National Championships 2023: Pool Play Recap

Catch up on all the action from pool play at the 2023 Club National Championships!

Denver Johnny Bravo with the sky over Washington DC Truck Stop in pool play at the 2023 Club Championships. Photo: Sam Hotaling – UltiPhotos.com

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.

Day one of the 2023 Club National Championships is in the books, and even taking into account the new random draw seeding, very little went as expected. Four teams from each division have been eliminated from title contention, with some surprising names among the mix. Read on for the top level stories from pool play and stay tuned to our 2023 Club National Championships event page for updates, as well as streaming links for all live games!

Mixed Division

Upsets Overload Half the Bracket

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: upsets in the mixed division have put a number of top seeds on the same side of the championship bracket. The no.1, no.2, no.3, no.4 seeds are all on one side of the bracket, along with the reigning champions. That’s courtesy of upsets, including a three-way tie, shuffling pool orders.

The most impactful upsets came in the day’s later rounds. Ann Arbor Hybrid really shook things up by taking down Philadelphia AMP in a comfortable 14-10 victory. The Michiganders secured the pool after AMP topped Mixtape, with the strongest point differential of the bunch. Meanwhile, in round four, Genny De Jesus and Oliver Chartock led New York XIST to a surprising 13-10 win versus Minneapolis Drag’n Thrust.

Now AMP and Drag’n Thrust — the two most popular picks to win the tournament in our Beat Charlie Challenge — are slated to face off in prequarters; one will fail to even reach quarterfinals. The winner of that game awaits top seeded Fort Collins shame. who won all three of their pool play games by large margins, the only top seed to do so without a loss. 

Vancouver Red Flag and Seattle Mixtape will play a prequarter with the winner facing Seattle BFG in the Northwest Regionals replay quadrant of the bracket.

In the other half of the bracket, Boston Slow and Washington DC Rally face off for the right to play a surging Hybrid team in quarters. Slow had one of the upsets of the day, taking down BFG on double game point, while Rally earned their first Nationals win in program history with a last round beatdown over ‘Shine.

The final prequarter will see Arizona Lawless and Lexington Sprocket in a matchup of yo-yo teams, with the winner meeting New York XIST in the quarterfinal. Should Sprocket advance, we’ll be treated to a rematch from Northeast Regionals semifinals, a 15-11 Sprocket win. Should Lawless advance, it will be the farthest a 16 seed had advanced in mixed since Chicago The UPA in 2015.

Needless to say, after a pool play filled with surprises, we are in for a treat as every game becomes a win-or-go-home event. 

Men’s Division

Bravo’s Powerful Title Defense 

Like a space shuttle taking off, pool play started with a bang as Denver Johnny Bravo knocked off top seeded Washington DC Truck Stop on double game point. The defending champions went on to take down Raleigh Ring of Fire and Eugene Dark Star to earn a bye to the quarterfinal round.

Truck Stop fell further, dropping a second one-goal game to Ring of Fire, and will face off against Atlanta Chain Lightning in a rematch of the Pro Champs final, which Truck Stop won by–wait for it–just a single goal. Ring of Fire will face Vancouver Furious George for the right to play New York PoNY, the only top seed in the men’s division to win their pool. If Ring advance, fans will be treated to a rematch of the 2021 national title game and the 2022 WUCC final. 

On the other side of the bracket, Austin Doublewide and San Francisco Revolver face off with the winner moving on to face Johnny Bravo. Revolver took down Portland Rhino Slam! and Minneapolis Sub Zero with a few points to spare, but fell to Boston DiG to drop out of the top spot in the pool, which DiG won on point differential. 

Rhino Slam! will face off against first-time Nationals participant Raleigh-Durham United, who earned their first Nationals win in program history by taking down Virginia Vault in the last round of pool play. Chicago Machine await the winner of that game in the quarterfinal round. Machine knocked off Chain Lightning in the last round of pool play with a resounding 15-10 win.

With the bracket shuffled, the field feels wide open in a way that the men’s division has lacked in recent years. Tournament favorite New York PoNY could have a path that includes the last two champions (Ring of Fire and Johnny Bravo) sandwiched by the top seeded team (Truck Stop, whose last game against PoNY was a 15-7 win at Pro Champs). You can watch Truck Stop and Chain Lightning face off at noon eastern for free on Ultiworld’s YouTube channel. Given the excitement of pool play, you won’t want to miss out. 

Women’s Division

Captivating Quarters Choices

With pool play over and the start of the bracket kicking off on Friday morning, it’s hard not to look ahead. After all, four teams have already secured their spots in the quarterfinals and will be spending their mornings resting and scouting their potential afternoon opponents. Intriguingly, with Washington DC Scandal, Denver Molly Brown, San Francisco Fury, and San Diego Flipside all advancing as pool winners, there’s a real possibility that the quarterfinal rounds will offer up a grand total of zero or one rematches from earlier this year.

After falling short against Flipside in one of only two upsets on the day in the division, Raleigh Phoenix find themselves in the unenviable position of staring down a rematch with Scandal in quarters. They have to get past a very game Seattle Riot side, though, and if Phoenix were to be upset again, DC and Seattle would clash for the first time all season. Molly Brown haven’t taken on either Chicago Nemesis or New York BENT, even if the Colombian connection is strong between the Cardenas sisters of Denver and Yina Cartagena and Ximena Montaña of the the Big Apple.

Meanwhile, in the bottom half of the bracket, Vancouver Traffic will face off against their Northwest rivals Oregon Schwa for a second straight year in prequarters after Traffic knocked off their fellow Canadians Toronto 6ixers in pool play. The winner of the Northwest showdown will get the reward of facing Fury, and though Schwa played Fury back in July at PEC-W, luck would have it that Traffic haven’t met the furious San Franciscans yet this season. On the final line is a second regional classic, this time out of the Northeast with Boston Brute Squad taking on the Toronto 6ixers, winner facing Flipside. While the 6ixers and Flipside did battle at the US Open, San Diego and Boston haven’t crossed paths up to this point.

What this means for the eventual outcome of the quarterfinals it’s hard to know for sure, but needless to say even the coaches with the morning off have their work more than cut out for them.

  1. Keith Raynor
    Keith Raynor

    Keith Raynor is a Senior Editor and the Business Development Manager at Ultiworld. He co-hosts our Deep Look podcast and does play-by-play and color commentary. He coaches UConn Rise, the college's women's team. You can reach him by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter (@FullFieldHammer).

  2. 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.

  3. Alex Rubin
    Alex Rubin

    Alex Rubin started writing for Ultiworld in 2018. He is a graduate of Northwestern University where he played for four years. After a stint in Los Angeles coaching high school and college teams, they moved to Chicago to experience real seasons and eat deep dish pizza. You can reach Alex through e-mail ([email protected]) or Twitter (@arubes14).

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