“The Bobble Game”, Revisited

The establishment team, Philadelphia AMP, versus the team of Worlds-caliber ringers, Washington DC Space Heater, and the contentious moment that sealed their 2018 fates

Philadelphia AMP’s Linda Morse bobbles the disc while out of bounds during the 2018 Club Nationals semifinal against Space Heater. Photo: Rodney Chen – UltiPhotos

Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2023 Club National Championships 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.

We’ve been treated to a great club season in 2023. For the first time since the COVID 19 pandemic began, we had a complete regular season and participation in the Series has ticked back up. While just getting “normal” would have been nice, this year has delivered so much more. Intense rivalry games at the US Open, new title challengers emerging in the women’s division for the first time in a decade, a chaotic-even-for-the-mixed-division series of results, and above all just a whole swath of high caliber games.

Then Regionals came around and amped up the excitement with big upsets, improbable cinderella runs, and as much drama as you could hope for across two weekends of action (it helps that we were able to see more of it live than ever before, thanks Field Pass!).

All that is to say, 2023 has the chance to go down as one of the greatest club seasons ever. But – and this is a big but – Nationals has got to deliver. Because if we get a dud Nationals (2022 College Nationals as the most recent example), that sour taste will hang over the season.

You know what year had a sick Nationals? 2018. Coincidently, you know what I think is the best club season of the modern era? The year of our lord two thousand and eighteen. If 2023 ends up topping it, we’re in for a hell of a weekend.

A brief refresher on the 2018 club season: in the men’s division PoNY pick up Jimmy Mickle to take their talented young core to the next level, winning the US Open, Pro Champs, and taking down both the Sockeye redeem team (in one of the greatest games of all time) and the Revolver dynasty to win Nationals.

In the women’s division we got the drama of Sarah “Surge” Griffith swapping from Riot to longtime nemesis Fury, ultimately scoring the goal on universe point to hand her old teammates their millionth (approximately) brutal elimination at Nationals. We got Manu Cardenas emerging as one of the best players in the world for Molly Brown at age 19. We got a plucky Scandal team making a run to the final of Pro Champs in the first year of the post-Jenny Fey/Sandy Jorgensen era. And we once against had a Brute v. Fury championship game go down to the final point. Great stuff all around.

But despite all that, the juiciest story of the year was in mixed. The most dramatic, fun, exciting thing going in 2018 was Space Heater. And the wildest game I’ve ever seen was the national semifinal between Space Heater and AMP. This weekend year will be the five year anniversary of that game, so let’s unpack everything that made it so memorable.

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  1. Patrick Stegemoeller
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    Patrick Stegemoeller is a Senior Staff Writer for Ultiworld, co-host of the Sin The Fields podcast, and also a lawyer who lives in Brooklyn.

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