The 2017 WFTDA Tournament placement day is here, and with it came a few surprises. When WFTDA released the locations and dates for this year’s tournaments, they also announced a new structure to Playoffs and Championships. This is the first time we get to see brackets for the new arrangement, and with some teams missing out on the action this season, five teams below the cutoff got invites to participate at Playoffs. Read on to see how the WFTDA sorting hat placed teams this year, and where to catch your favorites.
To redirect some of their resources to education and events like the Roller Derby World Summit, WFTDA reduced the number of teams who qualify for post season play as well as how many tournaments are hosted. Division 1 brackets are made up of the top 36 eligible teams based off the June 30th rankings and are split between three weekends, while the next 16 eligible teams will play out Division 2 Playoffs and Championships in the same weekend.
Victoria, Rose City, and Gotham again earned the top seeds for their brackets this season but with a different ranking compared to a year ago. Victoria still maintains the #1 spot after dethroning Gotham in May, but now #2 Rose City has surpassed the Hivemind as well, joining the 1,000 points club. Only the top two ranked teams have been able to hit 1,000 average rankings points so far, and Gotham has now fallen out of the club after almost losing their first regular season game in 10 years at Sibling Rivalry.
With D1 dropping a Playoff bracket this season and expanding the remaining three to 12 teams, some are finding themselves coming in a bit lower than they’re used to, and now the #5 and #6 seeds have to play an extra game. The London Rollergirls dropped a few places this season to #7 in the rankings and will enter Playoffs with a #3 seed while Bay Area earned their playoff #4 spot at the last minute, rising 12 ranking places to #10 after hosting the Golden Bowl last month. #25 Philly Roller Derby is used to a seeded position in the top four but will have to play from the bottom of the bracket at #8. On the flip side, #18 Queen City has entered Division 1 as the #9 seed the last two years but after many key wins this season, they enter Dallas with the #6 seed.
Making their debut in Division 1 this year is #24 2×4 Roller Derby from Buenos Aires, Argentina. However, missing from the D1 brackets are #31 Rocky Mountain and #33 Blue Ridge, bumping up a few teams from Division 2. To qualify for WFTDA’s postseason tournaments, teams must play four sanctioned games between December 1st and June 30th, and while #23 Adelaide Roller Derby had impressive movement this year after a Strength Factor game against Sun State, they only had one sanctioned game in 2017. Also, #26 Team United only played two sanctioned games since last year’s Playoffs and won’t be participating either.
With the 12-team bracket for Division 1, there isn’t a full consolation side like there has been in years past, meaning that teams who lose their first game will only get one more. In the previous tournament structure, the 3rd place game was make or break for teams who wanted to move on to D1 Championships since only the top three teams advanced. Now, the top four teams will get a trip to Philly the weekend of November 3rd through 5th.
Lower in the rankings but coming up first in August will be Division 2 Playoffs and Championships in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Hosted by Steel City Roller Derby, two tracks will each run through eight-team brackets on Friday and Saturday. There are six teams getting the playoff invite for the first time in D2, and #41 Auld Reekie not only accepted their invite this season, but they are coming in at the top. Joining them for their initial playoff appearance will be #46 Middlesbrough, #43 Paris, #51 Pirate City, #57 E-Ville, and #58 Dublin.
Since there is less consistency year to year in Division 2, none of the Championship teams from last year will be playing in it, allowing room for new teams to battle for the D2 Cup. There are some familiar names from last season, but also many Division 1 teams who have found themselves in a D2 bracket this time around. #47 Boston, #48 Ohio, and #49 No Coast are playing in D2 Playoffs for the first time, while #52 Columbia QuadSquad and #53 Naptown return to the second Division after qualifying for D1 in 2016. #50 Sun State played their four games in June, but are missing from the D2 bracket, which allowed room for Dublin to be included.
The top two teams from each will play out on Sunday like they have in the past two D2 Championship tournaments with the winner from one playing the runner-up of the other. Then the winners from each of those games move on to play each other for an overall winner, while the losers play out for 3rd place. Remaining teams who win at least one game at Playoffs will also get consolation games on the final day, placing up to 12 teams. This means D2 teams may play anywhere from two to five games in the combined tournament weekend.
With the constant fluctuation in Division 2, a team’s seeding doesn’t tend to hold as solidly as it does with Division 1 teams. Last season the Witchita #4 and #7 seeds met the #5 and #7 seeds from Lansing at Championships. With so many new teams mixed into Division 2 this year, it should lead to an exciting yet busy weekend in Pittsburgh. There won’t be any D2 FOMO however, WFTDA upgraded their previous announcement of an audio-only broadcast of D2 to include video of both tracks for $20. Watch passes for all tournaments go on sale August 1st.
In the coming weeks, we will get to know the leagues who are new to WFTDA tournaments this season and then will explore each bracket as their tournaments draw closer. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates and contact us if you would like to help with tournament coverage.