OUC 2015 – Open Preview

Number of teams: 10
Number of bids to CUC: 6

Teams along with their seed:

  1. GOAT (GTA)
  2. Phoenix (Ottawa)
  3. Grand Trunk (GTA)
  4. NADS (North Bay)
  5. Too Bad (GTA)
  6. Maverick (Waterloo Region)
  7. BOAT (GTA)
  8. Shrike (Ottawa)
  9. Goose (Waterloo Region)
  10. Swift (Ottawa)

Now, onto the details and the bold predictions. GOAT, known primarily as the team that plays in the US, shall play in their first tournament north of the border in over 3 years (fact checking may be needed here). Seriously though, they’re guaranteed a spot going to CUC barring a catastrophe. They’re not necessarily guaranteed first as they could turn up with a short roster like they did at the US Open. Of course, at the US Open they beat a few above average teams like Johnny Bravo (2014 US Club Champions) with that short roster so perhaps they’ll take the first and second seed just because they can.

If GOAT was not to win the finals then the team that most certainly would is Phoenix. Perennial underdogs despite multiple appearances in the CUC Open finals they bring an aggressive style and attitude that keeps them near the top of the rankings after they qualify. Phoenix is a solid pick for CUC as either the #1 or #2 seed out of Ontario.

After the first two spots it gets a little bit more complicated. The following six teams have a good shot at the final 4 bids: Grand Trunk, NADS, Too Bad, Maverick, BOAT, and Shrike. For those teams finishing second in their pool guarantees that they’ll head to CUC. Finishing 3rd means they have to win one game on Sunday, and finishing fourth in your pool means having to win 3 games on Sunday.

In Pool A Grand Trunk (GT) shall face Maverick and BOAT who have a good chance of upsetting GT. In the past few years the Toronto touring system has had a breakdown and this year ROY melted and many players formed up as BOAT. The capability and skill level of BOAT is significantly better than ROY and there have been some close results recently that indicate that BOAT should be a serious concern in Pool A for all teams.

Maverick has had a bit of turnover with a loss of top players taking a break or moving onto Masters. They, having a system (The Academy), have drawn on players from Goose who already understand the play style and are thus able to be effective immediately. Still, the loss of leaders and top players means that running the same styles of play are no longer viable and means that the team shall need to dig deep on tough games. The youth and athleticism should be a worry for other teams. The matchup against BOAT should go Maverick’s way.

All of this poses a bit of a problem for GT as the number two seed in their pool they’re now looking at strong challenges that may makes more difficult than expected. They have a target on their back from BOAT who’s playing with a chip on their shoulder; a close result will prove that GT is not as strong as it could have been. Maverick has had a history of tight and tough games with GT and is also well positioned to take them on. All in all this is potentially a very difficult Saturday for GT.

Before we switch to pool B a quick introduction: Swift. Ottawa Open went and decided to make a system…sort of (again, more about systems in another post). Swift is the #3 team in Ottawa’s new system comprised of former Firebird (Open), Ignite (Junior Open), and other players. The three teams in this system are: Pheonix, Shrike, and Swift. This tournament shall, no doubt, be a great one for experience seeing as how they’ll play against 4 excellent teams. The matchup against GOAT should be an experience they should keep their heads up for and learn as much as possible as such experiences are rare.

Switching to pool B we have Phoenix, NADS, Too Bad, Shrike, and Goose. We’ve already spoken about Phoenix and while NADS have had relatively close first half games in the past this year the 0830 start is not favorable for those from North Bay. Phoenix shall have no trouble in this pool and storm through.

NADS is a bit of an interesting case as they will have to contend with strong challenges from Too Bad and Shrike but not nearly anywhere close to what GT has to face in pool A. The NADS have an aggressive style that focuses on shoulder to shoulder play with abandon for personal well being. It’s a fun style that teams can have trouble adjusting to. The format of games also supports them with their toughest opponent being Shrike in the second to last game of the day. Too Bad is a familiar foe and while the game may grind they should come out on top.

Too Bad is in a tough position as many of their top handlers have moved to Masters, Mixed, or other Open teams. The team may also be short rostered this weekend which makes it a challenge for them to hold onto 3rd seed in the pool. Still, this team has a battle hardened leader, Harry Burkman, who manages to guide the team into CUC on almost every occasion. Expect this team to play a lot of zone and take advantage of mis-steps. They seem to be able to grind teams down and make games feel much longer than they actually are. Expect a 3rd or 4th place finish from them in pool B. If they finish 4th then they should be in the game to go on Sunday.

Brand new, but still somewhat familiar, is Shrike. With a new roster with new players they’re quite capable of taking the #2 seed in pool B. They should be able to have a great matchup against Too Bad and also challenge NADS in their afternoon game. What remains to be seen with this team is just how far they’ve separated themselves from the past and whether the new system can actually give them results. Expect a 3rd place or 4th place finish from them and an appearance in the game to go.

Finally, we can chat about Goose. The second team in the Academy they’re truly part of a system that works together to develop players. They’ll learn quite a bit from Phoenix and it’s important for them to keep playing hard as it has produced results in the past. In fact they’re in contention to CUC and we could see a number of upsets on Sunday that could put them in the game to go. They also have a strong case for taking out either Too Bad or Shrike on Saturday in which case we’ll see a very competitive Sunday.

If things fall along seeding then Sunday will likely see Too Bad, Maverick, BOAT, Shrike, and BOAT duking it out ahead of the game to go and then two of them in the game to go. Goose is the most likely out of the last set of teams to have a shot to get to the game to go. This year, though, we’ve seen new systems created, old systems crumble, and a graduation in leadership to the point where it’s very hard to make any predictions. All of this means a much more exciting and competitive weekend. One fly in the ointment: 5 mm of rain expected on Sunday, could lead to interesting playing conditions and make the games all that much closer.

Here’s how I see the weekend wrapping up:

  1. GOAT
  2. Phoenix
  3. Maverick
  4. Grand Trunk
  5. NADS*
  6. BOAT
  7. Shrike
  8. Too Bad
  9. Goose
  10. Swift

* I am playing with this team.

Games to watch on Saturday:

If you’re learning and have the time then watch every single GOAT game. Not only that, talk to the players on the sideline and ask them meaningful questions. You don’t need to cheer for them or become friends, just study their game to see how they cut, what the players are looking at and how they communicate. Also, don’t watch the person holding the disc most of the time, watch the players downfield.

1200 – Field 6b: Too Bad vs Shrike. The 3 and 4 seeds in the pool, the winner has a good chance at 2nd.

1530 – Field 6a: NADS vs Shrike: If the noon game goes well for Shrike then a win here shall put them into 2nd and guarantee a bid to CUC.

1530 – Fields 1a and 1b: Grand Trunk vs BOAT and GOAT vs Maverick. The main game to watch is GT vs BOAT.

1715 – Field 1a: Grand Trunk vs Maverick. Winner of this game is likely to be the 2nd seed out of the pool.

1715 – Field 6a: If both NADS and Too Bad hold seed then the winner of this game is guaranteed a spot to CUC.

 

Games to watch on Sunday:

1200 – Field 1a: Finals between GOAT and Phoenix. Already calling this but it should not be a surprise. GOAT, depending upon roster size, is a heavy favorite.

1345 – Field 6b: Game to go.

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