Before I make any comments, I must give credit where credit is due and say that this format was first created by Ektor Valdivia and is one of my all-time favorite ways to talk ultimate, especially when I only have numbers to play with.
USA – No big surprise, or is it? Have you seen who is leading the stat line for Team USA thus far? Nope, nope, nope, guess again…Ashlin Joye. Maybe it’s because Bart Watson showed up a few days late, but the speedster handler from Davis is currently leading Revolver in total fantasy points followed by Kurt Gibson and Beau Kittredge. This team is so incredibly deep and despite the fact that one could draw a Silver Sockeye 2008 parallel, I think the odds of Revolver coming up short are about as good as catching Chicken in a mismatched zuit suit at the tourney party. They haven’t been tested yet and now that they are at full strength, they could pull a Shawn White and not even need their best to win gold. Team USA stock is up there with Apple and I’m still adding more to my e-cart.
Canada – Furious right now is a lot like Furious at this time back in 2008. No real success to brag about, significant players had retired, and a considerable challenge was ahead of them. But we all remember what happened. I am not saying that TC is going to repeat, but I am not saying they are out of it either. It looks like Menzies is having the tournament of his life, but it is tough to say what will happen when they face Japan and/or USA. Their success of late has always relied on their ability to play opossum and right now I’m just standing pat.
Japan – This team is nothing like it has been the previous 6 years. If you look back to WUCC 2006, WUGC 2008, and WUCC 2010 you will see heavy doses of Masahiro Matsuno. The guy did everything. In Prague, he had 33 more fantasy points than the second highest player on his team. What about 2012? He has 1 assist and 0 goals. And he isn’t the only one. Yohei Kichikawa was also enormously prolific in 2006 and 2008 (#1 Fantasy player at both Worlds tournaments). What of this year? He isn’t even in the top 5 on his own team. Now there are a variety of ways one could explain these statistics and it is possible that they are totally irrelevant. However, if you look at Japan’s production the last few times out, these 2 players have consistently been the heavy hitters and their drop off this year is precipitous. I don’t know what the reasoning behind this is, but I’m cashing out.
Canada – They were the defending champions in 2008, but a bronze in Vancouver and diddly squat in Prague has turned this NASDAQ 100 into an absolute steal. What is even more surprising is that none of their top scorers from 2008 are on this years’ team and vice versa. I know that Fury knew TC was not to be trifled with, but I doubt the possibility of a 12-16 thumping entered their minds. We’ll have to wait until Thursday when they face Japan to see if lightning strikes twice, but I’m buying now.
USA – Nobody panic. Fury has had a rough first few games, but unlike Sarasota, they are far from out of it. If you only look at the trophy case they appear all but invincible. However, their last WUGC gold medal came with a blemish in power pools and they have a history of getting behind early and finding a way to win (see 2008 Club National Finals). I am sure losses to Japan and Canada are not great for confidence, but what better way to scheme for bracket play. Their stock is likely more valuable than Revolver and I’m not going to make a run for it yet.
Colombia – So far so good at 4-2 and with 3 of the top 4 scorers in the tournament this up and coming international power house has a great deal to be proud of. Nevertheless, despite big wins against tough teams early (Germany and Australia), I suspect this party bus will run out of gas once the top dogs have Colombia on their radar. Fortunately, if you got in on the ground floor you’ll likely turn a nice profit a la Facebook. But I wouldn’t get caught holding on too long.
Team Canada Masters – I don’t know why Al Bob Nichols didn’t play for TC back in 2008, but he is suited up this time around and has brought some of his buddies (eg, Mauro Ortiz, Marc Roberts, Jeff Cruikshank, Anthony Maley, and Mike Enns). I would lump Mike Grant into that group, but I gotta see a point or assist on the stat sheet before I believe he is actually in Sakai. TC Masters got out All-Star’d in 2008, but they’re not messing around this year. Check your notes folks, several of these guys won OPEN 4 years ago.
Team Canada Mixed – Defending champions with not a lot of room to improve. They lost Lindquist to TC Open, but picked up the Norden brothers who are making their presence felt (#1 and #3 assists on TC). I like them to win it all, but then again that wouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Beware of Bo and D-Hodges though. Team USA Mixed laid an egg in 2008, but Blackbird appears to be hitting on all cylinders this go around.
Guts – Really? Does the most prestigious Ultimate tournament in the World need to be lumped with this?
Credit Default Swaps (Crazy thing that only insiders understand)
Ex-pats – If you look at some of the international rosters you’ll see some funny placements. Matt Knowles (ex-Sockeye) on Team China Mixed makes some sense because he lives there with his lady, Miranda Roth (USA Women’s Masters), but Jolian Dahl (Chain) on Great Britain? Ryan Purcell (ex-Ironside) on South Africa? Idaho (ex-Sockeye) with Mexico kinda makes sense, but these placements seem to be fairly unpredictable and make me wish I had taken better advantage of my international ties.