Sometimes real life gets in the way. Sometimes you have to design a spring for a mousetrap and it turns into a 20 hour report. Blame grad school for a late Standler.
Anyways, it looks like we had some Regionals take place last weekend! Yours truly went 9 for 11 on his picks, getting hit with the double whammy because of Rhino losing in the 3rd place game to Furious. Everything else went as expected including my most anticipated match-up, Truck Stop vs. Southpaw. With only one bid on the line, I traveled to Poolesville, MD to watch the Mid-Atlantic Regional finals.
After both defenses showed their ability to break early early, Truck Stop went on a run late in the first half. Markam Shofner hit Jeff Wodatch on two nearly identical deep hucks to put Truck in the driver’s seat with an 8-5 halftime lead. Southpaw’s offense struggled to keep up, but were slowly able to creep back into the game. Nonetheless, D.C. held on for the lone nationals berth.
What was the difference-maker? Let’s start with why I chose Truck Stop last week. In terms of depth, these are two very comparable teams. Southpaw doesn’t seem to have any weak points, but by comparison they didn’t have anyone that stood out. Sure, David Brandolph and Jake Rainwater played well, but they didn’t have any big plays. Shofner’s strikes to Wodatch and the layouts from Alan Kolick and Sean Keegan point to an advantage at the top of the roster. These big plays, while high risk, can relieve pressure on the offense and make the defense have to focus on containing another viable option.
Southpaw’s offense, on the other hand, is heavily based on movement from the handlers and short five yard throws. There were very few points in the game where the Southpaw offense made it look easy. When all of your possessions are tough, and your strategy involves marching up and down the field at a snails pace, it’s the small mistakes that will make a difference. There were a few drops and a few throwaways that gave Truck Stop the advantage. On the other hand, David Cranston and Tom Doi also did a great job working the underneath space, giving Truck Stop the flow they needed.
Can we blame Southpaw for choosing a “bad” game plan? I’m not so sure. Trey Katzenbach’s speech at halftime indicated a need for team play. “Every single player on this team is an equal. Stop making hero plays!”, Katzenbach said. While there are plenty of solid players on Southpaw, the game plan revolved around discipline, patience and execution. Had Philadelphia come out and ground away throughout the game, we might be praising them on how they kept Truck Stop in check. The reality was that the offense for Southpaw did not take care of the disc well enough, and Truck capitalized early in the game. I remarked during our live commentary that Philly’s offense just needed to get off the field. Once that happened, it was already a 9-5 lead for Truck Stop.
Offenses don’t need to be perfect, but they do need to be guarded against big momentum surges. The Southpaw offensive line was pretty well balanced with consistent players: David Stoddard filling in well when needed as a cutter and Brandolph and Hirranet guiding the offense from the handler spot, but it just didn’t look easy. The only time things flowed well was when the Truck Stop defense gave them a short field by pulling it out of bounds. I have to give credit for Truck Stop defensive line for not only making it difficult, but converting as well. Southpaw, on the other hand, just needed to find away to convert on those opportunities in middle of the game. If the offense could have held before and after half we’re no longer looking at a 9-5 Truck lead. Momentum swings can kill you.
This game was not without controversy, featuring an ejection and two late plays with weird stall counts and foul calls. Check out the excellent coverage at Ultiworld if you haven’t already!
Northeast – 3 Bids
No excuses for Ironside; this is a weekend where they should crush. I’m watching to see if they have gotten to top form, eliminated the small mistakes that may have been holding them back from winning it all the last two years. A lapse in focus lead to Garuda mounting a late comeback in the finals of Sectionals. However, this weekend I expect nothing less than 15-7 victories over PoNY and GOAT
One of the things I’m excited about is the rumored insertion of Swedish star Sebastian Sporrong into GOAT’s lineup. He’s an easy fit on defense, but how will he work with the offense? The blond bohemoth wasn’t spotted at Sectionals, but only arrived two weeks ago. GOAT will still be ready to go regardless, but Sporrong gives them some extra firepower.
PoNY had a dismal season, beating no one of merit but hanging with just about anyone tough. They were missing Jack Marsh and Dan Heijman at the Chesapeake Invite, two incredibly vital players that make the offense run. Andrew Wilkes should also be back from an early season hamstring injury; he’ll make a difference on defense.
For those looking for an upset from Garuda… “So you’re saying there’s a chance!”. Yes and no. I could see Garuda taking down PoNY if they were to face off in the second place bracket once, but not twice for the third slot.
Predictions (* denotes a Championships bid)
Southwest – 2 Bids
Let us start with the easy: Revolver is going to win the Region.
After that, we’ve got a mess of choices all the way from the 2nd seed to even the 6th seed. However, being realistic, the teams that look like they have a reasonable shot are Sprawl, Boost Mobile and Condors.
I wish I had conviction on any pick I would make, but I don’t. Whoever sneaks through to the finals is going to have the best bet because they’ll have the ability to “tank” the big game by resting their starters. In two bid regions, teams often have to choose the tough route of either trying to win the whole thing or saving their energy for the backdoor bracket. This isn’t hard: Revolver is winning their region.
Whoever drops down to the backdoor bracket is going to have a tough road of games. I like Boost Mobile in one game, but I don’t like their consistency. The two key games are Boost vs. Condors for pool B, and the non-Revolver semifinal. The winners of those two games will probably determine the overall winner. It’s a long tournament, and you can save yourself from having to play two extra hard-fought games by making the finals.
Yes, that’s right. Even with two more Regionals left to decide the remaining five bids we have projected the seeding for the big show. Thanks to Zack Smith for the help.
Lost one game all season to Rhino, won Chesapeake, won ECC, easy call.
Only knock on them is an ECC loss to Truck Stop. 1-1 against Revolver with a semifinals win at Labor Day and a universe point win over Doublewide at ECC.
Here’s where the controversy starts. Revolver does have a head to head loss to Doublewide, but their overall season is much better.
There’s room here to argue for them at 3, but with their 6 combined losses at ECC and Labor Day we have them at 4.
5. Johnny Bravo
Had they won the region, there would be an argument for them to be higher. They have to be seeded behind Doublewide due to their loss in the finals of South Central Regionals.
6. Chain Lightning
Had a poor season by their standards, beat Rhino at Labor Day lost to Revolver, Doublewide and finally GOAT at Chesapeake.
With two head to head wins over Furious George, they’re going to be here.
8. Furious George
Beat Rhino in the third place game.
Had an easy shot at 7th or even higher if they managed to beat Sockeye. Have to be behind Furious.
10. Ring of Fire
Even after a terrible Labor Day, Ring of Fire beat the projected opponents behind them at Chesapeake. Those being GOAT and Sub Zero.
11. Sub Zero
Wins over GOAT and two wins over Truck Stop.
12. Truck Stop
Beat GOAT and Sockeye at ECC only bad loss is to Madcow.
Even with a late season win over Chain Lightning, lots of losses and wins over easy competition.
Provided they actually make the show, the head to head win over PoNY puts them here.
Did “better” against top competition than Madison Club.
16. Madison Club
While the only difference in terms of wins and losses against common opponents is their win over Boost Mobile and PoNY lost, the point differential shows PoNY being able to stay tighter.
Here are the proposed pools below…