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Posted by on Oct 10, 2013 in Commentary | 0 comments

Your 2008 UPA(SU) National Champs: Seattle Sockeye!


With all the chatter about the new nationals format, I figured it would be interesting to see what (if any) changes would have occurred in past year’s nationals championships if the new format had been used.

And it turns out, the 2008 club open division national championships happened.

I took the teams (as seeded in the link above) and placed them into the pools in the new USAU national championships format (which I would link to with the seed numbers instead of team names, but USAU’s link on this page seems to be dead….). I then ran through the format as quickly and mistake prone as possible (as can be seen below right).


Not a handwriter….(some mistakes were crossed out to increase lack of clarity…)

I processed the results based on the following criteria {1st: head to head results at nationals in 2008, 2nd: higher seed at nationals in 2008, 3rd: regionals head to head results (necessary to resolve a semi-final that determines the change in champion)}. It didn’t seem that USAU score reporter had 2008 regular season results…so including season head to head results in the analysis wasn’t going to happen (especially with the time I wanted to invest).



After pool play

Pool A

Sockeye (3-0)

GOAT (2-1)

Whosechine? (1-2)

Truckstop (0-3)

Pool C

Ironside (3-0)

Jam (2-1)

Chain (1-2)

PoNY (0-3)

Pool B

Bravo (3-0)

Sub (2-1)

Bodhi (1-2)

Condors (0-3)

Pool D

Revolver (3-0)

Ring (2-1)

DW (1-2)

Diablo (0-3)

After the round of 16 and quarters, we are left with Sockeye vs. Jam in one semi-final, and Ironside vs. Johnny Bravo in the other semi-final. This is where history is made changed. Given my criteria, Jam loses to Sockeye (based on Regionals head to head). Ultimately Flatball-ly, I didn’t know how to resolve the other semifinal between Ironside and Bravo. I decided to call it a toss up (since I don’t have regular season results and they were the #2 and #3 seeds entering into nationals). If I pick Johnny Bravo to win (higher seed going into nationals…my 2nd criteria…) , then by my 1st criteria Johnny Bravo would be national champions (they beat Sockeye by one point in the quarterfinals of the 2008 national championships). If I pick Ironside, then Sockeye would win my virtual bracket (as they beat Ironside in power pools in the 2008 national championships). Either way, Jam does not end up winning the championship given my criteria (though they looked pretty good when I watched them play in the final in 2008….hmmm….). Anyway, I played with and against some of the Sockeye guys back in the day, so I bent the results in their favor for this piece. Besides, I’m a Red Wings fan…so Colorado isn’t allowed to win anything.

Obviously, who knows what would have occurred, and this change in history could be an argument for either format depending on one’s perspective.

My thoughts on tanking in the new format (I’m aware you didn’t ask):

No one will be tanking early, and certainly not anyone trying to win it all. Teams might manage their rosters slightly different, but teams always have to decide how aggressively to play their roster in any game. Having coached and captained elite ultimate, I don’t think any of these teams wants to send the message to their roster that they have to get ‘gimmicky’ to get the matchups they want. And that IS the message that will be sent, regardless of nuance. Every team at nationals thinks they can beat the other teams if they play their best disc. Momentum and confidence are probably a better gamble then tanking games to possibly get a more favorable opponent in the future.

I haven’t game theory-d it out enough to imagine what scenarios might face teams hoping to squeeze into the triple crown tour late in the tournament. Perhaps more gamesmanship with rosters will occur at those junctures.

I also, regardless of the affect it has on the series, think it is bad for for USAU to change the format so late in the season (especially after they started ‘extending’ the season with the Triple Crown Tour concept). It seems there should be a clear date set in advance after which there would be no change in guidelines, formats, rules, team requirements, etc.

Exercises left to the reader: 

1. Code something that will take all the results for the past 10 years and run them through the new format and yield complete results of all (1st – 16th) positions to evaluate how much of a difference (in theory) the new format would have made.

2. Complain about format changes.