Founders Cup 2014: What to watch for...

Friday, October 10, 2014 - 15:22

Founders Cup 2014: What to watch for...

Ranking teams for FC is never an exact science, but this year was especially rich with question marks. The level of talent in this field is so high that anything can happen in any given game. Here are just a few storylines to look for as the big day unfolds…

After DC, the winningest region in FC history has to be “the 757” -- Virginia Beach. #1 seed The Situation has DNA from FC2008 champs Frosty Balls, and Sitch has been the runner-up 2 years running. They’re bringing their well-fortified Regionals roster, elite talent top to bottom. A #1 seed makes them nominally the favorite, but as every kickball fan knows, the road to the World Championship goes through OSC (#2). Since 2009, OSC has won the cup on three occasions, and on the other two they were beaten only by the team that won it all. Last year’s early exit in the Sweet 16 knocked them to #2 in this year’s ranks, but with their victory at the MidAtlantic Regional this June (including getting the best of Sitch in their Semifinal match), they’ve proven themselves fully tuned up and ready to face the toughest competition. At worst, consider them co-favorites to being the Cup back to DC.

An OSC/Sitch championship rematch is, if not a “safe” bet, certainly one with ample history behind it. But there’s no shortage of teams posing a legitimate threat to the status quo. L.A. superstars Sofa King Good (#3) have been to the semifinals 3 times in 4 years, and have fallen short only by the slimmest of margins in epic games. This year they won the West Coast Regional against a stacked field of talent from the western time zones. No team has come so close so many times – this could easily be the year they break through and secure California’s first national kickball championship.

This year also marks the anticipated FC debut of Shockwave, a Maryland squad who ride a glowing reputation and a tournament hot streak into an unprecedented #4 seed. Shockwave were Runners-up to OSC at the MidAtlantic Regional, playing against top-shelf competition in an FC-style tournament format…clearly whatever they lack in experience with this precise setting, they more than make up for with dazzling athletic prowess. A debut 4-seed is a lot to live up to, but we expect even veteran teams to have a real handful trying to get past them.

Other SoCal contenders litter the top tier. #5 Los Br3w Crew are coming off their career-best FC finish and a Finals appearance at the West Coast Regional. #6 The Kicktators made the semifinals at the Regional, and cracked the semifinals at FC2013 as well. #8 #Menace have reportedly kept improving since their surprise run to the Elite 8 last year. SKG may still hold claim to being SoCal’s best – but “undisputed” is a less applicable adjective every year.

Other big questions abound…

Teams like #7 Relax and Let It Happen and #9 Oh Danny Balls have been fixtures in the Elite 8 the past few years… will they be able to break through to that elusive semifinal tier?

Is there a sleeper to be found among the re-packaged and/or re-loaded veteran squads of the Southwest, from Phoenix’s Dry Heat (#10) to Denver’s Darkside (#15) to ABQ’s Andy Dufresnes (#17) to Vegas’ own FC2012 Semifinal sweethearts Pitches Be Crazy!! (#11)?

#12 Barely Legal Pitch Pleasers – “Bleep” to his friends – is a merger of respected Hollywood squads. Will they be greater than the sum of their parts, or like #13 NorCal Nightmare will their altered chemistry auger a year one downturn? Meanwhile, can NorCal get back to the strong finishes of Bay Area progenitors like SCUMBAGS and FC2009 Finalists Best Coast Ballers?

Want to talk mid-ranked teams looking to match or beat their personal best Sweet 16 finishes? You’d have to include #18 Smooth Criminals (formerly American Gladiators), #19 Multiple Scoregasms, #22 The Tyrannical Baggers, #23 Howie's Heavers, and the prominent Balls Deep DNA of #21 Hollywood Hubris

What will we learn about the state of play in Florida markets, with Orlando’s #14 Legit and #16 Gorilla Juice Heads (of Metro Miami) vying for a deep run?

Beyond Relax, who’s in for the biggest day of the Texas delegation? #20 I'd Hit It are in their 3rd FC and looking to break out, while (mostly) Cup rookies #24 ReVamp and #25 Mixed Nuts hope to make a statement. And don’t sleep on #28 Walk of Shame, no strangers to high-end play.

Could there be surprises in store from the East Coast? Can journeyman teams like #26 Mount Up (VT), #27 99 Problems (NC), or #30 Team Bagtag (WV) get a foothold in the elimination bracket?

Surely there’s a trap game if not a Cinderella story in the low tier – could it be #34 Steel Reserve, because any DC team could turn out to be a threat? Could the competitive-minded #33 Public Enemy be the ones to redeem Boston’s hapless recent FC history? Will the seasoning of the Northeast Regional give #35 Big Blue the edge for bragging rights?

Or will the newest team of all, SLC’s Cory's Lil Giants (#40), adapt to the ruthless efficiency of Founders Cup play quickly enough to escape pool play in Utah’s return to the field?

Follow @founderscup and #WAKAFC on twitter tomorrow, and we’ll all find out together!

-- OW!

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