On a sunny day in May, 14 intrepid Ka-Powsters made their way to Brugge to compete amongst some of Europe’s top teams at Tom’s Tourney. This would be their first chance to play together this season, to try out some new plays, for some it would be their first chance to play against some foreign opposition. For all of us, it was our first chance to beat Pichler’s record of 52 ribs at the all you can eat restaurant in town.
We arrived and gathered in the big top tent, with rookie Mazzon fitting in perfectly, dressed for the occasion in his London city boy suit (and having just crawled under a fence to get in). After a few glasses of Brugse Zot we made our way to the festihuts (sheds) and bedded down for the night. What would come would be a rollercoaster three days that would see us coming out of the other side beaten, sunburnt, but better.
The tournament format of 50 minute games and no cap meant that quick starts and O line strength were key; something that actually ended up being quite a good training tool.
A surprisingly good night’s sleep later, we walked the 7 yards to the pitch for our first game against Sun (FRA). We devised our buddy groups and the O and D lines we would be using for the day. We started well; the game reached 2-2 and both teams were playing well in the late morning heat. That’s where the good play from Ka-Pow! ended though, with Sun taking a huge lead due to lack of conviction and poor attitude from ourselves – perhaps unreasonably frustrated that things hadn’t immediately gone perfectly. They didn’t get (m)any blocks, we just didn’t do what we have trained to do, and the game was lost.
We had to pick ourselves up and realise what had gone wrong – we did so for our next game, an enjoyable encounter with KFK (DEN). We trusted ourselves much more in this game, and improved in almost every area on the pitch. Bruteshot became remarkably adept at scoring after taking one, two, three attempts to catch the disc. One thing we didn’t improve on was fielding the pull. Two points in succession, the pull rolled, was touched, and we had to play from the back of the endzone, eventually giving two vital breaks to the Danes towards the end of the game. This proved to be the only difference in a game we had deserved to win, losing by two.
We continued our stronger run of form, though, into the last game of the day against Heidees (5th finishers). After a slow start we rallied to go on a D-line run in the middle of the game, with excellent patience, zone and deep shots, and come within two, before being cut short by the buzzer. This saw us finish at the bottom of our pool but we knew that we had performed much better in the last two games, and had already made improvements to our game.
We went to the *amazing* tournament BBQ and players bid pressups (in various states of undress) for the spare plate of meat (everyone) and potatoes (Macca). We then visited a cellar bar in town, with the objective of completing the menu of over 100 beers. We got pretty close before everyone stopped counting. Some incredible secrets were discovered in a game of “guess how many Ka-Pow! players have….” (for want of a better name).
On a sunny evening in May, one intrepid Ka-Powster made his way to Brugge. He found his team in a cellar bar, trying to complete the menu of over 100 beers. He valiantly stepped in to help, knowing that it would have dire consequences for his own personal wellbeing. He didn’t care.
The next morning, Jim was a state. As were quite a few others.
First up in our new pool were Wall City (GER). In another game along the same theme, we played very well but a couple of lapses gave the Germans the crucial break in the short game format. Again, we lost by two.
The new lines were working together, having been changed up a little from the day before. Mazzon was a lot happier on the O line, and out of his muddy suit. Tim was getting point block after point block on the D line, and Kyle wasn’t being shouted at by Bruteshot.
That’s what made the next game against Friselis (FRA) a real surprise, and a tough result to take. We went right back to how we’d played against Sun. Unconfident, sulky and tetchy. Not good. Jonny gave us a talking to and we threw for 15 mins after the game before warming down, to refocus our minds and make sure we took something out of the game.
The third game of the day pitched us against JetSet (BEL), in a shortened game due to the game before running over time. We had got to the pitch on time, thrown with focus for 20 mins, then warmed up with attitude. This showed, as when we went out on the pitch for some quickfire ultimate in windy conditions, we were ready. The D line were excellent, piling on the pressure every time they were on the pitch, and the O line just put in their points. In a mammoth last point after the buzzer went, the D line scored into the wind to take our first victory 6-4! (The game was really short, and it was really windy…) We felt a weight lift from our shoulders and knew that our mental approach to the game had won it for us.
The last game of the day was a crossover against the winner of the other pool, Solebang (SUI). In similar conditions to the last game, their O line struggled to score in both directions, while ours punched in points like it was going out of fashion. We did eventually trade a couple of upwinds, however, which kept the game close. In one memorable point, Kyle sprinted from our line at the pull, realised he was unmarked, and kept going while the pull rolled around my feet to follow me down the pitch. I was able to pick up the disc as it rolled, take a “run up” and send a huck to the unmarked Kyle. We were firing! The buzzer went. We needed to score downwind on O to win the game in sudden death… I threw the disc away on an attempted assist… and Solebang worked the disc the whole length of the pitch in what seemed like 200 passes to score in the corner. Fair play to them, it was an impressive way to win the game. But it was gutting.
All you can eat ribs. Maddox beats Pichler’s record with a majestic 54, Bruteshot is an unmitigated disappointment for all who bet on him. Party time, Eddy, Kyle, Oscar and Mike show us their lady skills. Tim falls over/out of the Get Horizontal fun bus.
Day three – time for some redemption.
First up were Friselis (again). Good. We were awesome. It was a complete role reversal, and I was so proud of how we kept our foot on the gas until the game was over, from 2-1 until winning about 13-4? Things had started to really click and the D line was unstoppable. One never-ending point saw Jim get 5 (count them) blocks. Admittedly maybe we should have scored before this point, but still. Maddox got a couple of identical back-to-back assists and was a reliable get out of jail card on offence.
Hot off the heels of our satisfying win we revisited Berlin to play against Wall City in our final game. In another enjoyable and hard-fought game, both teams scored into the wind a few times and the match was close throughout. Alex Mazzon proved he is an absolute goal machine, scoring about five goals. The D line finished their tournament with a stormer with a couple of those upwinders, and the D from the O line was right up there too. The buzzer went, and it was the Solebang situation all over again. Sudden death, O line needing to score downwind. There was a turnover, and Wall City worked the disc up the field, again with great patience and possession. But ultimately, they had one too many mistakes, and we were able to put the point in to finish on a huge positive.
Finishing 21st, you may think I was disappointed. But we were never there to win the tournament. We had some great games against similar opposition and although we came out on the wrong side of them a few times, we learnt from our experiences and moved on. Nothing shows this more than our results on the last day against two teams who beat us the day before. It was a tough first outing as captain, but I had the support of a great bunch of guys and that first win felt amazing.
I’m very proud of how we picked ourselves up on about three occasions, and the way in which people approached and played in the second half of the tournament. This is how we will approach and play in all our games to come. Also really well done to the rookies this year, you really got involved and proved to be assets to this team. Really glad to have you and can’t wait for the rest of the season.