Co-written with Alex Cooper.
Few weekends have ever provided such great Frisbee coverage and entertainment as this past weekend did. Rogers live-streamed the Canadian Ultimate Championships Finals, and Bryan Jones tweeted and audio-streamed much of the Emerald City Classic.
Let’s start with the Canadian Ultimate Championships, which Furious George won 14-13. I only caught the second half of this game, but in that time span it vacillated between a huckfest and a slow grind. With GOAT up 8-5, the second half opened with competing deep shots and more physicality on the marks. Furious was none too happy about the ensuing TMFs, and frankly, the observers’ calls took forever and did little to clean up or speed up the game. The frequency of travel and marking foul calls later on made this game resemble the ugly 2010 College final between CUT and Florida. If we want Rogers and CBS College Sports to continue to pick up these games or even expand broadcasting ventures, we need active travels, more aggressive use of TMFs and PMFs, and immediate referral on foul calls. We also need announcers capable of explaining how soft and hard caps work, but we’re going to stop there before we get too far off track.
Anyway, Morgan Hibbert was the MVP of the second half. Though his assignment, GOAT’s John Hassell, was still able to contribute to his team, Hibbert’s solid mark really challenged Hassell’s release points, forcing at least one later huck to be well behind a GOAT receiver. And if you haven’t seen Hibbert’s grab over Hassell that cashed in a Furious break and forced double-championship-point, you should fast forward to the second to last point of the stream (around 10:00 remaining). Clutch, nasty, freakish—all of the above apply. A shout out to Vancouver’s dump defenders, as well, who ramped up the pressure on GOAT resets as the second half progressed. I know their pressure made me get nervous every time a GOAT player had the disc past stall four, and I can only imagine what that pressure felt like on the field.
ECC and Ring of Fire: talk about a dark horse. They squeak out wins against a Colombian team and Streetgang; they drop games to Malaki and Buzz Bullets; and then they grind through Sockeye and Truck Stop in the championship bracket to make the finals?! Well done, Ring, well done. A (somewhat) wise man recently told me, in Yogi Berra fashion, “It doesn’t matter till it matters.” It didn’t matter that Ring didn’t post the best Friday/Saturday results. It only mattered that they improved throughout the weekend and came to play Sunday morning. We’re excited to see if they can do something similar at Chesapeake and/or at Mid-Atlantic Regionals. They sure sent a message to everyone else in their Region with this performance.
And yeah, Revolver’s looking pretty good right now. It sounds like their offense is nearly untested every time it steps onto the field. How can you game plan against an offense and defense (scroll down to end of the Ironside game write-up) that some players say has no defined structure?
Finally, here are the meat and potatoes. An important clarification about these rankings: while you might be able to infer a certain element of predictability from where/how we’ve ranked these teams, and while we did qualify these tiers in our first post based on where we might expect them to finish at nationals, from here on out, we’re going to rank these teams on how good we think they are, not necessarily how good their chances of making/doing well at Nationals are. For instance, there are teams from the Northwest that deserve to be (and are listed) in these tiers, but they may have slimmer chances of making Nationals than other teams below them on this list, or teams not even on this list. We still consider them to be nationally competitive squads, though, and so we feel they have a place in these rankings.
Tier 1: Revolver, Doublewide, Ironside, Sockeye*, Chain Lightning
Tier 2: Ring of Fire*, Truck Stop, Johnny Bravo, Furious George*, GOAT, Southpaw
Tier 3: PoNY, Machine, Rhino, Cash Crop
Honorable mention: Oakland Ultimate, Sub Zero, Madison Club, Streetgang
*A note on the asterisks: these three teams were hard to place for Tiers 1 and 2, so we put an asterisk next to them. Each has a note explaining this decision, and though each was a tough conclusion, we’re confident that we placed the right team in the right tier. That said, don’t be surprised if these change after the results of Labor Day and Chesapeake.
Tier 1: Still the crème de la crème. To put it simply, they are Revolver and the teams with the talent and potential to beat Revolver. They have captured tournament titles in the spring and summer, won other games against top competition, and have their sights seriously set on a national title.
- Ironside definitely played their way back to Tier 1 this weekend. All green until Revolver, which was not a bad loss at all. Remember, teams don’t have to be punished for losing to good competition.
- Doublewide won Colorado Cup after our last rankings, so there’s no reason to move them down. Chain hasn’t played since our last rankings, so they can’t move.
- *Sockeye’s asterisk here is only a bit of concern, mainly brought up by the loss to Ring on Sunday. While the rest of their results indicate a clear Tier 1 status, a loss like that come Sunday at Regionals would be quite a heavy blow. Though last year’s team was evidence that their age did not matter at all (Worlds silver, 3rd at Natties), the team is still young for the most part, with only 6 guys still around from that 2007 team. That said, we are confident that they can prove us wrong come the Series (or next weekend, if they had to), and we wouldn’t be surprised to see them playing late Saturday in Sarasota.
Tier 2: These guys have the potential to knock off Tier 1 teams, but they’ve rarely done it so far this season, if at all. They have wins over other Tier 2 (and lower) teams, and they are still among the strongest teams in their region.
- *When you look back at Ring’s ECC record (5-4), it doesn’t look like that great of a tournament; however, when it really mattered, Ring clearly turned it on, and got two quality wins: over regional rival Truck Stop and over Tier 1 contender Sockeye. With an ECC finals appearance, you may wonder why we don’t have them in Tier 1. We think that though their Sunday performance was impressive, the rest of their tournament wasn’t the strongest resume booster (3-3, with a close call against Streetgang, among others). It wouldn’t be an upset if they took the Region, but they’re not quite at the Tier 1 status; we’ll see how they do at Chesapeake against Ironside and Chain before we make any further changes.
- Truck Stop is the classic Tier 2 team right now. Colorado Cup and ECC showed that they can play deep into tournaments, better than a Machine-caliber team can. Still, they can’t break through and get a crucial, defining win late in a tournament. They played Doublewide close, but fell short, and they proceeded to blow leads against the red-hot Ring of Fire. There’s really no argument for them to be any higher or lower.
- Johnny Bravo posted some decent results at CC without a number of playmakers. Though this borders on being predictive, we think they’ll only improve with the return of Zemel, Mickle, Popiel, and others. Decent results + encouraging prospects = Tier 2 status.
- *Furious George really makes us wish that the NW had more than 2 guaranteed bids this year. We think they’re capable of not only competing with the top dogs, but also of taking a couple out, and possibly even making a 2008 Jam-like run. They were looking crisp in their NexGen game, they have their bid to Worlds locked up, and with Pottinger and Hibbert still around, anything can happen. While Vancouver is not a Tier 1 team yet, and we don’t imagine that changing before Regionals, we think they can play with the big guns as closely as anyone else in Tier 2.
- GOAT posts decent CC results and then loses a heartbreaker at CUC, so they stay. Southpaw hasn’t played between rankings, so they must stay.
Tier 3: These guys are more serious and competitive than the vast majority of club teams in the nation. They attend major tournaments and post some important wins here and there. They should be in the hunt at Regionals or even Nationals.
- PoNY had an inconsistent NY Invite performance, but captured the crown. They need some exposure to and wins against stiffer competition (Chesapeake, Labor Day) to move up.
- Machine played par to the course against NexGen and at ECC. No major wins or upsets,
but an important W against a team of equal caliber (Rhino). They could be the Central favorites right now.
- Rhino and Cash Crop stay at Tier 3. Rhino hangs with teams on their level, and Cash Crop hasn’t played since Terminus.
Introducing the new Honorable Mention section! We think that these four teams are solid teams that could make Nationals, but are still below the Tier 3 teams for one reason or another. Whether it’s an unproven history (Oakland) or some questionable results (Sub Zero), they have a major flaw preventing us from putting them in Tier 3. We’re not saying that they couldn’t make Nationals (and some of them probably will)—we just don’t think they’re at that elite level yet. As well, there are some teams we’re leaving off the Honorable Mention list that may make Nationals (Squires, Madcow, etc.). Keep in mind that we’re not ranking based off of Nationals potential—we’re ranking on how good/bad we think the team is right now and heading into the big tournaments on the horizon (Chesapeake, Labor Day).
- Oakland Ultimate’s NY Invite performance lands them a spot here.
- NexGen and Colorado Cup performances push Sub Zero and Madison Club to this level.
- Streetgang’s struggle-ridden ECC results merit putting them here. There’s room for them to improve and move up, though.
Look for the final editions of the previews in the coming weeks and another set of rankings after Labor Day. Until then, drop us a comment and let us know what you agree and/or disagree with. Consider voting in the poll below, too!