Celebrating some of Europe’s best players ahead of the WUCC.
July 22, 2022 by Sean Colfer in Rewards with comments
The 2021 season in Europe has been strange. The ongoing pandemic meant there was really only one European tournament that mattered and meant preparations for the 2022 season were pushed back slightly. It’s been back to something like normal so far this season, but in the rush to get back to that normal, we’ve missed the chance to recognize the continent’s best players in 2021. With WUCC around the corner street and many of these players are preparing to face the best in the world, let’s go home and give out flowers.
Player of the Year
WINNER: Lola Dam, GRUT
Lola has been one of the best defensive players in the Mixed Division for years, despite being only 22 years old. She’s already won Defensive Player of the Year and been picked on lines all over Europe, but last season was one where she cemented her place at the top of the division, regardless of her level. role. GRUT ran two D-lines with different personnel on each, with one exception – Lola. She’s a key part of the attack once the European champions have a turn, and she’s as relentless in attack as she is when guarding the opposition’s best player. Being as young as she is, Lola has plenty of time to continue developing her game and improving. It’s a scary thought for the rest of Europe, but his ability to dominate games now will be one of the things on the minds of opposing coaches in Cincinnati next week.
GRUT captain Ben Oort fully agreed with the choice: “What can I say about Lola? I totally agree with this award! She’s just versatile, she’s probably the most athletic player in the mixed division, she’s probably in the top three fastest players in the division, so she’s really hard to guard. Then she also has stamina like no one else she’s on both D lines so she plays every defensive point then when we need her on O we can put her and she’s also one of the best attacking players.
“She’s taken on leadership roles this year, she’s everything and she’s showing all of the European players that they really can be a dominant player in the mixed division.”
Finalist: Floor Keulartz, GRUT
Floor is another former European award winner, winning POTY in 2018 at the age of 19. She is one of the most unstoppable offensive forces in the mixed division, combining elite athleticism with an understanding of the game that can only be developed by playing at such a high level at such a young age.1 She was once a deep cutter who roasted people, but now, if forced below, she can also split teams with the disc. That athleticism translates into defense too, as she can protect the top threat in the opposing D-line after a rare turn. She and her teammate Lola are going to cause problems in Cincinnati and for years to come.
Offensive Player of the Year
WINNER: Walt Jansen, GRUT
Another award, another GRUT victory. Walt has also been one of the best players around and has been part of the awards discussion before. He was a tough cover for years and was exceptional when the Dutch team won the EUCF title in 2021. His mix of height, speed, throwing ability and smarts makes him a cheat code for GRUT and his synergy with his teammates Floor Keulartz and Ben. Oort is a force multiplier for all three. This season he will also be taking his talents to the south side with Chicago Machine so American club teams can see for themselves what Europe has struggled to deal with for years.
Oort said of Jansen: “He’s incredibly fast, I don’t think I’ve ever played with anyone faster than him in the first 10 yards. Then he’s also developed great throws over the years, so he’s the perfect double threat. You have to back him up and once he’s under control he has all the throws. Even in our team there is no real clash for him, so in training it’s just a nightmarish clash. I can imagine that for other opponents it is just as difficult!
Finalist: Erkka Niini, PuTi
Niini has been one of Finland’s most outstanding attacking players for years, previously playing for Otso and the Finnish men’s team. Since switching to mixing with PuTi, he’s added a bit of everything on offense. He brings physicality with his size and speed, but his ability with the disc makes him a well-rounded threat. The PuTi as a team are stable, reliable and crush their opponents. Niini embodies that spirit and will be the first person the defenses will look to slow down in Cincinnati.
Defensive Player of the Year
WINNER: Lasma Kublicka, Salaspils
Kublicka is a former POTY Award winner, but last season she turned her hand to the defensive side of the drive at key times. His battle against POTY finalist Floor Keulatrz in the xEUCF Finals was legend; two of the best players on the continent face off, metaphorically swinging hay at each other with big game after big game. She was beaten a few times but made her mark against one of the best players around and was crucial to Salaspils’ D-line when they secured the Dutch stars’ record. There’s nothing a good player needs that the former Eurostar doesn’t have in the toolbox, and she’s shown that full game again in 2021.
Her teammate Toms Albetins said: “Her mindset is 100% all the time to go get the record, she’s trying to get some takes and doing whatever she can to win. Her mindset is right. to win, she is very competitive and demanding of her team. Even inside, she throws herself a lot. She is a great personality like all great players, they are great personalities and she is like that too.
Finalist: Roni Hotari, PuTi
Another former Otso player, Hotari has been a key defensive player for Finnish teams for some time. He offers the ability to lock in managers, but also play stifling defense on the pitch, throwing himself in for layout blocks at key moments. His ability to take huge clashes and thrive makes it easier for his teammates, as does his ability to shoot. He’s the kind of player a D-line can be built around and he’s central to PuTi’s hopes of reaching the top eight in the WUCC.
Breakout Player of the Year
WINNER: Jonatan Angergard, KFUM Orebro
Despite a difficult tournament for his team, Angergård has established himself as a player of great talent in Brugge. His ability with the disc meant he could control his team’s offense, and defensively he had the ability to challenge anyone he was marked against. Playing it both ways ultimately took its toll, but he showed enough throughout the tournament that it’s clear he has the ability to mix it up with the best in Europe. He and his sister Alva will be central to the fortunes of club and country in the near future.
Teammate Simon Åkerling said: “Playing with Jonatan is always a treat, his awareness on the pitch allows him to be a player you can never relax from. He might not be the loudest of guys, but he’s more showing his ability with the plays he makes, he got us out of some sticky situations. It’s been a treat, so watch this young skinny kid grow into one of Europe’s top players in recent years.
Finalist: Bruno Jorginsons, Salaspils
Another defender who played a key role in the D-line for the Latvians in Brugge, Jorginsons drew against Ben Oort in the final at xEUCF. His play in that match to limit Oort and make things difficult for the Dutch star marked Jorginsons as a player to watch for years to come. Despite giving up some height in Oort, he was able to use the quickness of short space to challenge him in manager space and his wits to clear lanes and repel the attack. He was also a steady hand as a D-line manager, leading the Salaspils attack in their semi-final win over PuTi.