Congratulations to Big Brother, winner of Tianjin Open

For more pictures, etc., see the Beijing Ultimate blog.

Beijing Big Brother sent split squads to Tianjin Open over the weekend, with both teams winning every pool-play game and facing one another in the Saturday crossover. Big Brother Ugly went up a break on Sexy in an upwind-downwind game, only to see Sexy come back to take half 6-5. Ugly, however, scored upwind to tie, then downwind — after a Micah layout D — to win 7-6.

On Sunday in the semis, Sexy defeated Tianjin Speed (which had lost to Ugly 11-4) while Sexy defeated Beijing Bang 13-1. The finals, however, were postponed due to a wind storm, with an exhibition game to 5 after the wind subsided slightly.

Beijing Big Brother also won the party, themed “Rainbow.” Matt Mueller was the MVP, with Kevin Reitz coming a close second.

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The Beijing Ultimate 2010 Year-in-Review Slideshow

For those on the wrong side of China’s Great Firewall, you can find all the videos on Youku:

Otherwise, fire up the VPN and watch the videos here:




For more, see the Beijing Ultimate blog.

Congratulations to Tianjin Speed Yellow, winners of China Open!

It’s possible China Nationals 2010 will be remembered as a tournament of firsts: the first time observers were used in China Ultimate (and maybe all of Asia Ultimate, excluding Japan), the first time a World Cup-style draw was used to determine pools on the day before games, and importantly, the first time team from Tianjin — Speed Yellow — two-time bridesmaids but never the bride, won. They did so in convincing fashion.

Drawn into the toughest pool — with No. 3 overall seed Graduates, Air Woo and CUG Prospectors — Speed won their first two pool games 11-2 and 10-6. Then in an epic game for Saturday standards vs. Graduates, Speed prevailed 11-8 to secure the No. 3 seed going into Sunday.

Speed ran through Ningbo, then obliterated 2009 runner-up Beijing Bang 13-4 in the semifinals. They would go up 10-2 vs. Hong Kong in the finals before Junk went on a 5-1 run to make it 11-7. Tianjin used a timeout to regroup, then traded scores with Hong Kong and would score another — the final point — on a simple 15-yard pass. In a game that had its share of highlights, this was quite the conventional ending — final score: 13-8.

Afterwards Edward Wang, one of the original Tianjin Speed players who was present when the team lost in the finals against Air Kazak in both 2007 and 2008, nearly got emotional celebrating the victory. He was hoisted into the air by teammates, as were others, including the only foreigner on the team, Jeff. There was no doubt who was the best team at the end of the day, and the scary part for the rest of the country: they’re only getting better. Watch out.

Congratulations should also go out to Michael Hsu’s Hong Kong Junk, which defended its 2009 championship valiantly and refused to roll over in the finals. No doubt they’ll be back next year.

On Sunday:

Crossovers:

Tianjin Speed Red 8, Air Woo 5
Graduates 11, Yangtze Dragons 6
Hangtime 9, Dalian Smurfs 5
Ningbo 11, Changsha City Storm 5

Quarterfinals:

(1) Hong Kong 11, (8) TJ Speed Red 3
(5) Graduates 11, (4) Air Kazak 2
(3) TJ Speed Yellow 11, (6) Ningbo UFO 6
(2) Beijing Bang 11, (7) Hangtime 2

Semifinals:

(1) Hong Kong 11, (5) Graduates 9
(3) TJ Speed Yellow 13, (2) Bang 4

Finals:

TJ Speed Yellow 13, Hong Kong 8

13th place bracket:

CUG Prospectors 11, Tangshan 1
Beijing Bang Bang 9, Tongzhou 7-Up 4

CUG 9, Bang Bang 5

Picture by Dean of CUG Prospectors

Congratulations to Big Brother, winners of Tianjin Open 2010


Tianjin Open 2010

Big Brother finally made it over the hump. After years of near-wins and bad losses — too many to list here — Beijing’s top club team overcame a slow start at the Tianjin tournament this past weekend and eked out two-point wins in both the semis and finals to earn the “Novo Nordisk” Cup.


Full disclosure: I played on Big Brother.

In the semifinals, Shanghai Huwa scored the first point on a trademark huck from Alec to Nads and added an early break to make it 3-1. Beijing scored four of the next five, including a quick Zone O score coming out of halftime to make it 7-4. Shanghai, as Shanghai does, earned two of those points back before a pivotal huck from Tao to Shan — a diving O-I flick with Alec in hot pursuit, set up by a forehand break from Kevin — would give Big Brother some breathing room. The teams traded points the rest of the way, from 8-7 to 11-9. On the final point, Kevin contested a Judd stall count, then dumped to Tao, who found Pat Li hanging out in the end zone on the force side.

The finals was a rematch of a Saturday group game in which Tianjin Speed shocked everyone with an 11-9 upset of Big Brother. From the onset, Speed, which beat Beijing Bang 11-3 in the semis, came with their attacking, blitzkrieg offense for a quick and easy score. The crowd went wild. Big Brother fought back and tied the game but soon found themselves huffing for air against the younger, more athletic Speed. The hosts soon made it 5-3 after a nasty collision that left one of Big Brother’s better defenders, Caleb Heine, bleeding from his right ear and incapacitated for the rest of the game (“I know now what the saying ‘getting the snot knocked out of you means,'” he would say afterwards).

Somehow, this would key Big Brother’s rally. The team scored three straight, anchored by a zone D. On one point, Alicia Lui, playing strong wing, stepped in front of a guy and caught a D before quickly throwing the score to Shan Wu. Tianjin surged back for two straight to take half 7-6.

Big Brother received to open the second half and scored to tie it at 7. Speed would go up 8-7, scoring after the game got testy near the end zone with two near-Ds that were nulled by contested calls. Then Tao kicked into gear, with a catch-score of a huck from Kevin to tie the game, then another catch off a transition D — again from a Kevin huck, this time backhand — to make it 9-8.

Soft cap would go on, making it a game to 11. Speed drove the length of the field with their patented offense before putting up a swilly, hospital pass on which one of their women called a foul. When the disc went back, the thrower called a timeout, a violation and, according to the rules, a turnover because cap had been called.

Off this opportunity, Kevin threw a backhand break to Tao, who broke the mark with a high-release that Sandy brought down to make it 10-8.

Speed quickly came back and broke Beijing’s zone, scoring on the weak side to make it 10-9. “They’re here to win it,” someone remarked. But so was Beijing. After a few turnovers from both sides — Big Brother’s Shan got a monster D of a hammer in the end zone, with a guy bearing down on her — Kevin forehand-hucked to Tao for the game-winning point.

The tournament awarded Sandy Wang the team MVP, though this could have gone to any of Big Brother’s females. Below, pictures of the other team MVPs, presented by tournament director Edward Wang:

It should also be noted that Big Brother, thanks in large to co-captain Gareth Marshall (who re-aggravated a hamstring injury on the first point on the first day and did not play the rest of the weekend), Baby Girl and Matt Mueller.

More pictures and a video to come.

Beijing Ultimate 2009 Year-in-Review Slideshow




From the Beijing Ultimate blog.

Videos also on Youku:

The teams of China Ultimate





Most of these jerseys created by Five Ultimate

The champions (from Perkin Chai’s album)







Congratulations to Hong Kong, winners of China Nationals 2009


Picture by Mike Shyu

Hong Kong began its tournament with 13-1 and 13-2 wins — the latter against the Beijing Ugly Trolls, a Big Brother split-squad — and never looked back en route to capturing the No. 1 overall seed and winning its first team championship in Asia Ultimate in quite a while. (Someone know how many years it’s been?)

It was a redemptive weekend for Hong Kong captain Mike Hsu, who was part of an epic meltdown in the first China Nationals in 2007, when HK took half 7-1 in the finals only to give up seven unanswered and eventually lose. He was all smiles this time around — when his teammates doused him with ice water during a combined team picture with Beijing Bang, when the awards were being presented in the stands, when he was handed the trophy, when he drank out of it… sweet and satisfying.

His team won with defense and precision on offense, two areas of the game the Chinese teams can still improve on. It didn’t hurt that they added Kwong from Ringers of Fire, who made the tourney’s eight-member all-star team, and a couple other key foreigners. For the most part, though, Hong Kong was a squad of local players, and their pride and determination showed. Their only blemish came in pool play against Shanghai Y in the third game. It didn’t matter: they still finished its four pool games with a plus-24 point differential. They were pushed in only two other games, both against Tianjin Five Star, the tourney’s 1-seed going in. In the semis on Sunday, Hong Kong led 7-2 and 8-3, only to see Tianjin roar back and tie the game at 9. Hong Kong prevailed only after a dramatic universe point, setting up its finals against Beijing Bang.

Yes, Beijing Bang: the sixth seed entering the weekend and seventh seed after pool play, a team that had to play a fifth game Saturday (pre-quarters) and beat the second and third seeds to reach finals. It was, needless to say, one of the most improbable runs anyone’s seen in a long time, especially considering they lost to the Dalian Smurfs and Tianjin Speed in back-to-back games on Saturday.

The upset of the year, against No. 2 Shenzhen, was aided by gusting winds and a solid cup zone — and also because Shenzhen’s best player, Gareth, injured his hand on a layout catch. Bang’s zone carried them to another two-point victory against the 3-seed, Air Kazak, whose two-year run as China’s best team ended most shockingly. Let it be said here for the record, however, that they wore the crown well.

The finals started out close, with Bang’s Mike Shyu making a couple spectacular catches and Ds. It was 3-3* when Hong Kong called a timeout and Bang’s captain, Ken Su, delivered one of the more entertaining and hilarious team speeches anyone’s heard in a while (you’ll have to ask them what he said). It wasn’t enough: behind a zone of its own, Hong Kong reeled off 10 of the next 11 points to win 13-4.

*I’ve been informed Bang was up 3-2.

A big congratulations and thank you to tournament director Jeff Orcutt, who spent hundreds of hours preparing, and Five Ultimate co-owner Zahlen Titcomb, whose organization has more or less made China Nationals happen in each of its three years. This year we had 20 teams — up from 15 in 2008 — and about 250 players, by far the best turnout thus far. We only expect this tournament to grow.

We’ll have pictures up as soon as China unblocks Blogspot (we’re writing this via proxy, so: no hyperlinks, no picture uploading), which could take a couple days or weeks, if the history of YouTube censorship has taught us anything. In the meantime, here are some links to Facebook albums:

Duff Douglas, player-coach of the International School of Beijing Dragons (Red), a team of high school students who really played above their heads and beat Shanghai X in the quarters on Sunday before pushing Beijing Ugly to universe point in the semis: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=80278&id=504839598

From that album, this http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1864952&id=504839598#/photo.php?pid=1864953&id=504839598 is a photo of Joe fouling the sh** out of a high school student in the end zone.

Stephanie Kwan:

–Some nice action shots: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?page=3&aid=2175520&id=12812853

–Saturday night party and Sunday showcase and finals http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2185635&id=12812853 (Joe’s sweet layout http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=35648653&id=12812853)

–Mostly group and team pics: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?page=1&aid=2185796&id=12812853

Much more coverage later. We should note, for posterity’s sake, that Beijing’s combined team beat Shanghai’s combined team in a shortened showcase game, 6-4. Perhaps they’ll meet again in the Shanghai tourney in four weeks.