September 18, 2013 by Keith Raynor in Preview with 0 comments
When the regions were redrawn leading into last season, two reigning champions found themselves having to fight through one another to keep their crown. Denver Molly Brown had won the Southwest region in 2010 and 2011, while Austin Showdown’s reign over the South region had been intact since 2009. At the first South Central Regionals, one of those streaks would be laid to rest.
Molly Brown beat Showdown twice at Regionals, including a 14-11 victory that clinched them the South Central Championship after Austin had come into the weekend with a 2-0 edge in the season series.
This year’s iteration of the newly formed rivalry has Molly Brown entering as the top seed in Commerce City, Colorado, mostly by virtue of a 13-11 head to head win at Colorado Cup. It is the only time the two teams have faced off this year. Despite that, Showdown sits a spot higher in our Power Rankings, claiming #9 to Denver’s #10, on the strength of an upset over Seattle Riot and near takedown of Chicago Nemesis at the Pro Flight Finale. USAU’s final rankings have Showdown at #8 and Molly Brown at #9.
The rankings aren’t the only place these teams are evenly matched. With their only matchup decided by just two points, it is a small sample size that might not give us enough information to compare reliably. Looking at their common opponents, Molly Brown is 7-6 and Showdown 7-7. Both teams had 5-2 Colorado Cup showings, .500 weekends at their first tournament (US Open for Showdown and Club Terminus for Molly), and struggled to get wins consistently at the Pro Flight Finale.
The pattern of having one weak showing at a tournament and the demonstration of potential is the same one that played out last season for these competitors. Of course, the Texas based team would make a surprising run at the Club Championships, pushing to the semifinals despite being a pool #3 seed. While Molly would take another loss to Showdown in Sarasota’s swan song, they’d also make a run from a pool #3 seed to a 5th place finish. The two South Central squads managed to go from outside the top 8 to top 5 finishes.
We are left to wonder if they can repeat their success, peaking at the right time. The first step in that process is a successful weekend at Regionals, where Houston Inferno and Boulder Jack Wagon will be looking to score signature upsets.
Inferno leads the pack of challengers, coming off a strong regular season that put them at #21 in both our Power Rankings and USAU’s rankings. They won the Chesapeake Open, along with a 3rd place finish at Heavyweights and a 2nd place finish at Huckfest. Along the way, they notched wins over Minneapolis Pop, Chicago Dish, Nashville DeSoto, and Florida Tabby Rosa. They stand as the biggest threat to the powers that be, but their only game against that level of competition was a 13-3 blowout at the hands of Chicago Nemesis.
Comparatively, Jack Wagon has seen less success, but seen tougher competition. They come into Regionals with just four wins on the season – three over Eugene Further and a Sectional victory over Albuquerque ORALE – against ten losses. However, by attending Colorado Cup and Labor Day Championshps, Jack Wagon is ready for the tough tests Regionals will provide. They’ve managed to play Pop close twice, so they’ll need to have learned and grown from the lumps they took to get to Commerce City.
The field is rounded out by Dallas Maeve, Austin Reverb, and ORALE. Nothing in these team’s history suggests they can knock off a top team or even the second tier squads. The Texas Section 2nd place game between Maeve and Reverb came down to a point, with Maeve winning 11-10, so a meeting between those two should be exciting. ORALE has only played a game this season, so they’re a mystery.
With two bids up for grabs, it looks highly likely we’ll see Molly Brown and Showdown heading to Frisco. If either wins their probable two games, they could line themselves up for a #2 seed in a pool. More importantly, they can begin the peaking process and prepare for the new world of the Club Championships, where getting hot at the right time is more important than ever before.