Kelkheim Lizzards (Germany)
Grangemouth Broncos (UK)
Winterthur Red Lions (Switzerland)
London Smoke (UK)
Wurzburg Wombats (Germany)
Sheffield Giants (UK)
Absolutely hands down our favorite and most difficult group to call. While it is fun to see a group with three good UK teams that rarely meet, it’s the sheer amount of talent in this group that’s got us excited. At least five of these teams have legitimate hopes of winning this group. We would advise all other teams to watch this group’s games when they aren’t playing as they promise to be tight, intense, and high quality. Given how deep this group is, the winner of every consolation bracket could very well come from here.
We start with the Kelkheim Lizzards, Germany’s “other” flag powerhouse. They have plenty of talent, highlighted by German internationals Oliver Kramer and Kai Sommer, but also operate with ruthless efficiency. They’ll make last year’s 18th place finish, when they failed to advance to the playoffs for the first time, a distant memory. Their first opponent, the Grangemouth Broncos, will offer plenty of athleticism and flag savvy of their own. The Broncos finished an impressive 6th place at Flagging New Year and while they certainly have the talent to advance, we are more than a little skeptical. The Broncos have yet to post a truly impressive victory over a top team, domestic or otherwise, and more often than not have struggled in big moments. The Lizzards will be ready out of the gate and if the Broncos aren’t, we could see them implode and fall out the running entirely on day one.
The Red Lions from Switzerland will pose another challenge for everyone. While this is their first Big Bowl, they’ve squared off against Europe’s best in Champion’s Bowl and will be up to the challenge. They also have the advantage of being the only team in the group able to scout every opponent before playing them. After getting the Lizzards at 9:30, the Red Lions will face off against the impressive London Smoke. Though they currently toil in the UK’s Division One, the Smoke are arguably one of the best teams in Britain and have already made their mark internationally, winning King Bowl and finishing top 8 at Pink Bowl. The dynamic Henry Williams and sure-handed Johnnie Kerr provide QB Charlie Williams with some great weapons. However, they aren’t used to losing at all and can react quite poorly when faced with a deficit.
The Sheffield Giants finished third in the UK last year and boast some of the country’s best talent. We hear they are travelling a little light but as long as they have the likes of Dean Whittingslow, Max Verlint, and Josh Allen, they can compete with and beat any other team in this group.
While it’s by no means guaranteed, we would expect the winner of this group to face the London Rebels and the runner-up to face the Copenhagen Barbarians in the round of 16. While neither of those are easy matches, we’d expect this group would rather deal with London than Silas Meyer-Juhlin and co. The group winner then would also avoid the likes of Walldorf and the Armadillos until the semifinals, setting them up for a shot at a deep run in the tournament.
Ok well…again…back to the steps…
Winterthur Red Lions