World Champs 2012
Whenever thinking about the Worlds in Geneva the corners of my mouth turn up a little, they nailed hosting the World Championships this year, here’s a mini write-up.
Ryan and I ended up going via Stuttgart to Geneva to film a teaser piece for Smart eBikes (find that write-up here), this was a bit of a shame as we missed the first day of our poloday and only saw the final few games of the wildcard event, but it didn’t really matter as with one dip in the lake all your travelling woes were left behind.
Our first day was spent securing a bed in the city bunkers (a very novel approach to housing indeed) before enjoying a beer or two in the evening (by the lake of course). The next day we went swimming and bridge jumping at the river and caught up with some polo friends over a BBQ, awesome!
The third day was the first day of competition for us and we had the joy of playing Jean Polo Gaultier, L’Equipe, Bisons, Guardians and Call Me Daddy. The most fun game was against L’Equipe, we felt they were in need of payback after the Euros and went out guns blazing, we beat them 4-1 and were starting to enjoy ourselves! Playing the Guardians was awesome for us too (their passing-plays style has always been an inspiration to us) and we managed to eek out a win there (2-1). Our final game of the day was against Call Me Daddy which was also great fun and can be seen below.
Needless to say we were stoked with these results and were looking forward to more games in the top 24 bracket for the next day. That evening we took some pizza and beers down to the lake and unwound a little before getting a (reasonably) early night.
Our first game of the day was against Long Hair Don’t Care and we were off to a bad first game (My wheel dislodged on the charge and everyone seemed to be getting off to a shaky start), Long Hair Don’t Care had awesome ball control and Kouyo kept scoring impressive goals to beat us 3-1. Spring Break decided to do what all bike polo teams do in the face of adversity and we sat down and had a beer whilst enjoying Machine’s company (legend).
We went into the second game against Beaver Boys with half a pint of dutch courage and were stoked to be playing another awesome North American team. The briefing in this game was to stay out of trouble and keep moving into space and we had a awesome time being chased around by the Beavers. It seemed like their tactic was to man-mark us and take us off our bikes, but we were able to stay up and down them instead (Ryan’s “stay on your bike” throw-in-check-training was working wonders in this game), the game was close and finished 3-2 in our favour, we were all smiles.
The third game was a bit of a crazy one against Dead Rappers with Ryan shearing his fork in a crash with Luca, he stayed in goal and the game ended 2-2 with Adam and I failing to beat the boy wonders, it was a fair result. (Although I think both teams felt a little cheated, I guess that’s sometimes unavoidable when both teams know each other well).
Our last game of the day was against Crazy Canucks (World Champs 2011) and they waited patiently for us on court whilst Ryan borrowed H-Bomb’s fork (another legend). Once again the brief in this game was to stay out of trouble by avoiding the boards and releasing the ball as soon as you received it… this game was an absolute joy as we found our bike setups much nippier than CC and were soon having fun riding in Spring Break circles before heading to goal. We took a lead and they eeked it back a little to finish 3-2 in our favour. CC possibly had us on the run at times, but we’re pretty sure they were getting tired, I would have loved to have played this game for longer as North American games seemed so much more enjoyable to us (mid-court, or back-and-forth games), perhaps we were just taking advantage of being a bit of an anomaly to them.
Once again the evening was spent jumping in the lake, eating some warm food and recounting the various games: Lefty Joe was already getting a name for himself as the super-shooter and the Guardians were performing well (seeded first for the double-elim). Edisons were a hot topic: Eddy seemed to be taking on a muscle role whilst the boys did their lefty-righty-magic beautifully.
The final day was the double-elimination and after beating Peinture 51 we were disappointed to be up against Hooks… whenever we have to play a defensive team we seem to lose sight of our own game in favour of trying to come up with creative new ways of breaking down the wall in front of goal. We tried a few failed blocking plays (Hooks were well versed in this and could simply hop around before catching a messy pass/control to break 1-on-1 with the goalie) and lost the game 3-1, pretty gutted as we were still riding high from the previous days results and took a fall from grace: straight into the loser’s bracket.
Our next game was against Iron Ponies and was a farce from beginning to end with our goals being disallowed (I was called for topping when I was actually pulled down by a Pony) and with penalties then called “in our favour” as we were breaking to goal. It was a horrible game and an awful way to leave the tournament, gutted.
We shared a beer and came to the conclusion that we only had ourselves to blame in both games by resorting to ugly-looking tactics to try and break down defensive teams… in the future we will be sticking to our style of polo no matter what, blocking plays don’t fit with the game we want to be playing and we’re better off moving the ball around and being more patient (again, more inspiration from Guardians here).
In the end the UK was well represented by Dead Rappers (and Get In Wild too), well played guys… it was great to still be able to cheer on some UK teams and you repped hard!
Guardians, Clobber Politics, Edisons and Call Me Daddy had some great games as the day progressed and Call Me Daddy won the Worlds (a European first) by executing a defensive game flawlessly… it definitely felt like a war was being waged whilst watching the final: a war between a fluid passing game and a defensive “block on the breaks” game. Time will tell who will be the champs of tomorrow, but you can’t deny that Call Me Daddy have played an incredibly resilient game this season to emerge victorious, well played guys.
Thanks to everyone that made the tournament possible, it really was an absolute joy and we hope you felt it was worth all the hard work.
Update: A couple more videos of our games from day one and two have been uploaded, thanks Claire!
Find more awesome videos from the Worlds via Clem’s vimeo account.
Most images are copyright of Nic, find more photos on the WHBPC site.