CUC 2011 Masters Preview

In 2007 Tombstone won CUC in Toronto against Ottawa.  Tombstone subsequently retired, to some degree, and showed no signs of life until earlier this year.  Likewise, teams established twenty years ago (like Nomads) have dusted off the cleats and are returning to the big stage.

This year the Masters division will be the most competitive in perhaps a decade, more competitive then 4 years ago and it promises to be exciting.

Pool A

  1. Tombstone – Ontario/Toronto
  2. Nomads – BC/Victoria
  3. GLUM – Ontario/Ottawa
  4. FIGJAM – Alberta/Calgary
  5. Flood – Prairies/Winnipeg
  6. NSOM – Quebec/Montreal
  7. EPIC – Alberta/Calgary
  8. Scotch – Atlantic/Halifax

With a single pool and round robin play determining which four teams move into semis every game takes on great importance; there’s little room to recover.

Tombstone is composed of a solid group of veterans that have played at the top level for years, although many have not recently.  Their plan to attend few tournaments was an overwhelming success as some tournaments in the region were canceled due to rain.  Nevertheless Tombstone snagged first seed at Regionals and take first seed overall into CUC.  They are on shaky ground as even though they beat GLUM at Regionals they lost the next day at No Borders (No Borders Saturday was Masters Regionals before those teams rejoined the main pack).  They have a long road ahead of them with plenty of equals between them and the championship.

Celebrating their 20th year as a team Nomads will bring proper old school Ultimate to the fields in Ottawa.  In their own words their roster “comes together out of the past from far and wide, free of practice and full of muscle-memory”.  It’s the laid back ones that you have to be careful of and taking second seed after not attending a tournament since 2008 Nationals nor practicing since 2004 tells us that there’s a whole lotta truth in their statement.  Also hampered by the rain the Nomads haven’t played together all that often but conditioning shouldn’t be an issue as they’re bringing their largest roster ever (influences of a World’s year).  Other teams would be well advised to be wary of these hippies.

At Ontario Regionals GLUM had a tough second half in the finals and lost to Tombstone 15-8.  The next day they bounced back and defeated Tombstone 14-12.  They may be a little inconsistent but they’re also, mostly, the team that finished third in the Masters division at the USA Ultimate Championships in Sarasota.  The second day victory puts them at even par with Tombstone and makes the top three a very crowded place.  Unlike other teams in this division GLUM practices twice a week and train together at lunch when possible.  GLUM also has toured much more than their opponents by playing in Cazenovia and Boston in addition to No Borders/Regionals.  They will be a formidable force and hometown favourites, I expect plenty of local support to show up.

FIGJAM appears as fourth in seeding with a strong and solid squad.  They’ve played a few tournaments, challenged the local Open team (The Ghosts) on several occasions, and practiced well.  This is the fourth year of basically the same group of players and chemistry developed should pay dividends.  Last year FIGJAM played GLUM in the finals and while the result was one sided there was a late drive that showed strength in their game.  It’s an exciting World’s year but FIGJAM is focused upon GLUM with whom they’ve developed a friendly rivalry.  Going up against the hometown favourites with all the disadvantages, including a 49 year old with haemorrhoids and a bad scoober (direct quote!), it should be a fierce and friendly match.  FIGJAM will though be looking to hold position rather than move up.

Coming in at fifth is Flood who have a team that resembles last years but may be a bit weaker.  The team practices and challenges General Strike every chance they get and if their captains are around it can be a tossup.  They can challenge FIGJAM to move up into the top four but FIGJAM is likely too strong for that.  Looking to continue developing experience Flood will have good matches against the teams in close proximity above and below themselves.

In their second year NSOM heads to one of the most competitive CUCs in quite some time.  Facing a low seed partially due to a lack of matchups but also early injuries in the season they’re now looking to challenge for the top four.  NSOM defeated Quantum Québec/Québec) in a best of three games Regionals 12-6 and 15-8 to take the single spot to CUC.  Drawing from the AUM system they sport plenty of experience and bring no superstars just plenty of hard workers.  While they’re gunning for Nomads they should be able to challenge FIGJAM.

Rounding out the Masters division are EPIC and Scotch.  While both of these teams do have some experience on their side it’s unlikely that they’ll challenge any teams other than each other.  It’s tough to play hard game after hard game but the tournament should be an excellent experience for both teams.

Post Pool Play

It’s hard to call the top four as Tombstone, Nomads, GLUM, FIGJAM, and NSOM all have a good shot at it.  Tombstone, Nomads, and GLUM are highly likely to make the top four with only the match between FIGJAM and NSOM a great unknown.  The semis should be great with any of the top four having a good shot at finals.  This is probably one of the closest top four teams to call pre-tournament.

Many have been calling Tombstone as the hands down favourite but they’re quite closely matched to GLUM.  Nomads also have played quite steadily and bring quite a bit of experience to the table.  It’s entirely too close to call but by Saturday at 1730 we should have our results.

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