September 24, 2012 by Charlie Eisenhood in Preview with 7 comments
Now that the Sectionals tournaments have concluded, it’s time to turn our attention to the first big test for the top teams: Regionals. This weekend and next, teams will clash in the eight regional tournaments, looking to secure one of the sixteen bids to the USA Ultimate Club Championships in Sarasota, Florida.
Below is a preview of each region, which teams to watch for, and how likely we are to see an upset. Think we’re underestimating someone? Let us know in the comments.
Ultiworld will be on the ground at both the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic tournaments. Stay with us for full coverage of each.
Upset Likelihood: Moderate
Teams in the Mix: Ironside, GOAT, PoNY, Garuda
Thanks to a rough weekend for Philadelphia’s Southpaw at the Labor Day Championships, New York’s PoNY snuck into the USA Ultimate’s top 16 at the end of the regular season, earning the Northeast region a third bid to Sarasota and making the tournament significantly less exciting. But a strong showing from Boston’s Garuda, who took crosstown rival Ironside to 15-12 in the finals of the East New England Sectionals, signals that this won’t be a cakewalk for the top teams.
The tournament format will be straight bracket play, meaning that PoNY and GOAT (Toronto) will likely battle in semifinals for a chance to take on Ironside in the finals. GOAT won their only game against PoNY this season at early June’s Cazenovia, 14-12. The loser in that semifinals matchup will very likely face Garuda to get into the second place game.
Conditioning will certainly come into play, as a semifinals loss means at least three Sunday games (and as many as five) to earn a Nationals bid.
Predictions: Ironside cruises to the tournament win, PoNY beats GOAT in semis and again to take second, GOAT holds off Garuda in close third place game
Upset Likelihood: High
Teams in the Mix: Truck Stop, Southpaw, Oakland
Without question, the Mid-Atlantic Regionals will be the biggest dogfight among the eight. With just one bid and three 2011 Nationals teams vying for it, it will be a battle.
This tournament shows just how much the regular season can count. Washington, D.C.’s Truck Stop reaped the most benefits by notching a 13-11 win against Southpaw at the Chesapeake Invite, ensuring the number one seed at Regionals. That means they will face a much weaker four seed in semifinals, leaving them with gas in the tank for the finals. That leaves Southpaw and Oakland (Pittsburgh) to duke it out for a spot in finals in a rematch of the Founders Sectionals finals, where Oakland notched the big upset with a 13-11 victory.
You’ll notice that these teams have consistently played very close games against each other — a sign of an exciting and hard-fought Regionals coming up this weekend.
Predictions: Southpaw gets revenge on Oakland in the semifinals and then gets the upset over Truck Stop in the finals in a very close game.
Upset Likelihood: Moderate
Teams in the Mix: Chain Lightning, Ring of Fire, Cash Crop, Florida United
Before Sectionals, we would have said this would have been one of the least interesting Regionals. We thought the region’s two perennial Nationals teams — Atlanta’s Chain Lightning and Raleigh’s Ring of Fire — would easily take the two bids, never facing a really tough game until finals.
At the North Carolina Sectionals, Ring of Fire fell on universe point in the finals to crosstown rival Cash Crop, marking the first Ring Sectionals loss in ten years. The game had little real importance (the teams were set to be the two and three seeds regardless) but the psychological factor is huge.
The two sides will likely face off in the Regional semifinals, and probably again in the game-to-go to Nationals.
Predictions: Chain Lightning walks into the first bid, Cash Crop battles but falls to Ring in the game-to-go.
Upset Likelihood: Low
Teams in the Mix: Machine, Madcow, Lake Effect, Natives
This region is Chicago’s Machine’s to lose. They have consistently dominated their Regional competition this season, including a 13-9 victory over Columbus’ Madcow at the Labor Day Championships. Machine has looked strong all year and should be using this tournament as a tune-up for Nationals.
Natives, another Chicago team, did take Machine to 11-8 at Sectionals, but it’s unlikely they’ll be able to get any closer when it really counts.
Madcow is a good team and continues to be a Sunday regionals threat as the clear number two in the region. If they play their very best game, they could beat Machine. But it remains a longshot.
Predictions: Machine over Madcow in the finals.
Upset Likelihood: Very Low
Teams in the Mix: Sub Zero, Madison Club, Prairie Fire
This region belong to Minneapolis’ Sub Zero and Wisconsin’s Madison Club. There is a big dropoff after those two teams — and it is unlikely anyone will even challenge them for the last bid.
Sub Zero rolled past everyone — including Madison — at the Northwest Plains Sectionals and looks poised to keep winning at Regionals. Kansas City’s Prairie Fire hopes to change that as they come in as the winners of the West Plains Section. They’ve faced Madison twice this season, losing both times 15-8.
Predictions: Sub Zero goes undefeated with win over Madison Club in the finals. Madison easily dispatches Prairie Fire in the second place game.
Upset Likelihood: Very Low
Teams in the Mix: Johnny Bravo, Doublewide
Denver’s Johnny Bravo comes into Regionals with just two losses on the season, both to Seattle’s Sockeye at the Labor Day Championships. At that tournament, they faced off against Regional rival Doublewide (Austin) in the semifinals and pulled off the 15-14 double game point victory.
Despite that loss, Doublewide has looked very dangerous this year and looks poised to go deep into the weekend down in Sarasota.
The two teams should have another close game in the finals at the South Central Regionals. They will be playing to tune up and boost their seeding for Nationals.
Doublewide’s Brodie Smith, who has been out for months after a torn meniscus, told Ultiworld last week that he won’t rejoin the team for Regionals. “I will hopefully be playing limited points at Nationals,” he said. “The doctor thinks I will be able to sixty percent jog around at the end of October.”
Predictions: Doublewide avenges their two regular season losses to Johnny Bravo and wins the region in another very close game.
Upset Likelihood: High
Teams in the Mix: Revolver, Sprawl, Condors, Boost Mobile
The Southwest Region should have some fireworks — it is easily the most exciting Regionals behind the Mid-Atlantic as four very good teams battle for just two bids to Nationals.
San Francisco’s Revolver — the reigning World and National champions — weren’t untouchable in the regular season, but shouldn’t have any trouble grabbing the first bid out of the Southwest.
The second bid, however, will be hotly contested. Phoenix’s Sprawl got an easy win over the Santa Barbara Condors at the So Cal Sectionals, 13-8, and went on to win the Section over LA Renegade. But the Condors will be closer to home for Regionals and looking for revenge. However, Palo Alto’s Boost Mobile will come in as the two seed after taking down the Condors 13-12 in the finals of mid-July’s So Cal Slammer.
It’s really a tossup as to who gets that bid. Sprawl is relatively untested this season and didn’t have to travel for Sectionals, a big advantage. Boost has had good wins and bad losses. And the Condors looked great at the Chesapeake Invite, but got whipped by Sprawl last week.
Should be a classic.
Predictions: Revolver over the Condors in the first place game. Boost avenges pool play loss to Condors in the game-to-go.
Upset Likelihood: Low to Moderate
Teams in the Mix: Sockeye, Furious George, Rhino, Voodoo
The Northwest Region certianly reaped the most rewards from this year’s club restructure. Last year, four very strong teams were vying for just two bids; Portland’s Rhino and Seattle’s Sockeye were left out of Nationals. Now, Revolver plays in the Southwest and the Northwest has three bids, a much fairer allocation for perhaps the strongest region in the country.
Coming off of an undefeated performance at the Labor Day Championships, Sockeye is the team to beat. They didn’t lose at the Washington Sectionals, and notched a close win against Furious George, their big rival from Vancouver.
Portland’s Rhino dominated Furious George 13-7 at Labor Day and looks positioned to finally break through again to Nationals for the first time since 2007.
The big question is about Seattle’s Voodoo, the number two team in the city. They took big brother Sockeye to 13-11 at Sectionals and have shown all season they can hang with the best teams. However, despite lots of very close games, they haven’t notched a win against a top 16 team. They will get some chances at Regionals. If they face off against Furious George, it should be an excellent game.
Predictions: Sockeye over Rhino in the finals. Rhino over Furious in the second place game. Furious battles Voodoo in the third place game and comes away with the third bid.