As the sun sets in Edmonton the CUC 2016 adult divisions pass the halfway mark and into playoffs. The Women’s division has already had the first round of eliminations and start semis in the morning. The Open division starts quarterfinals and crossovers in the early morning. Finally, the Masters divisions shall complete pool play on Saturday morning before heading into semi finals and finals later in the day. With all of this action there are a few key games to watch.
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.
CUC Juniors division completed play yesterday with the top programs finishing about where we’d expect them to.
Women’s Top 4:
- Misfit (BC)
- Alpha (BC)
- TORO (ON)
- Bonfire (BC)
Misfit’s win was 14-11 vs Alpha while TORO’s bronze was 15-6 vs Bonfire.
Open Top 4:
- MOFO (MB)
- TORO (ON)
- Bonfire (BC)
- Ignite (ON)
MOFO’s win was 15-11 vs TORO while Bonfire’s bronze was 12-9 vs Ignite.
Both divisions saw strong performances from the major Ultimate centers of Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Ottawa.
Next year’s championships shall be held in Ottawa which shall favor greater participation by teams from the east. We’ll still see teams from the west, especially BC and Winnipeg, so competition should be similar to this year.
Off years, or non-worlds years, feel strange. For some teams it’s merely prep for next year when qualifications for Worlds are decided. For others it’s their first time and it’s the culmination of years of effort; this may also be as far as they make it. But it’s missing something, almost as if we’re recharging. This year CUC 2016, in Edmonton, is missing something more.
Well then! The quadrennial event of teams competing to form the selection committee that represents Canada at WUGC has passed and a number of important outcomes should be discussed. I have a few thoughts from my armchair that I’d like to share with you.
First, it’s the last time that we’ll have a large combined CUC barring one of the big cities stepping up and hosting both gender specific CUCs and Mixed CUCs together. From the sounds of things it went very well and congratulations to all of those that made it or participated in the series. Even if you don’t make it you’re an important part of the community that develops and moves our sport forward.
Ultimate Canada has announced the two locations for CUC 2016. Juniors, Women’s, Open, Women’s Masters, and Open Masters shall be played in Edmonton. Mixed shall be played in Hamilton. CUC was last held in Edmonton in 2001 while Hamilton has never hosted before.
Along with this announcement there have been concerns about splitting the Ultimate community. These concerns were acknowledged in April when the split was announced but it’s worth mentioning a few things. The number of competitive teams is growing in number and as such creates opportunity for a larger championship and/or larger championship series. The number of communities and venues that can host a larger series is limited in number. Tournament hosting fatigue is a real thing and it takes communities half a decade or more to recover sufficiently to host another CUC. Consider that in the next few years we’ll see 100 teams across all divisions at CUC it’s is very difficult to find space and cities to host.
By having all divisions compete at the same venue or community would limit CUC to a handful of locations. Ultimate Canada has taken a step towards resolving the issue. Venue and field pressure is already a problem so the change is perhaps a little bit late in coming. What’s important is to recognize the opportunity that it creates.
WUGC 2016 shall be held at the UCL sports fields in St. Albans, England (this is also where U23s are being held this year) which makes the Canadian Ultimate Championships (CUC), in Winnipeg, all the more exciting and interesting. In case you, the newcomer, didn’t already know: the winner of each division forms four out of five members of the selection committee for that division. As a result the winning team tends to have many of their members on the national squad.
Other players are not excluded as the national roster tends to pickup the best from across Canada. Typically the teams are composed primarily of players from Ontario and British Columbia and tend to be from Toronto or Vancouver. There are also pickups and they tend to be elite players from their own club teams that were defeated by the champion along the way.
What makes OUC 2015 so important is that in every division one of the top two teams is from Ontario. Which makes this the starting point for each of these in their journey to, almost certainly, the Championship game at CUC. Each of the favorites in each division will be looking, should they win, for pickups and that makes OUC and CUC a place to make an impression.
Perhaps more important to those players are not yet National team calibre is that this year is the most competitive ever. Every region in Canada is sending their best teams and competition to get into CUC and then at CUC shall be better than ever. This isn’t an off year like 2014, 2012, 2010 where the best teams in the country decide to attend other tournaments. This is the most important competition and you’ll see teams like Capitals, Traffic, TFP, Union, GOAT, and Furious competing to represent their country. Each game is do or die for them and shall be taken very seriously. As an opponent to those teams you should relish the experience and set a benchmark that you can strive towards.
In general I hope that teams attending all of the Regionals qualifiers shall test the strongest teams out of each region. By doing so each of the teams shall continue to develop Canadian Ultimate and develop the next generation of elite players.
There’s more to write about and I’m going to work on OUC previews, stay tuned over the next week for more.