For those at home, we didn’t tell you much about Dream Cup and then next thing you know, there we are with medals. So here’s some detail to fill in some gaps and help you re-live the trip with us. This first article covers off details about the tournament, while the second part will cover our playing experience.
Dream Cup is the largest tournament in Japan, and this year was its 18th incarnation. It regularly attracts 140 teams across 3 divisions (open, women, mixed). It is run by Club Jr, a company set up to support ultimate players through selling merchandise and hosting events. Dream Cup winners are typically the big-name clubs from Japan. Buzz Bullets have a stranglehold on the Open division title, while UNO and MUD are regular winners in the Women’s division.
The team under media scrutiny before game 1
The tournament is run near Fuji City, which is on the floodplain below Mt Fuji. It is relatively easy to access by flying into Tokyo and then getting a shinkansen (bullet train) for just over an hour to Shin-Fuji station. The Club Jr organisers are fantastic hosts, and organise the accommodation and transport for international teams. We enjoyed staying in a typical Japanese “business hotel”, featuring lots of single rooms – no sharing beds as often happens in Australia. We also got assigned an interpreter/helper – in our case Yoshi-san took great care of us. And she came far more prepared for the weather compared to some on our team! We look forward to seeing her again in London at WUGC.
Yoshi-san on our sideline – well prepared with a nice thick blanket!
March in Japan is early Spring, with average temperatures comparable to winter in the Blue Mountains. We got a particularly cold snap, with the forecast promising highs of 8°C. Fortunately we didn’t get any rain and the wind was only strong on the Saturday afternoon.
Opening Ceremony on Day 1, with frisbee central in background.
Having so many teams is a draw-maker’s nightmare, and so by necessity the game timing is tightly controlled. Games are 50 minutes long and end on the whistle. Not even a final throw is allowed – tough if there was a call discussion under way. It makes the dynamics and tactics of the game a little different when you know you have a (true) hard time cap. Many of the Japanese teams had quite small rosters (9-10 players), which with such short games is viable.
Dream Cup is really two separate tournaments; a 1 day seeding tournament, followed by a 2 day tournament. Not all teams play on the Friday – primarily it is university teams in a series of pool games. The teams which are not playing on Friday are already slotted into a draw structure for Saturday/Sunday.
Women’s teams choosing which slot to take for Saturday
At the end of Friday the teams who played get to choose which pool/position they want to start in for Saturday. The teams choose in the order they finished on Friday (i.e. the best team chooses first) and only have a few seconds to decide.
Michelle putting Firetails into C1
Every game on Saturday and Sunday is an elimination game so you can’t afford to have any slip-ups. There had been an obvious spot left for us (C1) in the main draw so we caused a little consternation when discussing that we might not take it!
The draw structure prior to Friday’s teams being slotted in
When playing at international tournaments, it is interesting to see the differences with Australian tournaments. No food was provided (sadly becoming a more common feature in Australia), though there were some food vendors at the fields. The team sorted ourselves out with rice balls and other, sometimes unrecognisable, food from the local convenience store near our hotel. Teams are issued with rubbish bags and are responsible for keeping their areas clean, including removing the full rubbish bags at the end of the day. Something I’m sure Australian TDs would love to introduce! There was a also a creche provided – made use of by our Assistant Coach KP and Physio Aemilia.
KP in the creche
Day 1 highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9aNNY3VBjI&feature=youtu.be (featuring Firetails and Dingoes early on)
Day 2 highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3On8rOmmjQ&feature=youtu.be
Day 3 highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6R-d9y2_okk&feature=youtu.be (featuring Firetails/Dingoes about half way through)