European Male Awards 2021 – Ultiworld

Celebrating some of Europe’s best players ahead of the WUCC.

The 2021 season in Europe has been strange. The ongoing pandemic meant there was really only one European tournament that mattered and meant preparations for the 2022 season were pushed back slightly. It’s been back to something like normal so far this season, but in the rush to get back to that normal, we’ve missed the chance to recognize the continent’s best players in 2021. With WUCC around the corner street and many of these players are preparing to face the best in the world, let’s go home and give out flowers.

Player of the Year

WINNER: Justin Foord, Clapham

Justin Foord completes a layout catch for Clapham at the 2021 UK Nationals. Photo by Andrew Moss.

It’s hard to write more about Foord’s game than has been written before. If this award had lasted 10 years, it would have had at least a handful by this point. He’s been the player European men’s players have measured themselves against for at least as long, winning European and UK titles with Clapham and dominating Europe with Great Britain. His athleticism once defined his game, but he’s become a brilliant pitcher and playmaker to go along with the ever-elite ability to make huge plays as his time at the top continues. Clapham’s offense boasts many of the best players in Europe, but Foord still manages to come out on top on a regular basis. He’s now a game-changing threat wherever he is on the court, all the more remarkable when you consider he’s the best player on the whiteboard when teams plan the game against the Bullfrogs.

He’s been on the podium before but, after a season where he delivered just about every time Clapham needed a boost in their quest to win back the European title, then this year played for the United Great Britain World Games, he won a well-deserved first. POTY coat.

Clapham captain Josh Briggs said of his long-time team-mate: “Justin has been the ultimate European elite gold standard for a decade. Literally. Off the top of my head, he’s got eight medals. EUCF Gold with Clapham as well as two EUC Golds, two EBUC Golds and one EMUC Gold with Great Britain. The fact that I may miss others1 testifies to its capacity and longevity. Frankly, he could win the European POTY every year and no one would bat an eyelid. It has been an honor to play alongside him for the past eight seasons. »

Finalist: Ferdia Rogers, Ranelagh

It was Rogers’ determination to control a match from both sides of the record that earned him his spot as our POTY finalist and a player to watch heading into the WUCC with Ranelagh.

He is a non-Newtonian presence on the pitch, moving with the pace of the game before resolutely clashing and wrapping his opponents in his rich, creamy embrace. It’s a firm but fair mark of coverage, taught on the grounds of University College Dublin and mastered in the heartland of Texas.

In the biggest moments of Ranelagh’s 2021 campaign, it brought him up against the strongest managers in their opponent’s armoury. His EUCF quarter-final clash with 2019 Offensive Player of the Year and World Games star Nico Muller of Bad Skid felt like two generals had challenged each other to single combat for a place in the four last.

Control is the hallmark of power. Whether it’s being or breaking the force, the ability to dictate terms and influence outcomes is essential to being considered the best. Welcome to the conversation, Ferdia Rogers.

Offensive Player of the Year

WINNER: Ferdia Rogers, Ranelagh

Ferdia Rogers (12) celebrates a score from Ranelagh. Photo by Raf Celis.

In Europe Ultimate, offense usually follows defense at an elite level. We have seen several teams unexpectedly enter the upper echelons of our sport at EUCF, buoyed by the strength of their defense and surviving on the ambition of their attack.2

What defines these sparks as ashes or embers is their ability to establish an attack at the highest level, shifting from plays of light and flashes of desperate brilliance to a constant, relentless force that crushes all opponents ahead. she. It is the change of the Irish Sea that we believe Rogers represents.

He stands in the center of the O line of Ranelagh, a creature of devastating habits, constantly attacking the opponent’s break side with throws and moves that challenge defensive play planning and infuriate opposing marks. The Dublin system has been under construction for over a decade, receivers like Stephen Jones, Tadhg Deevy and Sam Murphy, an interchangeable set of cogs all revolving around Rogers in a well-oiled strategy.

Ranelagh and Ireland team-mate Jones said: “I’ve been playing with Ferdia for almost 10 years now but last year was, without a doubt, the biggest breakthrough I’ve seen him make. and I’m glad the rest of Europe got to see it too. I’ve seen firsthand how much time and effort has gone into developing his game and it’s clear that reaching this level was not no coincidence.

“Having Ferdia on the pitch makes everyone’s job much easier. There’s a confidence as a cutter that he’ll hand you the disc when you make the right move and in turn will always be free for a reset to keep the offense flowing. It’s a nightmare to score in small spaces and won’t hesitate to open its legs to provide deep options as well.

“Ferdia is building a reputation as one of Europe’s elite coaches. His determination to be the best and to continue Ranelagh’s growth on this new stage will be integral to the future of this club.

Finalist: Tobe Decraene, Sweet

Decraene continues to grow in his game, a young player learning to play at Europe’s most elite level after playing with Belgium’s Under-20 side in 2019. Any uninformed observer couldn’t quite tell. based on his performance at xEUCF last season, however. Decraene outplayed every opponent Gentle faced in his surprise run to a bronze medal. Against eventual winners Clapham in the semi-finals, Decraene drew the toughest clashes throughout and still managed to score five goals and provide two assists, which is seven of his side’s ten points. In an interview after that match, he said, “In a few years I would like to be at their level of play.” Based on his performance at xEUCF, the future might come sooner than he thinks, especially after testing himself against the best in the world.

Defensive Player of the Year

WINNER: Connor McHale, Clapham

Connor McHale hucks for Clapham at the 2021 UK Nationals. Photo by Andrew Moss.

McHale didn’t have a linear path to the top of European Ultimate. He responded to not making Clapham’s 2018 WUCC squad by striving to improve in almost every area. Already in possession of a big arm, he honed his draw to become one of the best in Europe and developed his throwing into a central part of Clapham’s D-line attack. He was already athletic, but focused on making more impact on the game and getting blocks in the biggest games while playing cover defense on the best cutters on the team he played against. His huge layout block in the xEUCF final last season showed his defensive impact, but he also grabbed the winning scores in the UK and European finals.

He has become one of the foundations of Clapham, a player who not only leads the D-line, but turns to the O-line when he needs a shot of play and athleticism. He wasn’t with Clapham at Cincinnati last time out, but he’ll be a key part of the campaign this time around as perhaps the best defender in Europe.

Clapham captain Briggs added: “Connor is fast becoming one of Clapham’s elite weapons. He really deserves this Defensive POTY award for the job he does keeping the best players on other teams. But don’t sleep on his versatile ability, he’ll mark you over and over again if you don’t give him the defensive attention he gives you. I really like training against Connor, he forces me to improve. I can’t wait to see what the pinnacle of his career has in store for us.

Finalist: Conrad Schloer, Wall City

Schloer already has a DPOTY finalist medal in his metaphorical cabinet thanks to his work as a PoNY player. He brought not only his elite defensive ability to Berlin last season, but also his elite mindset. Wall City went from a team that had great players but seemed to struggle to break into Europe’s top tier into a legitimate contender, pushing Clapham much harder into the quarter-finals than the eventual champions. would have liked. Schloer can do it all defensively — he gets blocks, he keeps receivers out, and he helps teammates with smart positioning. His play at the World Games only underscored what we already knew. He is the metaphorical rising tide, lifting the Berlin boats higher and higher.

Breakout Player of the Year

WINNER: Tobe Decraene, Sweet

Tobe Decraene makes a catch in the 2021 xEUCF Semi-Final. Photo by Olivier Hulshorst.

Decraene is an easy choice for BPOTY given his youth and limited past experience at this level. He showed his ability as a playmaker for Belgium’s U20 side in 2019, and last year he did it at the top level in Europe.

He was an attacking force, stretching his opponents and scoring again and again for Gentle as they won European bronze medals. He also contributed to the drive, not only throwing assists, but keeping the offense moving with smart decisions and solid fundamentals. Decraene will undoubtedly be a leader for the next group of Gentle players to come, but also for a Belgian program which now includes a number of extremely talented and exciting young players. If he continues to develop at this rate, it won’t be the last time we see him on a roster like this.

Gentle Open coach Benjamin Vereecken said: “Tobe Decraene has become our best receiver in 2021. His tireless cut and ability to open deep has been huge for our offense. At xEUCF ’21, I think he scored almost half of our attacking points, even with the best defenders on him. His work ethic is second to none, training almost every day of the week to become the best player possible. The future is bright for this young man!

Finalist: Matteo Paradisi, Cotarica Grandes

Paradisi made an impact at Brugge as a receiver, seemingly unstoppable through the air for Cotarica as they made the top 16 in a very believable performance. He did game after game for the Italians throughout the weekend and looked quite the elite player in the making. He’s been known across Europe for a little while after playing impressively as a 16-year-old in the EUCF qualifiers in 2019, but hit a new level in his development in 2021. He’s another one to watch then. may he continue to develop his game and his abilities, and could be another hugely talented weapon in an already excellent Italian program in the years to come.