Some fascinating seeding this year at Nationals.
September 24, 2015 by Charlie Eisenhood in Analysis with 3 comments
Here is a quick look at the 2015 National Championships seeding — announced yesterday by USA Ultimate — and the associated pools. There will be a lot more coverage of the matchups and pools over the next week.
There were some big question marks heading into this year’s seeding because, for the first time, USA Ultimate’s new rule allowing for flexibility around upsets at Regionals (rather than requiring lower finishers to be seeded behind higher finishers). Sockeye, who finished the regular season ranked #2 overall, lost to Rhino in the Northwest final, putting this new system to the test.
USA Ultimate gave us a glimpse of what perhaps we should have expected: heavy reliance on the rankings, and very little weight given to the Regionals performance (aside from what was baked into the post-Regionals rankings). Sockeye ends up seeded at #3 — surprisingly high — while much of the rest of the seeding went fairly close to what you might have expected.
Machine falling to #8 and behind Rhino is a bit of a surprise, considering they were 1-1 vs. Rhino and finished with a higher overall ranking (#7 v #8). Perhaps that is Machine being punished for taking 2nd at Regionals while Rhino won the Northwest.
The results are fascinating. Pools are likely to be a bit overanalyzed; more important are the potential crossovers into prequarters. Pool D at first glance looks very tough, but, aside from the bottom seed who will likely face Revolver in prequarters, all teams should get very winnable games in prequarters against a soft Pool A. You may well see teams saving some energy if they can clinch a top 3 spot heading into Friday.
Pool C seems like the nastiest one, filled with four teams all with semifinals aspirations. GOAT is clearly the toughest pool #4 seed, and Sockeye, Truck, and Florida United have all had very good seasons. What’s more, Pool B is also filled with a lot of quality. All four of those prequarters should be great games.
The women’s division had little in doubt going into the seeding process and the end seeds mostly matched expectations. Aside from slight variations, the seeds mostly match each team’s placement in the most recent USAU rankings. Boston Brute Squad held onto their #1 ranking and claimed the top seed for a second straight year, followed by #2 San Francisco Fury, and #3 Seattle Riot. #4 Denver Molly Brown rounds out the top seeds.
The only exception was the 10-13 slots, which shook out with Portland Schwa moving up to #10, NY Bent at #11, Madison Heist at #12, and Toronto Capitals at #13. This cascade of movement is all ripple effect from Bent routing Capitals at Northeast Regionals. Caps falls down from being the top ranked team in this cohort to the bottom, behind Heist who they were ranked ahead of and have a 1-0 record against. It also puts North Central champ Heist behind the third place Northeast team. Odd seeding.
The loser in all of this may be San Francisco Nightlock. The #8 seed now must face a Capitals team that defeated them at the Pro-Elite Challenge and that has also added some late additions from Winnipeg Fusion to bolster their roster. Heist is no pushover either, while #1 overall Brute Squad looks likely to lord over what is probably the tournament’s toughest pool.
Meanwhile, Bent makes their way to a pool with #7 Atlanta Ozone and #14 Austin Showdown, two teams they’ve come within a point of beating this season. It also means that they’ll face their former coach, Adam Goff, who is now coaching Showdown.
There were some huge question marks about seeding in the Mixed Division, particularly due to Ambiguous Grey’s run to the Mid-Atlantic title past the higher ranked AMP as well as Seattle Mixtape’s strange ranking relative to their performance.
Again, USA Ultimate leaned heavily on the rankings, leaving Mixtape seeded 8th (they were ranked #9th) despite being a finalist last year with wins over Drag’N Thrust and CLX — the top two seeded teams — this season.
AMP also benefited from the rankings reliance, as they ended up seeded 9th with Ambiguous Grey all the way back at #14. This has already started to generate ample discussion, as many have pointed out — as we did in our predictions — that the Mixed Division should take particular note of Regionals results, as many teams don’t truly come into shape until that point in the season.
The result is a wicked Pool D that is likely to have a big premium for finishing in the top two and crossing over against NOISE or 7 Express instead of Drag’N Thrust or Seattle Mixtape. The UPA is a bit of an unknown, but has the potential to be a very tough four seed.
The other three pools have a fairly bright line between the top two seeds and the bottom two.