1. US Open This Weekend
The US Open kicks off today, down in Raleigh, North Carolina. If the three previews from USA Ultimate on the different divisions (Open, Women’s, Mixed) aren’t enough for you, r/ultimate has a great roundup of all the different links, and includes some games to watch from Ultiworld’s streaming schedule and just in general. While it’s going to be very interesting to see where the International teams are going to finish on the weekend, playing against four of the top US teams, there’s another bigger storyline. Actually seeing those four teams play, especially when parts of two teams will be battling it out for MLU supremacy in a few weeks (more on that in a bit). While I think the International squads will put up a fight – Ragnarok did quite well at Windmill Windup against the American team (a quick look at them), Euforia seems to be focused on what they have to do defensively – it will be one of those four top seeded teams that will come out on top.
As the comments on that earlier Ragnarok article state, the fact that the tournament doesn’t have the top teams from the foreign leagues (Canada even) does hold it back – and this is no offense to the teams attending. There has been speculation on Twitter that the bid fee may be one of the things holding it back from attracting those teams, with a rumored $1500 price tag per team, and the $2000 in prize money. Regardless though, next year may be an even bigger challenge for the US Open to attract the International teams. In theory, it could be a great warm up for the WUCC, but the dates also don’t fall on an attractable weekend with that tournament on the horizon. Guess that’s a problem to consider next year though, let’s see how this weekend goes first. The idea behind it is certainly interesting enough that I hope it continues to function and gets a bit better on the International talent front.
2. NexGen Continues up the East
Due to some internet/streaming issues on my end, I still haven’t been able to watch any full games. But I also haven’t been avoiding look at the scores, or the recaps. The Ring of Fire recap is great, and is made better by this breakdown of the game to accompany it. Also coming out of NexGen is this bus diaries video on the ‘Edge’ workout. And lastly, they’ve partnered with RISE UP to launch the third season of the video coaching series. As the bus rolls on, here’s hoping these extras keep coming out as well.
3. MLU Finals Set
On July 13th, the first MLU championship will take place, as the Boston Whitecaps and San Francisco Dogfish have advanced from the Conference Championships to face off in Philadelphia. Slight aside: I hope the trophy looks just like the banner image on that information page – the part-of-disc-logo with a base and writing – if the league caught on though, something Stanley Cup-ish would be pretty cool too. While the Whitecaps were able to easily overtake the DC Current, the Dogfish had all they could do to hold off the Seattle Rainmakers, even with all of their injuries. It’s a great game, and available to watch online. More on the championship game next week – but for now, pay attention to the game Friday at lunchtime at the US Open. As mentioned, this game will be between Ironside and Revolver, two teams which just happen to have a bunch of MLU players on them. As Jonathan Neeley points out, Ironside is in need of a shakeup and theorizes that the lack of identity going into their first tournament – something their Coach Josh McCarthy says they’ve had in years past – could be what they need to win their first USAU championship. We won’t know if the shakeup works after this weekend, but we will get a good look on how important establishing a team identity is to the typically strong early season play of Ironside.
4. AUDL Season Wraps Up
With two weekends left, the hope that a thrilling playoff spot battle would emerge falls short – as the Rochester Dragons fell to the Toronto Rush twice last weekend. It took away what we were all hoping for most – the AUDL explaining itself had one of the interesting scenarios detailed last week took place. Instead, the Dragons are left with only one game on their schedule. A lot of hope in this Seven On, but if that team can pull things together earlier in the season – and that season’s schedule helps them out a bit with the college season going on at the same time – the Dragons should become a playoff contender with ease next season assuming their roster stays roughly in-tact. Improving the schedule should be a goal of the AUDL this offseason, to better fit within the pre-existing college and club schedules. Maybe they should also consider having a set number of games in their schedule. Talking to a few AUDL players, they all thought it was a little weird that some teams played more than others.
Does the AUDL know that the ‘AUDL Ultimate Disc Championship’ taking place during the Ultimate Championship Weekend is a bit repetitive too? I get that they want to make sure people know what the AUDL is, and what the event is, but wouldn’t adding a tagline similar to what the MLU has suffice? Commissioner Gordon always needed Batman’s help to learn the right things in the animated series when I was a kid, maybe the AUDL needs its own Batman to lead the way? The Championships are in Chicago…
5. Canadian Ultimate Championships
Over at IAmUltimate.com, there’s a good look at the Canadian Ultimate Championships that are coming up in just over a month (August 15-18). While the finals videos always create some noise after the fact, getting to know the teams and bid process a bit more before all of that feels a bit better.
6. Ultimate Peace
The Ultimate Peace camp begins soon over in Israel, tomorrow in fact. Here’s a great blog post that goes into the details of some of the training for the program.
7. Revisiting College Finals
And lastly, another short one, the two 2013 College Championships Finals from ESPN are now up on YouTube (Open/Women’s). While revisiting these games in a few years will be great, revisiting them now works too.
Photo by Bob Gurling of Ultiphotos.com