When the new club regular season structure was announced, many assumed the in-season determination of strength wildcards would lead to a redistribution of bids west. In the early going in Mixed, it has not happened. Last year’s all-Bay Area final would not even be possible if Nationals bids were finalized today. The new Southwest Region, now including all of California, has just one bid despite the prominent position of Polar Bears at #2 overall. There are still no Northwest teams with enough games to qualify. That should change this weekend with the debut of Seattle’s Great Northern and Bigfoot, as well as Portland’s Engine 45 at the mixed edition of ECC. Expect some of the strength bids to start moving as these teams meet the minimum game requirement and others, including Grassface and BBQ get more matchups with the US Open Champion Polar Bears.
Northeast teams have traditionally enjoyed strong summer performances, leading to top seed placement for Ghosts and Slow White at the 2011 and 2010 Club Championships respectively. With lots of games played, the region is off to another strong start this summer featuring 5 teams inside the top 8 including youthful newcomers Wild Card and rejuvenated New York core of 7Express. Both teams have never qualified for the Club Championships, but will be optimistic if able to maintain their region’s current allocation of 4 strength bids.
More surprising after the first round of rankings was the early wildcard allocation for the Southeast. The region’s teams finished 12, 13 and 14 last season and though Bucket has performed better in the past, as high as 6th in 2010, the region’s depth has not represented well nationally. In week 2 of this summer’s rankings Cahoots and Southern Revival lost their prominent position after falling to homestanding Whagonweel at Glazed Daze. Whagon’s 2-5 peformance at Philly Invite leaves the region with some ground to regain against the other regions.
Amazingly, every team that has currently earned their region a strength bid will be represented at Chesapeake Invite next weekend. Will the competition simply redistribute the bids across the currently prominent regions, reinforce the existing rankings of the strong teams or start creating separation, and room for the Southwest and Northwest to get on the board?
Here are the current leaders in each region with a qualifying team, the action to come this weekend, and best of the rest currently ranked in the top 20.
Highest ranked teams from each region (overall ranking)-
1. The Ghosts (NE) 2. Polar Bears (SW) 4. Overhaul (GL) 9. Ambiguously Grey (MA) 12. B.O.H.I.C.A (SC) 15. Bucket (SE) 22. panIC (NC)
Sanctioned Tournaments this Weekend:
ECC Mixed – Burlington, WA
Cooler Classic – North Lake, WI
Big Sky Gun Show – Sandy, UT
Overall rank. Team, Region. Rankings Point Total
*3. Slow White, NE 1782 – Slow returns a good portion of their male core from last season and made a strong debut at Boston, before bailing on Philly Invite and to win Chowdafest by a combined score of 97-25. They will be facing tougher opponents at Chesapeake next weekend with an opportunity to cement their spot near the top of the standings.
*5. Santa Maria, GL 1741 – The first-year team from Columbus has no sanctioned losses, but few strong wins either. They did beat Death By Jubilee by a good margin in a storm-shortened final at Chesapeake Open to earn a bid to the Invite.
*6. Wild Card, NE 1693 – Another first-year group competing well in the early season and playing an ambitious schedule. Following a 6 point win over AMP and loss to Overhaul by the same marign at Philly Invite, Chesapeake will confirm whether they can consistently compete with Nationals-caliber teams.
*7. Odyssee, NE – Strength bids have particular importance for the Montreal club who lost 2 games-to-go to Nationals in Devens last October and a chance to make some noise in Sarasota with their well-rounded squad. They have the closest margin of any sanctioned team playing the top-ranked Ghosts so far this season
*8. 7Express, NE – After a so-so preseason, 7X squeezed out tight wins over AMP and Ambiguous at Philly Invite before losing the championship game to Overhaul. Similar to Wild Card, holding extra bids for the Northeast will require an above-average performance at Chesapeake in their final regular season event
*10. Ant Madness, MA 1538 – An alumni team from James Madison University, Ant romped through the lower pools at Philly Invite and earned an Chesapeake Invite bid through a strong performance at the Open, but have lost to the only other top-20 team they have faced so far. Though they have a win over 2011 national qualifier Termite’s Entourage, the New Jersey team will be strengthened by several players returning from the AUDL Champion-Spinners, after using Philly Invite to vet tryouts
*11. AMP, MA 1520 – The two MA teams above the defending regional champions both finished in lower positions at Philly Invite, but they have yet to meet head to head. That should change at Chesapeake Invite. AMP is traveling to Labor Day as well, perhaps providing the only link between the east and west coast mixed teams this season, outside of the US Open.
*13. Death By Jubilee, MA 1479 – A second-year DC team still looking for their breakout win after several tight losses at Philly Invite. Runners up at Chesapeake Open and in the field at next weekend’s Invite.
14. Grassface, SW 1460 – Control their own destiny with a strong schedule of top western teams planned at ECC and Labor Day. 2 losses to Mischief, but ranked 5 places higher.
16. American BBQ, SW 1432 – Will be challenged to stay competitive once regional rivals 7 Figures and Blackbird join the already-crowded scene at ECC.
17. Steamboat, GL 1406 – Cincinnati club has a good record and a high seed at the Cooler Classic this weekend, but limited potential to move up further with no matchups against the traditional top teams.
18. Lions, NE 1393 – Only team in the top 20 with a losing record, but they have been the right losses apparently. Lions will next be in action at Chicago Heavyweights.
19. Mischief, SW 1390 – 2006 Champions have been able to trade games with Polar Bears in past seasons, but were on the losing side twice at Revolution; more opportunities to come at ECC and Labor Day.
20. Cahoots, SE 1368 – The North Carolina team has already played more pre-series games than all of last year, and has more tests on tap at Chesapeake Invite, looking to establish some better out-of-region results to get the Southeast back into the strength bid conversation.
*- Current wildcard regions.
If the season ended today bids would be:
GL- 2 SC- 1 SW- 1 NW- 1 NE- 5 SE- 1 MA- 4 NC- 1