A look at tomorrow's semifinals in the Mixed Division.
October 18, 2014 by Alec Surmani in Preview with 2 comments
Looking at the mixed semis match-ups for Saturday, one side of the bracket has unfolded pretty much exactly as one would expect while the other side would have been almost impossible to predict.
Defending champs Minneapolis Drag’n Thrust and North Central rivals Ames Chad Larson Experience will face off at 1 PM Central for a spot in the final. The two and the three seeds respectively, both teams put together strong regular seasons and have largely cruised through the weekend, with the exception of Drag’n Thrust’s double game point win over San Francisco Blackbird in quarters.
Despite Minneapolis’ 15-6 walloping of Ames in the North Central Regionals final, the stakes are different in Frisco.
After finishing 3-0 in Thursday pool play at every Nationals since 2009 save last year—yet only making it past semis once—CLX will be hungry to prove that they finally know how to deliver on Saturday.
On the other side, Drag’n Thrust will be seeking to not only defend their crown, but secure the double gold after their Worlds title in August, effectively cementing their status as the unquestionably top mixed squad in the country.
It should be a good game between two of the nation’s most consistently excellent programs over the past few years.
The other semifinal, however, will be a match-up that few could have imagined before Thursday. Seattle Mixed (formerly Seattle Ghetto Birds) will clash with Boston Wild Card at 12 PM CST for the other spot in the final.
Coming into the weekend, Seattle Mixed were almost unheard of outside the Northwest, due mostly to the fact that they had yet to play an out-of-region tournament before Nationals. Even at those tournaments, they hardly seemed like a potential powerhouse.
They placed second at Kleinman Eruption behind Oregon’s The Administrators, won the Northwest Mixed Ultimate Cup on universe, and took second at Northwest Regionals after dropping to Seattle’s D’oh Abides in the final.
Many thought their end-of-season ranking at 12th in the nation seemed a bit inflated, considering they had yet to play an elite squad, let alone out of region.
Then they showed up big time at Nationals.
After giving up a 5-0 closeout run to San Francisco Polar Bears in their opening round 11-13 loss, Seattle Mixed turned it up and bested Atlanta Bucket 14-9 and San Francisco American BBQ 15-7 to take top honors in pool A.
Another 15-11 victory over The Administrators put them in quarters, where they squeezed past Columbus’ Santa Maria on double game point, 15-14, to advance into Saturday’s semis contest.
With their combination of veteran names like Mark Burton, Jaime Arambula, and Drew Johnson and explosive young talent in players like Khalif El-Salaam and Grace Noah, Seattle Mixed have shown all weekend what can happen when teams underestimate them.
Unfortunately for them, however, they’ll have to overcome one of the most stacked rosters in the entire division.
Also filled with a volatile mix of veterans and athletic youth, Wild Card have more than earned their spot in semis.
In just two days, they’ve already defeated the one, four, five, and seven seeds, just about all of which were close contests until Boston rose up and pulled away at the end, repeatedly illustrating their tenacity and determination.
Moreover, with all their weapons, it’s tough to know who opponents should be most looking to contain.
Captain and anchoring handler Ian Engler has been tearing through defense after defense. Dominant cutters Kara Hammer and Shellie Cohen have been repeatedly winning their match-ups. Seth Reinhardt, Denis Agniel, and Adrian Banerji have been causing problems for all who face them.
Despite their somewhat spotty regular season results, Wild Card have been powering through the Club Championships, realizing more and more of the potential they’ve been chasing since their roster was first released in spring.
It may be a little early to call, but based on their results so far this weekend, Boston might be the hottest team in the division. And if Seattle Mixed doesn’t deliver with their best game of the season, their storybook Nationals run might be coming to an end sooner than they’d like.