Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tournament 9 - Observation 2 - Skill set different, game play very similar

Having played and watched leading teams in Europe and North America, I came to the realization this weekend that the difference between quality of teams is athleticism, players per team, clockspeed (I'll talk about this some day), and skills. The level of strategy is the same everywhere.

Pictured Above: Al, Faiz, and Chris of Stack Magic enjoying the sun in Amsterdam (photo courtesy of Richard Bartle-Tubbs).

This isn't a real shock for the following two reasons: one, the sport is very young and strategy hasn't had time to develop; two, the expats from North America have influence on many teams in the world and that style of training and play is adopted. This means that our oral tradition of strategy is both short lived and comes from a similar source.

Seems like a reasonable argument on why Ultimate strategy is simple, but I have another theory. Let's take basketball for example, and remove the offensive pick and the defensive double teams as strategy elements. This leaves basketball with give and gos, passing formations, zones, etc. Sounds familiar, or in other words, the strategic elements of Ultimate are simple, and there's only so many permutations we can come up with.

I don't completely believe this, and I think we will innovate more field strategies over time (though I think the double team should be added in the Open and Women's game at the high level). For example, the flow during the middle game is something that has always intrigued me, but I've never had enough time to work out some options.

We've heard exciting news, for some time now, on Japan based Ultimate. It seems that the Japanese game has evolved on it's own terms, and this has led to slightly different strategies and skill sets compared to the rest of the world.

The real question is what's going to emerge out of Worlds this year. As much as I think the UPA series is the most competitive series in the world, Worlds will bring together independently evolving strategies. Who will come up with the next big thing?

One last comment. Even if stragegy is somewhat simple, it is still challenging enough to change between strategies to counter your opponent. This weekend, our early captain, Matt, put on a zone againts the opponents in our first game, and it worked. Such a simple concept gave our team a fighting chance against a clearly more athletic french team.



rob said...

It seems to me that the relative simplicity of the ultimate field is a fundamental hindrance to the development of more complex strategies. In basketball, even if you remove picks and double teams, many strategies/plays revolve around the existance of things like the 3-pt line and the key. A football pitch has the 18-yard box, as well as a dynamic area of the field created by the offsides rule. North American football has the line of scrimmage, around which a host of rules governing player formations are built. Not a new idea, I guess, but I wonder if it would take something like the addition of offsides to ultimate to spark a strategy revolution.

Taylor said...

Off topic, but it looks like the ammenities at Windmill were far better than we're used to in Canada/US.

Twatson said...

Oh look, Toffa (Chris) is famous! Lol