Shocks and Surprises across the Course
The first day at WFDF 2019 World Team Disc Golf Championships has been cruel and unforgiving for the unprepared. Five games in a day against teams ranked in four pools turned out to be a surprise for nearly everyone! Of the four top seeds only Finland held their position with Estonia, Slovakia and Austria bumping the USA, Canada and NewZealand back into the pack.
Result of the day goes to the 10th seeded Slovakian team who beat World Champions Canada in 3 of their 4 matches. With both singles going to MPO players Hrubjak and Kricka and a Doubles win over World Champion Hector Daikow and new Junior Noah Higgins the Slovakians gave early warning that they meant business. The next four rounds saw their early progress further rewarded and their final game against neighbours Czech Republic decided Pool B. This turned out to be an easy victory for the Czech Republic with a 7-1 win – putting the earlier win for Slovakia into context. Canada finished third but will be wild card opponents in the next round. Latvia finished last in the group but took points from Canada which made a difference in the end.
In the top seeded Pool A the USA were always going to be challenged on European territory by home country Estonia and the well prepared French. They put in a good start against Croatia but the warning signals were firing when they only drew 4-4 with 17th seed Lithuania. They then lost 6-2 to France and their position in the group meant that they might not make the top 12 to progress to Round 2. Their final game against Estonia sealed their fate and they finished fourth – dropping them into the round robin Pool J and out of medal contention on Day 1.
Estonia won the Pool and did not lose a match all day. In a Pool of 5 they played 16 games and won 13 of them. France took a deserved second place and Lithuania, lowest seed in the tournament, took 3rd on count back from USA. A good pool for the Baltic states!
Pool C was the only one that conformed for the top seeds. Finland have sent the strongest team in the events history with six 1000+ PDGA Rated players. Their intentions were clear – win every game against every opponent in every divisional match up. This was a target they hit – they only dropped 2 points from a potential 24 all day with two drawn singles matches against Germany who finished second in the Pool. Whatever has happened elsewhere every team will know that they are up against a formidable opponent when they face this Finnish Team.
However, Spain, again playing their first Championships put up a strong challenge against the Australians in the rain in the last Game of the day and earned their first points and first win – enough to qualify for the top 12 tomorrow.
In Pool D Bronze medallists from 2017 New Zealand took on the 12th seeded Austrians who were making their first appearance at these Championships. They tied the match 4-4 which was their fate against Great Britain who came from 3 back in two matches to take valuable drawn points. However the Austrian Team came out strongly against Great Britain and took enough points to lead the group at the end of the day, relegating New Zealand to second. Russia finished bottom of Pool D.
Tomorrow sees the start of Round 2, with the top three teams from each pool progressing to cross over pool play. The remainder play in one pool to decide places 13-17. With the expected order turned upside down and seeds being busted both down and up this Championships already has an air of unpredictability about it for many teams – but the clear favourites after this first round has to be Estonia and Finland.