INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A Vanguard victory, a Spartans surprise and several intriguing competitive races highlighted Thursday’s 40-corps, 14-hour DCI World Championship Prelims presented by Gary P. Gilroy Productions.

 1. Santa Clara Vanguard » 96.800
 2. Blue Devils » 95.963
 3. Bluecoats » 95.213

With wins in general effect, total music, percussion and brass, as well as a tied victory in total visual with the Blue Devils, Vanguard kicked off the DCI World Championships with a resounding victory.

Read more about Santa Clara Vanguard’s chase for a championship

“That run was amazing,” Vanguard drum major Carl Huang said. “Everything that we’ve been working for this past week showed up tonight. It’s beyond anything that was expected, it’s so cool.”

Blue Devils, which kept a solid lead over the Bluecoats, took top marks in color guard.

“It was confounding, it was electric,” Blue Devils drum major C.C. Waggoner said. “The energy that is synthesized by that amount of people, all going for the same thing, it’s incredible.”

Carolina CrownCarolina Crown
 4. Carolina Crown » 94.263
 5. Boston Crusaders » 92.862
 6. The Cavaliers » 92.688

While Carolina Crown remained about a point outside the top three, the race for fifth remained airtight between Boston Crusaders and The Cavaliers.

Boston, which held a lead of 0.95 Monday in Massilon, Ohio, saw its advantage fall to less than two tenths, but held serve in the top five due to its visual scores.

View all scores from the DCI World Championship Prelims

“It’s pure fire, it’s pure energy,” Boston Crusaders drum major Kaitlin Oresky said. “We’re not thinking about the end quite yet, we’re knocking it out day by day. The morale is amazing, everyone’s so excited, we’re ready to get up tomorrow and do it again.”

The Cavaliers used strong results in general effect to erase the majority of their Massillon deficit. The Rosemont corps also defeated Boston Crusaders by a hair-thin margin in total music.

“We really celebrate just being at the end of the season and celebrating all of the hard work that we put into the season,” Cavaliers drum major Jacob Armstrong said. “Really, at this point, it’s just about enjoying the time with each other and enjoying being great.”

The CadetsThe Cadets
 7. The Cadets » 91.150
 8. Blue Stars » 89.025
 9. Blue Knights » 87.713

The Cadets remained comfortably in seventh place, and finished just two tenths of a point behind The Cavaliers in total visual.

After falling to the Blue Knights by half a point Sunday in Buffalo, Blue Stars jumped back ahead of the Denver corps by more than 1.5 points. If it were to hold, Blue Stars’ eighth-place ranking would be its best finish since 2010.

“I’m feeling amazing,” Blue Stars drum major Taylor Smith said. “Being at Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time this season, playing the best version of our show, knowing that I can already tell that everyone gave their all.”

 10. Phantom Regiment » 87.150
 11. Mandarins » 86.775
 12. Crossmen » 86.425

Despite losing the general effect caption to the Mandarins, Phantom Regiment kept its 10th-place position thanks to a strong lead in total music.

The Lucas Oil Stadium audience provided a particularly energized reaction to Regiment’s performance, which supplied tangible energy for the Rockford corps.

“That is everything to us,” Phantom Regiment drum major Claire Wilcox said. “To get back what we’re putting into it is why we do this. To see the joy that we can cause the audience is just such a special thing, especially with a show that we’ve put so much work into.”

Led by their general effect scores, the Mandarins kept close behind Phantom Regiment with a potential first-ever Top 12 finish closing in. The Crossmen weren’t far behind in 12th, pulling closer to the Sacramento corps than they have at any point this season.  

Read more about Mandarins’ breakout season

“We’re just pushing,” Mandarins drum major Kiri Guldner said. “This is all passion from here on out. The gloves are off, just give it all, give it every rep, every performance. We’re at the point where it’s anybody’s game.”

Spirit of AtlantaSpirit of Atlanta
 13. Spirit of Atlanta » 85.175
 14. The Academy » 84.412
 15. Colts » 84.125

Despite seeing its distance from the Top 12 grow slightly, Spirit of Atlanta kept a solid lead over The Academy thanks to standout results in the music captions.

Read more about Spirit of Atlanta’s recent success

“Tonight was something special,” Academy drum major Sierra Rogers said. “We’ve been working really hard on bringing energy to the performance every time, and tonight it felt like it came alive.”

The Colts, however, made a significant jump with their Thursday night performance, riding a slim lead in total visual to pull within three tenths of the Arizona corps. That gap is the closest the two have been this season.

Madison ScoutsMadison Scouts
 16. Madison Scouts » 82.700
 17. Vanguard Cadets » 81.500
 18. Troopers » 81.300
 19. Blue Devils B » 80.100

The Madison Scouts held their ground over Vanguard Cadets, which once again placed themselves firmly among the Top 20. The 2018 Open Class World Champions edged out Troopers by two tenths of a point thanks to a 0.5-point lead in total visual.

Read more about Vanguard Cadets’ second-straight Open Class title

“We’ve been pretty excited for this run ever since we finished up Open Class Finals,” Vanguard Cadets drum major Jessica Jackman said. “It’s great to be in here. It sounded great and felt great.”

Blue Devils B set itself up for a sixth-straight Top 20 finish with its Thursday result, holding a one-point lead over Pacific Crest.

Read more about Open Class corps’ success in Indianapolis

“The listening situation in Lucas Oil Stadium is super different than what we experience all season,” Blue Devils B drum major Oliver Bishop said. “It’s awesome to see that they just handled it well and threw down something even better than they threw down in Open Class Finals.”

Music CityMusic City
 20. Pacific Crest » 79.100
 21. Music City » 77.862
 22. Oregon Crusaders » 77.450

With standout scores in general effect, Pacific Crest pushed back into the Top 20 after having finished in 21st place in 2017.

Despite falling out of the Top 20 for what would be the first time since 2011, the Oregon Crusaders clinched their eighth-straight trip to the Semifinals while keeping within close distance of Music City.

“It was honestly an amazing run,” Oregon Crusaders drum major Samantha Ono said. “It sounded great, it felt great, and I was just super happy to be back in Indianapolis.”

 23. Gold » 75.775
 24. Genesis » 75.400
 25. Spartans » 74.412
 26. Legends » 74.400

For the very first time, Gold earned a spot in the DCI World Championship Semifinals, with more than a point separating itself from the cut-off line. Gold used impressive general effect scores to sneak ahead of Genesis.

“Every single goal that we set for ourselves, we’ve been hitting them, back to back,” Gold drum major Tyler Pham said. “With that success, it begets more and more success, it’s all snowballing. As these people see that they can do this and they’re realizing their true potential, the more that they’re willing to jump into it with a positive attitude.”

With a point’s worth of room between itself and the outside of the Top 25, Genesis clinched its sixth-consecutive trip to the Semifinals.

“There’s always that little bit of, you know, ‘Oh man, what’s Lucas Oil Stadium feel like?,’” Genesis drum major Cameron Wilson said. “But we got out there, we kicked some butt. It feels great coming off the field. We’re ready to perform another one tomorrow.”

Similarly to 2017, Spartans slipped into 25th place by a hair-thin margin for the corps’ seventh consecutive trip to the Semifinals. While, last year, the New Hampshire corps edged Seattle Cascades by .225, this year, just .012 made the difference for the last spot in the Top 25.

Spartans, which saw a significant deficit behind the Kalamazoo, Michigan corps at the Open Class World Championships, made the jump into Friday’s event thanks to standout visual scores and an 18th-place color guard.  

Seattle CascadesSeattle Cascades
 27. Seattle Cascades » 71.963
 28. 7th Regiment » 71.875

Seattle Cascades edged 7th Regiment by just .088, with its music captions leading the way. According to Cascades drum major Nick Novy, Thursday’s performance was the perfect end to the corps’ 2018 season.

“I’m so overwhelmed with emotions,” Novy said. “That was by far our best run yet. And just to be around my favorite people in the world and with my family and be able to have this experience with them is just indescribable.”

Jersey SurfJersey Surf
 29. Guardians » 71.200
 30. Jersey Surf » 69.925
 31. Louisiana Stars » 68.438
 32. River City Rhythm » 68.425

The Guardians capped off a breakout season with their first overall top 30 finish, after having made a late push into seventh place among Open Class corps Tuesday in Michigan City.

Read more about Guardians’ unique identity

The Houston corps’ significant lead over Jersey Surf — its first-ever defeat of the New Jersey corps — was largely built by strong outputs in the music captions.

“I’m so excited to be in the dome again,” Guardians drum major Brian Lyke said. “Everyone knows it’s a big dome so everyone’s super excited to be there, but you can just look on their faces when they come out and you see the energy, you see the focus.”

Golden EMpireGolden Empire
 33. Southwind » 66.438
 34. Jubal » 66.175
 35. Golden Empire » 65.100
 36. Pioneer » 64.300

Golden Empire wrapped up its fifth season on a high note with its first ever performance at Lucas Oil Stadium.

This season, the Bakersfield corps earned an Open Class finalist position in its first trip to Michigan City, and, according to drum major Aaron Aragon, set itself up for success in the years to come.

Learn more about Golden Empire’s journey to the DCI World Championships

“It was very emotional,” Golden Empire drum major Aaron Aragon said. “It was so great seeing this corps here, I have no words, it’s just phenomenal.”

 37. Shadow » 62.600
 38. Colt Cadets » 61.800
 39. Raiders » 60.025
 40. Heat Wave » 58.700

Shadow, which also made its first appearance in the Open Class World Championship Finals this week, topped its final score from a year ago and held off Colt Cadets thanks to a big advantage in the music captions.

The Iowa corps, however, posted impressive numbers in the visual captions, and increased its World Championship Prelims score by just under a point from 2017.

“It was a really, really good show, and I’m so proud of how far we’ve come and how far I’ve come personally,” Colt Cadets color guard co-captain Mackenzie Bodell said. “I’m so proud of everyone and so proud of how it went.”

In their 2018 season finale, the Raiders scored as high as 37th in color guard. According to drum major Katherine Beasley, Thursday’s performance was a worthwhile way to cap off this summer’s campaign.

“It was absolutely amazing walking into that stadium,” Raiders drum major Katherine Beasley said. “The uniforms looked amazing on the field, everything was shiny, everyone sounded wonderful, it was just like a dream.”

Making its debut trip to Indianapolis in year three as an active corps, members of Heat Wave experienced the bright lights of Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time, kicking off the DCI World Championships with a memorable performance.

Read more about Heat Wave’s inaugural trip to the DCI World Championships

“For this organization to come so far in so short of an amount of time and perform on this stage, that was fantastic,” Heat Wave horn sergeant Anthony Montalto said. “I’m still in shock.”

The top 25 corps from Thursday’s event will compete in Friday’s DCI World Championship Semifinals presented by Earasers & InEarz Audio, starting at 2 p.m. EDT, with coveted spots in the Top 12 on the line.

View the full lineup for the DCI World Championship Semifinals