2014 Nationals - Men's Division Day 1 Recap

Posted: October 17, 2014 12:22 AM

A recap of Thursday's action in the men's division at the 2014 National Championships in Frisco, Texas.


2014 Nationals Men's Division:


If you were following Revolver and their 3-0 results today, you might think everything went according to plan. But it seems like the rest of the teams in the men’s division had a meeting pre-tournament and agreed to play for excitement over predictability. And that’s why we play the games.

The four seeds started the day off with a bang. Three of the four – Prairie Fire, Truck Stop and Temper – all got wins in the first round over their respective two seeds. For Prairie Fire and Temper, they won their first Nationals games ever. By the end of the day, the pools’ top seeds were unsurprising, but if you weren’t watching, guessing who was sitting in the two through four spots was a total crapshoot.

Teams started showing up with the sun this morning, and the day dawned with perfect ultimate conditions: sunny, just warm enough and with little wind. But that didn’t last long. Beginning in the second round, the wind kicked up several notches, creating straight upwind-downwind conditions that affected every team, although some more than others. A large majority of scores came in the downwind end zones, with teams struggling to work the disc up-field, against the wind, on break opportunities.

Pool Winners

Revolver – Pool A

Revolver went 3-0 on the day but had a few less-than-convincing moments. They started out against New York PoNY and looked strong throughout. Their skills, athleticism and decision making were just a step ahead of PoNY, and they scored a comfortable 15-9 win. In their second game, they met a hot Prairie Fire team who was coming off their big upset victory. They carried that momentum through the first half of their game against the defending champions. They went up an early break and threatened on several other occasions, but Revolver’s most apparent characteristic – confidence – was apparent throughout. They never looked fazed on the field or anxious on the sidelines. They trust in their ability to do what needs to be done to win. After largely trading points, Revolver got their break back just before the half and continued to roll through the rest of the game.

"We played well in the first two games, especially given being off time zones and having half the team getting in after midnight," said Revolver coach Mike Payne. "We got six breaks versus one in the first two games."

Against Doublewide, they faltered a bit in the second half. Doublewide pushed the match up to double-game point, but again, Revolver stepped up when the situation required it and came away with the win.

Worth noting is that Beau Kittredge played very few points for Revolver on day one. He was cleated up on the sideline and available but was rested for most of the day. The strategy echoes what Revolver did last year at Nationals and is consistent with their typical season game plan. According to Payne, "Beau often plays a majority of offensive points in big games and plays few in other games." But he’ll be back on the field tomorrow, and with more frequency.

Machine – Pool B

In case anyone was worried by his Twitter feed, Machine’s creative thrower Bob Liu did play in Frisco today. And it’s a good thing, too. They definitely needed him to be on the field during their first game against their pool’s three seed, Sub Zero. Particularly during the first round, when the wind was the least hindering, Sub Zero’s deep game was clicking, which helped them trade points with the one seed. After being tied at 11-11 and trading the next two points, Machine got a break to go up 13-12, and from there, the offenses did their jobs. Sub Zero couldn’t get the break they needed to win against Machine’s contained offense, and Machine held on for a 15-14 win.

Long points littered their game with Truck Stop, but Machine continued doing enough to win and clinched Pool B with their second win.  According to Truck Stop captain Jonathan Neeley, his team played well, but there were a few too many miscues by the offense, and they didn’t take advantage of enough opportunities. But overall, he’s happy with the way they played against a good team like Machine. In a game that didn’t mean anything for their seeding, and with slightly looser lines than normal, Machine edged Rhino 14-13, solidifying Rhino’s spot at the bottom of the pool.

Sockeye – Pool C

Sockeye ended up as the only pool winner with a loss on day one, thanks to a surprise final-round battle with Ring of Fire. Sockeye had convincing score lines against both GOAT and Temper from the first two rounds, but they didn’t actually look all that convincing against Temper. The game was pretty sloppy with lots of turns from both teams. Only some of those turns can fairly be blamed on the wind. But after being tied at 8-8, Sockeye held and converted two consecutive breaks, putting them up 11-8. And that pretty much did it for Temper. After many long points, Temper’s short roster started to show, and Sockeye took advantage of the tired legs, closing out the game 14-9.

Nats14 Tran D1M1
Photo Credit: Tino Tran Photography

But then there was Ring. Ring has typically matched up pretty well with Sockeye, but after losing their first two games of the day to less-talented teams than Sockeye, not many were holding their breath for Ring to redeem themselves against last year’s Nationals runner-up. According to Ring of Fire coach Mike DeNardis, "Against Sockeye, we played not to lose, we played aggressively and to win. Our offense is back together, and we took good, intelligent looks." He said his team played looser in their last game and didn’t worry or pressure themselves to make plays. Even with the loss, though, Sockeye stayed atop the pool and earned themselves a match up with Rhino tomorrow morning.

Johnny Bravo – Pool D

The Bravo that showed up in Frisco today looked a lot like the Bravo that was in complete control during the U.S. Open’s early rounds, just with the not-insignificant addition of Nick Lance, who wasn’t with the team in Minnesota. They moved the disc well, taking advantage of their creative throwers, who rarely looked harried. They broke the mark at will and used the entire field, swinging the disc faster than the defense could contest. They started day one against Furious George and dominated the first half, so much so that Furious looked to have largely packed it in after going down 2-8. Bravo continued to roll in their second game against Chain Lightning.

Nats14 Tran D1M3
Photo Credit: Tino Tran Photography

Then they arrived at field four and the highly anticipated four v. five match up against Ironside. Although the Bostonians mounted a minor late comeback, Bravo was again in control throughout the game, moving the disc upwind and converting break opportunities at a rate unseen in other teams throughout the day. If Bravo can maintain the form they showed today, they’ll be dangerous late into the weekend.  


The Pack

While the pool winners reflect the majority of heavyweight title contenders, there are plenty of talented teams waiting in the wings, ready for an upset or two, not the least of which is perennial semifinalist and finalist Ironside. With the wind forecast to be less of an issue tomorrow, it will certainly change the game plan, and potentially up the ante, for several of those teams.

Along with Ironside, Doublewide definitely sticks out as an anomaly in "the pack," and not only because they’re a head taller than every other team. It’s certainly been said before, but when your six-foot players look short, and your 6’3" guys look average, it makes an impression on the guys lined up 70 yards away. No matter what people said about their youth and inexperience to start the season, they played well on day one. Their first-round loss to Prairie Fire certainly surprised the crowd in Texas, but just a couple of points in the second half where Doublewide didn’t look to be 100-percent focused were enough to give Prairie Fire the cushion they needed to close out the game. Doublewide definitely seemed to use the loss as motivation in their next two games. They outstepped PoNY 13-10 and, as mentioned above, pushed Revolver to double-game point in the last round. As a result of their 1-2 day, they’ll face fellow contender Ironside in the pre-quarters tomorrow. Ironside can’t be thrilled with their draw and might have some flashbacks to Worlds as they’re looking at the brackets tonight, with memories of an uncharacteristically tough pre-quarterfinal match up against the Buzz Bullets still pretty fresh in their minds.

Sub Zero looked dangerous on day one and have a winnable pre-quarterfinal match up against GOAT waiting for them tomorrow morning, assuming they bring the same level of play to day two that they brought today. But if they do move on to the quarterfinals, they’ll likely be rewarded with a meeting with Revolver.

Nats14 Tran D1M2
Photo Credit: Tino Tran Photography

Ring didn’t exactly light up the competition today, but they did get some momentum in their win over Sockeye, which could bode well for them entering their pre-quarterfinal against Machine. "I really like the Machine match up," said DeNardis. "They have some big guys, but we can give some trouble to their reset handlers. [For us to win], it’s a lot to do with offensive flow and not allowing their bigs to make big plays in big space. We have to make them make plays in small spaces." Also, they don’t have a huge list of match ups over the years, but Ring hasn’t lost to Machine at all in the last decade.

There are plenty of other horses in the race, and as they proved todays, anything is possible, which makes tomorrow a great day to be an ultimate fan. 

Games to Watch

There are plenty of interesting match ups on the schedule for tomorrow, so it’s difficult to choose which ones are must-follows, but here are a few: 

  • Ironside v. Doublewide – Field 9

  • Temper v. Truck Stop – Field 8     

    • Rematch of the Mid-Atlantic Regional final; Truck won that match up 15-7.

  • Machine v. Ring of Fire – Field 3

    All games at 9:00am CT

In Review: Day One

Fun Match Ups

  • George Stubbs (Ironside) v. Jimmy Mickle (Johnny Bravo)

  • Ben Dieter (Ring of Fire) v. Trent Dillon (Temper)

  • Walden Nelson (Machine) v. Whatever Handler He’s Covering

Game Changers:

  • Nick Lance’s pulls, particularly upwind (Johnny Bravo)

  • Simon Montague’s 17 assists, Grant Lindsley and Nick Stuart’s combined 21 goals (Sub Zero)

Notable Moments:


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