September 18, 2013 by Charlie Eisenhood in Preview with 11 comments
One of the features of this year’s elite Men’s Division was some significant roster moves as teams rounded up new talent in preparation for a Worlds year and a new Club format in the Triple Crown Tour. By far the two buzziest teams came straight from the same region: Austin Doublewide and Denver Johnny Bravo.
On what became a bit of an informal “signing day,” Doublewide was first to release their 2013 roster. They stunned everyone with two major changes: the Florida contingent (save for Kurt Gibson) was gone and the dynamic Pittsburgh duo of Alex Thorne and Tyler Degirolamo showed up. Fresh off of a college National Championship, Thorne and Degirolamo were planning on playing another season with Oakland, the Pitt club team. But an email, a phone call, and some thinking led the pair to choose the long-distance travel option to play with the defending National Champions.
Just hours later, Johnny Bravo announced their roster. They stole Doublewide’s thunder with some major additions: Nick Lance, Bart Watson, Matty Zemel, and Eric Johnson. Lance and Johnson, like Thorne and Degirolamo, both played on the NexGen Tour. Watson was a hardened veteran, formerly with San Francisco Revolver. And Matty Zemel returned to the team from Seattle where he played with Sockeye.
In many ways, Bravo and Doublewide’s upcoming matchup in the finals of Regionals will be — quietly — a very important game. Both teams have had success this season and are ranked in the top 10 of the USA Ultimate and Ultiworld rankings. Both are still gelling as teams. Both want the high seed they’ll get with a regional victory. And both want a statement win heading into the Club Championships.
The teams split their season series 1-1, but many, including Doublewide, discount the Austin win, which came after the game was canceled midway through due to a thunderstorm in the finals of Colorado Cup.
Doublewide hopes to defend their 2012 Regional title; they won the finals 12-10 last year.
With the new talent on both rosters, they teams are widely considered national championship contenders and both have their eyes set on playing on Saturday and Sunday in Frisco. Both teams are athletic, tall, and physical — Bravo, particularly, is known for their toughness and physicality on the field. Doublewide’s captains acknowledged that they were pushed around by Bravo in their pool play loss at Colorado Cup, one of Doublewide’s worst losses of the season.
Bravo last played over a month ago at the West Coast Cup. There, they went 2-2 with wins over Sockeye and Rhino and losses to Revolver and the Buzz Bullets. Doublewide is fresh off of a finals loss to Toronto GOAT at the Pro Flight Finale.
They will face little challenge from the other teams in the region, who are simply in a lower tier than the two of them. Denver Inception and Dallas Plex, the three and four seeds, both cracked the Ultiworld Top 25 this season — Inception is currently ranked #20.
Inception has no wins over top 16 ranked teams; their best victories have come against San Diego Streetgang and LA Renegade. They had close losses to Madison Club and High Five. In another region, they might have a real shot at making the Club Championships.
Plex had a decent showing at Colorado Cup, notching wins over Chicago Club and Cash Crop. Notably, they lost to Bravo 13-7 in pool play.
The tournament really will just come down to the finals. Johnny Bravo and Doublewide will be playing for a lot more than just the higher seed. Whose new recruits will step up?