Day 5 and we’re past the midway point of this great tournament. We’re now done with cross overs and power pools, it’s time for elimination play, and nerves for fans at home and on the sidelines. For those of you new to the blog, please do not be put off by how negative this post will be, it’s not all cheery at J-GREEN SAKAI.
In this post I’ll cover: Team Canada (as usual), Team USA, Team Japan, and Team Australia. Yes, the big four are being talked about mostly because my friend Matt Kass pointed out that all y’all will have them on your mind and I should probably start making bold and wildly accurate predictions.
Let’s start with Team Canada. After a great streak in all division (23-0 combined) many of the teams were dealt their first losses. In the morning the Open team lost to Japan, more on that later. Open Masters lost to both Japan and the USA while the Women Masters lost to Japan 10-15. The Women and Mixed teams continued their undefeated streaks and are heading comfortably into the hardest days of the tournament.
While the TC Masters Women have been playing well they took on arguably the strongest team in their division earlier today. The game was close and I expect these two teams to meet again the finals where it should be a close game once again. The Japanese Masters Women have been extremely strong and in practice have dominated the non-Masters Women’s team. The Masters Open team have been pounding along with limited resistance but have come up against two of the three powerhouses that they need to defeat on their way to the finals. Japan and the USA have been quite strong as has Australia. It’ll be interesting to see how the guys do against them in bracket play. I believe the biggest issue the guys have is their lack of finesse, they rely upon power and brute force without the ability to appropriately defend (as a team) when needed. It’s also obvious now where we, as Canadians, get our reputation as brawlers and rough players.
To be honest, it’s not entirely the Masters Open where we get that stigma of being tough opponents. It was made quite evident to the World today, during the Open vs Japan game, that we’re still brawlers and not nice on the field when we don’t want to be. In fact, we can be right nasty and dirty…but then…so can Japan. Intrigued? Let me fill you in. During the Canada vs Japan Open game there was an incident: a travel was called, and then the disc was thrown three seconds later. In WFDF that travel call means the disc comes back or at least it should. Instead Japan argued that it shouldn’t. The player that called the travel initially agreed with Canada but then retracted his claim. The discussion went on for five minutes before Japan stated it was a turnover and said that play should start from where the disc turned. What followed was Canada releasing the tension through some forceful fouls and aggressive layouts. Many have claimed that it was brutal tackling but it wasn’t quite that. It was rough and unspirited but it wasn’t tackling. It was not pleasant to see but the reaction from Japan was even more unpleasant.
During the second half a very small subset of Japanese players were intentionally fouling and forcing TC to constantly call foul. Whether it was an overreaction or not it makes little difference. Both teams played a game other than Ultimate and Japan won on the scoreboard. It will undoubtedly be Canada that comes away with the negative image as Japan’s transgressions were harder to see and required a closer view. This is also not the first time in this tournament that Japan and another team have had issues, it’ll be interesting to see if there are more games with issues.
Overall Team Japan are now the team to beat in every division. They’ve come out strong and are proving that they want a clean sweep in every division and sport (Ultimate and GUTS). The Mixed team defeated the USA earlier today in a very strong showing. The Women’s team chugs along and in every division they are dominating. If I had to call it now, which I shall, Japan is the favourite to win every division. Certainly there shall be competition and I expect TC Women to be the best bet at preventing a sweep. If TC Open and Japan meet again it’s also likely that they’ll have a good match. In other divisions I’m not seeing any competition for them at this time; it’s unfortunate but a good bet.
Team USA is looking decent. Their Open team is playing well, when everybody’s on the same page, and aside from some defensive and offense issues against Australia they are looking solid. Will they be able to beat Japan? It’ll be tough, perhaps a bit too tough and I think Japan will come out on top there. The Mixed team was defeated earlier by Japan and we’ll have more information tomorrow but they should be on par with Canada. The Women’s team had a good match with Canada and shall likely have a good fight on their hands over the next two days. Along with Canada they’re the other team that can beat the Japanese and are a part of the elite three in the Women’s group. The Masters Open team lost to Australia as well as Japan but have trounced Canada. However Canada had a close match against Japan so perhaps it’s simply a matter of strategy that could lead to an adjustment and a close match next time around. The Masters Women have lost to Canada and face Japan next. It’s unlikely they’ll be put up a stand for long and that makes the Masters Women a two horse race between Japan and Canada (Japan favoured heavily).
Finally we come to Australia. They’ve done well in their divisions and the Open team gave the USA quite a fight. Their ladies are doing and had a gritty game against Canada but are unlikely to cause an upset in the next few days. The Mixed team has been a bit lacklustre against the top teams but have shown plenty of spirit when needed; do not discount them from ruining a party. The Open Masters team beat the USA in their first match and have done relatively well. This team can and will give any of the top teams a surprise if the guard is let down for even a moment, expect an upset from them as well in the bracket.
Overall it’s been an interesting day at the tournament and we’re heading into the most exciting part. I only hope that cooler heads prevail as the number of incidents I’m hearing about keep growing by the day.
For Team Canada Open they’ve not played well so far and they know it. There have been plenty of unforced errors and my conversations with players lay bare their feelings. Every single one looks at themselves as to how they can help the team, blame does not lie elsewhere and that’s a good start. They head into the toughest days of the tournament after having their worst day of Ultimate in years. How they rebound will decide whether they’ll be in the finals or putter through to the semis before being knocked out in a frustrating game.
Team Canada Masters (both teams) are strong but need to bring something extra against Japan. Both teams are having trouble connecting and maintaining flow as well as hard defensive pressure. Expect semis and possibly finals from Open Masters and finals for the Women Masters.
Team Canada Mixed has yet to face pressure, tomorrow will tell us the real story with the team. Finals is in the picture at this time.
Team Canada Women’s is rocking along, they’re playing well when they’re focused and that’s all they have to maintain. They’ve had a few games where they’ve started slowly and need to get into game mode faster as well. Expect finals from them as well.