Sorting Through At-Large Picks for 14 And 15 Open

We took a look at the at-large selections for 16 and 17 Open here. Those picks were straight forward, largely because there were only two at-larges in each division and there were clear front runners. With five picks in 15 Open and seven in 14 Open, there was much more of a chance of there being some controversy of who was and wasn’t chosen. Let’s take a look.

When it comes to 15 Open, it’s hard to argue with the choices with the exception of one possible outlier. AZ Sky 15G, Alamo 15 Premier, Top Select 15 Elite, Triangle 15 Black and WPVC 15 Armour Black ended up receiving the at-larges and all are worthy of the honor.

Of the bunch, AZ Sky seemed like the most automatic selection. Even though AZ Sky played two qualifiers – coming in fifth at Red Rock and 21st at Lone Star – it compiled an impressive 12-5 record against the Open field. A record like that is hard to ignore and paired with finishing fifth at a difficult qualifier like Red Rock made AZ Sky a lock.

We actually have AZ Sky ranked No. 5 in our current 15s Top 50. AZ Sky has victories this season over No. 3 Boiler Jrs 15 Gold, No. 4 Hou Skyline, No. 6 Madfrog 16 Green (twice) and No. 7 TAV 15 Black. It means AZ Sky has what it takes to contend in the division.

The next team that had to be selected in my opinion without question was Alamo. With a 9-15 mark against the Open field as well as finishing fourth at Big South and ninth at both Lone Star and Red Rock, Alamo’s case was airtight. Had Alamo been able to defeat Wave 15 Brennan in the third-place contest at Big South it wouldn’t even be in this position.

Like AZ Sky, Top Select played in just two qualifiers but finished well at both. The Florida club came in seventh at Sunshine and fifth at Big South. Top Select also managed to go 7-6 against the Open field. That combined put Top Select over the top and into the Open field. Besides AZ Sky and Alamo, there was only one other team in the running with more victories against the field then Top Select. Top Select’s best victory of the season came against No. 8 Legacy 15-1 Adidas.

Right behind Top Select with victories against the field is WPVC, which went 6-8 in such outings. WPVC also had solid finishes, coming in ninth at Sunshine, 14th at Northern Lights and seventh at NEQ. Compared to others in the mix, the case for WPVC to be in the field is a sound one.

Triangle is the final team to look at. Triangle went 3-7 against the Open field, but did finish well at two of its three qualifiers. While Triangle placed 27th at Lone Star, it did finish fifth at both Sunshine and Big South. There’s no doubt that worked in Triangle’s favor being so close twice.

That leaves HJV 15 Elite as the tough-luck candidate. HJV’s argument for an Open bid rested on its 9-14 against the field. That’s a strong record and tied HJV with Alamo for the second-most victories against the field among the at-large contenders. However, what worked against HJV and likely ultimately cost HJV a spot is the team’s finishes in qualifiers. HJV came in 23rd at Red Rock, 15th at Windy City and ninth at Lone Star.

I think it’s natural to question if HJV should be in ahead of Triangle but I don’t think it’s out of line that Triangle made it over HJV. Perhaps if there were a head-to-head result between the two to factor in but there’s not.


Moving on to 14 Open, where with seven at-larges in play there were plenty of teams under consideration. In the end, they went to Legacy 14-1 Adidas, GP 14 Rox, NKYVC 14-1 Tsunami, VCNebraska 14 Elite, Mintonette Sports m.41, Tejas 14 Black and Forza1 14 One. Let’s look at the two I perceived to be the favorites in GP and Forza.

Forza seemed like a safe bet based on its 7-15 mark against the field and finishing fifth at Northern Lights, seventh at Red Rock and ninth at Far Western. The seven victories is the most of any at-large candidate and Northern Lights and Red Rock were arguably the two toughest qualifiers for 14s. All that put Forza at the top of the list and certainly a worthy recipient.

GP was right with Forza, having a 6-11 record against the Open field. GP finished 11th at Sunshine, 14th at Northern Lights and fifth at Big South. While GP had only one Top-10 showing at qualifiers, the six victories against the field is second to Forza so that made GP a strong candidate given there were seven at-larges.

Two more contenders I expected to receive bids that did were Legacy and VCNebraska. Legacy’s 4-11 record against the Open field was on par with others in the running. What gave Legacy an advantage was its finishes at qualifiers. Those included placing fifth at both Sunshine and Windy City and seventh at Northern Lights. That consistency is hard to ignore and made Legacy a great choice.

VCNebraska played in two qualifiers but finished fourth at both Northern Lights and Show Me. VCNebraska also went 4-8 against the Open field, which was comparable to other candidates. VCNebraska was one win away from qualifying outright but lost a showdown to Hou Skyline 14 Royal in the third-place match at Northern Lights.

Mintonette seemed positioned to receive one of the at-larges as well. Like Legacy and VCNebraska, Mintonette, at 4-9, also had four victories against the Open field. Only AZ Rev 15 Premier, at 5-11, had more victories against the field and didn’t receive an at-large. More on that in a moment. As for Mintonette, the Ohio club performed consistently as well at national qualifiers. Mintonette came in 13th at Sunshine, fifth at MEQ and seventh at Windy City.

This is where it starts to get more interesting.

Neither AZ Rev nor Rockwood Thunder received an at-large bid while Tejas and NKYVC did. As mentioned, AZ Rev did go 5-11 against the Open field. Only Forza and GP had more victories. But working against AZ Rev was finishing 13th at Red Rock and 11th at Far Western.

Rockwood Thunder was in a similar position. The Missouri club posted a 3-7 mark against the Open field. That was in line with others but Rockwood Thunder didn’t crack the Top 10 in four qualifiers. Those finishes were 11th at both Sunshine and Northern Lights, 10th at MEQ and 14th at Salt Lake.

What Tejas and NKYVC shared in common is both were one victory away from earning bids outright. NKYVC went 2-8 against the Open field and finished 21st at MEQ. While those didn’t necessarily match up to others, NKYVC did finish in fourth at Big South after losing the third-place match and a chance for a bid to Top Select 14 Elite. Tejas went 1-7 against the Open field, but it did come in second at NEQ and ninth at Lone Star. Tejas lost in the finals to Academy 14 Diamond at NEQ to just miss out on a bid there.

There could be a case to be made for AZ Rev and Rockwood Thunder to be in the Open field. Yet, there was a common thread with the picks in that VCNebraska, Tejas and NKYVC were all a victory away from earning a bid at qualifiers.

An exception there was KC Power 14-1, which finished third at Show Me. At that qualifier, only one bid went out. MAVS KC 14-1, Premier Nebraska 14 Gold, VCNebraska and KC Power were in a four-team gold pool on the final day. MAVS, which was previously qualified, finished first at 3-0. The other three teams all finished tied at 1-2, with Premier Nebraska earning second place and the bid based on tiebreakers. KC Power finished third and VCNebraska fourth. KC Power also went 1-8 against the Open field and finished 13th at both MEQ and Northern Lights. There might have been a case for KC Power too but with more candidates then spots available not all were going to be happy.