Swedish open ultimate has gone through a transformation in the last few years. It started at the 2010 WUCC in Prague, where the new kids on the block Viksjöfors rose from 16th to 8th while the established power Skogshyddan fell from 8th to 17th.
The national team fared well at WUGC in Japan, finishing 4th, but behind the scenes the club scene was changing. Skogs, mutiple-time European champions (2001, 2006 and 2008) and runners up (2007, 2009 and 2010), almost ceased to exist. In fact, they now only appear to be a team that runs the Winter and Summer Cup tournaments in Gothenburg. This may be due to older players retiring and younger players being unimpressed with the decline in results.
From the ashes of this team, some players (including Sebastian Sporrong) moved to their rivals Viksjöfors, and the results tell the rest of the story. However, whilst all this happened, no Swedish team challenged at the European Ultimate Championship Finals (EUCF) until last year. Viksjöfors entered into the 2013 xEUCF tournament seeded 23rd and in the challenger division. They took their pool with ease and continued to the power pools taking down the likes of Germany’s Heidees and the UK’s Brighton. This then lined them up for a crossover that could return the Swedes to the Elite division. Here they met Ragnarok and beat them 15-13, successfully earning a place in the top 8. Finishing 5/6th (last game not played due to storms), they beat CUSB and only lost out to Flying Angels Bern, the eventual Silver medallists.
Here at WUCC, there are two Swedish teams in attendance: Viksjöfors and KFUM Örebro. In an absolute nail-biter, Viksjöfors (without Sporrong) had Furious George pinned at 13 all and had possession with a chance to take the game to 14-13 but squandered the opportunity and allowed Furious a 15-13 win. They have then gone on to beat the other two teams in their pool advance to the top power pools. KFUM went into their final pool game with a win and a loss meaning that the last game was key. They started well, taking 3 breaks, but their opponents were the UK and European Champions Clapham. Despite their slow start Clapham pulled themselves back into that game and took it away in the second half, 15-7.
Both these teams have a very similar style of taking on long shots in the lane ahead of them and have good endzone offences coupled with strong forces. KFUM were not able to hold onto their form in the long run and were simply beaten by a better team. Viksjöfors are a slightly different beast and are happy to throw more risky looks (IO knives, for example) and have a cohesion that KFUM and many others lack. Will this new Swedish strength take down a North American team? Will they be able to reclaim their highest European team at WUCC title? We can only wait and see.
Feature photo by Kevin Leclaire (UltiPhotos.com)