2016 International Tournaments
September 8, 2016
The first weekend of Division 1 Playoffs in Montréal has set the bar high for the remaining tournaments and Columbia looks like it will follow suit. This will be the post season debut for Rainy City and Ann Arbor, and the 2015 WFTDA Champs Rose City Rollers will top off the bracket. The top three finishers from this weekend will join London, Texas, and Montreal at Championships in Portland this November.
The first game of the weekend is between a team new to post season play, and a team well experienced in WFTDA tournaments. Rainy City's berth into Playoffs came after a huge jump in the rankings while Steel City has slowly fallen to the bottom edge of Division 1. Tournaments so far have already shown that new teams have either thrived over the weekend, or revealed their flaws while on the big stage for the first time. Whichever way it goes, the winner will take on the #2 seed Jacksonville the same day at 4pm EDT.
From Manchester, England, Rainy City's five sanctioned games in 2016 earned them their Playoff debut this weekend, and in particular, their Beach Brawl trip pushed them up a record 87 WFTDA rankings spots in one month. They had three wins by an average of nearly 300 points at the invitational, and their game against Newcastle, who had a higher strength factor due to a previous Strength Factor Challenge game, gave Rainy City a side-effect SFC boost. In June they played Kallio, who just recently took 10th Place at D1 in Montréal, and beat them by 42 points. This past weekend they also took on the London Brawl Saints and took away a 305-65 win which put them at #3 on the Flat Track Stats European rankings under London and Crime City.
Steel City's Steel Hurtin' lost 'snot Rocket Science, a skater for Team USA and one of Steel's lead scorers last year, when she transferred to Jacksonville this season. Her last game with Pittsburgh was in February against Naptown where Steel City won by 45 points. That was one of their 6 wins, which also included a 4-point victory against Charlottesville, the 2nd Place finisher from Division 2 Playoffs in Lansing. This the lowest Steel City has entered a bracket since they first qualified in 2009, so this weekend will reveal if they're on their way down or if their ranking has just suffered a bit in this transitional time.
Columbia will not only be playing this weekend, but hosting the whole D1 tournament as well. They are no stranger to multi-tasking however, and among their nine wins and two losses they hosted and played at two events this year. At March Badness the QuadSquad was the first team Demolition City played this season since placing 3rd at D2 Championships and suffering massive turnover and Columbia's 342-point win against them bumped their rank up 17 spots to #27. They've only fallen four spots since then, with one of their losses being against Tampa at Southern Discomfort and the other was a 27-point loss to Charm City (who just placed 3rd at D2 Lansing) in May.
The Ann Arbor Brawlstars are the second team in this bracket who is new to Playoffs this year, and they made it all the way to Division 1 after just missing out on a spot at Division 2 last year. They went to Skate to Thrill in April, and played a bunch of random home and away games after that. The one game they lost was to Ohio early in the year by 104 points, but has won 11 games since then. Their wins over Calgary, Wasatch, and St. Chux as well as their 288-point win over Demolition City bumped them up 14 spots in the April rankings to #46, and from there they rose into the top 40 by June.
Columbia and Ann Arbor have shared a few competitors this season including Demolition City, who the QuadSquad took a greater win-margin over, and both teams took a 1-point win over Charlottesville as well. After the #8 and #9 seeds battle it out at noon on Friday, one team will advance to take on the #1 seed Rose City that same evening at 8pm EDT.
At last year's Playoffs, Denver got beat out in a semi-final game against Jacksonville by 30 points and the Mile High Club returns this year as the #3 seed. They've had a tough season with losses to four of the top ten teams but did avenge their loss to New Jax City with a 14-point win against them at Sibling Rivalry. Denver also beat Minnesota by one point there, but added another loss to their Bay Area rivalry at the Big O. While their roster has had many changes this season, it has retained skill with high level transfers, but has lacked a bit of their solid cohesion from the past. If they make it to Champs again this season, we know they won't have Bay Area around to eject them, but they will have to battle Jacksonville again at the top of this bracket.
Santa Cruz has a shorter Playoff history than Denver, but has had time in both Division 1 and Division 2 brackets, including finishing in 2nd place at the 2013 D2 Championships. Last time Santa Cruz was in a D1 bracket they entered as the 6th seed and finished 7th. The Boardwalk Bombshells played all their sanctioned games at the Clover Cup, Big O, and Boardwalk Empire this season, and finished with a 7-3 record. Including their unsanctioned games, many against various Bay Area teams, Santa Cruz picked up 12 total wins. They did lose twice to Sacred City, a #7 seed in Vancouver, at the Clover Cup, and beat Rocky Mountain, who just placed 7th in Montreal, by 23 points at the Big O.
Even though Denver has fallen to the edge of the top ten, they still have a lot of scoring and defensive power to take up against Santa Cruz who has found themselves back above the #40 mark. The last time these two faced off was under the same circumstance in 2014, a first round D1 match up that went to the Mile High Club 260-48. The winner of this game will get a semi-final game against the winner of Game 4; #2 seed Jacksonville against the winner of the first game.
Jacksonville has been on a steady rise the past few years, and it all finally paid off for them last season with their first trip to WFTDA Championships. Now with a solid spot in the top ten, they enter this tournament with a #2 seed and a good chance at a return trip to Champs. With an already speedy jammer rotation in place, they gained the high-scoring, apex jumping 'snot Rocket Science from Steel City, who has become a powerful pivot for New Jax City.
Although Jacksonville ousted Denver from the final game at Playoffs last season, Denver got back at them with a 14-point win at Sibling Rivalry in June. Arch Rival also avenged their slim loss to Jacksonville from Champs last year by taking them down at the same invitational this year by a closer 3-point game. Just before Jacksonville went on that trip however, they took down Minnesota, who is ranked just above them, 179-156. Jax has proved they can hang with the upper echelon of the bracket, so their final placement will likely come down to things like penalties and jam control with lead status.
Jacksonville's first game opponent will either be #7 Rainy City or #10 Steel City, and a win will likely mean another face off with #3 Denver. If bracket seeding holds out, Jax could end up taking on the #1 seed, and last year's WFTDA Champion, Rose City who they've never played.
Atlanta is entering Columbia as the #4 seed and that is a place they have gotten to know well throughout their Playoff history. They did make it to Championships in 2012 and 2013, but have stiff competition in the top three teams and also have a European wild card to face first. The Dirty South Derby Girls have retained most of their roster from last season, with notable changes being in Wild Cherri's retirement and gaining Blaque Jac from Tampa. Atlanta concluded the year with a 4-6 record with games at Southern Discomfort, Sibling Rivalry, and SweatFest.
Crime City first made it to WFTDA Playoffs last season where they entered 8th and finished 7th. They started the year at #25 in the WFTDA rankings but have hovered above #20 for the rest of the year with an almost perfect record. In sanctioned play they only lost one game which was against Montreal at Mayday in Hel. At their own event, The European Smackdown, they also took an unsanctioned loss against London by by 213 points, and were the closest European team to come to Brawling this year.
Atlanta and Crime City have never played each other and the winner will likely get to play a semi-final game against the top seed Rose City the next day. The loser will enter the consolation bracket against the loser of Game 1.
Rose City finally took down Gotham last year at Champs by 11 points with a combination of strong jamming and strategic pack work. They still only sit at #4 in the rankings and with many close games this year it feels like a repeat is going to be another hard-fought journey. The one blemish on their record this season was a loss to Victoria at The Big O when they were without Loren Mutch and eventually Scald Eagle who fouled out with 15 minutes of the game left. Their flaws at the Big O revealed their deeper jammer roatation however, with Luna and Frisky Biscuits proving themselves against their high level opponents.
The Wheels of Justice earned seven wins this year including victories over #3 Denver and #4 Atlanta from this bracket. 2nd Place finisher from the Montréal bracket, Texas, was the closest to come to Rose City at SweatFest with a final score of 152-108. In August they also hosted Denver for a second game against the Mile High Club this season and Loren Mutch showed that she hasn't skipped a beat since her time off, and their defense dominated from edge to edge of the track.
Rose City's first game will be against either the #8 seed Columbia or #9 seed Ann Arbor. Winning will get them a game against either Atlanta or Crime City.
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