The Belgian Grand Slam hoped to be the BIGGEST and BEST European tournament held in the history of Roundnet on this side of the pond. Thanks to the support and passion from European players coming from 16 countries across the whole of Europe this incredible feat was achieved. Well done Europe! The whole world is excited to see competition heat up this summer in the EUSRA Tour Series.
The beginning of the Belgian Grand Slam was special to say the least. That morning the European Community descended on the fields where they would do battle and were immediately called upon by the tournament directors. The crowd 200 strong circled around and were welcomed by the one and only, Kobe Seresia of Roundnet in Belgium and Tournament Organiser. No once expected what he would make us do next!
With a megaphone in his hand Kobe began to walk us through movements in what can only be described as a worship to the Roundnet Gods. Kobe felt that "It was important to let the people feel welcome on the tournament and this was a unique and memorable way of doing that". When we asked Kobe would he want to do it again he said " I still get warm sensations when I think about it! The most awesome part of it was the fact that in the beginning everyone was laughing but by the end everyone was really feeling the vibe of the tournament".
The tournament in Belgium was the dream of the EUSRA who were established less than a year earlier. They realised that there was a massive demand for a competitive international series while at the European Championships in London in 2018. This year they have been working to make this dream a reality and fortunately it all came true.
Wout Geeraerts, from the EUSRA team commented that "Bringing an entire continent together sounds like hard work but when you have communities dispersed across boarders that are passionate about growing the reach and competitiveness of our sport it becomes a lot easier". In the last 5 years communities from across Europe have been travelling to other countries to challenge neighboring communities, however, it has never ever been done on this scale and been so competitive.
The competition on the day was fierce as some of the biggest names in European and US Roundnet were in attendance.
From Europe, Optic Boom (Germany), Whacka-TaC (Germany), Pacjent EOE (Poland), Street Gang (Czech Republic) and Rocket Jo's (Belgium) were some of the favorites to make it through to finals.
Many teams were happy to hear and also confused that SJP Fire (UK) who were the #1 team at the time were splitting up for this tournament. However, the European community soon realised that neither of the Tom's that make up SJP fire would be worse off. Tommy Nichols teamed up with the one and only creator of Spikeball, Mr. Chris Ruder and Tom Rogers formed his team called Sneaky Polar Vortexes with his great friend and now fellow Spikeball employee Joel Graham.
And if that wasn't enough hot competition, what would you say if we threw C&S (#1 US) into the mix! Thankfully, they also decided to split up. They formed teams with 2 girls aged 13 and 14, who Tyler and PJ met while playing their first European Tournament in Denmark earlier in the year. On the day Tyler teamed up with Lærke Pedersen (Denmark) to form Foozy Lamb and PJ teamed up with Caroline Poulsen as The Minions. This new match up still struck fear in all teams they faced up against. HOW CUTE THOUGH?!?
In the Open Division the battle for seeding was tight with many of the groups coming down to points difference as a deciding factor. In the end many great teams fell short of victory and this was a credit to the incredible growth of the sport in the last few months.
Crowds gathered for the highly anticipated semi-finals! On the upper pitch the crowd was thrilled by the match up between Whacka-TaC (Germany) and Street Gang (Czech republic) where Whacka-TaC took victory. And on the lower pitch Sneaky Polar Vortexes (UK & US) took on Optic Boom (Germany) in a standstill semi-final where the Sneaky Polar Vortexes came out on top.
And onto the one we have all been waiting for! The game that will decide the winner of the first ever Tour Series Stop in Europe.
Sneaky Polar Vortexes Vs. Whacka-TaC.
200 passionate European and US ballers along with the many people who watched the live stream commentated by Tyler Cisek watched every single play and were mesmerized by the intensity of the competition.
The teams were evenly matched at the beginning of the set, however, at 10-10 Joel of Sneaky Polar Vortexes showed his experience and had the perfect serving game. As a result, Sneaky Polar Vortexes were able to close out the first set 21 - 14.
WATCH the LIVE stream of the first set from the Belgian Grand Slam 2019
commentated by Tyler Cisek.