Thunder's Belgian/Dutch lineup and SportLoto from Russia have been in an internal race for the unofficial title of the best amateur team in the world in the past years. This duel included indoor and outdoor meets where both teams competed at the same time and at the same place.
Two other teams have been mentioned with the same topic over the recent years. US team DNR posted a 20.7 average at the USPA Nationals 2012 when Thunder and SportLoto finished with 21.8 - 21.2 at the World Cup 2012. Paratec-Saar has scored above 20-average several times, and the new lineup with Petra van Overveld won with a 20.2 average in Germany last year.
World Cup 2012 Rd. 1 Rd. 2 Rd. 3 Rd. 4 Rd. 5 Rd. 6 Rd. 7 Rd. 8 Rd. 9 Rd. 10 Total Avg Rank AAA Class 1,19,2 14,18,15 N,16,20 E,6,J,A C,K,9,13 F,8,11 Q,22,L,21 B,17,H,P 12,D,0,4 G,10,7 Total Avg 2 Thunder (BE) 20 17 20 24 27 20 20 31 20 19 218 21.8 3 SportLoto (RU) 16 17 21 29 20 19 20 31 19 20 212 21.2 USPA Nationals 2012 Rd. 1 Rd. 2 Rd. 3 Rd. 4 Rd. 5 Rd. 6 Rd. 7 Rd. 8 Rd. 9 Rd. 10 Total Avg Rank AAA Class 3,B,K,H F,7,22 O,4,D,13 A,M,11,8 N,P,G,19 L,20,1 5,16,J 6,21,12 18,17,10 E,C,Q,15 Total Avg 5 DNR (US) 26 22 19 22 22 17 23 15 17 24 207 20.7 Mondial Dubai 2012 Rd. 1 Rd. 2 Rd. 3 Rd. 4 Rd. 5 Rd. 6 Rd. 7 Rd. 8 Rd. 9 Rd. 10 Total Avg Rank AAA Class 5,12,E 6,D,B,K O,8,7 N,13,18 10,21,M 19,H,11 C,G,1,A 20,9,15 16,F,P,Q 2,J,4 Total Avg 8 Paratec-Saar (DE) 18 26 21 13 14 16 21 18 30 - 177 19.7
Germany's national team of 2004, EADS, earned this unofficial title for the first time after the world Meet 2004 in Croatia, where Olaf Biedermann, Jens Goennemann, Goeran Meyer and Thomas Spielvogel left Spa Hayabusa, Endeavour from Switzerland, Arcteryx from Norway and the DaneZ from Denmark behind with an 18.3 average in 5th lace.
Arcteryx and Hayabusa placed ahead of EADS two years later at the World Meet 2006 in Germany before Roy Janssen, Andy and David Grauwels turned professional by joining the Belgian military services.
That changed in 2010 when Paratec-Saar finished in 7th place with a 22.0 average at the World Meet 2010 in Menzelinsk, Russia. The original lineup was now the second German team in serious contention for the world's unofficial amateur title, and they confirmed it a year later with bronze medals at the World Cup 2011.
It was the same year when Thunder and SportLoto came into the amateur picture, Thunder after a 20.1 average at the Tomscat Trophy, and SportLoto after a 21.9 average at the national championships. Both teams had their first direct showdown earlier the same year at the World Challenge 2011.
SportLoto struck back by three points a year later in Bedford but did not compete at any outdoor meets, and Thunder was the world's best amateur team again last year. The 2014 season brings the three teams (Thunder, SportLoto, Paratec-Saar) together for the first time at the World Challenge 2014. Thunder has been looking for this opportunity as long as the team has been training and competing.
However, the situation is not the same, as Paratec-Saar's lineup has changed. Thunder and SportLoto are coming back with the same lineups as in 2012 and 2013, while the German team has two new members. Petra van Overveld won the national 4way title last year, while Dennis Gottschalk joined the lineup for the 2014 season and competes for the first time with Paratec-Saar in Bedford. Realistically, the Germans will try to keep within striking distance of the two top amateur teams of the last two years.