San Francisco Revolver: 2014 National Championships Preview

Revolver has a chance to cement a dynasty with another National Championship title.

Revolver huddles up in front of the crowd at the 2013 US Open.What is there to say about San Francisco Revolver that hasn’t been said already? This is a team that is consistently atop the rankings and winning tournaments. They’ve won three of the last four Club Championships and are two-time reigning WUCC Champions.

For the fans, Revolver may be playing for history as much as against their opponents. The 2012 championship loss and mixed regular season results over the past two seasons linger and question what previously appeared to be Bay Area invulnerability. But dynasties are measured by their Championship hardware — not slip-ups or overblown narratives along the way. This team has been the standard for men’s club ultimate for the past five years and will look to continue their dominance in Frisco.

Back in the present, the 2014 Revolver team has shown some chinks in their armor. They’ve gone from a team that shows up at every tournament to a team that picks their battles; see their underwhelming (yet championship!) US Open performance and a second consecutive fall-out at the Pro Flight Finale. In between those showings, of course, Revolver was crowned World Champion.

With the best player in the world and a roster that is deep and experienced, Revolver has to be considered as the team to beat. Overall, it’s fair to question if any team will be up for the Revolver challenge.

Revolver in a Nutshell 

Overall Indicators:

  • Overall #1 seed at Club Championships
  • 2013 Club National Champions
  • #1 in Ultiworld Power Rankings
  • #1 in USAU Club Rankings

Positives:

  • This team is the epitome of “been there, done that.” With a roster full of past national champions, Revolver knows how to win on the big stage.
  • Incredible depth. You can make an argument that Revolver has some star players (Beau Kittredge, Simon Higgins, Cassidy Rasmussen) but it’s their depth and willingness to play on both sides of the disc that sets them apart from other teams.
  • Meticulous style of play. Their offense is a thing of beauty and can evolve to take advantage of certain match-ups.
  • US Open Champs, WUCC Champs, Southwest Regional Champs.
  • 15-4 Record on the year, 9-4 against nationals qualifiers

Concerns:

  • Winning back to back titles is a difficult task in any sport. Revolver is the team to beat and will see everybody’s best. They’ve shown that they can be beat (see upset loss to Chain Lightning at Pro Flight), so teams know they aren’t untouchable, and they will be heavily scouted.
  • May be at a disadvantage against extremely athletic teams (Bravo, Doublewide, etc) who can win games with deep shots.
  • Gap between them and the competition is narrowing. Will need to be focused throughout this tournament, even more so than at the US Open or Worlds.

Season Recap

As the reigning national champion, Revolver started the season as the top ranked team in the country. They are accustomed to playing as the favorite and know they will get other teams’ best efforts.

At the U.S. Open in July, the team’s first official contest, Revolver looked like a team that was gearing up for the season. They made their mistakes, struggled in the wind, and had to fight for a spot in the championship bracket. After losing to Johnny Bravo and Ironside in pool play, Revolver faced a must-win game against Clapham Ultimate to move on. True to fashion, though, Revolver put together a solid game, and easily took down their English counterparts to set up a semifinal rematch against Boston. With vengeance on their minds, Revolver played an excellent game, beating Ironside 15-11. The finals matchup pit them against another team who beat them in pool play, Johnny Bravo. In their first meeting, Bravo was able to utilize their deep game advantage, but that was not the case in the final. Revolver shut down Bravo’s hucks which led them to an impressive 14-12 victory.

The next task for San Francisco was defending their WUCC title from 2010. After blowing through pool play, Revolver was tested heavily in bracket play. A quarterfinals rematch against U.K. Clapham was one of the most exciting games of the tournament, with Revolver winning on double game point 17-16. After taking down Bravo in the semifinals, they met Seattle Sockeye. The game was within two points for its entirety, but Revolver came out on top, 17-15, and claimed the gold medal.

After starting the season with two titles, Revolver was the clear top seed heading to the Pro Flight Finale. For the first time, though, Revolver showed that they can be beat in a game that matters. After going 2-1 in pool play, they were upset in the quarterfinals by Chain Lightning. Revolver made some uncharacteristic mistakes; Atlanta took advantage. It was the second straight year that Revolver had been knocked out in the quarterfinals of Pro Flight, though they recovered and won their remaining games over Johnny Bravo and Sockeye.

For Revolver, the Southwest Regional tournament was essentially a formality. No team had a real chance to take down the top seed and steal away the one bid to Nationals. Still, Revolver played their style of game, took care of business to qualify for the National Championships.

Playing Style

On offense, Revolver runs an isolation-heavy system, hoping to put their cutters into one-on-one matchups with a lot of space with which to work. Inactive cutters will stay out of the isolation cutter’s way as long as possible, allowing failed deep cuts to turn into large in-cut gains. Cutters will force defenders to heavily commit, and quickly strike in the opposite direction. They need time to be able to attack multiple spaces in one cut, giving Revolver’s offense a very patient and deliberate feel.

Kittredge, especially, will set up isolation cuts shallower than most, giving him more deep space to attack. This forces defenders to give a larger deep cushion, opening up easy underneath space. It also prevents throwers from underthrowing him.

Revolver will throw their hucks from any point in the stall count with equal effectiveness. The offensive line is brimming with cutters with pinpoint hucks, making it very difficult to cheat defensively, as every player is a threat both throwing and receiving. Handlers will remain behind the disc in order to avoid cutting off downfield throws.

Formation-wise, Revolver predominantly runs a side stack. Plays that begin in horizontal stack will often use quick clears to immediately transition into a side stack while avoiding poaches. Rather than hurriedly push the stack downfield to stay ahead of the disc, cutters will lag behind, creating 2v2 situations rather than 5v5 situations which would bring extra defenders who are able to provide help.

Defensively, Revolver keeps it fairly simple: they play vicious man defense. They are well-conditioned and highly skilled at individual man defense, able to put pressure on handlers and cutters alike. It’s not flashy, but it is effective.

Likely Ceiling

National Champions. The money favorite going into the tournament are benefited by their manageable pool draw. Plus, there is a clear fight below them amongst four teams who all think they have a rightful claim to the #2 position — will any of those still have the fight in them to take down Revolver in the finals?

Likely Floor

Semifinals exit. The potential quarterfinals draw — against a team like GOAT, Ring of Fire, or Sub Zero — is harder than one might expect before examining the bracket. But this group of players is too solid under pressure to drop that early.

Worst Matchup

Johnny Bravo. The only team who can exceed Revolver on talent (perhaps) is 1-2 against the San Francisco squad this year — but, if you had to pick someone? Bravo’s off-season acquisitions give them the experience in their top tier to match the championship experience Revolver has across its entire roster. They would need to match Revolver’s discipline, something they failed to do in last year’s semifinals.

  1. Matt Reese
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    Matt Reese is an Ultiworld contributor living in Texas.

  2. David Hogan
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    David Hogan is an Ultiworld film analyst. He played for Pitt from 2006 to 2009 and has been their assistant coach since the 2011-2012 season. You can email him at hogandavidp@gmail.com.

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