SummerSpike 2019 - Pro and Advanced Division Previews


Pro Division

Written by Dylan Fogarty

Check your calendars, folks. No, your eyes do not deceive you, it actually is August and we are currently in the final month of the 2019 SRA Regular Season. And what a treat we get for the first weekend in August - 2019 Summerspike. Nearly every year, players from around the globe find their way to New York for the largest tournament, and event, of the season. While the past Summerspike tournaments have been full of top teams and top talent, this year has a unique lineup for the Pro Division. A few teams will be looking to make their mark with a huge Grand Slam victory, while some scary mashups will be entering the fray to try and upset the more established, pro teams in the field.

Overview

To be perfectly honest, this is most likely the weakest field in the highest division in the history of Summerspike. Only 2 of the top 10 ranked players from 2018 are in attendance (Tyler Cisek and Ryan Fitzgerald) and ZERO of the top 5 July Power Ranked teams will be in attendance. The only two in the top 10 are #6 Anchored LI and #10 Graham/Throw. Furthermore, there are some duos that many claim should not be playing in the Pro division at Summerspike due to their inexperience at the elite levels thus far.

However, I believe this will continue the momentum from Nashville last weekend and make 2019 Summerspike one of the most exciting tournaments to date. Will Anchored LI or G/T prove that established teams reign supreme? Will a mash-up of the best player in the world and an OG powerhouse have enough to take the crown? Will some of the younger players in the field step up and surprise everyone with a deep run? Get your popcorn out guys and gals, it’s going to be a fun one.

Team Breakdown - Pool A

Pool A: 

  • THE Big Short: Tyler Cisek and Patrick Drucker
  • Anchored LI: Ryan Fitzgerald and Anthony Alvino
  • Mulch: Coleman Epperson and Clark Marshall
  • DaBR: Ben and Ezra Dantowitz

THE Big Short

Arguably the frontrunners, this powerful mashup has the #1 player in the world (Cisek) joining forces with one of the best free agents on the market (Patrick Drucker). Cisek is absolutely frustrated after his performance last weekend in Nashville, and Drucker should prove to players that he can still battle with the best of them. Excited to see this team dynamic and how they improve defensively throughout the day. Note: Cisek has lost 3 times in the quarterfinals this year. I don’t think that’s ever happened to Ty in...any sport.

Anchored LI

Anchored is the team with the most to gain from this weekend. After a surprising loss to Kahooters in Jersey, followed by an even more surprising victory over Mauktega in the 3rd place match, Anchored is easily the best established team in the field. A victory would push them to the fringe of elite and establish them as a real contender for Pro Division at Nationals.

Mulch

Ah, my favorite team. Coleman Epperson (normally of Global Beans!!!) is one of the most improved players on tour this year. In my opinion, the only other player who is more improved is his partner for the weekend, Clark Marshall (normally of Trippy Lizards). This duo got 4th in Milwaukee at the beginning of the season, but both players were shells of their current ability today. Look for this team to provide some huge upsets.

DaBR

In Ben’s words - “just here to have fun.” DaBR was one of the teams who benefited from a weaker Pro Division, and will have a tough road by going against 3 frontrunners in pool play. Unless Ezra has developed a fwango cut, 0-3 is nearly all but certain.

Team Breakdown - Pool B

Pool B: 

  • Graham/Throw: Joel Graham and Jesse Throw
  • Hornaboles: Chris Hornacek and Skyler Boles
  • Kahooters: Jacob Payer and Ryan Baillargeon
  • Dry Liquids: David Gonzales and Connor Harte

Graham/Throw

G/T has slowly been building momentum throughout the year, which culminated in a 2nd place finish in Columbus and a solid performance in Nashville. Jesse Throw is now a clear breakout star, and Joel Graham continues to prove father time wrong by having a stellar year. However, consistency is sometimes an issue for G/T, in particular Graham, so I don’t see this weekend going nearly as well as Columbus. They are, however, lucky to get by FAR the easier pool, which could translate to G/T picking up the 2 seed and having a good road lined up for them. Now all they need to do is take care of business. 

Hornaboles

If G/T isn’t playing well, expect Hornaboles to sneak by and win the pool. Hornacek has developed a nasty cut...when he lands it. Boles is still one of the best defensive players on tour with incredible reflexes. Both players have won at the highest stage throughout their careers and these two already have played together and podiumed in San Diego. Dark horse in the field, no doubt.

Kahooters 

It is really hard to know what to make of Kahooters. While they scored a HUGE second place at New Jersey, beating Anchored LI in route to the finals, they were dismantled by Cisek/Showalter. When watching back the tape, it seemed as though Anchored really beat themselves more-so than Kahooters played perfectly. But both these guys are super good looking, so I hope they get some screen time.

Dry Liquids

If you take one thing from this preview, please take how impressed I am at David Gonzales and his level of play this year. He has been playing insanely consistent and is most likely going to finish as Spikeball Elite for the 2019 season. Harte has some dirty, dirty serves, but I admittedly haven’t seen him play much so far this year. Sonic Boom got a disappointing 17 seed last weekend in Nashville's Premier Division. Harte will be playing much better talent on Saturday.

Placement Prediction

  1. Anchored LI
  2. THE Big Short
  3. Mulch
  4. G/T
  5. Hornaboles
  6. Kahooters
  7. DaBR
  8. Dry Liquids

Also tune in to hear commentary allllll day at twitch.tv/spikeball. I will be joining an array of commentators to make your Saturday full of entertaining roundnet content!

Advanced Division

Written by Solomon Berry

The biggest tournament of the year is here! With 208 teams, an amazing venue, and a great stream in the works, this will be an amazing time. The Advanced Division has a lot of interesting teams that should be competitive, as well as a couple of clear favorites that should take it. With a big name like Cisek in the running, as well as current and former Premier players..even a former Elite player, this should be a fun one. 

Frontrunners

Beeg Problem (Ravi Kandula/Donald Fung)

Ravi is a current Premier player that will perform very well in Advanced. His best strength will be his clean hitting on offense closely followed by strong serve receive and solid defense. When his fwango is landing it is really good, but the key for him will be if he can keep his serve percentage up throughout the long, hot day. Donald is a former Premier player with a great mix of jam and cut serves that will be sure to generate several breaks a game for this team. They have been competing and playing together casually for over three years and will be challenging for first place. 

Can’t CUT it anymore (Cameron Cisek/Eric Zishka)

Whenever you see names like Cisek and Zishka in the Advanced division it really just doesn’t seem fair. Cameron does not play a ton, but is a former Premier player with one of the better backhands in the game, and certain the best in this division. Recently featured as part of a long rally in Spikeball post, he definitely still has what it takes to play great run down defense and podium. Eric was a Spikeball Elite player as a part of Golden Set with Harding Brumby in 2017, ‘nuff said. That being said however, he did not podium in New Jersey losing pretty solidly to the eventual second place team. 

Contenders

Father & Son (Emerson Dean & Eugene Contreras)

Fun fact: These two players have the largest age gap between them of any team in the division. Emerson is the better known player of this Canadian duo, having played multiple tour stops already this year. After qualifying for Premier in Montreal, he has already played at least one stop in Premier with Philip Drouin as NSB and has competed well. He has a great serve return and solid overall defense that will only have gotten better with Premier experience to back it up. He will be teaming up with a buddy who has played primarily on the Quebec circuit. Eugene is a very consistent player which will do very well with the long tournament day. 

Broke Boiz (Joel Morrell & Mike Fitzsimmons)

A solid team from Rhode Island, they have sponsors and their own Insta which (per Chris Hornacek) makes them a real team. They have already competed in several tour stops this season, and have really good in-game chemistry. A strong start in pool play will be important for them as they have lacked that in their past few tournaments. Joel is a lefty with some solid jam serves, and Mike has good body defense that they normally turn into more touches or breaks. If they start out strong and get a good seed this could be their tournament. 

Random Team from Lancaster

None of my contacts from the Lancaster region ever got back to me...but they still make this writeup because to quote Brooks Anderson “anyone who is from Lancaster somehow comes out of the womb with a cut serve.” After seeing Andrew Hess wipe the field in a stacked Columbus Advanced Division, no one should need anymore persuading.

Dark Horses

9 ¾ (Chris Esposito & Cameron Esposito)

After getting fourth in the 2017 Nationals Advanced Division and qualifying for Premier, the Esposito brothers have not played much on the competitive roundnet scene. With strong past experience and great chemistry as brothers and longtime partners, they should still be able to perform well here. Ben Dantowitz is a supporter of those chances, and believes that regardless of how much they have played recently, they will still be able to push their way to the quarterfinals.

Make Some Roumy (Michael Roumes & Ryan Roumes)

These cousins should play really well together after a strong showing in New Jersey that resulted in a quarterfinals appearance. With their biggest strength being their athleticism, they will need to have good serve receive and consistently find the net with their own serves so that they will be able to parlay that athleticism into defensive touches and breaks. If they can do that, look for them to build on their performance from Jersey. 

Shut Your Fivehole (Nick Rankin & Mike Capobianco)

Shut Your Fivehole makes its second appearance with Nick Rankin once again leading the charge. Nick’s mastery of the near-net pocket has been well covered in past Advanced write-ups. This serve results in hard and low serves that can be difficult to handle. Combining that with solid experience from practicing with Origin and good body defense he is a great all around player that can do very well. Mikey recently started training with the group ion Boston and should have the experience necessary to compete very well here.

Boom Shaka Laka (Myles Aucamp & Mark Ebersol)

Myles is a solid player from Michigan State who is very tall with a long reach. He has solid serves that can hit some crazy angles when he steps out wide and can generate some aces in pool play. Mike has a good drop serve and consistent jam serve when needed. Solid passing and good defense will serve him well in pool play and as the day wears on. As they go further in bracket, they will need to generate some breaks on defense to keep advancing.

Top 4 Prediction

  1. Beeg Problems
  2. Can’t CUT it anymore
  3. Shut Your Fivehole
  4. 9 3/4

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