Today, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association released its June rankings along with the 2016 Playoff seeding. Each year the WFTDA tournament season seems to become more and more “International” and this year Playoffs include a record high of 14 teams from outside the United States, coming from six different countries. Although still contained to the continent of North America, this is the second year tournaments will extend outside U.S. borders with with two taking place in Canada.
While that small growth spurt is exciting, there’s still a long way to go for the International WFTDA scene to balance out. Want to bring WFTDA tournaments to your region in 2017? Put in a bid by August 8th to host one next year.
Read on to see who managed to earn a spot in the top 60 just in time, who declined their invite, and where to find your favorite teams this fall.
The top ten hasn’t changed much since the beginning of 2016, aside from Bay Area slowly getting edged out and Minnesota moving in after their performance at Sibling Rivalry. The #1 seeds for each Division 1 tournament also come as no surprise, although last year’s WFTDA Champion, Rose City, is back at #4 in WFTDA and is still only #3 according to Flat Track Stats. Arch Rival and Jacksonville take over #2 seeds after they both went to Championships for the first time last fall, and Bay Area and Denver will tempt post-season fate as #3 seeds.
The tumultuous Division 2 sees three D1 teams from last year falling below the top 40, and six teams qualifying that weren’t at playoffs last year, including two who are making their first ever trip to WFTDA tournaments. Jet City, who took the D2 Cup in 2013, is the #1 seed in Wichita and the former top 40 Charm City team is at the top of the list for Lansing.
Last year’s D2 Champion, Sacred City, qualified for Division 1 in Vancouver this year, and Nashville, who placed 2nd at the 2016 D2 Champs, enter Wichita as a #3 seed. Demolition City beat Kansas City in St. Paul for 3rd overall in Division 2, but they have tumbled out of contention this season after a major roster overhaul while Kansas City hangs in D2 as a #5 seed in Wichita.
There are two teams currently ranked in the top 60 who would have made Playoffs for the first time, but will not be attending. The first, Paradise City from Gold Coast, Australia moved up 18 spots to #54 after spending weeks in the U.S. last month at Midwest BrewHaHa and Mayday Mayhem. They have either declined the invite or didn’t meet membership requirements to be eligible.
Secondly, Auld Reekie just missed Playoffs in 2015 when they were ranked #63, and despite coming in at #57 with the June 2016 release, they have decided not to accept WFTDA’s invite to Division 2 Playoffs. In a statement posted a few hours after WFTDA’s Playoff announcement, Auld Reekie provided insight into why they made this decision. “Every ARRG team only ever wants to skate and compete as the very best team they can be and at this current point, due to a number of unavoidable factors we cannot field a full strength team and now is not our time to compete at play offs.”
There are five teams that are receiving their first ever Playoff invite and all but one are from outside the United States. The team to make the biggest splash this season was probably Rainy City, who was ranked #93 in January and has made it all the way to Division 1 playoffs with a #26 ranking and a #7 seed in Columbia. From Manchester, England, Rainy City recently did a brand overhaul and made their second trip to the U.S. in two years to work on a rankings makeover as well. They had possibly the biggest move in the WFTDA rankings at 87 spots in May, which we will elaborate on in an upcoming team profile.
Helsinki got their first Playoff invite last year, and also making the trip from Finland this year will be Kallio Rolling Rainbow who is making a D1 debut in Montréal as the #7 seed. Having traveled to Beach Brawl last year, they stayed in Europe this season, possibly gaining an advantage from their opponents who traveled stateside this year. They moved into the top 60 in May with a move of 19 spots to #51, and then 24 further places to #24.
Representing Norway, Nidaros edged into Division 2 with the June rankings, and at #52 they will be attending Playoffs in Lansing as the #6 seed. After becoming WFTDA at the end of 2013, some of their first sanctioned games were at Mayday Mayhem in Colorado the following season, and then in 2015 they attended Beach Brawl and swept all three of their games.
The Canadian scene also sees a new member at Playoffs with Calgary who qualified for D2 in Lansing at #49. They came close last year at #65, and this year they spent three months in a row at tournaments improving their ranking, despite picking up more losses in that time than wins. With a tough schedule full of multi-game weekends, they seem to have the experience to make a good showing in their Playoff debut.
The final new entrant to the WFTDA Playoffs is Ann Arbor, a team from Michigan who went on an 11-game winning streak after their loss to Ohio in March. Their success took them to their Playoff goal and then some, hitting Division 1 as a #9 seed in Columbia where they will face Rose City if they win their first round game.
Don’t Call it a Comeback
Returning to Playoffs this year will be Cincinnati, Blue Ridge, Tucson, Grand Raggidy, and Carolina after spending some time outside the top 60. Cincinnati last attended tournaments in 2013 at Fort Wayne where they placed 8th. The only game they won was their first one against Bleeding Heartland where K. Lethal jammed the last 12 of 13 jams and helped pull the Black Sheep out of a 50-point deficit to win by three points. A combination of strategic timeouts, a determined and effective pack, and a 24-point last jam was the perfect storm for Cincinnati to come from behind for the win. K. Lethal is no longer skating with them, but they are still coached by Quad Almighty who has helped them return to post season play.
Blue Ridge has experience playing at Playoffs in both divisions having placed 3rd overall in D2 in 2013, and then taking 10th at the D1 tournament in Sacramento the following year. Last year they weren’t eligible for either when they were ranked #69 in June. Tucson was one ranking spot above them at the time, meaning they had a year off after placing 10th in D2 Duluth in 2014. Both will be in Wichita in August with Blue Ridge as the #7 seed and Tucson at #6.
Columbia not only returns to a Division 1 bracket after placing 9th last year in D2 Cleveland, but they get to host the tournament they are playing in as well. Also finding their way back to D1 this year are Santa Cruz and Naptown, who both placed 3rd in their respective D2 brackets and both enter this with a #6 seed this season.
Rebounding in the rankings is Windy City, who fell all the way to #61 by the end of last year, and forged ahead this season, proving that they won’t go down without a fight by maintaining a spot in Division 1 ranked #32. After experiencing extensive turnover since 2014 Champs in Nashville, this year they showed definite progress with trips to the Big O, Midwest BrewHaHa, and ECDX.
Grand Raggidy last attended Playoffs in D2 Kitchener-Waterloo in 2014 where they placed 10th, while Carolina hasn’t attended since 2013 when they placed 7th in D2 Kalamazoo, MI. Both fell just outside the D2 cutoff this year at #61 and #62 respectively and are heading back to WFTDA tournaments due to the absence of Paradise City and Auld Reekie
Speaking of turnover, Rocky Mountain fought their way through a long season and kept up the hard work to finally settle at the bottom of D1 this Playoff season. Ranked #38 they earned a #10 seed to Montréal after just missing out on Champs last year when they placed 4th in Tucson.
Charm City has been a top tier team for quite some time and have attended Playoffs since WFTDA moved into the Big 5 Regional system, but this year they fell just low enough to qualify for Division 2 Playoffs. Charlottesville took their first trip to Playoffs last year and improved on their #10 seeding by placing 8th, but will enter D2 Lansing with the #7 seed. Tri-City was seeded #10 and placed 10th in D1 Tucson last season, and now will be the #9 seed for D2 in Michigan.
Falling out of Playoff contention altogether is last year’s D2 3rd place team, Demolition City who now holds the #97 spot in the rankings. Rideau Valley placed tenth in D1 Dallas last Fall after taking 2nd overall at D2 Champs the year before, and now they barely fall out of eligibility at #66. Pikes Peak finished in 10th place in D1 Jacksonville last year, and will miss out on another invite while currently ranked #81. Finishing just above them in Jacksonville, Glasgow fell from their spot in Division 1 to #106 in the June 2016 rankings.
Toronto, the only team that Windy City beat at Playoffs in Omaha in 2015, also saw some extreme roster changes and fell 10 more spots in June to #73. Only winning two of their nine games so far in 2016, Toronto lost by an average of nearly 200 points.
Maybe Next Year?
Some of the teams on the brink of Playoffs last year kicked it into high gear and made the cut this time around. A few teams that have the potential to do the same in the future look like a lot more non-U.S. teams. Leeds just missed out this year at #63 after a trip to Colorado last month for Mayday Mayhem which boosted them 22 places.
Briefly going unranked in May due to a lack of sanctioned play, the Middlesbrough Milk Rollers took a trip stateside to pick up four solid wins. It brought them back onto the list and improved on their April rank by 78 places to #68. Coming in at #76, #77, and #78 respectively in this rankings release is Dublin, Paris, and Tiger Bay. Dublin and Paris both had large jumps this year, while Tiger Bay has danced outside the D2 bubble the last few seasons.
Despite beating Blue Ridge by 88 points at ECDX and rising 34 places, Sydney won’t make their first WFTDA Playoff trip this year ranked at #69. Then as mentioned earlier, Paradise City and Auld Reekie will not be making it to Playoffs this season, but Auld Reekie has already stated their intentions for training for, and following through with tournaments in 2017.
You can purchase tickets to a WFTDA tournament at $28 for a single-day pass or $65 for a three-day weekend pass (with price options for different ages). You will also be able to watch each tournament live online at WFTDA.tv and look forward to the last day of Championships in Portland to be broadcast on ESPN3 again like it was last year.
Look out for more information on some of the teams that are new to the WFTDA Playoff scene this year, and more specific tournament previews coming up on Derby Central. If you will be attending a tournament or will be following along at home and would like to help contribute to our coverage of the 2016 tournaments, please get in contact with us. We are always looking for people to contribute words, pictures, statistical analysis, and more. Get in touch by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.