Warning: This post may be subject to rambling on 'cus I is really really tired. I can seldom sleep in airplanes and yesterday was no exception. As soon as I got home the phone began to ring and here I is.
Between work and school the team left for Vegas at 8 pm EST last Friday evening. We arrived around 11 pm Nevada time with the team scheduled to meet Saturday morning at 9 am in the Marriott lobby. A walk across the street brought us to the venue and registration. Like Chicago and DC Saturday's prelim round again included the D1 teams. Along with Impact we were in the afternoon bracket. We had one less pro team and one more (I think) D1 team than the morning bracket so it was potentially easier to go through from our bracket but any loss to a D1 team was also potentially more damaging. The greater benefit to us was the opportunity to see some games played and have an opportunity to prepare a game plan as most of the guys hadn't seen the layout and no one had played it in advance. I had a basic formula in mind--a number of them actually--and as a team we went through the basics as we watched games from the bleachers. We opened with two D1 games which gave us some breathing room to familiarize ourselves with the actual field before any of our pro games demanded our best efforts. Saturday we went 9-0 but that isn't really reflective of the effort or the closeness of a few of the games. And regardless of the circumstances the prelims are just that--preliminary to the real tournament which only begins on Sunday. No matter what happens on Saturday it's meaningless the minute its over. Either you're playing Sunday or you're not but everyone who moves on begins at zero again. (Cliche much?)
The pro teams through to Sunday were us, Impact, Infamous, Arsenal, Explicit, Avalanche, Blast & Dogs. The four teams in a tight race (2 points between everybody) for the series were us, Impact, Infamous & Dynasty. Uncharacteristically (an understatement) Dynasty didn't make the cut leaving us, Impact & Infamous still in the running. The series is in the back of your mind but we didn't talk about it. In fact we made a point of focusing on the event because event success would bring series success.
Without the successes in Chicago and DC we wouldn't have been up to the challenge of Vegas. No practice has been our downfall before and while we only had a few games of practice prior to Chicago and DC it made a world of difference. What we did have was the confidence success brings. We didn't think we could win. We knew we could because we had done it before and the core team had played together all season. In HB we had Holliday. With work and family demands we replaced Holliday with Ramzi for Chicago. For DC Chad replaced Ramzi and for Vegas Keith Brown replaced Alex. We brought Alex as our eighth but as he's dealing with some injury issues and we have Cup in 10 days he was our insurance policy. The core was Timmy Propst, Jason & Jacob Edwards, Alex Spence, Bryan Smith & J-Rab with Chad Busiere playing both DC and Vegas. At the beginning of this season we took a long look at Jacob that began with him practicing with the team and playing HB. He was 14. He's 15 now. Keith is 17. He's on board because Ramzi is injured and will miss Cup but he's working hard and making a strong case for himself. I bring it up because I want to spend some time talking about young guys playing at the pro level--so more of that tomorrow.
Saturday night we ate at a terrific Italian restaurant, Piero's, next to the Marriott and the guys were given a strict curfew of 11 pm. (Which they mostly kept.)