Stay tuned to Ultiworld all this week for video recaps, highlights, interviews, analysis, and more from Emerald City Classic.
Top 10: ECC 2012
Revolver v. Ironside video recap
Voodoo v. Truck Stop video recap
GOAT v. Furious George video recap
Seattle Sockeye interview
Game of the Tournament: Seattle Sockeye v. Austin Doublewide
PoNY v. Rhino
This weekend’s Emerald City Classic matched up many of the country’s top teams in the first elite tournament of the USA Ultimate Club season. Perfect weather all weekend — mid 80s, sunny, and calm — made for exciting games with frequent hucks and big plays. Below, we’ll recap all the action from the Open Division and discuss the major storylines going forward to the Chesapeake Invite, Labor Day Championships, and into the Series.
After a first round loss universe point loss to Portland’s Rhino, Boston’s Ironside dominated the rest of the weekend with a nearly unstoppable offense leading the way. In fact, the Ironside O was broken as many times in their loss to Rhino — five — as they were in their other six games combined.
In the finals, they would find themselves in a rematch against Rhino. This time was different. Aggressive defense helped Ironside jump out to a quick 3-0 lead as their offense was on cruise control for most of the match. Boston would take halftime 8-3 and continue to get breaks as they shut down Rhino’s cutters. The offense only tripped up once late in the game with a throwaway that would lead to a Rhino break. But Ironside would win easily 15-7.
In their first game, Ironside’s defense couldn’t stop the quick Rhino handler movement and were sloppy on offense. They adjusted well for the finals and used their deeper roster to outwork Rhino in the heat of the day.
Ironside’s only other close game was in their 2011 Nationals grudge match against San Francisco’s Revolver. As you will see in our game recap tomorrow, Boston would strike first with two consecutive breaks — one after a huge layout D — to make it 5-2. The sides would trade points until Ironside grabbed another break after halftime. Revolver would get that one back to pull within two at 11-9, but Boston’s offense was too smooth and they went on to win 13-11.
Ironside Wins: Revolver, Furious George, Doublewide, Machine, Sockeye, Rhino
Ironside Losses: Rhino
Despite the tough finals loss, Rhino exceeded all expectations this weekend, going 6-1 with wins against many of the weekend’s top teams. Incredibly, all of Rhino’s victories were on universe point. Because of that, they ended the weekend with a -2 point differential…and just one loss.
There is some element of luck to winning six straight games by one, but Rhino played very well. Their handlers, particularly, were strong, moving quickly after throws and leaving defenders in their wake. They showed real toughness in Saturday’s last round against New York’s PoNY, getting the game’s only break on the first point of the game and holding off some tough PoNY defense to take it on hard cap 11-10. They also beat Chicago’s Machine, a team whose only other loss was to Ironside.
Rhino Wins: Ironside, Machine, PoNY, Truck Stop, GOAT, Subzero
Rhino Losses: Ironside
Revolver looked like you might expect: an excellent team that had recently taken some time off after winning a World Championship. They played well this weekend, no doubt, but they didn’t show the extra gear that has given them so much success in recent years. That said, they still went 6-1, losing only to Ironside. But their games were all close — they never won by more than five.
When October rolls around, this team will still be threatening for the top spot. With fewer practices for Club season this year, expect some of this early season rust — it takes some rest and recovery to go for the elusive “double peak” to win both Worlds and Nationals.
Revolver Wins: Furious George, PoNY, Sockeye, Truck Stop, Doublewide, GOAT
Revolver Losses: Ironside
Furious George Not Quite So Furious
Furious George had a mixed weekend, going 3-4 with some nice wins (like their second half comeback against Toronto’s GOAT) and some tough losses (15-14 to Machine). Notable, though, was their change in attitude.
Their huddles were still fiery, with lots of yelling to get pumped up. But what we saw of their on-field play was spirited and respectful. At one point during the GOAT game, a Furious player on the sideline, unhappy about a foul call, started to loudly complain. A captain looked over and said, “Hey, enough. Remember what we talked about.” The complaining stopped.
Furious has been the target of criticism after their rough play representing Canada against Japan at Worlds. On Friday, they apologized publicly on their blog and seem to have been working to be more spirited this weekend at ECC.
Furious George Wins: GOAT, PoNY, Truck Stop
Furious George Losses: Revolver, Ironside, Machine, Subzero
Is PoNY Mentally Weak?
If you just look at the win/loss column, PoNY had a rough weekend, going 1-6 with their only win coming against the 0-6 Seattle Voodoo. But they were competitive in all of their games, losing by only one to both Revolver and Rhino and never losing by more than three points. All those close games against good teams may put them near the top of the list in the USA Ultimate rankings.
But, even if they put themselves in a good position to earn a strength bid for the Northeast region, PoNY may need to be worried. In games where they had real chances to win, they couldn’t finish and found themselves consistently with the loss.
Against Machine, they were down 6 to 10 and scored four straight, tying the game with a huge layout Callahan and seizing whatever bit of momentum was left to be had. But they couldn’t even bring it to universe, giving up a break to lose 13-11.
In their tight game against Rhino, their defensive line earned a turn late in the game and was working it down the field. A questionable layout from a Rhino defender into the back of a cutter led to harsh words, despite apologies from Rhino. The PoNY player, still heated, threw away the dump, leading to the Rhino score to maintain their one break lead at 9-8.
These are small examples of a potentially bigger problem. PoNY will need to find more poise and a way to close games to punch their ticket to Sarasota this year.
PoNY Wins: Voodoo
PoNY Losses: Doublewide, Machine, Revolver, Rhino, Furious George, Subzero
Machine Working Well
Chicago’s Machine played very well this weekend, showing some grit to pull off a number of close games. Their only losses were to the two eventual finalists. They showed real toughness to beat a good Doublewide squad.
Machine Wins: GOAT, PoNY, Furious George, Voodoo, Doublewide
Machine Losses: Ironside, Rhino
Doublewide Slips On Sunday
After a strong Saturday performance gave the Austin team a shot at making finals, Doublewide lost all their games Sunday, but all very close. Their matchup against Sockeye (discussed below) could have gone either way and they lost by just one to Machine in the final round of the day.
Despite the mixed results, this team looks to be in a good position moving forward into the season, considering they were missing two of their top players, Brodie Smith and Kurt Gibson. The depth down the roster looks better than last year and a new focus on winning as a team seems apparent.
Doublewide Wins: PoNY, Voodoo, Subzero
Doublewide Losses: Ironside, Sockeye, Revolver, Machine
Game of the Tournament: Doublewide v. Sockeye
This game was an instant classic. It had everything you wanted from an Ultimate game — high-flying offense, huge Ds, a double game point finish, and clean play.
Both teams’ offenses were spectacular, bombing huck after huck on target to streaking cutters for scores and patiently working under when they needed. Remarkably, there was not a single turnover in the first half. The only times the disc even touched the ground during a point were after defensive fouls on the mark.
The second half opened with a Sockeye turnover, but their O line would get it back after an incredible bid on a crossfield hammer to keep it on serve. Doublewide’s offense would turn it once as well, but they too would use a big D to stay on serve.
With Doublewide on offense with a chance to win on universe point, Sockeye would get the D and score the only break of the game to win 14-13.
Total turnovers: 5. We will post video of this game later this week.
NOTES: The two showcase games (Seattle Riot v. Vancouver Traffic and Seattle Sockeye v. San Francisco Revolver) were played with observers…Fields were both turf and grass…Ironside played without Callahan winner George Stubbs because he is coaching at the World Junior Ultimate Championships in Dublin…Ironside led all teams with a point differential of +36…Wind was almost never a factor in games…