2017 WFTDA D2 Tournaments: Pittsburgh Preview

2017 WFTDA D2 Tournaments: Pittsburgh Preview Photo credit: Zero G Photography. facebook.com/ZeroGPhotography

This weekend will kick off the 2017 WFTDA postseason starting with Division 2 Playoffs and Championships. Things have changed a bit for D2 this year with the amended tournament structure WFTDA announced last fall. What were previously two Playoff brackets have come together in one tournament, with eight teams in each bracket. The Championship round will happen this Sunday instead of later in November as in previous years.

This year, there are five teams who are participating in D2 for the first time, some teams who have been edged out of Division 1, and only three teams who played at D2s last season. None of the four D2 Championship teams from last year are returning to this division either, which will make this weekend a little unpredictable as these 16 teams will compete to take over the Division 2 title.

All of the European teams in D2 managed to qualify without leaving their continent, showing how things have grown outside of the United States in recent years. Track 1 either has teams paired up with two who are both new to tournaments, or have both had similar tournament histories. All the track 2 matchups have one fresh face and one tournament veteran. Local time is Eastern Daylight Time, and we have included local times for the teams playing.

Although there are two tracks with two initial brackets, the teams are seeded #1-#16 to avoid confusion when they mingle on Sunday. When it’s all said and done, there will be 30 games this weekend in Pittsburgh. Odd-numbered games will take place on Track 1, while even-numbered games will take place on Track 2, as outlined in the tournament bracket.

Track 1

Game 1: #1 Auld Reekie Roller Girls vs #16 Dublin Roller Derby
10:00 AM EDT (3:00 PM IST/BST)

Both of these teams are new to WFTDA Playoffs this year, and while a match up between the top and bottom seeds seems like a given, this game requires a closer look. Within the WFTDA ranking system, Flat Track Stats predicts a win for Dublin, while if you view the match up with in just European rankings, Auld Reekie is slated to come out on top.

Ranked #41, Auld Reekie actually qualified for D2 last year but decided to hold off until they were in a better position to make the trip across the Atlantic. Able to play all their games in Europe this season, the ARRG All Stars had two wins and two losses in sanctioned play, but those two losses were both to teams seeded below them at D2s, #3 Paris and #14 Bear City. Both Auld Reekie and Dublin played an unsanctioned game against #17 ranked Rainy City and lost earlier this season, but ARRG was able to put up more points against the D1 team.

As mentioned in their team profile last week, #58 Dublin has been on their way up this season and their hard work got them a Playoff invite despite sitting just outside the D2 cut off. They were also able to stay East of the Atlantic during the regular season and earned a record of 4-1 in sanctioned play. They had fairly similar results as Auld Reekie against Leeds and Paris, but the last time Dublin and Auld Reekie played each other, ARRG won by 133 points.

As the second-ever league to become a WFTDA member outside of North America, Auld Reekie has a longer history of sanctioned play and tournament experience. However, it seems Dublin is coming in as a strong underdog, and perhaps their recent momentum will carry them further in the tournament than expected. In the past eight D2 brackets, only twice did the top seed make it out of the weekend in 1st place. The winner of this game will take on either #9 No Coast or #8 Ohio at 6pm EDT (11pm IST/BST).

Game 3: #9 No Coast Derby Girls vs #8 Ohio Roller Derby
12:00 PM EDT (11:00 AM CDT)

These two teams have both been long time Divison 1 Midwest teams and matched up last year in Madison with Ohio taking ninth place over No Coast 227-188. Although the restructuring of playoffs did make D1 a little harder to get to this season, both No Coast and Ohio found themselves deep in D2 territory. However, they are both strong teams who likely got displaced while many other teams are on the rise.

#48 Ohio always clocks in plenty of track time in the regular season and this year’s 5-8 sanctioned record was about what they normally average. They started the year with two close games (only one sanctioned) against Naptown who is also in this bracket as the #12 seed. Ohio attended Skate to Thrill in March where they won two of three games, including another win against No Coast. Later in the season some of their losses came to teams who have been on their way up such as Queen City (304-95) and Ann Arbor (193-124).

Photo credit: Mr. McWheely.

Photo credit: Mr. McWheely.

Ranked #49,  No Coast enters this weekend with a 2-6 sanctioned season record with just one win at Skate to Thrill. They, as well as Ohio, lost to #36-ranked Houston there, but No Coast came much closer with a score of 187-171 while Ohio lost by 56 points. No Coast also attended Besterns with wins over both Sacramento teams and a loss to currently #64-ranked Boulder County. However, at the end of June, No Coast only lost to #28-ranked Windy City 31 points.

No Coast and Ohio have many longtime veteran skaters and WFTDA tournaments have been a regular part of their schedule for many years. Ohio has picked up the last two wins in this match up, but No Coast tends to come into Playoffs with plenty of fight in them. The winner of this game will advance to semi-finals Friday at 6pm EDT (5pm CDT) against the winner of Game 1.

Game 5: #5 Oklahoma Victory Dolls vs #12 Naptown Roller Derby
2:00 PM (1:00 PM CDT)

This game has two teams who have experience in both Division tournaments, but Oklahoma Victory dropped out of contention last year and missed out on an invite. Naptown entered the Vancouver D1 bracket last year as the #6 seed but came out of it in 10th place.

While #45 Oklahoma Victory didn’t qualify last season, they continued full steam ahead. Last year they went to Beach Brawl, Mayday Mayhem, and hosted Sooner Skate. This season they made a come back in with 16 wins and one loss against Kansas City. After sweeping all four games at K-Town Shakedown in April, they went to Mayday Mayhem in June, which runs as a bracketed tournament. OKVD took first place after playing six games in one weekend.

#53 Naptown came back a month later from an unsanctioned two-point loss to Ohio to take a sanctioned win 162-149. Their 3-4 season included losses against D1 teams #30 Ann Arbor and #28 Windy City, but they kept a good point spread. Taking on higher-ranked teams such as Jacksonville and Stockholm hurt their average a bit, dropping them a total of 11 spots in the rankings to where they currently stand. They did take down #11 seed Columbia 240-113 and got another win in at the beginning of August against this weekend’s host, Steel City.

The Oklahoma Victory Dolls clearly worked on their tournament endurance this year to spring back up in the rankings and meet Naptown in the middle for this match up. The winner will play at 10am EDT (9am CDT) the next day against the winner of #13 seed Treasure Valley and #4 seed Jet City.

Game 7: #13 Treasure Valley Roller Derby vs #4 Jet City Rollergirls
4:o0 PM EDT (2:00 PM MDT/1:00 PM PDT)

Jet City and Treasure Valley were both there for the first-ever D2 tournament in 2013 and both came out successfully. TVRD turned around their #10 seed to finish 3rd and Jet City not only took gold at their Playoff but went on to place first at D2 Champs as well. They started this season playing each other twice, with Treasure winning in April by three points and Jet City returning the next month with a 26-point win.

#44 Jet City tends to play a shorter season by playing most of their games at tournaments and sometimes a few local games, giving a smaller sample to look at. This season they went 4-2 with three of those wins coming at Besterns. They took down this weekend’s #2 seed Tucson by 90 points and lost to #31 ranked Rocky Mountain by only 24 points. Since Playoff seeding was announced, they played an unsanctioned game against Terminal City, losing 212-137, and some skaters participated with a mash up team against Rat City’s Rain of Terror (249-133).

Ranked #54, Treasure Valley is another team returning to postseason play after a year off. The last time we saw them at WFTDA Playoffs was at D2 Cleveland where they struggled hard with penalties. In February of this year, they lost by one point to Happy Valley who was ranked #106 at the time but rose later in the season to #70. Treasure Valley also went to Besterns and lost to #64-ranked Boulder County by eight points, while Jet City had taken down the same team by 65 points. TVRD did slightly better against Tucson than Jet City, but both teams kept Tucson to 119 points.

Flat Track Stats has this game in Jet City’s favor, but Treasure Valley will be back at Playoffs, hungry to play through a WFTDA bracket again. These two Northwestern teams will fight for a spot in a semifinal game the next morning at 10am EDT (8am MDT/7am PDT).

Track 2

Game 2: #6 Middlesbrough Roller Derby vs #11 Columbia QuadSquad
10:30 AM (3:30 PM BST)

The first game on track two is between Columbia, a team who has qualified for Playoffs since WFTDA formed Divisions in 2013, and Middlesbrough, who are making their tournament debut this weekend. Since the two played out their 2017 seasons on different continents, it’s hard to compare past opponents, leaving much room for unpredictability.

#46 Middlesbrough come off a five-game winning streak after their one loss in March to the #1 seed at this tournament, Auld Reekie. They also already took on #14 seed Bear City 238-89. EuroClash helped many teams across the Altantic get good sanctioned matchups this season without flying to the States, so Middlesbrough isn’t one of the leagues making an exhaustive return trip. Learn more about Middlebrough’s history and how they forged a path to Playoffs with a profile we wrote about them a couple weeks ago.

#52-ranked Columbia had a 3-6 sanctioned record this season after taking on some tough competition in #13 Atlanta and #14 Montréal at Tiny Tourney. The QuadSquad hosted Southern Discomfort in April where they picked up a win over currently ranked #31 Rocky Mountain, 176-134. They also beat the #2 seed in this bracket, Tucson, 137-122 in June. Last year, Columbia not only played at D1 Playoffs, but they hosted the tournament they played in as well, placing eighth.

Middlesbrough is a small, but tightly-knit league eager to make a good first impression while Columbia comes in with experience, and possibly lower ranking due to some of their lopsided matchups this season. Whoever does succeed will advance to a game later in the day at 6:30pm (11:30pm BST) against either #14 seed Bear City or #3 seed Paris.

Game 4: #14 Bear City Roller Derby vs #3 Paris Rollergirls
12:30 PM (6:30 PM CEST)

Coming into WFTDA Playoffs for the first time, Paris claimed the #3 seed but should expect a feisty game from #14 seed Bear City. They may have played each other already this year, Paris winning 221-143, but Bear City always seems to pull off major upsets at Playoffs.

#43 Paris went undefeated in sanctioned games with five wins and was another team who attended EuroClash. As part of the French Championship series, they end up playing many unsanctioned games which extended their wins to 10 and also gave them two losses, one of which was a Strength Factor Game against Crime City. Besides Bear City, Paris also beat the #16 seed Dublin at the European tournament, 192-85. At Farewell to Forearms in Helsinki, Paris also took down the #1 seed in this bracket, Auld Reekie, by 53 points. Check out their team profile to learn more about Paris and French roller derby.

Photo credit: Roller Derby on Film.

Photo credit: Roller Derby on Film.

#55 Bear City had more of a split season at 3-2 in sanctioned play. They took down this weekend’s top seed as well, beating Auld Reekie by one point at EuroClash in March, however, they also lost to #6 seed Middlesbrough by 149 points. Always keeping D2s exciting, Bear City’s first-ever trip to tournaments resulted in missing out on first place by just three points after entering as a #9 seed. Each year they have entered low in the bracket and finished at least three places higher.

Paris has consistency and a strong record to back up Flat Track Stats’ prediction of a win in this game, but Mia Missile’s ability to put up big points for Bear City and their past performances bring some doubt into that result. The winner will head to the semifinal round at 6:30pm (12:30am CEST) against the winner of the previous game.

Game 6: #2 Tucson Roller Derby vs #15 E-Ville Roller Derby
2:30 PM (12:30 PM MDT/11:30 AM MST)

Tucson has been part of WFTDA interleague play since the beginning and hosted the first Championship in 2006. While the league has had its ups and downs since then, they are no strangers to tournaments. E-Ville has been playing for the same amount of time, but only recently became a WFTDA member. They are seeded fairly far apart, but Flat Track Stats expects E-Ville to take this first round game.

#42-ranked Tucson started the season strong with three wins, but later had some inconsistent results giving them a record of 4-4 for the year. They beat Wasatch in April by 76 points, but then lost to them at Besterns 169-137, a swing of 108 points. Earlier this year they did also take down Calgary, who is at D1 this year ranked #35, but later lost to #4 seed Jet City, #11 Columbia, and #13 Treasure Valley. If their momentum holds that trajectory, they might fall victim to the E-Ville underdog, but they’ve also had some time to regroup since June.

In #57-ranked E-Ville’s first year of sanctioned games, they only lost one after nine straight victories. They did start out playing many lower ranked teams, but it was #5 seed Oklahoma who finally beat them, resigning E-Ville to second place at Mayday Mayhem. As mentioned in their team profile we posted this week, E-Ville’s six games at that tournament prepared them for whatever is to come this weekend in Pittsburgh.

Without playing very many higher ranked teams this year, it’s hard to say exactly where E-Ville is at, but their winning season suggests some strong gameplay from them. Whoever does win will advance to a 10:30am (8:30am MDT/7:30am MST) game the next morning against the winner of #10 seed Pirate City and #7 seed Boston.

Game 8: #10 Pirate City Rollers  vs #7 Boston Roller Derby
4:30 PM (8:30 AM NZST)

Finishing out our first round of games is a newbie to the tournament scene and a former Division 1 team. We took a look at Pirate City earlier this week, and this will be their second trip to the United States this year and fourth in three years.

#47-ranked Boston had a rough 0-5 sanctioned season, but also took on all Division 1 teams. They went to Golden Bowl where the closest team they got to was #32 ranked Terminal City, losing 191-122. Their last tournament experience was in Motnréal last year where they entered and left in 6th place.

#51 Pirate City finally secured a spot at WFTDA Playoffs with a 6-1 sanctioned record after attending both K-Town Shakedown and The Big O in succession. They also showed improvement this year on teams who have beat them before, taking down Sydney and Emerald City. At the Big O, Pirate shared an opponent that five other teams in this tournament played this year, Boulder County, and beat them 253-175. Their toughest competitor was D1 team Windy City who they lost to 222-68.

While it may appear that this is Pirate City’s year and Boston’s downturn, one has to pay attention to the types of opponents they played. The winner will play the next morning at 10:30am (2:30am NZST) against the winner of Game 6.

The Playoff bracket for each track will continue on Saturday, and the top two finishers from each will continue to the Championship bracket on Sunday. Teams who lose in the first round are guaranteed at least one more game. Purchase your WFTDA.tv pass to watch the games, and return here all weekend long for recaps and scores.

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