This weekend will be the final Division 1 Playoff bracket and will decide the last four teams who will be attending Championships in November. The first D1 tournament in Seattle came through with a few upsets but the games in Malmo ultimately went to the higher seed. The bracket in Dallas could go either way, with some games pitting closer ranked teams against each other, but many mismatched ranks will face each other on the track as well.
The first game of the weekend has the #8 and #9 seed lined up to play, but Philly may have more of the upper hand over Arizona than rankings show. The #25 WFTDA-ranked Philly Liberty Belles (#8 seed) had a slow start to the season, with a 159-point loss to Minnesota, but has seen some better results since then such as their 174-150 loss to Montreal. Philly has experience bouts of turnover the past few seasons, but this year received Buenos D. A$$ and Ke$ha Later from Brandywine, however, also lost long time blocker Castro after ECDX to retirement.
#9 seed Arizona’s roster also had some coming and going this season, having lost R2Death2 to Atlanta while gaining Stache Bot from Wasatch. They finished the year with a 5-1 sanctioned record but those winning results came over the lower end of Division 1 or below that. At Boardwalk Empire they took down Kallio (#9 seed from Malmo) by two points, and lost to #7 seed in this bracket Santa Cruz by 78 points. Arizona and Philly may keep it close enough to keep it interesting, but the higher seed will likely win this one unless Arizona just hasn’t’ shown all their cards yet this season.
The game more likely to be exciting and provide a potential upset in the first round of games would be #7 seed Santa Cruz versus #10 seed Dallas. Santa Cruz took the higher placement ranked #19 overall, their highest post-season rank yet, but a series of tough games for Dallas dropped them to #34 this year. Santa Cruz’s gameplay has them trending upwards now, but Dallas has been building their strong game over the last few years.
The Santa Cruz Boardwalk Bombshells started their season hosting Boardwalk Empire and won four games over Kallio, Arizona, Charm City and Ann Arbor. Then, before the Golden Bowl, they took on Bay Area Derby and only lost to the now WFTDA-ranked #10 team by 12 points. After that they beat the #10 seed in Malmo, Terminal City, 179-108 but lost to Tampa (#7 seed Seattle) by 50 points. With a win over Boston at Golden Bowl as well, they completed their season with six wins and two losses.
Dallas pulled themselves out of 2013 Division 2 Playoffs and shot up the rankings to play in Division 1 Playoffs when they hosted it the first time in 2015. Defense has been the name of their game since then, placing 5th that year as well as last season in Montreal. The DDD Army of Darkness didn’t have quite as successful of a season as Santa Cruz, but they also took on many more higher ranked teams at Sibling Rivalry and SweatFest. With just six losses to account for this season, they took on the #2, #3, #4, #5, and #8 seeded teams in this bracket already. Their closest game was a 209-185 loss to Philly in July after holding a lead of upwards to 60 points in the first half.
After the first day, there are a couple potential match ups that could become the games of the weekend, both having to do with the Minnesota RollerGirls. As the #4 seed this year, they finished playoffs in 2nd last year, and 3rd the two seasons before. They slipped just outside the top ten this year after taking on four teams ranked above them, including Rose City and Gotham. With a first round bye, they will play the winner of Game 3, Wasatch or Atlanta.
With Atlanta being the strong favorite to advance, this will pit the #4 seed and #5 seed against each other first thing on Saturday morning. The last time Minnesota and Atlanta played was at Sibling Rivalry last year where MNRG came out on top by 57 points. On paper, Minnesota looks like they would have the better probability in winning, with greater win margins than Atlanta over opponents such as Dallas and Philly. Minnesota also beat Rat City at Sibling Rivalry 217-134 while Atlanta lost to them by one point.
However, Atlanta showed last season at WFTDA Playoffs that they can perform strongly when the pressure is on. They took on Rose City in a semifinal game and kept the two-time Hydra winnner to just a 73-point win while Rose went on to beat Denver in the final game by 113 points. The Dirty South Derby Girls also have a long list of potential jammers backed up by experienced blockers who could all give Minnesota a run for their money. Atlanta will also be hungry to get back to Championships after missing out three years in a row.
Minnesota is favored to win by Flat Track Stats, and have had thrilling post season games of their own in the past, but still need a bit more consistency in their roster. Brickyard has become a huge part of their jamming success, as well as Jacked Pipes, but solidly filling that third spot has been a problem for a few seasons now. Earlier this season they had a rookie in the mix, Milham, and are always able to utilize Second Hand Smoke or Hurtrude Stein, but that also means taking a strong blocker out of the pack. They also have benefited from a few transfers this season, so we will have to see if they toss in Shock Therapy (formerly of Rat City) or Switch Please (from DC) as well. Otherwise the Great Wall of St. Paul defensive front will should lock in effectively on opposing jammers, but following up with game control with lead status will be key.
Looking at a bracket where both Minnesota and Arch Rival win their quarter final games but lose their game after that, we will see the two midwest teams battle for the third place medal. Minnesota and Arch Rival faced off twice last year, first an ARCH win at the Big O by three points, but then MNRG took revenge, and eventually 2nd place, in Madison with 19-point win. Either way, if both teams make it this far they will be headed for Championships.
Lining up this #3 and #4 match up, it’s Arch Rival who has had better outcomes than Minnesota after both played at Sibling Rivalry in St. Louis. Each took on Dallas, Denver, and Gotham and Arch Rival won against Dallas by twice as many points, and came within 77 points of Both Denver and Gotham while Minnesota lost by double the margin. Arch Rival also has nearly twice as many jammer options to choose from and a versatile blocking contingent that can work a flat wall with the best of Bay Area, or flip into a strong braced formation.