German Ultimate Nationals were last weekend in Cologne, and it was an experience. I finally got to see top-level German ultimate as well as see how the Dusseldorf team would play under pressure.
Nationals was basically just a bigger than normal tournament. Everyone camped at the fields, ate breakfast together, etc. Fields ranged from shorter & narrower than standard to longer (80yds!) than the official. Most, though not all, fields were lined. The fields were not all together, and half of them required driving from the central location.
The Dusseldorf team lost our 4 pool play games, then won the crap bracket, to finish exactly as the team did last year (7th in the 2nd division, 17th overall). Personally, I played pretty poorly except in our last game (and even then it wasn’t a very good showing by me). The team was very tight in pool play and relaxed in the consolation games. It was no coincidence that we won these two games (it also helped that one of the teams was completely exhausted with only 9 players). The team needs more focus and better attendance at its practices and at least some structure to the offense if the team is to ever do better.
As for top-level German ultimate, in general the players in the first division have as much skill as the top teams in the south region, but their strategy is pretty lacking. Not much variation in o or d, and very little awareness of mismatches. I only saw three 1st division games, and they were a mixed bag. The Cologne first team managed to drop 2 pulls (one on game point) in the "showcase" semifinal on sat night. Ouch. But I also saw the best pull I've ever seen -- high, fast inside out, angling sharply, into the sun, to boot. The guy wisely let it land, it rolled a foot or so & stopped less than a foot from the back corner of the endzone. when he picked it up, the cup was on him. Almost every pull the guy threw was caught in the endzone with defenders waiting. 1st division teams were small – no more than 15 guys, and most teams only really played 10 or less. This led to plenty of tired defense and easy scores while fresh guys languished on the bench.
The party was fun, but the music was sketchy. Worst of all, you had to pay for your own beer. This has been the case at both ultimate parties I’ve been to, and I’m not sure if it’s because kegs aren’t available or because that’s just the way it is. No matter, if you go to a Frisbee party here, make sure you have cash…