2012 Grand Masters Championship - Saturday Recap

Posted: September 2, 2012 06:15 AM

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The challenge of covering a tournament that one is playing at really cannot be taken too lightly.

With eighteen teams in four pools, the task before me seemed insurmountable. Still, the answer was quite simply to get a little help from my friends.

So before we get too deep into the days’ action, let me extend a warm thank you to Matthew Shaff of Le Grande Tigre, the good lads of Grandmaster Trash and Old Milwaukee, some timely additions from Jim Parinella and Alex de Frondeville of DoG and anyone else I’m forgetting for giving me some good intel on some of the pools that I couldn’t reasonably get to on my own. 


The day began with just a hint of the Blaine breeze, which picked up rather quickly and threw many of the assembled teams’ offences into a bit of bother. Early rounds in pools B and C showed some of this tendency, with long, turnover filled points making momentum hard to come by. Both Georgetown Brewing and Ozark Hillbillys handled their first opponents, though one could argue that the scoreboards didn’t tell the whole story, as Moscow State and Grandmaster Trash, respectively, came out strong and lost more than a few close points that could have gone either way. On Grandmaster Trash, Damond Kyllo, Corey Tyrrell and Mathew O’Brian all made an impact, while Sam Lee and Steve Relles were the players of note for Moscow State. Still, their efforts saw them one turnover too many on several points, and the games got away from them.  
The other two games of the first round came in as upsets, with the obvious caveat that such a term is speculative at best in many cases. Fourth seed Ozark Hillbillys managed to pull out the win against Man Down, beginning pool B’s middle of the pack showdown (more on that in a bit), while Thirst ‘N’ Howl held off a mid-game rally by Age Against the Machine to set pool C’s seeding askew. Both of these games featured a lot of zone looks, as teams tried to capitalize on the squirrelly wind. 
The top seeds all got started in the second round (perks of success, I guess), and all served notice that they were not going to give up their spot at the top lightly. Since we are going to get more into these teams tomorrow, let me just say that most of the top squads seemed quite content to rotate through their large rosters and try to work out tactical wrinkles in their first games. Few of them had any trouble making this strategy work, with only DoG facing any sort of significant resistance early. Their game against Iron City started off innocuous enough, but a second half shift to zone looks played into the hands of the Pittsburgh side, and their subsequent run forced DoG to abandon the zone and look to man to put the game away. 

2012GM Kotvis Sat
PHOTO CREDIT: Steve Kotvis (f/go)
Iron City would find more success against Old Milwaukee, who came off their opening disappointment against T-Rex fired up. The game was a "battle," according to Old Milwaukee’s Bradley Strahan. "We went on a three-point run, had a shot to go up by two, and we couldn’t put it in on three tries," continued Buck Schneider. "That was the turning point right there." Iron City would go on to take the game after the cap horn, to set up a critical Sunday morning matchup between themselves and T-Rex. 
In the other short pool, Old Line was the story of the day, nearly taking their early match with Le Grande Tigre before falling on universe point, and later slipping by Sick Hammers to break their fourth seed. Of particular note was the play of Michael Myers and Tim Eubanks. With Le Grande Tigre facing Sick Hammers on Sunday, however, Old Line’s work will be cut out for them as they draw Scrapple for their morning assignment. Sick Hammers for their part will look for redemption, potentially through further strong play from John Shank and Scott Cilento, while Le Grande Tigre’s Jim de St. Germain and Aaron Jacobs will look to lead their team to victory. 
As to the larger pools, B really made things interesting, with Ozark Hillbillys slipping by Man Down before ending with a tough loss to Boulder Gun Club. Man down, for their part, stayed level with Ozark heading into their tough Sunday morning game with Boulder. Brooklyn remains in the hunt as well; a win against Ozark and a Man Down loss would create a three-way tie at 2-2 for the second through fourth place spots. 
Pool C potentially also has a three-way tie developing, as an Age Against the Machine loss against Georgetown Brewing and a Moscow State loss to Surly would leave both of those teams tied with Thirst ‘N’ Howl at 1-3. Georgetown seems a solid bet to do their part, as the throws of Paul Wheaton and the overall play of Britt Atack caused every opponent trouble. In the Battle of the Breweries, Georgetown’s long game and trapping zone made life tougher for Surly early on, but the second half seemed to shift the momentum, as Georgetown started to lose some spring in their cuts and the relentless Surly army continued to put forth wave after wave of fresh legs. 
A few other items of note from the day’s action include:
  • Big day for the big play, as several Callahans were reported, by Surly’s Chris Reynolds and Brian Corradi and Scrapple’s Patrick Vennebush, as well as an end zone Greatest by Old Line’s Pete Derouin. Who says we old guys don’t have game?
  • Surly’s Greg Williams became the oldest player (57) to take the field at the 2012 Grandmasters Championships, collecting an assist along the way.
  • Teams seemed to struggle with the wind a bit more than I would have expected today, sending several discs uncharacteristically off line. It will be interesting to see if the breeze continues to dictate game play or whether the supposedly superior Grandmasters throwing wrests control back where it belongs; in the hands of our trusty handlers. 
Let me conclude by saying that trying to ascertain who is doing what on other fields while playing is a challenging endeavor, and I apologize for the doubtless many amazing plays and players that I did not mention. Feel free to track me down during a down moment and let me know if there is something from a game you feel I just have to know about. 
That’s a wrap for tonight; we’ll see you all again in the morning for day two! 
That’s a wrap for tonight; we’ll see you all again in the morning for day two!