by Fergus Klein
The inaugural GFDA hat tournament took place on Saturday 5th of March under perfect conditions at the University of the Witwatersrand. With not a breath of wind or a cloud in the sky, players were assembled and separated into teams using a carefully devised formula. This involved asking people to rate themselves out of 5 and trying to keep the teams as evenly balanced as possible. An immediate challenge arose for the team organisers as the players of Gauteng were adamant skills ratings could also be determined by ambition, stacking most teams with 3 or 4 players who rated themselves a 5. Who are we to judge? Players were separated into 6 teams following a rigorously planned, round-robin schedule culminating in a final, or a pick-up game or a huck-off.
The first round saw each game being tightly contested. The biggest upset came when team 1, led by a perfect 10, Robin, with great supporting acts from Lionel S and Jaco, comfortably defeated the far more imposing team 2, with Devin, Ellie and Fergus all threatening in the air. Team 1 pulled ahead and then refused to give up the disc, despite their size disadvantage and gained a 2 point advantage early on. Hayden, the shortest player on the pitch put in a shift for Team 2, putting his body on the line with several lay-outs, but he didn’t get the support from his for more vertically gifted teammates, team 1 winning 7-4.
The second round of games was the mostly tightly contested round of the day. After a short break for refreshments the teams had found their groove and some of those 5 rated players showed their mettle. Performances from the Move-It, Moving Matters interns who provided unlimited energy and enjoyed showing off their newly acquired throwing skills, particularly Gontse, for team 5, and Zwele for team 4, who made some exquisite grabs and composed passes into the endzone. Team 3 were unlucky against team 6, losing a very defensively minded game 3-6, although prior to last minute collapse, had traded exceptionally long points at the hottest time of the day. Pierce, and first time ultimate player, ring leader at Benoni Flying Disc League and second trombone in the Boksburg Philharmonic Orchestra , Tim, defiantly shut down Jedd and JP until the bitter end, only to lose it in the dying minutes thanks to some clever handler play.
Going into the third round of games, team 4 and team 5 had established themselves as tournament favourites, due to face each other in the 4th round. Both teams were looking to carry forward their good momentum into the lunch break and to hopefully give them the edge over their rivals. Team 5 followed the script, pushing aside team 1, 4 – 9. The onslaught was orchestrated by Justus and Baden, with the finishing touches applied by Alicia and Daniel. Team 4 however did not have the afternoon that pundits and bookmakers had predicted. Following from a first round defeat, team 6 had a point to prove and through a valiant rear-guard action, managed to shut down the favoured team 4, despite a player crisis and several players nursing injuries sustained in the previous rounds. JP and Jedd had the stand-out performances, showing that experience can overcome exuberance, team 6 ultimately winning 6-7.
Going into the penultimate round of games after a delicious braai organised by Paul and Siya, the fight at the top was heating up. 5 teams were competing for first, at least mathematically, with team 3 out of the running but still in the fight. Team 3 found themselves matched up against team 1 for a bottom of the table dog fight. Team 3 looking to build momentum to make a charge for the top half of the table, team 1 looking to find the connection they had in the opening round. The game was tightly contested, all the way into hard cap only for team 3 to lose the disc on halfway and ultimately lose on universal point after Jaco found Chris in the endzone, team 1 winning 6-5. Team 5 also recorded a resounding win against Team 4, adding insult to injury to one of the early tournament favourites and dashed any hopes they may have had of a first place finish.
The final round saw Team 5 face up against Team 3 to protect their perfect record and enshrine their names in GFDA folklore. Pierce, Tim, James and the rest of Team 3 were looking to salvage something from the day and record their first win, not a light task considering Team 5 had only conceded 24 points in 4 matches leading into the game. Undeterred, the fight was led by Pierce and James, with good support play from Tim and Grant, who linked well and moved the disc around effectively. Soon enough though the force of Team 5 became overwhelming and a few unforced errors left Team 3 with a mountain to climb. Without remorse Team 5 went on to win 2-11. In the other games of the round Team 1 and Team 2 had points to prove against Team 6 and Team 4 respectively. Neither skirmishes proved successful however, as Brandon and Luke showed the Skyveld connection for team 4 and the re-introduction of Siya after lunch for Team 6 was a revelation. Team 1 losing out to Team 6, 4-9 and Team 2 failing to make their chances count against Team 4, 6-9.
The final games completed and the victor was clearly decided, however goal difference determined 2nd and 3rd and 4th and 5th respectively. Team 5 were crowned GFDA Hat Tournament Champions, with only one player rated 5, conceding only 26 points in 5 games and remaining undefeated in all their games.
The final standings:
|2nd||Team 4||Josh M|
Congratulations to Team 5 after their resounding victory and a heartfelt thank you from the GFDA to all those that attended and contributed to making the day a success.