Wildcard Watch: Mixed (9/5/2012)
We apologize that this week’s Wildcard Wednesday article didn’t make it up until Friday. Seeing as USAU’s came out on Thursday this week, we had to push back publication.
As noted by Mike Houston with regard to the distribution of bids in the open division, the final regular season rankings in mixed appear to have determined the nationals bids fairly well, rewarding the 3 regions with the teams that performed the strongest, most consistently, over the summer. As would be expected, there are certainly still debates to be had. Some notes about how things shook out:
- No love for the Northwest. Despite putting 3 teams in quarters at Labor Day, and the surprise run of Engine 45 all the way to semis, the results from ECC were too much to overcome. No qualifying team in the Northwest finished with a winning record among sanctioned games. Speaking of winning records…
- Odyssee claimed a strength bid for the Northeast with just a 6-5 record and without playing any sanctioned games for nearly the last two months of the season. The Montreal team earned their ranking by beating the eventual first, second and third ranked teams in the final USAU table at the early-season Boston Invite and US Open. Slow White and Polar Bears both later avenged those losses, and the Canadians fell to AMP, Wild Card, Ghosts and CLX as well, but won their weaker matchups convincingly. On the other hand…
- Poor early tournament records hurt the Mid Atlantic. At least one, and maybe both of the region’s 2011 National qualifiers will not be returning to Sarasota. Termite’s Entourage went just 1-5 in sanctioned games at Philly Invite, some losses by considerable margins, while incorporating new players and evaluating tryouts. Their Chesapeake Invite roster was more complete and 5-3 record much improved, but the New Jersey team finishes the regular season ranked 20th. AMP also started slowly, just 2 wins at Boston Invite alongside large margin losses to Ghosts and Slow White. By Chesapeake the margin in those same matchups had thinned considerably and the Philadelphia team finished the regular season with 2 wins over top 10 teams, but no consistently dominant tournament weekends despite playing the most games of any team in the rankings. By contrast…
- Fellow Mid Atlantic contender Ambiguously Grey played far fewer games and failed to record a top-10 win, but took their opportunities against teams like Bucket and Entourage, while staying close in their few losses. Blackbird, from the Southwest, is another team whose results do not overwhelm, 1-point wins over BBQ and Grassface, alongside several losses. The record adds up to enough for the final strength bid, the 5th overall for the region that has produced 4 of the last 7 division champions. Finally…
- Wins alone are not enough. Only Polar Bears recorded more than 16-3 PanIC, ranked 37th. CLX is the only other top-40 team next to 15-1 Steamboat, ranked 35th, to lose just one sanctioned game. Neither Steamboat or PanIC factor in the strength bid allocation due though, lacking a strong matchup to compare to the top contenders.
Highest ranked teams from each region (overall ranking)-
1. Drag’N Thrust (NC)
2. Polar Bears (SW)
3. Slow White (NE)
6. Overhaul (GL)
7. Ambiguously Grey (MA)
14. Bucket (SE)
15. Bigfoot (NW)
21. Cosa Nostra (SC)
Overall rank. Team, Region. Rankings Point Total
*4. Chad Larson Experience, NC 1706 – Will be among the championship contenders once again should they qualify from the 2-bid North Central. US Open matchups were all close, though they crushed Southern Revival in the Heavyweights final.
*5. The Ghosts, NE 1691 – Can be confident of a second consecutive trip to Sarasota from the bid-rich Northeast. Regional grudge match with Slow White should determine which team gets a 1-seed in their pool at nationals.
*8. American BBQ, SW 1618 – Rode the talented female side of their roster to the Labor Day finals, including a big upset over Polar Bears, before running out of fuel against Mischief.
*9. Odyssee, NE 1599 – Last season’s bridesmaids in the Northeast will have more opportunities to fly south this fall.
*10. Grassface, SW 1596 – In their current form, and as CTR, just missed playing in Florida on several occasions. Have earned a larger margin for error this season.
*11. Mischief, SW 1593 - Unexpected Labor Day champions featuring a roster with many new faces. Though current kings of the Bay Area, Nationals is a given for no team in the Southwest, even with 5 bids.
*12. Wild Card, NE 1579 – Claimed a 4th bid for the Northeast, now need to hold off District 5 and 7Express to win their first trip to nationals.
*13. Blackbird, SW 1527 – Best when it counted the most last season, but finding the double peak difficult so far. 2011 Nationals qualifier 7 Figures will be in contention in the Southwest as well.
16. Mental Toss Flycoons, NW 1463 – Would a tournament title at Boise’s Scorcher have earned an extra bid for the Northwest?
17. Engine 45, NW 1447 – Current in-form team in the region despite being ranked behind their Northwest rivals from Montana and Seattle.
18. AMP, MA 1406 – Returned from the west coast as the most experienced team in the region, but without an extra bid.
19. 7Express, NE 1405 – Face 2-time national semi-finalist District 5 at Sectionals, before a range of challenges and opportunities at Regionals.
20. Termite’s Entourage, MA 1388 – AMP and Ambiguously Grey are their obvious rivals at Mid-Atlantic Regionals, though Ant Madness and Death By Jubilee plan to challenge as well.
*- Wildcard regions.
Bid distribution according to the final rankings:
GL – 1
SC – 1
SW – 5
NW – 1
NE – 4
SE – 1
MA – 1
NC – 2