October 23, 2012 by Charlie Eisenhood in Analysis, Fantasy, Other, Preview with 4 comments
You have three days in order to submit your finalized brackets in the 2012 Ultiworld Bracket Challenge sponsored by VC Ultimate/Printed Performance and Ulticards. That’s plenty of time to do some hard thinking about matchups, pools of death, darkhorses, and upset likelihoods. We want to help you do that.
We have put together below a huge list of resources to help you as you fill out your brackets for each division, including links to game tape, relevant write-ups, and more. Let’s get started.
|Furious George (8)
|Chain Lightning (6)
|Johnny Bravo (5)
|Ring of Fire (10)
|Sub Zero (11)
|Truck Stop (12)
|Boost Mobile (16)
|Madison Club (15)
Boston Ironside: A powerhouse program that returns to 2012 almost fully intact from last year, where they lost in the finals to Revolver. The number one ranked team has just one loss on the season, somewhat of a fluky one in the early morning first round of the Emerald City Classic against Rhino, who they easily beat in the finals. Ironside, while dominant, has shown signs — at times — of being vulnerable, most recently in their narrow win over GOAT in the Northeast Regionals finals. But with their big game experience, top end talent, and their deep bench, they remain the clear favorite to take it all this year.
Vancouver Furious George: Consistently strong coming out of the Northwest, Furious George has been inconsistent this season, notching some big wins (Ring of Fire, Rhino) along with some bad defeats. They got whipped by their biggest rival, Sockeye, at Regionals, but rebounded to take second with a universe point victory over Rhino to help boost their seeding. Their rematch in pool play will be a barnburner. They are probably — at best — a prequarters team with a long shot at quarters.
Portland Rhino: One of the more surprising teams of the year. They are underseeded thanks to their fluky loss to Furious at Regionals. They have only five other losses this year, all to teams in the top six at Nationals. With young playmakers like Dylan Freechild and Cody Bjorklund, this team has the ability to beat anyone, as they showed at ECC with a brilliant undefeated Saturday performance at double game point in every game. They should get past Furious and into power pools, where they will likely face Sockeye and Chain Lightning, two teams that beat them earlier this season. But they are a very good team and could go deep if they play their best.
Palo Alto Boost Mobile: The 16 seed is arguably underseeded given their victories against PoNY and Ring of Fire, along with a very strong Regionals performance. Unfortunately, they will have a tough road into quarters because of the stacked Pool C that will send two strong teams into the weak pools. They are a young team, filled mostly with Stanford talent, and showed an ability to make some explosive plays when we saw them at the Chesapeake Invite. Their experience gap could hurt them in Sarasota. They could get an upset over Furious, but probably won’t make it into pre-quarters.
San Francisco Revolver: It’s hard to bet against the reigning US and World Champions. They haven’t shown the kind of dominance they did last year, but Revolver has a collection of some of the very best players in the world on their team and will be hard to beat. Although we think they are somewhat overseeded (after losses to Doublewide and Sockeye late in the season), they could easily find themselves in the finals again as they look to achieve the “double peak” — winning Worlds and US Club Championships in the same season. Unlikely they exit before semis.
Chicago Machine: Machine is a very good team. Despite a lot of losses at Labor Day, they were right in the game with top teams like Johnny Bravo and Sockeye. They also notched a big early season win against Doublewide. The problem for Machine is that their power pool will be pretty deadly. They will likely need to beat Bravo or Doublewide to advance straight into quarters. There’s a good chance they’ll face a prequarters game, which they should win. Machine was impressive at ECC: if they bring their best game, they can make a deep run.
Triangle, NC Ring of Fire: One of the most historic programs in Club ultimate has had a bumpy season. They lost Sectionals for the first time in years, getting upset by rising rival Cash Crop, also out of North Carolina. They lost all but one game at Labor Day, but that win was against a strong Machine team who they’ll now face in pool play. They had a much better showing at the Chesapeake Invite where they lost in finals to Ironside. Weigh those results heavily. A lot of players couldn’t make it to Labor Day, so the closer-to-home Chesapeake gives a better sense of how good this team is. They could certainly win the pool.
Madison Club: This team gets a surprising amount of disrespect from USA Ultimate with the 15 seed — we expected them to fall at #12. Although their only win against a Nationals-bound team was against 16 seed Boost Mobile, they played very close games against Doublewide, Chain Lightning, and Revolver at Labor Day. They really don’t have many results against middle-of-the-pack competition. That said, the reality is that this pool makes it very difficult for Madison to break into power pools. But they will need to get at least one win in their pool to really have a shot at a pre-quarters matchup.
Seattle Sockeye: Sockeye is the hottest team in Ultimate right now. With 17 straight wins — many over the best teams in the country — Sockeye probably deserved the two seed in Sarasota. But they have two big problems. One, they are in the most treacherous pool by far, even the bottom seeds are dangerous, quarters-level squads. Two, they lost one of the biggest playmakers, Matt Rehder, to a broken arm at Regionals. Rehder’s talent was obvious all summer as he dominated on the NexGen tour — and he was a major component of Sockeye’s success. Can this team still make semis? Tough call. They have excellent team chemistry, a strong offense, and a lot of experience. But having those big playmakers really matters down the stretch. BJ Sefton may be able to pick up the slack.
Atlanta Chain Lightning: The perennial southern powerhouse will be hungry to reach finals this year after a one-point loss to Ironside in the semifinals last year. However, they haven’t shown to be as strong as they were last season, with some baffling losses to GOAT — a game they choked away — and Truck Stop. But come Thursday, this team will be ready to play. Their famous deep game — if it’s working — is dangerous, but the teams seeded above them have showed an ability to slow it down and get wins. They will make quarters, but can they make semis?
Minneapolis Sub Zero: This team hasn’t quite lived up to their talent so far this year, another reason Pool C is so dangerous. They have been inconsistent, often beating lower level Nationals-caliber teams but losing to Regionals-caliber ones. Lucky for them, the slate gets wiped clean in Sarasota. As we’ve pointed out, getting into power pools out of this pool will be tough. Sockeye crushed them earlier this season at ECC. But this team has the ability to surprise. Could be a bold pick for making quarters.
Toronto GOAT: This may be this year’s most obvious darkhorse team, coming in vastly underseeded thanks to a Regionals meltdown. Although this team has lost a lot of games this season, they have been close against almost every top team they’ve played. They dominated Ironside in the second half of the Northeast Regionals finals with efficient defense and untouchable offense before a late foul call after they thought they had won the game sent them into a tailspin. But this same team showed poise in a late comeback against Chain Lightning in the semis of the Chesapeake Invite. Could this team win two games in their pool? Definitely. A sleeper pick for quarters and, if Jeff Lindquist and other playmakers are on fire like they were at Regionals, possibly semis.
Austin Doublewide: After a rough Sunday at ECC in early August, Doublewide has played outstanding ultimate, losing just twice (on universe point) to Rhino and Johnny Bravo. They have notched wins against Chain Lightning, Revolver, and Bravo (when it counted at Regionals). The team is stacked with talent, including Florida alums Tim Gehret, Cole Sullivan, Chris Gibson, and Brodie Smith. Smith has been out all season with a knee injury, but may play some points at Nationals if he’s needed. Doublewide’s offense has looked powerful all year, and they have the pieces to make a deep run this season. They will be looking to get to finals after losing to Revolver last year in the semis.
Boulder Johnny Bravo: USA Ultimate’s number one ranked team for much of the season, Johnny Bravo is a very talented squad this year. With veterans and young stars like NexGen’s Jimmy Mickle playing well together, they are capable of beating anyone in Sarasota. Their rematch against Doublewide in pool play will be a classic, but both teams should advance into power pools. Their likely matchups there against Revolver and Machine will be battles, any of the teams could be forced to play in prequarters. Bravo has a good shot at semis this year.
Washington, D.C. Truck Stop: Truck, unlike a lot of teams, had its toughness tested at Regionals, in a tight finals matchup against Philadelphia’s Southpaw to decide who would head to Sarasota. That could give them an edge heading into Thursday’s games. They’ve had an up-and-down season, though, with some big wins (Sockeye, Doublewide) and some poor losses (Madcow). They will need to continue to rely on physical defense and big playmakers like Sean Keegan and Jeff Wodatch to find success this weekend. It will be difficult for them to get past Bravo or Doublewide, but they will have a shot at a prequarters spot.
New York PoNY: PoNY is still a bit of a mystery. They lost a lot of games this season, but many of them very close, often on universe point. They really only have one quality win: against GOAT at Regionals — after GOAT had just lost a heartbreaker to Ironside in the finals. Yet it seems like PoNY could surprise. They have some top talent, but have barely had a full squad for any tournament except June’s Boston Invite (where they lost by one in the finals to Ironside) and Regionals, where they took second place. Their offensive line is finally playing together — and really gelled on Sunday at Regionals. This team won’t beat Bravo or Doublewide, but they could definitely beat Truck Stop and find a way into quarterfinals.
|Polar Bears (1)
|The Ghosts (2)
|Chad Larson Experience (3)
|Drag'N Thrust (4)
|Slow White (5)
|7 Figures (10)
|American BBQ (12)
|Cosa Nostra (16)
|Wild Card (14)
|Mental Toss Flycoons (13)
San Francisco Polar Bears: The 2011 runner-up is back in Sarasota this year — this time with the #1 seed and with their eyes on the title. After losing some early season games at the US Open, the Polar Bears have only lost one game, to American BBQ, who they later beat at Regionals. Their series performance so far has been stellar, going undefeated in the toughest section and region in the country. They should have no trouble winning their pool and getting into the quarterfinals. They have a shot at the title.
Ann Arbor Overhaul: Overhaul has had an up-and-down season and is seeded right where they ought to be, middle of the pack. They got a solid early season win against Chad Larson Experience, but haven’t beaten any of the top teams since then. Their tournament win at the Philly Invite was a season highlight. They will have a tough game against Bucket to determine who moves on to power pools.
Atlanta Bucket: Bucket had a solid season, winning a mostly Regional Terminus in July and notching a win against the short-handed Ghosts at Chesapeake. Yet they also had some losses to lesser teams that dragged down their ranking and, ultimately, their seeding. They will play a very winnable game against Overhaul. Bucket’s regionals performance was strong and they will look to crack into quarters after losing in pre-quarters last season.
Austin Cosa Nostra: It is difficult to tell how good Cosa Nostra actually is. They find themselves with the last seed, largely because they did not face off against any top competition during the season. At Heavyweights, they lost by three to Chad Larson Experience, the #3 seed. That was their only game against a Nationals team. So it seems feasible that they could pull off a shock upset or two in this pool — but probably not.
Boston’s The Ghosts: The Ghosts are playing the best mixed ultimate in the country right now. They have three losses this season, all of them came at the Chesapeake Invite, where they were missing more than a couple of key players. Besides that, they have dominated the tough Northeast all season and look poised to go deep into the tournament. Don’t pick them to drop before semis — and consider them to win it all.
Montreal Odysseé: Thanks to a weakened District 5 and a four bid region, Odyssée finds themselves in Sarasota after missing out last year. They took the third bid out of the Northeast, losing to Slow White in the 2/3 game. They will have a tough path to power pools, as 7 Figures has yet to be tested against east coast competition and AMP beat them earlier this year. They have some big playmakers who need to stay involved if they want to win.
Los Angeles 7 Figures: Generally, we’re bullish on west coast teams who, despite having five bids, had to battle with a lot of good squads to earn them. Two San Francisco teams played in the National finals last year. So it would not be a surprise to see 7 Figures upset Odysseé in this pool. Yes, 7 Figures lost a lot of games earlier this season. But, particularly in Mixed, you have to focus on recent results. They played very well at Regionals.
Philadelphia AMP: The bad news for AMP — they have no late regular season quality wins. The good news for AMP — they looked much better at Regionals, where they broke seed to take the only bid to Nationals away from Washington’s Ambiguously Grey. AMP is lucky to be in this pool, where two of their games will be winnable. The number two spot in this pool is up for grabs.
Ames’ Chad Larson Experience: When we seeded CLX at number three in our predictions, we got an email from one of their players pitching that they deserved higher after beating the Polar Bears at the US Open. It’s a fair point. Despite some surprising losses (PanIC, Colombian champions Euforia), CLX looks poised to make a deep run this year. They have excellent women, running four on offense. That could help make the difference later in the tournament.
San Francisco Mischief: One of the more entertaining Ultimate Twitter accounts, Mischief also looks poised to break seed. With four of their six season losses coming to the Polar Bears (and the most recent one by just two points), this team is good. Can they upset CLX in pool play? It’s possible. They could have a shot at semis. But first they’ll have to get past a strong Blackbird team.
San Francisco Blackbird: The 2011 National Champions were seeded 7th last year and won it all. Can they repeat this year from the 11 seed? Their matchup against Mischief — who they lost to by four at Labor Day — will be key. Some teams don’t really bring it until Nationals — Blackbird seems like one of those teams. The Blackbird/Mischief game is a pure tossup.
Lexington Wild Card: A new team and the last qualifier out of the Northeast, Wild Card will have a long road to get to quarterfinals. They are unlikely to be able to stop the battle-tested West Coast teams and will be fighting in the placement brackets. They have sweet jerseys though.
Minneapolis Drag’N Thrust: The #1 ranked team at the end of the regular season had their 22 game win streak snapped by Chad Larson Experience in the finals of the North Central Regionals. Unfortunately for them, that means ending up in a nasty Pool D which contains three very good teams. Thrust beat Slow White at the Chesapeake Invite, but has yet to face West Coast teams Mental Toss Flycoons and American BBQ. This pool will an absolute battle. Drag’N Thrust should get one of the power pool spots, though.
Boston Slow White: Always a strong team, Slow White will be looking to crack semis this year after busting out in quarters against the Polar Bears last year. Their losses this season (save for an early season one to Odysseé) have all come to the four teams seeded above them. Will they manage to break through? Definitely a quarters team. But they’ll need a stellar game to move to semis.
San Francisco American BBQ: Literally the only team in Open, Women’s, or Mixed without a Twitter account, they are a very strong #12 seed that had a tough Regionals. This team beat the Polar Bears by four just a month ago in the semifinals of Mixed Labor Day. They also beat the Flycoons earlier in the summer. Don’t be shocked if they get an upset in this pool.
Missoula Mental Toss Flycoons: The 2008 champions are back at Nationals for the first time since 2009 and, despite authoritatively winning the very tough Northwest region, they end up with the #13 seed, mostly because they lost a lot of close games against the Southwest teams at ECC. But this team could be very dangerous. It would not be a shock to see this team grab an upset in this pool, or even win it outright. A definite sleeper pick for a deep run.
|Brute Squad (8)
|Molly Brown (10)
|Hot Metal (16)
San Francisco Fury: The number one front runner in any division. With six straight National titles and not a single loss this season, it’s hard to pick against this team. It would take a very bold pick indeed not to pick them at least to the semifinals. Traffic and Riot have both given them good games this year and will be looking to get the huge upset and bring down the dynasty. Wouldn’t count on it.
Boston Brute Squad:Brute Squad has a had a solid season, losing only to top teams and not quite pulling out a win against the Capitals in the finals of the Northeast Regionals. Unlucky for them, they’re stuck facing off against an undefeated Heist team that looks ready to do some damage. It should be a battle for the second spot in the power pool.
Madison Heist: Heist, as mentioned above, has not lost this season. But since those wins have come mostly against weaker teams, they end up with the nine seed. Led by Georgia Bosscher, who spent three years on Fury before returning to Madison, this team will have a chance to land some big upsets. We should get a sense of their relative strength in their game against Fury. A good pick for an upset over Brute Squad.
Pittsburgh Hot Metal: A clear 16 seed, Hot Metal has been soundly beaten by Heist and Brute Squad earlier this season. They could win some games in the placement bracket, but not before then.
Seattle Riot:If any team has a chance to upset Fury, it’s Riot. Perpetual second-best after back-to-back titles in 2004-2005, Riot is hungry to get back on top. They had a strong season, with a back and forth battle with Traffic that ended with Riot getting a one point victory at Regionals to lock up the one seed. They’ve lost to Fury three times this season, twice by two and once by three. They’re always in the game. Can they do the little things to pull it off this year? A bold upset pick, but one that makes sense.
Atlanta Ozone: Ozone could make things interesting right away in Pool B. They played Riot twice this season and lost both on universe point. They are certainly capable of beating them. They will almost certainly advance into power pools. They are a quarters level team and, depending on their draw, could make semis, but it’s unlikely.
Boulder Molly Brown: A solid team, but a team that has just one quality win: a 15-9 blowout over Traffic at ECC. They will likely be playing for a spot in the prequarters, which will be a winnable game for them. It would be a big surprise if this team made it to semis.
Seattle Underground:The second Seattle team earned the last bid out of the Northwest this year. They will be a long-shot quarters team, but if they play their best it’s within reason. They almost upset Traffic at Regionals.
Washington, D.C. Scandal:A very good three seed, but still a step below Riot and Fury. Scandal has shown signs of inconsistency with losses to Ozone and Molly Brown, not a good sign for a team trying to win in Sarasota. They will have an early test against the Capitals, and might just lose that game. But they’ll have no problem getting through into power pools and on into quarters. Semis? It’s about 50/50.
Ottawa/Toronto Capitals: The Capitals — a semifinalist last year — took the 2012 regular season off to recover from their trip to Japan for Worlds in July. They cruised through Sectionals and Regionals and may be underseeded at number six. Look for this team to go deep again this year. A sleeper semis pick.
Chicago Nemesis:Nemesis is in the unfortunate position of being stuck in a pool with two teams with one seed level talent. It will be tough for them to get through either to advance to power pools. They will have a shot at making prequarters, but probably won’t get to quarters.
Portland Schwa: Schwa’s only wins against Nationals teams have come against Underground. They will be playing for placement on Saturday.
Vancouver Traffic:Traffic has shown an ability to beat Riot all season, going 2-4 against their rival. They have also played two close games against Fury. This is a semis level team and could surprise everyone. But do they have the big game experience to win when the pressure is on? Should be an easy pool win — they beat Phoenix 15-9 at Labor Day.
Triangle Phoenix: Phoenix’s only losses have come to the four teams seeded above them (along with a universe point loss to Nemesis that they avenged in the same tournament). They are definitely a step down from Fury and Riot, but could nab an upset against Scandal or Traffic to make semis if the bracket falls their way.
Austin Showdown: Showdown doesn’t have a great shot at getting an upset in this pool, and probably won’t make it out of pool play into prequarters. But they will be fighting hard, probably against Regional rival Molly Brown, to do so.
San Francisco Nightlock: A lot of people were writing off Nightlock after the emergence of Rally, a Bay Area team that skipped the regular season. But Nightlock crushed Rally 15-6 at Southwest Regionals to help set up their eventual back-door victory over Safari to grab the second bid to Nationals. They are 1-1 against Showdown this year and will be looking to break seed right away.