On Saturday morning thirteen (13) Mixed teams from across Ontario gathered in Belleville Ontario to compete for the six (6) bids to CUC 2011 in Ottawa. The reports have filtered back and we know the results and issues teams have faced. So, let’s dive in starting with the results:
- Train Wreck
- Bytown Flatball Club
- Quick & Dirty
The top six qualify for CUC 2011 in Ottawa.
Now, for some analysis.
For those of you that have a good memory you may remember a few posts written recently that may have touched a few nerves. Fortunately, there are more left to touch upon.
The Second Six
Before getting into the six that qualified let’s take a look at those that did not. In any Regional Championship it’s important for there to be competition. I am happy to see that there was competition in Ontario in the Mixed division and that twelve teams wanted to compete. Practices and league games are too few in frequency and intensity, nothing improves a player like tournament play.
Each of the teams gained valuable experience and play so far in the season has shown that each was quite close to that sixth spot. GLIDE, which finished 7th, lost their Sunday morning game to BFC 9-8; BFC finished 4th. YARRR (8th) lost 11-9 to GLIDE but also beat Union on Saturday 10-9. YARRR also lost to Zen on Saturday 9-8 with Zen finishing 6th overall.
Overall a balanced tournament with tiers that made the final spot very competitive.
The Other Six
Let’s focus a bit more evaluating the top six now. Union, Train Wreck, MuD, BFC, PRODiGY, and Zen will represent Ontario in Ottawa in less than one month.
Zen – 6th
Snagging the final spot in a competitive division this Zen is stronger and faster than in previous years. This Zen+ (to use currently trending vernacular) team is not due to the GTA consolidation. Certainly Zen has benefited with some pickups that are not playing on Union but primarily it’s been years of development. I recall the Zen from 2007 and watching that Zen develop over the years. In 2008 Zen took on some brand new players that they have retained and developed into effective cutters. Offense does not materialize overnight and it takes years to develop cutting systems that can adapt. Zen is not an elite team as they tend to lose elite players to the next level up but they are strong as a group.
The Regionals record shows that Zen will have trouble against the top teams and will have many close games against teams in their tier. They should be able to challenge for 9th if everything clicks for them. Mixed Up will be an enlightening experience as they’ll see many of the teams that will challenge them towards the end of the tournament. It is my hope that Zen digs in and makes the power pool on Friday.
PRODiGY – 5th
My Dark Horse pick for the top four at CUC starts out with a terrible fifth place finish. For all practical purposes this Mayhem like team (sans Mackie at this tournament) has dominated in the past. They finished fourth last year and have gone tete-a-tete with MONSTER and Big Hammers since the last World’s year. Their kryptonite appears to be a combined MONSTER and Big Hammers teams (aka Union). Will this change if and when Mackie returns to the field? I hope so as it’s a far more interesting match.
Mayhem games have been interesting affairs as they’re terribly inconsistent, PRODiGY continues this grand tradition. On Saturday they beat BFC 9-7 while on Sunday they lost to them 12-8. They started Sunday with a 15-5 loss to Union and then forced MuD to a close match before losing 13-12. Overall a lackluster performance that I’m sure they’re more disappointed with than anybody else. Still, the wildcard is how this team performs when Mackie is around. I’ve had first hand experience in how balanced a team can be with him and how unbalanced they are without. Still, the unbalanced PRODiGY made it to CUC comfortably.
Bytown Flatball Club – 4th
Defying expectations that they would fold after the arrival of Train Wreck BFC shows that it is a power to be contended with and a strong one at that. Former Liquid captain Justin Lee continues his tenure and holds a strong set of cards. Facing a big challenge on Saturday from Train Wreck and PRODiGY they finished with a 3-2 record and an uncertain future. Previous results (a loss to Zen at Comedy of Errors) left many options for Sunday morning.
Needing two wins on Sunday to guarantee their spot they started out with a tight 9-8 win over GLIDE followed by 12-7 over Zen. Already qualified for Nationals they made their first round potentially easier by capping the day by beating PRODiGY and moving up one spot from seed to 4th. The problem with BFC is that the last few years have been lackluster. In 2007 a powerhouse BFC team surprised many by making the finals in Toronto. Since then there have been many expectations but unfortunately they just haven’t managed to sync up. The players are great but they can’t seem to connect, most of the time. It’s that strength of theirs that when they manage to sync up they become extremely dangerous to the high level teams.
At CUC they should be able to make the power pools and if they have a good game or two they’ll be into the top eight.
MuD – 3rd
There is no surprise that MuD is as high as they are. They finished seventh last year and their finish at Regionals places them well for another top 8 finish at CUC. Shaky games early in the season were not indicative as several key players have been missing at various times. Their first major tournament of the season, has a positive result for them. Unfortunately a few key results reveal much.
MuD has consistently had trouble with Union with close matches. MuD simply has not been able to overcome the small gap that’s needed to beat the first seed and time will tell if they can pull it off. However, the games against Union have been relatively low scoring. On Saturday an 8-6 loss reflects a highly competitive game. The other major issue MuD has is slow mornings. MuD is very competitive later in the day but in the morning they are quite vulnerable. On Saturday they won 10-9 against GLIDE and 10-8 against YARRR both of which did not make CUC. MuD’s last game of Saturday was against Zen whom they cleaned up 11-4. Sunday morning was much the same with Train Wreck beating them 15-3 while a later encounter in the day (for 2nd) was much closer with Train Wreck winning 11-8. If MuD can start their days the way they end them they should do well in Ottawa.
Train Wreck – 2nd
Young cocky team takes second seed out of Ontario. Is there anything else left to say? It’s hard to say much with a team that performs consistently at a high level. Saturday results were quite favourable for a high finish and the results are indicative for a team with players that have finals experience. There should be little doubt as to the elite status of Train Wreck. Their only loss in the tournament was in the finals to Union on Universe.
So far the only challenges to Train Wreck have been the Quebec teams and Union. The close result shows that any future matchup could tilt in their favour. It remains to be seen what Train Wreck can bring next time to challenge for the top four.
Union – 1st
With a fantastic Universe point dig Union took the top seed out of Ontario and what will likely be second seed into CUC. Well positioned to finish in the top four they may be riding high but they have many obstacles to overcome. There is no doubt as to the athleticism and drive of the players on the team. What I and others question is their ability to maintain focus after a hard game.
On Saturday Union edged out MuD 8-6 in pool play in a tough match. Immediately following they lost to YARRR 10-9 in the only major upset of the tournament. It’s an upset because YARRR finished 8th overall and also because the style the YARRR guys play is similar to that of the Quebec Open teams. It’s of great concern for a high level team and it would be unfortunate if it happened at an inopportune time such as power pool play.
On Sunday Union started strong with a 15-5 win over PRODiGY followed by a Universe point win over Train Wreck. I wish that they had played another game after that to see if the YARRR event was one off but that game remains the only uncertainty for Union with regards to a top four finish at CUC.
The next event for almost all of the qualifiers will be Mixed Up in Ottawa. We should get a good idea of how they fare again the Quebec teams as well as each other in the 1.5 weeks ahead of Nationals. Till then I hope they stay safe and train hard.