Despite being so early in the season, there has been no shortage of thrilling WFTDA action. While most of the top seeds have yet to see any substantial flat track action this year (Oly took to the track this weekend, only the second top ranked team to appear in sanctioned action after Texas), the battle for the playoffs has begun in earnest. The amount of play of mid-range seeds (12-18) has been astonishing so far and has made for some exciting derby as teams jockey for that all-important top-ten ranking.
On March 1st, the WFTDA admitted its latest round of member leagues (bringing the total to 147 across five countries). The list included another UK team (Central City Roller Girls from Birmingham) and the first German league (Berlin’s Bear City Rollers). While new teams often take time to work their way up the competitive ladder, every once in a while the graduate list includes a team that is worth watching (think Montreal circa 2009/2010). This quarter’s graduating class features one such team: South Carolina’s Columbia Quad Squad.
Columbia may be new to the WFTDA, but they are not a new league. Founded in 2007, the Quad Squad has seen a lot of success outside of the WFTDA including a 2009 South Carolina state championship and an undefeated 2010 season. During the 2011 season, it began to become clear that Columbia belonged in the WFTDA facing off against the top competition in flat track roller derby. In the midst of a five-game winning streak to kick off the season, they hosted the Honky Tonk Heartbreakers, the famous Texas Rollergirls home team, who had travelled to Columbia to run a camp for the league and play the travel team. Columbia proved to be quick learners, crushing the Heartbreakers by a resounding score of 207-97. They went on to complete another perfect season, winning another state championship.
With their WFTDA Apprenticeship nearing an end, the Quad Squad has kicked off 2012 in grad fashion. They opened the season with a crushing victory over (then) 15th ranked Dominion Derby Girls 223-88, before shocking the Eastern Region by heading into Raleigh last month and defeating the 8th ranked Carolina Rollergirls 99-88 (who were also ranked 21st in the sport by DNN). All eyes will be on their first sanctioned bout coming up on March 31st against the South Central’s 15th ranked Tallahassee Rollergirls.
Another league that has showed a lot of promise in the East got put in their place this weekend, as the 15th ranked Queen City Roller Girls fell to 11th ranked DC Rollergirls 175-77 (an important win for playoff aspirants DC) and were crushed by 3rd ranked Charm City 440-62. It was Charm’s second 400 point output in a WFTDA bout (409 vs. River City in 2010) and second largest margin of victory (after that River City bout as well). In another matchup with potential playoff implications, 10th ranked Maine came back from a loss to Atlanta by holding off 14th (and climbing) CT Rollergirls 200-75.
With Charm the only top team having seen action (in flat track action), the top 10 remains unchanged.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
The competitively open North Central has been busier early in 2012, with a number of teams legitimately jockeying for a playoff position. With the top five holding steady, the bottom five playoff positions don’t seem nearly as secure. Arch Rival (6th)was able to hold off Cincinnati (8th) last Saturday before falling to Ohio (9th) 168-115, in the biggest upset so far this season. Ohio has been one of the busiest teams the WFTDA in 2012, and have stormed off to a 6-0 record. They’ve get a busy schedule planned ahead as well, with 13 bouts scheduled until August, the end of the playoff run. Included in that run will be a Canadian road swing to face off against the Tri-City Thunder (16th) and ToRD’s CN Power (17th). Tri City had an impressive 2011, finishing 7-5 and setting themselves up as legitimate playoff contenders. They’ve only played one bout so far, but will get back in action at the end of the month with bouts against Hammer City and ToRD.
Although the top ten didn’t change in the first quarter, expect Ohio’s sensational play to see them pick up a bump in the rankings. Chicago Outfit (5th) and Grand Raggidy (11th) face off this weekend in a big showdown that could affect the rankings.
SOUTH CENTRAL REGION
Things in the South Central have already been shaken up. No Coast (6th) started the season with nailbiting loss to 10th ranked Omaha 154-151 before crushing Green Country (7th) 220-80. Green Country’s hold on a playoff spot looks shaky though, losing to 15th ranked Tallahassee 215-178 in their season opener. Green Country has a lot of tough bouts against top competition lined up (including at this weekend’s Clover Cup), so they have a chance to turn things around, but they will need to do it quickly with teams like Jackonsville, Hard Knox and Tallahassee pressing for a playoff spot.
Top ranked Texas has cruised so far in 2012 with three one-sided victories over lower ranked teams, while 2nd ranked Kansas City won’t kick off 2012 until April. 3rd and 4th ranked Nasville and Atlanta will kick things off this weekend when they face off in Nashville. But in Dallas this weekend at the 2012 Clover Cup, the South Central will really get going(Read DNN‘s preview here). The knockout bracket will feature 5th ranked Houston and a who’s who of teams on the cusp of leaping into or falling out of the playoffs: Green Country (7th), Tampa (8th), Gold Coast (9th), Omaho (10th), and Jacksonville (11th). The Oklahoma Victory Dolls, ranked 17th in the region, have a whole lot to gain and not too much to lose, while the host Dallas Derby Devils will look for home-track advantage to help them rise from their 14th spot.
The South Central rankings look ripe for change.
While the top six seeds in the Western Region haven’t seen that much action so far in 2012, it seems like those six teams (in varying orders) have held the top six spots for an eternity. The bottom four positions though, seem less secure, and with 8th ranked Jet City (the busiest so far at 3-3) looking inconsistent so far in 2012, there is room for change. The West has been dominated by two tournaments so far in 2012, the Big O and the Wild West Showdown; two tournaments that have featured lower seeds in the Western Region. But it has been an eye opener and teams like 12th ranked Emerald City, Silicon Valley (14th) and Santa Cruz (15th) look ready to compete, while Vancouver’s Terminal City (23rd) and unranked Treasure Valley have proven to be teams on the rise (and look to be doing so quickly).
First to sixth looks solid, but there is room for change in the bottom half of the playoff positions.
1. Oly Rollers