Through just four days of action, the 2018 DCI Summer Tour is already bursting with compelling competitive storylines across the board.

While the sample size may still be small as World and Open Class corps across the country wrap up their spring training and head out on tour, here are five key things to know about the already red-hot competition taking place:


Vanguard earns long-awaited win, Bay Area rivals go back and forth

Santa Clara Vanguard and the Blue Devils picked up right where they left off at the end of last season.

While the two northern California corps went neck-and-neck to the finish line in 2017, the Devils remained unbeaten. Two days into 2018, though, Blue Devils’ win streak ended; not only did the corps’ overall streak dating back to the start of last summer come to an end, its 11-year streak of head-to-head wins against Vanguard skidded to a halt as well.

So far, the two have faced off three times; Friday in Clovis, the Concord corps won by 0.6 points. Saturday in Stanford, Vanguard won by the same amount, before the Devils regained a lead of 0.25 Sunday in Sacramento. Captions have been all over the place so far, with neither corps able to find much of a stronghold against the other in any major scoring category.


Mandarins making major noise out west

Friday and Saturday were already enough to call this past weekend an impressive start for the Mandarins. The Sacramento corps earned scores of 62.950 and 64.750 — both a slight step up from their results this time a year ago.

Then on Sunday night in Sacramento — at the Mandarins’ hometown show, no less — the corps broke out with a score of 66.200. That score put the corps just six tenths of a point behind the Blue Knights, who have earned top-10 finishes each of the last seven years, and haven’t missed out on the DCI World Championship Finals since 2003.

All this comes on the heels of a 2017 campaign that saw the Sacramento corps earn its highest finish ever. At one point last season, Mandarins held a top-12 position, before conceding it to the Madison Scouts by season’s end.

Digging into the score sheets, Mandarins topped Blue Knights in General Effect and Visual, but faced a full-point deficit in Music.

Even so, Sunday was the first time that, when judged on the same scale, the Sacramento corps finished within a point of its competition from Denver. Ever.


Bluecoats own General Effect again

Similar to the beginning of 2017, the Bluecoats opened up an early lead over Carolina Crown in the two corps’ first two meetings of the season, with the vast majority of the Canton corps’ advantage coming in the General Effect caption.

It’s been pretty simple — the two have been as close as can be in the Visual caption. Carolina Crown has held slim leads in Music, and Bluecoats have dominated General Effect. Most recently, Saturday in Akron, Bluecoats’ 0.9-point lead in General Effect and its 0.2-point lead in Visual more than made up for a deficit in Music.

Intriguingly, the same trend was generally true early on last season between the two perennial top-five finishers.


Blue Devils B strikes back to start 2018

Every year since 2013, Blue Devils B and Vanguard Cadets have traded Open Class titles. During that span, the even-numbered years have belonged to the Concord corps, with those in between going the way of SCVC.

After taking a silver medal in 2017, Blue Devils B has proven early on that its fully intent on keeping that trend alive in 2018. BDB has won all three of its head-to-head meetings with Vanguard Cadets, by an average lead of just under 2.5 points.

However, anything can happen over the course of the season, as Vanguard Cadets proved last year in overcoming an early three-point deficit to win the Open Class title.


Colts creeping up on an upset

At Saturday’s event in Whitewater, Wisconsin — both corps’ first event of the 2018 season — Colts and Madison Scouts found themselves surprisingly close to one another on the leaderboard.

The Scouts, fresh off of a return to the Top 12 in 2017, held just a 0.25-point lead over the Dubuque, Iowa corps. Colts earned a key win over Madison in Visual, while finishing just a tenth of a point back in General Effect.

The closest Colts came to eclipsing Madison Scouts last season was 2.325 points in August. Saturday’s airtight spread was the closest between the two since 2009, which was the last time Colts earned a head-to-head win over the Scouts.

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