Could Public Enemy become the first 4 seed to win Nationals?
October 20, 2017 by Graham Gerhart in News, Profile, Recap with 0 comments
Ultiworld’s coverage of the Mixed Division at the 2017 Club Championships is presented by Tokay Ultimate; all opinions are those of the authors. Please support the brands that make Ultiworld possible and shop at Tokay Ultimate!
Many battles have been fought upon the Sarasota fields. Ultimate teams have made their brand or disbanded completely in the humidity and wind. There are countless stories that have been lost to time, only to resurface at some post-summer league bar. But one story has never been told. No 4th seed has every won Nationals. Public Enemy might just be here to change that.
Public Enemy arrived at Nationals built to be an upset hound: a team that had lost all their games at the Pro Elite Challenge and yet won Regionals in a competitive South Central two months later. A team that had already lost badly to both NOISE and Mixtape, and yet had one of the best players in the mixed division on their roster. Their narrative was divisive, and they embraced that wholeheartedly.
No one knew exactly what to expect from Public Enemy. In 2016, the team had raised eyebrows with an incredible prequarters appearance. Immediately following that season, 11 players left the team. Eyebrows were raised even higher. After assimilating some of the best talent Texas has to offer, this year they have the potential to shoot the eyebrows right off their critics. Public Enemy may be the first 4th seed to win Nationals, and after day one, they’re already primed for it.
They had their work cut out for them. Mischief is not the type of team you want to start a tournament against. While the team has experienced its fair share of upheaval in their roster, they still are predominantly filled with Nationals veterans, players who have earned their stripes at Rockford, Frisco and Sarasota. Public Enemy formed as a team two years ago. All it took from the young team was one break. It happened early in the game and Dallas never relinquished it. Mischief fought back into the game on many occasions, but could never claim that break back.
In their next game against Mixtape, the tournament 1st seed, they traded points up until half, with only one break from each team and very clean offense from Public Enemy. There would only be one more break in the entire game, on double game point, to give Mixtape’s defense the win. The teams were seeded twelve spots apart, but the game finished one point apart.
NOISE had also entered Nationals with something to prove. Their regular season boasted wins over Drag’n Thrust and shame., but most importantly, they had already defeated Public Enemy. They didn’t stand a chance. Public Enemy started the game with four unanswered points and allowed their indomitable offense to guide them to the victory from point onward.
Public Enemy has had about as strong a showing as a team can have that is not topping their pool. Their loss to Mixtape was on double game point. Until that game, Mixtape’s only close games or losses this season had been to AMP, Slow White, or BFG, all top five teams. Every other victory had been quite handy. Public Enemy didn’t just take Mixtape to the brink; they had Mixtape worried in the second half.
Public Enemy’s brilliance is their offensive unit. They do not turn the disc unnecessarily. If a defense is going to cause a turn, they have to earn it. This is made possible because of one person, Chris Mazur. The man who led Metro North to a finals appearance last season seems determined to do it again with Public Enemy. Mazur has an uncanny ability to get open as a reset option. In any high stall situation, he can bail out on offense. On Metro North, his role was then to find an open deep receiver and huck it. On Public Enemy, his role is very different: he’s the distraction.
Chris Mazur secretly is not the best player on Public Enemy. Despite frequently drawing the strongest defenders, Public Enemy was a Nationals caliber team before Mazur and still run their offense through the phenomenal Kevin Christian. Mazur comes through on tight points and makes clutch plays but Christian dictates the offense far more than Mazur. He is coupled with a great handler in Danielle Runzo. She will out-grit her defender for any disc and kept the disc alive in many situations where Public Enemy made a poor decision under pressure.
The reason for Public Enemy’s success is that they simply don’t seem under pressure very often. Against Mixtape, the team with arguably the best mixed roster top to bottom at Nationals, their offense hardly turned the disc over. Mixtape defense has long been heralded for their energy and sideline help but Public Enemy took advantage of Mixtape’s penchant for face-marking with short, quick reset passes which the outpaced the defender’s reaction time. This will prove equally viable with any team of Mixtape’s caliber on defense. Public Enemy is calm with the disc and will reset until they are happy with their downfield options. The handler core of Christian, Runzo and Mazur has given them a backfield which can match with any opponent.
Dallas also has a team culture that celebrates their failure and success equally. Their cheers are filled with a gleeful self-awareness of their own absurdity while religiously maintaining the principles of loyalty. Buy-in is important for any team, Public Enemy has taken it one step further, they’ve literally invested in creating a farm together.
If they make it to quarters or beyond, Public Enemy will likely face teams with similar surges of success. AMP has played their best tournament in years, shame. won their pool, and BFG barely lost in one of the best Mixed games on Thursday. All have incredible claims to their right to win Nationals, but Public Enemy has one great advantage. They’re the underdog, the team with nothing to lose. They could rewrite the narrative of Nationals but if they don’t, they’re still further than anyone could have predicted. For most 4th seeded teams, that would be enough, For Public Enemy, they’re looking to be #1.