Clubhouse Chatter: Club Season Opener

What do the results from PEC West and other tournaments mean this early on?

Bay Area Sunshine at Revolution 2023. Photo: Rodney Chen –

Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2023 club ultimate season is presented by Spin Ultimate; all opinions are those of the author(s). Find out how Spin can get you, and your team, looking your best this season.

Welcome to Clubhouse Chatter, where the Ultiworld staff keeps you caught up on the major events of the club season.

The opening weeks of the club season have offered plenty to chat about around the metaphorical water cooler. Here are our top-line stories that you should be paying attention to as the season ramps up into full gear.

Meaningful (or Meaningless) Matters

There’s plenty of debate every year about how much early season tournaments really tell us about the elite club game, and such is the case again in 2023. Depending on who you ask you’ll get different answers, from “these results mean everything” to “these results mean nothing,” so let’s hear what folks have to say.1

“We just put the rest of the division on notice!” proclaimed an anonymous Raleigh-Durham United player after RDU’s 5-0 run to the Phantom Invite title. “We’ve made it clear that we’re the best of the Southeast, and Ring better watch out ‘cause we’re coming for their regional crown.”

Editor’s note: Now while it might be a touch too early to declare RDU the favorites out of the Southeast, a 12-9 win over PONY is nothing to sniff at. Even if it is in the very first game of the season for both teams, and even if New York was down some key players, and even if Ring very much remain the preeminent men’s team out of the Triangle. Check back in on this take in a week’s time after RDU faces down the gauntlet that is PEC-East.

“Look, we always knew it was going to be a battle with Molly Brown, whenever that game happened, and it just didn’t go our way this weekend,” shared a Fury coach on background after San Francisco finished fourth at PEC-West. “Then for Flipside, they just took advantage of our mistakes and punished us for them. It’s a long season, though, and I’m confident we’ll be where we want to be at season’s end.”

Editor’s note: What else have we come to expect from Fury than a measured approach, yet San Francisco still took as many losses in one weekend at PEC-West — by scores of 14-13 to Denver and 15-9 to San Diego — as they did all of last season. However, if there’s one thing we know about Fury, it’s that they tend to round into form when they need to, so don’t take this as a sign that their incredible semifinal streak is about to end any time soon. Another national title, though? That may be harder to come by.

“Y’all can take as much meaning as you like from this weekend, but we’re just focused on us and our process,” stated a Mixtape player who asked not to be named after Seattle finished ninth at PEC-West. “We don’t care where we end up seeded at Nationals, and after all, this worked for us last year, so why not try doing it again.”

Editor’s note: It did indeed work like this last year for Mixtape, and in an eerily similar fashion too. At PEC in 2022, Seattle won a single game in pool play before losing to MOONDOG in prequarters, and then proceeded to double peak, including as the fifth seed at Nationals. At PEC-West in 2023? Mixtape won a single game in pool play before losing to MOONDOG in prequarters. Let’s see if Seattle makes it twice lucky from here on out.

Way Too Early #BidWatch

We haven’t even had part two of the first-ever split Pro-Elite Challenge yet, but it’s never too soon to do some early bid watching. With the club division’s usual churn of teams and players, and some already intriguing results, these are the regions that stand to gain, or lose, from the season’s opening few weeks.

Women’s Division

Based on talent on paper alone, the Northeast seems primed to earn a third bid with the strength of New York BENT’s roster. Alongside two 2022 semifinalists in Boston Brute Squad and the Toronto 6ixers, and potential contenders in Quebec Iris and Boston Siege, it feels like it would be more of a surprise if the region didn’t get three bids come season’s end.

Speaking of three-bid regions, can the Mid-Atlantic hang onto theirs? Last year, Pittsburgh Parcha and DC Grit joined a returning DC Scandal in San Diego, but can the trio make it back together again? We’ll have a better sense of that after this weekend, when all three are in action at PEC-East.

Mixed Division

After putting three teams into the semis of PEC-West, the Southwest appears intent on proving that 2022’s one bid fiasco was indeed a blip for the historically successful region. Mischief, Polar Bears, and Lawless are the leading contenders to earn at least one, if not two, strength bids for the Southwest, though keep your eye out for newcomers Bay Area Sunshine. The bright eyed rookies ran rampant over the field at Revolution in San Francisco last weekend with a roster laden with veteran talent that looked promising in its first outing.

As to where those extra Southwest bids might come from? How about their cross-country compatriots in the Southeast, whose three bids in 2022 felt like a high water mark even at the time. A relatively poor outing from ‘Shine at FROGS certainly doesn’t help their prospects, and with the Nashville squad joined by Toro and Space Force at PEC-East, the region’s outlook may well have dimmed significantly this time next week.

Men’s Division

With RDU’s aforementioned win over PoNY, the Southeast could well earn three bids for the first time in a decade. While it may feel like an early call at this point in the season, Ring and Chain have been reliable bid earners for years, and we’ve seen how much of an effect one or two key wins can have on the edge of the bid picture, so stay tuned for the North Carolinians’ performances at PEC-East.

As was the case with the other two divisions, it’s a 2022 three-bid region that might regress to the mean in 2023, and we once again return to the Mid-Atlantic. Pittsburgh Temper, consistent Nationals qualifiers since 2018, didn’t get their season off to a great start with a lackluster showing at Phantom Invite, while Virginia Vault have only made the jump to Nationals the one time last season. Either, or both, could take a step back, which could just leave a scramble behind Truck Stop once again.

Post PEC-West Power Rankings

  1. Disclaimer, these are not real quotes, but with a little imagination you might just be able to find a kernel or two of truth hidden within 

  1. Jenna Weiner
    Jenna Weiner

    Jenna Weiner is a Senior Staff Writer, a co-host of Ultiworld's Double Overtime podcast, and considers herself a purveyor of all levels of ultimate. She's played mostly on the west coast but you're likely to find her at the nearest ultimate game available.

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