Friday Recap: Upsets Mark the First Day of Play at the 2019 International WFTDA Playoffs Winston-Salem

European Teams Make a Strong Showing in North Carolina

First days of tournaments are always unpredictable—as fans participating in the WFTDA Bracket Challenge can attest—and Friday was no exception at the 2019 International WFTDA Playoffs Winston-Salem as three of the six games ended in upsets.

To start the day the #12 Paris Rollergirls shocked the #5 Santa Cruz Derby Girls with a 145-142 final. In the next game #9 Atlanta Roller Derby upset #8 Bay Area Derby, 188-89. And the third upset was claimed by #10 Bear City Roller Derby as they defeated #7 Windy City Rollers by a score of 168-126.

More on the day’s action:

Game 1

Santa Cruz Derby Girls142

Paris Rollergirls 145

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Paris Rollergirls of Paris, France (Seed #12, WFTDA #28)
Santa Cruz Derby Girls of Santa Cruz, California, U.S. (Seed #5, WFTDA #14)

From the first to the final whistle, both teams were neck-and-neck in a nail-biting game as the Santa Cruz Derby Girls jammers’ fast skating and nimble line dancing went head-on against the Paris Rollergirls’ formidable one-on-one blocking. In the end, Paris Rollergirls’ unyielding walls with jammer, Miss Gadin executing a phenomenal 20-point jam, brought the underdog a three-point win against Santa Cruz.

Paris vs Santa Cruz in Game 1 of the 2019 International WFTDA Playoffs: Winston-Salem
Photo: John Blood

The Paris Rollergirls came charging out of the pack on the first jam, but Santa Cruz Derby Girls were hot on their tracks. Blockers on Santa Cruz beautifully opened lanes for their jammers to slide right past on the lines to get a majority of the lead jams. However, blockers from Paris Rollergirls didn’t make it easy. With remarkable track awareness in their walls and bridging, Paris brought many of the Santa Cruz jammers to a grinding halt. By halftime, the Paris Rollergirls inched their way passed Santa Cruz Derby Girls with a two-point lead.

In the second half, neither team was giving way as the game clock ticked down. Remarkable one-on-one blocking from Paris skater Avocado and powerful jamming by Santa Cruz’s E-Wrecks kept the audience at the edge of their seats and eyes on the track. It all came down to the final jam. Starting with a power jam, Paris Rollergirls’ jammer, Ta Mère, tore her way through the pack and scored the points needed to clinch the game.

— Iron Butterfly

Game 2

Atlanta Roller Derby188

Bay Area Derby 89

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Atlanta Roller Derby of Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. (Seed #9, WFTDA #22)
Bay Area Derby of San Francisco, California, U.S. (Seed #8, WFTDA #20)

Atlanta Roller Derby entered the tournament at Seed #9, lower than the team’s other recent postseason appearances. Broadcast announcers spoke frequently of the “transitional season” for the Dirty South Derby squad during which time multiple skaters came back from injury or break.

This season, Atlanta has been “building communication, building trust,” said captain Queen Loseyateefa.

“We’ll continue to go as far as we want to. We’re hungry for this.”

The game started with a quick lead and 16 points scored by Atlanta jammer Afro Dykee. Despite fierce defensive play from both teams, the half was characterized by a majority of single-scoring-pass jams that built Atlanta’s lead over Bay Area.

Atlanta vs Bay Area in Game 2 of the 2019 International WFTDA Playoffs: Winston-Salem
Photo: John Blood

When Atlanta jammer Human Missile Crisis received a double penalty near the start of the game, Atlanta’s blockers were able to hold Bay Area jammer Eva Menace to just four points. With their dynamic walls and patient, strategic offense—including a standout performance by Blaque Jac—Atlanta led the half, 111-31.

Bay Area had a cleaner second half, utilizing their renowned flat walls to hold Atlanta off the line. Legs//Cité scored the biggest jam of the game for Bay Area with 12 points. Star passes were forced frequently on both sides.

Atlanta advanced to face the Texas Rollergirls later in the day, while Bay Area moved to the consolation bracket and will face Lomme Roller Girls on Saturday.

— Kanga Ruin

Game 3

Helsinki Roller Derby217

Lomme Roller Girls 66

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Helsinki Roller Derby of Helsinki, Finland (Seed #6, WFTDA #15)
Lomme Roller Girls of Lomme, France (Seed #11, WFTDA #27)

Despite playing with a limited number of rostered skaters, Helsinki took the victory in Game 3 after a bit of a sluggish start against one of the two French teams featured in the tournament.

Helsinki vs Lomme in Game 3 of the 2019 International WFTDA Playoffs: Winston-Salem
Photo: Phil Lackey

In the first-ever sanctioned meeting between these teams, Lomme crept out to an 18-0 lead. Helsinki figured out what they needed to do and rattled off a 54-0 run to claim and hold the lead. It was punctuated by Helsinki jammer Kujala, who mostly preferred to make her way through the pack skating backward, posting a 20-point power jam. Helsinki took a 100-34 lead into halftime.

In the second half, Helsinki took advantage of Lomme jammer penalties to widen the lead. But in Jam 7, with the crowd behind her team, Lomme jammer, Minimoiz, came out of the box and took lead jammer status. She put up 11 points, one of Lomme’s best jams of the game.

Helsinki continued the second half with long jams, using their strong defense to hold Lomme back. The defense was led by Majiu Rinne, Salla Karjalainen, and Sara Ekholm.

Helsinki advances to face Rainy City Roller Derby on Saturday. Lomme will play Bay Area Derby on Saturday.

“We’ve played Rainy City (Seed #3) many, many times, a very amazing team, we really like skating against them,” Helsinki’s Malou said after the game. “Statistically, I think it’s our time to win, we need to even it out a little bit. It will be a really great game because we know them so well.”

— PulHitzHer Prize

Game 4

Bear City Roller Derby168

Windy City Rollers 126

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Bear City Roller Derby of Berlin, Germany (Seed #10, WFTDA #24)
Windy City Rollers of Chicago, Illinois, U.S. (Seed #7, WFTDA #19)

The opening of Game 4 looked like it would follow seeding to the T, as Windy City Rollers came out strong against Bear City. The two teams met at ECDX earlier in the year, and Windy rolled away with that win. It looked as though the Derby Fates had a similar outcome in mind, as Windy’s jammer Killanois picked up a quick 10 points.

However, Bear City, wasn’t going to let the lead get too far out of reach and pulled out a 15-point jam with a remarkable inside pass from Mia Missile in the second jam. The back-and-forth continued throughout the first half, which included two lead changes.

With 00:50 left in the half and the scoreboard locked at an 83-83 tie, Windy called an Official Review on Bear City’s jammer Mia Missile. The No Call stood, and Bear City took a one-point lead into halftime, 87-86.

Bear City vs Windy City in Game 4 of the 2019 International WFTDA Playoffs: Winston-Salem
Photo: John Blood

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with three lead changes between the #7 Windy and the #10 Bear City. It wasn’t until Bear City’s jammer Miss Zoffi picked up an unanswered eight with Windy’s Shake N Bake and two blockers in the penalty box.

Windy stalled at 99 points for several jams, and Bear extended their lead with the help of blockers Catherine Beat-Her Bonez and Master Blaster. Windy found wind for their sails with nearly 10 minutes left in the game when Mia Go Hamm picked up 12 points to bring the score to 133-122. But after that, Windy fell flat.

Bear City upset Windy to move on to Game 8 on Saturday against Angel City Derby. Windy moves to the Consolation Bracket to play Santa Cruz Derby Girls on Saturday in Game 10.

— Shelly Shankya

Game 5

2x4 Roller Derby204

Paris Rollergirls 64

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2×4 Roller Derby of Buenos Aires, Argentina (Seed #4, WFTDA #12)
Paris Rollergirls of Paris, France (Seed #12, WFTDA #28)

Large point gains in nearly every jam during the game’s opening gambit marked the start of Game 5 between two of the four international teams at the tournament. When Paris had lead, the pack sped to breakneck pace, while 2×4’s team offered a slower pack during their lead. Paris burned their first timeout eight minutes in, to attempt regaining momentum after three scoreless jams. But after 20 minutes of play, 2×4 managed to hold Paris to a mere 12 points while extending their lead to 78.

Paris jammer Bison broke the dry spell in Jam 11, though, despite not earning lead jammer status. She went point-for-point against Maki Lombera until 2×4’s jammer went to the box on a cut track penalty. Paris put up eight points and then followed it up with a lead call to Ta Mère, the result was a score of 87-28.

Paris vs 2x4 in Game 4 of the 2019 International WFTDA Playoffs: Winston-Salem
Photo: Phil Lackey

Argentina’s jammer, Tropical Mecanìca, utilized agility to find the small spaces in Argentina’s walls. As a result, that ability netted large increases—with several double-digit jams in the first half.

Even though Paris upset Santa Cruz in a closely contested Game 1 to earn their spot against the Seed #4 2×4 Roller Derby, their momentum couldn’t outlast the big hits and jammer prowess. The half ended with 2×4 handedly in the lead, 119-32.

The second half continued much like the first, with Paris stuck in the catacombs of the scoreboard as 2×4 climbed their way to a win. The blockers from Argentina, Chinaski and Ladrillo especially, kept their defensive packs tight, allowing Paris few opportunities to sneak through or gain advantage. In the second half, Paris scored 32 points, while 2×4 established their place as Seed #4.

2×4 Roller Derby advances to play Texas in Saturday’s Game 11. Paris Rollergirls will play the loser of Game 7 on Sunday morning.

— Shelly Shankya

Game 6

Texas Rollergirls167

Atlanta Roller Derby 96

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Texas Rollergirls of Austin, Texas, U.S. (Seed #1, WFTDA #6)
Atlanta Roller Derby of Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. (Seed #9, WFTDA #22)

Perennial playoff teams, Texas Rollergirls (Seed #1) and Atlanta Roller Derby (Seed #9) battled it out in the final game of Day 1 in Winston-Salem. Texas jammer Freight Train blew through the Atlanta pack in the opening jam, making quick work of the team in red and blue. Texas, the team with the longest postseason history in WFTDA, took an early lead, though Atlanta’s pack work, under the guidance of pivot Blaque Jac, didn’t make anything easy. In Jam 6, Atlanta jammer Afro Dykee snuck through the Texas pack for lead, and put the team on the board with 20:00 left to play in the first half, 27-4.

Penalty trouble for Atlanta threatened their chances and allow Texas a chance to roll away, but a star pass to Blaque Jac resulted in an 8-2 gain for Atlanta, followed by lead to Atlanta jammers Gucci Maim and Afro Dykee; the team picked up a slight momentum shift. With 13:00 left in the half, Atlanta narrowed Texas’s lead to 39-20. Atlanta continued to use star passes to their advantage in an effort to hold Texas. Despite a string of lead jammer calls, big points for Texas jammers, Freight Train and Dar Dar Binx, put the Austin skaters in a strong position at half, 87-37.

The second half saw Texas extend their lead; however, Atlanta’s jammers upped their game, led by offense from their blockers, to more than double their score. The seeding of the two teams remained true, and Texas defeated Atlanta 167-96.

Atlanta vs Texas in Game 6 of the 2019 International WFTDA Playoffs: Winston-Salem
Photo: Phil Lackey

Texas continues forward to play in the semi-finals against 2×4 Roller Derby on Saturday, and Atlanta will play Paris on Sunday in Game 13.

— Shelly Shankya

Join us for Day 2 of the 2019 International WFTDA Playoffs Winston-Salem on, as we find out who will compete for the gold medal on Sunday and clinch a spot at Championships in November.

Visit 2019 International WFTDA Playoffs: Winston-Salem Tournament Central