People don't understand how good the Northeast club scene is right now.
September 13, 2023 by Patrick Stegemoeller in Analysis, Opinion with 0 comments
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 keep you caught up on the major events of the club season. The Pro Championships wrapped up the club regular season and the winners in all three divisions threw down the gauntlet in front of their likely Nationals competition. Add in action on the bid line, and it was a statement ending for a standout season. Here, then, are your top line takeaways from the regular season finale.
People Don’t Understand How Much Better The Northeast Is Than Every Other Region1
Any way to want to you slice it, the Northeast is the best club region in the country.
That’s a concept that has been clear in recent years, throughout this season, and demonstrated once again by the chaos and quality of Sectionals weekend. But it’s not just a matter of the Northeast being the best region – the Northeast is substantially better than anyone else and it isn’t close. There are semis stalwarts and title contenders at the top of every division, loads of bids to Nationals, and truly unrivaled depth down the regional pecking order.
Let’s start broadly at the top and look at the cumulative bids to Nationals for each region across the Men’s, Women’s, and Mixed divisions.
- Northeast: 9 (3M 3W 3X)
- Northwest: 9 (3M 3W 3X)
- Mid-Atlantic: 7 (2M 3W 2X)
- Southwest: 6 (1M 3W 2X)
- Southeast: 5 (3M 1W 1X)
- Great Lakes: 4 (1M 1W 2X)
- North Central: 4 (1M 1W 2X)
- South Central: 4 (2M 1W 1X)
Alright, tied for first with the Northwest and a couple ahead of the Mid-Atlantic. Good, but not definitively better than every other region. So let’s drill down into the quality of top end teams.
The Northeast was the only region to put teams in semis in each of the three divisions last season (in fact, they had four semis teams, with Toronto 6ixers and Boston Brute Squa making it in the women’s division alongside New York PoNY and New York XIST). This season the region has seven teams ranked in the top 10 in Ultiworld’s power rankings across the three divisions, the most of any region. The next closest is the Northwest with five. The Northeast has the same amount of collective top 10 teams as the Great Lakes, North Central, and Southwest combined.
Boasting this broad coalition of elite teams, the Northeast appears to have the strongest top end of any region in the country, by a healthy margin. The top end, however, isn’t where the region shines. It’s the depth that pushes it from “noticeably the best region” to “degrees of magnitude better than any other.”
In the women’s division, the Northeast has three bids to Nationals this year. Not too shabby, especially when you consider that all three of Brute Squad, 6ixers, and Bent are in the top 10. It could have been more. The first two teams out of the the bid earning window in the USAU rankings, #16 Northampton Starling and #17 Quebec Iris, are both from the Northeast. Right behind them at #21 is Boston Siege. The region could easily have been looking at five bids this year with a sixth team viably in the hunt. That’s one of the deepest pools of Nationals level teams any region has had in any year, ever.
But to truly appreciate the depth of talent in the region, and how hellacious Regionals are going to be, look past just the teams competing for bids. Peruse Sectionals results from this past weekend in the mixed and men’s divisions. Look at the rosters of teams who never heard of, like “Mystery Box” or “The Buoy Association” and recognize names you’ve definitely heard of.
Go deeper in the men’s division, where the depth gets truly ludicrous. Amherst Sprout — you know the team that made Nationals two years ago and currently has this roster? — finished third in their section. And it’s not even the toughest section in the region!
That would be East New England, probably the single best section in the country in any division. The best way to illustrate it is by looking at those who didn’t make it to Regionals. You’ve got Lantern, a team that won multiple games at SFI-E this season – purportedly a tournament filled with the best non-Nationals teams in the country – and they go down in the game-to-go at Sectionals. You can thank the appearance of the aforementioned Mystery Box and Canadian bid-stealers Red Circus for that. Again, this isn’t some team barely scrapping by that lost their bid to a stacked pickup team. Lantern is a team that was out getting wins at Select Flight, and they got cut down at Sectionals. The Northeast’s depth is absurd.
Another way to look at it, if USAU allocated Select Flight bids based on rankings, the Northeast would have 8 (8!) Select Flight teams in the men’s division on top of three Nationals teams this year based on the most recent frisbee-ranking.com projections (which includes all of the teams competing in the Series). There are 11 mens teams, at least, in the Northeast that would be within shouting distance of making the game-to-go in any other region.
Is there a point to all of this? Not really, other than genuine admiration for the playing talent spread across New York, New England, and Eastern Canada. With big programs from major cities, scrappy teams from smaller scenes who can take it to the big dogs, and the seeding pandemonium generated by Canadian interlopers and elite pickup teams, Northeast Regionals is going to be amazing, like every year. If you can make it up to Devens, I highly recommend it.
Editor’s Note: Opinions coming from the captain of a Northeast club team. ↩