On Friday, the power pool rounds (check out more great photos) set the stage for the Saturday single-elimination brackets, where it’s win or go home. The morning started off very windy and it only got worse as the day went on. Good throwers became hugely important as teams were forced to get upwind breaks to win games.
Ironside – Josh Markette, an Ironside handler, sums up the team’s mentality well: “We know we’re the best team here.”
After two days of play, Ironside has yet to face a challenge. And where other teams lean on their stars to play back-to-back points and make the highlight reel, Ironside uses its deep bench to grind down teams with high pressure defense and a relentless, confident offensive attack.
That’s not to say they don’t have stars — look at players like Will Neff and Teddy Browar-Jarus — but their team-first mentality leads to a balanced approach where everyone contributes. They are just good — from top to bottom. Their handlers aren’t afraid to rip 50 yard forehands into a 25 mile per hour headwind. Without a big meltdown, this team will make the finals. The big question still looms: can they get past Revolver?
Revolver — If anyone was doubting whether or not Revolver was going to show up in Sarasota, the answer is clear: they’re here.The defending National and World champions have been dominant all weekend, looking more comfortable than any other team in the wind. They have shown real patience and an ability to capitalize on their opponents’ mistakes. Today in power pools, they made a statement with a 15-3 drubbing of Doublewide.
Revolver’s athleticism really shone through — they were not having trouble matching up against the big Doublewide players. The idea that they won’t be able to “double peak” (i.e. win both Worlds and the Club Championships in the same year) is looking increasingly wrong. This team is in great shape and looks ready to head straight into finals.
Doublewide — After losing in the biggest blowout of the weekend, Doublewide has some regrouping to do. They have incredible talent, but they still play as individuals, not as a team. Maybe that’s due to their different camps of players from Florida and Austin, or maybe it’s just a chemistry issue. Against lesser teams, it doesn’t matter — they can dominate their individual matchups and win by overpowering their opponent with superior athleticism.
But against a team like Revolver, you have to win with a strong team effort, especially on defense. Instead, Doublewide looked lazy and paid the price with a big loss. They were yelling at each other on the sideline.
Trying to plug Brodie Smith back into the lineup — even on limited playing time — may be compounding the problem. Because he is not fully recovered from knee surgery, he lacks his trademark explosiveness and can’t quite match up with the top athletes. After playing the whole season without him, trying to add him back at the most competitive tournament of the year seems tricky at best.
Chain Lightning — Atlanta’s top team got off to a rough start to the Club Championships after losing two games in pool play and getting sent to the lower power pools to fight for a prequarters spot. But they responded today, going 3-0 with a big win over a strong Johnny Bravo team to set up a matchup against Ironside tomorrow morning.
Chain looked back to form against Bravo, capitalizing on turnovers they created with fast, strong defense. And they showcased their big style of play with frequent hucks both up and down wind that made for an exciting game. That high-risk strategy, unfortunately, won’t work against Ironside, who have the speed to stop the deep game and the talent to convert the turns. Chain will need their very best game to stay in the game against the Boston squad.
Sockeye — Sockeye didn’t play very well against Ironside in power pools today, but they also sat a few of their top players who were having some leg fatigue issues. Their handlers had trouble getting the disc to the deep cutters as downwind hucks were overthrown and upwinders floated into pileups. They’ll have to clean that up tomorrow to have a chance against Revolver, and even Ring of Fire. The loss of Matt Rehder to a broken arm hurts even more in this wind, where he would have been able to pull down bad throws.