Late last night, USA Ultimate posted the final iteration of the Men’s Rankings, the end-of-season version that determines the strength bids allocated to each region. As expected, the preliminary rankings were very consistent with the final outcome. Except for one major change.
Portland Rhino, who had been sitting at #17 and leaving the Northwest Region with just a single bid, had moved up three points (from 1478 to 1481) in the rankings.
That was — literally — just enough to pass San Diego Streetgang in the ranking algorithm; they had held a two point edge. The switch snatched a bid away from the Southwest and delivered it up the coast.
The story of how it happened may be more dramatic than the change itself.
USA Ultimate’s Manager of Competition and Athlete Programs Byron Hicks sent this email to Streetgang explaining how the team had lost their bid:
We were very reluctant to make this change as we knew it would be impacting the rankings in a major way. In the end with all the information we gathered we saw no choice but to make the change.
I know this is a major disappointment to your team and region after you thought you had earned the bid for the southwest.
Best of luck to you and Streetgang in the series.
That’s right — a single score of a single game earned Rhino the bid by a single point in the rankings.
Johnny Bravo tweeted a picture of the score sheet (above) from Colorado Cup that serves as proof of the 13-7 finish. Within twenty minutes, they had deleted the tweet.
At the time of the game, Doublewide tweeted that they had won 13-6. But it does appear that the majority of evidence pointed towards 13-7 as the actual score.
The result of what normally would be a tiny correction is in fact a huge swing, granting a second bid to the Northwest and reducing the Southwest to two. It seriously dims Streetgang’s chances of a Club Championships berth — the San Diego team has lost to its closest Southwest competitors — San Francisco Boost Mobile and Santa Barbara Condors — in each of their matchups this year. They have not played the Region’s best team, San Francisco Revolver.
Rhino, as the clear #2 team in the Northwest this year, will have a significantly improved outlook for a return to the Club Championships. They will still have to navigate the always treacherous terrain of Northwest Regionals.
USA Ultimate had not responded to a request for comment at press time.