Copenhagen Tomahawks (Denmark)
Coventry Cougars (UK)
Sheffield Giants (UK)
Europe Mix (Europe)
Mainz Elecorns (Germany)
And welcome to the Ladies’ version of the Group of Death. At least four if not all of the teams will certainly fancy themselves contenders for a spot in the playoffs. We start with the Copenhagen Tomahawks who probably stand the best chance of dethroning Austria. Why? Well firstly, they boast a number of Denmark internationals who just won their Euro bracket in August. Secondly, they actually beat Austria in their opening game last year before A disappointing Sunday saw them finish in 7th. We think they are primed for at least a podium finish this year and will rely heavily on star receiver Inger Skovridder.
Speaking of podium finishes, it’s no secret that the Coventry Cougars, the UK women’s standard bearers for years, covet a spot in the top 3 more than perhaps any other trophy. They were fourth two years ago but a brutal draw last year saw them finish out of the playoffs on point difference. Is this the year they break through and become the first UK team, male or female, to bring home one of the big trophies? If the Barrett sisters and the dynamic duo of Grace Conway and Lottie Laidler have anything to say about it, they will.
But first, they need to get past a tough Sheffield Giants squad. The Giants finished third in Opal last year but have since added GB Lion Steph Warren to their talented offense. Pairing Warren with Amy Wells gives the Giants’ QB Emma Bowman all kinds of options. With the Hague Hyenas withdrawing, we’ll see a new team of players from around Europe coming together. As we often see at Big Bowl, chemistry teams have coming in can make all the difference, and we don’t expect this team to do well against so many settled sides.
The sheer number of good teams in this group may ultimately be the undoing of whoever finishes third here. Without lesser competition to put up big scores on, the third-place team could find themselves harshly out of the playoffs on point difference. In any case, whoever wins the group is likely to encounter the UK Sirens or EKP in the quarters and avoid Austria and Special K until the final. The second-place finisher has a tougher road, with a probable quarterfinal match lined up against the Spanish Foxes before a rematch with this group’s winner in the semis, should they progress. But while the group itself is hard, there is some relief in that the playoff path avoids the two biggest favorites until the final.