August 10, 2012 by Wes Cronk in News, Preview with 0 comments
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This weekend’s Emerald City Classic will feature the deepest collection of elite teams at any tournament this year outside of the Club Championships in October. The Open Division is made up of perennial powerhouses like Revolver and Ironside; storied programs like Sockeye and Furious George; and rising hopefuls like PoNY and Rhino. Every team in attendance has its sights set on Sunday in Sarasota so here are a few of the things we think should begin to highlight the contenders and pretenders.
San Francisco Revolver vs. Boston Ironside – In this rematch of the 2011 Club Championship finals, Ironside gets its first chance at revenge against a Revolver team that handed them a 15-10 defeat to end the season last year. Both squads have been impressive in their limited action this summer. Even though Revolver has yet to play any meaningful games stateside they are coming off a dominant performance at the WFDF World Championships where they went 10-0 and outscored their opponents by a total of 170 to 70. They will be looking to carry that over against an Ironside team that is undefeated so far this season — unless you count the 15-13 loss to NexGen — and really hasn’t been tested in any game other than Boston Invite final against PoNY. It’s easy to imagine a scenario where these teams meet on Saturday or Sunday in Sarasota and both teams will be playing hard for that early season victory.
Vancouver Furious George vs. Toronto GOAT – The Canadian Ultimate scene is certainly in need of some positive press and an exciting battle between the only two teams at ECC from outside the US would be a good place to start. Furious George will be looking to rebound from a disappointing, controversial third place finish at the WFDF World Championships and will have to do so without the help of the GOAT players they borrowed for that tournament. At the same time, GOAT enters the weekend with something to prove after going 2-5 at the US Open — where they fell to the likes of Johnny Bravo, Ring of Fire, Chain Lightning, Truck Stop, and Doublewide and were only able to defeat relative unknowns Inception and Kie. The showdown between Canada’s top two teams will give both teams a chance to get back on track after less-than-ideal summers.
New York PoNY vs. Portland Rhino – Probably not the most obvious pick as neither of these teams made it out of Regionals last year, but that is exactly what makes it so intriguing. PoNY has looked strong so far this season, losing only three games by a combined five points, and will be fighting all season to secure a wildcard bid for the Northeast region. Rhino will be entering ECC with fewer games played this summer but their roster is rife with talent and they, like PoNY, will want to make sure another bid is allocated to the stacked Northwest region. Even though both teams will be without key players — Ben Van Heuvelen for PoNY; Dylan Freechild and rumored addition Chase Sparling-Beckley for Rhino — expect them to come out hungry and firing on all cylinders.
Key Question Marks
While it is literally impossible for one player to win an Ultimate game on their own, no team ever wants to be without its top players. Unfortunately, injuries and other obligations often prevent teams from putting complete rosters on the field, forcing them to put their depth on display.
This weekend is no different. A number of teams will be affected by key absences and it will be interesting to see how they adapt. Thunderstorms have grounded some of PoNY’s players in New York. But Doublewide faces the most obvious — and probably most daunting — test at ECC as both Brodie Smith and Kurt Gibson will be inactive due to injuries suffered earlier this year. The two were huge pieces in Doublewide’s deep run in Sarasota last year; not having them signals major adjustments for the squad on both sides of the disc.
It will also be interesting to see which of the NexGen players — who are still on tour but have a six day break between games — will show up and the impact they will make. Considering they’ve been on the road for most of the summer, it seems unlikely they could simply jump back in with their respective club teams and mesh immediately with the squad. That said, it doesn’t seem wise to bet against these ultra-talented kids so it shouldn’t come as a surprise if they come in and make a huge splash.