Wildcard Wednesday: Week 6
By Mike Houston
All good weekly Ultimate wildcard update columns must come to an end, so welcome to the last Wildcard Wednesday. USAU has released what should be the final wildcard rankings as of Tuesday night, to be 100% verified by Wednesday evening. The results from last weekend’s Labor Day tournament, as expected, had a significant impact on some teams’ rankings, including the final wildcard position.
Now that we’re at the end of this process, I have to say I think it has worked amazingly well. The Northwest region that had previously seen growth and size bids go to ‘weaker’ regions claimed their three bids in dominating fashion, ensuring they’ll send all their top teams to Sarasota, and the teams like Southpaw and Boost that did not earn a wildcard are by no means dead. They still have every opportunity to go beat teams at regionals and still earn a bid. It’s meritocracy at its finest.
There are about 20 Nationals caliber teams around the country, give or take a few. The teams at the bottom like Boost Mobile, PoNY, Sub Zero and Southpaw all had the opportunity to go out and compete to secure their region an extra spot. If you asked the teams who wound up outside the top 16, I bet they would tell you they didn’t play well enough to deserve an extra bid.
In the future, I think the current system will only continue to improve as teams understand the impact of the rankings, which will make for a very exciting regular season. These rankings, which only count sanctioned games, will also be a fantastic reference for seeding at Nationals.
Now let’s take a look at the final rankings.
Highest-ranked teams in each region (these are the teams that hold the place for their respective region’s automatic bid)-
1. Ironside (NE) 2. Johnny Bravo (SC) 3. Revolver (SW) 4. Sockeye (NW) 7. Chain Lightning (SE) 8. Machine (GL) 12. Madison Club (NC) 15. Truck Stop (MA)
Overall rank: Team, Region, Rankings Point Total
*5. Doublewide, SC 1676 – Texas’ big weekend in Santa Cruz should solidify them as a top eight team at Nationals. Fans should be salivating for their finals matchup with Bravo at regionals, which will be held a few miles from Austin. Home field advantage anyone?
*6. Rhino, NW 1635 – Sockeye was able to leapfrog Portland with their dominant Labor Day showing, but Rhino is still in great shape. They dominated Furious in consolation play, a nice confidence boost for a team already riding high before NW regionals.
*9. GOAT, NE 1487 – Which GOAT will we see in Sarasota, the 1-6 version from ECC or the 5-2 finalists from Chesapeake? Games at regionals against PoNY and Ironside will tell us something. With three bids however, its unlikely that any of those teams will need to play their absolute best.
*10. Ring of Fire, SE 1472 – A rough weekend out west for Carolina, but only a fool would read to much into that. This team is still athletic and talented and always seems to play well when it matters. Chain had their number at the U.S. Open, but a win over Atlanta at regionals would improve Ring’s nationals seed dramatically.
*11. Furious George, NW 1464 – Vancouver was just 6-8 in the regular season, but they only lost to one team ranked below them. That would be Sub Zero on double game point at ECC. With Nationals a full seven weeks away, we’ll see how the effect of the World’s double-peak affects the northerners.
*13. Condors, SW 1386 – If Santa Barbara makes it out of a crowded SW region, they’ll likely have a few solid games at Chesapeake to thank for their ranking and this bid. The two wins over PoNY and final win over Southpaw in the 9th place bracket is what solidified this position for the Condors. That bodes well for a team who will undoubtedly have to win some games when it matters at regionals.
*14. Sub Zero, MA 1372 – Minnesota’s teeth were chattering this past weekend as they sat at number sixteen and helplessly watched Labor Day results hoping not to be caught. Well not only were they not caught, they actually moved up a few spots in their idle weekend. They’ll have to fend off Prairie Fire as well as try to beat Madison Club at regionals, but their play secured some breathing room.
*16. PoNY, NE 1332 – Sockeye may be holding a trophy from the weekend, but PoNY was the unquestioned winner of Labor Day. NY was ranked seventeenth last weekend and hoping against hope that someone ahead would play their way down. Those prayers were answered when Southpaw had a dreadful weekend in Santa Cruz. PoNY rolls into regionals a heavy favorite to take the third bid from NE and try to show they deserve it with a good showing in Sarasota.
17. Southpaw, MA 1300 – Philly finds themselves on the outside looking in after their 0-6 Labor Day. A mere 32 points separated them from PoNY in the end perhaps a difference of a couple of points in a couple of games. What could have been is over however, and Southpaw will have to figure out a way to take down Truck Stop in the MA if they want to improve their tans at the end of October.
*- Current wildcard regions.
If the preliminary rankings hold, bids will be:
GL – 1
SC – 2
SW – 2
NW – 3
NE – 3
SE – 2
MA – 1
NC – 2