With a cozy 11-team Premier Division, there is nowhere to hide in the double-elimination bracket for teams seeking a strong result. Because the Chicago Grand Slam will likely feature more out-of-region competition, this weekend will be a great preview of the Midwest Regional Championship, as the top five teams could be eligible to play in the Midwest (C/S could go to the East and Tetelestai could go to the Southeast).
#1 ranked Cisek/Showalter (Tyler Cisek and Peter Jon Showalter) are poised to win their fourth tour stop in as many weeks while defending Showalter’s home state.
At Santa Monica and SummerSpike, #5 Origin Vengeance (Chris Hornacek and Dylan Fogarty) missed the podium in back-to-back weeks for the first time ever (and second time ever in back-to-back tournaments since the SummerSpike and St. Louis Tour Stops in 2016). With double-elimination as a safety net if the bracket draw gives them C/S early, expect Hornacek and Fogarty to be playing at the end of the day.
Chris Hornacek and Dylan Fogarty of Origin Vengeance play defense at SummerSpike 2018.
#8 Schweppes (Jesse Showalter and Micah Zimmerman) knocked out Vengeance last week and both Schweppes players have played Cisek/Showalter close many times this season. Is this the tournament where they finally beat their Atlas clubmates? Just behind them, #9 Tetelestai (Logan Cornelius and Jesse Throw) is coming off another strong performance and key win over Easily Dug. A meeting with Schweppes would likely be the match of the tournament. #12 Joey and Joey (Joey Hafertepe and Joey Pierron) are an outside bet for the podium, but Pierron’s wide serves are a threat to any team they play.
With their return to the power rankings, #25 Cho’s Bros (Micah Corbett and Caleb Royse) is still seeking its first big win of the season. A team known to struggle with consistency, their endurance will be an even greater question at their first double-elimination tournament of the season.
Among the unranked premier teams, keep an eye on Chocolate Milk, as Clark Marshall and Tyler Montgomery pushed #6 ranked The (717) to three games in Charlotte three weeks ago. Sola Fide Spike (Kyle Ackermann and Nick LoPrinzi), who were eliminated by Chocolate Milk in Charlotte, also have the pieces to upset a power-ranked team.
Caleb Royse of Cho's Bros hits a ball at SummerSpike 2018.
Rounding out the division are mash-up teams I Like Your Cow (Cory Eash and Zac Vance), Ligers (Daniel Stauffer and Jesse Stoltzfus), and Origin Worldwide (Patrick Drucker and Chris Wilkins).
#3 Cougs (Michaela Hershberger and Ashley Gingerich) are heavily favored in an otherwise balanced field, as only five other power-ranked players will be in attendance and spread across four teams. With heightened confidence after defeating #1 Ogres Heroes last week, Gingerich should have no problem winning the division with usual teammate Hershberger.
On paper, Kit Kat Lovers (Olivia Jenkins of #7 Twinz and Alex Perry of #10 Diamante) should be the favorites to make the Grand Finals against Cougs. With Hot Cheetos (Kristen Troyer of #6 Kris 2.0 and Sarah Zook), Wingin’ It (Krista Shrock of #6 Kris 2.0 and Annelise Rohrer), and MissMash (Ali Jenkins of #7 Twinz and Katie Pierson) rounding out the projected top 5, a spot on the podium would be hard-earned by any unranked teams.
As always, the Premier Division will permit an exciting Advanced Division bracket for players seeking premier qualification. Yet again, numerous half-premier teams will be favored to succeed.
Flight (Brad Hotovy* and Hunter Greer*) is already premier qualified and accordingly is expected to finish toward the top of the division.
Sliced Bread (Ezra Dantowitz* and Freddie Silva) are the favorites, as Dantowitz’s premier-level experience are unmatched by any player within the division this year. Merica Men (Derek Wheeler* and Tripp Pierson) will also aim to overpower their opponents, while Goosey (David Gonzales* and Julie Haselton) and Thirty Seconds to Uranus (Jack Bushart* and Nate Wilson) will be two more defensive-leaning teams to watch. Origin Legacy (Jack Mathews* and Avery Frain) and Coin on ya (Connor Winters* and Jimmy Gillespie) round out the half-premier teams seeking top finishes.
Kardia (Mitch Wirth and Brendan Warren) of Messiah College will be a tough out for any of the aforementioned teams. Just Boom It! (Nick Rankin and Andrew Gasaway) are another solid team that should have their eyes on a premier qualification. Lastly, look for The Delicious Doorknobs (Jared Yoder and Kendall Yioder) to make a dark horse run.
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