We arrived in Wroclaw with a day to spare. After an acclimatisation beer en route and finding the hostel we checked in. Once changed and we’d freshened up we headed out to refresh our memory of the town.
We found a suitable establishment nearby and began the evening. The weather was wet but the town is more than fun enough to compensate. We made sure we were all loaded up with DreadLAX business cards and after a night of making friends and building up support for our assault on the tournament we headed home to find the rest our team had arrived after a long journey from Norway via Prague.
In the morning we awoke fresh faced and introduced everyone to our reinforcements from Skandinavia. After a morning coffee the advance party found the weather was too damp for anything other than a team bonding and chalk and talk session, to preserve top condition of our athletes going into the tournament, so settled in a pub near the hostel while the stragglers dragged themselves up to face the day.
Some of the group sampled the local cuisine and we all chatted shop and our plans for the team line up for the morning, it became apparent we had quite a team here this year. By early afternoon the DreadLINE was ringing off the hook and we met up with our official photographer and fan club to get some food as a team. After some more rainy exploring (causing some slip and slide on the beautiful cobbled streets) we managed to sample some more of Poland’s finest brews before heading back to the hostel to regroup for a night out with the local team.
Two of the local players (and future DreadLAXers) came to pick us up from the hostel and lead us to the sponsor pub to meet the rest of the teams out for a pre-tournament beer. Over the evening we played some games, made some friends out and dished lots of business cards.
A great night was had by all (possibly some more than others) and we left everyone in no doubt that we had come to have as much fun off the field as we had to play hard on it.
Saturday was the start of the main event and we headed to the fields, pleased that the wet weather had been replaced by glorious sunshine. We arrived nice and early to get some playing time with each other given the variety of clubs and nations being represented. The tournament organisers obviously remembered us from last year and decided to test us with the first game. Once we’d dished out kit to everyone it was fairly obvious that we were the best looking team there so we put down the megaphone and took to the field.
The morning would see us play two back to back group games against the youthful Polish Spartans of Oświęcim and then the Belgrade Zombies. DreadLAX came out on top 7-1 and 6-1 to win the group and set up a meeting with the runners up in the tricky group B containing the Rotterdam Jaguars and the Bratislava Tricksters. Tricksters came out 7-0 victors from the deciding game to set DreadLAX up with a quarter final match against our friends from Rotterdam, a team containing some past and future DreadLAXers.
We had to wait until 5:15 for the game and we feared the delay may work against us given the presence of a beer tent on site and the glorious sunshine.
We made our way to the pitch and played some wonderful attacking lacrosse with Niklas (Norway) coming into his own on the face off and the middie lines in general hustling hard to win every ground ball. We ran out 7-1 winners off some great goals by Remi (Poland) and Aksell (King Louis, Norway) and a huge first five minutes of the second half sealing the win and our lie in for Sunday morning with the semis not starting until 11:30.
After a few celebratory beers at the ground we were helped out in booking cabs by one of the local players and our official photographer via a local speedway bar. The Saturday night was the official tournament party at the same pub as we’d visited the previous evening. We arrived starving from the day’s play and so had a quick meal in a local restaurant and then joined the party in Winners bar.
After some drinking games and some forced vodka shots from the tournament organisers we joined the crowd outside to mingle. There was a birthday amongst one of the ladies teams so after a Polish birthday song we started a rendition of Happy Birthday followed by a special performance of You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling. After leaving the bar we joined some of the other teams in a club to be shown up on the dance floor, bar for some outstanding ballroom tekkers we seemed to have developed. We left much lighter on dice and business cards but it was good to share some drinks and dancing with the day’s opposition.
We arrived on Sunday to find another lovely day and also the good news that they had re-stocked the beer tent from the day before. We had our first game at 11:30 and made sure we were fully warmed up for what we expected to be a tough game against last year’s winners the Headhunters. We started strong with some more excellent work in midfield, despite some tired legs and less than fresh looking eyes we took a 4-1 lead into half time. The Headhunters fought back in the second half to open up a single goal lead at 5-4 but with minutes to go in the game we had our equaliser and went into sudden death overtime.
Just under a minute into the first two minute period we scored from a great attacking move, with King Louis earning his name with a beautiful right to left split and rip and took our place in the final and a guaranteed improvement on last year’s placing.
We had a short wait before our final which we now knew would be against early tournament favourites Bratislava Tricksters. Those unfamiliar with the Tricksters should check them out at future tournaments, they play a high pace game inspired by a large box contingent and they are previous winners of both the Silesia Cup and the Austrian Open. We knew we had a tough game on our hands but had played some great lacrosse ourselves over the weekend so went into the game with high hopes.
The heat was a factor for both teams with the 2:15 start and the game was extended to four 15 minute quarters. The Tricksters came out firing and burnt us on a number of fast breaks and some indiscipline from DreadLAX gave them opportunities on man up play. We went into the second half needing to take the game by the scruff of its neck to get the result but the Tricksters kept coming and in the end had too much for us on the day with two nice goals in the last 5 minutes sealing the defeat at 9-4.
The Trickster’s number 26 deservedly won MVP of the tournament after a sterling performance in both midfield and defence against us in the final.
After a few warm down beers and some trading of battle stories the closing ceremony crowned the Tricksters as deserved champions and they were presented with a discount to the ArchLevel Factory.
As everyone made their way from the field we arranged our final night in Wroclaw with some of the players from the various Polish teams still in town. After finishing off the last of the tournament beers we headed back to the hostel to regroup with our fan club and headed to the original bar we’d found on Friday morning to await the Polish contingent.
We played our last games of three man for the weekend and did some last minute recruiting for future tours as various people joined throughout the evening until we had a good group of us on the patio of the bar. As the night wore on things got a great deal more Polish with the vodka coming out and being drunk in the traditional manner, tables were filled with beer and we utilised a great deal of the bars 24 hour licence.
As per the rules further details on the nights out shall remain shrouded in mystery (unless you happen to find us at the next tour) but the weekend was as perfect as we could wish a tour to be; sunny, good lacrosse being played and most importantly good friends being made.
All pictures courtesy of Alexandra Sokolowska