The first game of the WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs was between the #7 seed Tampa and #10 seed Ann Arbor. The Tampa Tantrums dominated this game from start to finish with 62% lead status overall along with Winters and Smooth Operator getting 76 and 75 points respectively out of a five jammer rotation.
The Ann Arbor Brawlstars never quit and were able to find more scoring momentum, but their transitional game between offense and defense hurt them. Unable to fully capitalize on power jam opportunities, Ann Arbor lost to Tampa 280-99.
Tampa picked up the first four points but then went on a scoring spree starting in the second jam when Helen Killer went to the box for two penalties. That provided Tampa a power start to follow, and after three jams they were up 36-0.
Fracture Mechanics got the first lead status and two points for Ann Arbor, but then they would only score two more points over the next eight jams. As part of the rotation with Lezzie Arnaz, Helen Killer, Slamuel L. Jackson, and Elle O’Hell, Fracture was the only one to consistently pick up lead status, ultimately doing so seven times out of 11 jams. Another penalty on Helen Killer aided PhDiesel in picking up 14 more points for the Tantrums, bringing the score to 65-3 ten minutes into the game.
Ann Arbor continued line up at the back from the start, even if they were down one blocker. Tampa would form around them which helped them squeeze the pack and open up space along the lines for quick, steppy jammers such as Winters and Smooth Operator. If Ann Arbor could cling to the Tampa jammers from the start, they would often lose them at the apex instead. Around the 15 minute point, Ann Arbor started to run the jam and match points, and after an 8-8 jam between Fracture and PhDiesel, the score was 93-12.
Ann Arbor finally got their own power jam opportunity, but Tampa successfully killed it while Phelony PhatBottom sat in the box with a track cut. She returned to pick up 11 points while Slamuel L. Jackson was forced to pass the star, forcing the jam to go two minutes.
A few jams later, Ann Arbor was able to pick up two consecutive lead statuses, and after four points by Fracture, Helen ran her jam long with more successful results. Tampa went through a rotation of blockers to the box while Ann Arbor’s Lethal, Mel Havelka, and Slamlet clung to PhDiesel. Helen Killer ended the jam with 19 points to just four by Tampa, and the score was 113-35 with six minutes left.
That momentum didn’t carry much further, and in the last three jams Tampa scored 29 points to just 3 by Ann Arbor, and by halftime Tampa was up 167-38. Ann Arbor struggled to keep tight formations and was often caught separated while playing offense when the jammer returned to score. Tampa was able to effectively work through the opposing blockers as the jammer pushed, making Ann Arbor jammers work much harder for their points.
At the half, Mel Havelka already accrued six penalties while Littlefield (formerly Little A) of Tampa had four. Tampa had only given up one power jam while Ann Arbor had four jammer penalties in the first half, and Tampa had a total of 16 to Ann Arbor’s 25 penalties. That many penalties meant that Ann Abor started the second half with just two blockers on the track.
With Winters getting the first four points, Lezzie Arnaz passed the star, and it seemed evident this was going to be A2D2’s strategy to stop the bleeding in this half. A string of lead jams got the Brawlstars further in the score and Fracture, Helen, and Lezzie got them a combined total of 25 points. Tampa was able to match 18 of those points though. Little things were helping Ann Abor like Lethal’s quick hip hit keeping Smooth Operator from jumping the apex, but they needed more cohesion and controlled defense to keep Tampa’s scoring down.
Phelony PhatBottom was the next to pick up a jammer penalty, ultimately taking four this game, and Lezzie was able to get four points before having to call the jam. Two Tampa jammer penalties later had Fracture pick up a grand slam before Winters sat in the box which allowed Helen Killer to add a 13-8 jam. With 15 minutes left in the game, the score was 222-81.
From there, Ann Arbor wasn’t able to make much more progress. They had four lead statuses in the remainder of the game, and just 18 points, while Tampa kept playing their strong game and added 68 more points. Nobody ended up fouling out but Flex A. Belle and Littlefield ended the game on six penalties for Tampa, while Lethal and Mel Havelka left with just six as well.
Ann Arbor had a tough match up for their first game, and while they found moments of success, they needed a more consistent offensive game to get them any closer to Tampa. They would often hesitate to commit to helping their jammer during power jams and were needed to regroup quicker during mid-jam offense transitions. When they were together they made Tampa work hard for every point, however and will get another chance to play Sunday at 2pm PDT against the loser of Game 8.
Tampa was able to seal off the edges of the track effectively, and nab jammers just when they thought they were escaping the pack. Their jammers were able to use speed and power to ping through the pack, always moving forward even if they got a hit. They’ll need all the power they can get for their next game at 6pm PDT when they take on #2 seed Angel City.