Revolver, standing tall
Revolver cruised through competition at ECC, with their closest game coming against Ironside. They were offensively efficient, and very dominant defensively. Instead of meeting Boston in the finals, the brackets were switched in the semis so that everyone was playing a team they had not yet faced, having the first rematch of the 2010 title game in the semis. Ironside got off to a solid start, going up 3-1, when Revolver put together a string of breaks to up 8-5 at half. They never looked back, and then crushed Ring of Fire in the finals. There’s a reason these guys are the World Champs, especially after I congratulated Russell Wynn on the victory, he immediately said “We have a lot to work on”. I said on Friday that Revolver has yet to play their best game, but they are pretty close to getting there.
Ironside, the comeback kids
Ironside definitely has the talent to take down Revolver if they put their best game together. However, the offense was inconsistent throughout the tournament. They were taken to half by Malaki, Rhino and Sockeye, all games that they recovered to win easily. Sockeye built a 5-1 lead based on zone defense, and disrupting the Ironside handlers from throwing scoobers (more on that later), but couldn’t sustain play when Ironside rattled off 5 straight breaks to go up and cruise to the 13-10 victory. Boston’s defense is incredible when it wants to be, pressuring cutters and hadlers into turns. George Stubbs was often seen playing on the offensive line, alternating between being a force deep and booming flicks from the cutting position. Coach Josh McCarthy expects the team to hit their stride in September when a few players return from injury, and Colin Mahoney rejoins the roster.
Also Muffin will be doing a bi-weekly show on Skyd, it will be set to the same theme as Rob and Big.
After having a tough first day of play, and narrowly losing to the Buzz Bullets, Ring made it into the championship bracket. They started off by knocking off Sockeye with tough defense and consistent handling from Noah Saul (now CurrentGen), Paul Weeks and Brett Matzuka. Often off of a pull, Saul would push deep and come back in to start off the dump swing movement that would run the offense. Ken Porter was always a threat, but Brian Casey and Bryan Conklin contributed a ton from the cutting position.
The defensive line lead by Taylor Pope was gritty and produced turnovers against Sockeye’s talented cast, and then also did it when it mattered most against Truck Stop in the semis. Truck seemed to have command being up 14-13, but Ring scored on offense, then took the next two points to win the game. Despite being rolled by Revolver, Ring showed that they do have the talent to win games, and possibly the Mid Atlantic Region.
Don’t worry about the Fish.
While Sockeye lost in the semis to Ring, they certainly shouldn’t be overly concerned. They built a 5-1 lead on Ironside with the use of an intimidating zone with Eric Doesburg and Alex Nord in the middle. Yes, a 6’6” and 6’5” defender eliminating the use of cross field hammers and blocking your sight line as a handler. It worked to near perfection as they would switch from Junk to 4 man cups. The talent is there for the Sockeye, but this was not the tournament for them to put it all together. They dominated Truck Stop and the Buzz Bullets, but just have to be on their game for the top teams come Labor Day and the series.
Truck Stop, don’t know what you’re going to get.
It’s hard to put my finger on what Truck Stop’s deal is at the moment. They beat good teams handily early on in the tournament, but seemed to be inconsistent during the bracket. Machine had an 8-4 lead during the quarterfinals, before Truck would tie it at 9’s and go onto to win. They were then on the opposite end of the coin during the semis when Ring broke them twice to win. I sensed some tentativeness in the body language in the semis, but they also have tremendous talent. Sean Keegan and Alan Kolick have been playing exceptionally well, but the offense isn’t meshing. Regardless, the turnovers are something that can be improved upon, but Truck isn’t showing the ability to get up against the tier one competition.
Building towards Worlds 2012
The Buzz Bullets were not dominant, but they gave Ironside a very tight game. Long marathon points gave way to cap, giving Japan the loss 13-12. In speaking with Masahiro Matsuno, who is electric to watch, this is all being put towards Worlds in Japan in 2012. There will be a lot of pressure on this Japanese squad when they play in their home country, and they certainly have some kinks to work out. At times their defense was lackluster, being unable to produce turnovers. Their hucks were also way to floaty, allowing athletic defenders too much time to get into position.
However, when they wanted to work it underneath, it was an incredible treat to watch. Matsuno is often throwing passes based on timing without looking for the receiver. They almost bridged the gap in the showcase game vs. Revolver, but it appeared Matsuno was saving his breath for the bracket play, where he was seen on both sides of the disc.
The language barrier was not helpful when both teams were arguing over foul and travel calls, with Japan and Ironside both expressing discontent with either sides contests. If this was a UOA run tournament with active travel calls, we could have seen 4-5 calls per Buzz Bullets possesion. They show a lot of disregard for the pivot foot, often getting the few inches they need to get around the mark. Since the WFDF doesn’t use Observers, this will be advantage for them come Worlds.
Other International Flavor
This what made ECC a little bit better, the Malaki Australian accents, the Japanese rapid yelling, and the Columbians whistling after a score. Malaki gave some teams a run for their money by taking advantage of deep space early in games. Finally, teams would adjust at halftime, forcing them to work it underneath. They weren’t as consistent, but fought pretty hard. The Urutau looked like they would do better than the 15-1 loss to Sockeye, but were rattled after the first few possessions. The lack of height didn’t help them, and the fact that there were some 16 year olds playing. As someone remarked, the Japanese always look like the happiest people ever while playing Ultimate, and it’s infectious when they are making a foul call.
Voodoo is being coached by Ben Wiggins, and showed that they can compete with some of the higher level teams, losing narrowly to Truck Stop and the Buzz Bullets. With any team trying to breakthrough, it’s hard to keep up the mental focus and energy to fight game after game. Wiggins has them on the right track, and hopefully they will preform better come Labor Day.
Machine and Rhino
Seth Wiggins showed off his scoobers in the first half against Ironside, keeping Rhino in the game. However, after a few turnovers, Boston took control. We were able to see Dylan Freechild play, but not his NexGen compatriot Cody Bjorkland. Rhino took Machine 16-14 when Chicago threw it away on it’s own goal line. Machine, also couldn’t hold a 8-4 halftime lead on Truck Stop, losing 12-11 at the hands of hard cap.
There were no observers for this tournament, and I suspect that it was because of the mentality to get teams as many games as possible against good competition. However, as a spectator there were too many bad foul calls, unchecked traveling, and arguments where I would turn back around to the action and say “really, this is still going on?”. Observers are going to get the majority of the calls right compared to what I saw this weekend. There are times I go, we are still putting up with this? No need to look further than the Fury/Riot game where a Fury defender tried to run through the back of a Riot receiver, then calling the foul when the goal was scored.
Play by Play and Nathan Sage’s retirement from Ultimate
When I actually had my cellphone charged, I was able to do play by play this weekend for some of the games. I’m starting to get a few more people to log in and listen, but I really couldn’t get the feedback I wanted. I plan on doing this during Chesapeake, and hope to get more viewers tuned in. I am working on getting one of these bad boys to insure that the power is never lost. Oh and Nathan Sage is officially retired from Ultimate.