A look at where teams stand in the early season.
July 14, 2015 by Charlie Eisenhood and Keith Raynor in Rankings with 18 comments
The latest Ultiworld Club Power Rankings are now posted on the Rankings page as well as alongside this article (on the right on desktop, below on mobile).
Here is some discussion of each division’s rankings — join us in the comments!
1. San Francisco Revolver
Is there any question? Revolver won their third consecutive US Open over the 4th of July weekend and looked great doing it. They defeated some excellent teams along the way, including Boston Ironside, Washington DC Truck Stop, and Toronto GOAT. They are clearly the deepest, most talented team in the field this year and should be the favorite in every game they play this season.
2-7: Truck Stop, GOAT, Johnny Bravo, Doublewide, Ring of Fire, Ironside
Pick 3. Those are your National semifinalists.
These teams have clearly separated themselves as the Tier II sides (Revolver is in Tier I all alone right now). Ranking them is no easy task.
Washington DC Truck Stop may have the highest ceiling of any team other than Doublewide. They also had a great US Open and gave Revolver a run for their money in semifinals. Yes, they lost to Denver Johnny Bravo in pool play, but it was a late meltdown that cost them as the blew a second half lead after outplaying Bravo for most of the match.
Toronto GOAT somehow took a thin roster to a US Open final after starting out the weekend looking, at times, dreadful. But they coalesced over the weekend and beat Bravo in fairly decisive fashion in semis. They were no slouches against Revolver either; they just ran out of legs.
Bravo is adjusting to the losses of some key offensive cogs and it showed. They are still semis quality, no question, but they are definitely a few steps back from where they were last year. Can they figure it out? With Nick Lance and Jimmy Mickle running the show, definitely.
Doublewide fell from #2 to #5 this week after a bit of a middling effort in Columbus this weekend. They were missing so many players (Will Driscoll, Kiran Thomas, Jerrod Wolfe, Max Cook, etc.) that it’s hard to get a read on where the team stands. Defensively, they look sharp, and they are big and athletic as usual. But their offense was often molasses as Kurt Gibson had to do a lot of heavy lifting just to get them to semis. The ceiling of this team at full strength is probably higher than any team other than Revolver.
Ring was probably a bit high in last week’s rankings — seeing other teams and their level of polish highlighted some of Ring’s flaws. Like many teams, they were missing lots of players at their first tournament. They didn’t flip the switch defensively often enough to really look like a top contender early in the season. They will be there in October, however.
Boston is simply not as talented as they used to be. But do you really want to pick against them to make it to semis? They’ve made it every year since the team has existed. Tyler Chan is a breath of fresh air and Josh “Cricket” Markette is still a visionary field general. They blew it against a shorthanded GOAT to miss semis at the US Open.
Realistically, you could order these teams in almost any way you like. So hard to get a full read on teams when they aren’t playing with all of their roster early in the year.
8-11: High Five, Machine, Patrol, Sockeye
Your Tier III teams sit here.
Michigan High Five looked sharp, no doubt, and will almost certainly be at Nationals this year. The added depth of their Ohio pickups has changed the look of the team and slotted their players into their best, most comfortable roles. Johnny Bansfield is a terrifying D-line handler with breaks and power who should be on the All-Club watchlist this season.
Chicago Machine really does look like they will miss their Madison players. Tom Annen, Pat Shriwise, and Dave Wiseman were all huge for the team last year and their absence is already strongly felt. The offense lacked cohesion and flow. The defense, on the other hand, was terrific until the final when it ran out of steam after shouldering a heavy load all weekend.
Philadelphia ultimate is back! Patrol was no fluke; the top players in the city are back together on a team. It was obvious that the chemistry and fitness from the Philadelphia Spinners season carried over in Columbus, and there are reasonable concerns about the team’s ceiling as other teams gel more later this year. The team’s defense was stifling — they had multiple times in the weekend with four or more breaks in a row. The offense was intentionally clunky this weekend; they almost exclusively ran a rarely used vertical stack to work on fundamentals.
Seattle Sockeye was underwhelming this weekend. They lost their first two biggest games — v. Florida United in pool play and v. Doublewide in quarterfinals. It’s worth noting that both of those teams are big and athletic; Sockeye does not seem to match up well across the board against those teams. With so many players missing, though, Sockeye should be fine and will likely move back up into the top 10 later this season. Are they a semis-caliber team, though?
13. Florida United
This was a pretty strong performance for Florida United, despite missing many of their very best players (Chris LaRocque, Mischa Freystaetter, Mike Hickson, Bobby Ley, etc.) to U23 Worlds and the AUDL. This is the best team Florida has put out in a very long time and if they can find a consistent rhythm on offense, they will be a dangerous matchup all season.
18. Tuscaloosa Southern Hospitality
Well, they beat Chain Lightning 12-10 at Huckfest down in the Southeast. That tells you everything you need to know about this ranking. Hard to know how they will hold up over the course of the season, but this is a team on the rise and one that nobody will want to deal with at Regionals.
21-22: Prairie Fire, Sub Zero
Prairie Fire was all over the place this weekend, getting blasted by Patrol 13-4 to start the weekend and then rebounding to shockingly beat Minneapolis Sub Zero. Then they made quarters, but lost everything on Sunday. Weird start. Playing without Abe Coffin (U23) and Jay Froude didn’t help their cause. Brett Matzuka was there, though, and showing off his typical backfield brilliance, delivering breaks of all kinds and quarterbacking all weekend. Getting that style meshed in with the athletic, attacking mentality of the rest of the team will be paramount to later success.
Sub Zero was totally underwhelming this weekend. There were some flashes of nice things on offense, but the defense could not get anything going. The team only got wins over Phoenix Sprawl and Utah Powderhogs. They’ve got a lot of work to do just to get back to Nationals.
No reason to have any doubts after the US Open. Fury is 2-1 vs. Riot with both wins coming in the finals of their two tournaments. It should be a back and forth matchup all season. Boston is right there with them.
4-6: Molly Brown, Traffic, Scandal
It was a bit of a slow start for Molly at the Elite-Select Challenge – they called it “lackadaisical” – but they showed they were just stronger than the other teams there. But that slow start is enough to keep them in the second tier with Vancouver and the reigning champs.
13. Quebec Iris
Time to show respect to the Canadian squad that’s been kicking butt all season. Their wins over BENT and Hot Metal look even better and their only losses are to Brute Squad and Capitals, respectable teams to drop games to. With plans to play in the USA Ultimate Series, seeing them match up with top NE teams successfully is proof they are a threat.
14-17: Phoenix, BENT, Hot Metal, Underground
This muddled group could really move around by year’s end. All four played at the Elite-Select Challenge. Phoenix defeated Pittsburgh Hot Metal and Seattle Underground, while BENT also beat Hot Metal. All of these teams have regional foes that could bar the way to Nationals, so their performances are pretty crucial.
It hasn’t been an ideal start for Phoenix, a team with a bit of hype coming into the season. So far, they’ve failed to deliver. Raleigh’s execution too closely resembles last season’s and they need to step on the gas. Fortunately, they’ve got a big opportunity at the Pro-Elite Challenge. It does take time to integrate in some potentially explosive new pieces, but you would expect more with such a large crop of key returners.
BENT has to work to do still, but time to do it. Their best win was 12-6 against Hot Metal, but the rest of their victories are small margins against middling teams. Losing to both Capitals and Iris is a worrisome indicator. It is reasonable to expect them to improve, but it is hard to envision their ceiling so much higher than what they are doing now, having lost some really quality talent this offseason.
It was an underperformance from an Underground team we expect to improve. They mostly just looked a bit disorganized. Seattle was missing a few bodies and will benefit from their returns. They certainly don’t want to be in a three bid Northwest.
18. Los Angeles Viva
The biggest gainer in the division, Viva is an up and coming squad to keep an eye on. Familiar Southwest names dot the roster, with UCLA BLU coach Alex Korb at the helm. A third bid in the Southwest Region is attainable — it will be a jump ball between Viva and San Diego Wildfire.
21-23: Nemesis, Pop, Tabby Rosa
Both Nemesis and Tabby struggled in Ohio and fell accordingly. Nemesis’s only victories came over Tabby and Columbus Rival, who in turn only beat the bottom feeders at the tournament. They fell handily to both Underground and Green Means Go, and also lost to Viva. Tabby’s lone victim – Dish – didn’t win another game and they clearly miss the playmakers that left the roster since last season’s magical run to Nationals.
25. Columbus Rival
After the preview hype, Rival’s 0-3 pool play performance probably looks disappointing. But they are not only the newest team at the tournament, but they were perhaps missing the largest percentage of their production. Getting back Caitlin Harley, Hannah Henkin, Tracey Lo, and potentially Stephanie Miller would be a huge boost to them.
1. Seattle Mixtape
Is it crazy to think that this ‘schoolyard ultimate’ team can be #1 in North America right now? Well, it’s hard to argue with a finals appearance at Nationals in 2014 followed up by a finals appearance at the 2015 US Open (including a win over defending National champion Minneapolis Drag’N Thrust).
The team’s loose, aggressive style fits their personnel perfectly and they do a great job of attacking the mismatches they find on most any line. Sometimes that means jacking up floaty hucks to Khalif El-Salaam; other times it means isolating Jennifer Cogburn and letting her go to work.
They may not have the discipline to win a title at the end of the year, but they aren’t afraid of the big name teams and have continued to show off a swagger that ignites their sidelines and energy in every game.
2-8: Drag’N Thrust, CLX, Union, Mischief, Polar Bears, Wild Card, Blackbird
Mostly the usual suspects here from the long dominant Drag’N Thrust to the top Boston and San Francisco sides.
Union is for sure the odd team out, but their US Open performance (5th place finish; wins over Polar Bears, Slow White) absolutely earned them a top five spot. Can they keep it up? Union’s been on the rise for a while and the Toronto ultimate scene has gotten increasingly strong over the last decade. No reason to think they can’t.
Drag’N could win a title again, by the way. Yes, they’re missing some pieces from last year, but they also had a fair number of players out due to injury that will give them a shot in the arm later this year. The commitment to Mixed Division excellence has served Minneapolis very well over the last three years and they will almost certainly be back to at least the semifinals at Nationals.
9. Austin Cosa Nostra
Nice win for Cosa Nostra this weekend in Columbus. Not super shocking to see them come out on top given the field, but it has to be a nice confidence boost heading into the later part of the season. The team has been underperforming at Nationals in recent years; could this be the year they bounce into the top tier?
18. New York Metro North
This NYC/Westchester/Connecticut team has come together in various forms over the past few years, most recently as SHUYAMOUF. Thanks to some big pickups from PoNY (Andrew Bosco, John Geraghty) and Bent (Liz Middleton, Emily Cho), this could be a big up year for the squad. They’ve been a step behind bigger Northeast teams like Slow White, but they’re not far from that level.