The women’s division — more than its open and mixed counterparts — is dealing with some of the more controversial aspects of the new bid allocation system. A handful of teams that worked hard during the season to earn bids for their region are now facing the prospect of missing Nationals because of late additions to the USA Ultimate Series. Of course, you have to earn your spot by winning at Regionals.
Here’s our look at each of the Regions: the best teams, the most likely upsets, and the biggest story lines. We also predict who will take the bids to Nationals.
Ultiworld will be on the ground at both the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Regionals.
Upset Likelihood: Moderate
Teams in the Mix: Capitals, Brute Squad, Bent, Stella
After representing Canada at this year’s World Championships in Japan, Toronto’s Capitals — a semifinalist in the 2011 Club Championships — skipped the regular season to recover both physically and financially from Worlds. That means that the region that had three teams at Nationals last year has just two bids (earned by Boston’s #5 Brute Squad and New York’s #13 Bent.)
We argued earlier this month that teams should be able to enter the series without regular season results, but Ryan Thompson makes a good point that the best teams — like the Capitals — have the least incentive to earn bids during the regular season.
The Capitals come in as the clear favorite to win the region, but may be shaking off some rust after a long break between Worlds and the USA Ultimate series. Brute Squad looks poised to take the second bid. Although they haven’t played Bent yet this season, at August’s Emerald City Classic, they went 3-1 against common opponents; Bent went 1-3.
Predictions: Capitals over Brute Squad in the finals after each team wins its pool. Bent plays into the backdoor game but falls again to Brute Squad in a close match.
Upset Likelihood: Low
Teams in the Mix: Scandal, Green Means Go, Hot Metal
Washington, D.C.’s Scandal — the country’s number three ranked team — should have an easy path to the first bid out of the Mid-Atlantic. They haven’t lost to a Regional rival all season and will be using this tournament as a tune-up for Nationals.
Philadelphia’s Green Means Go looks in a position to grab the second bid. Curiously, though, they lost to Pittsburgh’s Hot Metal by five in a one-game sanctioned scrimmage in the last weekend of the regular season, before beating them by five a week later at Sectionals. Hot Metal’s regular season win helped preserve their #16 ranking — the final spot that earns a strength bid — to grab a second bid for the Mid-Atlantic. Certainly, both teams knew about the importance of a strong Hot Metal victory, since Green Means Go was unlikely to jump into the top 16 from a single victory (they are ranked 19th) and neither team has a serious chance against Scandal. The large point differential between games a week apart suggests as much.
Predictions: Scandal over Green Means Go in the finals, Green Means Go takes down Hot Metal for the second bid
Upset Likelihood: Very Low
Teams in the Mix: Phoenix, Ozone, Sweet T, DeSoto
This is another women’s regionals that will be played for seeding at Nationals. Raleigh’s Phoenix and Atlanta’s Ozone — the number six and seven nationally ranked teams, respectively — will face off in finals to decide who gets the better seed in Sarasota. Phoenix has the head-to-head edge with two wins against Ozone this season, once by a lot at July’s US Open and once on universe point at Fusion earlier this month.
Raleigh’s Sweet T and Nashville’s DeSoto will fight for a spot in the backdoor game. Both are good teams, but don’t have the firepower to take down the top squads in the region.
Predictions: Phoenix makes it 3-3 against Ozone this season with a close victory in the finals. Ozone cruises to the second bid with an easy win against Sweet T
Upset Likelihood: Very Low
Teams in the Mix: Nemesis, Dish
Chicago’s Nemesis should get back to Sarasota this year with a walk through Regionals. They easily beat their two closest competitors at Sectionals.
Two other Chicago teams — Dish and Spicy Tuna — will battle for bragging rights with a second place finish.
Predictions: Nemesis over Dish in the finals.
Upset Likelihood: Low
Teams in the Mix: Heist, Pop
This region looks a lot like the Great Lakes. Madison’s Heist — the number four team in the country — should cruise to the tournament win. Minneapolis’ Pop fought hard during the regular season to earn the region a second bid, but couldn’t beat the bubble teams like Hot Metal and finished on the outside looking in at #18.
Predictions: Heist with a solid win over Pop in the finals.
Upset Likelihood: Moderate
Teams in the Mix: Showdown, Molly Brown, Jack Wagon
Austin’s Showdown comes in as the one seed, but isn’t a heavy favorite against Denver’s Molly Brown. Showdown bested Molly Brown by just two points at the Labor Day Championships after a bigger win earlier in the season. However, the teams will likely just be playing for seeding, as the loser shouldn’t have much trouble against Boulder’s Jack Wagon. Molly Brown cruised to a 15-6 victory over them at Sectionals.
Predictions: Showdown takes down Molly Brown again in the finals, Molly Brown over Jack Wagon in the game-to-go.
Upset Likelihood: Moderate to High
Teams in the Mix: Fury, Rally, Nightlock, Safari
More bid allocation drama! First off, San Diego’s Safari worked hard all regular season looking to earn a third bid for the Southwest behind San Francisco’ Fury (#1) and the Bay Area’s Nightlock (#11). Despite a head-to-head win against #13 Bent, bad losses to other bubble teams left them at #17, failing to grab the extra strength bid.
Fury, the most dominant ultimate team in any division, winning six straight National Championships, will use this as preparation for Nationals. That leaves the other three teams to fight it out for the second bid. Along with the Northeast, should be one of the most fun Regionals to watch.
Predictions: Fury easily over Rally in the finals. Nightlock gets past Safari to get into the game to go, and “upsets” Rally to take the second bid.
Upset Likelihood: Low to Moderate
Teams in the Mix: Traffic, Riot, Underground, Schwa, Further, Zephyr
In the Northwest, the new bid system worked well. The top teams all played during the regular season and earned four bids for the region.
The top two teams — Vancouver’s Traffic and Seattle’s Riot — have been back and forth all season in great games. Traffic beat Riot on their home turf at the Emerald City Classic’s women’s showcase game. Riot got revenge at Labor Day in the semifinals. Riot won their pool play matchup at Sectionals, but Traffic came back strong in the finals to win 13-5. Expect a great matchup between these two in the finals.
Portland’s Schwa and Seattle’s Underground are the favorites to take the final two bids — they also earned them. Schwa played Underground once this season in late July and walked away with the 12-8 victory.
But Eugene’s Further lost close to Schwa (10-8) at Sectionals and will be looking to grab that fourth bid. So will Vancouver’s Zephyr, who lost to Underground twice at Sectionals, but stayed close in one of the games.
Predictions: Traffic beats Riot on Sunday at Regionals for the second year straight, this time to win it all. Riot easily beats Schwa in the second/third place game after Schwa wins a close game against Underground to get in. Underground with a smooth victory against Further for the final bid.
Tagged bent, brute squad, capitals, fury, green means go, heist, hot metal, molly brown, nemesis, nightlock, ozone, phoenix, pop, rally, regionals, riot, safari, scandal, schwa, showdown, traffic, underground, USA Ultimate, womens
Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. He started playing Ultimate in Albuquerque, New Mexico as a high school student. He captained NYU's college team and has played Open Club with Sweet Roll (Albuquerque) and Medicine Men (Baltimore). He lives in Brooklyn. You can reach him by email (email@example.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).