Dodgeball Nation‘s “World Series” is upping the ante this year with a $20,000 payout to the winning team, $2000 for second place, and $1000 for third. To enter the tournament, it’s a $600 dollar buy in. This year the tournament is being held Detroit, MI, and after over 70 teams came to the Detroit Cup Dodgeball Tournament this past weekend, expect a bunch of squads to pony up and play in the tournament.
However, the “World Series” has rules that are quite different from the NCDA’s rules. The court is much smaller (50×30 instead of 94×50, meaning the game is played on the court going sideways), there are only six players on the court at once (at least two of each gender), and they use six Gopher Foam balls (two 8.25″ and four 7″). A full video of the rules can be found here.
They have clocked foam balls in the high 70s, which is similar to some of the top tier NCDA arms. The tournament is still a tough one to win and it proves that there are plenty of talented dodgeballers outside of the NCDA. There are also dodgeballers that teams haven’t seen before, which means not only adapting to new rules and balls but also to new players.
Last year’s champs were POW! Right In the Kisser, who also won this year’s Detroit Cup Dodgeball Tournament. Here they are beating Final Justice, a team made up of the now defunct LCC Stars NCDA team and some of the Michigan State team. So it’s not like these foam ball players are bad, against the stereotypes held by some NCDA players, in fact they took down a team with a few NCDA All Stars on it. So we know some of the teams competing in the tournament would be a challenge for NCDA teams. Obviously there is a learning curve, as stated before, but these guys and gals can play. Another good team is Western Springs Dodgeball, the runner up at this year’s Detroit Cup Dodgeball Tournament, who is based out of Illinois.
Comparing the NCDA to Dodgeball Nation events, Kevin Nguyen (formerly of LCC Dodgeball, now of Final Justice) says:
SH: What are the main differences between NCDA tournaments and a Dodgeball Nation tournament?
KN: There are a lot of differences between the two. In terms of rules, the DN uses foam balls and the NCDA uses rubber balls. That would be the biggest difference. DN also has smaller 6v6 games on smaller courts. Instead of a timed period, games are usually best of 3 or 5. In terms of game style, one of the biggest differences between the two is that stacking is frowned upon in DN and in the NCDA it’s a strategy used by pretty much every team. Another big difference in game styles is that the NCDA uses counters more efficiently than DN. This is probably because a combination of court size, number of balls used, and in the NCDA they take turns throwing because of the clock and in the DN whichever side has the majority of balls has to throw.
SH: How do you think a NCDA team or a group of All Stars would do against a top level Dodgeball Nation team like POW! Right in the Kisser, Final Justice, or Western Springs?
KN: The determining factor in the who won would be what balls are used. Simple as that. If they used foam balls POW! Right in the Kisser, Final Justice, and Western Springs Dodgeball win every time. If they use rubber balls the NCDA All Stars beats WSDB and POW every time. The only team that would make it interesting is my Final Justice team because we actually prefer and play with rubber balls. This was pretty obvious when at the rubber ball Elite Dodgeball tournament the final two teams were FJ and GVSU and at the DCD all the NCDA based teams were eliminated pretty early in the tournament.
SH: How do you think the NCDA and Dodgeball Nation can work together to promote the growing sport of dodgeball?
KN: if the NCDA and Dodgeball Nation wanted to help each other out to promote the sport it would take more players being open to playing all styles. Players in both leagues are pretty set in their ways especially when it comes down to what balls are used. I think it was a good thing to see a GVSU team and a couple of SVSU players at the DCD this past weekend. Hopefully they can help convince more NCDA teams to play in foam ball tournaments. I also think DN, especially Dan V, has done a good job of trying to get more NCDA teams involved in DN events. They’ve held $10000 rubber ball tournaments and now they’re moving one of the $20000 tournaments to Detroit to try and get more teams signed up. The one thing that I think would help DN get more NCDA teams to their rubber ball tournament is to allow pinching.
SH: Anything else you’d like to add?
KN: I think both leagues should poll their teams about how they feel about a mixed ball tournament. Or find some way to determine the absolute best team out there.
Glen Spejcher, of Task Force Unicorn Dodgeball Team, competed last year in the $15,000 World Series and recently in the Detroit Cup Dodgeball Tourament. He says of the tournament:
SH: You’ve played with rubber and foam balls. What are the strengths and challenges of playing with foam instead of rubber balls?
GS: Foam balls tend to fly faster and are harder to block when being thrown at. Some players can throw wicked curves. [However] foam balls don’t have that sweet sound that rubber balls have when they hit them.
SH: You host the Midwest Elite Dodgeball Invitational in Chicago, and this year you’ve invited Final Justice, Grand Valley, Michigan State, Saginaw Valley, DePaul, and Kent State, all teams with NCDA players. You’ve also included a pinching and non-pinching division for teams to play in. Is this the beginning of integrating the NCDA and other dodgeball leagues?
GS: Yes. Our goal with Elite is to not only seek the best dodgeballers and teams, but to introduce an unfamiliar, yet still exciting, style. Experiencing different rules has made me a better dodgeballer overall so we feel this will be a great comprise to gain interest for NCDA players.
SH: How do you think dodgeball can become even bigger in the US? Obviously being an Olympic Sport in the next decade is unlikely, but how would you make the sport become more popular?
GS: We live in the internet age. I believe that as long as we, as a dodgeball community, keep showcasing the best dodgeballers, teams, and plays through professional and eye-grabbing videos it will circle around and gain a lot of interest. Hopefully, we can get picked up by a network or have sponsors help boost our material.
I also got a chance to interview Dan Vladescu, the head of Dodgeball Nation.
SH: How do you think a group of NCDA players would do in the World Series?
DV: I’m not sure to be honest. I mean if I were to make an assumption based on the videos I’ve seen of NCDA game play, you could say that they may not do well given that our court size is smaller than [the] NCDA and that they may not be used to the foam balls. But, then again when Mark Acomb and Vince Marchbanks first came to Toronto for the $5k two years ago, they had NO experience with our rules or balls and came in second. And I’m confident that if they had at least ONE sub they would of taken first. So it could go either way.
SH: Why should NCDA players consider playing in the tournament?
DV: As the saying goes, “Diversity is the spice of life”. Dodgeball Nation’s World Series gives teams a chance to play against other teams they wouldn’t normally get to play against.
The tournaments also offer a high level of competition since it attracts highly competitive teams from all over. I’m a firm believer that sometimes it’s important to throw yourself into the lions den to give yourself a perspective of where you really are in life. Perfect example, this past weekend at the 2013 Detroit Cup, a player approached Jack Janigan and said how in their own state they are the best team, but at the Detroit Cup they were ranked 20th. It had shined a new light for them and given them even more of an incentive to keep playing in “out of town” events.
Last but not least, for the quality. Dodgeball Nation has proven itself to provide a well run, efficient tournament because we put the player and sport of dodgeball first before anything else. We emphasizes on maximum play time with minimal down time (i.e. how long you wait between games) so far its never more than 20 minutes. And hey, you want to win that money, then your gonna have to work for it!
SH: Why did you choose to make it a foam/no pinching tournament?
DV: Before I answer this lets just make it clear that Dodgeball Nation has hosted its first Rubber Ball Tournament and will continue to do so, and I say that with out any animosity.
Why Foam? Well in business sometimes you go with what you know and grow it from there. In Toronto and almost all of Canada we use foam, and as you’ve probably seen from our videos we use two different sized balls. We use two 8.25 inch balls and four 7 inch balls.
Personally, and in my opinion, I find the pace of foam balls is a lot faster than rubber. Especially the excitement level is higher, and that mainly is contributed to the 7 inch balls. When you have players like Cameron Ranachan or Dan Bzdzkot from Toronto throwing the 7 inch balls at you at over 80 mph, it really brings out the “Dodge” in dodgeball. That’s not to say that rubber balls can’t be thrown fast but foam, in my opinion, allows a broader range of players to throw the foam balls faster, including female players. Since our tournaments are co-ed, foam balls allow women to be seen as an equal threat. There are numerous women in the Toronto Dodgeball League who can throw the foam balls as good if not better then the men. I personally believe that encourages women to continue playing dodgeball because they are at an equal level rather than being viewed as a walking pylon with the role of a ball shagger.
As i stated in the very beginning Dodgeball Nation now offers World Series for both Rubber and Foam that are 6 months. Players can choose which to go to.
If they dont like foam, hey no biggie, they have rubber world series to go to!
In the end I believe that a true athlete can adapt to any style of play and is willing to push themselves outside their comfort zone!
SH: How do you think Dodgeball Nation and the NCDA can help grow the sport?
DV: The best way I think NCDA and DN can help grow Dodgeball is by having a united attitude about the sport, rather than a power struggle. By getting our players to embrace or be open minded about other play styles of dodgeball.
We should start helping players be more prepared/proactive when it comes to events. The day of signing up your team at the VERY last minute (i.e. on the day of the tournament) has to come to an end.
And last and DEFINITELY not least, help educate event organizers/players on sponsor/sponsoree (or sponsored event/player) relations standards. If players/event organizers know how to properly approach and deliver to sponsors, it can really push the sport.
Whether or not you’re into the rules changes and different play, you should consider playing in the tournament. A chance at $20,000 is a lot to turn down, and a NCDA team or a group of NCDA All Stars could possibly go in and win the title. It’s also a great experience and sounds like a lot of fun. Mark your calenders for July 13th in Detroit.