The stacked Northwest is going to be crazy this year. Polar Bears: returning champs. Bigfoot: the best of the best from Seattle. Mischief: historically top ranked, with a solid season promising the same. Blackbird: in it to win it. Wolverines, Team Fisher Price, American BBQ, the list goes on.
Blackbird came together this year with apparently one goal in mind: win Nationals, and go to Worlds. With a roster made of dudes from JAM, Revolver, and other open teams, and ladies from Zeitgeist, Fury, and more, they’ve got a list of players with tons of elite-level and nationals ultimate experience. Their schedule has proved they’ve been getting better all season. Picking up UCLA alumna and Callahan winner Anna “Maddog” Nazarov for Sectionals and Regionals sure hasn’t hurt, and they took the third spot at a contentious NorCal Sectionals after Sarasota-definite Mischief and 2010 Champs Polar Bears. Regionals will test their mettle, but if they revenge a 13-12 loss to Bigfoot from Labor Day, they’ll snag the third spot to Nationals.
Polar Bears, round 2?
Okay, so we know the Polar Bears are solid. They’ve had another successful season (so far) with three first place tournament finishes (Revolution, ECC, and NorCal Sectionals) and tying for third at Labor Day. Mind you, their losses have only been to teams we expect to see in Sarasota, and none of which are in their Region. They’re in to natties for sure, but it’s up in the air as to how well they’ll do once they get there. They’ve retained a strong roster and added some studs to replace a few key losses, so we’ll see if they’ve gelled enough to maintain the wins under pressure. And don’t forget that they took second at Regionals last year, only to win the National title. Basically, no one was doubting if they’ll make it to Nationals but there’s no telling beyond that.
Getting 4eady to make some Mischief. Finally.
They’re ready. They’re pumped. They know what they have to do and are willing to do it. If they decide to actually use the breadth of skills their roster boasts to their advantage, they should pull out all the wins they need to to get to Florida (see: 15-10 loss to Blackbird with a tight roster, 15-6 defeat with more players on the field). Mischief has gone long enough without a finish in the top 4 in the country and they’re pissed. With all 3 Smith brothers doing work, with sweet cuts by UCLA alum Andi “Gizmo” Coleman to bestie (and also UCLA alumna) Angie “Taz” Sanan, with Cal baller Andrew “Hagen” Hagen with the skies and snags, any game with them is sure to be full of big plays and a serious display of athleticism. Maybe they won’t beat Polar Bears at Regionals, but I wouldn’t be surprised if not only that happened, but they exceed expectations in Florida.
Okay, okay, okay. Everyone else.
Not to lump everyone else into one category, but I think this group of teams is the ones most likely to upset. First up: Wolverines. Well, they won Oregon sectionals by 1 (15-14) over Dogfight. That’s not too impressive, but with Mental Toss Flycoons, the only real challengers in their pool, having a low-win season, they’ll probably win the pool, then not make it past quarters. Second: Bigfoot. The Seattle natives are a group of the best of the best from Seattle, a la Shazam, Doh!, and Swagger. Like Blackbird, their ultimate goal is to make it to Worlds, but they have a few hills to climb first. Their season hasn’t been as successful as they may have liked, though they’ve got some serious speed, they’re a little small in terms of height, and they seemed to have some early trouble with generating Ds. If Seattle can figure out a way to peak at the right times, they definitely will be a force to reckon with at Nationals. Team Fisher Price is coming off a recent Canadian National Championship win, they’re a low seed going into Regionals, and they’ll have to pull out some big wins to snag a spot. American BBQ deserves a nod as well; they’ve got an uphill climb, but it could happen. Last one to mention: Eats, Throws, and Leaves has kept under the radar this season, but in my opinion, is most likely to have an upset. It would be fun to see them in Sarasota.
That’s all fine and dandy, but I bet that while everyone else is duking it out, the semis will be Polar Bears, Bigfoot, Mischief, and Blackbird, with the third bid to Sarasota between Blackbird and Bigfoot.
Photo by Amy “Meeko” Chang