Let me start by saying the only team I’ve seen play in person this year is Machine. I used roughly the same method I used when filling out my NCAA bracket, not much of a method at all. This is part what I want to happen, part what I think would be exciting, and part do I know someone on the team. Critique it all you want (and you will) but doing this gives me the same thrill playing the lottery does. It’s not so much getting it right as it is just having fun planning it all out. Throughout this article my writing degrades and my imagination becomes more persuasive.
Pool A (Ironside, Furious George, Rhino, Boost Mobile)
Furious George being notorious for under performing at Nationals will make this a surprisingly exciting pool. Rhino faces off again Ironside first thing Thursday morning. I know Rhino will be eager as this is the first time at Nationals for a lot of their players which might just be enough of an edge to take down the top seed. However, Furious has their number when it comes to important games. Rhino over Ironside, Ironside over Furious, Furious over Rhino. Boost Mobile, congratulations on qualifying. Ironside and Rhino through based on point differential.
Ironside (2-1) Rhino (2-1) Furious (2-1) Boost (0-3)
Pool B (Revolver, Machine, Ring of Fire, Madison Club)
This pool will follow seed. The matchup everyone will be watching is the Ring of Fire vs. Machine, as the winner will advance into a power pool. Ring edged out an early win at Labor Day in the only matchup these two teams shared all season. Machine has been steadily improving all season and showed consistent effort through the series, something Ring couldn’t accomplish. The second story of Pool B is the Bart Watson rumor. My recommendation: Leave Bart at the condo on Thursday, give everyone the shocker on Friday when his impact will really be felt.
Revolver (3-0) Machine (2-1) Ring (1-2) Madison (0-3)
Pool C (Sockeye, Chain Lightning, Sub Zero, GOAT)
This is the most dangerous pool. Sockeye, having won Labor Day along with the most dangerous region will come out strong. The Chain vs. GOAT game will be the most interesting. They are 1-1 against each other this season. Regionals showed us GOAT can run with the best team in the country, but can’t seal the deal. They are bringing in a 3 – 16 record against National qualifiers. Chain on the other hand is 11 – 5 against National qualifiers. Sub Zero might be a sleeper team, but with no quality wins and not enough games against quality opponents I don’t have high hopes.
Sockeye (3-0) Chain (2-1) GOAT (1-2) Sub (0-3)
Pool D (Doublewide, Johnny Bravo, Truck Stop, PoNY)
While this pool has the potential to be exciting, Johnny Bravo over Doublewide will be the only upset, if you could even call it one. Both teams picked up some superstars in the offseason, but Doublewide is far less consistent supporting a 7 – 10 record against National qualifiers. Truck Stop has shown some quality wins early in the season, but struggled to get through one of the weaker regions. PoNY sporting a 1 – 11 record against National qualifiers should enjoy the moment.
Bravo (3-0) Doublewide (2-1) Truck (1-2) PoNY (0-3)
Pool E (Ironside, Rhino, Sockeye, Chain)
Rhino’s upset really puts a damper on things for Ironside. Boston will have to beat Chain and Sockeye, two semifinal caliber teams, just to avoid a play-in game. Ironside’s last game was a near melt-down against a mediocre GOAT team. Sockeye is just too good and Chain is begging for revenge from last year’s semis game. Sockeye and Chain will both handle Rhino will ease. Boston, nearly collapsing will hit rock bottom late Friday, but elimination game means business.
Sockeye (3-0) Chain (2-1) Rhino (1-2) Ironside (0-3)
Pool F (Revolver, Machine, Doublewide, Bravo)
Doublewide will be rubbing their eyes Friday morning, “Oh lord, it’s true. Bart is back.” Revolver starting on O will let Bart rip a perfect huck to Beau right out of the gate. “Japan didn’t satisfy the beast,” Bart will say. The whole ultimate community will be left star struck. Machine despite having an excellent Thursday will have marched into uncomfortable territory against teams that are a little too good for them. Back to a play-in game.
Revolver (3-0) Bravo (2-1) Doublewide (1-2) Machine (0-3)
Play in: Machine/Goat
Machine with their constant improvement over the year will make it a staple to reach uncharted territory at nationals. While the Power Pool will be uncharted, the buck won’t stop there. GOAT, much like at regionals, will choke. I envision an 8-5 lead at half. Machine captain, Andy Neilsen, will deliver the most passionate halftime speech while his co-captain Walden Nelson (no relation) silently shakes his head. Nelson will then return to his room and shoot off an e-mail to his team agreeing with everything Andy talked about during said speech along with how to plan for tomorrow. Machine into quarters.
Ironside, completely confused about what all went wrong this tournament will let loose and start firing on all cylinders. Muffin, whose been caged up ever since he moved to Boston will take the game (and season) into his own hands. All those great fakes he threw in the regionals game to go are going to be spot on hucks. Truck Stop, confused about how they ended up having to a team like Ironside in the quarters play-in round, will think it’s still Thursday and will ask what time the next round starts when the game ends. Ironside into quarters.
Machine ecstatic about making it into quarters will get huck happy Saturday morning. Machine will pull a significant amount of hucks down, but a couple turns is all Sockeye will need. Despite the size advantage of Machine against Sockeye, Sockeye is too experience and too disciplined not to advance. I don’t see Sockeye getting broken, 15 – 11.
A game for the ages and potentially Rhino’s next feature film. Bravo having just enough experience and Rhino not really being experienced at all in this situation give Bravo a major edge. Rhino is really only this far because of the Ironside upset, yet still sneaks into quarterfinals with a 2 – 3 record on the weekend. Bravo is going to break out the good cop/bad cop routine all weekend between Josh “Richter” Ackley and Jack “Jank” McShane. Bravo to semis 15 – 9.
This will hands down be the best game of the weekend, if only because it will be taking place way earlier than it should. Ironside was too busy imploding to realize Bart showed up Friday morning. They are the last to know. The Martin Cochran vs. Peter Prial matchup is incredible; not to mention Sam Kanner defending Matt Rebholz, reviving the Carlton/Wisconsin rival. Ironside struggles all game deciding who Will Neff should markup against, but they can’t take him off the field because his pulls are too good. This will leave Adam “Chicken” Simon, potentially worse, Robbie Cahill with a very favorable matchup. Plus round 87 of Beau vs. Colin. 16 -14 Revolver.
While Revolver vs. Ironside will be an exciting game, this will have the most exciting plays. Featuring two teams who love to boost it, it’s going to look like a constant game of 500 from grade school. While Doublewide has some firepower, Chain just has way too many athletes. Nick Lance against Tim Gehret offers Callahan vs. Callahan. However, the Texas vs. Florida debate continues on for Doublewide, offering Chain a prime opportunity to strike lightning. Chain wins the athletes against athletes matchup by having better athletes. 15 – 13.
Rematch of the Finals at Labor Day. Bravo will come out with a junk zone to start in hopes of slowing down Sockeye’s fluid offense, before collapsing into man half way down the field. I see this game much like last year’s super bowl, who has the ball at the end. This game will be streaky for each team. Whoever gets hot at the end will pull out a birth into finals. Sockeye 16 – 14.
Discipline vs. Fire power. Revolver hot off their worlds win just won’t have what it takes. Joel Wooten is one of the only players in the country fast enough to guard Beau. Chain claims to have been training with the “Edge” program down in Atlanta making an already athletic team ever more athletic. I think Chain’s marking ability will be key. They have the downfield speed to cover Revolvers cutters but, will they be able to apply enough pressure to Revolver’s throwers to force turn-overs. Upon watching footage of Worlds, Revolver looked to struggle at times with their dump sets, something they will need to rely on to grind out a win. This game is a dog-fight. Chain 15 – 12.
Two teams offering very different styles of play. Chain likes the long ball; Sockeye just likes to keep the ball moving. Chain will absolutely have the athlete advantage in this game, but will they be able to pull down enough hucks for that to matter? Plus, Phil Murray is just as good as most of Chain’s receivers in the air. This game will come down to Chain’s ability to shut down Sockeye’s handler resets or Sockeye’s ability to force poor hucks. If Sockeye can keep the ball moving with break side hammers and large in-cuts while winning a few battles in the air it’s Sockeye’s game for the taking. 15 – 12 Fish.
This has been optimistic, yet it will keep the entire weekend exciting. Let the debates begin!