Pro-Elite Challenge East 2024: Tournament Preview

Championship-caliber teams collide atop every division in the first TCT event of the 2024 club season

Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2024 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.

The Eastern half of the first leg of the Triple Crown Tour gets underway with heated battles in all three divisions and a huge swath of our preseason top-25 teams in action. Between the first body-blows of the title fight, ferocious scrapping for bids at the fringes, and some key Regionals weekend preview bouts, there is plenty to keep an eye on as the 2024 season truly gets under way.

Tournament Profile

  • Date: July 13-14
  • Location: Fredericksburg, VA
  • Weather: Highs in the low-90s with 60%+ humidity, and potential AM showers on Saturday
  • Top 25 teams: 12 women’s div. / 10 mixed div. / 13 men’s div.
  • Schedules & Results
  • Event Page

Streaming Schedule

All Ultiworld Standard and All-Access subscribers will have access to watch the live broadcasts from this year’s Pro-Elite Challenge East, where we will have three games in each broadcasting round.

The broadcast schedule can be found below:

All times are ET. Saturday pool play times are correct below (8:30 AM round 1, 10:15 AM round 2, 12 PM round 3).

Saturday, July 13

8:30 AM: Nemesis vs. Flight [W] | XIST vs. Space Force [X] | PoNY vs. GOAT [M]
10:15 AM: Parcha vs. Starling [W] | Sprocket vs. Toro [X] | Sub Zero vs. Vault [M]
12:00 PM: Phoenix vs. 6ixers [W] | AMP vs. ‘Shine [X] | DiG vs. Chain Lightning [M]

Sunday, July 14

8:00 AM: Quarterfinal TBD [W] | Quarterfinal TBD [X] | Quarterfinal TBD [M]
9:45 AM: Semifinal TBD [W] | Semifinal TBD [X] | Semifinal TBD [M]
11:30 PM: Final TBD [W] | Final TBD [X] | Final TBD [M]

Men’s Division

Boston DiG’s Orion Cable spikes after scoring in quarterfinals of the 2023 Club Championships. Photo: Jeff Bell – UltiPhotos.com

First Look at Supercharged Contenders

#2 Chicago Machine and #4 Boston DiG come into the season with huge aspirations after making significant roster upgrades, and we’ll see some of those upgrades on the field at PEC. Of the two, DiG will feature more of their big names. Jeff Babbitt (formerly of #8 New York PoNY), Calvin Stoughton (#3 Denver Johnny Bravo), Albert Yuan (#13 Raleigh-Durham United), and Tobe Decraene (Belgian club team Gentle) all make their team debuts.1

Machine, as in PECs past, will take the field without several key pieces: Joe White and Pawel Janas are a couple of notable returners who aren’t listed on the event roster, and it appears we’ll have to wait a while longer until we see the stateside premier of the highly-anticipated Daan De Marrée (Belgium club team Mooncatchers) show. But seeing how they incorporate rookies Will Wettengel and John Lithio will offer a glimpse of their potential. Without #1 Washington DC Truck Stop in the way this weekend, both will be angling for a tournament win.

Other Notes from Around the Division

  • If the bracket plays out right, we’ll get the first round of the always-exciting battle between the Southeast’s premier programs, #7 Raleigh Ring of Fire and #9 Atlanta Chain Lightning, both of whom return most of their key players from strong 2023 campaigns. They’re roughly 95% likely to meet in the regional final later this year.
  • PoNY will rotate different pieces into feature roles after losing a handful of last season’s top stars. Who they deploy into which slots and how well it goes should be a fascinating storyline to watch as they attempt to win a second title.2
  • Lower-seed Nationals spots are on the line as RDU, #14 Minneapolis Sub Zero, #15 Virginia Vault, and #16 New York Blueprint look to protect their postseason positions against a bevy of ambitious challengers. Bids might well be won or lost with PEC performances.

Women’s Division

Brute Squad’s Zoe Hecht throws past the flashing foot of Scandal’s Kami Groom in the final of the 2023 Club Championship. Photo: William “Brody” Brotman – UltiPhotos.com

National Championship Rematch on Tap?

The last time #1 Boston Brute Squad and #3 Washington DC Scandal met, it was for all the marbles. And if the tournament’s top seeds hold, PEC-East will pick up right where last year’s Nationals ended. If Scandal get their way, though, the results will be reversed.

Scandal bring back most of their 2023 playmakers – the notable exceptions are Blaise Sevier and Jamie Eriksson – and pack even more talent around them. Raha Mozaffari, Marie Perivier, Annelise Peters, and Tyler Smith all join a side that rightfully expect to compete for a title again.

To do so, they’ll have to contend with the Brute Squad juggernaut, though – never an easy task. And it especially won’t be easy this year, as Boston have made their own big improvements. This weekend will see the debut of GRUT star Floor Keulartz, as well as Tufts’ dynamic duo Emily Kemp and Lia Schwartz. Even with their other European stars (Levke Walczak and Kristýna Tlustá) not scheduled to arrive yet, this is going to be a hell of a team to contend with.

Other Notes from Around the Division

  • Although#6 Raleigh Phoenix lose a big piece (Sarah Meckstroth), they return most of the other major contributors from the 2023 campaign. We’ll see if they can begin the season on the right foot: consistent high-level play now could mean a greater chance of breaking back into the deepest parts of Nationals.
  • #7 New York BENT have been in the process of concentrating lots of the NYC area talent. Their latest recruting coup? Prying Genny De Jesus away from the mixed division. They have their eye on a big season, and it could all start with a surprise run to the PEC final.
  • The Mid-Atlantic was a bid-rich region in 2023. So was the Northeast. The difference? The Northeast had at least three teams looking on from just outside the bubble, and all of them will be in action at PEC. The stakes are abnormally high for an early season tournament as #13 Pittsburgh Parcha and #17 Washington DC Grit attempt to defend that turf from the combined attack of #19 Quebec Iris, #20 Northampton Starling, and #21 Boston Siege.

Mixed Division

Hybrid’s Adam Stautberg’s bid comes up just short against XIST’s Michael Drost in the semifinal of the 2023 Club Championship. Photo: William “Brody” Brotman – UltiPhotos.com

New Upper Crust vs. Old Guard

It’s a bit weird that the last three seasons have seen a combined four semifinals appearances from Mixed Division babies #2 Ann Arbor Hybrid (est. 2021) and #3 New York XIST (est. 2018) – and exactly zero in that timeframe from venerable institutions of the division #7 Boston Slow and #9 Philadelphia AMP. Is that all just a temporary pandemic hangover effect that’s going to get back to the ways of the before times this season and next, or have we truly entered a new competitive landscape?

The bad news for the old guard is that Hybrid and XIST are not backing down. Both of them add key pieces – Axel Agami Contreras, Rita Feder, and Connor Russell for XIST; Rachel Mast and Aaron Bartlett for Hybrid – to their large pile of battle-tested talent. It’s easy to get swept away and see them both competing for a championship again in 2024. On the other hand, AMP and Slow have not been resting on their (dusty) laurels. Both fight inevitable roster turnover by bringing in some major pieces of their own, and it seems, at this point, entirely possible for either them both to become relevant teams by the time we reach semifinal Saturday in San Diego. If one group can lock the other out of the PEC title game, we should have our best guess at an answer to which of them have the inside track.

Other Notes from Around the Division

  • It’s essentially a home tournament for a #12 Washington DC Rally side who look much-improved from their Nationals-tested 2023 iteration. We’ll see if the additions can get into lockstep early as they look to steal the Mid-Atlantic from AMP and charge toward a bracket run in San Diego.
  • The wild weekend that was 2023 Southeast Regionals will see its four semifinalists reunited in Virginia this weekend. #15 Nashville ‘Shine, #18 Huntsville Space Force, #23 Charlotte Storm, and Durham Toro will all want to sharpen themselves as early as possible in the event of another single bid fracas – or do anything they can to bring some strength bids back #ferda.
  • #11 Boston Sprocket and #13 Madison NOISE are dark horses to take the PEC title and insert themselves into the championship conversation. Keep an eye on how quickly they gel.
  • The title for the preseason’s most intriguing team might be the Lone Star newcomers #19 Austin Disco Club. They’ve ransacked big names from area men’s and women’s division teams to put together a crew that, on paper at least, looks Nationals-caliber. The test of that assessment begins this weekend in Virginia.

  1. Or, in Babbitt’s case, long-awaited return 

  2. 2018 was the program’s first and only. 

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