1. Fury – After losing to Japan in the finals of WUGC, Fury regrouped and came out strong at ECC and Labor Day, winning both tournaments and finishing the regular season undefeated. They’ve had to replace Georgia Bosscher (Heist) and Alicia White (Scandal), but they’ve survived scares against Showdown, Riot, and Traffic to secure the number one seed at the Club Championships. Alex Snyder, Nancy Sun, Lakshmi Narayan, and Emily Damon drive the six-time defending champs.
2. Riot – Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Only Shannon O’Malley remains from the Riot squad that won in 2005, but this is a young and hungry team that barely remembers the collapse in 2008 either. This was another strong season for Riot, going 0-4 against Fury, 1-1 against Scandal, 2-2 against Traffic, and undefeated against everyone else. The clear #2 seed, although their spot in finals is by no means a guarantee.
3 – Scandal – The most consistent team below the top two, Scandal traveled to ECC with low numbers and managed to go 5-2, only losing to Molly Brown and Fury. Scandal also split the season series with Riot 1-1, went 3-2 against Ozone, 4-1 against Phoenix, 1-1 against Molly Brown, and 1-0 against Traffic and Brute Squad. Despite facing extremely weak competition at Chesapeake, Sectionals, and Regionals, Scandal did get elite game experience at Virginia Fusion, going 6-1 and winning the tournament handily over Phoenix.
4 – Traffic – The only other team at the Club Championships to have a win over Riot, Traffic slots in at the top of the next tier of teams by virtue of their convincing win over Phoenix at Labor Day. Traffic has two bad losses to Molly Brown and Brute Squad at ECC, their first tournament of the season, but overall a 10-2 record against teams seeded below them. Against out-of-region teams that drops to 4-2, but it’s still a strong record for the Vancouver squad. Most importantly, those two losses are to fairly strong teams, and they are balanced by two wins over Riot.
5 – Phoenix – Joining Traffic in Pool D will likely be Phoenix, who have only lost to teams ranked above them, aside from a universe point loss to Nemesis at Virginia Fusion, which they avenged later in the tournament. The Tully Beatty-coached North Carolina team could easily be the 4-seed, although their 9-15 loss to Traffic at Labor Day will likely bump them down to fifth. Phoenix has played a lot of close games this year, earning a 6-3 record in games decided by one or two goals. The ability to close out close games should help them in their quest to repeat their 2011 semifinals finish.
6 – Ozone – And here’s where it starts to get really complicated. Ozone has two wins against Scandal, but those are balanced by losses to Showdown (1-1 overall) and Nemesis (1-2 overall). Ozone is also 2-0 against Brute Squad and 1-0 against Molly Brown, and I’m inclined to weight their 15-5 win over Nemesis at ECC about equal to their two losses – one at the first tournament of the season on universe point, and one at Virginia Fusion, a non-regular season tournament, by two points. Nemesis has losses to Brute Squad, Molly Brown, Hot Metal, and Heist that really push them down, so Ozone sneaks into the six seed by virtue of their wins over Scandal, Brute, and Molly Brown.
7. Capitals – As a team with no results of merit besides a 15-12 win over Brute Squad and a strong pedigree (a semifinals appearance last year and a 2nd place finish in 2010), it seems like the most appropriate thing to do here is seed Brute Squad, and then insert Capitals one place above them. A large portion of the team played as Team Canada this year at the World Championships, and they are a dark horse candidate to make semis again, or even finals. Malissa Lundgren is one of the best players in the game, and Capitals could upset Riot again like they did in 2010.
8. Brute Squad – Despite being ranked #5 in the final regular season USAU rankings, Brute Squad slips the the 8th seed due to Traffic, Phoenix, and Ozone’s stronger body of work during the regular season (and wins over higher-ranked teams), and Capitals’ head-to-head win at Regionals. Brute Squad is 0-2 against Ozone and 0-1 against Phoenix, but has wins over Traffic, Nemesis, and Showdown. If USA Ultimate chooses to ignore the non-regular-season Virginia Fusion results, Brute (and Capitals) could move up several spots in the seedings.
9. Heist – Without results from ECC, Labor Day, or Virginia Fusion, Heist is an incredibly difficult team to seed. Ranked at #4 by the USA Ultimate rankings, Heist has relatively few games against other teams at the Club Championships, instead racking up wins against inferior competition, along with one win against Molly Brown and two against Nemesis (as well as two against Schwa). Heist is undefeated, and led by Team USA’s Georgia Bosscher, but their regular season body of work only indicates that they are a better team than Molly Brown and Nemesis, and their lack of pedigree prevents them from being seeded above Capitals. Both Heist and Capitals could be higher in the seedings, but the 9th seed gives Heist a very winnable game against Brute Squad in pool play to prove that they deserve to be in the power pools.
10. Molly Brown – Molly Brown has big wins against Scandal and Traffic, but they’ve lost every game they’ve played against teams ranked 6-9, including home games to Ozone, Phoenix, and Heist. They’ve split their series against Showdown 2-2, losing their two regular season matchups before winning twice at South Central Regionals in Texas. The final strike against Molly Brown is their 11-13 loss to Bent at ECC, which provides a decent basis of comparison against Brute Squad. Brute won twice against Bent at Northeast Regionals by a combined three points, indicating a slight edge for Brute over Molly Brown.
11. Nemesis – Big wins against Ozone and Phoenix have only landed Nemesis the 11th seed, thanks to their poor record against middle of the pack teams, and a loss to Hot Metal. But those wins, plus a 13-10 head-to-head victory over Showdown, give the Chicago team a slight edge. Look for big plays from Kelly Johnson on defense if Nemesis is going to upset Ozone again in pool play.
12. Showdown – After nearly knocking off Fury at Labor Day, Showdown finds themselves as the 12th seed in an extremely difficult pool. Had they beaten Molly Brown at Regionals, they might have been able to sneak into the 10th spot, but instead they’ll face a tough pool play game against a Nightlock team that has already beaten them once this year.
13. Nightlock – This new team from the Bay Area can’t complain about how the seedings have turned out, with their big win against Showdown at ECC cancelled out by a 9-15 loss to the Texas team at Labor Day. But with an average age of just under 24 and two very experienced coaches in Peri Kurshan and Jit Bhattacharyya, they’re poised to make life tough for whoever they face.
14. Schwa – Portland’s women’s team is 3-0 against Underground and has no wins against anyone else at the Club Championships. But aside from losses to Team Canada and Team Canada Master’s at Solstice, they don’t have any losses to teams that aren’t going to be in Sarasota either.
15. Underground – Give Seattle’s second team the edge over Hot Metal, by virtue of their win against Bent at ECC, while Hot Metal lost to Bent at Heavyweights. To be fair, Underground is 1-1 against Pop and Hot Metal is 1-0 against Pop, but Hot Metal’s losses to teams that won’t be at the Club Championships bring them down and give Underground the #15 seed.
16. Hot Metal – After just securing the #16 USA Ultimate ranking and a second bid for the Mid Atlantic, Hot Metal had to defend it against Philly’s Green Means Go in a tight-until-the-end game-to-go at Regionals. If Amanda Davis is healthy, Hot Metal has the potential to make some noise on Day 2 and 3 and break seed, but it would take a special performance to see them get anywhere near the prequarters.
Feature photo of Riot and Traffic competing at in the 2012 NW Regional finals. (Photo by Jeff Bell – Ultiphotos.com)