It’s been a while since we published our extensive group by group analysis of the 11th instalment of Big Bowl, Europe’s biggest flag football tournament. With the main event just three days away, we wanted to update you on some developments since the original schedules were released to discuss how they will impact the field.
Mayhem Pulls Out of Big Bowl
After top six finishes in 2014 and 2015, everyone was excited to see Bobby Black and co. back in action following a one year hiatus. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be as the Mayhem couldn’t lock down enough players to participate. They bowed out plenty early in the process, allowing them to be replaced by Steinfire. While the loss of Mayhem robs group G of some star power, we previously noted that the group was very deep to begin with. The Buttonhookers will now be fancied to top it but face stiff challenges from the Victoria Park Panthers and the 2015 semi-finalist Lalo Greyhounds. The Panthers just missed out on a trip to the top playoff bracket last year and will be extremely motivated to topple their domestic division rivals. At full strength, the Lalo Greyhounds, led by German defensive captain Jerome Saxon, are extremely dangerous. Don’t be surprised to see any of these three clubs top the table.
Copenhagen Barbarians replace Team Mexico Men
For the second year in a row, Team Mexico men have pulled out of Big Bowl. We speculated that many of their players would partake in Battle Orlando closer to home but we are still disappointed that the Mexican program has dropped out altogether. At least this year’s cancellation was an improvement on last year’s when they pulled out less than two weeks before the event. In any case, the addition of the Barbarians probably makes group D, which was tough to begin with, even better. The Barbarians are one of the elite teams in Denmark and recently defeated the Armadillos 21-20 in the final of Sportmonda Bowl III. With superstars like national team member Silas Meyer Juhlin lining the roster, the Barbarians aren’t coming just to make the playoffs; they are coming to win the whole thing. With the Dutch Lions, Moscow Tough Nuts, and improving Coventry Cougars, group D will be fascinating to watch!
Dortmund Devils and their harem of cheerleaders replace Berlin United
There’s a lot to love about Big Bowl from the non-stop action to the cheap but delicious beer. It is truly heaven on earth for any flag football enthusiast. When we first heard about the tournament, people highlighted many different aspects but often, their descriptions culminated with something along the lines of, “Oh! And teams bring cheerleaders! Like full squads!” While they weren’t one of the original listed teams, the Dortmund Devils became the third team to make it off the waitlist. We are excited to see them back. Big Bowl just wouldn’t be the same without a team of 20 cheerleaders lining the sideline of every Dortmund game, cheering loudly (now repeat after me), “We Want! (We Want!) A TD! (A TD!) What’s That? (What’s That?) A Touchdown! (A Touchdown!)”
Utrecht Dominators Pull Out of Big Bowl
A very recent development, the UDo’s, known for being great guys on and off the pitch, have just pulled out of Big Bowl due to lack of numbers. As frequent participants, we are surprised that they left it so late. Hopefully the hosts will be able to source a replacement team on such short notice. Regardless, we must applaud Benjamin Klever and the entire Walldorf program for dealing with the numerous hiccups that come along and always managing to put on a spectacular event.
GZB replaces Nottingham Flag
On the women’s side of things, the Netherlands-based GZB side will be replacing Nottingham, who have recently pulled out. We at FFW were especially excited to see GZB get off the waitlist. They are an improving team of enthusiastic women that have already tested themselves at last year’s Big Bowl and Pink Bowl. While the entire tournament filled up in 12 hours, the women’s side of the bracket was full in less than half that time. GZB missed out on the initial cut, literally by minutes, and were noticeably saddened. Hopefully their inclusion will brighten their spirits and we are looking forward to seeing what they can do in group A!
Bobby Black joins forces with NP Flag
Arguably the most significant development involves the Mayhem front-man linking up with the ultra-talented and brash NP Flag. Initial reports suggested that Black would be linking up with his old friends on the Ex-Pads. However, we were unsure how this would work out, given the Ex-Pads have a fantastic QB of their own entrenched in the form of Tariq Dag Khan. Enter NP Flag. The North Penn boys were already without their QB from last year and then lost captain and this year’s presumed starter, Michael Reimel, to injury. In need of a quarterback, NP looked to Black. Even if you don’t think he’s the best quarterback at the tournament (though he certainly belongs in the conversation), there is probably no single player better suited to step into this situation than Black. The nature of Mayhem means he has a history of playing and winning with talented teammates who he’s gotten little to no previous reps with. With the addition of Black, we think NP are primed for a special run. However, the dynamic of a mercenary QB is always tough given the inherent leadership struggle present. Should they face a deficit, will they be able to weather adversity or will they collapse from within?
Needless to say, we are so amped for Big Bowl!