It is a truism of Ultimate that it’s difficult to win when your opponent consistently breaks the force. When forced the defend the whole field, it’s much more likely that space will open up, that a player will make a bad adjustment or position themselves poorly. If your opponent is able to break at will, you’re reduced to relying on mistakes which is a pretty bad place to be in.
The German and Finnish Grandmasters are no doubt very familiar with each other, both having been powers in European Ultimate for a number of years in the early 2000s. The Finns had made a fairly impressive start to the tournament and were up in the top four. The Germans had struggled in comparison but were looking to kick start their tournament.
The Finns started strong. The teams traded until 3-2, where Finland seized control. Their offence had been slick and composed up to that point whereas the Germans had been stuck in some difficult positions, eventually managing to wriggle their way out. They couldn’t do so in the sixth point, though, and Finland jumped on the opportunity to notch the first break of the game.
There wasn’t a long wait for the second – after a brutal, long point the Germans called a timeout to try and shock some life back into their increasingly static offence. It was to no avail, though, as the Finns took the disc back and coolly slotted in the score.
Germany needed a response, and got it from a great huck by Erik Felgner. It was a quick point, which was exactly what was needed. Finland came out and executed flawlessly again, getting another try at the German offence. They again found areas to exploit, waiting for a pass up the field to a less confident cutter who turned on a bad dump pass. Finland passed it around on the endzone line before a very nice flick blade by Tapio Arimo put an end to the first half – Finland held an imposing 7-3 lead.
The German offence picked up for most of the second half, with some slightly better flow, but every time they were trying to score they were made to work very hard by the Finns. Their opponents, on the other hand, were showing just how valid that truism was. They lived on the far break side of the field, opening up the whole field for open side passes and making huge gains on quick passes after the initial break. Timo Vaskio’s breaks, in particularly, were a joy; quick release, low, powerful flick roll curves right into his receivers’ paths.
The game never really reached the heights of some others we’ve seen this week. The Germans appeared to tire near the end and the Finns made light work of whatever defensive adjustments were sent their way. In the end it was another break that did for Germany – Tapio Arimo ended the game the same way he’d ended the first half, sending a picture-perfect blade across the endzone into the hands of a waiting cutter. The Germans will hope to have some closer games than this as the week progresses; the Finns will hope that this kind of performance augurs well for more intense battles to come.
By Sean Colfer.