SEATTLE — The West Coast Cup, an experimental tournament format designed by NexGen’s Kevin Minderhout, was held for the first time this weekend. Five teams participated in this round robin style tournament with multiple showcase games and livestreaming coverage. With no weather concerns, the teams were able to focus on exactly what they came for: high quality, closely-matched play. With many tight games and some huge plays, the weekend proved exciting for viewers and players alike.
San Francisco Revolver Edges Out A Tournament “Victory”
One of the two standout teams of the weekend, Revolver could be considered the winning team of the weekend. Although they tied with Sockeye for games won and lost, their point differentials just edged out Seattle’s.
Starting the weekend off with a blowout of Portland’s Rhino, San Francisco made their presence known at the start of the tournament. Revolver looked composed and precise, putting Rhino on their heels and frustrating the young team. With excellent marks and strategic poaches, Revolver forced numerous overthrows and completely shut down Rhino’s offense taking half 8-0. Portland managed to calm down a bit during the second half, but still could not get any traction on the #1 ranked Revolver team. San Francisco closed the game out 15-5, setting the tone for play on the weekend.
Revolver’s second game on Saturday against the Japanese Buzz Bullets was far closer. The athletic prowess of the Japanese team gave Revolver a run for their money, but the experienced throws and smart marks by San Francisco won them the game, 17-15.
Revolver started out Sunday’s rounds against Denver’s Johnny Bravo. After playing tight with Bravo for much of the game, Revolver took momentum in the second half with three breaks to end the game at 12-15. Revolver Coach Mike Payne said, “We played hard but not as smart as we could have. Bravo set a poachy defense which we didn’t recognize immediately. We needed to play smarter offense and more consistent defense. We are matched athletically but we kind of let them have their way too often.”
Revolver met their match in their last game on Sunday against Seattle Sockeye. Sockeye began the game incredibly strong, out running the Revolver players and keeping the disc moving quickly. After Sockeye took half at 8-5, Revolver got off three solid breaks to keep the game close. Going all the way to cap, Sockeye just edged out Revolver with the 17-16 win. Revolver player Lucas Dallman made the best catch of the game (and the tournament), bidding for the trailing edge of an extremely bladey forehand from Patrick Baylis.
Despite Short Roster, Seattle Sockeye Shines
The other leading team of the weekend, Sockeye finished the tournament 3-1. They continued in their tradition of quick disc movement and no hesitation with the disc. Sockeye keeps morale high throughout a game and doesn’t let a one or two point lag hold them back.
They had close games with Johnny Bravo, Buzz Bullets, and Revolver, only losing to the athletic, young Bravo. Denver’s poachy defensive style stumped the fish as they struggled to recognize the poach early.
One of their more interesting games of the tournament was their final game against Rhino. Having struggled all weekend to find a winning fire, Rhino came out the gate running against Sockeye. Portland had the lead for the majority of the game. But at the last, Sockeye showed their experience and managed to break three times and take the lead. The first half saw a higher than normal turnover rate for Sockeye and calm energetic play from Rhino.
Japan’s Buzz Bullets Right There With The US’ Elite
The visiting Japanese team, the Buzz Bullets, was a fun addition to the West Coast Cup. Having a very different strategy and style of play than we’re accustomed to in the US and displaying an incredible level of athleticism, the Buzz Bullets made all of their games exciting. They gave both Sockeye and Revolver close games and put Johnny Bravo and Rhino on their heels. They finished 2-2 for the weekend.
The Buzz Bullets were evenly matched with Revolver and Sockeye, taking their game against Revolver to cap. However, the maturity and experience of those two teams was just enough to edge out the Japanese.
Sunday brought a different result for the Buzz Bullets. They first faced Rhino, easily defeating them 15-9. Although not looking quite as flustered as they had on Saturday morning, Rhino was definitely set back by the Buzz Bullets’ quick style of play and aggressive marks.
“The Japanese play a different style and we didn’t make the proper adjustment,” said Rhino’s Ben McGinn.
Portland struggled to get around Japan’s hard mark and strategic poach set. While Rhino’s defense forced numerous turnovers, their offense was not effective enough to convert on the turns.
Lastly, the Buzz Bullets faced Johnny Bravo. As with their game against Rhino, this game saw a very high turnover count. A clear strength during this game for the Japanese was their effective use of deep looks and their ability to read the disc well. Bravo used give-and-gos effectively, but their misreads on the disc hurt them in the second half and the Buzz Bullets took the game 15-10.
Johnny Bravo Showed Poise, Moments Of Excellence
Like the Buzz Bullets, Johnny Bravo finished the weekend with a 2-2 split. They began Saturday with what could be called the upset of the tournament, beating Sockeye 15-12.
Bravo had standout conditioning as well as highlight performances from young players Jimmy Mickle and Tim Morrissey. Bravo used a very effective poach set that frustrated both Sockeye and Revolver. It was not as effective on the Buzz Bullets, however, who attacked it deep more often.
A key attribute of Johnny Bravo at the WCC was their calm style of play in all situations, winning or losing. Despite a fairly consistent lead by the Buzz Bullets, Bravo continued to play their game. They only faltered in defending deep looks, guarding the person instead of the disc.
Rhino Goes Winless, Showing Inexperience
While Portland’s Rhino went 0-4 for the weekend, they showed great improvement in play between Saturday and Sunday.
They started the weekend against Revolver and it was evident they were the younger team. Never able to get a step on the mature Revolver team, Portland spent the game trailing. Not until the second half did they get points up on the board. The afternoon saw much better play from Rhino, facing the other young team of the tournament, Johnny Bravo. They were noticeably calmer and were able to see the field more clearly. Bravo took the game 15-12.
“We struggle to consistently play to our potential,” said key cutter Jacob Janin.
Rhino started out Sunday against the Buzz Bullets. While Rhino struggled to get around Japan’s aggressive marks and smart poach set, Portland did not appear nearly as unnerved as it had against Revolver the previous morning. They played good defense against the Buzz Bullets, but again their offense failed to convert. This game also missed some of Rhino’s key players out for injury. All three big men — Timmy Perston, Sean Parker and Kelly Van Arsdale — all sat the game out, in addition to Janin.
Rhino played their best game against Seattle Sockeye on Sunday afternoon. Coming out with tons of energy and focus, they seemed like a different team. A key addition to their play against Sockeye was amazing defense transitioning to calm conversions on offense.
This game saw highlight defensive performances from Dylan Freechild and Ty Swain in addition to excellent offensive work from Topher Davis. The aggressive defense handicapped Sockeye as they tend to benefit from momentum.
Commenting on the Sockeye game, Rhino captain Adrian King said, “It’s hard for any team to followup a game like that [against Revolver] at the same high level. Our D team had a tremendous game, especially in the first half. We got a couple breaks, which took a lot of pressure off of Rhino’s offense. Our O could operate with a small cushion.”
Despite Portland spending the majority of the game in the lead, their youth again thwarted them as three breaks from Sockeye edged them out of the lead. Sockeye would take it 15-13.
With no team finishing undefeated, there was a great deal of parity on display. Each of these teams have amazing potential and it will just be a question of who puts everything together at the right time.