Colorado Springs, Colo. (Feb. 8, 2023) – USA Ultimate’s Competition Working Group met in Denver last December for its annual meeting to discuss various aspects of the sport’s competition structure across all age divisions – youth, college, club, masters and beach – as well as outreach. The meeting included eight USA Ultimate staff members, two members of the board of directors and 30 key volunteers and was held over two days. Following the meeting, we are releasing summaries of each smaller group’s discussion. We are releasing summaries of each smaller group’s discussion. The youth and college recaps will be released in the coming weeks.
The club working group consists of USA Ultimate Manager for Competition & National Team Programs in Club Marc Zigterman, National Men’s Director Adam Goff, National Women’s Director Carolina Gonzalez-Llanos, National Mixed Director Genevieve Leo, Men’s Division Representative AJ Merriman, Mixed Division Representative Eli Motycka, Women’s Division Representative Clare Frantz, Women’s Division Representative Kirstin Johnson, Men’s Division Representative Pawel Janas and Mixed Division Representative Sarah Meckstroth.
The Club Working Group discussed the 2023 Triple Crown Tour (TCT) schedule. After discussing next season’s calendar, the TCT will split an additional tournament into an East and West (Pro-Elite Challenge) for the upcoming season. TCT events for 2023 will include the Pro-Elite Challenge East and West, Select Flight Invite East and West, U.S. Open, Elite-Select Challenge, and the Pro Championships. The complete TCT calendar will be announced at a later date. A summary of the notable updates to 2023 includes:
- For the Pro-Elite Challenge, the group decided to split the event into two tournaments to try to reduce travel costs for teams. The group also decided the tournaments would be required for pro flight teams ranked fifth through the eighth, with invites for top elite flight teams. The tournament dates are yet to be set.
- For the Select Flight Invite, it will remain as a pair of regional tournaments, one east and one west, and will include select flight teams as well as four reserved spots for the top four ranked classic flight teams. The tournaments will be held in July.
- For the Elite-Select Challenge, the tournament will remain as required for elite flight teams with an opportunity for select flight teams to be invited. The group discussed how the tournaments are important for connectivity in rankings. The tournament will be held in August.
- For the U.S. Open Club Championships, the Club Working Group decided the event will be required for the pro flight teams ranked first through fourth with invites for the pro flight teams ranked fifth through eighth. The group also discussed and decided on including up to four international teams per division to be invited to the event. The games for domestic teams against the international teams will count toward the game count minimum but will not be included in the ranking algorithm.
- For Pro Championships, the event will invite the eight Pro Flight teams.
- For the National Championships, the group discussed a new draw style which is discussed later on in the recap.
Waitlists for events will be based on 2022 season finish and rankings. The 2023 Club Guidelines will have more information on each event when released.
The group analyzed player and team surveys from 2022 which found teams were hoping for better quality control at all events, above and beyond tournament director certification. The Competition Working Group made equity for the Women’s Division a point of emphasis for 2023. The group also looked at how to improve field assignments for the women’s division, which was another major theme found within the surveys.
The Club Working Group discussed roster caps for 2023. The group decided that for Classic and Select Flight events, the roster cap will be set at a maximum of 26 players for events, with no season roster cap. For the Top Select, Elite and Pro Flight events, the roster cap will be set at 26 players per event, with a maximum of 32 players for the regular and post season. In 2022, the roster movement deadline, which allows for players the flexibility to play on multiple rosters, was set for later in the year. For the 2023 season, players will have the opportunity to play on multiple rosters from the start of the regular season until July 4th. After that date, players may switch rosters but not return to a roster after playing an event with a different team.
The group also discussed Pro Flight play-in for teams at the National Championships who are eliminated from contention. The schedule will remain the same for the fifth through the eighth-place games. The teams playing for 11th through 16th have some flexibility to switch games, but if the published game scheduled is altered, then post-Nationals rankings will be used to determine invite lists for 2024 instead of placement from Nationals. All captains affected must agree to any change in the schedule and the Club Manager must be informed before the games begin. Additionally, if one team forfeits in the play-in, they will be automatically last on the invite list.
The Club Working Group discussed the topic of uniform and attire requirements. A full list of the requirements can be found in the 2023 Club Uniform Guidelines, which will be released in the coming months, but the working group agreed that for USA Ultimate-run events (TCT, Sectionals, Regionals, Nationals), rule enforcement will be a point of emphasis in 2023. For more information on acceptable uniforms, please review the 2023 Club Uniform Guidelines when released.
The group also decided on a new pool decision process for the National Championships, opting for a World Cup-style draw. The teams will be divided into four pots of four. All pots will be determined by each team’s Post Regional Rankings, with Pot 1 containing the highest-ranked teams who qualified for Nationals (1-4), Pot 2 containing the next highest-ranked teams who qualified for Nationals (5-8), and so on until Pot 4, containing the lowest ranked teams (13-16). The one seeds in the four pools will be determined by Post Regional Ranking. The remaining teams in the four pools will be formed randomly, selecting one team from each of the remaining three pots. Two teams from the same region cannot fall into the same pool, with the exception of regions with 3 bids or more, where up to two teams could share a pool.
The 2023 Club Guidelines will be released later this winter.
Stay tuned to usaultimate.org for more updates from the 2022 Competition Working Group meeting.