Sawdust - As you accurately mentioned me and my brother in law are about where your team was about a yr ago, so I'm no expert.
Today, We discussed and tested BBQ sauces extensively. We used one homemade sauce , one gourmet sauce and five commercial sauces on a bunch of our chicken pcs. (The commerical sauces were KC Masterpiece, Sweet Baby Rays, Stubb's, Bullseye, Corky's (ordered online from the famous Memphis chain).
We decided for our first year of competiton to not use our own sauce as it was one extra step of preparation that may slow us down. We kept coming back to the point that while we can come up with a sauce we like on a personal level, our homemade sauce may not be what a lot of other people like. We chose to test some of the most famous commercial sauces figuring those are what most people know and like and that these companies in some cases may have done a lot of taste testing before going to market.
The commerical sauces ended up being to "commercial". Except for the Corky's product which was real nice, we were able to easily identify each sauce on the final product as the color and taste were very noticeable and seemed to overpower the chicken even with light glazing.
We agreed that our best bet for now was to go with a somewhat local gourmet BBQ sauce that met all the criteria we wanted. It's very smooth tasting and sweet, not too thick or thin, not too vinegary or spicy but seemed to be mild enough to not overpower the rub. It was the only one that we did not think about the sauce as we enjoyed the chicken. It complemented it the way we wanted.
As we progress, I'm sure we'll change things up, but I'm just glad we were able to reach an agreement on something that could be very sensitive between teammates just getting started on agreeing on things.
22" WSM & Kettle
Former owner: Jambo, Klose BYC, Med. Spicewine, Pitts & Spitts, XL & (2) Med. BGE's, (2) 18" WSM's