Weather changed playing conditions and disrupted schedules, forcing teams to adjust accordingly.
July 28, 2022 by Claire James and Daniel Prentice in Recap with 0 comments
LEBANON, OH — Weather delays sent the women’s division into chaos on Wednesday, right as it was meant to be getting into the start of the bracket for medals. No division was affected more than the women’s division with only 10 games with top 16 implications getting played all day.
There was a lightning delay pushing rounds back an hour before most teams had finished eating the continental breakfast at their hotel. Once play started, the gully washer commenced. As buckets of rain poured down, the fields became soft, and the discs became oh-so-hard to hang on to. Only one round was completed before the lightning moved in again, this time producing a three-hour delay, in part demanded by the field complex to let the fields drain a bit. Players moved to the large tent to play cards and await further news from WFDF about the altered schedule.
Before the weather snafu, all of the round of 16 games were slotted to be completed on Wednesday with Thursday reserved for quarters. Now, Thursday will entail the six prequarters games that got snubbed along with the quarterfinals, continuing Wednesday’s theme of utter chaos. This chaos will likely manifest much more heavily in the events on the field than external factors. The rain couldn’t completely burst the bracket’s bubble, however, because WFDF did manage to squeeze in two of the eight games that will determine those who advance to quarters.
Games resumed at 3:00 PM. For the women’s division, the games were a split between crossovers and qualifiers to the Round of 16 that will start on Thursday, assuming there is no interference from storms, sinkholes, alien invasions, or whatever other interruption you can think up. Amongst the crossover games, half of those victors won by two or less, each point a battle in a larger war. Noisy-le-Sec YAKA (FRA), Seattle Riot (USA), Berlin jinX (GER), Tokyo MUD (JPN), Seagulls Hamburg (GER), and Aerosoul (COL) all secured spots in the round of 16, where they will each take on the teams that finished in the top two spots of the power pools. Quebec Iris (CAN) and Vancouver Traffic (CAN) also earned spots in the round of 16, but met their bracket demise later in the day when it came time to face the aforementioned Power Pool winners.
Much of Wednesday was weird and unfortunate, but it wasn’t all bad for everyone. The wet grass made for some grand old bids, and eight teams wormed their way into the round of 16.
While the day overall mostly felt like a washout, there were some winners and losers on the other side of it all.
Ellipsis and 6ixers (And Not Just Because They Literally Won)
The Toronto 6ixers (CAN) achieved a victory as sweet as maple syrup today as they beat their fellow Tim Hortons lovers, Traffic. The match was intense and physical for the entirety of the game, with both teams putting their whole hearts and bodies into their play. Body contact and turns defined much of the game, which was reflected in the audience as spectators flinched frequently. The windy conditions in this game did nothing to help either team, but it was also clear that both teams were making some uncharacteristic mistakes, likely frazzled at the intensity of the game.
Defensively, this was an incredible show with layout blocks, run-through Ds, and the occasional foot block (shoutout to Reve Chan). Both teams wanted this win, but the 6ixers snapped out of the anxious energy slightly before Traffic was able to. The Torontonians won 14-10 after being down or tied for much of the game. The 6ixers were flustered early by the mental aspect of playing in troublesome conditions, but a shift in focus helped them improve on their play.
“Realistically, we’re all from Canada [and] we play in much windier conditions than this, and in the second half, we readjusted our mindset [to focus on] playing our game regardless of the conditions,” said Sarah “Bear” Jacobsohn, who is an absolute force to be reckoned with on the field with powerful strikes, superb field awareness, and long, coordinated limbs that gravitate to the disc. Jacobsohn emphasized the role of trust in the 6ixers’ play style and a component they will rely on going forward. This win sets Toronto to play Melbourne Ellipsis (AUS) on Thursday at 10:00 AM; all of the other quarters have not yet been set. The 6ixers’ journey will only get tougher from here on out, but they have continuously demonstrated their ability to rise to the challenge and grind it out as a team.
Ellipsis’ journey to the quarters was a tad more boring for spectators. It was clear that Ellipsis was going to dunk on Iris from the start. The Canadian team has looked solid throughout most of the tournament, but ‘solid’ is not enough to slow down the steamrollers Ellipsis has proven themselves to be this week. Olivia Carr, who has been winning hearts throughout the event, recognized and complimented the depth of the D-line: “[They] have been getting incredible blocks and converting on D, [which] I think is one of the reasons we’ve done well.”
Ellipsis will have to monitor their “risk appetite and aggression dial,” as Carr referred to them, so they can stay amped and harrying on defense without being loose with the disc once they get it. Carr wasn’t joking about the team’s depth. With ballers including her, Cat Phillips, Alex Prentice, Caroline Ma, Anouchka Beaudry, and too many others to name, Ellipsis is definitely a team to watch in the coming days, especially if you are rooting for a takedown of the American powerhouses.
Crossover Winners With Prequarters Prep Time
Again, this may seem overly literal, but teams that won their crossover game and then had their round of 16 game pushed until Thursday came out big winners on the day. In truth, because only two Round of 16 games were played on Wednesday, this group made up the vast majority of literal winners on the day anyway. And apart from Traffic and Iris, they’re all still alive heading into day five of the tournament, an extra day than the vast majority likely would have had under normal circumstances.
But beyond an additional sunrise with the dreams of winning a medal alive, the crossover winners now really get to prepare for their quarterfinals matchups. Ordinarily when a team is about to play a team that had a bye for the previous round, they’re doing so immediately after playing a game, or at most, after one round after their previous game. But now Seagulls, Riot, jinX, MUD, Aerosoul, and YAKA all get Wednesday evening to prepare specifically for their next opponent.
Of course, their future opponents still have plenty of advantages, namely like simply being the better of the two teams based on their superior results to this point in the tournament. But this is as good a chance as you’ll get at an ultimate tournament to be fully prepared to pull off an upset. Perhaps the round still goes entirely to chalk. But the underdogs will have a better chance than usual as a result of the funkiness of the day.
The sideline and spectator presence was a noticeable change in the game environment at the Lebanon Sports Complex on Wednesday. The rain-induced schedule fluke freed up many teams to go watch their women’s division counterparts. As the Blueberries (NZL) took on YAKA for the spot to play Ellipsis, the Wellington Wildcats (NZL) of the open division and some players from the open Ellipsis (AUS) team packed the sideline to support their Blueberries and eradicated any and all silence. The creative cheers made spectators and players alike smile and provided an always-welcome energy boost. As they chanted “We will, we will blue you,” to the tune of the Queen classic, Iznogood, the French open team rivaled with their own noisy support, mostly in French.
This was a theme in most of the major games on Wednesday, and a wholesome reminder of all the ways different communities within ultimate enjoy supporting each other. Anyone who has played ultimate knows how good it feels to have your friends and family exuding positivity and love in the form of noise from the sideline. The structure of this tournament doesn’t allow for very much of this given the timing of games and sheer physical size of the complex. Thanks to the rain, players got to be dedicated fans for a change.
Teams That Didn’t Get to Play Today
This is more or less the flipside of the teams who advanced from the crossovers round and then didn’t have to play again the rest of the day. On the surface, it may look like an advantage to get the whole day off, as was the case for the teams that were already locked into a round of 16 berth prior to the crossover round other than 6ixers and Ellipsis. That’s San Francisco Fury (USA), Swampbarg (JPN), Raleigh Phoenix (USA), Boston Brute Squad (USA), Medellin Revolution (COL), and Tokyo Mavericks (JPN). But some of those teams made it to the fields before their rounds were canceled and didn’t get the benefit of having a completely free day anyway.
But most importantly, all of those teams are losing one of the primary advantages of winning their autobid into the round of 16. They no longer will be playing a team playing its second game of the day. Apart from having played one extra game the day before, everyone will be on even ground in terms of energy and fatigue.
Maybe the recovery that not having any games today at all will nullify those disadvantages, but it feels like cramming more intense games into a shorter time frame is a net negative compared to the teams who are already in quarterfinals and will only have to play a game a day from here on out, barring any further weather-induced changes to the schedule of course.
At WUCC games have been played with only a soft cap, meaning that after 100 minutes of play, one point is added to the winning team’s score and then that becomes the target score to win. Essentially, you have to score the final point of the game in order to win. That sets up potential scenarios where games can last a really long time, even beyond the start of following round.
But that hadn’t happened until the crossover rounds on Wednesday. Both the Iris vs. San Francisco Nightlock (USA) and Aerosoul vs. Bologna CUSB Shout (ITA) games went more than 10 minutes beyond the allotted time slot of the round.
Weather was the lead culprit in causing the lengthy games. Iris and Nightlock played during the morning monsoon and the final several points – save for the last one, when Iris held clean on double game point to win – all lasted over 10 minutes and peaked with the penultimate point at nearly 20 minutes long. Neither team could acclimate to the wet disc or sopping fields and play became a sloppy mess.
Thankfully the nearly 140 minutes of game time didn’t have repercussions for the ensuing round due to the enforced delay after the round to allow the fields to dry. The game’s ending would have been even more chaotic otherwise, as the game advisors were slated to have to leave before the game’s end to make it to the stream fields in time for the start of the next round.
Aerosoul vs. CUSB wasn’t played in the rain but rather a strong wind and each point was a slog from the beginning to end at 12-11, tying for the lowest game winning score all week.1 Neither team ever found any sort of groove offensively, but the final two points were especially sloppy, lasting over 27 minutes total. Aerosoul held on universe for the win after failing to do so the point before, setting up the dramatic double game point finale.
In general, the score to win rule is a good one, and feels more natural with ultimate’s play-to-score baseline. But it certainly has its downsides as well and these two games were pretty egregious examples of how it can go wrong. Thankfully the rest of the tournament wasn’t impacted too much in either case, but that was partially due to some extraordinary circumstances as well.
For some reason the women’s division was put into a fairly drastic imbalance when the weather delays put the tournament in a time crunch. Riot and Tokyo HUCK (JPN) played each other later than any of the other crossover games and at the same time as the two round of 16 games that got played. Curiously, the men’s division (which has exactly mirrored the women’s division format otherwise) played all delayed crossovers at the same time and then an entire half of the bracket played their round of 16 games at the same time, as originally planned. This creates some obvious imbalances the rest of the way that could potentially have an impact on the competitive balance of the rest of the bracket, albeit likely a small one.
And to be fair, the initial re-shaped schedule for the day would have created an even more drastic advantage for one team. Phoenix vs. jinX was originally slated to be played alongside the two round of 16 games that did get played, but that would have given the winner of that game a pretty huge advantage over the winner of the matchup between Brute Squad and MUD in the quarterfinals round. So it could have been worse if that change had not been made.
Weather delays are almost inevitable in a tournament that stretches this many days, especially ones that are played in the summertime in the US. And it’s always a shame when they force changes to the schedule. But these changes were particularly peculiar for the women’s division. Hopefully they won’t have any impact on the tournament beyond just adding a little extra layer of weirdness to what was already an odd day.
Funnily enough, the other such game was an Aerosoul game as well with their 12-10 win over HUCK in Pool P. ↩