimistic shooting of their resident cowboy from North Carolina. A semi final universe point loss to Mobility Scoober at regionals could prove to be pivotal as they have joined both Mercenary Disc Club teams in the pool of death.