Opening Pull: Empire Complete Undefeated Season, Top Women’s Programs Clash

Plus, ultimate is on the rise in China.

Jack Williams and the New York Empire celebrate their 2022 AUDL Championship. Photo: Daniel Cohen
Jack Williams and the New York Empire celebrate their 2022 AUDL Championship. Photo: Daniel Cohen

Opening Pull is Ultiworld’s weekly wrap-up of the previous week in ultimate, available both here on the site and as an email newsletter. We’ve gathered the news you need to know and highlights you need to see. Check back weekly or subscribe now to receive Opening Pull in your inbox along with a rundown of the previous week’s content on Ultiworld.

Empire Reclaim AUDL Crown with Dominant Performance

For the second time in three seasons, the New York Empire are AUDL champions. New York dominated Championship Weekend in Madison, comfortably eliminating the 2021 champions Raleigh Flyers in a semifinal on Friday night before running away from Chicago Union in the final on Saturday for a 22-14 victory – the largest championship game margin since 2014.

Jack Williams was a standout in both games this weekend, earning finals MVP honors with a 2G/5A stat line while accounting for 478 total yards of offense, including a game-high 439 throwing yards.

In completing their perfect 15-0 2022 season, the Empire become just the second franchise in league history to win multiple titles, matching the feat previously only accomplished by the now defunct San Jose Spiders.

In other AUDL news, the league announced that they would be hosting their second-ever All-Star Game on November 12 in Portland, OR as part of a day of festivities at Providence Park. Additionally, the Indianapolis AlleyCats became the latest franchise to put on a showcase at halftime of an NFL preseason game.

Fury, Flipside Impress at Women’s Bay Area Tournament

As the club season chugs along toward its quickly approaching conclusion, many of the top women’s programs in the western half of the country met for a late season event in the Bay Area. Hosts San Francisco Fury were the big winners, finishing the weekend – and their regular season – without a blemish on their account. If the reigning national champs can escape Regionals unscathed, they should comfortably claim the top seed at Nationals.

Also impressing was first-year San Diego program, Flipside. In addition to knocking off #2 Denver Molly Brown, Flipside put a scare into the hosts, at one point holding a 12-9 lead before Fury staged a late comeback for a 14-13 victory in what amounted to the de facto tournament final.

Ultimate on the Rise in China

Over the past few months, ultimate has exploded in the world’s most populous country. What started as an odd fashion and social trend has blossomed into a genuine interest in the competitive landscape around the world. Not only has China’s government begun funding and hosting a National Ultimate Frisbee League that started earlier this month and will run through 2023, last week social media platform Xiaohongshu announced a partnership with the AUDL to become the league’s exclusive event broadcast platform in China.

The next edition of the World Games is slated to be held in Chengdu in 2025, meaning the country will get an automatic entry, despite little international involvement prior to now.

Highlight of the Week

Former Callahan finalist and San Francisco Nightlock star Ella Hansen won the 2022 PDGA World Distance Championship on Sunday, ripping a 495 foot bomb, besting the second-place FPO finisher Paige Pearce by nearly 20 feet.

Ella Hansen Distance

Hansen will compete at the 2022 PDGA World Championships this week, starting tomorrow in Emporia, KS.

Coming Up

  • Believe it or not, the final weekend of the club regular season is upon us, with the Pro Championships serving as the second leg in the 2022 Triple Crown Tour. Ultiworld will be on hand to provide live video and reported coverage from Raleigh, NC, all weekend.
  1. Steve Sullivan
    Steve Sullivan

    Steve Sullivan is the Executive Editor of Ultiworld. He began playing in 2001 at Boston University, helped found and then played 14 seasons with Slow White, and most recently competed with San Francisco Blackbird. He has volunteered as a college Sectional Coordinator, a club Regional Coordinator, served three terms as a player-elected representative for the Mixed division on USAU's Club Working Group, and is currently an At-Large rep on the USAU Board of Directors. He has previously written for the USAU magazine and The Huddle, and was editor of the book "Ultimate: The First Five Decades, Vol II." You can reach him by email (steve@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@sjsully21).

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