Winners and Losers of the 2022 Off-Season
As the season approaches, the off-season movement is all but wrapped up. As of the writing of this article, the only move that we are still waiting on an announcement of is Nikko Locastro. When looking through these companies though, I decided that Nikko alone wasn’t enough to flip any of them one way or the other in my grading, and from his Instagram, it seems like he is ending up back at Gateway with a mixed bag like the good ol’ days. The grading system is pretty straightforward. I am going to give my opinion on whether a company is coming out of the off-season as a winner or a loser and then give a brief explanation as to why I feel that way.
DGA – Winner
Going into the off-season, DGA was definitely an underground brand. They are one of the oldest in the sport (hence why they have the discgolf.com URL) but for some reason, they have never quite burst onto the mainstream disc scene. They have however been able to take a large piece of the basket market with their insanely popular Mach series of baskets. If you have a somewhat old course in your area, chances are you have played on a DGA basket. They first gained attention in December by picking up Andrew Marwede but then really picked up some steam when in mid-January Catrina Allen announced that she had signed with them as well. For a brand that has never had much star power, it will be interesting to see what Andrew and Catrina can do for them on and off the course. They definitely were a winner this off-season but we will see how it plays out for them throughout the year with a solid amount if not all of their plastic being manufactured by Discraft who is still in the process of getting their own inventory back up to demand with the market.
Discmania – Neutral
Discmania had a somewhat quiet off-season this year. They lost Gavin Rathbun which definitely hurt, but they were able to extend some key players and promote Kyle Klein to their top team which alludes to locking him in with the company a bit longer. Regardless, it is going to be hard to ever mark them as a loser of an off-season if they keep Eagle and Simon. As long as they have them with their current share of the disc golf market then Discmania is going to be fine. The second one of them leaves, then things get interesting. For this year though, nothing too bad or too good happened so I’m going to leave them at neutral.
Discraft – Winner
Discraft had yet another great off-season with player signings. They lost Cole Redalan and Hailey King, but they were able to extend pretty much all of the players that had their contracts up including some future stars like Adam Hammes. On top of that, they landed a top 5 player in the world in Chris Dickerson which between him, Paul, and Adam they are basically locked in to have their names associated with a top 5 finish at every Pro Tour stop. When you look at locking in Hammes for another 3 years, Dickerson in for 4 years, and Paul in for the remaining 9 years, it is hard to imagine an off-season where Discraft comes out as a true “loser” within the next several years.
Dynamic Discs – Winner
This was the off-season that we have all been waiting for with DD. For the past several years, there have been rumors of them going after top players and not landing them and people have constantly wondered when the time would come. The answer was the 2022 season. We shouldn’t forget that they did lose Eric Oakley, but Dynamic essentially treated Innova’s top players as a buffet as they got a healthy serving of Ricky and Kona with some Mason and Val on the side. When you add that to their marketing team, solid role players, and the addition of Gavin Rathbun they have really set themselves up for success this year. The only question left is if they have bitten off more than they can chew. We will have to wait and see how it all goes down in the coming years.
Infinite Discs – Winner
This list was planned to be only major manufacturers, but when you look at Infinite’s off-season it is impossible to ignore. They started off with signing Drew Gibson to a one-year player deal and entered a lifetime business partnership as well that includes his own line of discs. They followed that up by picking up Eric Oakley and Cole Redalan. Eric brings a pretty large fan base and Cole has a tremendous upside in the sport. Having a retailer/manufacturer hybrid pick up one of the top 10 players in the world and then be able to keep him and expand their team is very impressive and we will see if it possibly bites them in the butt down the road if they ever are faced with the decision of being a manufacturer or a retailer.
Innova – Loser (maybe)
Innova is an anomaly to me. Looking from the outside, it is obvious that they lost this off-season. They lost the number one player in the world and one of the more marketable FPO players in the sport. They also lost two future talents in Mason and Valerie as well as a player on the brink of a breakout season in Andrew Marwede. They put a bandaid on it by extending Nate Sexton and Gregg Barsby as well as keeping Calvin with them for now. It’s tough to look at what happened to their roster and not think that they lost big, but they could just be the smartest company in disc golf. Let me explain. They have been through this type of season once before and surely they learned something. I just can’t wrap my mind around how the 2018 exodus would have crippled Innova and then they would let the same thing happen a few years later. It makes me wonder if Innova is sitting back and looking at the current state of disc golf laughing to themselves knowing that none of this is going to last. If that’s true, then maybe Innova big-brained all the other companies this off-season and they are the real winners. If not, maybe they’re idiots. Only time will tell.
Latitude 64 – Winner
Latitude started the off-season with a massive bang when they announced the largest public FPO contract in the sport with their extension of Kristen Tattar. They followed it up by picking up Linus Carlsson from Innova and resigning a handful of other players to keep a solid roster. Another thing to note is how they will mutually benefit from the insane off-season that Dynamic had with some of their plastic making its way into their bags.
MVP – Neutral
Not much really happened for MVP this off-season. It was a little bit surprising with how well the last season went that we didn’t see them pick up at least another notable player or two. With that being said they were able to keep their core team together and pickup Madison Walker and Stacie Hass. Neither signing is massive so I am going to leave them neutral for now.
Prodigy – Loser
It is a pretty clear answer to me with Chris Dickerson leaving his contract early and Catrina Allen leaving after being with Prodigy for 9 years. Another notable hit that Prodigy took was from Matty O leaving for Westside. Prodigy has put basically all of their eggs into the Kevin Jones basket. Kevin is very marketable and it could easily pay off for them, but seeing Dickerson and Cat leave is a tough look and made it impossible to call this off-season a win. Another bright spot that was a little overlooked this season was their extension of Gannon Buhr. That signing could be huge for the future of Prodigy if Gannon continues to progress in his game the way that he has so far.
Westside Discs – Winner
Westside didn’t have a crazy off-season one way or the other. Prodigy accidentally leaked that Matt Orum was headed to Westside in their thank you post back in November. About a month later it was announced that Nikko and Westside had split ways and he would no longer be representing them. Other than that there wasn’t much movement for them. So really you just have to compare losing Nikko to gaining Matty O and with how much fans love Matty O it makes them a pretty clear winner of the off-season.
So there it is! My offseason winners and losers. It was pretty straightforward in my opinion, but be sure to let me know if you agree or disagree with me in the comments below or by reaching out to me over on Twitter @FDG_Hunter_T
Innova constantly seems to be in the “loser” position, but I guess they have so much market data and they might’ve figured out that they don’t really need to be paying millions in salaries to sell craploads of discs. Seems super weird.
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