SHOCKWAVE shakes up Founders Cup, and other observations on the 2014 World Kickball Championship

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - 21:28

SHOCKWAVE shakes up Founders Cup, and other observations on the 2014 World Kickball Championship

In the end it all came down to a rematch... not of any past Founders Cup game, but of the Final of the Mid-Atlantic Regional held this June in Carrollton, VA. The veteran OSC Kickball crew came out ahead in the first showdown, but in the ultimate game of the World Kickball Championship, it was young SHOCKWAVE securing their place in kickball history with a 2-1 victory. It was the most impressive debut possible for the fleet-footed squad from Maryland -- and while the Cup didn't return to DC or Virginia Beach, the result does secure for the region at large another year atop the kickball food chain. SHOCKWAVE's boundless athleticism more than made up for any lack of experience on this particular stage, and the idea they could only get better from here should serve as notice there's a new player on the board. 

As if to echo the Final's matchup between an established dynasty and a rising power, so did the rest of the tournament field feature a balance of the expected and the unexpected. Rounding out the Semifinalists, L.A.'s Sofa King Good kept up several streaks: making the final four, going the deepest of any West Coast team, and falling heart-breakingly short of the finals. (Not to mention playing in some of the day's most memorably epic bouts -- more on that below.) The final four might have gone by the chalk if not for the party-crashing on the other side of the bracket: in the day's marquee upset, #9 seed Oh Danny Balls pulled out a 4-3 Quarterfinal win over top-seeded The Situation, avenging last year's 7-1 loss in the same round and giving New Orleans their first elimination win over a Mid-Atlantic team (along with their first trip to the Semis). Sitch, a perennial juggernaut, had cruised though the day in seemingly invincible fashion up to that point. In fact, they finished with the day's best stats, averaging 8.67 runs scored and 1 run allowed per game -- the only team to exceed SHOCKWAVE's stats (6.63 RS/G, 1.25 RA/G). But the teams who have been there will tell you: anything can happen in extra innings. 

With the stalemate-breaking "Kansas City" rules in effect (8 fielders and a runner starting on 2nd), extra innings at Founders Cup are volatile, nail-biting affairs -- and never more so than this year. ODB and Sitch were knotted 1-1 after 5 innings, but with fewer defenders in opposition, ODB put up 3 runs in the top of the 6th. Sitch responded with two runs of their own, and had the tying run at 2nd before their rally petered out -- a razor-thin margin for a huge (and thrilling) victory.  

Extra inning games are so much fun that Sofa King Good saw fit to play three of them! No sooner did Sofa reach the round of 16 than they were faced with feisty would-be Cinderellas -- starting with Orlando's LEGIT (#14), who matched them 3-3 in regulation, traded runs in the 6th, and finally allowed an SKG walk-off in the 7th. The Quarterfinals were even more harrowing, as Sofa had to contend with the surging The Darkside Colorado Chapter 2.0 (#15), who had won a tough pool and secured Denver their first Elite 8 finish. Darkside ran up a 3-0 lead early on and defended it into the 5th inning before SKG engineered a comeback for the ages -- a 2-out rally for 3 runs that forced the game into extra innings, where ultimately they prevailed. Next Sofa drew OSC in the Semis (for the 3rd time in their long rivalry), and that game stayed scoreless though five innings, thanks to some dramatic plays at the plate. Each team scratched out a run in the 6th, but OSC's 3 scores in the 7th were finally enough to put the game out of reach. 

In addition to the rising stock of NOLA and Denver, other notable results and observations include:

- Austin's Relax and Let It Happen continue to lead the Texas contingent, playing to their #7 seed right on the button (see below). The rest of TX hit choppy waters in the Round of 32, the closest games being #12 Barely Legal Pitch Pleasers (L.A.) 3-2 over #20 I'd Hit It (Dallas) and #14 LEGIT 2-1 over #22 The Tyrannical Baggers (Austin). 

- Playing in their 6th Founders Cup, Santa Barbara's Multiple Scoregasms reached the Sweet 16 for the 2nd time, and their elimination win over Vegas locals Pitches Be Crazy!! may be their most impressive and unlikely victory. Not only are PBC a high-ceiling team (reaching the final four in FC2012), they were statistically having a far better day to that point, boasting a +23 pool play run differential to Scoregasms' -8. But as they say, games aren't played on paper -- stealing this W made MS the the only 3rd place pool finisher to survive past the round of 32. 

- The only other upset in the first elimination round was an L.A. rivalry, and a result that punctuated perhaps the loudest pre-tournament rankings debate, as Hollywood Hubris (CA Hollywood) proved they were undervalued at #21, at the expense of CA Tinseltown's #Menace, a trendy pick for a deep run after last year's surprise Elite 8 finish. #Menace were knocked off-track early in the day, losing their first pool game to the Bay area's resurgent Norcal Nightmare, but still went into elims with a +12 pool run differential to Hubris' +4. After advancing by a 6-4 score, Hubris would fall 6-3 to SHOCKWAVE in the Sweet 16 -- but those 3 runs were more than the champs yielded to anyone else in the elimination rounds. 

- It's appropriate the #16/#17 matchup would be the closest game of the round of the 32, and the thriller between #16 Gorilla Juice Heads (FL West Palm) and #17 The Andy Dufresnes (NM Mesa) did not disappoint. Each team made spectacular relays to nail runners at the plate and preserve a scoreless game through the bottom of the 5th, when GJH scratched out a 1-0 walk-off win. 

- Following up on last year's "wonkiest possible observation for the true stats geek" (WPOFTSG...? Nah...): This year we entered "B+" territory as we reached 87% predictive accuracy and only 13% upsets by rank. Granted, that may have been helped by a generous cut that eliminated only 8 teams after pool play, resulting in a mismatch-heavy round of 32... but even factoring that round out, the upset pace doesn't exactly balloon, with no upsets at all in the round of 16. 

- In the preview blog, we wondered which lesser-known East Coast teams would make names for themselves in their FC debut, and two certainly answered the call: #34 Steel Reserve (DC Lightning) lived up to their region's reputation with a 12-0 ambush of L.A. vets Kickball Union Local 501 in pool play before a respectable 4-2 loss to Darkside, who had allowed only 1 run to that point all day. Meanwhile #33 Public Enemy (MA Revolution) ushered in a new era for Boston teams at FC. The last recorded victory of a Boston team in an FC game was in 2009 - since then it's been a series of three-and-outs. But Public Enemy got started early, playing Austin vets #28 Walk of Shame to the day's only pool-round tie (1-1), playing #Menace close to a 5-4 loss, and officially turning Pool H inside out by beating NorCal Nightmare 3-2. Their break-even run differential was the best of any advancing 3rd place pool finisher, and their first-round 3-0 loss to #5 Los Br3w Crew was the narrowest victory of any top-8 ranked team in the round of 32. On the strength of those stats, Public Enemy top this list of the top five "over-performers" whole final actual ranking exceeded their seed: 
 

Public Enemy +11
Darkside +9
Steel Reserve +9
Oh Danny Balls +6
Hollywood Hubris +6
 

Circling back to the issue of ranking accuracy and methodology, that's a far cry from 2012 when 13 teams beat their ranks by 10 or more. For this year's -- know what, I'll just steal "Moment of Geek" -- let's have a closer look at how we've come to rank the final statistical position of FC Teams. We've certainly played with this over the years, but the prevailing method is to set up tiers that rank teams first according to how far they went in the tournament (e.g., the Runner-Up will always be #2 overall, irrespective of the rest of that team's results)... then, within each tier, teams are ranked according to Founders Cup Tiebreak logic (considering runs allowed ahead of runs scored, etc), on the basis of their entire day's results. That will likely be clearer to see it in action -- here are how the teams that survived pool play would be ranked by this method: 
 

TEAM   Won Tie Lost Runs Scored Runs Against Win % Starting Seed Final Rank Differential
W SHOCKWAVE
VA MidAtlantic Kickball Tournament (#4)
  8 0 0 53 10 1.000 4 1 3
RU OSC Kickball
DC Atlantic (#2)
  7 0 1 56 15 0.875 2 2 0
SF Oh Danny Balls
LA Oak (#9)
  6 0 1 33 11 0.857 9 3 6
SF Sofa King Good
CA Studio (#3)
  6 0 1 38 15 0.857 3 4 -1
E8 The Situation
VA MidAtlantic Kickball Tournament (#1)
  5 0 1 52 6 0.833 1 5 -4
E8 The Darkside Colorado Chapter 2.0
CO Mile High (#15)
  5 0 1 26 8 0.833 15 6 9
E8 Relax and Let It Happen
TX Live (#7)
  5 0 1 39 9 0.833 7 7 0
E8 Los Br3w Crew
CA Crown (#5)
  5 0 1 28 9 0.833 5 8 -3
S16 Dry Heat
AZ Scorch (#10)
  4 0 1 38 12 0.800 10 9 1
S16 LEGIT
FL Central (#14)
  3 0 2 17 10 0.600 14 10 4
S16 The Kicktators
CA West Coast Kickball Tournament (#6)
  3 0 2 27 11 0.600 6 11 -5
S16 NorCal Nightmare
CA Solar (#13)
  3 0 2 24 13 0.600 13 12 1
S16 Barely Legal Pitch Pleasers
CA Hollywood (#12)
  3 0 2 14 13 0.600 12 13 -1
S16 Gorilla Juice Heads
FL West Palm (#16)
  3 0 2 13 18 0.600 16 14 2
S16 Hollywood Hubris
CA Hollywood (#21)
  3 0 2 25 22 0.600 21 15 6
S16 Multiple Scoregasms
CA Solstice (#19)
  2 0 3 20 36 0.400 19 16 3
T32 Pitches Be Crazy!!
NV Lucky (#11)
  2 0 2 33 11 0.500 11 17 -6
T32 #Menace
CA Tinseltown (#8)
  2 0 2 24 14 0.500 8 18 -10
T32 The Andy Dufresnes
NM Mesa (#17)
  2 0 2 14 16 0.500 17 19 -2
T32 The Tyrannical Baggers
TX Live (#22)
  2 0 2 24 19 0.500 22 20 2
T32 Howie's Heavers
NM Elite (#23)
  2 0 2 16 25 0.500 23 21 2
T32 Public Enemy
MA Revolution (#33)
  1 1 2 8 11 0.375 33 22 11
T32 Smooth Criminals
CA Surf City (#18)
  1 0 3 14 20 0.250 18 23 -5
T32 ReVamp
TX Freedom (#24)
  1 0 3 21 21 0.250 24 24 0
T32 Steel Reserve
DC Lightning (#34)
  1 0 3 15 21 0.250 34 25 9
T32 I'd Hit It
TX Thunder (#20)
  1 0 3 16 22 0.250 20 26 -6
T32 Mount Up
VT Sunshine (#26)
  1 0 3 10 25 0.250 26 27 -1
T32 99 Problems but a Pitch Aint One!
NC Glory (#29)
  1 0 3 7 27 0.250 29 28 1
T32 Mixed Nuts
TX Tornado (#25)
  1 0 3 8 28 0.250 25 29 -4
T32 Simi Truckers
CA Mercury (#31)
  1 0 3 11 38 0.250 31 30 1
T32 Walk of Shame
TX Live (#28)
  0 1 3 1 28 0.125 28 31 -3
T32 Ponies of Death
CA Hollywood (#36)
  0 0 4 4 23 0.000 36 32 4

 

For complete FC2014 results, see these links:

Pool play results
Elimination brackets
Elite 8 Bracket
The whole tournament, tweet-by-tweet 

-- OW!

Orion Walker (@theorionwalker) is the WAKA Founders Cup World Kickball Championship Scorekeeper, Bracketologist, Twitter-caster, and self-styled "Tim Kurkjian of Kickball."

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