We have three groups of 5 teams, just like last year. As a reminder, the top two from each group automatically qualify for the playoffs in addition to the best two third place teams.
Austrian Amazones (Austria)
East Kilbride Pirates (UK)
Moscow Unicorns (Russia)
Walldorf Wanderers (Germany)
We might as well start the Ladies portion of our Big Bowl preview with the champions from four out of the last five years: Austrian Amazones. You can’t talk about Austria without mentioning the amazing Saskia Stribny. Far and away the best female QB in Europe, Stribny has a cannon that puts the strain on any defense. But beyond just having a big arm, Saskia is intelligent, experienced, and understands how to manipulate a defense. It also helps that she has a stable of athletes to throw to, headlined by sure-handed Marie Michelitsch. Michelitsch has been a mainstay on the Austrian team for a number of years and can just as easily take a quick pitch for six as she can run by your best safety. Needless to say, every other team in this group is fighting for second.
Two UK teams lead the race for second place. The Sirens have shown some real potential, losing tight battles against the Spanish Foxes and Coventry Cougars last year. They have yet to break through to the Big Bowl playoffs but we believe this is the year for them to do it. We are hearing they have added some notable talent like Phoebe Schecter and route running queen Siobhan Walker to supplement standouts Lindsey Johnson and Jade Archibald. That may not be enough though to overcome the well-coached East Kilbride Pirates. EKP challenged themselves at Big Bowl last year and have shown tremendous improvement since then, impressing in Opal and at King Bowl. Their heartbreaking defeat at King’s Bowl will be massive motivation for them to succeed at this next international tournament as they know they can. With players like Heather McGowan and Aynsley Barclay, we wouldn’t bet against them.
While we can’t speak much about the Moscow Unicorns, we know the Walldorf Ladies will be no pushovers. They battled hard at Pink Bowl, putting up some impressive results against tough competition. They’ve also added on the talent front, picking up GB captain Lou Lee. It’s certainly possible for them to sneak into the playoffs this year in second or third place from this group.
We’ll assume Austria finishes first and as such, would likely meet either the Elecrons, Sheffield Giants or the third-place team from this group in their first playoff game. They probably won’t be tested until their potential semi-final match against Special K. A second-place finish means a likely date with the Copenhagen Tomahawks in the quarterfinals while finishing third and qualifying for playoffs means squaring off against Special K or a rematch with Austria. That’s tough.
East Kilbride Pirates