On the opening day, teams displayed a wide range of strategies for coping with a surprisingly strong wind. Some teams were happy to play for field position, hucking early and often. Others chose to play conservative offenses that didn’t take risky deep shots. Some teams played mostly zone and junk defenses that forced lots of passes, while others stuck to tight man D that contested every pass. Though all 16 teams will advance to the championship bracket from pool play, seeding will be important and every team was looking to come out strong to open the tournament.
The opening game between France (2) and Belgium (3) featured two teams with vastly different strategies. Belgium’s Hans Reggers and Tim Op De Beeck looked to put up hucks within the first couple passes of each possession, and Jasper Loontiens made several tough catches as Belgium opened up an early 4-2 lead. France, on the other hand, refused to huck at all. Their cutters consistently beat their markers under, and their handlers patiently worked the disc upfield. France broke twice to take half 6-5, then added one more break in the second half to win 11-8. France’s Christophe Laurino and Kévin Ou controlled the game behind the disc, while also making yardage gaining cuts upfield.The tournament’s overall top seed, Switzerland (1), cruised to a 13-2 win in their opening game against Portugal (4). In their second game, the young Belgian team kept the game close early, but the experienced Swiss pulled away in the second half to win 11-8.
After upseting Denmark (2) in their first game 8-6, Russia (3) faced off against Germany (1) in one of the best games of the day. Both teams were very well organized, and showed the ability to both play possession offense and take high-percentage shots deep. Germany broke first, as Jakob Burr got a layout D, then put up a huck from midfield to give Germany a 3-2 lead. Russia used a force-middle and poach defense to force an overthrow on a huck, and broke to get back on serve at halftime. The horn for the cap went at 11-11, and after Russia scored their O point, Germany turned a swing pass near their own endzone. Trapped on the sideline, Nikolay Nikolaev put up a high-stall hammer crossfield into the endzone. The disc floated, and Konstantin Basos came down with a huge sky for the 13-11 Russia win.
In the one close game today, Poland (3) took on Ukraine (2). Poland jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but Ukraine quickly got themselves back in the game, tying the game 6-6. In a heated game with lots of turnovers and calls, Ukraine continued their run into the second half, winning 11-8. Italy (1) was untested today, winning their games 13-3 over Ireland (4) and 13-6 over Poland.
In the first round, Great Britain (1) rolled over Hungary (4) 13-4, and Spain (2) frustrated Latvia (3) with their zone defense, winning 13-5. However, the apparent gap between the top two and bottom two teams disappeared in the second round of the day. Hungary fought Spain to 7-7 before Spain broke to win 9-7. Latvia gave Great Britain even more of a challenge, as a game that was tight the entire way reached 10-10 universe point. After multiple turnovers each way, Latvia worked the disc in for the 11-10 upset win.