EUL16 Loo review
Quick catch up. During the first two tournaments of the 2016 Estonian Ultimate League two teams built up a solid advantage. Annoying Oranges looked the favourites on the pitch, though Nuclear Nuts managed to profit from two unexpected Oranges losses in their last games. In Nõo on the universal point in the game against the weakened Baklazaan a win would have made Oranges one-point league leaders, but with the loss they slumped to five points behind Nuts into second place. Smallest of margins.
Vaarikad, Baklazaan, and Kiwi were behind even more, but with the historically crucial January stage still ahead, each of those three teams were eyeing up stage victory to try and join the race for the title.
As the Loo tournament represented the season’s closest stage to Tallinn, the PickUps team was expected to be strong and it indeed proved to be a big challenge to all teams.
PickUps in their first three games pushed Oranges and Nuts all the way to a universal point, and Baklazaan stopped them just short of it. But all three of those games were won by the resilient tournament main teams. Vaarikad were also pushed to the final point, but there PickUps finally triumphed, and then went on to a strong win over Kiwi. Despite a record of two wins and three defeats, the PickUps team has been a challenge to all teams and even managed to finish with a scoring difference of +3.
Vaarikad had finally assembled the full squad together and had a shock start, beating Nuts in their first game. However it only went downhill from there. First Oranges demolished Vaarikad with a 12-3 scoreline, Kiwi and PickUps recorded slender wins and finally Baklazaan run another riot with a 10-5 win, relegating Vaarikad to the last place in Loo.
Kiwi were bottom of the league table going into the tournament and needed a good result. Their first game against Baklazaan had a tough close start, but in the middle of the game Kiwi fell victim to too many errors and quick Baklazaan conversions of points meant a defeat for Kiwi. Their second game was against league leaders Nuts, and near the end they had a lead of 7-5, but Nuts picked up the basics to steal the win. Kiwi then finally recorded their first win against a main team in their match-up with Vaarikad. But the end of tournament was again a defeat to PickUps.
Nuts went into the tournament after unprecedented first two tournaments won, although both victories seemed to come far from convincingly. And luck run out in the opening game against Vaarikad, where so many throws seemed to be going nowhere, ultimately losing on a universal point. Win over Kiwi was a strong late comeback showing that despite a stumble at the start the team was still a force to be reckoned with. PickUps drove a hard bargain, both teams lost on universal point in the opening game, but this time Nuts assured an extra league bonus point going to their tally in the final play. The next game against Baklazaan became the most heated game of the tournament so far. A long and pressured four minute point at the end allowed the Nuts to avoid another universal point game. Last game saw yet another intense meeting with Oranges. Nuts needed a big win to win the third tournament, and any win to secure second place. Though complacency at the start saw them go 4:1 down at the start and a late resurgence was not enough as Nuts lost by a point. Following results relegated Nuts into third place.
Baklazaan started with two wins over Kiwi and PickUps, avoiding universal point encounters up to their third game. But there Oranges were on a strong run and despite starting the last point from defence snatched away another victory. Then came the aforementioned game with Nuts. Despite being 3-0 down at the start, Baklazaan were 6-5 up near the end. Having conceded an equalizer next, Baklazaan were starting what by little time remaining seemed to be a final point. Though a quick Callaghan score in their endzone suddenly meant that there was one or maybe even two more points to play in that game, but now Baklazaan would be on the back foot. Baklazaan lost that game but their big win over Vaarikad in the next game meant that a superior scoring difference meant they took the second place in the tournament.
Oranges were on a march. Despite being faced with challenges, they did go to make a clean sweep of 5 victories to take the tournament win and by the smallest of margins gain the top of the league table.
With two stages remaining, Kiwi have now lost any mathematical chances to win the league. Vaarikad are on the edge as well, and would need both a tournament win in Lähte and some other results to go their way to stay in the title race. Baklazaan still have a realistic chance to win the title, but in Lähte they would have to finish the tournament above both Nuts and Oranges to still have a shot at the title in Rapla. While Oranges and Nuts seem to replicate the December 2014 rocKET TADs vs Kenn standoff – two tournaments to go, equal on league points at the top, still a lot of drama to unfold.
p.s. links, links, links!
UFE FB page is posting videos of the games here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1665321607062159/
Catch up with some Juho madness on the event page
And enjoy some pictures from the tournament by Tom here: https://goo.gl/photos/iJkLDsMZgQpaAiv98