Bids are on the line in Appleton.
August 18, 2017 by Cody Mills in Analysis with 2 comments
The club regular season is in its home stretch, with just three weekends of tournaments left before USA Ultimate’s bid allocation for Nationals is finalized. As the season winds down, the bid picture becomes clearer and the stakes get higher for teams fighting to be on the right side of the cutoff. And, while some teams have certainly positioned themselves better than others, in the club division, nobody outside the top eight can draw much comfort from the mathematics nor can any team rated better than 25th truly count themselves out; everything is still quite elastic.
The reality of the club division, in contrast to college, is that because the teams play significantly fewer games (often literally half), the importance of each game is magnified, and the bid picture is murky at best because of the high variance introduced by the smaller sample size. By the final weekend of the college men’s regular season, we were able to produce a very detailed analysis of the path to a bid for each bubble team, but in club, the stability is just not there.
Many bubble teams will play just their second tournament of the year this weekend, meaning that just over half of their ranking is still to be determined. There are still educated guesses to be made about the outlook for each team, and since many bubble teams are active at the Elite-Select Challenge, we’ll do just that, but everything has to be taken with a grain of salt.
IN: High Five, Dig
High Five has a high rating and 13 games on the record; they’re definitely in. Dig, despite having only played six games so far, has a pretty high rating and would have to average 1600 on the weekend to drop to the rough cutoff line of 1800. Going 2-2 on Saturday should leave them in a good position. Dig isn’t a lock, but they’re in a favorable position.
OUT: Prairie Fire, Smokestack, Inception, Chain Lightning, Mad Club
Prairie Fire, Smokestack, and Inception are all pretty much done. They all have two tournaments played already, meaning they only have ~1/3 of their ranking in play. Since they’re all below 1600, they’d need to be over 2000 for the week on average and it just doesn’t look like that’s in the cards. Chain and Mad Club are looking a little better, but Chain has less flexibility based on their game count and Mad Club is in a 150-point hole, so they would need to do about 1950 on the weekend to have a chance. There aren’t many obvious point anchors in the field (with ratings so low that they’d need a blowout), so they have a faint chance, but their work is pretty cut out.
HOLD: PoNY, Sub Zero, Doublewide, Guerrilla, Machine, Rhino, Big Wrench, Furious, Medicine Men
Most of these teams control their own destiny. Guerrilla is currently the first team out (by just six rating points), but has only seven games played, so they can certainly play their way in. The game goes for Machine.
Rhino is precariously perched at #15 with twice the number of games of most teams. If Machine, Guerrilla, and Rhino all surge, it’s likely Rhino will end up behind the the first two, which could leave them on the outside. Sub Zero and Doublewide are playing with significant cushion and are likely safe — if they average more than 1650, then they’re still on target, which means they could even endure an upset or two.
Medicine Men need a huge weekend to push them up the ladder; they’ll need to do roughly 1900 on average to have a shot. They can’t afford any bad losses. Furious George is actually in a more favorable position, trailing by just 15 points in the ratings but with half the games. If Furious can average 1850 on the weekend (which translates to a few upsets but not necessarily winning out), they could jump into the mix.
NOTE: Though this article is focusing on the ESC, there is another tournament this weekend, the Rocket City Invite, which involves Florida United, Freaks, and Ironmen. It’s a round robin tournament. Reminiscent of 2013 when Voodoo and Furious George played each other four times right before the season ended, resulting in Furious earning a bid, this situation heavily incentivizes (but by no means implies) collusion. The rest of the field (all SE teams) could easily throw games and allow themselves to be max-point defeated, which would successfully push Florida into the top 16. Indeed, if FLU, at 6-0, got max point wins over Freaks and Ironmen and blew out the rest of the field, their rating would increase roughly 200 points, which would almost certainly put them in the top 16 and earn a second bid for the SE (which obviously would benefit the other SE teams at the tournament).
IN: shame., Wild Card, BFG
Things are slightly more stable in Mixed than the single-gender divisions, as more of the teams have played multiple tournaments. Wild Card and shame. are two of those teams, and both are essentially locked into their top 16 spots. BFG has only one tournament on their ledger but would have to average 1600 this weekend to drop to the de-facto cutoff line of 1720.
OUT: No Touching!, G-Unit, Cosa Nostra, Swing State, UPA
Swing State is 200 below the line with 17 games on the record and would have to obliterate the field to get in range. Similarly, Cosa Nostra is well off pace at 1450 with ten games weighing them down. No Touching!, UPA, and G-Unit have faint chances with just six games a piece, but would need to average above 1900 on the weekend to get close, which would virtually require winning out while also winning big over the lower-seeded teams.
HOLD: NOISE, Ambiguous Grey, Public Enemy, Love Tractor, Alloy, Bang!, The Chad Larson Experience, Polar Bears
There’s a lot of borderline uncertainty here, with a spectrum of situations. CLX and Noise are on the inside but are in precarious position. They essentially control their own destiny in terms of keeping their positions.
Polar Bears are in good shape, and nearly made the ‘IN’ category but could fall out if they implode and average 1600 on the weekend. I doubt that will happen, but given their large crop of rookies this year, it didn’t feel right to call them a lock just yet.
Ambiguous Grey and Alloy need to make plays this weekend but are malleable enough with six games each that they can jump in with strong performances. Their one-back neighbors Love Tractor and Public Enemy will have the same task in terms of their rating jump, but both have to deal with higher game counts which will weigh them down more.
IN: Heist, Nightlock, Underground
With the tentative midline looking like 1750, Heist, Nightlick, and Underground seem locked in with 10+ games and 150+ point cushions. Nightlock is probably even more thrilled to see LOL (Southwest) just inside the cutoff with a 80 point cushion above…another Southwest team in Wildfire (note that Huck the Patriarchy will likely not get 10 sanctioned games so they will not affect bid allocation). The only thing that might threaten the 3-bid dream is their Nemesis (I’ll see myself out), and even then Nightlock’s bid is clearly safe.
OUT: Phoenix, Small Batch, Grit, BENT, Wicked, Outbreak, Uprising
BENT and Phoenix are nearly 200 below the point line and have 12+ games each, so they’d need to do 1950 on the weekend to have a chance. Possible, but unlikely. Small Batch is way off the point pace, sitting below 1000. But that doesn’t mean they’re not relevant — any upset they score will be DEVASTATING to border line teams (game value of <1000) and they’ll even be a thorn in the side of anybody who doesn’t blow them out, as their max value as a win is a meager 1600. Grit, Outbreak, and Wicked are all too low with too many games. Uprising is also simply too low at 1100 to have any chance at making up the 500+ point deficit, despite the flexibility of only six games.
HOLD: Showdown, Rival, Schwa, Pop, Nemesis, Wildfire
Showdown, Pop, and Rival all were close to the “IN” list, but I put them here because technically a collapse could send them out since they’re only 75 points above the line. All have two tournaments, so they’d need to average 1600 on the weekend to fall, which seems pretty unlikely. However, Showdown and Rival are in Small Batch’s pool on Saturday, and if either takes an upset from them, they will have significantly less room for further error on the weekend. They also play each other on Saturday, so somebody is guaranteed to lose.
Schwa is right on the edge at #14 with 14 games but has some staying power from their game count. They look like they’ll be fine as long as they can avoid a double-surge from both Wildfire and Nemesis.
Nemesis basically controls their own destiny and can play to move a bid from the SW to the GL by knocking off LOL. They’re 100 below LOL, so they will need to put in an average of 1830 on the weekend (not trivial) but it’s manageable. Wildfire is essentially playing as insurance, since moving into the top 16 in a vacuum would knock off their fellow Southwest team, LOL, but they’ll still need to do well to try to mitigate a detrimental rise from Nemesis, or, in a perfect world, to capitalize on a dropping team to get a fourth (!) bid for the region.