Yes, I raced in the invitational last year and it was very poorly attended. They had 800+ slots open and of those I believe less than 200 raced last year. I believe last year was the second year that Setup had provided and invitational. Two years ago it was only NCTS and last year it was open to all 4 series, but obviously the bulk of participants were from ETS and NCTS.
It's a good concept, and personally it gave me a goal to strive for to be near the top of my age group so that I could get invited, but in the end I think Setup wanted to concentrate on the Beach2Battleship HIM/IM as their marqee event this year.
I participated the first time in 07 in this race and loved the course. There were 37 athletes who qualified in my division but only 6 showed up. I had this as one of my goals for this year. I liked the idea of having to qualify for a race and then going up against the best from all 4 series. It seems like we don't have anyone to blame but ourselves, and the other invited athletes who chose not to attend.
I also think the championship went away because of the time conflicts. The end of the season was already packed with Wilmington and Pinehurst and now the addition of B2B.