1. Beach Cup
A random thought I had the other day about trying to find a solution on what to do for beach ultimate, was to look at the setup of professional golf. In golf’s PGA Tour and its season, what is known by most is the ‘major’ events – the Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship – but aside from that there are many other events over the year, and competing in those events earn you points. This is called the FedEx Cup, and at the end of the season the top 125 in the points go on to playoffs, which is eventually brought down to the final 30 for the Tour Champoinship; at the end of the event, the person with the most points is crowned the season champion. Now before I get going, hear me out. Of course in golf, the ‘Majors’ tournaments mean a lot more than the Fedex Cup playoffs do – just as Lei Out, Wildwood, Sandblast and any other major, well-established beach tournaments would mean more than whatever USAU sets up in the first few seasons (at least). Now any golf fan can correct me if I’m misunderstanding that, but I think a similar setup would be the way to go here for USAU. There’d be some problems & adjustments to make for sure – I think it’d be far too soon to establish required tournaments (a.la Triple Crown Tour) or to have a required amount of tournaments either. I also don’t think teams would react too kindly to the team with the most points winning the season, even if they don’t win the final tournament. You want a way to include, at first at least, as many teams as possible in whatever establishes the championships, all the while maintaining the current setup of beach ultimate; from what I’ve read in comment-sections and elsewhere, it doesn’t seem like people want that to diminish in role at all. I think a setup similar to golf would do just that. Just with a few adjustments. If anyone more versed in both golf, and how this could work, would care to chat about this idea feel free to post below or shoot me an email!
2. Skyd Crew: Best Jam
Before diving into the open (err… men’s) division things for the week, I thought it’d be a great time to ask the rest of the Skyd crew some questions about their song choices for ultimate. Before going any further, a quick note that some of the songs I link to may contain lyrics that aren’t exactly appropriate – you’ve been warned. Not only what was going to be heard on the sidelines of every college ultimate tournament for the season to come, but what the GOAT was in terms of ultimate jams. The responses I got ranged from the well-written defenses of the choices, to simply a link – letting the song speak for itself. The surprise no mentions? No Ratatat Remix of Biggie’s Party & B.S. ; only one Kanye mention; and that whole dubstep craze I think can be declared dead. A certain editor, who will remain nameless, suggested this gem. Yup, that’s the kind of serious discussion we hold here at Skyd – we’ll just go ahead and pretend I ignored that one as a contender.
For this upcoming season, there were four clear songs that the crew and I think could find themselves coming at your ears on fields this fall and spring. The frontrunner was the Imagine Dragons song ‘Radioactive’. While not so much on the new side, I don’t think there’s any doubt that it’ll still be playing on sidelines. It was the band’s first hit song, and when the synth drops after the soft opening, you can see why it got so catchy. In the same vein is Awolnation’s ‘Sail’, and again not a new song. But as Coit Stevenson told us all, it’s a favorite for Callahan award videos, and highlight mixes. I don’t think that’ll change either with ‘Sail’. For two actually new songs, we have two hip-hop songs, that speak to different natures. There is the Jay Z and Timberlake song ‘Holy Grail’ (note: video song isn’t actual song, just best video available), and the Big Sean lead ‘Control’ that features Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica. Don’t want to get too ‘analytical’ with the songs now, but that one is about the fame being too much and the other about who the top dog is in the game, has to be something, right? Especially when we’re talking about which is going to be the jam rocking on college sidelines?
I digress, time for the greatest ever songs recommended by the Skyd crew. Out of those, three solid contenders emerged. The first comes from the ex-Southpaw player on staff, Bill Conti’s ‘Gonna Fly Now’ – get it, a theme song from Rocky coming from the Southpaw guy. I’d say bias, but it is a great choice; if seeing Stallone running through the streets doesn’t pump you up either while training, before a game, or mid-point – certainly those lyrics will! (Especially when the horns come in!) Next up was a suggestion on what works best on the ladies side of the game, with Ke$ha’s ‘TiK ToK’ being the right song to pump-up with before a game. If you can guess who suggested this last one, you win something – it’s Mobb Depp on ‘Shook Ones Part II’. It’s got great instrumentals, and lyrics that give a stern message.
Either way, I wasn’t going into this thinking there’d be a champion crowned – just wanted to know what other people tried sneaking onto the team boombox each weekend. So if you’ve got any specific suggestions, feel free to leave them below or find a way to share it with us – we’re all always looking for more jams (most times ‘jam’ will every appear in a Skyd article, until the MLU Jelly promotion later next year). No classical or country, and very little rock & roll made the list – while my money would’ve been on hip-hop (or it’s offspring) being the top dog in this show, that they don’t have a mention speaks to something.
3. Pro Flight Finale
Ryan Farrell of Johnny Bravo attended the Pro Flight Finale in sunny California over Labor Day weekend, and has a fantastic writeup over on the USAU website. Pay attention to what is said about the Saturday games there were cancelled this past weekend. I felt like I was actually taken the tournament that I’ve heard so much about when talking to people who have been around the game longer than I have, not only that but the detail into the strategies is unmatched right now in terms of recaps. As I typed that, I realized that Bravo having someone to analyze other teams at major tournaments like this could be part of an ultra-secret plan to win it all this year. It would make sense. A lot of honesty in what he was saying and thinking throughout the weekend; so before
Bold prediction revision as well coming out of this weekend: I said GOAT wouldn’t be winning much at Nationals. That was me thinking the power pool format was still in place (more on that later). Revising that a bit, I think GOAT will make it past the first round in the bracket format on Friday. But I don’t think this instantly propels them into the conversation for winning it all. I think that honor belongs to Doublewide, Revolver, and Ironside – with maybe Bravo, Sockeye and PoNY pushing for semifinals, if not finals, birth. I think Machine, Chain, Ring and GOAT all fall in the not quite semifinals position right now. The last two tournaments have been strong for GOAT, but will they meet a Machine unmovable in Texas? Or one of those other teams after a poor Thursday? Just not certain on them yet, maybe after regionals that could change; until then, I’m sleeping on GOAT.
5. Crazy Bids
Lost in that part of the weekend, was that the final bid placement would be coming out. With Labor Day being a premiere, pro flight event, the drama it held in years past was a little bit diminished this year. Still important, but not as important as say last year with Southpaw, or years prior. Ultiworld has the scoop on how the final bid changed hands from the Southwest and Streetgang to the Northwest and Rhino. Be sure to familiarize yourself with this list – as regionals take place in a few weeks, you’ll want to know which regions to keep an eye on.
6. New Format
Remember earlier, when I mentioned that the crossover round at the Pro Flight Finale in Davis, California was cancelled partly because they were useless in nature? Couldn’t you make that same argument now for the October Club Championships in Texas now that USAU has announced a new format? What a time for them to announce it too. See the full details here (along with what I think is a logo that rivals the hideous-ness of the Buffalo Sabres new jersey), and while it isn’t as simple as Thursday being completely meaningless as teams will still want a better matchup going into the new Friday bracket play instead of power pools, it doesn’t seem as meaningful or rewarding to depth as the setup was all season. As Bryan Jones pointed out in this tweet, strategy probably won’t change much. What doesn’t make sense to me is, why not release this information at the beginning of the season? Or even before September? Granted, USAU would probably be torn to shreds if it wasn’t end of a season when they were releasing this, but with just under two months until the final competition they sure picked a weird time.
If I were in charge of this at USAU, I might start to entertain the idea of scrapping the pool play games all together in favor of a 16 team (or even expand it to 20+ team?) bracket. Some regional tournaments in both college and club already do this to determine the bids, and have games and separate brackets to determine placement – just as USAU would want done to find out the TCT spots of teams. Maybe they’re worried about (for example) a 16th seed knocking off a 1 seed early? Or teams unfamiliar to the others, and the media, causing a stir at the tournament? Both are main draws to the March Madness format. And that seems like where the format for the club championships is headed.
7. And if you somehow missed it…
You should go read what Beau wrote the other day. As I jokingly told Zack Smith on GChat after reading through it for the second time, not only can he play a better game of ultimate than I can, he can put words to paper better than me as well. Very well written, and worth the read (even if it’s for the 100th time).
Photo by Christina Schmidt of Ultiphotos.com