The adult divisions, aside from Mixed, kick off play today in sunny Edmonton with great weather expected for the next few days. Let me rephrase that, it’s great weather if you like sunshine, inconsequential wind, and temperature in the mid-20s. Some of us prefer more adverse conditions but I guess this shall do. Anyways, the big story for this tournament is that masters teams are poaching from the younger divisions…or something like that.
In 2015 Ultimate Canada expanded the Women’s division to 16 teams. This year there are 12 teams participating in that division. The most probable explanation is that being an off year teams are not as inclined to make the journey due to the expense. Actually, that’s not the case as Québec has sent 4 teams: Vénus, QUBC, Storm, and Mystik. Ontario is sending TOX6ix as the sole representative whilePPF, Stella, and 6ixers elected to play in the US series over the past few weeks or this upcoming weekend. Many of the Ontario Women’s players are members of teams at CUC Mixed next week. Looking to Atlantic Canada the expense is significant while there are closer tournaments at home for development. The result is a slimmed down division this year that looks to rebound to 16 for next year. That begs the question: what do we have to do to ensure that 16 teams participate in this division in 2018?
The distance and expense of travel has also impacted the Open division with 14 teams rather than 16. Missing big names include GOAT, Furious, Phoenix, and Mephisto as well as a host of teams from the east that we normally see. Many of these big names are playing in the US series but for most there distance and expense has resulted in lower numbers. The west is taking advantage with 9 teams from Manitoba through to BC. The lack of 16 teams means we must ask the same question that we did with the Women’s division: what do we have to do to ensure that 16 teams participate in this division in 2018?
The Masters divisions are having no such issue, yet. Both divisions have 8 teams with a mix of talent. The elite teams that we saw last year are taking a break or played in the US championships last weekend. Mint (MB,3), who did play in the US championships, is sending a squad but only 8 players from that squad are crossing over meaning it will not be as strong as last weekend. That said, there’s wide opportunity for anybody to claim gold this year. In Open, NSOM (QC,2) will be the team to watch as they’ve finished well in the past few years. Republic (BC,6) may have an outside shot but they may be more suited for Grand Masters play soon. In Women’s Eclipse (ON,1) tops the ranks but shall face strong challenge from the local Edmonton team Throwback (AB,2).
In non-Masters Open and Women’s play the first seed in each division has gone to teams from Vancouver. Mio Grape (Open) and Sneaky House Hippos (Women’s) are both composed of many Furious and Traffic players respectively. Both teams have added less familiar players to their rosters so the name changes are warranted. In the Open division General Strike (MB) takes the 2nd seed while Grand Trunk (ON) takes the 3rd seed. I feel like this might be the year that General Strike is able to breakthrough for gold. They’ve been close before, CUC 2012 Victoria, but with young talent across the field the gold nowhere near certain. In the Women’s division Sneaky House Hippos (BC,1) have much more experience and at least one full finals ready veteran line. Both Fusion (MB,2) and Vénus (QC,3) also have significant experience but of the two Fusion is most likely to face the Hippos in the finals. All around we’re looking at an interesting few days coming up.
The teams not in the top 3, apologies for the lack of words, but there is significant opportunity to rise and fall in the ranks. The results this of this week shall impact bids next year and a high finish is important for your region. Which is why the lack of representation from Ontario in the Women’s division is going to be a heavy cost next year. The most unfortunate outcome would be that TOX6ix finishes well enough to earn a 3rd bid for Ontario only to be knocked out by 6ixers, PPF, or Stella. Québec Open faces a similar issue with only Magma (7) playing in Edmonton meaning a tough Regionals next year.
So while it’s an off year there’s plenty to play for and I look forward to the next few days. Good luck to all teams.
Also published on Medium.