OUC 2015 – Open Master’s Preview

Number of teams: 4
Number of bids to CUC: 2

Teams along with their seed:

  1. Shepherds (GTA)
  2. The Forgotten (GTA)
  3. Iron Crow (Ottawa)
  4. Silverbacks (Hamilton)

Four teams enter, two teams leave. Except that’s not a fair analogy as this weekend one of those bids is virtually guaranteed to the Shepherds while the other three teams compete for the second bid.

Let’s start out with why the Shepherds have a lock on first out of Ontario and are also likely to be in the finals at CUC: the roster. The majority of names on that list consist of former GOAT players, Worlds team members, and Masters team members that have finished top 4 at USA Ultimate Club Championships. This is a team that I would love to see play against GOAT in a one game exhibition. Heck, if this team played in the Open division I would be hard pressed to find reasons not to call them as a favorite to play in the finals.

Of the three remaining teams the matches should be close but some key differences can be found. Silverbacks have a short roster with relative inexperience in Open. Many of the players come from a Mixed background and for some this is their first season playing. There are a few wily players on the team and there is also good chemistry, unfortunately the team as a whole doesn’t play Open Ultimate and that’s going to make for tough goings. This is a good year to build on experience and get ready for next year as there’s going to be a strength bid next year as well. There is an upset possible against the 3rd seed though.

Iron Crow, it appears, is well positioned to upset The Forgotten for the second seed as they came quite close last year in the OUC finals. While they have experience playing together they have had a rough weekend at JazzFest where they finished just below Hydro (Juniors team from Québec) and just above Magma 3 (probably the #4 or #5 Open team out of Montréal). The results from JazzFest could be an anomaly but it’s a difficult one to ignore. The close game last year could be attributed to a lack of focus on the part of The Forgotten. The inconsistent results lead me to believe that they are much more likely to be upset by Silverbacks than they to upset The Forgotten.

Finally, The Forgotten, the team that made it to CUC finals in 2014 (Waterloo) and finished with a silver. Their performance earned Ontario a strength bid that they now need to fight for as Shepherds decided to enter the division. As a team they seem to lack a cohesive playing style which is also probably one of the reasons why they’re difficult to play against. The mix of Toronto styles leads to inconsistent offense and defense until things click. When the team clicks they play a flowing offense which gives them the ability to jump out to quick leads. For the most part they’re gritty and tend to grind out points. They’re a favorite for the second bid and the format of the tournament appears to help them towards it.

The tournament format has a round robin on the first day with all of the teams playing each other. The second day has the 1st and 2nd place teams, after a reseed, and 3rd and 4th place teams playing each other with the loser of the higher seeds game playing the winner of the lower seeds. In terms of energy there shall probably be more expended in the 3/4 game as the 1/2 game should finish fairly quickly. The loser of the 1/2 game should be fresher for the game to go.

Here’s how I see it playing out:

Shepherds vs The Forgotten in the 1/2 game with Iron Crow and Silverbacks in the 3/4. The Forgotten saves their energy and plays a slightly tired Iron Crow in the game to go. There is a good possibility that Silverbacks beat Iron Crow in the 3/4 game if lines are called throughout the game but the lack of players would mean that the game to go would not be a close match.

Final results:

  1. Shepherds(1)
  2. The Forgotten(2)
  3. Iron Crow(3)
  4. Silverbacks(4)

Games to watch on Saturday:

Watch Shepherds all day on fields 2a and 2b, there are many players that are still capable of playing on GOAT and some of these guys drew up their playbooks. Once again, watch the players downfield and not the handlers, watch how they cut and what they look at.

Games to watch on Sunday:

1015 – Field 3b: The 3/4 game. The winner of this game has a chance at CUC, the loser is out. It’s win or go home.

1200 – Field 3b: The game to go. Expect fireworks and plenty of calls. Observers shall have their hands full and won’t be able to do much to control the game because the players don’t care about TMFs.