By: Katie Judd
This year’s mixed division brings 14 repeat contenders and two fresh teams to Sarasota to vie for the title of “2017 National Champion.” The weekend is sure to be exciting: If the regular season is any indication, many teams have posted wins or losses against each other with razor-thin margins, indicating a deep field of top teams and lots of potential for upsets!
How to Watch
The 2017 National Championships will be held at Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch in Bradenton, Fla. Can’t make it to the event? You can follow the action via ESPN/TCN, USA Ultimate’s Facebook Live feed, Ultiworld, the USA Ultimate app (iOS, Android), and #USAUNats.
What to look for on Thursday (pool play)
Seattle Mixtape (1) / Mischief (8) / NOISE (12) / Public Enemy (13)
Seattle Mixtape comes to 2017 National Championships having won two of the three TCT Triple Crown Tournaments – and seeded first, after a seventh-place finish last year. And with a dominant 19-3 season record, Mixtape is poised for success, but will have to win a tough pool first. Mixtape is 2-0 against Mischief, with a close win at the U.S. Open and a wider margin the next time the teams met at the Pro Championships. They have posted one win apiece against NOISE (12) and Public Enemy (13). Meanwhile, while Mischief is 1-0 against NOISE (12), they will be meeting Public Enemy (13) for the first time this season during pool play on Thursday. Some of these games have been close, and there is certainly potential for upsets in this pool, and Mixtape enters with a target on their back.
AMP (2) / Blackbird (7) / Toro (11) Metro North (14)
AMP (2) enters this year’s National Championships with a dominant 17-3 season, having placed second at the U.S. Open. To win their pool, they’ll face a tough grind, if their previous match ups are any indication: AMP scraped by with one-point-margin wins against both Blackbird (7) and Metro North (14) earlier this season. As reigning Nationals finalists, Metro North comes in this year seeded 14th and will certainly create some excitement for this pool! Blackbird has posted a win against Metro North, but no teams in this pool have seen Toro yet this season. A Select Flight team from North Carolina, this is their first year at Nationals. Look for tough battles from AMP v. Blackbird. It will be interesting to see if Metro North can pull out some upsets given their dominant performance in 2016.
Drag’n Thrust (3) / Wild Card (6) / shame. (10) / Love Tractor (15)
With many first-time match ups for 2017, Pool C will be an interesting one to watch. Drag’n Thrust (3) comes in with the top-pool seeding, but they have not yet seen Wild Card (6) or Love Tractor (15) this season and have only one close win against shame. (10). One of Wild Card’s few losses this season comes from a 10-11 defeat to Love Tractor, who fell to shame. earlier this season. Thursday could be full of surprises for this pool.
Slow White (4) / BFG (5) / Steamboat (9) / No Touching! (16)
Reigning national champions Slow White (4) will have to battle to maintain a hold on a tough pool, due to the relatively high seeding of the top three in the pool, oft-dreaded Pool D. BFG (5) comes into Nationals for their first time ever with a ton of momentum and a ton of experience on their roster. They won Washington/British Columbia Sectionals and posted just one loss (to Mixtape) at Northwest Regionals. While they’ve gone down to Slow White once during the regular season, they will be looking to give Slow White a run for their money at the top of the pool. Meanwhile, they will have to be looking out for Steamboat (9), who won a game against BFG by just one point and earned a program-best fifth-place finish at Nationals last year. And No Touching! (16) will put up a fight, with just one loss apiece to BFG and Steamboat — but has yet to see Slow White on the field.
Games to Watch on Day 1:
9:00 a.m.: Slow White v. Steamboat (Field 2): This game may be an early indication for whether this pool will go to seed.
11:15 a.m.: Via USA Ultimate/Fulcrum: AMP v. Toro (Field 8): It will be interesting to see if AMP starts out with a dominant performance against Toro to start their day. Watch this game to get a sense for whether Toro, a relatively unknown quantity, will cause trouble for the higher-ranked teams in the tournament.
1:30 p.m.: Via Ultiworld: Mixtape v. Mischief (Field 9): May be one of the most exciting games of the day. Can Mischief shake their 0-2 record and pull out a win against Mixtape?
1:30 p.m.: AMP v. Metro North (Field 2): Despite a 12-spot difference in seeding, can Metro North defend their second-place 2016 finish?
3:45 p.m.: Via USA Ultimate/Fulcrum: Slow White v. BFG (Field 8): The 4 vs. 5 match up is highly anticipated. This game could truly go either way and will be a nail-biting finish to a chock-full first day at Nationals.
Check out the full schedule here, and check back in here for daily recaps on tct.usaultimate.org!