WFTDA D1 Preview: Omaha

WFTDA D1 Preview: Omaha Photo by Danforth Johnson. facebook.com/danforth.johnson

This weekend will be the final round of WFTDA Playoffs to determine which final 3 teams will be heading to St. Paul for Championships in November. Kansas City (#45), Demolition City (#50), Nashville (#43), and Sacred City (#44) are all headed to Champs from Division 2 to battle it out for the top D2 placements. For D1 the top 3 from Omaha will join Victoria (#3), Bay Area (#6), Arch Rival (#11), Rose City (#2), Texas (#7), Rat City (#15), London (#4), Jacksonville (#9), and Denver (#5).

This last bracket sees a first time playoff trip for Helsinki, as well as 5-time WFTDA Champions Gotham coming in at the top, and Queen City hits D1 near the bottom after spending 2 years in Division 2. In the middle is a very different looking Windy City Rollers who despite some returning and emerging talent, run the risk of placing the lowest they ever have at playoffs in their derby career.

Game 1: #7 Helsinki Roller Derby vs. #10 No Coast Derby Girls

Helsinki rose 18 spots in May to reach #35 in WFTDA, and then rose 10 more spots in time for playoffs, making them the #7 seed in a D1 tournament for their Playoff debut. After their one sanctioned win at the WFTDA European Tournament last November, they went 3-6 in sanctioned play this year. Their “WTF 2015″ tour began in Vancouver with a 30-point loss against Terminal City (who placed 5th in Tucson.) Then they traveled South and played Rat City twice (indicating a Strength Factor Challenge game), and lost to them by a little over 100 points both times.

Helsinki vs. London. Photo by Marko Niemelä Photography.

Helsinki vs. London. Photo by Marko Niemelä Photography.

“After some successful times along the year we had to re-evaluate what’s happening. It felt unreal, but the bar had to be raised.” – Jori Hämäläinen (HRD All-Stars head coach)

This all preceded their participation in the Big O, where they won 2 games and lost 2 games. Their two losses were against their fellow bracket-mates Boston and Montréal, but by 12 and 83 points respectively, while their wins were against Nashville (by just 7 points) and NW Arkansas. The last two games they played were back in Europe, a 239-118 win over Bear City, and the first WFTDA sanctioned D1 game in Europe, which was a 364-point loss to London. They were hoping to make D2 this year, but on their active blog, Helsinki indicated their surprise in getting this far up the rankings in time for playoffs. (Check out more about Helsinki with our pre-preview.)

The #10 seed No Coast Derby Girls have been a long time playoff qualifier, but come in at their lowest tournament entrance ranked #39. After an unsanctioned 11-point loss to Demolition City, the No Coast Mad Maxines hosted and lost to new kid on the block, Team United, by 9 points. In April they took a trip to Missouri where they won 2 games and lost 1 by 269-points to a successful Arch Rival at Skate to Thrill. One of their wins was against Demolition City by 45 points, which was a sanctioned matchup this time. They took on Team United again in July, losing to them once more by 49 points.

No Coast at Skate to Thrill. Photos by Jeff Higgins, iaremoron.com - - - - - Print and Press Inquiries, Please Email JEFFH@IAREMORON.COM

No Coast at Skate to Thrill. Photo by Jeff Higgins.

With a 4-3 split sanctioned record, No Coast’s season shows they’re going to have to work hard to keep up in this bracket. They do have more firepower in their jammer arsenal however, as Megan Harrington (aka Flash Gloria) returned to them from the Omaha Rollergirls. Helsinki’s season reveals they can keep up with a team that placed 5th this year, which will likely make this Friday morning game exciting. The winner will get a second game at 4pm CDT against #2 seed Angel City.

Game 2: #8 Toronto Roller Derby vs. #9 Queen City Roller Girls

Toronto entered Evansville as the 6th seed last year while finishing 7th, and now come in at 8th in Omaha. Last playoff season, one of their losses was against Windy City by 247 points, and if they meet up in this bracket it will probably look a lot different. Ranked #32 as of June, the CN Power sit at a split 6-6 record in 2015 which started with 3 wins at their own event, Quad City Chaos. One of those wins was against Boston, who is the 6th seed in this tournament. The next month in April they took on Montréal, the #4 seed this weekend, and lost by only 9 points. They hit up 2 more big events this season, going 1-2 at Spring Roll and the same at a Derby Night in Canada.

Toronto vs. Kansas City at Spring Roll. Photo by Derby With Recess.

Toronto vs. Kansas City at Spring Roll. Photo by Derby With Recess.

At Spring Roll they took a slim 3-point victory against Kansas City, who placed 1st in D2 Cleveland. There they also took losses against rising Arch Rival and Dallas. Their last invitational took place in August, and against Champs qualifying Rat City, they lost 273-61. Against Terminal City (who placed 5th in Tucson) they lost by 113 points.

Queen City’s 5-3 record in 2015 was successful enough to not only push them into Division 1, but as the 9th seed, ranked #33. Last year however, they entered D2 Kitchener-Waterloo with the #2 seed but finished a few spots lower in 5th place. This season They took a 246-102 win against DC, which was 62 more points than how they beat them at playoffs last season. Their close losses to Steel City and Ohio is what supplemented their wins and helped boost them above the 40 mark.

At Beaver Fever the Queen City Lake Effect Furies went 2-1, losing to Tri-City (who placed 10th in Tucson) by just 12 points.  Interestingly, they took on Roc City in a sanctioned game in March, winning by 108 points, but in an unsanctioned match up in June, they lost to them by 9 points. Which either attests to Roc City’s improvement, or Queen City wavering mid-season. To round out their record however, they beat New Hampshire, who has fallen 100 spots since playoffs last year, and beat them by 489 points.

Queen City vs. Green Mt. at Beaver Fever. Photo by Joe Mac.

Queen City vs. Green Mt. at Beaver Fever. Photo by Joe Mac.

Despite their seeding and WFTDA ranking, Flat Track Stats puts Queen City 12 spots above Toronto, and predicts a Queen City victory. They do share a similar competitor in Steel City, who Queen City lost to by 10 points in April and Toronto beat by 44 points in March. Either way, the Furies will have to prove their worth in this upper division, while CN Power will have to hang on in the lower echelon of this bracket. The winner will get the honor of playing #1 Gotham later at 6pm CDT.

Game 3: #3 Minnesota RollerGirls vs. #6 Boston Derby Dames

Entering the upper-level of the bracket, the #3 Minnesota RollerGirls have had a few skaters leave since last tournament season, putting them at a 3-4 record in sanctioned play. One of their wins however, was a 205-point first time victory (after 9 losses and one impossible tie) against their longtime rival, Windy City. Their other wins were aginst Charm City and Ohio, but Arch Rival was able to take them down at Midwest Brewhaha by 36 points. Arch is making their first trip to Champs after placing 3rd in Tucson, but MNRG also lost to Philly who got beat out of Champs by Rat City and placed 4th.

Minnesota took their first win out of 11 games against Windy City. Photo by Preflash Gordon.

Minnesota took their first win out of 11 games against Windy City. Photo by Preflash Gordon.

Captain Shiver Me Kimbers has taken the star this season as a powerful jammer, and rookie Jacked Pipes has emerged as their highest scorer in her first year playing Roller Derby. MNRG did gain a skater from Fargo Moorhead, and Polly Punchkin has proved to be a successful blocker. If Minnesota beats Boston, they have the potential of playing Angel City who they lost to by 86 points in July, although Minnesota was only down by 2 points at the half. If MNRG can stay consistent, they could possibly beat ACDG and play for 1st place, or be sent to the 3rd place game with a potential of playing Windy City again. Either way, they will be fighting tooth and nail to make it out of this tournament in the top 3 so they can play at Champs on their home turf.

Boston also entered playoffs in the #6 spot last season, but came up against Philly first and lost, and then took a hit in the consolation bracket when Madison took them by 1 point, resulting in a 7th place finish. The Massacre started this season in Canada at Quad City Chaos, where they lost to Toronto by 55 points and then beat Steel City and Rideau Valley. After beating Steel City by 42 points, they played them again the following month and only won by 2 points. Later in May, they traveled to the West Coast to participate in the Big O, taking just one close win against Helsinki by 12 points and then two losses.

Boston vs. Atlanta at the Big O. Photo by Danny Ngan Photography.

Boston vs. Atlanta at the Big O. Photo by Danny Ngan Photography.

Boston finished 7-4 for 2015, but some of their wins were by slim margins resulting in a #23 ranking in WFTDA. One of their wins was against Charm City in April, which they took by 14 points, while their competitor this weekend took them 285-96 in May. Flat Track Stats puts Boston lower at #39, predicting an 11:4 win for Minnesota. The winner will move on to the semi-finals where they will take on the winner of Game 4 on Saturday at 8pm CDT.

Game 4: #2 Angel City Derby Girls vs. Winner of Game 1

Angel City placed 2nd last year in Salt Lake City, and return as the #2 seed this season, ranked #8 in WFTDA. They performed well this year, with only 3 losses two of which were against Texas, and 8 wins. They took on Texas in June at Pac Destruction where they lost by 64 points, but more recently in August they shortened that difference to 46. Their other loss was by 101 points to London, who showed off their success in Jacksonville.

Angel City took a southeast trip in May, where they notched 3 of their wins including a 197-136 win over the recent silver medalist, Jacksonville. In July they hosted Minnesota, who beat them by 4 points the same time last year, but the ACDG Hollywood Scarlets took them by 86 points this time around. They are likely to meet up again in the bracket this weekend, which should be an exciting matchup. Angel City avenged last year’s playoff loss to Bay Area by beating them at the Golden Bowl. What was an 135-point loss at Playoffs, was a 12-point victory for them this time.

Angel City vs. Bay Area at Photo by Donalee Eiri - Photography by D.E.sign.

Angel City vs. Bay Area at the Golden Bowl. Photo by Donalee Eiri – Photography by D.E.sign.

ACDG has benefited from some more transfers from the LA Derby Dolls, including Hunnie Brasco, a powerful jammer and solid blocker. In 2012, Angel City finished 8th at Playoffs, but with the onset of Divisions, they started coming in at the top. In 2013 they finished 3rd, last year they finished 2nd, and this year they will have to battle the best to finish 1st. The Scarlets face the winner of Helsinki and No Coast, Friday at 4pm CDT, and if they win will play Saturday at 8pm against either Minnesota or Boston.

Game 5: #1 Gotham Girls Roller Derby vs. Winner of Game 2

In 2015 Gotham has extended their sanctioned winning streak to 62 straight games, going on 5 years undefeated, and after 4 straight Championships (5 total) they are aiming for another chance at the Hydra. With only 6 games on record this year, half of them were played at Midwest BrewHaHa and East Coast Derby Extravaganza. They kicked off the season with a 316-59 win against Rocky Mountain, the last team to take them in sanctioned play, followed by a 135-point win over the Mile High Club. They spent the first half against Rocky without any penalties across the board, but that theme has not stuck with them. While keeping their count to just 26 penalties against Minnesota at Brew, Violet Knockout fouled out.

Gotham vs. Minnesota at Midwest BrewHaHa. Photo by Danforth Johnson.

Gotham vs. Minnesota at Midwest BrewHaHa. Photo by Danforth Johnson.

Tampa managed to score 73 points on Gotham, the most against them in 2015 at that point, but allowed Gotham to score 423. Of that total, Bonnie had scored 229 points, followed by Vicious Van GoGo with 83. She appears to have become 2nd in their jammer rotation, followed by Fisher Twice, formerly of Minnesota and previously known as Slambda Phage. The 4th spot switches between last year’s rookie standout, Miss Tea Maven (who was recently one of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls) and Short Stop (formerly of Canberra).

At ECDX Gotham only played one game, and took Philly Roller Derby 316-82, their largest win against their regional rival. They also played Denver twice this year, improving from their earlier win in May to a 281-68 win in August. This weekend they will either take on WFTDA ranked #32 Toronto or #33 Queen City, and upon winning. would either take on #16 Montréal or #20 Windy City in a semi-final game on Saturday at 2pm CDT.

Game 6: #4 Montréal Roller Derby vs. #5 Windy City Rollers

Last year, Montréal entered playoffs with the #5 seed and managed to keep that placement when they finished, despite a 1-point nail biting loss to Charm City on the first day. After having some major retirements and losing Honey Badger to Tri-City, they had to rebuild a little bit this year, but managed to stay in the top 20. After beating Rideau Valley and then Toronto by 9-points in April, Terminal City became the first Canadian team to beat the Montréal New Skids on the Track at the Big O, and by just 5 points. They also traveled to the states again to play at ECDX, where they already notched a win against this weekend’s compeition, and by 206 points. When the two matched up last year in July, Windy City had won instead, 218-133. Montréal most recently lost to Philly, making their 2015 record 9-2, but only by 12 points.

Montreal played at ECDX. Photo by Joe Mac.

Montréal played at ECDX. Photo by Joe Mac.

Windy City experienced turnover since last year’s tournament season as well, but they had to nearly build a whole new WFTDA Charter. They did managed to hang on in the top half of Division 1, entering playoffs #20 overall but with their lowest tournament seed ever at #5. While finishing 2015 with a 1-7 sanctioned record, they played strategic games to ensure they didn’t drop hard in the rankings. They are also hanging onto strong wins from last season, including their playoff win over Texas, so they could be hitting the track this weekend a bit over-ranked.

Their first sanctioned game of the year was their first ever loss to their midwest rival Minnesota, and it was by 205 points. Next they took a trip south, as many other teams did this year, notching 2 more losses by Atlanta and Jacksonville. Then they took their 1 win against Madison in May by 7 points, but lost to them recently in August by 26 points. At ECDX they took 2 more losses against Charm City and Montréal, which is why FTS predicts a solid win by the New Skids for this matchup.

Windy City went 1-1 against Madison this season. Photo by Derby With Recess.

Windy City went 1-1 against Madison this season. Photo by Derby With Recess.

Montréal has never made it all the way to Champs, but could have a chance at it if they repeat their victory over Windy City. With the loss of some core members, their wins aren’t as strong as the past, but they still seemed to have rebounded well. Windy City on the other hand, is already entering this bracket with their lowest seeding to date. Though Windy City has never missed out on a Championship tournament. They have always held a very-cohesive roster in the past, and as Coach Justice Feelgood mentions in their recent video series, he’s working hard on achieving that again this season. They did lose Ms. Dr. Joseph L Simonis over the summer, but most of their charter has played on either the All-Stars or Second Wind in the past and aren’t new to this level of play.

The winner will move on to the semi-final round Saturday at 2pm CDT and will likely meet Gotham there.

Stay up to date on all the weekend’s scores, recaps, and more by following our Omaha Central.

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