With the arrival of a new season comes a blank slate and the potential for news teams to rise to the occasion and win it all or defending Champions to turn back potential challengers and reclaim their throne. Following the conclusion of the 2018 calendar, the deck was once again shuffled and multiple teams found new homes. Many of the clubs that were moved were done so on the basis of their strong 2018 seasons, but that isn’t always the case.
The forthcoming season will feature four teams in position to potentially defend their 2018 tournament wins. Additionally, another four teams that claimed titles last year are taking their talents to a new division where they will look to stake a claim in their new home. Check out some history om successful divisional changes here. Finally, divisional realignment opens the door for new contenders to take their turn at the top of the mountain. Who will come out on top when the last out is called in late August?
Let’s take a look at some of the teams poised for contention in 2019.
With 3 of the top 4 2018 teams headed north, the door has swung wide open for new teams to contend in Division 5. Railway City Brew Crew narrowly missed promotion and will return having fallen short in four consecutive D5 tournament finals. Their success makes them a favourite.
Also looking to fill the power vacuum, I’d Hit That has been nipping at the heals of the elite since their inception. In 2019, they appear ready to transition from the hunter to the hunted.
These clubs will be challenged by the arrival of D4’s Misfits. Rallying for a D4 Championship tournament 4th place finish, the Green side returns to D5 for the first time since 2016.
Not to be left out of the equation, returning clubs: Glo-Balls, Silver Springs Thumpers, and The Oddballs all had their moments last season that could translate to a 2019 rise up the ranks.
With the D4 top cats, The Leftovers, moving on, there is room at the top. The Roadies started 2018 on fire and have captured multiple tournament titles in their past. They will headline the D4 East Group. Challenging the Roadies will be The Road House Sinners. Earning 8 wins last year, the Sinner won the Bronze Medal game in the Final tournament.
In the West, the defending Mid-Season Classics Winners- the Angry Raccoons are poised to transition their 2018 success into an impressive 2019 run. Prepared to challenge the Trash Pandas will be the contending Manning Cues club. Their 2018 tournament success, including a final’s showing in the August tournament, lays the groundwork for future triumphs.
Rising threats from Division 5, Bat Attitudes and The Royals enter the division 4 foray with a combined regular season record of 24-4-0. Bat Attitudes won the Championship Weekend and finished #1 in the standings while the Royals took home the D4 mid-way honours.
Potentially the most wide-open division of them all, Division 3 offers the greatest variety of contenders in the entire league.
Aftermath (East) and Smash N Dash (West), formerly the Presstran Hooligans, finished 3rd and 4th in both tournaments and in the standings. They will kick off the season as the highest remaining clubs from 2018 and as a result the teams to beat.
One of those teams looking to surpass those clubs will be The O’s. The 2017 D3 Champions, the O’s were stuck on the outside of the top 4 in 2018.
Returning from Division 2 to their old stomping ground, No Glove No Love will attempt to re-establish themselves as the top dog. A team that has been around longer than almost any other, they finished with 19-points in 3rd place and in D3 title contention back in 2017.
Asking and you shall receive. Limitless Tattoos won the 2017 Division 5 Championship but finished 4th in both 2018 D5 tournaments. Nonetheless, they have reloaded and requested a push up to the 3rd division. It is hard to overlook a team that is willing to make such a move.
Finally, Division 3 contenders need to look out for The Leftovers. Their 2017 dominance of Division 5 was impressive, but their move to D4 last year was even more noteworthy. Over the last 2 seasons, across 2 divisions, they are a combined with 23-2-3 with 2 tournament wins and one Mid-Season Classic loss.
The most competitive division of 2018, Division 2 saw the 7th placed team win the Mid-Season Tournament, the 5th place team capture the Championship gold, and the top finishing team in the Standings (Rebels) make the move to D1 for 2019. It is anyone’s guess who takes it all this year. Where to begin?
Looking to defend their 2018 title, Big Sticks * Little Mitts earned the D2 Championship victory with a strong second half and even stronger tournament showing. They are in a rare position to defend their D2 title as they narrowly missed making the move to Division 1.
2017’s dominant D4 darlings- Brokebat Mountain finished #2 in the standings last year but struggled on both tournament weekends. They will return ready to roll.
The 2018 bridesmaids, R-Safety, finished 3rd in the regular season and advanced to the finals of both tournaments but fell short.
From 2015 to 2017, Breaking Balls made four straight tournament finals in Division 3. In 2018, that streak was snapped by their jump to Division 2, but they stilled garnered a Mid-Season 4th and Championship Bronze Medal.
Despite finishing 7th, One Hit Wonders can’t be discredited from title contention. Their Mid-Season Classic win was an impressive feat and established this club as the dark horse of the division.
Adding to the pile, Game On will join the #2 group after a strong finish to their 2018 Division 1 season. While their final record might not indicate it, this team made a solid run and finished the year with a 4th place D1 Championship tourney finish.
Finally, with a 10-3-1 2018 record and a pair of D3 Tournament Finals, Downtown Auto Glass SOP will make the jump to Division 3 looking to contend.
While there have been some changes, Division 1’s hierarchy appears to be intact. At least on paper.
The multi-time defending Champions, Guaranteed Eavestroughing has won three straight Championship Tournaments, finished #1 in the standings in each of the last 3 years, and picked up the 2017 and 2018 Mid-Season Classic wins. They remain the divisional favourites.
In 2018, Stix & Chix made waves with early-season wins over New Wave and Guaranteed. They finished 2nd in the standings and earn 3rd and 4th place finishes in each Tournament. They enter 2019 as the rebranded Win or Booze.
With 5 straight tournament finals under the belt, New Wave is still looking to get over the hump. Finishing second in the standings in both 2016 and 2017, they took a step back to 3rd in 2018 but still maintained their tournament success.
A pair of clubs that have prepared to make their move in 2019, Crazy Joe’s Gym and Fan of the Sport have been close to title contention in previous years. Fan of the Sport’s upset win in the Mid-Season Bronze Medal game could be looked upon as the start of their push to the top.
Joining the top group is the veteran Rebel’s squad. Finishing atop the D3 standings in 2016 and then the D2 standings in 2018- this team has finished in the top four in 7 of the last 8 tournaments they have played in. They Won the D3 Championship in 2016 and finished 4th in the 2018 D2 Championship tournament and 3rd in the Mid-Season battle.
Nothing is certain. Games must be played on the field, not on paper. Some contenders will falter and some unlisted teams will rise to the occasion. Every team on this list at one time was a new unknown club or a team that was struggling to put runs on the board. As a team not listed, you have a full season to solidify yourself as a team to beat. To start your own championship story. The expectations of a winning team can be difficult to measure up to, especially with every player marking your game on their schedule. It’s also just Slo-pitch. Let’s have some fun!