The 2017 International WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs concluded in September and we’ve been eagerly anticipating Champs weekend ever since. It’s almost here, with Day 1 of the 2017 International WFTDA Championships hosted by Philly Roller Derby in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania kicking off Friday, Nov. 3. The WFTDA did a little restructuring to tournaments this season and now only the top 52 qualifying teams attended their respective Division tournament. The D2 tournament was an all inclusive weekend with two brackets of eight teams playing concurrently over two days and then D2 Championships taking place on the third day. Meanwhile, D1 was split into three brackets of 12 teams with the top four teams advancing to D1 Championships.
At the conclusion of the final D1 bracket in Dallas, Texas, the seeding for Champs was announced as it had been done in past years. This time, however, with only three top teams earning a bye in the Champs bracket, the fourth spot was up for grabs for one of the 2nd placing teams. WFTDA took Angel City (Seattle bracket), Denver (Malmö bracket), and Texas (Dallas bracket) and calculated their game rankings points from their Playoff performances. The team who came out the highest earned the final bye spot, and it turned out to be Denver with an average of about 890.46 rankings points against Stockholm, London, and Gotham.
Once Denver was revealed, the rest of the Malmö finishers filled in the bracket which were #1 Gotham, #3 London, and #4 Crime City. Then WFTDA President, Master Blaster, drew the next set of teams at random which turned out to be the top four Seattle teams, Rose City, Angel City, Montréal, and Rat City. The Dallas teams filled in the bracket last with #1 Victorian Roller Derby League, #2 Texas Rollergirls, #3 Arch Rival Roller Derby, and #4 Minnesota RollerGirls.
With the same bracket setup as D1 Playoffs, there will be four play-in games before the quarterfinal round against the bye teams. Every team is guaranteed at least two games since there is time for four consolation games this year without the D2 bracket. This differs from years past when losing your first game meant you were done for the weekend, making the trip more worthwhile for teams who could be making their third big trip this year because they qualified for Champs.
Teams were seeded into Playoffs with their June 30th ranking, and since the September 30th WFTDA rankings were released, they now enter Championships with their updated ranking which includes games from WFTDA Playoffs. The first game will be a match up between #3 seed Montréal and #4 Crime City with the winner getting a chance against #1 seed and ranked Victoria. The New Skids got an exciting Playoff re-match against Bay Area in Seattle, but then lost to Rose City in the semifinal game. Montréal earned their trip to Champs for the first time last season, but this year it will be Crime City making their debut. As the first Swedish team to make it this far, and the #2 team in Europe according to Flat Track Stats, they had a thrilling game against London for 3rd Place in Malmö, the only European team ranked above them.
After that, #2 seed Angel City will take on #4 seed Minnesota with a spot against Denver for the winner. These two haven’t played each other since their semi-final game at the 2015 Playoffs where ACD won by 109 points. Since then, Angel City has had some turnover in their roster, but have effectively filled in the gaps and have a strong hunger for the Hydra. Minnesota had a harder time at Playoffs with main jammer Brickyard out of the rotation but did have some recent transfers step up and fill out their lineup.
The 2 PM game will be between London Rollergirls and Arch Rival, a match up that took place in the quarterfinal round of Champs last year in Portland. London took that game 197-94 but both teams are looking a little bit different this season. Both are #3 seeds but now Arch Rival has overtaken London in the rankings for the first time at #7 while London has fallen just below them at #8. These two black and pink teams should make for one of the more interesting games of the weekend, with the winner facing the current keeper of the Hydra, Rose City.
The final play-in game will be between #2 seed Texas and #4 seed Rat City with the winner taking on Gotham next. Texas had a wider range of competition in their Playoff bracket, playing teams ranked from #1 to #34 which ended up giving them the lowest Playoff of average of the three teams who finished in 2nd place. Rat City, on the other hand, ended up with four games after upsetting #3 seed Jacksonville on Day 1 by 16 points. These two also went to head to head in Portland last year, with Texas winning 238-50.
Typically the top seeded teams have advanced at Championships in the past, and if that happens again, the bracket is thankfully set up to deliver us something other than a final game between Rose City and Gotham. If they win their first games, we will get to see those two go head to head again in the semifinal round instead, meaning only one can try for another chance to take home the Hydra. On the other side of things is Denver and Victoria, but Denver’s spot is less secure since they have a potential to play Angel City, a team currently above them.
The new tournament structure gives us a bracket that isn’t completely predictable ahead of time, and even has the potential to offer some exciting consolation games as well. Who do you think will go all the way this year? Be sure to make your picks and enter the bracket challenge. We will take a closer look at what will be the game to watch in Philly as the tournament draws a bit nearer.
Don’t miss a second of the thrilling Championships action. Tickets and watch passes are on sale now at Tournament Central.