Last weekend a whole bunch of us London guys (along with 3 Manc's – aka team Netto) went out to Karlsruhe, Germany (yeah I'd never heard of that place either until I started playing polo), to play in the first Greifmasters.
There'd been so much hype and anticipation in the run up to this tourney. The set up was to be different and exciting, as the qualies were to follow the Karlsruher playing system (all teams placed in a circle, playing 3 teams to left and 3 to right, resulting in a crossover of games to determine the top 8, who’d then progress to the knockouts) and with the team roster being 40 strong, with all the big EU guns present, the quality was set to rival last years Euro's – it promised to be an awesome tournament.
And wow…we weren’t disappointed.
From the moment 'Team London (+ 3 Manc's)' turned up on the Thursday, till the Monday evening we all left, we experienced nothing but awesome Karlsruhe hospitality, as well as the funniest London banter and of course witnessed some amazing Polo.
L’Equipe started 2010 where they finished off 2009 – winners! Despite some testing moments in the qualification rounds and a 15min battle with Toro’s (in a game that was simply at a higher level), L’Equipe kept their cool and continued to prove why they really are Europe’s best Polo team. Although, as much as there are things we can learn from them, I’m still not a fan of their style. They just seem too rigid and clinical, almost systematic. Unlike Toro’s, whose style is powerful, fast, skilful, aggressive and slightly unpredictable, much more what Polo to me should be like.
For Cosmic things didn’t go to plan…
I was confident we’d get into the last 8 but unfortunately for us, I think our inexperience at big tournies and possible lack of recent team play got the better of us.
We had great results on day one, but day two was our failure. Not only because the opponents were tougher and we failed to convert our chances but also the slippery court conditions proved havoc for our fast game – well I blame the fact that Todd and I put hairspray on our tyres in prep for our game against Polo d’Oro, but that’s a different story!
So it was heartbreaking when the final rankings came up and Cosmic was placed 9th, just 1 point behind Malice meaning a position away from being in the knockouts to play against the best – gutted!
We knew the top 8 was gonna finish tight but that tight sucked. And to know it all came down to the draw against Poloholic Anonymous that should have been our win and of course a loss to Polo d’Oro that we should have at least put up a fight to draw (bloody hairspray).
The lessons I’ve learnt are that…
1) Take goal scoring chances when they occur, in any manner possible.
2) Take advantage of time outs, inorder to reset ourselves esp. if we are losing.
3) Become stronger team players, hold positions better and control games to our favour.
4) Learn to calm our nerves and step up to win any time our games are called.
Anyway, that’s the way it went. I was still proud of how we played because I know inside we played well, I’m just a bit gutted we didn’t get to play the top teams and show our best games to the rest of Europe – next time!
All in all, we had an awesome time.
Thanks Hannes, Stefan and the rest of the Karlsruhe scene.
Man I love European Polo trips!