During the second full day of competition here in Toronto, I started to notice something that a friend (and IAmUltimate.com streaming superman Tushar Singh) had pointed out the day before – that there was a distinct “sphere of influence” among all the of the teams present at the tournament.
By “spheres of influence”, Tushar and I mean that when watching a team, there is a distinct way to tell which country they learn from, and whose style they attempt to replicate. I challenge everyone who reads this to compare the teams to each other, and to for familiar teams (be it US college, Euro club, etc) when watching the NexGen, IAmUltimate streams and other highlights from this weekend floating around. Some few thoughts to observe overall:
Physicality: This is the biggest difference I see among the teams here, and internationally. The USA and Canada are extremely physical teams in all aspects of the game. Everyone else here almost shies away from it. It’s only a matter of time before the Europeans, and others adapt to this style of play to compete, but still a glaring difference here.
Defense: Going off of the physicality point, the defenses amongst teams are all different. Part of it is pure physicality, that’s for sure, and that happens; the other part involves defensive strategy. If a team doesn’t play physically, then that team’s marks won’t be prepared for some of the contact that comes with marking an opposing handler that does; or the downfield cutter defenders won’t have that arm to track their assignment as a play evolves, like many in the USA do (I’ve been watching Tommy Li do this for the USA Mixed team). It’s a totally different game defensively, even if I can pick out the type of zone, or strategy of the man defense from the teams – there gets to be a different feel.
Handler Movement: On the club level here in the USA, handlers for Canadian teams have the reputation of moving around and driving the game. That’s starting to permeate through to college teams and other club teams. However, anyone noting increased handler movement from Canada hasn’t seen anything until they’ve watched a game from one of the Asian teams – especially Japan. In the same vein that defensive strategy changes with little to no physicality, offense changes when handlers take control in different ways.
I’m working on moving from team to team and asking them firsthand about what their influences were while building their country’s ultimate program and strategy.
In tournament news, power pools should be released soon today for the Mixed division – big upset in Venezuela’s success here, more on that soon – while today and tomorrow have games in store for the Open and add in Friday for the Women’s to help decide seeding for the bracket play. Other than that, it’s been a very fun time here in Toronto. Lots of wind and sun at times, cool air at others – certainly all affecting game play. The showcase games at night have been phenomenal and should only continue as the games start to mean more.
Feature photo by Steve Kotvis – f/go