Written by Solomon Berry
After a great first three tournaments in the Midwest region, Columbus looks to be the most stacked by far. With 140 teams attending, this is easily the largest competition the Midwest Tour has seen this year, and the Advanced division will be especially loaded. There will be plenty of half Premier teams, as well as tons of top Advanced teams that should make this one of the most exciting tournaments of the year. Watch for consistency and dominant serves to be key throughout the entire tournament as it will be tough for any specific team to break through to the top.
WySpike Disco Fever (Garret Hornok & Cooper Brown)
Garret and Cooper got 3rd place in Dallas Advanced, narrowly dropping to WySpike Synergy in the semifinals. They both started playing at the end of 2018 and have improved rapidly into competitors that will be tough to stop. Garret will easily be one of the top advanced players in the field with a spectacular wide ranging cut serve, good shot selection and solid defensive instincts. Cooper has some nasty serves and the keys will be how consistently he gets them on the net and how clean his putaways are down the stretch in bracket play. With their practice with top Texas teams, this team should do very well in Columbus.
Gock City (Lance Shock & Drew Shock)
One of the longest tenured teams coming to Columbus is Gock City. They were actually on the Power Rankings back in August of 2016. They most recently played together in Grand Rapids where they went 6-1 in pools and made it to quarters in bracket. Drew got 3rd place in the Atlanta Advanced Division with Lucas Hill. When they have played together over the last few years they have consistently been on the brink of qualifying for Premier. Look for them to break through that barrier with the type of chemistry that only comes from playing together for years and as brothers.
House of 1,000 Corpses (Ethan Datwyler & Ryan Oddo)
Ethan has been around for a long time, has a lot of experience, and qualified for Premier at Regionals last year. He has not had a consistent partner this year while alternating between the Advanced and Premier divisions, but has finished very well in Advanced, including a fourth place finish in Milwaukee. With a mixture tricky serves and a powerful backhand combined with quick run down defense, he will definitely generate some breaks. Ryan is another stud who has been around a really long time, and has solid serves and good defensive instincts. With clean put-aways and good defense from both of them, this team will generate a lot of breaks without losing many points to sloppy play.
Floor Captains (Lucas Hill & Nathan Rogers)
Floor Captains has a lot of experience, in regards to playing with each other as well as against good competition. They practice with Gock City in Indy a lot, and have been playing together since last year with solid results. They took second in the 44 team Gahanna tournament earlier this year, and Lucas took third at the Atlanta Tour Stop with Drew Shock a couple of months ago. Lucas is a tall lefty with a scary cut serve who is definitely one of the top players in attendance. His ability to generate breaks and dominate games should help carry this team through any rough patches. Nathan has a strong jam serve that he gets on the net almost every time paired with solid defensive instincts.
Gateway Spikes (Grant Longland & Conner Bradshaw)
This team has been playing together for a long time and have been to a multitude of tour stops together. Hailing from St. Louis, they are probably the best team in Missouri and have seen some solid results in the past, but never fully broken through to Premier. They have very good chemistry and a solid mid game that leads to consistent clean put-aways. If they can generate good breaks on their serves, they should win a lot of games without losing points due to missed opportunities or botched sets.
Superior (Ryan Marino & Nate Wilson)
This Michigan team from Livonia, MI had a breakout tourney in Grand Rapids, after starting the season with two tough finishes in Milwaukee and Indianapolis. Wilson is a consistent player with very strong serve return skills for an Advanced player, thanks to him constantly practicing with the Michigan Premier players. Marino is a tall, lanky player that has some really good serves, and is very hard to read when he spikes. When Superior plays solid defense and consistent offense they are a fun team to watch in bracket play, which we saw when they had some high intensity matchups in Grand Rapids before finally falling in the semifinals.
Little Yellow Ball (Kyle Ackerman & Vince LoPrinzi)
Kyle and Vince will be an interesting match-up in this division. Kyle has had solid results this season, regaining his Premier status with Ian Timan in Grand Rapids as well as taking third place in Indianapolis with Brooks Anderson. A tall lefty with good serves, he can take over games and generate breaks, though it will be important for him to bring it in pool play instead of holding out for bracket play in this deep field. Vince is another solid player from Ohio, and depending on how well he plays this team could podium.
Origin Blaze (Avery Frain & Tyler Christian)
Origin Blaze should do well here, with a lot of experience from playing with their Origin teammates. They are both solid hitters with clean put-aways and good defense that they use to generate breaks. In the past, they have not had the serve receive or offensive firepower to generate breaks to break through to the finals, so watch for them to change that here.
Aces High (Cam Korvemaker & Luke Bootsma)
Cam is a scary player from Canada with impressive serves (as their team name would suggest). He pairs a good cut serve with a spinning backhand serve, a la Ryan Fitzgerald, that cuts enough to the left to keep the receiving team seriously off balance.
Team Sweet Cheeks (Jacob Lueckenhoff & Wes Huhman)
This team from Missouri is newer to the competitive scene, though Jacob has been playing in Tour Stops off and on since Chicago in 2016. Boston was their first tournament together in the 2019 season and they finished in the top half of the Advanced pool after a rough start in pool play. Wes is more the complementary type with consistent serves and good sets, while Jacob is more dynamic and the key to how far/well this team can do. Jacob absolutely powders the ball, so if he consistently lands his serves and goes on a few runs, be prepared watch for this team to surprise some people.
Spiketastic (Michael Kettwich & Randall Moore)
This team had a solid run at the Grand Rapids Tour Stop where they had a strong pool play and made it to quarterfinals. With consistent low serves and good defensive instincts, they catch a lot of teams resting back on their heels. If they have another good start, they could definitely make it to the quarterfinals again.
Top 8 Prediction
- WySpike Disco Fever
- Gock City
- Floor Captains
- House of 1,000 Corpses
- Origin Blaze, Little Yellow Ball, Gateway Spikes, Superior