The 2016 Big O WFTDA Review, Part 1

The 2016 Big O WFTDA Review, Part 1 Photo credit: Regularman Photography. facebook.com/Regularman-Photography

EUGENE, OR – The Big O was the first time many WFTDA teams hit the track in sanctioned play this season, and gave us an idea of what the top level teams will look like in 2016. Many leagues saw skaters moving and transferring since the 2015 WFTDA tournaments, so the Big O was a chance for teams to work with their updated rosters and try new strategies. For a detailed overview of how the teams are looking this season, check out our Part 1 and Part 2 previews of the WFTDA teams who attended the Big O.

Victoria won all four of their games, including a tough game against reigning WFTDA Champs, Rose City, and Arch Rival had a clean sweep of their three games as well. Sacred City was the third team to go undefeated at the Big O, playing only two games, but taking on teams who have been a bit of a wild card in the rankings this year.

On the flip side, both Denver and Rocky Mountain lost all three of their bouts in Eugene, and are two teams that look much different this season than last. Auld Reekie flew in from the UK, and although they lost all four of their games, these will help them get a truer rank this season, possibly bumping them into tournament eligibility – a place they ended up just outside of in 2015.

For a quick overview of how the teams performed at the Big O, check out the chart below showing each team’s ranking from both WFTDA and Flat Track Stats before and after the tournament, as well as how many wins and losses they accrued that weekend. Remember that WFTDA’s rankings are published after the month concludes and includes information from a 12-month period, while FTS’s rankings use a team’s entire history, moving teams up and down after comparing the outcome of the game to their algorithm’s prediction. FTS also updates shortly after each game, so sometimes presents a more accurate idea of where a team is currently ranked. (Turn phone to landscape view to see clearly on mobile format.)

March WFTDA Rank Pre-tourney FTS Rank Team Win/Loss April WFTDA Rank Current FTS Rank
March WFTDA Rank Pre-tourney FTS Rank Team Win/Loss April WFTDA Rank Current FTS Rank
#2 #2 Victoria 4-0 #2 #1
#4 #3 Rose 2-1 #3 #3
#5 #9 Texas 2-2 #7 #6
#7 #5 Angel City 2-1 #5 #4
#8 #10 Denver 0-3 #8 #10
#9 #6 Bay Area 1-2 #10 #11
#10 #11 Arch Rival 3-0 #9 #9
#12 #8 Minnesota 1-2 #11 #8
#13 #13 Rat City 1-2 #13 #12
#16 #21 Rocky Mtn. 0-3 #22 #39
#26 #20 Terminal 1-3 #23 #20
#29 #28 Helsinki 3-1 #26 #21
#35 #31 Sacred City 2-0 #31 #30
#37 #37 Santa Cruz 3-1 #33 #26
#38 #47 Emerald City 1-2 #43 #77
#48 #81 Auld Reekie 0-4 #47 #63
#62 #27 Windy City 2-1 #41 #38

The story of the weekend for many teams was fine-tuning. Whether it was working with a new roster, or trying out different strategies and lineups, it was the first chance to do so for 10 of the 17 WFTDA teams. Some were able to adapt and making changes mid-game to overcome deficits, like Victoria did against Angel City (ACDG led 39-5 ten minutes in), or Rose City in their game against Minnesota (MNRG was ahead 29-24 twelve minutes in). Rose City and Victoria, both with fairly consistent rosters from last year, did have to adjust at the Big O since their top jammers were out on injury, a big factor in their game against each other.

Other factors that played roles for many teams as the weekend progressed were high penalty counts, possibly due to some acclimation to the sport court, and there were at least two expulsions taking skaters out of games early on. The referees removed Kayla Gaska from Rat City’s game against Texas due to an intentional low block, eliminating one from their jammer rotation about a 15 minutes into the game (at about the 19:25 mark). In Angel City’s game against Texas, Kwyet Wryot only played one jam before being expelled for an egregious low block (at about the 2:03:38 mark).

The ESPN3 broadcast game between the Victorian Roller Derby League and Rose City was weighed down with penalties and with plenty of game left, Rose City’s Scald Eagle and VRDL’s Giles both fouled out, shortening their jammer rotations even more. However, it was still one of the most exciting games of the weekend, and was a milestone for VRDL: beating the former WFTDA Champs, starting the year undefeated, and giving them the #1 spot in the FTS rankings. This makes them already a dominate force in the WFTDA top 10, and we have yet to see what they can do with Christy Demons in the jammer mix.

The Aussies also had a close 16-point game against Texas, as both utilized a strong triangle defense while the 4th blocker focused on offense or keeping the pack. It did appear that VRDL tried some of the buddy blocking we saw from Rose City last year at Champs; 2 blockers focused on offense and 2 focused on defense from the jam start, possibly a strategy that Serelson brought with her from the Wheels of Justice. Victoria won all four of their games with a strict three-jammer rotation of Giles, Mary Fagdalene, and Ivy K’nivy which was led by Giles at 316 points, an average of 79 points per game.

Victoria vs Rose City. Photo credit: Danny Ngan Photography.

Victoria vs Rose City. Photo credit: Danny Ngan Photography.

The Rose City Rollers brought the Hydra home last year and despite not having an undefeated weekend at the Big O, their loss to Victoria could just end up starting their 2016 playoff season with even more motivation to return home with the WFTDA trophy again this fall. Their first game of the weekend was against Minnesota, who got a head start in the score, but Licker *N* Split nearly doubled their score, erasing the deficit and starting the momentum that took them to a 250-127 win.

The weekend also gave track time for newer jammers Frisky Biscuits and Luna, showing the depth of their rotation, even without Loren Mutch. Frisky Biscuits showed her abilities in their game against Victoria by scoring 35 points and achieving the highest differential at 24 points and picking up the highest lead jammer percentage at 57.1. Even though Scald Eagle fouled out of that game, she did show off some of the fancy footwork in real time that we have seen her teach in the past. Despite losing Serelson to VRDL, blockers such as Brawn Swanson and recent Philly transfer Tarantula have helped fill in the gaps. The weekend bumped the Wheels of Justice up to #3 in the WFTDA rankings, below #1 Gotham and #2 Victoria.

The Texas Rollergirls ended the Big O with a split 2-2 record, but showed off their stalwart defense and efforts to add in more offense mid-jam. After their 165-122 win against Rat City, they kept a very close game to Victoria by managing to earn twice as many lead jammer calls in the second half, and losing by only 16 points. Even though they tallied a higher penalty count than their opponents in all their games, including their wins, blockers such as Smarty Pants and Stone Her proved the strength of their defense, even in diminished packs.

Leading the pack in scoring this season, Nicki Ticki Timebomb scored 147 points across all 4 games, followed by Bloody Mary with 106. Nicki formerly jammed for the Texas Firing Squad, and earned Tournament MVP at the Full Metal Bracket B-Team Tournament last year. With a variety of skaters who can jam, they used different jammers in different games with Freight Train, Peacewar, Hauss the Boss, and Olivia Shootin’ John taking the jam line as well. With the April rankings release, Texas fell two spots to #7, but this excludes their 149-84 win against Bay Area that happened on May 1.

Angel City vs Texas. Photo credit: Danny Ngan Photography.

Angel City vs Texas. Photo credit: Danny Ngan Photography.

The Angel City Derby Girls moved up two spots in the WFTDA April rankings to #5, and their two wins at the Big O show why. A killer combination of offense led by Victoria transfer Tui Lyon, and defense dominated by Laci Knight and Hunnie Brasco helped them earn a 73.3% lead jammer percentage against Denver. They also held the newer, yet experienced Mile High Club jammers to just 81 points while ACDG scored 138 points in the second half alone, winning by 133 points. Texas had proved a fierce competitor against VRDL on Friday, but when Angel City took on the Texecutioners in the Saturday evening ESPN3 game, ACDG again dominated lead jammer status with quick recycling and reforming, braced defense.

Against Victoria, ACDG almost kept lead jammer status at even count with the Australians, but overall penalties by the Hollywood Scarlets helped VRDL have higher scoring jams. Satan’s Little Helper led scoring in all four games, totaling in 176 points in three games. Micki Krimmel, Ghetto Fabu-Lez, and Darby Dagger filled out their jammer rotation, but it was missing a pregnant Chica Go Lightning who watched from the sidelines.

Between seasons, it seemed that everyone was joining the Mile High Club, including most of Rocky Mountain’s jammer lineup, but Denver Roller Derby has also lost a few skaters and their Coach from the club since Championships. Denver mainly utilized Wilhelm, Gypin (aka Phantom Menace), and Klein (aka Sharon Tacos) for scoring, but eight different people took the star throughout their three games. Susy Pow came over from Rocky Mountain, and though she previously played mostly as a jammer, she joined defensive dynamos Akers and S.H. Long.

Against Angel City, Denver kept up for about the first 10 minutes, but scoring slowed way down for them after this point, as they only scored 13 points over 27 jams. They scored more against Rose City however, with Gypin topping Denver scorers at 61 points. Their third loss wasa tight battle against Bay Area where penalties took over the game, and Denver took 17 jammer penalties while BAD had 13. The game saw the score tie twice and with under five minutes left, Denver was down by 39 points. A valiant effort brought it much closer by the game’s end, but they lost to Bay Area 186-174.

Bay Area vs Denver. Photo credit: Regularman Photography.

Bay Area vs Denver. Photo credit: Regularman Photography.

Bay Area Derby‘s roster may have experienced a bit of turnover yet again, but a lot of the skaters have just moved up within the league. Skrappie topped scoring for BAD last year during tournaments and resumed that position again this year. Frightmare went from fourth jammer in line last season, to nearly matching Skrappie in points at the Big O, and did especially well against Victoria picking up two of the only three lead jammer calls Bay earned. Filling out the rest of their rotation was Eva Menace and Pressure Cooker.

Their game against VRDL resulted in a 289-point loss compared to Division 1 playoffs seven months ago where Bay Area only lost by 44 points that time. At the Big O the did pick up one win, a close one against Denver which tipped the BAD/Mile High Club rivalry into a 7-6 record in Bay Area’s favor. They seem more open to star passes this year, which resulted in points multiple times, and their jammer run back game was highly effective. On Sunday they took on Texas and even though they lost, they kept it within 65 points, although struggled against the more dynamic Texas defense. In the April rankings, they dropped one spot to #10.

Arch Rival Roller Derby dominated the track last year with 15 wins and three losses, two of which were to the same opponent, and then they qualified for their first ever WFTDA Championships invite. With the conclusion of April, they now sit at #9 in WFTDA and have a great start to another season with three wins at the Big O. Their first was a against lower ranked Terminal City by 182 points, with scoring led by Swanson with 94 points. Their rotation retained Bricktator and Harmony Killerbruise from last season, but with losing Brickyard and Mighty Mighty Boston, they added Cupquake to their jamming lineup. Their second win was against Rat City by 68 points, a team ranked just three spots lower than them at the time.

Their blocking contingent lost a few skaters as well, but veteran Shimmy Hoffa helped lead their defense, mostly made up of flatter walls by K. Woodward and Cloak N’ Drag-her, with bracing as needed. Smarty McFly returned from Chicago this season to help fill out the pack. This defense was especially important in their win against Minnesota where they kept MNRG from adding much needed points in the final minutes and securing the last lead jammer status and three-point win in their final game of the weekend. Even before they took the win over MNRG, they moved up one spot in the April rankings to #9.

The great wall of St. Paul. Photo credit: Danny Ngan Photography.

The great wall of St. Paul. Photo credit: Danny Ngan Photography.

The Minnesota Rollergirls took on opponents ranked #4, #10 , and #26 (as of the March rankings), starting with #4 Rose City. MNRG started out with a small lead against the 2015 WFTDA Champs in the first 10 minutes, but then penalties took over and with under five minutes left in the half, Rose buried them with a 97-4 point run. Despite the chaotic first half, Minnesota’s Diamond Rough, Yekaterina Lapitsky, and Crust Almighty helped build strong, rotating triangles that kept scoring much closer in the second half.

Minnesota’s one victory came against Terminal City where one of their newest jammers Brickyard, a transfer from Arch Rival, used her quick feet to put up a lot of points. Gaining this experienced jammer helps fill out their rotation with Jacked Pipes that previously had blockers Shiver Me Kimbers and Second Hand Smoke donning the star for many jams last season. They still put in their time at the Big O, along with Yekaterina Lapitsky, but used the tournament to try out Fargo Moorhead transfer Sarin Dipity as well. Their third game was against midwest foe Arch Rival, and with what seemed like deja vu from BrewHaHa last year, Arch took the win but this time Minnesota nearly stole it from them in the final few minutes. With their one win and one loss played in April, along with their 292-point win against Rocky Mountain earlier in the month, they moved up one spot to #11.

The Rat City Rollergirls’ two losses showed very different stats: they had five jammer penalties and 23 total penalties against Texas while in their bout with Arch Rival, RCRG had 14 jammer penalties and 40 total. At the tournament, only 12 skaters saw track time, two of which only skated a few jams. Against Texas, Kayla Gaska was expelled early on shortening their jammer rotation and roster. Luna Negra, Genevieve Moore, and Xena filled out their jammer lineup. In their Texas game, they actually earned a higher lead jammer percentage, but with a tiring jammer rotation they had a hard time with the tight Texecutioner defense.

Rat City vs Arch Rival. Photo credit: Regularman Photography.

Rat City vs Arch Rival. Photo credit: Regularman Photography.

That left a tight rotation for Rat City’s blockers who used the ever popular triangle defense with a floating blocker for offense and support. Lacey Ramon and CeCe, a Dockyard Dame transfer, often headed up the triangle as pivot and was able to take star passes as needed. Their win came against Helsinki, and even though it was a spread of 135 points, Helsinki proved their tough defense in the first jam as it took Luna Negra one minute and 43 seconds to get out on her initial pass. RCRG’s defense was better though, keeping Helsinki scoreless for seven minutes and then only giving up minimal points after that leading to Rat City’s 246-111 victory.

The rest of the teams are continued in part 2 of the Big O WFTDA review.

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