So with the Qualifying tournament out of the way, the D1 field for the Ultimate Australia Tour is now set. There were some surprising results over the weekend with strength shifting between teams since the 2019 season. The UAT rankings are currently unavailable because of incomplete score reporting, but will be made public in a couple weeks when this has been fixed. However, here’s a quick update of where I feel each team (in order of QT placement) is at heading into Tour Event 2.
Hot Chilly were the biggest surprise of UAQT. After a shaky start, where a three-way tie saw them top their pool, they surged out of the gates, ruining teams in their quarter final and semi final. Yes the wind on the weekend had something to do with this, but in all honesty Chilly just played better than everyone else. The Gak is back, but on the D line, trotting across to O if they need to secure a point. His time away from the club has done wonders for its offence, who run through a number of varied looks and are comfortable moving the disc around the field with a patience that was not present in the Chilly of old.
Colony Buccaneers (my team) had a great showing at UAQT, going undefeated until the final, where we lost on universe point (started on D and got the disc but couldn’t put it in). The Buccs O-line moves the disc quickly through a variety of sets, not letting the defense get comfortable. We had a range of complex D plays coming into the weekend, but unsurprisingly none of these were particularly suited to anyone other than the other Colony team. However, we managed to adjust on the fly and under pressure which bodes well for the rest of the season.
Colony Mutiny has been the more dominant of our two club teams at training up until the QT. At the tournament, they dismantled teams but their crazy fast offensive line had some issues moving the disc against the strong headwind. The Mutts D line is athletic and smart, which is a scary combination. Last year’s development has paid off and the hordes of juniors are back, but now they know what is going on.
I-Beam has surged back onto the D1 scene no weaker than last year despite splitting from their Gong compatriots. There’s not much new to report on with I-Beam this year, other than that they’ve ditched that speculative split stack hold. Lavis is holding down the O line and Lefty and Daveys are running the D line. The QT proved again what has always been the case with I-Beam – give them the disc and they won’t give it back.
Mammoth return slightly diminished but still a threat in 2020 after securing the first Nationals win for Brisbane in…ever? They lose John Macnaughton, Jonah Malenfant and Zev Permack, all key pieces to their team. Also Liam Grimmond, Mundi’s rep and on-field leader, isn’t playing tour events. Mammoth face the challenge of maintaining their offensive consistency in 2020.If they can nail this, they have the athletes to generate the turns and be a real contender for the repeat title.
Heads of State
HoS Juggernaut lose a few veteran pieces in 2020 but this has finally made room for some of their promising junior players to come through. Finally, the years of developing the Melbourne Opens scene may start to pay off. That being said, it still feels like the same HoS. They’re running through the same O sets, they’ve got a killer Pommy zone (D and O). They’re loud (when it’s close) and you’ll lose if you let this rattle you. They have some speccy turnovers but will fight tooth and nail to get these back. Still, I’m excited to see what this squad can produce throughout the season, especially their emerging stars like Tony Castrignano and Michael Truong.
Ellipsis had an amazing run in 2019, easily eclipsing both other Melbourne teams en route to a 4th place finish in their first season. They return in 2020 with a slightly different squad but many familiar faces. One major difference is that they’ve selected a squad of only 17 this year. We’ve seen small rosters occasionally succeed before (like the fabled I-Beam 12-man championship winning team in 2010), but it’s rare and very difficult. You can see the small roster count reflected in their results over the course of the QT: some great wins to start, then falling off as the tournament closed out. That being said, Ellipsis are a great team and run through some really fun sets. If they can minimise turnovers and long points, they’ll be in a good spot to challenge for the finals.
Fyshwick United have a very similar roster to last year in 2020, adding a few promising juniors from the Canberra scene. Monambi “Mambo” Wiya, Andrew “AJ” Jackson and Bill Foreman were selected for the Dingoes and Barramundis in 2020 and will be valuable leaders on the field, but this team still ‘feels’ very young. Ever since their 6th place finish in 2018, Australia has been waiting for Fyshwick’s youth to start popping off and play the mature, decisive game we know they’re capable of. They played reasonably well at the QT, but secured no wins against the top 8 teams and still feel very much like the ‘little brother’ of the elite men’s scene at the moment.
Sublime, ahhh Sublime. If Fyshwick is the little brother of the men’s scene, Sublime feel like the delinquent middle brother who you’re kinda worried about bringing to family gatherings. This team is SO athletic, but also SO unpredictable. It really just comes down to their wild option taking. If Sublime can drag their opposition into a huck fest and then manage to come down with a few speccies, they could beat any team in the top 8. This is perfectly demonstrated by their pool play win over Mammoth at the QT then their subsequent loss to Chilly, resulting in them ending up in the bottom bracket on the wrong end of the three way tie. Sublime lost 1 game at the QT and came 9th. Tour 2 will be the real test of quality for this team.
Krank had a big question mark over them heading into the QT; in fact, all the teams left to preview did. That’s the beauty of the new Tour format, teams get knocked out at the QT, which is awesome. But at the end of the day, Krank delivered and silenced the haters, notching some really close losses against top teams along the way (including a universe point loss against HoS). They play a patient game on offense, happy to recycle the disc endlessly until options present themselves. Krank’s weakness is its defense, which doesn’t really have the athleticism to push top O lines and not much fire power if they do get the turn.
Outbreak were also a huge unknown heading into the QT. They’re still not pushing the top teams but were much improved from last season. The reason for Adelaide’s recent slump in performance is still not really clear to me, but perhaps it’s just simply that they don’t have the athletes (veteran or rookie) to hang with the top 8. That being said, they played good team frisbee at the QT, stringing together points more consistently than last year. They’ll push teams and should be aiming for quarters appearances, but are unlikely to achieve more than that.
Bench were the last team to qualify for the D1 UAT in a nail biting game against Ballarat. After going winless at last year’s Nationals, Bench’s position in the D1 circuit was seriously in question. But when push came to shove, they delivered over an undisciplined Ballarat side. Bench return in 2020 with a relatively similar side to last year, only losing a couple of top athletes to Colony. They have filled these spots with some emerging Sydney youth stars, but this has left them light on big game experience, especially on their D line. Excitingly, they are breaking the mould (somewhat) and committing to running Hex on offence. It’s fun to watch and to play against. Again, I think Bench has a quarterfinals ceiling for this season.