Chicago Heavyweights Championships Recap

For the Labor Day holiday weekend, Madison Club loaded up the family truckster and headed south to beautiful Waukegan, Illinois, for the Chicago Heavyweights Championships. The tournament was a much-needed opportunity for MCU to get numerous reps against some sturdy competition, and while our record of 5-3 wasn’t glamorous, we had an amazingly productive weekend as a whole on route to a third place finish overall

Briefly, Heavyweights History

At one time this tournament was called Tune Up and it was not only the premier club level event of the summer but was also an excellent preview of what might unfold two months later at Nationals. Everyone who was anyone wanted into Tune Up - Ring of Fire, DoG, Doublewide, New York – however, recently the tournament, now branded as Chicago Heavyweights Championships, has lost the ability to pull in the top out of region teams and is pretty much now a Central Regionals preview event, (much like what Cooler Classic was in the past) as opposed to a potential preview of Nationals matchups, much like what Emerald City Classic (ECC), Labor Day Ultimate Championships and Chesapeake Open are now.

It’s worth investigating why this tournament and others ebb and flow (mostly ebb) in terms of their strength of attending teams and their ability to reign in the top club teams across the country. The answer pretty much starts at the top. In order to attract high caliber teams and thus create a high caliber tournament, you need to get the top team or teams to attend, which in the case of the Tune-Up era was six-time consecutive National Champion, Boston’s DoG. DoG regularly attended Tune Up and if you wanted a shot at the champs, you had to go where the champs went. Unfortunately, gone went DoG and gone went Heavyweights as a premier national tournament.

In an effort to inject some life into the Heavyweights format, tournament organizers Sun Ultimate left the Naperville Polo Fields and moved the event to a brand new sports complex in Waukegan. This was a wise move by Sun as the tournament in Naperville definitely came close to degenerating into mediocrity and with the new fields and a sparkling new sports complex, they now at least have some marketing capital and can hopefully return to attracting higher level out-of-region teams in the future.  

Also Briefly, The Impact of the Cancellation of The Chesapeake Open

Hurricane Irene cancelled the Chesapeake Open last weekend and it’s worth noting how substantial of an impact the loss of the event had and will have on the top Central Region teams. The teams planning on attending TCO, Madison, Machine, and Madcow, now find themselves without a relevant piece to their pre-series schedules, consequently increasing the value of their respective seasons up to this point. Here is a quick look at the seasons thus far entering CHC of the top four Central teams:
  • Machine – Skipped Colorado Cup this year and played in perhaps the top pre-series tournament of the summer, the Emerald City Classic, two weeks prior.
  • Madcow – These guys have been hitting up pretty much every tournament they can get to: Terminus, Cowabunga, NY Invite…
  • Sub Zero – Attended MUDI, Colorado Cup, and most recently won the Cooler Classic just last weekend.
  • Madison – Only tournament thus far: Colorado Cup.

So, who needed Chesapeake most?

Saturday Pool Play

Madison started the day early with an 830 start time against Minneapolis Climax, a team that made some early season noise in June with their first ever win against cross town rival Sub Zero at MUDI. Today though, another substantial upset was not in the cards for Climax as Madison works their systems and pushes on D for a 13-9 victory.

Next up came Chicago Machine, the overall number one seed for the weekend, our chief rival going into the fall series and a team we know we will be facing with a Nationals birth at stake come Regionals. As mentioned above, Chicago attended ECC this year and though they didn’t have a successful weekend record wise at ECC, the opportunity to play in one of the top tournaments nationally just two weeks ago certainly helped Machine gel as a team and hone their sets coming into this weekend and they appeared to be one step ahead of us on this day. Machine breaks several times against a lackluster Madison effort on route to a 13-10 victory.  

Round three brought on another Chicago team, The Natives, and Madison cruises to an easy 13-8 victory.

Finishing out pool play on Saturday was Columbus Madcow, another major regional rival and, like Machine, most certainly a team we will face with Nationals implications on the line. Coming off what appeared to be a tough game against Climax, Madcow looked winded and beat to start the game and Madison capitalized with two quick breaks out of the gate, 3-1 Club. Perhaps sensing or imagining an easy game, Madison let off the gas and fumbled away the early lead with miscues on offense leading to several easy Madcow breaks and an ignited Madcow intensity. The breaks continued as the Ohioans repeatedly pestered the Madison o-line with stingy defense through halftime and onto the later stages of the game with Madison playing catch up and desperately trying to find some enthusiasm to win. Finally, Madison wills itself back from the dead on the backs of the d-line and forces a universe point situation, only to see Madcow jack a deep bomb for the win, 13-12.

The day ended with a 2-2 record, but with tough loses to two regional archrivals. Needless to say, morale was down.

Sunday Bracket Play  

Thanks to a 2-2 Saturday pool play record, Madison earned the right to start the day at 830 AM with a pre-quarters match up against Prairie Fire from Kansas. Everyone on the team had a gut-check moment on Saturday and felt it their duty to show up Sunday morning with a heightened desire to succeed through enthusiasm and intensity. It immediately showed. The sidelines were louder, the focus greater and the results better leading to an easy 13-6 Madison win.

Quarters brought on the only out-of-region participant in the Santa Barbara Condors, who started Sunday with a first round bye after a 3-1 Saturday pool play finish. On a side note, the Condors are perhaps the most storied team in the history of club ultimate with origins dating back to 1974 and with 5 Club National Championships and one World Championship (2002) to their name. Though not quite the team they once were, it was still exciting to play them and we’d like to thank them for making the trip to the Midwest. In the game, Madison jumped out to a quick lead through pressure defense and an efficient d-line offense, and the o-line continued to work on cleaning up their act with quick strikes deep and patient unders. The heightened level of play paved the way to another convincing win, 13-8 Club.   

In the semifinals, Madison got another shot at Chicago Machine, and a shot at redemption from the struggles of Saturday. What was clearly different in this game for Madison in comparison to Saturday was the elevated team intensity and desire, especially on the sidelines, which translated to a closer game on the field. Unfortunately, Machine once again played an efficient game on both sides of the disk, but the undoing for Madison would be their inability to connect in the pressure situations, leading to an 11-9 Chicago win.

The consolation game for third place again pitted Madison against Madcow and again opened the door for a shot at redemption, though unlike the slow start for Columbus on Saturday, today it was Madison who emerged slowly out of the gates and found themselves down 7-4 at halftime. Another gut check moment came for Club, as the season appeared to be hanging in the balance with an enthusiastic regional rival hitting on all cylinders and the sideline exuberance found throughout the day thus far for Madison seemingly gone. It was time for Madison to either do or do not, and thankfully, turning to the will of the d-line once again, Club broke its way back into the game with suffocating handler defense and by converting boom shots to streaking d-line cutters. It all came down to universe point, just like the previous day, but on this day it’d be Madison that sealed the deal with the o-line punching it in for the 12-11 win and third place overall.


Chicago Heavyweights proved to be an extraordinarily productive weekend for Madison Club. We are clearly experiencing growing pains, but a tournament like this was the best thing the doctor could’ve ordered. Not only did we identify where we need to improve but we also found once again what it takes to win: enthusiasm, desire, intensity and focus. Next up: Sectionals in less than two weeks!