Everything’s coming up frisbee! Earlier this year the USA Ultimate organization — amateur ultimate frisbee’s governing body — signed a television deal with ESPN that will see 23 games aired via ESPN3 and on ESPNU. Meanwhile, two ultimate frisbee pro leagues have launched in the past two years (players make a modest $25 per game). And one of them, Major League Ultimate, actually sells its own iPad/iPhone video game — featuring real pro frisbee-ists — for $2.99.
A Boston-based game designer and avid Ultimate player named Axis Sivitz created the “Championship Frisbee” app; it was recently rebranded in partnership with the Major League Ultimate league. There are eight teams from the East and West coasts in the league, which play a 10-game season from April to July. The game features all officially rostered players and jersey numbers. Number 21 above, shown preparing to “pull” the disc to the opposing team (Ultimate’s equivalent of a kick-off in football)? That’s Joseph Anderson from the New York Rumble.
Players can design their own jerseys via color-customized shorts and shirts. You want blue board shorts? You got blue board shorts, friend!
The app includes training levels for honing running, cutting, throwing and bidding skills (bidding = layout dive). Throwing, as is often the case with the sport in real life, is the hardest aspect to master.
Sivitz says his goal was to provide players with “the type of strategic options they have in a real game of Ultimate, including different offenses, different throws, and using hucks vs. short throws.” One popular form of offense is shown here: a horizontal stack, where receivers line up across the width of the field to create space for cutting toward the thrower or going deep. Above, Eli Friedman of the Portland Stags is being “stalled” (players have 10 seconds to throw the disc; if defenders can force them to hold the disc for that long, it’s a turnover) on his own goal line as his teammates set up the stack.
Users can create women’s teams as well. Here, a women’s squad faces off against the Washington D.C. Current. Number 33 with the disc appears to have an open cutter coming in from the back of the end zone.
Above, the orange and blue player with the disc looks to throw for a score before the defense can begin their stall count or make fun of his shirt.
The game features some goofy announcing effects, including a chant of the word “nonner,” or non-athlete, when a player makes a mistake. It’s an homage to the sport’s quirky roots, which include creative call-and-response cheers and intensely spirited sideline heckling. Above, a defensive player — in black — is bidding for the disc in his own end zone, but the receiver has already pulled it down for a score. What a nonner!
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