Hello Ultimate fans, and welcome to Wildcard Wednesday! Over the next seven weeks I’ll be breaking down the contenders and rankings for the new Club Championship wildcards.
Before we get to the teams, let’s first go over the changes to the Club Series and wildcard formats for 2012. The most obvious change is that the Club Series now has eight regions instead of six. The regions are available for viewing here but the major changes are the South loses Texas to the new South Central which includes Oklahoma, Arkansas and Colorado. Florida, Georgia and the Gulf states pick up North Carolina in the new Southeast. California is together again in one region, the Southwest, with Arizona and Nevada. Rivalries like Doublewide-Chain Lightning, Truck Stop- Ring, Revolver-Sockeye or Machine-Sub Zero will now have to wait until Sarasota to be renewed during the Series.
But we’ll get into those specifics closer to Regionals time. The next major change is the distribution of the wildcards. Like the 2012 college season, the wildcards will now be distributed based on a current-season rankings formula.
Each region is guaranteed one bid for a total of eight. After USAU’s final rankings are released after the regular season end date of September 3rd, the other eight bids will be distributed to the regions containing the eight highest-ranked teams. There is no limit on the number of bids a region could earn, so if Sockeye was the Northwest’s highest ranked team and Furious George was ranked 10th, Furious would earn the Northwest a second bid. Then if Rhino was ranked higher than other regions’ second teams, they could earn a third bid. Though statistically unlikely, a single region could have up to nine bids under this system.
The extra bids, however, do not guarantee anything for the teams that earn them. That is to say that GOAT earning the Northeast a second bid by being ranked 9th still means they must earn the trip to Sarasota by finishing first or second at Regionals.
While that system is relatively straightforward, the formula that goes into those rankings is a little more complicated. The math is quite involved (though an interesting read if you have time) but the basic factors are the team you play, the score, and when the game occurred. A ‘perfect’ score in any game is 13-5, or its equivalent depending on what the game is played to. The impact the score of the game, either as the winner or loser, has on your ranking is anchored to the rating of your opponent. So losing close to a highly ranked team can have a positive impact on your ranking. Lastly, games played later in the season are weighed heavier, to the point that Labor Day (Sept 1-2) games will be slightly more important than Chesapeake Invite (Aug 25-26).
And finally, remember that the only thing that matters in these rankings are USAU sanctioned events. Each team must have ten sanctioned games by Sept 3rd in order to be ranked. Only sanctioned games affect the rankings. Major sanctioned tournaments so far have been Boston Invite, the U.S. Open, Club Terminus, and Colorado Cup.
The first set of rankings is expected in the next few weeks, so for the moment we only have classic RRI to go on. Until I can get into some solid analysis, I’ll leave you with a list of high performing teams from each region.
Great Lakes- Machine (favorite), Madcow
Mid-Atlantic- Southpaw (favorite), Truck Stop, Oakland
Northeast- Ironside (favorite), GOAT, PoNY
North Central- Sub Zero (favorite), Madison Club, Prairie Fire
Northwest- Sockeye (favorite), Furious George, Rhino, Voodoo
South Central- Doublewide (favorite), Johnny Bravo
Southeast- Chain Lightning (favorite), Ring of Fire, Tanasi
Southwest- Revolver (favorite) Condors, Streetgang