Predictions: 2014 National Championships

Ultiworld's staff makes 2014 Nationals predictions.

2014 USA Ultimate National Championships logo.Some of Ultiworld’s staffers are willing to stick their neck out with some predictions about the National Championships. Here’s who we think will come out on top (mostly in the Men’s Division, but Charlie and Keith pick Women’s as well).

Charlie Eisenhood and Keith Raynor

You’ll have to listen to the podcast…but we’ll tell you where we make our predictions. Go to 50:16 (or, hey, listen to the whole thing. It’s a big Nationals preview):

Sion “Brummie” Scone

For the last five years, I’ve run an online predictor for the Men’s Division of USA Nationals. As such, I have to predict the outcome of all of the games for nationals. Here’s my thoughts, predictions and a sprinkle of imagination:

Pool A

Doublewide lose to PoNY. That’s the only upset here. Seriously? Yeah. Without Tank to anchor that line, I see Doublewide getting too cocky here, trying to play the same as they did before they lost some of their studs to Bravo, and failing to appreciate that PoNY just does not quit. Ever.

Prairie Fire keep their big guys back for their final round game vs PoNY, but they still can’t run with the NY team. It’ll be close though.

Pool B

Wow. Four teams who are all looking at the pool and thinking this is theirs to win. It’s a toss up, but I see Sub Zero stealing the pool; they were bullied by Revolver & Bravo at US Open, but otherwise had great results. Rhino also take down a stunned Machine; I’ve never seen anyone play tight, physical, no-poach defence on Machine’s handlers and I can see Rhino getting success there.

Pool C

Ring bossed their region, but it doesn’t matter. Sockeye dominates, GOAT comes in second, Ring third, then Temper. I think GOAT will feel confident with any of the potential pre-quarter matches and cut their losses in the second half of their first round matchup with Sockeye if the fish already have a lead; the Ring game is far more important to them.

Pool D

Pool of death. No easy games here; even Ironside is going to be worried about Furious, having only sneaked a 15-13 win at US Open. When it’s that close top to bottom, it’s tough to call. I see Ironside’s chemistry defeating Bravo’s talent, and Furious upsetting Chain, who slip into a very dangerous 16th seed.

Pre-Quarters

Revolver vs Chain: Much like their WUCC campaign, Revolver can expect a quiet slap round the chops in quarters. While I don’t see Chain beating them, I could easily see the ATL crew hitting their stride at the right time, putting in a great performance and making this Revolver’s tightest game of the entire tournament. Beau forced to wake up, and he plays in tracksuit trousers.

Rhino vs Ring: Tough call for me, but then I’ve barely seen either play this year. At regionals, Rhino bossed Furious and were in turn handily beaten by Sockeye, while Ring haven’t really been pushed until the regionals final, when they were able to rely on their O line to win. Will cracks appear when faced with Rhino’s firepower? It’s a tough call, but I’m going to call it a Rhino win by 3.

Ironside vs Prairie Fire: Ironside comfortably. Sorry Kansas folk.

GOAT vs Machine: Machine is a solid team that has proved themselves capable of mopping up when other teams make mistakes. They’re extremely patient, but reliant on winning the open side battle, or punting big to the break side if the defence over-commit. If GOAT can rely on their marks and prevent Machine’s cutters from working the open side, then I think they can roll Chicago. Machine’s defence are reliant on swarming defenders underneath floating deep throws, and GOAT’s precise throwers won’t give them a chance unless the wind is up. Key will be shutting down Liu, who recycles the disc effectively. GOAT win a close one.

Sub Zero vs Temper: Sub Zero get broken a few times but their D line goes on a roll and they cruise into quarters.

PoNY vs Furious: While the crowds gather to watch the Revolver v Chain huckfest, PoNY & Furious juke it out in a tightly contested battle. It goes to the wire. Furious have too much experience in tight games though, and PoNY come up short again.

Sockeye vs Truck Stop: A frustrating weekend continues for Truck Stop. Sockeye’s offence is too fast and too slick, and Truck only get a chance when the fish misfire. Sockeye comfortably through.

Bravo vs Doublewide: A rematch of the 16-15 regional final, except this time Doublewide don’t start hot and Bravo’s stars aren’t on the field as much, and so aren’t forced to make exciting – yet risky – plays. 15-10 Bravo.

Quarters

Revolver vs Rhino: Beau suddenly plays a whole game and no-one on the Portland team can get even close. Dylan Freechild’s give & goes have got Rhino this far but they aren’t so effective in this game, and Rhino goes out 15-9.

Ironside vs GOAT: Ironside is a seasoned team and they have too much confidence to drop this game. Can GOAT integrate Foord & Hibbert in time? If they can, then expect Foord to dominate deep. Toly is all over the field and Mark Lloyd features heavily on the stats sheet, but the faceless army of Ironside keeps doing that same boring vertical stack offence that Boston has been playing for 15 years. Cricket keeps things interesting for the neutral, but finishes on 100% completions – again. Stubbs throws or catches almost all the breaks for Ironside.

Sub Zero vs Furious: The monkey runs out of legs at this point, Sub Zero repeating their win from US Open as the Carleton & Hodag combo begins to hit full stride.

Sockeye vs Bravo: Bravo have too much star power to fit into one team. Sockeye is all chemistry, and Bravo has struggled all season with theirs. I can see Bravo going up early but their stars keep the game interesting; much like their game at ECC, Bravo will rely too much on Mickle. Rehder over Mickle for the game-winner… ouch.

Semis

Revolver vs Ironside: Here we are again. Can Ironside finally make the leap? No. They’ve been here so many times before and fallen every time. It will stay close throughout, but Revolver in elimination play is a hurdle Ironside just can’t get over. Watch out for the potential Sherwood vs Cahill matchup, which could easily go either way. George can’t stop Beau, either around the disc or going deep, so Ironside rotate defenders. It’s of little use.

Sub Zero vs Sockeye: Who could possible prevent Sockeye walking into another final? The “stay frosty” crew, that’s who. Sub Zero quietly dominated Sockeye in their US Open matchup. It was the final round, and a win could have put Sockeye into the final, yet they crumbled. I have no idea what Sub Zero were doing but it seems to have stopped Sockeye in their tracks. If they can replicate this, it’ll be a trip to the finals for Sub Zero.

Finals

Revolver vs Sub Zero: I’d never have picked it up front, but nevertheless this is the matchup I’ve come up with for the final. Alas, the fairy tale must come to an end at some point, and Sub Zero are in for a rude awakening. Beau is fully awake now and the Carleton / Hodag alumni can’t hold on. It will only take one bad game from Montague for SZ to collapse; Zero have had the tournament of their lives until now, but everything goes wrong for them and Revolver keep capitalising, walking away with the title 15-7.

Champion: Revolver

No surprises here I’m afraid. In a season where Revolver just hasn’t looked as dominant as they have in the past, nevertheless they win the title and leave every other team shaking their heads and wondering when Beau will retire.

Anonymous Ultiworld Insider

I’m selling on Sockeye. People talk about their strong performance at Worlds, but no one talks about how nutty brackets can be there. It’s not like a Triple Crown Tour event where any quarters win is impressive in itself. The way that bracket played out, they we’re expected to get to the finals — and when there, they only broke Revolver once! In a game to 17!

And if you look over the past two years, and you don’t really see a history of signature wins…they’re 7-7 against the field this year. Credit where credit is due; they know how to scout. I like them in their pool play games, less so as they match up against athletic squads later on.

*

There’s more parity than people are talking about. Machine is the best example; I think they could beat any team. I also think there are about eight other teams that could beat them. I’m not convinced they’ll win that pool, and I think they could fall on Thursday and still play into Saturday semis.

*

I don’t understand the people who are excited for or expecting things in the Doublewide / Revolver pool play game. Doublewide had great match ups for San Francisco…emphasis on had. I would be surprised to see Doublewide in the Pro Flight next year with all the talent (like Sub Zero and Ring) on their heels.

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Sub zero has been very good when their players have shown up over the past two years. They’ve been very bad when their players haven’t. I know that’s not a recipe for a national championship, but they’re gonna have the players at this tournament. So that’s the most important fact…and I see them giving someone a real tough quarters game.

*

I don’t read much into this year’s Pro Flight Finale results. Last year that tournament was intense. It ended up doing a poor job of predicting Nationals results because there is just so much parity on display. This year, I think teams like Bravo and, especially, Revolver had no motivation to prioritize the Pro Flight. They were prioritizing Worlds, and I think most of the elite players know this.

*

I think it’s possible to both believe Temper will significantly outperform expectations and still finish below average. I see them hanging with teams and maybe picking up a signature upset win, kind of like Sub Zero did last year. They have a few guys — Degirolamo, e.g. — who can ball anywhere and I don’t understand the dispute about that. Going forward, they just need to build experience and a system and then, watch out Truck Stop.

*

It’s harder to predict which players will break out because there is so much talent. I think Jimmy Mickle gets a lot of tough match ups and opens up the door for someone else on Bravo, perhaps Sean Keegan or Bart Watson, to go wild. I think a lot of these Machine guys — like Kevin Kelly, Tom Annen, and Taylor Kraemer — are going to end the season with a bigger national profile than they had before.

*

Ring is my sleeper semis team. I had GOAT but I think the Lindquist injury really sets them back. I’m not sure I totally get what GOAT is doing with the late season additions on a squad that was already very deep. Ring fits the sleeper bill, because they could implode on themselves, their opponents, or the observers. They are just as hot-headed as ever but a bit smarter about personnel now that they have a coach. They have an athletic edge on some of the other semis teams, but I don’t like them in a stadium game with the extra wind.

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