2016 WFTDA Champs: D1 Preview – Day 2

2016 WFTDA Champs: D1 Preview – Day 2 Photo credit: Roller Derby on Film. facebook.com/RollerDerbyOnFilm

The 2016 WFTDA Champs will take place in Portland, Oregon this weekend, starting Friday, November 4, and will continue through Sunday, November 6. Like last year’s tournament’s final day, the games on Sunday of the 2016 WFTDA Champs will be broadcast on ESPN3.

The Rose City Rollers – who, like all entering #1 seeds for Division 1, have a bye on Friday – will have a chance to defend their title on their home turf of Portland. Each #1 seed entered their respective playoff in the top position and maintained their position to enter this Champs tournament at the same seeding. In this single elimination tournament, each #1 seed will face the victors of the first round games played on Friday, providing each team with one last chance to scout their competition.

Depending on who wins the first round, we may see new match ups in Game 5 and Game 7. Whether we see rematches of last year’s Championships play out again this year remains to be seen. With each of these teams boasting strong, consistent defense and high scoring jammers, Day 2 will be an intense battle.

Game 5: Saturday 10am PDT

London Rollergirls WFTDA #5, FTS #4
Entered Montréal Playoffs #1, Finished #1
vs. winner of
Denver Roller Derby WFTDA #7, FTS #7
Entered Columbia Playoffs #3, Finished #2
Arch Rival Roller Derby WFTDA #8, FTS #9
Entered Madison Playoffs #2, finished #3

London Brawling played a short season, after staying in Europe for their play this season. And, with an average win margin of 275 points over lower-ranked teams, it wasn’t until they hosted Gotham in June that we saw them against a higher-ranked opponent. They lost to Gotham by just 31 points, and then came to Playoffs with a tightly defended pack that forced eight cuts on Texas. Brawling had a close final game against the Texans but, while their defense was able to corner Hauss and work on keeping their pivot away from her, London’s defense was also able to provide offense for Rogue Runner in a 33-point jam to push them into a padded lead.

Photo credit: Joe Mac.

Photo credit: Joe Mac.

London also has a long list of jammers that they can use and, during the regular season, Rogue Runner was a constant for the rotation, followed by Carley McAdam who we did not see at Playoffs. Lexi Lightspeed, Trisha Smackanawa, and Stef Mainey have been mainstays in the past, but at Playoffs AnDracula had an impressive weekend and the team relied heavily on Master Blaster who joined their team from Bear City this year. Hoping to go far in the tournament again this year, they can tailor their rotation to their opponent and save some jamming ammunition for later games.

London’s first game will be against the winner of Denver and Arch Rival. The last time Brawling took on the Mile High Club, it was at Playoffs in 2013 when Denver beat them by 24 points – each team has changed significantly since then, of course. London has never taken on Arch Rival, but either team should make a strong competitor for London if they keep up on offense, although the teams will have to hold down London’s speedy jammers at the same time. The winner of Game 5 will advance to the semifinal round against the winner of Game 6: Gotham versus either Angel City or Montréal.

Game 6: Saturday 12pm PDT

Gotham Girls Roller Derby WFTDA #1, FTS #1
Entered Madison Playoffs #1, finished #1
vs. winner of:
Angel City Derby Girls WFTDA #4, FTS #3
Entered Vancouver Playoffs #2, finished #2
Montréal Roller Derby WFTDA #19, FTS #19
Entered Montréal Playoffs #4, finished #3

Gotham still remains at the top of the WFTDA and FTS rankings, and will want to reclaim the Hydra this season after Rose City metaphorically poked the beehive with their win at the final game last year. This year they gained VanEssa “V-Diva” Sites from Philly, as well as Ana Bollocks, Donna Matrix, and Bonita Apple Bomb who returned from chartered retirement. With a braced three wall or triangle, Gotham’s pack averaged only 14 blocker penalties a game at Playoffs, which means the hive mind spent a lot of time on the track together, which amounted to keeping Minnesota to just nine lead statuses in the final game in Madison.

Photo credit: Preflash Gordon.

Photo credit: Preflash Gordon.

In the regular season, Bonnie Thunders averaged 112 points per game but nearly doubled that in their first Playoff game against Windy City – she will, as per usual, be the person to hold back for opposing teams with hopes of victory. Vicious van GoGo, ShortStop, and Miss Tea Maven fill out the rest of the rotation, and V-Diva’s history as a jammer makes her a great blocker to have in the pivot stripe. During the regular season, Gotham’s jammers averaged 2.8 penalties per game, and at Playoffs, they went from zero jammer errors against Windy City to five in their later game versus Tampa.

First up for Gotham will either be Angel City or Montréal, depending on the team who wins their game, and with ACDG entering the top five of WFTDA ranked teams, they would make a good first competitor for the Gotham giant. Gotham last played Montréal in August 2016, where they defeated them by an impressive margin, taking the game 418-37. Gotham met Angel City in last year’s Playoffs at Omaha, where Gotham took the win, 205-83. Though it is clear that Angel City has made gains since last season – and their current ranking at #3 by FTS coupled with their showing against VRDL at this year’s Playoffs reflect as much – should Gotham meet ACDG it will most likely be a very different game than the one we saw in Omaha. The winner of this game will take on the winner of Game 5: London against either Denver or Arch Rival. Gotham has made it to the final game of Champs for the last five years, four of which have gotten them the Hydra trophy. The last team to take them out prior to that game was Rocky Mountain in the semifinal round of Championships in 2010 – quite the unbroken record.

Game 7: Saturday 2pm PDT

Victorian Roller Derby League WFTDA #2, FTS #2
Entered Vancouver Playoffs #1, Finished #1
vs. winner of:
Minnesota RollerGirls WFTDA #9, FTS #8
Entered Madison Playoffs #3, finished #2
Jacksonville Rollergirls WFTDA #10, FTS #10
Entered Columbia Playoffs #2, finished #3

Victoria made it through the regular season undefeated – with four wins at the Big O, before tacking on three more wins at Playoffs, all with little use of last year’s top jammer Christy Demons. They’ve been a team to watch for a few years now, but last year they got fans really revved up at Champs when they led Gotham for a majority of their semifinal game – still the longest time Gotham’s been held down in a game in many years – but lost to them in the final minutes by only two points. VRDL got to see the other side of that at Playoffs this year, when Angel City held the lead over them for 77% of their final tournament game until Victoria’s defense held crucially strong in the final jam and ten points gave them the lead and a gold medal exit.

Photo credit: Derby With Recess.

Photo credit: Derby With Recess.

With Demons recovering from an injury this season, Giles emerged as top scorer for Victoria, followed in points gathering by Mary Fagdalene and Ivy Knivey. Recent Pirate City transfer Lady Trample got her debut at Playoffs with a lead percentage of 72.7 of her 22 jams, and she will be a jammer to watch. Super Maria also joined the Australian squad from Helsinki this year and got some time in at Playoffs as well. Victoria rostered their five-jammer arsenal for each game, which left just nine blockers to rotate through in the pack, but it doesn’t seem to leave them lacking. Christy Demons recently played just one game and four jams in the tournament, so as of Playoffs she had still not made a solid return to the track.

Part of Victoria’s struggle against Angel City at Playoffs was the 16 jammer penalties they accrued, but this was balanced out by a cleaner pack and soul-crushing defense. Their first competitor this weekend will be either Minnesota or Jacksonville. The last time VRDL took on Minnesota was at Championships in 2014 where VRDL won by 47 points, and they’ve never played Jacksonville. Advancing will pit them against the winner of Game 8: Rose City versus Texas or Rat City.

Game 8: Saturday 4pm PDT

Rose City Rollers WFTDA #3, FTS #5
Entered Columbia Playoffs #1, Finished #1
vs. winner of:
Texas Rollergirls WFTDA #6, FTS #6
Entered Montréal Playoffs #2, finished #2
Rat City Rollergirls WFTDA #11 FTS #11
Entered Vancouver Playoffs #3, finished #3

Hosting Championships this weekend, The Rose City All-Stars will have the Legion of Justice cheering them on, as well as last year’s Championship title to inspire them. Although they lost to Victoria at The Big O this season, they were also the only #1 seed last year at Champs who had an imperfect season record and went on to take it all. With a focus on blocking pairs and offense, Rose City can easily go from a braced quad or triangle defensive formation and filter through the pack quickly to re-form and catch jammers.

Photo credit: Regularman Photography.

Photo credit: Regularman Photography.

Like Victoria, Rose City had a core jammer out this season, Loren Mutch, but she made a strong return and scored 207 points in Columbia. Scald Eagle is still perched at the top of their scorers and put up 105 points against Denver in the final game. With her leggy footwork and impressive jukes, it seems the main thing to stop her this season were penalties, which took her out of their game against Victoria at the Big O. Licker*N*Split took the most points in their first Playoff game against Columbia, and filling out their rotation this year has been Frisky Biscuits, with a few key jams by Starta Ruckus.

Rose City’s first game will be playing against the winner of Texas and Rat City, and Texas came within 44 points of them in July of this year while Rose City took down Rat City at Hometown Throwdown by 217-111. The winner of this game will advance to the semifinals in a game against the winner of Game 7: Victoria versus Minnesota or Jacksonville.

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