By: Zoey Clark
San Diego, Calif. (Oct. 24, 2019) – Day one of the 2019 National Championships set a tone of unpredictability for the mixed division as seeding meant little to nothing throughout the day. Out of the 24 total games played today, 10 were upsets, leaving the championship bracket nowhere near what anyone would have assumed. Even beyond upsets, we had numerous close calls where underdogs threatened to break seed, and first-half champions losing their stride and allowing their opponents claim the win. The first seed in each pool at the end of day one moves straight into the quarterfinals, while the four bottom seeds have been eliminated.
(8) BFG 3-0
(1) Drag’n Thrust 2-1
(13) Cocktails 1-2
(12) Public Enemy 0-3
No one is where they “should” be. The madness started in the first round between Drag’n Thrust and Public Enemy. Even though the Texas team wasn’t able to seal the deal, that 14-15 score shook the number one seed and worked them harder than they’d probably like to admit. Wind and exhaustion kicked in during the second round for Public Enemy, and BFG took advantage, with the win following seed.
Cocktails put up a strong fight in their first two games, but were unable to break seed until their final game against Public Enemy. Behind at 8-5, Cocktail’s Axel Agami’s Callahan right out of half gave them the momentum they needed to bring the fire. The Columbus team was able to tie up the score at 12 all, and from there, each traded point was filled with D’s, upwind hucks and more than a few lucky catches as the wind hadn’t entirely died down from its peak in the second round. In the end, Cocktails prevailed, ensuring their spot in the pre-quarters and pushing Public Enemy to the bottom of Pool A.
In the biggest upset of the day, the number one seed let the 2018 world champions, BFG, run away to a seven-point lead. Though they were able to put together a three-point run towards the end of the game, the energy came too late, and the game ended at 15-10. The upset sent BFG straight to the quarterfinals and pushed Drag’n Thrust to the pre-quarterfinal round and a meeting with Slow White tomorrow morning.
(2) Mixtape 3-0
(7) Space Heater 2-1
(14) Polar Bears 1-2
(11) Toro 0-3
Pool B proved to be the most true to our assumptions, and even it didn’t completely stay in order. Seattle Mixtape is the only one seed in any pool to keep their initial spot and sail straight into the quarterfinals, after winning out against Toro, the Polar Bears and Space Heater, although Space Heater nearly took the bye away from them in their neck-and-neck final game of the day. Space Heater’s athleticism challenged Mixtape with some crazy impressive plays, like Ryan Cooper’s snag in the end zone where the disc seemed to magically appear in his hands, but Space Heater was unable to secure the win and ended up second in the pool.
The pool’s only upset came in the final round as the huck-happy Polar Bears were able to overcome Toro and make their way into the pre-quarters. Toro took half, as expected, but as was the theme for the day, the first half of the game didn’t necessarily equate to a win. The Polar Bears were able to scrape back to tie things up at 12-12, before eventually overcoming Toro, sending the North Carolinians to the bottom of the pool.
(6) Mischief 3-0
(10) Snake Country 2-1
(3) AMP 1-2
(15) MOONDOG 0-3
After tough battles, and close losses, against Mischief and AMP, the National Championships’ most surprising qualifier, MOONDOG, dropped their final game against Snake Country in a match up that was more of a fight than the scoreboard showed. Even after Kevin Ryder’s layout goal to take half against AMP and their three-point lead that had them up at half against Mischief, MOONDOG couldn’t muster quite enough to seal the deal in any of their three day-one contests. MOONDOG finished their first day of Nationals play at the bottom of Pool C.
USA Ultimate’s first streamed game of the tournament lived up to the hype, as Snake Country started this year’s Nationals run with a 4-1 lead over third-seeded AMP. The intensity Snake Country brought to the field couldn’t be stifled, even with AMP reclaiming the lead mid-game. Snake Country battled their way to a 14-12 lead and the first of many mixed division upsets.
Following their close loss to Snake Country and a close win against MOONDOG, the defending national champions were set to play Mischief, the pool’s second seed and the team that knocked AMP out of contention at the U.S. Open earlier this year. Despite being in front at halftime and beyond, AMP’s energy seemed to halt after reaching 12, when Mischief went on a stunning six-point run. As the wind had all but left the fields, hucks were fired at will from both sides. Tied at 12s, Mischief quickly capitalized on Matthew Crawford’s D in AMP’s end zone right out of a timeout and scored to take the lead for the first time in the game, up 13-12. The game was won after D’s for each team led to a breakside throw from Cody Kirkland to Lily Steponaitis in the end zone, sending Mischief, the new one seed in their pool, straight to the quarterfinals and leaving AMP to battle Space Heater in the pre-quarters tomorrow morning.
(9) shame. 3-0
(16) Superlame 2-1
(5) Slow White 1-2
(4) Wild Card 0-3
Pool D was ripe with unpredictability, with each round hosting at least one unforeseen outcome. It was pretty clear during the first round of the day, with both games in the pool seeing the underdogs come out on top. In Superlame’s game against 2016 National Champions Slow White, the tournament’s bottom seed came out ready to prove they deserve to be in the Nationals arena. Even against Slow White’s patient offense, Superlame was able to outlast the mixed division stalwarts and claim the win on double-game point, 13-12. The near 20 m.p.h. winds during the second round didn’t seem to help anyone, yet shame. was able to capitalize on little mistakes during the particularly gusty period, and overtook Slow White for a 15-8 win.
Lots of force-side throws, athletic grabs and great hucks led shame. to a win against Wild Card. The loss set Wild Card back, and put the tournaments four and five seeds both at 0-1 against the overall nine and 16-seeds. Wild Card entered their second game ready to prove themselves. They led Superlame up until Simone Whale caught a breakside throw for the Nationals newcomers that tied the score at 10s. After a close-fought game, Wild Card was unable to secure the win against the bottom seed, allowing Superlame to solidify their spot in the pre-quarters. They’ll face the Cocktails tomorrow morning.
All the previous rounds’ upsets and intrigue boiled down to a familiar outcome: Slow White and Wild Card facing off in an elimination game. Their fourth matchup of the season would determine who advanced to the championship bracket and who would end up in consolation brackets. With impressive defense from both teams, the end result was largely due to Slow White’s ability to capture the momentum of D’s from the likes of Tannor Johnson and immediately turn them into quick scores to keep the game moving. With their win, Slow White is on their way to battle Drag’n Thrust in the pre-quarterfinals tomorrow morning.
Check out the full competition schedule and the broadcast schedule.