Masters Preview - 2012 Club Championships

Posted: October 19, 2012 11:56 AM
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2012 Club Championship Previews:



Masters Scoreboard

The time has come, once again, for the elder statesmen of Ultimate to crown their champion. The field has had some shakeups; perhaps none more noteworthy than DoG’s absence from Club Championships for the first time in recorded history. Last year’s champions Surly head up an impressive group of returners, such as Reckon, Boneyard, Tejas, Chesapeaked and No Country, with GLUM returning as GLUM after last year’s DoG combo experiment, and Wasted Talent essentially being a reboot of Real Huck. Johnny Encore, FIGJAM, Burnside and Crawl round out the 2012 roster of teams. So now that we know our contestants, let’s see how it all plays out:

Pool A







Once again, Surly stands as the number one seed. Still, several key faces have moved on, and it will be interesting to see how the relatively unheralded new faces mesh at the Championships level.

Second seed Boneyard, with the return of Ray Parrish, certainly has the pedigree and talent to take the pool.

Third seed Burnside has put together a decent run this season, making Championships for the first time and taking the Northwest after two close games against FIGJAM; whether they have what it takes to move up in this pool is an open question.

Tejas returns after a roller coaster 2011 tournament that saw them start strong only to lose in the quarters after a series of unfortunate injuries. If they can stay healthy, they can make some noise.

Chesapeaked is back as well, and while they have the experience, they will have to show more than they did at Mid-Atlantic Regionals to push past any of the teams ahead of them.

Sixth-seeded Crawl makes their debut after winning the one that counted against Nice Guys; their short roster will test their roster’s claim that all but two of them are 33.  


Pool B


Johnny Encore

Wasted Talent

No Country



Last season, Reckon was one of the surprise teams of the tournament, making their way from seventh-seed to third place. Their combination of athleticism and defensive pressure caught a lot of teams by surprise; will they be able to sustain it, or will they be this year’s team that is on everyone’s radar now?

In their path is the very strong roster of Johnny Encore, who slid seamlessly into the vacuum left by the departing Beyondors. With scads of big game experience, it will come down to how each of these teams handles the pressure.

The next two teams are our Masters Ultimate Diaspora award participants: Wasted Talent as our Ron Kubalanza’s Landing Pad winner and No Country taking the Arnold Sanchez Has To Play Somewhere Cup. In all seriousness, of course, these teams both have what it takes to make semis, with Wasted Talent’s mix of youth and experience, and No Country deciding not to only bring 10 or so guys this time.

FIGJAM leads the Canadian contingent of Pool B in seeding, but GLUM cannot be counted out considering their history of strong showings in Sarasota.

So, how does it all play out?

Last year, I got exactly one out of twelve of my pool records right. Will that stop me from guessing this season? Hah!

I see pool A going Boneyard 4-1, Surly 4-1, Tejas 3-2, Burnside 2-3, Chesapeaked 2-3 and Crawl 0-5. The key game for this prediction will be the Tejas/Boneyard game, where I could see Tejas scrapping out a 15-12 win, as Boneyard’s earlier win over Surly already ensures them the pool.

Pool B looks like a typical Masters division tossup, though I could see Reckon taking it 5-0, No Country 3-2, Johnny Encore 3-2, Wasted Talent 2-3, GLUM 1-4 and FIGJAM 0-5. The match here is the No Country/Wasted Talent game, where the Northeastern champs’ propensity for getting into a groove early will see them past their slower starting opponents, 15-13.

The quarters would then go: Boneyard/Wasted Talent, No Country/Tejas, Reckon/Burnside, and Surly/Johnny Encore. Boneyard will continue their solid tournament, making the semi against a No Country team who will have had a tough game against Tejas, with Surly and Reckon in a rematch of one of last year’s semis on the other side of the bracket.

The finals in Highly Speculative-ville look to be a reprise of 2010’s final, Surly and Boneyard. According to the magic eight ball that I have been using to make these predictions, the winner will be… ask again later? Fine, I’ll go out on that limb myself. Their disappointing showing in Japan still bile in their throats, Surly will grit their teeth to a tightly fought three-peat. 

Seven To Watch

While naming players to watch is often a mug’s game inciting only ridicule, it is the purpose of previews such as this to open the floor to such discussions. So many good players, with so much good Ultimate under their belts, make this a tough call. Still, I give you seven players to keep an eye on over the course of the weekend:

Matt Wilken
Affectionately known last year as Rook, Wilken was a powerful force in 2011 for Surly’s potent defense. If he can respond to a likely increased workload with the same level of ferocity, watch out.
John Riddle
Wilken’s counterpart in the 2011 semifinal, Riddle showed zero regard for life and limb as he dove after discs on O and D last year. Players like that are hard to find in Masters, and even harder to deal with for the opposition.
Brian Lang
It seemed that every single time I was near a Boneyard game at 2011 Championships, Lang was finding someone in the end zone. Sure, Masters players are all throwers (or that is what we tell ourselves), but players like Lang are the reason everyone thinks we are right when we say it.
Gary Ledonne
Wasted Talent
As a member of Real Huck, Ledonne was the go everywhere, do everything guy. Whenever his team needed a big play, he got it: no one fills the positive side of a stat sheet quite like him.
Billy Maroon
Ledonne’s brother in stats, Maroon features in a lot of Chesapeaked’s offensive output. As both a thrower and receiver, Maroon is overlooked at an opponent’s peril.
Calvin Lin
Seriously, it seems like I should just stamp this name on my list permanently. Every time Lin is on the field, which is often, he is a threat to take over the point.
Jed Geary
No Country
Last season, No Country managed to make a few waves with what seemed like the bare minimum of players on their roster, and the 6’ 5" Geary was frequently at the heart of it. This season, with a more complete roster around him, look for Geary to be fresher and harder to contain when he is on the field.

Dark Horse

The dark horses of 2012 are Tejas and GLUM. Tejas simply can’t have the same amount of fitness issues two years running, and when they are firing on all cylinders, they can play with anyone. Meanwhile GLUM’s return as a whole team means a return of their Championships-tested game plan. Constrained (and incomplete) last season in DoG’s control game, GLUM can open it up and take the kinds of chances that got them to the semis in 2010. 

Upset Watch


Last season’s champion has reason to be wary heading into the tournament, with a hungry and reloaded team right below them. Boneyard winning the last game on Thursday isn’t so much an upset as it is all that, since Surly has a history of ramping up as tournaments go on, but I see this one going the two-seed’s way.

While the magic eight ball has GLUM getting a rough welcome back to the division, don’t be surprised if one of Pool B’s top seeds gets caught looking past them. One game to pay close attention to in this regard is the Johnny Encore/GLUM game on Friday morning. If the Rocketmen get off to a slow start, this could be a tough match for them.


Games To Watch

With strong teams in the middle of the pack this season, it is hard to narrow down the list of games to watch. In any other division, I’d discuss the games scheduled for live streaming, but our grizzled lack of photogenic charm is keeping us off screens until the finals.

That said, with so many teams potentially breaking seed in a very hard to call division, I think that games like Johnny Encore/Wasted Talent will tell us a lot about the field. This game features a lot of Championships experience, a bit of star power, and a backdrop of revenge, as some of Johnny Encore look to get one back on the some of Surly Grandmasters that reside on Wasted Talent. The loser of this one may be setting itself up for a long Thursday. 
Similarly, the teams that have a chance to break through will have to sustain any momentum gained by a good first day. If both teams play well on Thursday and sneak past a team or two, look for Tejas/Chesapeaked to be a barnburner. Normally, 4/5 games seem meaningless, but considering that fourth seeds have made semifinals for three years running in Masters, we can’t count any of them out.

Inside Look


  • Surly, with a sixth finals appearance, would add ‘most consecutive finals appearances in Masters’ to their already impressive list of accomplishments.
  • Of the teams that provided such information accurately, the oldest average team at 2012 Club Championships is Chesapeaked, at 41.42 years, while the youngest roster is Wasted Talent, at 36.64 (unless Crawl really IS comprised of one 32 year-old, 19 33 year-olds, and one chaperone at 53).
  • Arnold Sanchez and Ron Kubalanza continue their individual quest to get on as many different Championships rosters as possible. A duel for the ages, gentlemen. 
  • With Masters turning 22 this year, it is time to move out of the folks’ basement: next season, Masters moves to a new time and a new place, along with Grandmasters and Masters Women. 
  • That’s all I have from here. We’ll see you next week, when we can all have a good laugh at my predictions. Cheers!