2017 WFTDA D1 Playoffs: Seattle Preview

2017 WFTDA D1 Playoffs: Seattle Preview Photo credit: Regularman Photography. regularmanphotography.com

September 1st through the 3rd will kick off the Division 1 portion of WFTDA Tournament season in Seattle, Washington, hosted by the Rat City Rollergirls. After the massive 30-game tournament that was Division 2 two weeks ago, this weekend will conclude after 16 games played by 12 teams. While overall D1 was reduced to three brackets, each was expanded by two more teams which will mean that some teams will only end up playing two games this year.

While perhaps a little more predictable, Division 1 tournaments consist of the top teams in WFTDA, and as the sport grows, there’s always room for surprises. This year, the top four teams will make it out of the weekend alive and attend Championships this November in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Watch this tournament on WFTDA.tv and follow our coverage here on our website, or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Game 1: #7 Tampa Roller Derby vs #10 Ann Arbor Roller Derby
Friday, 10am PDT/1pm EDT

The #21-ranked Tampa Tantrums had a 3-5 record for the 2017 season after going to Tiny Tourney in May and then across the country to Golden Bowl the following month. They have already played four of the teams in this bracket and lost to all of them, but came the closest to Rat City 163-160, losing by just three points. They did take down Terminal City in June, however, who is similarly ranked to Ann Arbor, by 70 points.

Tampa went to D1 Playoffs in Madison last season, where they entered as the #4 seed and left in 4th place after a tough battle against Arch Rival. Even though their roster looks quite a bit different this year, that’s not a factor to take for granted. Some skaters are just skating under their real names now, Winters (Lauryn Kill), Littlefield (Little A), or Wasylkiw (Alli-Kat Scratch). Also, for a team that has been around so long, they have developed a strong B team, the Bruise Crew, and were able to pull a few skaters up this season, including Tootsie Pop who just aged out of Juniors last season. Anna Cheng may have left for Atlanta, but with Taz back on the Tantrums, they’ve still got a wide range of options for point scorers.

The #30 Ann Arbor Brawlstars have a record of 4-6 in 2017, with four of those losses coming from their weekend at Boardwalk Empire in April. They went to Playoffs for the first time last year in Columbia as the #9 seed and left in the same position. While ranked four spots higher than last season at this point, they are entering one seed lower. They’ve played one team from this bracket, beating Madison earlier this year by 26 points. At Boardwalk Empire they did lose to Charm City by nine points, a team currently ranked below them, but in June they played a rising Queen City team who is now ranked #18 in WFTDA, and Ann Arbor lost 193-128.

With a pretty consistent roster from last season, Hellen Killer and Lezzie Arnaz continue to lead jammers, while Slamlet, Lethal, and Michelle O’Bomb Ya were some of their fiercest blockers.  Ann Arbor came out strong in their first game of WFTDA Playoffs last year again Columbia, but struggled towards the end, losing by just four points. Mental game will be key if Ann Arbor wants to earn their donuts.

We will have to see if Ann Arbor learned from their last performance at Playoffs and can make the adjustments for their sophomore appearance. Tampa’s well-rounded A/B program is a hard match to take on however and will come into this weekend with plenty of experience. The winner will play later the same day against the #2 seed, Angel City Derby, while the loser will get one day off before playing at 2pm PDT on Sunday.

Game 2: #6 Rat City Rollergirls vs #11 Mad Rollin’ Dolls
Friday, 12pm PDT

The #16-ranked Rat City All-Stars started their sanctioned play this season at the Big O in May, and then later that month attended Tiny Tourney. Overall, they went 3-5 coming within 2 points of Crime City and beat Tampa and London each by three points. Their third win was another close one, just beating Atlanta by one point at Tiny Tourney. Most recently they played this bracket’s #1 seed, Rose City, and lost 363-61.

Still maintaining many key players, Rat City’s lead scorer is still Luna Negra who proved hard to contain last season, while CeeCee and H. Botts are still in the pack to knock opposing jammers around. In 2016 Rat took 3rd place and had a spot at Championships, but it will be a bit tougher to pull off this season with five very tough teams seeded above them.

Photo credit: Regularman Photography.

Photo credit: Regularman Photography.

Ranked #37 in WFTDA, the Mad Rollin’ Dolls Dairyland Dolls would have been bumped into D2’s this season with the amended format, but with a few teams ineligible, they enter the weekend with the #11 seed. Getting this far with a 5-3 sanctioned record, Madison made the rounds at Southern Discomfort, Midwest BrewHaHa, and ECDX. They started the season with a tough 274-56 loss to Atlanta which dragged their ranking down a bit, but they climbed back out with a 251-point win against Grand Raggidy and a 253-point win against Steel City in June.

Last year’s charter rookie Black Velvet returns this season as top scorer for Madison, along with long time jammers Ladie Who-ha and Mouse. (Check out this rad new podcast, S.S. Roller Derby, to hear an interview with Mouse!) Joining them in regular rotation is Darkhorse, a skater who has moved up from their Wreckers league. Returning to the roster after some time off, longtime veteran Mack the Knife could bring some extra juice back to their jammer rotation. Holding down the pack for them are blockers like Thrill Show, Tipsy Velvet, and Block Ness Monster.

It’s been a long time since these two teams faced off, and Rat City took the win by 75 points in March of 2010. It will be a tough battle for the Dairyland Dolls who have had a harder time against teams in the upper portion of the rankings. Either way, it should be an entertaining game between two feisty teams, fighting to make their way through the bracket. The winner gets to face #3 seed Jacksonville that evening at 8pm PDT. The loser will go on to play Sunday at 12pm PDT against the loser of Game 7.

Game 3: #5 Montréal Roller Derby vs #12 Charlottesville Derby Dames
Friday, 2pm PDT

Ranked #14, the Montréal New Skids on the Block had their best Playoff season yet in 2016, beating Bay Area and taking their first trip to WFTDA Championships. Returning this season ranked the same, they have a lower seed however due to the re-structuring of the bracket. This season Montréal only has one loss to speak of, a seven point game against Atlanta in May. Otherwise, they had six sanctioned wins, including a 175-154 victory against this bracket’s #3 seed, Jacksonville.

Montréal had some major retirements over recent years, but have also built many strong skaters in the meantime. Miracle Whips, Falcon Punch, and The Honey Badger return as major scoring power for the Skids, and are re-joined by Mel E Juana who wasn’t on the track last season. KonichiWOW may have left for Queen City, but gaining the massive knowledge and skill of Artoo Detoonate will only help the likes of Biggley Smallz, Surgical Strike, and Mange Moi El Cul get even better.

#39 Charlottesville took 4th place overall at Division 2 Championships last year in Portland, and return this year for a go at Division 1. Going 6-0 in sanctioned play this season, it’s a reverse on how they got to Playoffs last year. In 2016 they mostly played higher ranked teams and lost more often, while this season they played fewer games against many teams who were on their way down in the rankings.

With most of the same roster on the track for them so far this season compared to last year, they will have familiarity and consistency on their side. They have a wide range of skaters to put in the star, from Spank Puncherella to Machete. Versatile players such as Boom! ShakeTheRoom and Miller-Miller tend to take on whichever role they’re needed in, while The Big Bangarang and Abersmashy take on jammers in the pack. Charlottesville may have squeaked into D1 this year, but it will be an uphill battle for them this weekend after a relatively easy schedule.

Montréal’s strength and consistency have been their saving grace in the past, while Charlottesville’s momentum can sometimes come in waves. This game will be between opposite sides of the bracket but will be a good indicator of what each team will look like moving forward. The winner will advance to a quarterfinal game against #4 Bay Area first thing Saturday at 10am PDT, while the loser will play the loser of Game 6 the next day at 4pm PDT.

Game 4: #8 2×4 Roller Derby vs #9 Windy City Rollers
Friday, 4pm PDT

Ranked #24 in WFTDA, 2×4 Team Osom first got ranked at the end of 2016 and have shot through the rankings since then. They hosted Violentango5 in April to help spread their ranking to other teams in Buenos Aires, before heading to the United States to play at the Big O. There, they beat Boulder County by 185 points and lost to Helsinki by 90. They also already took on Windy City in a tightly matched game that ended with a 5-point win by WCR. If they can scale back the 59 penalties they accrued last time, they have a better chance at seeking revenge against Windy City.

Assuming that they are bringing the same or similar lineup that they had at the Big O, 2×4 has a strict jammer rotation of Tropical Mecanica, Rayo, and Lula Zan. The first two had a similar success rate against Windy at 64% lead status and 61 and 62 points respectively. Lula Zan’s downfall was penalties and was one of five to foul out of the game. Strong defense was led by Chinaski and Papap with quick offensive moves by Maki Lombera or Cruella. They showed up with a well-rounded game; it just fell apart when penalties started to take their toll.

Photo credit: Regularman Photography.

Photo credit: Regularman Photography.

#28-ranked Windy City is no stranger to the WFTDA tournament stage, and have shown over the past few seasons that they can make adjustments when things change. With a 4-2 sanctioned record this season, they had four games at the Big O and won half of them. Their latest game was against No Coast in June, a team that just took 12th at D2 Champs, and beat them 113-82. Last year at Playoffs they went into the Madison tournament seeded #8 and left in the same position.

Windy City played a much cleaner game against 2×4 last time, but they struggled to earn lead status in the first half which greatly reduced their scoring. Ultimately, 76% of their points came from power jam opportunities, but more active offense in the second half helped get things moving. Mia Go Hamm was the most productive jammer with 62 points in the game and six lead statuses, but Bambi Bloodlust earned lead the same amount of times in fewer jams. WCR will be without long time veteran Killanois this weekend and possibly others, so they will be coming to this rematch with a different jammer rotation. Tay Q. Down, Kris Rago, and Emptropy can go from the immovable force to sending jammers flying off the track, so they’ll be sure to keep the game even defensively.

Read more about this match up with our analysis on WFTDA’s tournament blog.

If 2×4 can bring the same mix of defense and offense as well as a cleaner game, they will have a good chance at flipping the results this time around. Windy City’s experience and ability to change up strategy will be key to overtaking them again. This will be the game to definitely tune in for on Friday, and the winner will play at 12pm PDT the next day against #1 seed Rose City Rollers. The loser will get one more game Saturday at 2pm PDT before they get to relax and watch the final day.

Game 5: #2 Angel City Derby vs WG1 Tampa/Ann Arbor
Friday, 6pm PDT

Coming into Playoffs ranked #4, the Angel City Hollywood Scarlets had a 4-2 sanctioned season, falling to this bracket’s #1 seed, Rose City at Hometown Throwdown, 186-134. There they took out London and Texas by 83 and 81 points respectively. Their other loss came at the Big O in a close game against Victoria, but VRDL managed to pull away later in the game and beat Angel City 188-111. ACD struggled with penalties that game, picking up twice as many as Victoria and had a particularly hard time with 18 forearm penalties and nine track cuts.

Leading Angel City’s point scoring again this year is Satan’s Little Helper, and is followed up by Darby Dagger and Catch Mikachu. They did have Ghetto Fabu-Lez to round things out, but she finished with ACD after the Big O before moving to Boston. Power blocker Hunnie Brasco didn’t return this season, but Tui Lyon, Laci Knight, and Ima BloyBya are just a few of the skaters who dole out punishing defense on the track.

Each season Angel City has been creeping closer to the top. Finishing 2nd in Vancouver last year, they just nearly overtook Victoria in the final game, but lost by three points. It will be likely that they can handle their first opponent, whether it is #21-ranked Tampa or #30 Ann Arbor, but advancing to the semi-final round may possibly pit them against #9 Jacksonville later on Saturday at 6pm PDT. If seeding holds true, to get all the way to first place this time, they would have to be able to take down Rose City in the Championship game.

Game 6: #3 Jacksonville Roller Derby vs WG2 Rat City/Mad Rollin’
Friday 8pm PDT

Ranked #9, Jacksonville’s New Jax City Rollers had a 6-3 sanctioned record this season after attending Southern Discomfort, Tiny Tourney and playing a few more single games in state. Their losses came to Montréal (175-154), Atlanta (171-167), and Arch Rival (250-197). New Jax also took on #6 seed Rat City at Tiny Tourney and beat them by 124 points, one of their potential match ups on Friday.

Photo credit: Keith Ridge

Photo credit: Keith Ridge

Jacksonville’s roster looks fairly similar to last year with Jamsterella and Krispy Kreme-Her in the jammer star, but also like last year, Erin Jackson won’t be with them due to the Roller Games World Championships in China. Also missing from the track this weekend will be Coco Frye who is out with an injury, a skater who can take on blocking or jamming. This season Jacksonville did gain Leanna Groll, however, and have used Snot Rocket Science as a primary jammer in the past before. Otherwise, they’ve got the usual suspects in the pack with Atomic Mel-Down, Stephanie Gentz, Legs R Us, and more.

They may be without a few key players this weekend, but Jacksonville has had to adjust before and know what they need to do to get to Championships for the third year in a row. New Jax seemed to have picked up a rivalry with Denver in the last two Playoff tournaments, but this time they will likely face Angel City if they advance to semi-finals Saturday at 6pm PDT.

Game 7: #4 Bay Area Derby vs WG3 Charlottesville/Montréal
Saturday 10am PDT

The BAD All-Stars were a bit of a mystery this year and dropped as low as #23 before they finally played sanctioned games. Their four wins came in June, and after hosting the Golden Bowl, they came out ranked #10. They first took on currently ranked #19 Santa Cruz, who they beat but just by 12 points. Each of their games against Tampa, Boston, and Terminal City were won by over a 100 points though, but they did not take on anyone from the top ten so far this season.

In the past, they’ve had a wide range of people take the star, such as Eva Menace, Frightmare, and Pressure Cooker. This year they gained jammer The 4Closer from Sacred Season and triple threat Stefanie Mainey from London. They proved their flat wall game last season at Playoffs but got knocked out by Montréal, their potential first match up this weekend. We’ve seen more how-to videos from them this season than actual track time, so it’ll be interesting to see where they’ve evolved to this season with transfers in the mix.

Bay Area kept fairly quiet this season, but if they spent their time reinforcing their walls and perfecting their jammer rotation, then they’ve got a good shot at returning to Championships this year. Winning this game will have them play the very last game at 8pm PDT likely against #1 seed Rose City. They last played the two-time Champions at WFTDA Champs in 2015 when Rose City ended their weekend with a 191-145 win.

Game 8: #1 Rose City Rollers vs WG4 Windy City/2×4
Saturday, 12pm PDT

The Hydra has been in Portland for two years now, but Rose City still comes into Playoffs ranked #2, ceding the top spot to Victoria, the only team to beat them the last two seasons. With that one loss to VRDL at the Big O, the Rose City Wheels of Justice earned nine wins, including four teams from the current top ten. Angel City was the next team who came the closest to beating them, losing just by 52 points at Hometown Throwdown in June. Most recently WOJ took on Rat City at home, beating them 363-61.

If you’re just now paying attention to this year’s transfers, then it would be news to you that Rose City no longer has Scald Eagle but gained Bonnie Thunders from Gotham. Loren Mutch sat right behind her in scoring at the Big O, followed by LickerNSplit,  and we saw lots of good moves from Brute in the star as well. An already terrifying pack of blockers made up by Hannah Jennings, Tarantula, and Elicia Nisbet-Smith got Gal of Fray in the mix as well. Her quick footwork and style make her useful as a pivot to either chase down jammers or fly out of the pack as one instead.

Rose City seems capable of taking on this bracket, but penalties have tripped them up in the past. Making it past this game will pit them against the winner of Game 7 later in the day at 8pm PDT.

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