WFTDA Championships Preview
We may be far from Atlanta, but SVRG friends and family are no doubt interested in the three days of hard-hitting roller derby that will take place in Georgia. This weekend, the Atlanta Rollergirls host twelve teams to determine the best WFTDA team in 2012. Formerly referred to as Nationals, the tournament is now known as Championships in order to reflect the global membership of the WFTDA. This year, teams from Montreal, Canada and London, England participated in the regional playoffs.
Regionals pit the top ten teams from each region (North Central, South Central, East and West) against each other to vie for a spot to Championships. The top three teams from each region advance to play at Championships to vie for first place.
SVRG was ranked 15th in the West Region at the time when teams were invited to Regionals. Many of us will cheer on the B.ay A.rea D.erby G.irls, our nearby sister league. Bay Area is one of three teams representing the West.
The Queen City Roller Girls of Buffalo, New York hosted North Central Regionals at the beginning of September to kick off tournament season. The Windy City Rollers of Chicago have been undefeated in their region for years. This year, the Minnesota RollerGirls of Minneapolis/St. Paul came closer than any other North Central Team during the regular season to upsetting this regional powerhouse. In a June bout that came down to the final jam, Minnesota tied Windy City 155 to 155.
The Ohio Rollergirls were the surprise in the North Central region this year. After regional playoffs in 2011, Ohio was ranked ninth. However, this season they built up an impressive 20-1 record. Entering the tournament as the five seed, the skaters from Columbus upset fourth-seeded Arch Rival of St. Louis in order to advance to the semifinals against Windy City. Though they held their own, Ohio lost 187-135.
Two seed Minnesota demolished three seed Naptown Roller Girls of Indianapolis 283-76 in the second semifinal, sending the Indy team to fight Ohio for the third place spot. Determined to make it to Atlanta, Naptown finished off Ohio’s improbable season by defeating them 222-86.
In the North Central final, Windy defeated Minnesota 165-153 to maintain their status as the strongest team in the region.
Windy, Minnesota and Naptown are the same three teams that represented the region at 2011 Championships.
The West Region has a reputation for being the strongest region in WFTDA play, and is often referred to as “Besterns” due to the depth of talent throughout the top ten teams. Many SVRG skaters and coaches went up to Richmond for the three-day tournament while our own Bookslinger and Jonny Demonic worked as a non-skating officials.
The Oly Rollers of Olympia, Washington are 10-0 for 2012 with their only loss last year coming at the 2011 Championship bout versus Gotham. With the help of some new and old faces, they rolled into the East Bay hoping for a chance to earn a rematch.
Top seeded Rose City Rollers of Portland, Oregon entered the tournament with the return of a handful of players coming back from injury. However, after defeating Angel City by a smaller margin than expected, Rose fell to Oly in the semifinal round, 188-121.
Regional tournament host and three seed Bay Area held off six seed Rat City of Seattle 229-177, advancing them to the semifinals against the second-seeded Denver Roller Dolls. Though Bay Area led a hard-fought bout at half, Denver prevailed 187-167.
Bay Area and Rose City squared off in the third place bout to fight for the last spot to Atlanta. The two teams have met a number of times in regional tournament play, and the six lead changes reflected the rivalry. Ultimately, penalties played a large role in Bay Area’s 135-123 victory. In the regional final, Oly upset Denver 168-161.
Playing off the “Besterns” nickname, The East Region playoffs are sometimes referred to as “Beasterns.”
The East Region faces perennially the difficult task of seeding the London Rollergirls simply due to the fact that they play fewer WFTDA teams throughout the regular season. In 2011, London made the top 10 in the East, a controversial ranking due to the weakness of their season schedule. However, London proved their worth by improving their ranking from tenth to fifth.
This year, London entered Easterns as the sixth seed. Once again, the women in pink and black demonstrated that they had more than earned their ranking, and indeed, had been undervalued.
After a surprisingly difficult bout against Boston, the Philly Roller Girls Liberty Belles faced London in the semi-finals. Philly opened up an early lead and won their spot in the championship bout 179-144.
Charm City of Baltimore, Maryland also halted the London skaters in the third place bout 183-159 with solid walls. Charm came back from a difficult rebuilding season this year to earn their trip to Atlanta.
Gotham Girls Roller Derby from New York City predictably sliced through on their way to the regional championship bout. Gotham defeated Philly 232-107 in the final. This is Gotham’s fifth regional championship in six years.
The Texas Rollergirls and Kansas City Roller Warriors join Championships host Atlanta Rollergirls as the South Central region’s top three teams. The No Coast Derby Girls of Lincoln, Nebraska hosted the fourth and final regional tournament.
The Atlanta Rollergirls came into South Central Regionals as the sixth seed, but quickly demonstrated that they wanted to do more than host Championships in November. In their first bout of the weekend, Atlanta upset third-seeded Houston 165-104. Meanwhile, top-seeded Texas and second seed Kansas City advanced to the semifinals along with four seed Tampa Bay Derby Darlins.
Texas easily dispatched Tampa, 249-98. In the other semifinal bout, Atlanta continued their march to Championships. At halftime, Kansas City trailed the six seed, 66-64. However, with some strong jams early in the second half followed by excellent clock management, Atlanta finished off the Roller Warriors 192-122.
Kansas City came back from this loss to earn their trip to Championships by handling Tampa in the 3rd place game, 209-168.
In one of the most competitive and exciting bouts of the regional playoffs, Texas faced Atlanta in the championship. The skaters from Georgia led most of the first half, and then again in the second half. However, in the final three jams, penalties held Atlanta back. Texas outscored their opponent 32-0 in the final 3:09 of the bout while Atlanta’s jammer spent most of that time in the box for two separate penalties, bringing the final score to 144-124 in favor of the Texecutioners. This bout, along with footage from all four regional playoffs, may be streamed online for free at WFTDA.tv.
Twelve teams representing the four WFTDA regions will take to the flat track this weekend in Atlanta to determine the 2012 champion. Beginning at 2 PM Eastern on Friday, dreams of holding the Hydra will be broken or realized.
The top seed from each region enjoys a bye in the first round. Gotham, Windy City, Texas and Oly can relax and watch on Friday while the remaining eight teams skate in the opening round.
Bouts will be broadcast live on WFTDA.tv for a cost of $20 for the entire weekend. An audio-only broadcast is available for free.
SVRG's sister league B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls faces off against the Philly Roller Girls in the fourth game on Friday night, beginning at 6pm Eastern. The winner will meet Texas at 10am Eastern on Saturday. Visit the WFTDA Championships website to see a complete schedule.
Check out the team profiles compiled by the team at Derby News Network. Derbylife has a few interviews with Championships skaters.
Twitter user? While there doesn’t seem to be an official backchannel, chances are you can follow along by searching for #WFTDA. Use #talk2WFTDA to communicate with the announcers.
Remember: Daylight Savings ends this Sunday at 2am. Turn your clocks back one hour so you don’t miss the Championship bout on Sunday at 3pm Eastern.