New York Gridlock Selected as PUL Championship Weekend Wildcard

Surge snub upsets many fans

Angela Zhu and the New York Gridlock are heading to Championship Weekend. Photo: Sandy Canetti —

In a fiercely debated decision, the New York Gridlock was selected over the Philadelphia Surge as the wildcard team for the 2023 Premier Ultimate League Championship Weekend.

The two divisional rivals were widely considered the two challengers for the final playoff spot, with the Surge defeating the Gridlock in their first game of the season but the Gridlock beating the league’s top team, the DC Shadow (who had previously defeated the Surge), last month.

A major point of contention for the 12-person rankings committee, comprised of a non-player representative for each team, was the Gridlock’s weakened roster when they played the Surge, as they were missing some key personnel that weekend. This week was the first time that the Surge trailed the Gridlock in the league’s official rankings.

“After a tightly-contested race for the wildcard spot between New York Gridlock and Philadelphia Surge, Gridlock narrowly beat out Surge for third place in the power rankings with seven members of the [rankings] committee ranking Gridlock above Surge but only a single ranking point separating the two teams,” wrote the league in a press release. “Gridlock was selected as the wildcard team for the 2023 PUL Championship Weekend.”

Gridlock owner and coach Eileen Murray released a blog post on Tuesday on the team’s website making the case for the team’s inclusion as the wild card.

“Personally, I believe that the ranking committee did the job they were tasked to do,” Murray told Ultiworld. “It was very close, and New York came out on top this time. As a team, NYGL is honored, excited, and ready to compete at Championship Weekend and appreciate all the league does to showcase our athletes.”

The Surge finished the season 5-1 with their lone loss coming to the DC Shadow; the Gridlock went 4-2 with losses to the Surge and Minnesota Strike, the Midwest Division champions. Both the Gridlock and Surge played the Austin Torch this past weekend: the Gridlock won 22-11 and the Surge won 18-13.

“Surge is incredibly proud of our inaugural season and what we were able to build and accomplish,” said Surge General Manager and player Andrea DeSabato. “We are currently disheartened to see it come to an end in this way. The PUL has done so much great work to facilitate and promote our sport being played by some of the best women and non binary players in the world. Despite that, it seems clear to us that a confusing and subjective wildcard committee process, which we voted against before the season began, led to an incorrect outcome. The hope is that PUL product continues to improve and strive for transparency and legitimacy.”

Many fans and Surge supporters on social media voiced displeasure about the ranking committee’s decision. Although the teams voted to approve the playoff process before the start of the season, the PUL did not announce the wild card ranking committee or playoff qualification procedures until after Week 4 of the regular season. Last year, the league used the USA Ultimate algorithm to determine the fourth and final playoff team.

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld.You can reach him by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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