Since 2009, only three drum and bugle corps have earned the Open Class World Championship trophy: Blue Devils B, Vanguard Cadets and Oregon Crusaders.
In 2013, Oregon Crusaders joined Drum Corps International's World Class. And just months ago, Blue Devils B and Vanguard Cadets decided they would no longer complete a full tour of the country, removing DCI Open Class World Championships from their schedule.
In addition, the historical Ames Field will be left for the brand new Indiana Wesleyan University's Wildcat Stadium in Marion, Indiana.
All of these changes combined has left the Open Class drum corps scene in a whirlwind of potential and unanswered questions.
One question in particular: who will rise to the challenge?
In a joint announcement, Blue Devils and Santa Clara Vanguard announced that their cadet corps, Blue Devils B and Vanguard Cadets, will be sticking to a California-only summer tour in 2019.
The two corps traded Open Class Championships back and forth since 2009, with Oregon Crusaders fitting a winning run in there in 2012.
Each corps cited their objectives as the reason why shortening the tour was the right move for the organizations overall:
"The objectives of the Blue Devils B Corps are to provide a positive member experience, quality student education, a healthy and safe environment and strong community involvement. In order to achieve these objectives we have decided to travel and compete only in California for the 2019 season."
BD and SCVC will be leaving some pretty large shoes to fill at the top of Open Class, but many groups seem ready to rise to the challenge.
Vacuum Of Opportunity
Gold Drum & Bugle Corps, a consistent competitor in DCI's Open Class has competed in World Championships since 2012. 2018 marked the group's best placement yet, jumping four spots, from seventh to third, in a year's time.
Gold was a sixth-eighth place finisher in Open Class before, but in 2018 they brought a new fire to the field. Using a completely original music score, the group soared to new heights wearing their new look with a huge corps on the field.
Legends Drum & Bugle Corps is another group on the verge of even more greatness—in fact, they've achieved quite a bit of recognition and acclaim as one of the most popular drum corps, period.
Since 2015, Legends have been on a path towards the top of Open Class with two bronze medals and last year's fourth-place finish right behind Gold.
They are just one more contender that will be looking intently at the top spots in 2019 at Indiana Wesleyan University.
Regardless, Open Class drum corps is about growth—plain and simple—and the opportunity for growth that's been left in the wake of Vanguard Cadets and BDB is pretty massive.