The Best of the Best
As the sport’s highest level of competition, USA Ultimate’s Club division represents the pinnacle of elite-level ultimate. Featuring North America’s top athletes and teams, the competition structure equally highlights men’s, women’s and mixed-gender ultimate – a rarity for team sports. All of it self-officiated and without the use of referees under ultimate’s Spirit of the Game ethos.
More than 15,000 athletes compete annually on one of 600-plus USA Ultimate Club division teams. Club teams compete in the Triple Crown Tour, a flexible calendar of events that allows autonomous teams to mostly set their own schedules with the exception of some high-profile, invitation-only showcase tournaments.
The Triple Crown Tour. Everyone‘s Invited.
USA Ultimate’s Triple Crown Tour (TCT) is the competition structure in which all 600-plus North American Club division teams play. While it includes roughly 60 sanctioned tournaments across the U.S., the tour’s focal point is the six premier TCT events that feature ultimate’s greatest teams. A promotion/relegation model places teams into four “flights” – Pro, Elite, Select and Classic – based on their performance in the previous season’s postseason. A team’s flight assignment and national ranking determines which tournaments they compete in the following year.
After a regular season that showcases ultimate’s top teams and athletes and decides the number of bids each geographical region receives to nationals, the road to qualify begins. In the postseason championship series, teams enter one of 24 sectional tournaments for a chance to advance to one of eight regional qualifiers. From there, just 16 teams per division move on to the National Championships for a shot at the title and flight placement. The splendor of the TCT lies in the fact that anyone can form a team and enter sectionals, competing with ultimate’s most storied and longstanding heavyweights for a shot to advance.
Welcome to the Triple Crown Tour. Everyone’s invited.
The Pro Flight is is comprised of eight teams per division and includes teams that placed 1st through 8th at the previous year’s National Championships.
The Elite Flight also consists of eight teams per division and includes the teams that placed 9th through 16th at the previous year’s National Championships.
The Select Flight is made up of 32 teams from each division and includes the four highest placing teams from each of the eight Regional Championships that did not advance to the National Championships.
All remaining teams are classified as Classic Flight teams.
Select Flight Invite
One of the first major events on the club season calendar. The Select Flight Invite is split into a pair of regional tournaments – one east and one west. The event gives Select Flight teams – those that fell just short of qualifying for the national championships – an opportunity to play up to Elite and Pro Flight teams in their region.
The first major test of the club season for ultimate’s top teams. The Pro-Elite Challenge features the previous year’s national championship qualifiers – the 16 Pro and Elite Flight teams in each division. For most teams, it’s their first tournament of the year after adjusting their rosters in the off season.
U.S. Open Club Championships
The first leg of the Triple Crown and one of ultimate’s flagship events. The U.S. Open features the eight Pro Flight teams and four international teams per division. USA Ultimate’s largest event also includes five youth divisions as part of the Youth Club Championships, resulting in a unique gathering of the ultimate community.
A late-summer tournament that gives teams an opportunity to make a statement. The Elite–Select Challenge hosts the bottom half of the previous year’s national championship participants (Elite Flight) and those that narrowly missed out on qualifying (Select Flight), often leading to a shakeup in the national rankings.
The second leg of the Triple Crown and final event of the regular season. The Pro Championships feature the eight Pro Flight teams from each division plus two wildcards. This is the last chance for teams to improve their national ranking and tune up before turning their attention to the postseason championship series.
The Super Bowl of ultimate and third leg of the Triple Crown. With 40 years of history, the National Championships stand alone as the sport’s most prominent event. More than 600 teams compete annually in an open qualifying structure of sectional and regional tournaments, seeking one of 48 invitations to nationals.