Day 2 and the pre-quarters have concluded setting up 8 teams for the quarterfinals and an intense day of Ultimate. The weather has been hot and humid but, fortunately, without any rain. Also fortunate is that the seeds have shaken out and I can now boldly say that: 3 of the teams in the quarterfinals shall medal. Read on to find out which ones.
The first quarterfinal is Local 613 (ON,18) vs TFT (ON,8). Despite a low seed Local 613 won their pool beating Bunny Thugs (SK,1) and Crash (ON,7, 2014 Champions). The Kingston team has a strong veteran handlers who have been fairly steady on offense. The whole team has contributed, in a balanced manner, to the scoreline with few standouts. TFT finished second in their pool and are composed of a motley crew of stars and well known names. The team has struggled a little with consistency, injuries, and a short roster. Nevertheless they have found their groove recently and have setup a tight matchup. Both teams are strong and will matched but Local 613 has the edge due to their roster size and chemistry. TFT is a wildcard given their experience and could pull it together overnight.
In the second quarterfinal Montreal Old Star (QC,4) face Bunny Thugs (SK,1). Montreal went undefeated in their pool but not without challenge. They have excellent chemistry and a phenomenal cast of who’s who from Montreal Ultimate. They are also a veteran team and with the short roster they’ve faced difficulty in the longer games. That said, they’ll be fresh and ready to battle in the morning. Bunny Thugs has had a tough road to this point having gone 2-2 in pool play before beating MUTX (QC,5) in the pre-quarters. They have shown tenacity by bouncing back from a tough first day and are looking confident going into day 3. However, the experience of Montreal Old Star is a big factor as well as their chemistry and consistency. Bunny Thugs are still developing and need to be more consistent with the disc on offense. This game is likely going to Montreal Old Star.
In the third quarterfinal Crash (ON,7) plays Battleship (QC,2). Crash has had two games go to Universe point in this tournament. The first was in pool play against Local 613 which Crash lost 11-10. The second was in pre-quarters against No In Cut (QC,3) which they won 12-11. The team has concentrated scoring primarily amongst 3 players while playing their fundamental style of Ultimate that paid off in past years. This year they face significant obstacles as some teams that are trying for a Worlds run in 2017 have shown up. Battleship, the top seed from the east, is one of those obstacles and it’s a big one. Facing one close game, 13-12 win over TFT, they have been the highest seeded team to be unscathed through pool play. They look to continue their march towards the finals with a win in the quarters. Right now Battleship is looking like the stronger of the two teams. Both teams play a similar style but Battlefield has more depth and contribution to the scoreline from across the team. Should Battlefield be able to shut down Crash’s key players it should be an easy win; however, many teams have tried the same route and not had much success. This game is close but likely going to Battlefield.
Which brings us to the last quarterfinal: Midnight Release (ON,9) vs Nagano 98 (ON,10). Midnight Release has had a tough route to this point. Highly expected to finish second in their pool they were upset by Wreckhouse (NL,16) and had a close loss, 10-12, vs Montreal Old Star. In the last two games on Friday they had to win against Quest (QC,6) by a substantial margin (and they did: 15-6) before winning the pre-quarters against Animals (QC,17). They now face the best team in the tournament. Nagano 98 is composed of well known Women’s and Open players that have joined for just this season. They have cruised through pool play and emerged unscathed. By their own account they believe they have faced no pressure. From the sideline the few times they were pushed they simply turned on the jets and got the point or made the D. Nagano 98 may well be the best team in Canada but first they need to win the morning.
After the morning games the semifinals shall be played serially allowing both to be broadcast on the Ultimate Canada live stream with commentary from Andrew Portwine. I expect Local 613 vs Montreal Old Star in the first semifinal while Battleship faces Nagano 98 in the second.