1. Colorado Cup Results
Quick thoughts on this past weekend’s major Open tournament: PoNY continues to be plagued by Truck Stop, hopefully solid footage comes out soon to help those of us not in attendance figure out why. Other than that it looks like PoNY is making an early argument to be taken more seriously this season as they finish 3rd – could Truck Stop be in the same boat? While the finals were stopped due to weather, the Doublewide vs. Bravo matchup should continue to be fun to look for as the season progresses. I said on Twitter over the weekend that Florida United’s results surprise me, finishing second in pool play and 9th overall, specifically the failure to make quarterfinals; with the experience the team has, especially from the ex-DW players, to not finish top 8 is strange. The biggest problem though (and I think Florida United is a part of this) is how to quantify the teams that are seen as ‘not quite there’. More specifically, what do we make of Prairie Fire’s 6th place finish? Or Plex’s 8th place finish? With very little known of these teams, and the fact that they’re either facing teams well below their skill level or above, should we see their finish as a sign that Prairie Fire should be taken seriously in the North Central? More on that in the next one topic. Hopefully this ‘issue’ is both sorted out as the season progresses, and over the years as we get a handle on this new format.
2. USAU Rankings
The new USAU rankings are out for the Open division, or Men’s as USAU calls it in this release, I still think it’s ridiculous that Ring of Fire sits at #10 for only having one tournament played thus far, the US Open, where they faced only the most elite talent – though that does change after this weekend’s Chesapeake. PoNY continues to look good, sitting all the way up at #6, Truck Stop right behind them at #8. High Five, from the Great Lakes region, gets a chance to prove their worth this weekend at Chesapeake, and currently find themselves at #11 overall for their strong season to date at lesser tournaments. As Ryan Thompson pointed out on Twitter, out of all of the now one bid regions, the North Central is making a claim for most interesting as Madison Club, Sub Zero and Prairie Fire all sit at 16/17/18 right now. They’re also all going to Heavyweights later on this month, a tournament that should have strong seeding implications for regionals and perhaps give us a better look at if Prairie Fire is for real or not, or if Sub Zero or Madison will drop off.
3. Chesapeake Preview
Instead of focusing on the big name teams at this weekend’s Chesapeake Invite, I thought instead to focus on the other teams. You may not recognize Clapham, the team from the UK visiting this tournament, but they come in as one of the most well regarded teams from across the pond. While I was unable to get a full roster before publishing, they do have quite the history over in Europe and the UK. This interview with Justin Foord paints a good picture of the team’s last full season, and how one UK player views playing in the US (Foord played with GOAT last fall during the championships). Behind Oakland, I think they have a strong chance at breaking seed should the full squad quickly adjust from travel and to the differences in play style, coming in fourth in pool B to start. Oakland comes in undefeated thus far, with a sitting duck in Madcow above them in pool B. For High Five, and Cash Crop, it’s a chance to show that they belong. High Five has one good win, over Madcow at Motown Throwdown, and currently sit high in the rankings. Without a strong performance here, they’d most certainly drop out of that spot even if they were able to recover at Heavyweights. As for Cash Crop, the Colorado Cup saw them put up a fight against top teams, but they weren’t able to stay in for the whole game to pull out the win against Doublewide or Plex, but able to beat Madcow and Heva Havas. A tougher pool this weekend means they’ll need to be able to pull out wins against stronger teams if they want to stay alive in both the tournament and the rankings.
4. West Coast Cup Preview
Five teams are meeting in Seattle this weekend, at the NGN hosted West Coast Cup (Score Report page here). A more complete look at Revolver and Sockeye is perhaps the main highlight, but also to see where Rhino and Japan’s Buzz Bullets stack up against those top teams. Most importantly, this weekend will provide much more footage on these top teams. If you’re free, be sure to go out and watch, if not NGN will have the footage available both live and after the fact for viewing and planning. Results wise, while not ultimately that important, I think Revolver ends the weekend dominant, Buzz Bullets finish with one more win than loss, and Rhino steals one from Sockeye or Bravo, but ultimately not much more.
5. National Character
Go over and read the latest from Lou Burruss, on the character and play of each nation at the World Games from a few weeks prior. The point on Canada is very similar to what both Tushar and Kyle Weisbrod told me last week when discussing the Canandian teams, good to know the people I’m talking to are telling me the right things. On the point of Australia, I looked a bit more into Tom Rogacki, who was #42 on the Australian team during the World Games. Going to his WFDF page, and you can get stats from him from at least one other event, and he was a player to watch on Australia going into the 2004 WUGC event. In an interview with Elliot Trotter last year before Worlds, Jonno Holmes – the captain of the Australian team – mentions Rogacki as a strong influence on himself as a player. And lastly, assuming his #42 has stayed constant, he can be seen playing in the Australian Ultimate Championships from 2001 here (NOTE: the video says nudity warning, from what I watched I saw none, but you are warned again just in case) for Chilly. Quick side note on that video, the short shorts are funny, as are Australian heckles and the fact that this video has replay, but the defense and how very not-touchy it was – watching the game now and you’ll have trouble going throw a point of last year’s games in Sarasota without touching.
While sticking on the International note, make sure you go over and read ‘The Best Ever Played’ by Alexander Steele about ultimate in India.
6. NexGen Tour Done
If you haven’t already heard, the NexGen Tour is done, so says founder Kevin Minderhout in this Reddit AMA. While the whole thing is a great read through, having talked to Kevin a bit about some of the topics, it was interesting to see questions answered again, or new ones arise (the beauty of the Reddit AMA). While I am personally disappointed that this question didn’t get answered, the insight on how the Tour worked from the selection process of players to even sleeping on the bus. The fact that New Zealand’s Aaron Neal is the only player to get in off of those highlight videos is saying something, it seemed even more popped up around the internet this past spring. A women’s tour was also asked about, and Kevin’s answer was that it may not be him running it, but it could work with the right “marketing personality”. Perhaps more importantly than anything about the tour though, were the questions asking about NexGen Network. NGN is of course putting on the West Coast Cup that was previewed above, but two questions particularly stand out as insight on the future of the streaming service. The first may be obvious, that ESPN hurts NGN, but more so than you might think; with ESPN taking the top games at any event they, or USAU, choose, NGN’s options center around either creating new events (WCC), “go out of business or something else entirely.” The second being that USAU’s plans and asking prices for tournament streaming options limits what we, the community, can view. To not have solid footage of the Colorado Cup for example, or other tournaments, is a problem that should be corrected – and if the USAU asking price is the main issue keeping that up, why would they not change that? Here’s hoping Kevin has a solid plan for something else, or that WCC and similar events prove successful for the network to keep it around regardless.
7. Kung-Fu Throwing Video
Lastly, just want to make sure this resource isn’t lost in the noise of everything else going on in the world of ultimate. This week Ultimate Rob posted a video which visualizes the popular Lou Burruss throwing workout, Kung-Fu Throwing. You can find the video here, and a recent post from Lou about it here. Big help when I was playing college, and even now just a good routine to run through. Rob commented on YouTube to say that a Zen Throwing routine video is on the way, and that’s great news.
Photo by Pete Guion of Ultiphotos.com