Let us celebrate what ultimate we got in 2020 by picking the Play of the Year!
February 8, 2021 by Keith Raynor in Awards, Opinion with 0 comments
Our Play of the Year 2020 bracket is presented by Friction Gloves; all opinions are those of the author. Want to make highlights of your own? Try Friction Gloves!
It’s hard to recall clearly, but we did actually have ultimate in 2020. Most of it occurred in the first few months of the calendar, though there was some isolated play throughout the year. In those early moments, nobody knew we’d be almost entirely without ultimate for a long time and played with the fervor that’s made so many great plays over the years.
This year’s bracket is different than our traditional annual reader-voted competitions. With so much less ultimate, we’re doing one big celebration of the blocks, catches, throws, and whatever other wacky stuff y’all come up with. There will be simply one play to rule them all from 2020.
Over the next couple of weeks, we’re inviting you, the Ultiworld readers, to vote for your favorite of the finalists selected.
Check out all of the nominees and vote below, then check back to see which clips advance for another opportunity to participate. The first round of voting starts now and closes on Wednesday, February 10 at 12 PM Eastern.
Matchup 1: Ing vs. Merrill
Michael Ing – Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur (USAU D-I College Men’s)
Was this the Callahan-winning moment? Perhaps it was for the Pitt playmaker, whose catch was impressive enough to earn recognition from mainstream media outlets. It’s hard to argue with the back-shoulder bidding score, one of the game’s most spectacular highlights.
Joe Merrill – Brigham Young CHI (USAU D-I College Men’s)
There aren’t a lot of opportunities to recognize blocks that blend technical skill with athleticism. Merrill got up to deny a Brown score at Florida Warm Up, but also managed to do so without creating contact that could be construed as illegal or endangering those involved. Bravo to a block of that caliber.
Which Play Was Better? (R1M1) (Results)
- Michael Ing48%
- Joe Merrill52%
Matchup 2: Viktorsson vs. Sieber
Vendela Viktorsson – KFUM Örebro (European Indoor Club Women’s)
Who’s afraid of a little competiton? Not Vendela Viktorsson, who outmaneuvered her taller opposition to get the leaping goal at EUICCs. But what makes this play so memorable is the agility and field awareness on display with the back-line toe tap.
Cara Sieber – Ohio State Fever (USAU D-I College Womens)
One of the college scene’s most productive downfield players, Cara Sieber also took the time to create some posters to go with the stats. This Queen City Tune Up jump ball was no problem for the Ohio State star, who went up for the one-hand dunk and came down with authority.
Which Play Was Better? (R1M2) (Results)
- Vendela Viktorsson74%
- Cara Sieber26%
Matchup 3: Sun vs. Peters
Jessie Sun – Pittsburgh Danger (USAU D-I College Women’s)
Sun anchored the Pitt D-line this year, with enough aplomb to get a Defensive Player of the Year runner-up nod. No moment encapsulated her ability to create blocks and high intensity than this soaring slap-down on an attempted completion underneath at the Stanford Invite.
Annelise Peters – Pittsburgh Danger (USAU D-I College Women’s)
And to face the D-line anchor, we’ve got Pittsburgh’s O-line’s rock. This might be the first teammate matchup in our brackets’ history and it brings back that old O-line vs. D-line rivalry. Peters fired this hammer from midfield, with enough power to get it to the end zone in a hurry and enough touch to fade it away from the defender.
Which Play Was Better? (R1M3) (Results)
- Jessie Sun58%
- Annelise Peters42%
Matchup 4: Whitlock vs. Sellers
Nicholas Whitlock – Auckland Flash Flood (New Zealand Club Mixed)
In one of the rare instances of organized ultimate in the past few months, Nicholas Whitlock put on a show at the New Zealand Mixed Ultimate Championships in November. In the quaterfinals, he skied for a floaty pass to intercept it and then unleashed this humungous hammer into a pretty vicious wind to tie up a game his club eventually won on double game point.
Phillip Sellers – NC State Alpha (USAU D-I College Men’s)
In one of the college season’s final games, Phillip Sellers delivered for the Alpha defense with a chest-high layout block. It helped earn his team a crucial second-half break that jump-started a push to victory. “Open side” might be a bit of a misnomer with Sellers on the case.
Which Play Was Better? (R1M4) (Results)
- Nicholas Whitlock48%
- Phillip Sellers52%
Matchup 5: Jezierski vs. Ong
Sadie Jezierski – Team Grace (Beach of Dreams Women’s Showcase)
Has a highlight throw ever required so many adjectives to accurately describe it? Let’s check off the list:
- Release point: high
- Grip: forehand
- Hand: off-hand
- Assist: yes
All that for one throw. But watch it and say it isn’t worth all the work.
Sailor Ong – Brigham Young CHI (USAU D-I College Women’s)
BYU traveled quite a ways to compete in a portion of Queen City Tune Up, and Sailor Ong was there to get her money’s worth! Not only putting the pressure on the reset, not only getting the block, but converting the block into a callahan. Extra points for doing it against the D-I Player of the Year.
Which Play Was Better? (R1M5) (Results)
- Sadie Jezierski50%
- Sailor Ong50%
Matchup 6: Khudobin vs. Barton
Mikhail Khudobin – Russia RealFive (European Indoor Club Men’s)
In the men’s division final of EUICC, the Russian squad got some huge play from Khudobin. He got over taller Latvian defenders for skying goals on two separate towering blades! Talk about a high degree of difficulty. His team needed every bit of it in their 13-12 win.
Taylor Barton – Brigham Young CHI (USAU D-I College Men’s)
Barton was one of the leaders for the #1 BYU men’s team, and while he won our Defensive Player of the Year, he was far from a one-way talent. He showed off a monster forehand with this delectable moonshot against reigning champions Brown at Florida Warm-Up.
Which Play Was Better? (R1M6) (Results)
- Mikhail Khudobin57%
- Taylor Barton43%
Matchup 7: Ash vs. Cannon
Jonah Lee Ash – British Columbia Thunderbirds (USAU D-I College Men’s)
The arc of the scoober is beautiful on this toss from Ash at the Stanford Invite. After bypassing the mark, it curved around a commendable defensive attempt downfield for the easy catch. All of that while traveling some 30-40 yards downfield.
Harris Cannon – Richmond Spidermonkeys (USAU D-III College Men’s)
It’s another big play from a future peer-voted award winner, this time from Division-III. Donovan Award winner Harris Cannon earned respect with this block, rushing to close down the play with an agile leap for the swat at FCS D-III Tune-Up.
Which Play Was Better? (R1M7) (Results)
- Jonah Lee Ash44%
- Harris Cannon56%
Matchup 8: Childress vs. Sun
Jasmine Childress – UC Santa Barbara Burning Skirts (USAU D-I College Women’s)
Let’s be honest: it wouldn’t be a 2020 Play of the Year bracket without Jasmine Childress. Her jaw-dropping playmaking ability pumped out highlights this college season. Perhaps her finest work was this picturesque leaping save, which forced double game point against rival Stanford in the final of the Santa Barbara Invite.
Jessie Sun – Pittsburgh Danger (USAU D-I College Women’s)
While Sun is known for her defensive prowess, that killer instinct and athleticism that drives her defense offers plenty of advantages on offense, as well. So to begin the possession on the first throw after she got the block featured in this very bracket, she made this play. With precious little time to get the read and react on this throw, Sun deftly found a way around the defender for the improbable save at the Stanford Invite.
Which Play Was Better? (R1M8) (Results)
- Jasmine Childress38%
- Jessie Sun62%