The Spectator: Triple Crown Tour Takes Off

By: Jimmy Leppert

Hello and welcome to ‘The Spectator’. USA Ultimate’s Triple Crown Tour has kicked off, first with the U.S Open, and this weekend with the Elite-Select Challenge.

 

One Thing

The Triple Crown Tour has started, and it’s started with a big hit of questions. And that is great for USAU, and great for the teams.

For the first event, we had the U.S. Open in West Chester, Ohio – see the full results here – in Men’s, Revolver beat GOAT, in Mixed, the Australian team Ellipsis beat Seattle Mixtape, and in Women’s, Fury beat Riot in a thriller of a game. Full footage from those finals should be available soon, and other games from pool play onto semifinals are available via the Ultiworld subscription now. The tournament features the international presence, and that certainly threw things off in each of the divisions. In Men’s, each of the visiting teams challenged their USAU counterparts, and even picked up some wins which have us questioning the strength of teams – such as PoNY or Temper. Overall, a great event, and hopefully video or transcripts from the conferences that took place finds their way out.

Now, coming up this weekend, there’s the Elite-Select Challenge in Columbus, Ohio. As the title of the event suggests, some Club Championship mainstays, like Sockeye in Men’s, 7 Figures in Mixed, and Molly Brown in Women’s, will be in attendance to take on Select-Flight teams that are looking to break into the Club Championships. While looking at the pools it may seem like the pool leaders could run away with the event, there are certainly teams in each of the divisions that could surprise an Elite-Flight team. High Five and Garuda are the obvious choices from the Men’s divisions, with the talented rosters they’ve assembled for this season. Ambiguous Grey and Steamboat have had Mixed Club Championship experience before, and sit in favorable pools this weekend to position themselves for a post-season berth. While in Women’s, Tabby Rosa from Florida looks primed to improve their standing sitting in Pool B against Iris, Phoenix and Chicago’s Dish.

This is all great for USAU. Their first event, the U.S. Open, was a well run event by all accounts, and early word just from the communication from the E-S Challenge organizers is that it will receive the same accolades. Not only that, but the teams they’ve secured for their events thus far have been playing impressive ultimate, with even the international community coming up with huge wins over traditional powerhouse teams. They even had the Australian Mixed team win a TCT event for the first time. They have ESPN and Ultiworld filming games, and teams and organizers have been updating scores and tournament outcomes readily – a problem in the past for these Tour events. USAU has improved these events to a point that the on-field product takes center stage. Hopefully, it will soon reflect in increased sponsorship of the sport, and increased eyes on the sport.

It’s also great for the teams. One of the worries when the Triple Crown Tour started was that parity might fall, as the top teams collect talent and dominate their competition. While that looked to be the case last year after rosters were announced, and could be argued again after looking at the champions in each division, it certainly didn’t fully translate that season and also hasn’t looked to take hold this season. Rosters that have been announced this season feature a spread of talent across some of the more traditional ultimate hot beds in Seattle, San Francisco, and Boston. Each team can go into these Triple Crown Tour events not only expecting a high level of competition lining up across from them on the field, but with the thought that no matter their seed going into the tournament, that they can win. Win a game, win a pool, or win the tournament. Especially when even the U.S. Open is bringing in top international talent, it’s good for the teams. As discussed in the Furious George reflection post by Alex Davis, the U.S. Open was a difficult tournament because each game was winnable. Davis writes that it doesn’t fit the normal mode of a tournament, instead it plays out more “like a weighted random number generator”. Phoenix, playing in the Women’s division, expressed a similar sentiment in their blog post reflecting on the event.

Phoenix will get a taste of the U.S. Open, and more traditionally set-up tournament, this weekend at the Elite-Select Challenge. While the format is different, I’m excited to see that they’ll receive a similar level of competition, a similar challenge. We should all be excited, because the Triple Crown Tour is here.

 

 

Do This

  • Pay attention to the WFDF U-23 Ultimate Championships, which kickoff this weekend in London. The streaming link from Skyd Magazine is below, and you can find the full schedule here. Ultiworld has also said they will be covering the event, both the USA teams and others.
  • The Elite-Select Challenge is this weekend, as mentioned above. Here’s the full schedule. Also happening in USAU land, Huckfest in Alabama. Featuring Chain Lightning in the Men’s division, it will be our first glimpse at their 2015 roster in action against opponents they should roll over.
  • Pay attention to Tushar and his @iamultimate Twitter feed, as he’ll be at the 2015 Ontario Ultimate Championships. GOAT and Phoenix will be in attendance for the event, with GOAT fresh off a strong U.S. Open performance. Tushar has a preview of the event here.
  • Lastly, if you’re going to be at Ow My Knee 2015, I’ll be there wearing a Hawaiian shirt. It’s an extremely fun tournament if you’ve never been, and well worth the trip up to Albany, NY if you’re looking for alumni-adventures for next season.

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