Friday, August 21, 2009

ECC 2009 Open Review


Special thanks to Alex Davis of Furious George for being the first (hopefully of many) guest writers to submit an article to our website.

Alex Davis (Nicknamed the 'T-1000') has extensive experience with both the Ontario and BC ultimate communities. Starting off in Ottawa, Alex has played competitive college (Queens) and club (Phoenix) before moving on to Vancouver (Blackfish and now Furious).

Self described as 'second string d-line cutter', Davis would have a tougher time downplay his IQ and dedication/work towards the game. Most notable is the excellent work he is putting towards the CUPA competition committee.

Congratulations to the following champions and to Ben Wiggins/ECC staff for their work on the tournament this year:
  • Open- Revolver (Bay Area)
  • Mixed- Mental Toss Flycoons (Missoula, MT)
  • Womens- RIOT (Seattle)

The Emerald City Classic (ECC) has grown over the years into a celebrated pre-series tune-up tournament for heavyweight UPA hopefuls, now regularly attended by the top Sarasota finishers in Open, Mixed, and Women's divisions. In 2005, Japan's rising stars -- the Buzz Bullets -- began making the annual trip to hone themselves against the UPA's finest. Now in its ninth year, ECC has again expanded its international presence by adding star teams from Colombia, Japan, and the U.K. to its most competitive talent pool ever.

The bulk of the tournament took place at a sprawling field complex in Bellingham, Washington, with an optional day of exhibition rounds staged in Seattle's Magnusson Park. Following Thursday's bonus games and jamboree, each team was assigned a draw of six opponents over Friday and Saturday such that an unbroken chain of match-ups in each division made it theoretically possible to rank all the teams in attendance. The results were then used to decide Sunday's playoff brackets. This format, true to the tournament's tune-up origins, is designed to pit teams against as many unfamiliar opponents as possible, allowing them to test their strategy, adaptibility and grit against many different styles. Naming a champion is a secondary concern; gaining needed experience is the real reason everyone comes here.

Clapham, Kie, Furious, and GOAT kicked off the tournament's exhibition games on a grey, sprinkling Thursday afternoon in Seattle's Magnusson park. Furious met GOAT and Clapham in two close battles that made for a suitable overture to a weekend of tight matches. Although neither team had its full roster present, the clash between Furious and GOAT still suitably embodied the rivalries and friendships that spanned several world championships and university careers. Ben Wiggins succinctly said the match "looked intense from the beggining, with neither team willing to give an inch." Tied at 10-10, Furious and GOAT repeatedly exchanged possessions in a war of cross-Canadian frustration until GOAT finally managed to squeeze out the last two goals. These would be the two most reckless points either team afforded for the rest of the weekend; turnovers were frequently and swiftly punished at the Emerald City Classic.

A rainy dinner break was followed by an evening public showcase series of jamboree rounds (JamborECC) alongside Sockeye, Riot, Underground, and Revolucion. The combined weather, camaraderie, and intensity of these match-ups created a comically schizoid arena of joking fun and fierce competition. Most players could not fathom what compelled them to exhaust themselves on the eve of a three-day tournament, but most threw caution to the wind and exhausted themselves anyway.


Furious George's first day of official tournament play brought them games against Jam (17-16), PoNY(16-15) and Chain Lightning (13-15) in nearly six straight hours of gritty play. A similar story was heard all around the fields, in which only Ironside managed to remain undefeated. Whether the wind picked up or the rain spattered made little difference. A retrospective glance at the scores shows that geographical commonalities and team rivalries made the strongest difference. Some teams just knew each other's weaknesses; other teams just stumbled into each other for epic struggles, clumsily trying to figure out how to wrest the disc from each other's fingers. Only a few precious turnovers decided many games.

GOAT managed wins against PoNY (14-7) and Clapham (15-12), but suffered a narrow loss to Johnny Bravo (14-15).


Saturday brought Furious up against Ironside (12-15), Sockeye (8-15), and Rhino (15-11), in another marathon of battles that left the Monkey in an awkward five-way tie, sharing a 3-3 record. The tie was (somehow -- the mathematics of the situation was never fully explained) resolved by a hard-capped game to 5 points against Ring of Fire, with Ring starting on offense. Two offensive miscues by Furious handed the match to Ring at a disappointing score of (2-5), leaving the Monkey out of the quarter-finals.
GOAT collected wins against Rhino (12-11), Revolver (15-14), and Chain (15-8), securing a playoff berth.


Furious played out its placement games against Voodoo and Kie, and after trading stories and jerseys with the Colombians, moved in with the crowds to cheer on the playoffs. GOAT lost to their local rival and tournament favourite Ironside (11-14) in the quarter-final.

The playoffs echoed the theme of the rest of the tournament, with multiple universe-point decisions scattered throughout the brackets. They had become so commonplace by this time that few people spoke of upsets or surprises; a given team simply either found a way to its next game or failed. Fittingly, Revolver edged out Ironside in a 15-14 Open final victory.

In all of these games, the quality of ultimate was at its finest when it was arguably at its most boring -- sans turnovers -- for several stretches of several points at a time. O-lines elegantly and quickly moved the disc and send it to fast, confident, and well-positioned receivers. Energetic waves of D-lines would bid and contest every pass without much luck, and it was a pleasure to watch that efficiency, appreciating that everyone on the field was throwing their full effort into their specialty. I have never seen a more consistent demonstration of the costliness of just a few mistakes.


Val said...

Women's winner: RIOT from Seattle

moses said...

Great article Alex! Well written - I should have gotten you to do all our team writeups last year.

Sport Management Steven said...

Thanks for the note VAL.

RIOT indeed is the Seattle team that finally beat FURY head to to head. Must be a huge win for the squad!

Rahil said...

I heard GOAT lost to Chain.

T1000 said...

Yes, you're right, Rahil. There were still some errors in the official results when I checked a few days back.

The revised score is 15-8 for Chain over GOAT.

D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D said...

Nice write up! Something you mentioned that is becoming more and more common as standards improve worldwide:

'In all of these games, the quality of ultimate was at its finest when it was arguably at its most boring'

I completely agree but does anyone else see this as a problem? Why watch elite ultimate if you know it's going to be boring?

Juan Sebastian said...

Kie over Furious 12-10.