With the Club Championships only days away, it’s all about Sarasota, so welcome to the first Skyd Magazine Roundtable. The participants are Zack Smith, Keith Raynor, Gene Buonaccorsi, Victor Smith, and Jimmy Leppert. If you have any other questions you’d like our commentators to discuss, post in the comments or send me a tweet (@Skyd_JLeppert).
And with that, here we go…
Which pool is the most dangerous?
JL: Pool C. GOAT can be very dangerous as the last seed, and we’ve already seen them take down Chain once this year. Pool A & B should be a battle for the first two spots, with whoever finishes third in those two primed to make a run into pre-quarters.
KR: Pool C is an obvious Pool of Death. Whoever scored GOAT was probably going to snag that title, but having Chain as a two seed only adds to that drama. It certainly feels like one of the top two seeds will win but who knows after that. Still, it feel like there is more upset potential – perhaps parity – across the board this year. Do I think a 3 seed like Rhino or Truck or Ring will win their pool? No. Do I think they could best the one seed and/or finish second? Yep.
GB: While Pool C seems like the clear answer, I think it’s worth noting that Pool D is another dangerous one. Truck Stop proved that they can win tight games at Mid Atlantic Regionals and when they have energy going their way I think they can challenge the top seeds in the pool. PoNY, despite a lackluster regular season, could play spoiler. The injury to BVH definitely hurts them but they are a speedy team that never backs down (see NE Regional 2nd place game vs. GOAT where they did not “need” to win, but dominated from the get go). I’m fairly confident that DW has the upper hand, but there could be some shuffling in the lower 3. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of the bottom two seeds to break into pre-quarters from the lower Friday pools.
ZS: I think we all agree about Pool C. While people may write off GOAT’s win against Chain Lightning as a fluke (I believe GOAT was down 7-12), they were missing a bunch of key players at Chesapeake like Adrian Yearwood, Mark Lloyd and international talents Sprrong and Ford. With Sub Zero being the fourth, GOAT’s first game against Chain may be their most important of Pool Play. Depending who falls out of Pool A, we may see 3 teams advancing to bracket play from Pool C as the two cross in Pools E and G.
After winning the world championships, can Revolver win in Sarasota again?
JL: Seeding helps a lot for their repeat chances ending up with a relatively easy(er) pool, their path to powerpools on Friday will be an easy one, getting out of that alive could be a challenge though. Between ECC & Labor Day, they had three wins by two points or less, and eight total by four or less. One of those close wins was against Doublewide, who they also lost to once this season, a team that will certainly be meeting them in powerpools. Winning close over Doublewide while also taking down Johnny Bravo on Friday? That’s going to be a tough task to accomplish, even for the world champions. They certainly can win again, but the path this year will be very difficult.
KR: I’m with Jim; this isn’t the invincible Revolver we watched last year. While when they are on their game, they are still upper echelon with their remaining and emerging studs, but they seem to have lost some of that consistency and efficiency. I think how they play after the turn – particularly the offensive line – will be a huge factor in how far they go.
VS: Whether Revolver is weaker or the competition stronger, this is still Revolver we’re talking about. Can they win? Absolutely. Will they win? That’s a much more difficult question to answer. Would I bet on it straight up? Probably not, but with odds I’d certainly take Revolver.
GB: I think that a lot of their success on Friday will rely on how they handle Thursday pool play. If they can put away teams like Madison early and not draw games out (see Labor Day) then I like their odds of winning multiple tough games on Friday. If they let the lower seeds run them around on Thursday though, I’m not so confident.
Another note: I agree with Victor’s point that this is still Revolver. 23 of them (by my count) were world champions this Summer, as well as many returners from last years Club Championships. I think that they inherently have a higher ceiling than teams that are not as familiar/comfortable with the situation (JB, Rhino, Machine, etc)
ZS: According to Bryan Jones, Watson may be back for Revolver which could be the thing that tips the scale back in Revolver’s favor. Yes they aren’t as strong as they were in 2011, but that is one hell of a litmus test to compare to; keep in mind Revolver is coming into the Club Championships seeded second overall. This team is still looking to peak and with the addition of Watson, that is a terrifying prospect. I certainly agree that the path is important; I think Pool B will be an easier road that most 1 seeds get, with Revolver’s experience taking down the Machine and the youth of Ring. Pool F will certainly be strong with most likely Bravo and Doublewide. Taking either first or third will land them on the opposite side of Ironside, which is important on the road to a third consecutive title.
Doublewide and Johnny Bravo find themselves facing for the fourth time this season in Pool D – Bravo took the first two matches, Doublewide took the win at Regionals. Who comes out on top this time?
JL: Doublewide has played every team in this pool, losing to Truck Stop at the US Open, and winning close over PoNY at ECC; while Bravo only has games against Truck, winning handedly both times. Both teams should enter the last game fighting for 1st in the pool. Doublewide squashed the Bravo come-back at South Central regionals, after Bravo beat them twice earlier in the year, and I think they’ll win again in an all-out game to secure the #2 spot behind Revolver come Friday in powerpools.
KR: I think that these two teams are so fiery and have some really great playmakers, so they are a fun matchup and we’ll all enjoy seeing them slug it out at Regionals for the years to come. That said, I think I like Doublewide’s firepower more, particularly their downfield cutters. Richardson, Driscoll, and Anderson are big, and Wolfe has been skying defenders taller than him for a long time. Really though, it’ll come down to who can harness their fire and who gets burned by it.
VS: Jimmy: Doublewide at the Open is a very different team from Doublewide now by any metric. Any results from that tournament should be taken with a grain of salt, if not thrown out. So, for all intents and purposes we’re looking at a 1-1 matchup with Doublewide claiming the most recent victory. Besides that, I don’t really know enough about these two teams to make a judgment.
ZS: I absolutely agree with Victor here – the US Open saw a gutted Doublewide, and I would not count that loss against a Bravo team with the home field Colorado elevation advantage. Definitely the most exciting pool play matchup (I hope Ironside vs. Rhino has some fireworks) where the loser may find themselves on the same side of the bracket as Ironside. My concern for DWTX has been the same as everyone’s the entire season long, how will Austin look with Brodie and Kurt back in the rotation (more so Brodie as I know Kurt has had some time back with the roster). Doublewide is an incredibly athletic and talented team, especially with guys like Cook and Richardson, but Brodie really changes their style of play for the worse (in my opinion). If Brodie is back on the O-Line and is modifying their system instead of participating it, I give the nod to Bravo who is finally looking strong after a couple year hiatus.
JL: You guys are right, that was a completely different Doublewide. Zack, you brought up an interesting point. How Brodie fits in is going to be the main question. I still think that Doublewide will win the pool, and take care of Bravo when push comes to shove.
Ironside’s only loss (Rhino 11 -12) is in their pool. Ironside’s pool is West Coast loaded. Does that hurt or help?
JL: I don’t think it helps or hurts them that the three other teams are West Coast. But Rhino being in the pool, along with a strong Furious team, could cause issues. Bryan Jones wrote earlier in the year, that Ironside lost to Rhino at ECC because their O-line “was having issues getting the job done against Portland, getting broken five times.” If that problem comes up again, as it did in the second half against GOAT at North East Regionals, then Rhino or Furious could take the Ship down. But I’m expecting Ironside to show up as they did in the finals of ECC, against Rhino – “Ironside’s defense was simply too suffocating, clamping down on a Rhino cutting unit” Bryan Jones wrote, “the pressure defense forced throwaways and miscommunications with handlers.”
KR: Ironside is such a smart team, especially with McCarthy at the helm. I think, along with Sockeye and Revolver, you’re always at a disadvantage if they get to prepare for you. Their defensive line is so crazy versatile too, so they can mix up match ups and apply pressure in new places as necessary. In that sense, I think it helps Ironside.
GB: I actually think that having Rhino and Furious facing off against each other might benefit Ironside. I can assume that the two NW teams will really go at each other in the 12:15 game because that will likely decide who goes to power pools. Rhino certainly knows that they can take down Furious after the universe point loss in the 2/3 game, so — while I’m not saying that they will throw up a white flag — I’m betting that Ironside will see a Rhino team that is saving their best for the second game of pool play. I think Ironside can maximize this situation by coming out strong early against Rhino and creating a few breaks of their own.
ZS: Furious has had poor Nationals results for the past two seasons and I don’t see them as a threat to Ironside’s success. The ship’s strength is their defensive line, which is absolutely terrifying considering who they have on the offensive side of the disc. Rhino vs. Ironside will be a really fun game to watch, considering their ECC result, but I can also see this being an absolute blowout in Boston’s favor. Portland has the talent to stack up against any team in attendance, but they need to make sure they have the energy to compete late into the tournament. IMO, Rhino’s most important game is against Furious, which I think is a sure thing if they play their game as PDX had a regionals meltdown similar to GOAT after falling on universe to Sockeye.
Revolver has an east coast loaded pool and have only played Madison Club (17 -16 win at Labor Day). Does have already played a team hurt or help?
KR: See previous comment. Very smart team with ability to analyze and adjust. Let’s say I wouldn’t want them to have tape of me and get handblocked like Rebholz did in the finals last year.
ZS: Revolver is the quintessential example of a team with strong mental strength. If any team is going to give San Fran issues in Pool B, it’s not going to be Madison. Ring’s poor performance with their skeleton squad at Labor Day is making people underestimate their strength. Raleigh and Chicago faced off in pool play at Nationals last year, where the former took the game 15-10. Based on their potential strength, Ring of Fire is very underseeded and Machine should definitely keep an eye over their shoulder.
JL: Agreed with Zack. I don’t think a pool full of teams from the east will mess with Revolver’s mental toughness, nor do I think they will let Madison Club get so close to beating them again.
Is Machine for real? A strong showing out of the gates last year and a two seed this year. Sheehan and Dane Olson running the show, how far can they go?
GB: They’re on a pretty big win streak, but haven’t seen Club Champs teams since Labor Day. So far they’ve shown they can stick with most opponents this season (8-6 against other Championships teams with some close losses as well) but if they are slow ramping up to a higher gear I’d be wary of Ring pulling an upset from the 3 spot.
ZS: Machine is the real deal. Guys like Dane Olson, Walden Nelson and Jonathan “Goose” Helton are strong offensive talents that can get it done against the nation’s best. I don’t think they are a finals team, but they can definitely make it to quarters and make some noise (depending on their path).
JL: Still not sure how to feel about Machine. I do think they can make prequarters again this year, but beyond that? I think it depends on their draw. I do not think they will hold seed in their pool, with Ring of Fire upsetting them as Gene said, but from there as Zack said – it all depends on their draw.