There will undoubtedly be those who consider Chain’s success at nationals a fluke. Those who think Chain’s run was legitimate might still say that a single tournament is too small of a sample size to draw any worthwhile conclusions. I think both of these criticisms are at least potentially reasonable – let that serve as a caveat for what follows.
I think Chain’s success at 2006 Nationals was primarily the result of two strategic principles. The first is that relentless (perhaps reckless) aggression is a powerful strategy. The second is that the point at which the replacement value of a fresh tier two player exceeds the value of a fatigued tier one is somewhat closer to 60% of points played (for the tier one player) rather than 50% of points played.
In an earlier post, I defended the value of relentless aggression. There my argument was basically two-fold. First, I argued that The Rule demands that all things being equal, a player should throw a longer pass rather than a shorter pass. 2) I also made the more controversial claim the advantageous implications of the huck extend beyond the calculation of giving your team the highest percentage chance of scoring this goal. This claim is based on the fact that once a team believes you are crazy enough to huck at any point they will over commit to protecting the deep cut opening up the underneath. The nice thing about this second point is that it can extend to later games in a tournament/season without your team even having to bear the burden of the additonal turnovers early in a game. I think FG and Sockeye both currently benefit from (2) due to their reputation as mindless huckers.
In any event, we (the blogosphere, although not sure I’m still a member) have had this discussion and I don’t mean to rehash old territory. Another facet of our relentless aggression was an insistence on forcing the disc upfield whenever possible. A dump has to be considerably higher percentage than a 20 yard gainer if the dump is to be justified by The Rule. Honestly, I still don’t think HnH is optimal in perfect conditions, but this year’s nationals was far from perfect conditions. I think that anyone arguing that a possession style offense is optimal in this year’s conditions (with the exception of Sunday) is either bad at math or simply not being honest with themselves.
The second strategic principle can basically be restated as “you should play your studs more than you are now.” Jim posted on this subject with some fictional numbers a while ago, I’m too lazy to find the link now, sorry. At early tournaments this year we had three considerable comebacks at the end of games when we just put in our top 7 for several points in a row. This led us to make the conscious decision to play our studs more at nationals. It sounds pretty obvious, but the current dominant strategy of splitting O/D has led a lot of top players to play only about 50 percent of the points. In most situtaions, your studs could play more than 50 percent of the points without fatigue impacting their play to the extent that it would make sense to put in your next tier of player.
Future of Ultimate
2 months ago