Chiang Mai Ultimate players take on Manila Spirits
For the first time in Chiang Mai history, several Chiang Mai players teamed up with players from all over Asia and the world, to take on one of the most competitive and fun tournaments in South East Asia, Manila Spirits. Based in the capital city of the Philippines, the Manila Spirits International Tournament is now in it’s 10th year. Welcoming intermediate to advanced ultimate teams from around the globe, it is widely known as the best party tournament in Asia. Huckuna Matata’s team name was inspired by the classic Disney movie, ‘The Lion King,’ and parade majestically around Manila they did.
The Jersey designed by Ekk and Jessica Chen for the Hucknamatata
Hakuna Matata met for the first time on the Saturday morning of the tournament. Fresh off a big win at the Open section with CUUP (China Ultimate United party) on Friday, Adam Lerman stepped into place as the team captain. Ozzie, Ekk and Julia from Chiang Mai joined other players hailing from Malaysia, Abu Dhabi, India, the US, Canada, Singapore, China, Taiwan and Vietnam forming quite the international squad of disc catchers. With total team experience amounting to over half a century, Huckuna Matata’s destined meeting began and the electricity of the moment began flowing.
Alabang Country Club, south of the heart of Manila, was a lovely (if not broiling hot) location to play. After a few introductions and practice throws, Hakuna Matata took on their first opponents, NYP of Singapore. A skillful but young team, NYP put up a good fight but in the end, Huckuna Matata hucked and matata’d their way to victory. Several team cheers based on the award-winning soundtrack of ‘The Lion King’ were created and there were many high-pitched solos emanating from the Matata sideline. Next up was Blaze from Hong Kong, and then Bitag , the local team from the Philippines who the fearless Matatas beat handily.
The first crossover match with the A pool was versus Duo out of Manila, a skillful and quick team. Huckuna members had felt since the beginning when the brackets were announced that they did not belong in the B pool, and were readily anticipating the cross over match – with a W Huckuna could move into the higher pool. Tough battles on each side resulted in a few injuries and with Huckuna losing by 2 points. Spirits were down but not broken as Huckuna walked off the field with heads held high and handsome manes flowing, ready for a few beverages.
Saturday night started off with a flip-cup party at Tune hostel, and then everyone headed for the after party at Google bar. Huckuna Matata dressed classily in matching printed tanks, which made it incredibly easy to find each other throughout the night. This was the perfect venue for socializing with other teams and comparing cross-dressing costumes, but little did the party-goers know that the best was about to come! Several attractive ladies appeared out of nowhere and hopped on some quickly set up stripper poles to show off their skills. As if out of a dream, they flew through the air and displayed amazing feats of flexibility and strength. After their performance, some lady-boy drag queens stepped it up a notch with some song and dance performances, the most memorable being a Beyonce impersonator with unbelievable dance moves and a super stage presence. Self- proclaimed brothers, the Riches of Manila, one time winners of ‘The Amazing Race Asia’ hosted the event and whipped up the crowd into a dancing frenzy. The Philippines players were incredible hospitable, providing guests with drink tickets aplenty and more spirits than a sun-burned ultimate player could hope for. The night faded away into dance parties with a local band and DJ, and a mostly memorable night for Huckuna Matata.
Sunday started with Huckuna shaking off their slight hangovers and jumping right into play. With only 3 lion cubs missing from the pack (after having stayed out a little too late on the savannah), Huckuna took on Tainan Haocool out of Taiwan as the first competitors of the day. However the stars didn’t align for Huckuna that morning and they fell to Haocool. Not so cool! The next two games however were big W’s, and made Huckuna Matata feel that they were destined to be the kings of pride rock. Southbound out of Philippines were the 2nd competitors of the day and lastly YanWhyPee out of Singapore. The last game was especially memorable as most of the pride was feeling extreme heat exhaustion due to the incredible mugginess that descended in the afternoon. Lion cubs could be seen huddling under the shade of nearby signs and larger lions. Ending the day with a victory felt right for Huckuna Matata; their team building efforts were rewarded.
The ‘Circle of Life’ post game wrap up was a huge hit. Love and good times were flowing around the circle as players gave shout outs to others for big hucks, big moves and even bigger hearts and spirits during the games. Newer players were recognized for their improvements and positive attitudes, more experienced players were recognized for their stability, confidence and spirit. Huckuna meshed well together, despite the fact that many had just met each other. The Philippines Ultimate committee provided each player with a bag, jersey, hat, disc and sticker, which was more than generous and greatly appreciated by the hat-less and shirt-less of the day.
The final game was quite the showdown. Ending on universe point, Mixed Nuts out of Manila and the Boracay Dragons gave the crowd an Ultimate game that will go down in history. Incredible sky’s, big D’s and unbelievably accurate hucks made the on-lookers wonder where these two teams found their energy and intensity to play a final after 2 days in the oppressive heat. One stand out player on Mixed Nuts was Kat, out of the Australia. Her speed was a match for any guy. She was amazing to watch, she was jumping high and D’ing people all over the field; she played a mean cutter and skilled handler; she scored easily and frequently. In the end, Mixed Nuts came out on top, to the dismay of the crowd who had been mainly rooting for the Dragons out of Boracay. No matter the result, it was a truly amazing game to watch as the skills on both sides.
Huckuna Matata was a high-spirited and fun team. Hopefully the stars will align again and Huckuna will join another tournament together in the future.
Huckunamatata members tends to meet each other again every tournament later on to keep rocking the disc in South East Asia .. see you guys around
Vietnam Hat 2013, Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam
Ekk, Alice, Jason, Julia C, Tat, Ryan
Chiangmai Hat 2014 , Chiang Mai – Thailand
Jason, Joanna, Jess, Julia M, Adam, Ozzie, Ekk
Bangkok Hat2 014 , Bangkok – Thailand
Will , Ozzie , Ryan, Sid, Tat, Julia C, Jason, Kim, Ekk, Mondster, – Julia M