2015 WFTDA Champs Preview: Division 1

2015 WFTDA Champs Preview: Division 1 Photo by Preflash Gordon. flickr.com/photos/preflashgordon/

The 2015 WFTDA Championships are happening this weekend at the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul, Minnesota. 12 Division 1 teams will enter, but only one team can take home the Hydra. The Minnesota Rollergirls are not only hosting this weekend’s event, but also playing in the first round of games in front of their home crowd and their loyal aqua fans.

The top 3 teams from each Playoff tournament were drawn and seeded into this bracket with a #2 seed facing off against a #3 seed, and the #1 seeds getting the first day off. For a look at the Division 2 games, check out our separate D2 preview. Here is a quick run through of each team and their first game.

D1G1: Angel City Derby Girls vs. Rat City Rollergirls

The first D1 game on Friday will be a West coast battle in the Midwest between WFTDA ranked #6 Angel City and #12 Rat City at 2pm CST (12pm PST). The two teams took each other on in June of last year at Pac Destruction, and ACDG won 250-79. The Hollywood Scarlets hold a 10-4 record in 2015, only losing to London, Texas (twice), and Gotham. Rat City picked up their season in late Spring by hosting Helsinki, who was on their way to the Big O, and now hold 7 wins and 5 losses heading into Champs. While Flat Track Stats predicts an almost certain win going to Angel City, Rat City proved in Dallas that they should not be underestimated.

ACDG’s jammer rotation mainly consisted of Satan’s Little Helper, Chica Go-Lightning, and Micki Krimmel who bring explosive power and fast footwork that has out maneuvered many teams’ walls throughout the regular season and into Playoffs. However, they were also penalty prone this season, and in Omaha they had 11 jammer penalties trip them up against Minnesota and 14 box trips against Gotham. This season, Laci Knight, Hunnie Brasco, and Rachel Rotten contained jammers with constant recycling while Soledad would lay them out. Despite their loss to Gotham, Angel City’s defense kept them to their second lowest scoring game of the season, and lowest differential at 122 points.

Even though they lost to Rose City by 137 points in Dallas, Rat City showed off how well their offense could work by holding the lead for a majority of the first half. Scoring was spread fairly evenly across their four jammers who all had unique styles. Luna Negra’s long legged agility got her through the smallest of cracks while Kayla Gaska used her strength and power to battle past the opposition, something that will come in handy against tough ACDG walls. Backing them up will be Beck, Lacey Ramon and Raven Seaward who’s physical gameplay in the pack will frustrate their opponents.

Each of these teams pride themselves on an intense cross-training program whose effectiveness is reflected in their blockers ability to lock down and knock out jammers. Both teams also have a Dicey sister skating for them, Astrid Suchy-Dicey for RCRG and Chica Go Lightning for ACDG, which will be an internal battle for their father, as we highlighted earlier this week. The winner will take on London on Saturday at 10am CST (8am PST). Check out more info on this matchup by us on WFTDA’s Tournament Fan Central Blog.

D1G2: Bay Area Derby Girls vs. Denver Roller Derby

Last year WFTDA #7 Denver lost to #9 Bay Area at WFTDA Champs by 39 points, but this year the Mile High Club has already beat them 168-144 at Hometown Throwdown. The BAD Girls look a bit different this year, and it took them 5 wins and 7 losses to learn a few things and get them to Champs as a #2 seed. Denver also learned some tough lessons at Playoffs by losing to Jacksonville, but scheduled a difficult season that helped them earn their spot.

Denver’s defense has longtime been a dominating force on the track which is led by Akers, who has often been on the receiving end of a star pass, and supported by Salvador, S.H. Long and Quigley. With a range of skaters they can throw on the jammer line, they had no problem filling in when Bucsek was kept off skates during Playoffs with an injury. With one of their top scorers out, Blackman and Dew helped back up Wilhelm, Dezzellem, and Sharpless in Jacksonville.

With only 12 returning charter skaters this year, multiple transfers, and a new coach, Bay Area has had to continually work all year to bring cohesion back to their team. Skrappie, one of their newer additions to the roster, topped scoring in Tucson and was followed closely by Lulu Lockjaw and Fluezy. Their blocking hasn’t missed a beat with Amanda Jamitinya, Brawllen Angel, and Demanda Riot still driving fear into jammer’s souls, but Bay Area’s packs were slow to offer offense earlier in the season.

Flat Track Stats gives the odds to Bay Area to win Friday, but Denver will have the benefit of knowing they already took BAD down once this season. Fans should expect another close, hard-fought game between these teams. The winner will take on Rose City the next day at 12pm CST (11am MST, 10am PST), who both these teams have lost to already this season. Check out more info on this matchup by us on WFTDA’s Tournament Fan Central Blog.

D1G3: Jacksonville Rollergirls vs. Arch Rival Roller Girls

Playing at 6pm CST (7pm EST), this will be the first time that either the Jacksonville Rollergirls or Arch Rival Roller Girls have ever qualified for Championships, and high scoring wins for both teams helped paved the road to their success. With New Jax City’s 11-2 record, they won by an average of 224 points, usurping Denver at playoffs in Jacksonville and losing only to London and Angel City this year. Arch Rival has two losses this season, and their 15 wins were by an average margin of 190 points. They have already lost to Jacksonville this year by 81 points in August, but at Playoffs in Tucson they only lost to Bay Area by 60 points after holding a short lead in the middle of the first half.

Photo by Donna Olmstead Photography.

Photo by Donna Olmstead Photography.

Jacksonville’s winning season came in two basic packages: a consistent 3-jammer rotation of Krispy Kreme-Her, Jamsterella, and Erin Jackson, as well as stalwart blockers in the pack. While one jammer or another may have struggled with a few penalties at times, Stephanie Gentz, Legs R Us and Atomic Mel-Down helped cancel out power jams with their braced square formation. Their blockers seem to constantly recycle and find each other on the track, with good awareness of the pack and opposing jammer. Arch Rival benefits from a deep 5-jammer rotation led by Bricktator and Brickyard. Their blockers tend to start from a flat 4-wall and turn to brace or fall into pairs as needed.

Both teams are coached by members of their brother leagues; Magic City’s Streak and Chuckie for Jacksonville and GateKeepers’ Percy Controll and The Saint for Arch Rival. This may be one of the closer first round games as Jax is currently ranked #8 in WFTDA and ARRG is #10. The winner will advance to play Gotham at 2pm CST on Saturday.
Check out more info on this matchup by us on WFTDA’s Tournament Fan Central Blog.

D1G4: Texas Rollergirls vs. Minnesota Rollergirls

At 8pm CST the tournament hosts, WFTDA #13 Minnesota Rollergirls will take on the #5 Texas Rollergirls. The two teams have met twice before, once at a WFTDA Champs in 2011 where Texas won 141-108, and in March of 2013 with another Texas win, 300-151. The Texecutioners went to quite a few events this year which resulted in their 8-5 record, losing to #1 seeds Rose, London, Victoria as well as #3 seed Denver. MNRG sit at a split 5-5 record in 2015, with 1 of their losses being to Angel City who Texas beat by 46 points.

Texas had a slow start to the season, as their first 3 losses all came at the Big O. They’ve had to keep adjusting their jammer rotation as Olivia Shootin’ John was out on injury earlier this season and now Sarah Hipel is off skates with one of her own. In Dallas, Fifi Nomenon led scoring with 261 points after 3 games, and OJ, Bloody Mary, and Hauss the Boss were utilized based on their opponent and how many penalties they were earning. Barabara Ambush, Stone Her, Trauama, and Polly Gone head up the Texas blocking force, which they often set up in a braced triangle while 1 player is there for support or offense.

Minnesota’s Diamond Rough, Polly Punchkin, Hurtrude Stein, and Second Hand Smoke (when she isn’t jamming) often make up their braced, rotating 3 or 4 wall, known as the “Great Wall of St. Paul”. They are either swarming opposing jammers with slow and steady defense, or opposing blockers for quick and decisive offense. This helped out the likes of Jacked Pipes, their talented rookie who has burst onto the scene as their top scorer this year. As mentioned, Smoke can either block or jam, and in Omaha she became especially vital during their back and forth battle with Montreal. She and Shiver Me Kimbers will likely be key double threats in their game this weekend.

Another shared opponent between MNRG and Texas was Philly, with the Texecutioners beating them 203-99 while Minnesota lost 191-106. Whoever wins this game will take on #1 seed Victoria on Saturday 4pm CST. Texas has already lost to them once this year by 70 points. Check out more info on this matchup by us on WFTDA’s Tournament Fan Central Blog.

D1G5: London Rollergirls vs. Winner of D1G1

London advanced to Champs with the #1 seed after beating Jacksonville, Atlanta, and Steel City, in the Jacksonville tournament, all by triple-digit points. They are one of 3 teams entering this weekend undefeated which includes their victory against Rose City on their own turf by 64 points. They also already beat one of their potential opponents, Angel City, 218-117 at Pac Destruction in June. As #1 seed, they don’t play until Saturday at 10am CST (4pm GMT), and will take on either WFTDA #6 ACDG or #12 Rat City. After their Playoff performance brought them to a 10-0 sanctioned record, they now sit at #3 in the world.

Lexi Lightspeed topped their point scoring with an average of 107 points per game at Playoffs, followed by Stefanie Mainey with 301 points over their 3 games. Rounding out their jammer rotation is Rogue Runner and Trisha Smackanawa, a recent impressive addition to their charter. They struggled increasingly with jammer penalties as their games got closer in score, but even their final game was won by 146 points.

This was helped by defenders Kid Block, Juke Boxx, Arocha, and tournament MVP, Die Die. They take the usual quad formation a step further by constantly moving, expanding, and reforming to catch jammers or avoid offensive blocks. They will be a tough match for either Angel City or Rat City, and if they continue their undefeated streak, they could potentially re-match Rose City in the semi-final round.

D1G6: Rose City Rollers vs. Winner of D1G2

The Rose City Wheels of Justice came within mere points of defeating Gotham last year, and are still on everyone’s radar as a potential to take it from them this time around. With their 11-1 record this year, they’ve already beaten either of their potential matchups; taking Bay Area by 177 points and Denver by 89 at Hometown Throwdown in June. Besides a momentary drop to #3 in WFTDA, they’ve maintained the #2 spot for quite some time, but now have London creeping up on them. Brawling gave WOJ their one loss in 2015, making them the only #1 seed to not come in with a undefeated record this year. They will take the track Saturday at 12pm CST (10am PST).

With Scald Eagle, Loren Mutch, and Licker*N*Split maintaining jammer position this year, it was an added benefit to have Ms. Dr. Joseph L. Simonis join the ranks of Rose City. They also had Feliz Brutality taking the star earlier this season, but seem to have lost her before Playoffs, but added Napolean Blownapart instead, who scored 81 points in their game against Crime City in Dallas. Scald Eagle was the most consistent jammer for WOJ at the tournament, totaling a whopping 417 points and earning MVP of the weekend.

Defending the track will be Serelson, Jes Rivas, Elicia Nisbet-Smith, and Sarah Gaither, and they came in especially handy in the final game in Dallas when their jammers tallied 14 penalties to Texas’ 4. They killed many power jams with their slow control and rotating traps.

The Wheels of Justice will be taking the track without their longtime and much loved coach, Rob Lobster. Robin Ludwig sadly passed away just weeks ago.

D1G7: Gotham Girls Roller Derby vs. Winner of D1G3

The stakes get higher every year for Gotham, and after Playoffs they have extended their winning streak to 65 straight sanctioned games. The Hive Mind has held every opponent below 90 points this year, despite losing a few bees to retirement last season. Bonnie Thunders has continued to be a calm and tricky jammer on the track, scoring 541 points across their three games in Omaha, and accounted for half their 590 points against Queen City.

Miss Tea Maven has continued her rise in the jammer star and continually added up large-scoring jams at Playoffs. Rounding out their rotation is Vicious Van GoGo and this year’s Australian transfer, Short Stop. Fisher Twice moved back to New York from Minnesota, but maintained a blocker position during Playoffs, knocking jammers out when they least expected it. Tournament MVP Sexy Slaydie continued to dominate in the pack with Violet Knockout, OMG WTF, and Roxy Dallas at her side.

Gotham will get to play the winner of Jacksonville and Arch Rival, two teams they have yet to play in their career. They will take the track at 2pm CST (3pm EST) on Saturday.

D1G8: Victorian Roller Derby League vs. Winner of D1G4

Victoria, the team that will be traveling the furthest this weekend, will get the most time to prepare for their game by playing at 4pm CST (9am AEDT) on Saturday against either Texas or Minnesota. Ranked #4 in WFTDA, VRDL also comes to Champs with a perfect record of 7 sanctioned wins in 2015. To get ranked for Playoffs, they attended The Big O where they already beat the Texans 165-95. They also notched wins against Bay Area twice this season, first by 27 points and then by 44 at Playoffs in Tucson.

Tournament MVP Christy Demons averaged 120 points per game at Playoffs and held an 84% lead jammer status. Giles was her #2 in jamming, scoring 193 points across their 3 games, and they were both supported by Ivy Knivey and Por Favor this season. Altogether, they averaged about 8 penalties per game which seems to be on the lower end for teams this year.

What has really been the highlight for Victoria this year, is their blocking. Their powerful packs have held jammers at a near standstill with the likes of Bicepsual and Tui Lyon bracing their soul crushing square. Chuck and recent addition Bone Shaker have also helped keep many jams long and low scoring, tiring the opposition. If they move on from this first game, they will likely come against Gotham next, who they haven’t played since 2012.

Return to Champs Central all weekend long for scores, recaps, and more!

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