The first ever WFTDA tournament happening outside of North America is this weekend and will be the second Division 1 Playoff bracket of just three this year. Gotham, Denver, Terminal City, Calgary, Charm City, and Detroit will be the “international” teams this weekend, joining Kallio, Helsinki, Rainy City, Stockholm, London, and Crime City at the 2017 International WFTDA Playoffs in Malmö, Sweden.
The top European teams have gotten a truer rank over the past few seasons after taking on higher-ranked teams in America and spreading some of that love back to other local teams. There is still room for teams to be underranked, however, especially those who only get their sanctioned games in at one or two invitaitonals. This weekend should be exciting either way and with the top four teams advancing to Championships this year, someone will likely be punching their ticket this weekend for the first time.
On Friday, the first four games decide who advances to the quarter final round against the top four seeds. The closest match up, according to bracket seeding, will be between #8 Detroit Roller Derby and #9 Kallio Rolling Rainbow. Detroit is well-versed in the tournament experience, as well as traveling to Europe, while Kallio only has one WFTDA post season under their belt.
Entering this tournament, Detroit has four wins and two losses behind them after attending Southern Discomfort in April and playing a few single games since then. At the invitational in Columbia, South Carolina, Detroit first beat the hosts Columbia QuadSquad by 116 points, but then played tough games agianst Jacksonville and Atlanta. After that, Detroit beat Ann Arbor (who just competed as the #10 seed in Seattle) 222-176, and Charm City, (the #12 seed this weekend) 299-132. After the June cutoff they also took down Ohio 217-88.
To start the season, Kallio played Helsinki, the #5 seed in this bracket, and lost 196-125. Then they took a trip to Santa Cruz, California at the beginning of April to play at Boardwalk Empire where they left with two wins and two losses. They first lost to Santa Cruz, who is a #7 seed in Dallas, by 68 points and then Arizona (also in Dallas as the #9 seed) by just two points. Their wins came againtst Ann Arbor and Charm City. They beat Ann Arbor similarly to Detroit, but only beat Charm City by nine points compared to Detroit’s 167-point win.
Kallio finished their 3-6 sanctioned season with three lossses at their own FINvitationtal. Taking on the #4, #6, and #7 seeds from this bracket, they lost to Crime City and Rainy City by over 100 points but came within 13 points of Stockholm.They also fit in a win against before the weekend started, a 251-162 victory against Sun State, a team they lost to at Playoffs last seaso by seven points.
Both teams have lost a few regular skaters from last season, but maintain many who clock a lot of track time. At Playoffs last year, Kallio’s biggest weakness was their penalties, earnning ten jammer penalties in two of their games. That can make all the difference in close games, and they had two losses at 2016 Playoffs by single digit points. Detroit also averaged about 8.5 jammer penalties over their four games at last year’s Playoffs, finishing their weekend by losing to Rocky Mountain by one point.
Whoever wins this game will take on Gotham later the same day at 4pm, and will be guaranteed at least three games. Losing this first match up will put them in the consolation bracket on Sunday at 12pm CEST, providing one day in between to rest up.
Some other games to keep an eye out for will be if #5 seed Helsinki wins their first game at Noon on Friday, they will advance to a game against #4 seed Crime City the same day at 8pm CEST. The two played each other at Anarchy in the UK in April with Crime City beating Helsinki 176-158. Another one to tune in for would be if #6 seed Rainy City advances to a game against London on Saturday at 10am CEST. In Flat Track Stats’s European rankings, Rainy is third while London still holds the top spot and at Anarchy in the UK, Rainy City came within 38 points of them. London Brawling took a trip to the United States in June and lost by three points to Rat City who is ranked one spot above Rainy City in the WFTDA rankings.
Finally, if seeding holds true, and #1 Gotham and #8 Denver meet in the final game on Sunday, they will get a re-match of their game at Sibling Rivalry. The Mile High Club nearly took down the Hive Mind in what would have been Gotham’s first regular season sanctioend loss in ten years.
Denver has gained Scald Eagle and Brawn Swanson this season while Gotham lost Bonnie Thunders and OMG WTF to Rose City. Space Invader had transferred into Gotham from Boston this year, and took on some jamming at Sibling Rivalry with Miss Tea Maven while Brazilian Nut and V-Diva did some double duty as pivots and jammers. Short Stop was sidelined that weekend, but should be back in the rotation in Malmö, and in the middle of the season Giles transferred in from Victoria as well.
Division 1 brackets are usually fairly cut and dry with few upsets, but last weekend in Seattle showed that while D1 won’t be quite the rollercoaster D2 was this year, there is still room for exciting match ups and tense endings. Especially with a bracket that is half full of European teams, there will likely be some seeding upsets.