This weekend featured many an exciting tournament. By far the most important was the 2015 US Open in its 4th year running with 3 nationalities in the finals. I remember speaking with Dr. Tom Crawford in Club Nationals in 2011 where he expressed the desire for the US Open to be a premier event, USA Ultimate has achieved that goal.
The Women’s final featured a familiar matchup between Riot and Fury with the two having met many times over not only the last millennia but also in pool play where Riot, current World Champions, won 15-10. With both teams finishing at the top of Pool B they headed into the semi finals against tough opponents. Brute Squad, from Boston, had won Pool A 5-0 after having upset Scandal, current US Club Champions, 13-12 and then tested Fury in their semis matchup. Fury prevailed 15-13 and headed into the finals.
Traffic, Vancouverish, finished second in pool A and faced Riot, their Seattle neighbors, in one of the best games of the year. Falling behind early they snapped out of their slump, found their feet and confidence and took Riot to Universe point. Unfortunately the result, this time, was not in their favor and the World Champions headed for a rematch against Fury in the finals.
In another tight matchup Fury broke through a bit of a slump, they’ve not been as dominant as in the past, and won the US Open 14-13. Coming into this tournament they were the #2 seed and this win sets them up to continue their West Coast rivalry with Riot right up to Club Championships in Frisco.
The big news is how close the matchup between the top women’s teams is on both coasts. It’ll be exciting to see whether Traffic can use what they learned when they head t CUC and if they face Capitals in the finals. I say if because Winnipeg’s Fusion were also at the tournament and had some very interesting and relatively close games (except for the one against Brute Squad).
All of the major championship events are quite a ways away and this being a worlds years many teams are taking it easy early on. It’s going to be an exciting season.
In Men’s there was quite a bit of buzz about Revolver and a young upstart team from Toronto named GOAT (I kid about the young upstart team part) playing each other in the finals. Both teams coming from Pool B where they both upset overall #2 seed Ironside. GOAT then defeated defending US Club Champions Johnny Bravo (#1 seed) 14-12 while Revolver had a slight more comfortable win vs Truck Stop 15-12. In the final the match was close until half when Revolver opened things up to cruise to a 15-11 win.
This tournament, though, was excellent for GOAT. They had some rough patches against Temper but they are going to hold their top 4 seed going into Club Championships. They were also without Mark Lloyd for their first major tournament (he’s out with a connectivity issue between the ends of his ACL). That, though, hasn’t stopped GOAT and they showed that they have depth with players that were rookies just four years ago. Players like Isaiah who recorded 20 goals and 9 assists (14 turns though), Andrew Carroll with 11 goals, David Hochhalter with 4 goals and 12 assists, and the ever steady Adrian Yearwood with 8 goals and 10 assists. These are not small numbers that are distributed quite well throughout the team.
The defensive lines on GOAT also chalked up a number of points and important turnovers. You’ve probably seen the Remi Ojo’s impressive layout (he does this for breakfast everyday) which is going to do much to bolster the team’s confidence especially when that game was a loss. That game points out that there is still a flaw that GOAT needs to fix in the next month ahead of CUC where they’ll likely face Furious at some point.
Furious, on the other hand, did not have a great tournament but they didn’t have a bad one either. Going 2-3 in pool play they were missing the presence of some notable players; players that we’ll speak about in the CUC preview. They too have a month to get it together as they march toward another Canadian title.
I’m going to talk focus only two teams here: UNION and Ellipsis. UNION entered the tournament seeded 9th and they finished 5th after defeating the Polar Bears (former US Champions) 13-11. If you look at their score sheet you’ll see evenly distributed play and a strong all around team. UNION is the ideal Mixed team that’s transitioned from competitive to elite; what they need now is some standout superstars that can dominate the game. That’s the hole in their game that championship teams at the International level have and what they’ll possibly face at CUC. A very good weekend for them and one that sets them up for CUC as well as a fall series.
Make no mistake, today was a huge day for Australian Ultimate but not one that should be unexpected. Australia has a large and thriving Ultimate population. They’ve won 2 silvers and a bronze over the past 3 worlds games and their Mixed program is well supported and has been a focus for many years. The US Open victory is a sign that what they’re doing is working, especially in Melbourne. What does this mean for US and Canadian teams?
The first is that Melbourne sent an excellent team that peaked for the US Open. The US teams are still early in the season and are working their way up to Regionals and Club Championships which are still 3 months away. For UNION it’s a different issue, they have one month to fix any flaws in their game and then work on being a top 8 team at US Club Championships if they’re the team that wins CUC.
There is one other team I want to chat about: CLX. The winners of WUCC in 2010 they have one of the strongest programs in the US but have had issues at their national tournaments. Never discount them, in addition to having a strong brand they have some of the best attitudes I’ve seen. They also lost to Seattle Mixtape 15-14 in pool play which is an indication of their strength.
In Ontario news the Juniors finished up their Regionals. In a previous post I had highlighted a few matchups to watch in case you need context. The results of the weekend for the Junior Women’s (bold indicate heading to CUC) are:
- TORO (1) (Toronto)
- Wicked (2) (Ottawa)
- Nightfury (3) (Durham Region)
Unfortunately the game between Wicked and Nightfury was a 15-0 result which effectively knocked them out of contention following their 15-2 loss to TORO. The Women’s final was 14-9 for TORO giving them the first seed out of Ontario (and likely the east).
I’d like to take note that Ontario has a total of 3 competitive Junior Women’s teams giving us 2 bids. British Columbia has 5 bids for the 12 JW spots at CUC.
The weekend also finished as per seed for the Junior Open division aside from an upset by Havoc over OTT for 5th:
- TORO (1) (Toronto)
- Uproar (2) (Toronto)
- Ignite (3) (Ottawa)
- STUD (4) (Durham Region)
- Havoc (6) (Toronto)
- OTT (5) (Ottawa)
The game to watch was the game to go (3rd place) where STUD feel one point short of heading to CUC as they lost 12-11 to Ignite. The result can only be described as heartbreaking for STUD and for Ontario.
I will once again point out that British Columbia, with a population of 4.6 million people has 5 bids, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, with a combined population of 1.4 million, have 4 bids, and Ontario with a population of 13.6 million has 3 bids. Three provinces with a combined population 6 million have 9 bids while a province with a population of 13.6 million has 3. Ontario, we have a serious problem, wake up and start addressing it by getting our Juniors to Regionals.
Coming up next, OUC Previews…if I get enough time, hate mail, or love mail.