Even though we’d originally intended to attend this weekend’s South Central Region Tournament in Lincoln, Nebraska — affectionately named the Landlocked Lace-Up — life happened (in a good way) and we are instead watching at home via live streaming on WFTDA.tv.
You can too, if you’re not able to make the trip to Lincoln, and you can also create your own bracket predictions for the tournament at WFTDA.com, not to be confused with the streaming link above.
And now, a quick peek at our bracket for the weekend. You can (and will almost certainly have to) click to view the full-size version:
The three teams we’ve selected for the Championship tournament next month in Atlanta are the Texas Rollergirls, the Kansas City Roller Warriors, and Houston Roller Derby. Yes, we’re aware that those are the top three seeds this weekend and therefore the most obvious choices. However, given what we know about the South Central Region this year, and certainly taking into account how last year’s Show-Me Der-B-Q went, that is how our bracket panned out. While our love for KCRW knows absolutely no bounds, we do believe Texas is going to take first, and you may notice we’ve got our beloved Omaha Rollergirls taking 7th in the tournament this weekend, a far cry from their winless 10th place outing last Fall.
Best of luck to both the Wolfpack and the ladies of ORG. Stay tuned to WFTDA.tv for all the action this weekend!
Since Charm City effectively screwed my tournament bracket back into the Stone Age, I won’t go game-by-game in our wrap-up of this weekend’s Continental Divide and Conquer championships. Instead, we’ll just hit the high notes, and you know what that means: the Kansas City Roller Warriors.
For the most part, anyway.
Texas 141, Minnesota 108
All right, am I the only nut that just plain didn’t see Minnesota coming? I tweeted after the game that my hat was off to them, the one team I certainly underestimated the most out of the entire tournament. And I have to hand it to them, they went one round further than I expected and then gave the Texas Rollergirls a pretty good run for their money, one that the final score doesn’t really reflect; they were ahead by 11 going into halftime, for one thing. Texas being the second-half team that they are, though, they definitely came out swinging, and they played the patient game long enough to let Minnesota get themselves into penalty trouble before allowing their stellar defense to pick up the pieces. Texas can talk all they want about how they aren’t a one-trick pony, but until they start relying on someone other than Olivia Shootin’ John for their early bouts in these tournaments, we’re going to keep on not believing them.
That’s a start.
Texas has other effective jammers (Vicious Van Gogo, Bloody Mary, Shortcut) that entered the rotation pretty regularly later in the tournament, but you have to wonder how much of that was due to the sheer fatigue Olivia Shootin’ John was experiencing as a result of wearing the star almost exclusively earlier in the weekend. The statistics may not quite bear that out the way I’m telling it, but from a fan’s perspective, you could almost say OJ’s name along with the announcers when the jam began, kind of like an old song you’ve heard a hundred times.
Kansas City 112, Windy City 95
They’re calling this an upset even though Kansas City already beat Chicago back on September 10 — and never mind that it’s nearly impossible for the average fan to translate rankings between divisions, Windy City seeded 1 in the North Central and KCRW seeded 2 in the South Central. Nevertheless, there was very little doubt in my little mind that Kansas City was going to take out Chicago, and while Windy City isn’t a pushover by any measure, I’ve heard virtually nothing about them all season long; Kansas City, meanwhile, is one of the most dreaded teams in all of women’s flat track and has been for years. You get that reputation by remaining consistently highly-ranked in your division, which Windy City has done, and other things like beating Rat City for the goddamn championship in 2007, which they didn’t. Kansas City did.
So ugly, it’s beautiful again.
It was a very low-scoring, defensive game, and the best team won, simple as that. What drove me particularly insane were the dufuses calling the game on DerbyAccess.com; I have mercifully forgotten their names. They’re fine as announcers overall, but for some reason, they couldn’t quit calling us “Kansas.” At one point, I even politely tweeted to #talk2WFTDA that we were not known as such. And they may have even seen it, since it was re-tweeted a handful of times, and they only called us “Kansas” twice in the entire second half.
Just… know your teams, my friends, especially if you’re charged with the play-by-play. Otherwise, let D’Nouncer Duane and Dumptruck take the lead on KC’s games, since that’s who we want to hear anyway.
Oly 124, Kansas City 104
Fun fact: anyone who saw Kansas City take a 20-point lead over the Oly Rollers this weekend and still questions our ability to compete on this level doesn’t know the first thing about flat track roller derby.
Yes, I just got through saying that Kansas City is one of the most dreaded teams in the league, and there are still people who write off the entire South Central division like we’re not even there. Well, tell Rose City that we don’t exist; tell Chicago, or any of other teams we’ve kicked around in the last six months (including Jet City, Rat City, Nashville, and Atlanta). No longer should there be any question as to the level of skill, tenacity, heart, and pure muscle of the Kansas City Roller Warriors. This game against Oly seals it.
Oly beat KC earlier this year by 81 points, and that’s a pretty decent thumpin’, regardless of the strong showing we put up against them. So to hold them to only 124 points in the semi-finals — and take a 20-point lead at any point in the game — should certainly show what we’re made of. When was the last time they were treated like that? Before this weekend, it hadn’t happened in quite some time.
Even when you win, you lose.
We looked fantastic. We skated well and we put the fear of Gotham in the Oly Rollers, and this game, above all, is why I’m prouder than ever of our Wolfpack.
Texas 136, Kansas City 112
While I was hoping this would be a day to even the score — and show the Texas Rollergirls that we really are the better team — it wasn’t in the cards for us on Sunday. Texas can’t be accused, on this particular occasion, of firing the same gun all day, as they rotated their jammers in and out in impressive fashion throughout the game. KCRW even led 62-50 at the half, but a penalty-heavy second half threatened a handful of our best skaters much earlier than I would have liked, including a bogus forearm major called on Kelley Young that I personally saw no sign of. That afforded Texas a monster power jam late-ish in the game that didn’t blow it wide open, but certainly made things far more difficult than they needed to be. The Wolfpack never really did recover from that, and the clock ticked away, giving Tex-ass a third place win and relegating KC to 4th where they didn’t belong.
Again, this in no way diminishes Kansas City’s achievement in Denver this year. We made it to the final four. We didn’t take fourth out of four teams, we took fourth out of the entire friggin’ league. In all of women’s flat track. I count 124 teams, and three of them did better than we did — on paper, anyway.
And lest we forget, congratulations to Kelley Young for being named the Continental Divide and Conquer Tournament MVP on Sunday evening, as well as Eclipse for being voted to the All Tournament Team.
We had a phenomenal season, arguably the best since we won the whole thing in 2007. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun it’s been, following the Wolfpack’s wins these last few months, seeing Plan B play in Des Moines, and watching the All-Star team beat the tar out of practically every squad in their path all the way up to the Show-Me Der-B-Q, which was a derby experience like no other. Watching KCRW compete on DerbyAccess.com was a ton of fun and a bit surreal, since I see all those guys in real life all the time. Although tripping up to Denver wasn’t possible for me this year (and next year’s tournament in Atlanta will be even less so), I do look forward to possibly making the South Central tournament next season in Lincoln, Nebraska.
As for my own bracket, Charm City (boo!) was where things really went wrong for me. Other than that, I didn’t miss much, and in fact, every bracket error I made was directly tied to Charm City co-screwing the pooch with me on Friday evening.
I called Gotham to take it all, and they did; I put Oly in second, and they got it. Never mind Charm, and then KCRW in fourth place rounds out a pretty nicely-called tournament for me. I wonder what my prize will be.
Looking at the bracket picks that I posted earlier (but actually selected over a month ago), you might be tempted to ask where exactly my head was at certain points during the day, particularly if you were following the games as closely as I was.
That’s never an easy answer, of course, but sometimes I really outdo myself. The day didn’t go that badly for me, but when I screw the pooch, well, it’s not a typical pooch-screw. It’s like Jersey Shore meets Petland up in here.
Minnesota 160, Charm City 121
Pictured: my updated bracket.
What the hell happened here? I had Charm City winning by triple digits and expressed a bit of astonishment that Minnesota was in Denver at all this weekend. To my slack-jawed surprise, Minnesota led for most of the game and only gave up the lead in the second half when Baltimore managed to edge a few points ahead, only to lose it again. Then it was over. Was I just thinking of the wrong team, or did I overestimate Charm City that much? I had them taking third place in the tournament, for the love of Kansas City barbecue!
Rocky Mountain 198, Nashville 58
The only thing I did wrong here was possibly underestimate Nashville by an eyelash. Rocky Mountain is such a national-caliber juggernaut, and Nashville underwhelmed me so much at the Show-Me Der-B-Q, that I predicted this would be “by far the ugliest game of the tournament.” Turns out, it wasn’t even the ugliest game of the day. Rocky Mountain did win by triple digits, so I at least got that right, but given that they only won by 140 points, I have to wonder if they were drunk or something.
At one point, the announcers even said that 99% of the brackets entered on BracketMaker.com had Rocky Mountain beating Nashville, which was by far the most lopsided pick of the entire tournament.
You kind of know what’s coming.
Kansas City 143, Rose City 135
I really couldn’t have been more right about this one. The only thing I really knew about Rose City going in was that they were ranked fourth in the mind-bogglingly powerful West and that their game is pretty similar to the Wolfpack’s. At one point in the second half, a power jam gave Kansas City a 32-point lead, but that evaporated over the next several minutes as Rose City consistently gained lead jammer status and somehow kept KC jammers Kelley Young and Track Rat stuck at the back of the pack. When that happens, a fan watching at home on live streaming often forgets that yelling at the screen in impotent rage won’t get his jammer through the pack any faster.
I feel like that a lot.
Fortunately, it didn’t last long, as Kansas City managed a couple of very strong jams toward the end of the second half that gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Then, of course, the Wolfpack let Rose City take lead jammer for the last two jams, because they apparently hadn’t sufficiently tested my family’s history of cardiopulmonary disease.
Philly 255, Naptown 68
Well, I did say that Philly would crush Naptown early an often, and in fact, when I tuned in at halftime, Philly was up 104-20. That pretty much told me what I needed to know.
I didn’t feel any better about the Minnesota game, though.
All the 3 seeds have now been eliminated, and the remainder of the tournament will be a slugfest between the regional champions and the runners-up. Keep an eye on our Twitter account tomorrow, as we’ll be bringing you score updates and any other morsels of information we can get our claws on, and here’s wishing the Kansas City Roller Warriors the best of luck against Windy City tomorrow afternoon. Game time is 2:00 Central.
I’ve already run down my picks in this weekend’s Continental Divide and Conquer tournament, but thanks to BracketMaker.com, you can go in and set your brackets in stone, baby.
And there they are. I’ve got KCRW squeaking past Rose City in the controversial first round and not stopping until they meet Oly in the semi-finals, finally coming to rest in fourth place behind juggernauts Gotham, Oly, and Charm City.
It’s going to be a very interesting weekend for roller derby fans, and I can’t wait to see how things pan out. Above all, I couldn’t be prouder of the Wolfpack for making it to the championships yet again this year. You just can’t keep those Kansas City girls down. Of course, we’ll be posting the relevant results here as soon as we’re able, and keep an eye on our Twitter page too.
So this weekend, the final brackets for the WFTDA Championship Tournament were released, and they look a lil somethin’ like this:
Click for larger, printable PDF version.
Overall, it is clearly going to be a very, very good month for WFTDA fans. Let’s get right to it.
Game 1 – Minnesota vs. Charm City
I don’t think anyone would pick Minnesota over Charm City, particularly since the latter enjoys a 3 ranking in the East division (right behind ridiculous powerhouses Gotham and Philly), and I’m not, either. Minnesota has certainly earned their place at nationals this year (after a Cinderella season in 2010), but they can’t stand up to this. Charm City by 120 pts.
Game 2 – Rocky Mountain vs. Nashville
By far the ugliest game of the tournament, nothing else to be said. Rocky Mountain by triple-digits, easy. I don’t even want to speculate on the point spread.
Game 3 – Kansas City vs. Rose City
I may get skewered for this, but I cannot, in good conscience, slate my home team for elimination in the first round. Rose City may be ranked 4th in the super-powerful West, but I’m picking Kansas City to edge them out by no more than 20. This one could be brutal. Both teams will come away crying for mommy.
Game 4 – Philly vs. Naptown
No contest here, 2E Philly will crush Naptown early and often. By at least 100.
Game 5 – Charm City vs. Texas Texas may still be riding high from their upset over KC at the Show-Me Der-B-Q two weekends ago, but it won’t be enough to take out Charm City. Baltimore by 40.
Game 6 – Rocky Mountain vs. Gotham
I absolutely cannot wait for this one. Here you’ve got two of the toughest, most iron-clad leagues in all of women’s flat track, Rocky Mountain having taken the Hydra last season and Gotham winning their 2011 sanctioned bouts by an average of 173 points. Assuming the 1STBANK Center is still standing at the end of this one, I’m going to say Gotham by no more than 30, and possibly quite a bit less.
Game 7 – Kansas City vs. Windy City
Let’s face it, the North Central Region isn’t underestimated, they just don’t have the muscle, at least right now, that the other divisions do. Windy City‘s no pushover, but I’m picking Kansas City by 50.
Game 8 – Philly vs. Oly Rollers
Quite a match-up, this one, but I’m going with the obvious choice. Oly by 30.
Game 9 – Gotham vs. Charm City Charm City‘s luck officially runs out in Game 9 — not that they got here on luck, mind you, they got here on sheer bad-assery. Gotham is just too much, though, they’ll win by 50.
Game 10 – Oly vs. Kansas City
These two titans met earlier in the season, and KC put up a strong showing against #1 ranked Oly, but the end result will be the same here. Oly by 70, or more if KC can’t keep their lady-asses out of the box.
Championship Game: Gotham vs. Oly
This is as it should be — the two best teams in the nation going head-to-head for the WFTDA Championship, and it couldn’t happen to a more talented buncha ladies. I’m going to say Gotham by no more than 20, possibly way less. In fact, if we’re lucky, this one could come down to the final jam.
Post your picks in the comments section, or if you’re too lazy to fill out the whole bracket, just let us know who you think is going to be the WFTDA 2011 Champion.
Having attended 15 of the 17 games at this weekend’s Show-Me Der-B-Q at Municipal Auditorium (and only missing the two because of a death in the family), I came away with several impressions I’d like to share, both of the bouts themselves and of the dominant teams in the South Central Region. It was a fantastic weekend of derby, some games were much more intense than others, and I have to say, I learned quite a bit myself.
1. Competition really exists at the top.
First, and this is bound to be disputed by some, I was shocked by how few national-caliber teams there appear to be this season in the South Central Region. If you look at this weekend’s tournament results, the list of teams capable of competing on the national level appears to be exactly two names deep: (#1)Kansas City and (#2)Texas. Any seeds lower than that, and it will only be a shootout when they’re playing each other. For instance, the game between (#2)Texas and (#3)Nashville on Saturday was billed as the game of the day; it was bound to be a clash of the titans once teams seeded that high got around to playing each other, right?
Except that Nashville got squashed, as did (#4)Atlanta when they played (#1)Kansas City later that day. And that seemed to be the theme that ran through most of the tournament: when the lower seeds meet, you might see some close games and a few upsets, but once you start climbing the ranks into the higher seeds, more and more blowouts begin to ensue.
Hell, even the game between (#3)Nashville and (#4)Atlanta on the final day of the tournament was a snoozer. Nashville thrashed Atlanta by 175 points and held them to only 1 point in the entire second half. Clearly, there’s a gulf that exists even amongst some of the higher-ranked teams in the region, and it’s no wonder people are left with impressions like this:
“I’m really proud of our team and our region. I think a lot of people underestimate the North and South Central Regions, but we’re really coming up. I’m so proud to be going to Championships with Kansas City and Nashville.”
— Texas co-captain Bloody Mary
(quote courtesy of WFTDA.com)
The problem with this statement is that no one appears to be underestimating anything. Kansas City and Texas mow everyone down, and the lower seeds are left to squabble over the sandbox. I certainly don’t intend to insult anyone’s efforts or competitive spirit, but when you start looking at teams on the national level (Gotham, Oly, Rocky Mountain, Kansas City), a person really has to wonder how long a team like Nashville would even last in next month’s championship tournament — and they were seeded third. Anytime the third seed gets pummeled so handily by a team one seed higher, you can pretty well forget anyone seeded below them, particularly from a national perspective.
Hopefully, in the seasons to come, the regional bracket won’t be dominated over (and entirely decided by) what kind of day the top seeds are having. Ideally, I’d love to see a tournament in which any one of the ten teams could compete on the national level — but I realize that’s “ideally.”
2. My love for the Omaha Rollergirls is only limited by my love for Kansas City.
Take a look at this…
… and tell me you don’t absolutely love the Omaha Rollergirls. To begin with, that’s Auntie Embolism on the left, formerly of the Kansas City Black Eye Susans (the greatest of the KC house teams, win-loss record be damned). On the right, that’s Anna Maniac, star jammer for Omaha and possibly the most underrated player in the division. She is to the Omaha Rollergirls as Mike Sweeney was to the Kansas City Royals — a star player on a middle-of-the-road team who would stand out wherever she went, but who may never get the recognition she deserves simply due to geographic location.
More importantly than any of this, though… just look at ’em. When this photo was taken, the Omaha Rollergirls hadn’t won a damn game all weekend. [Editor’s note: they would lose their remaining game as well.] But their team pride and their competitive spirits hadn’t diminished one little bit, and my friends, that is what roller derby is really about. The true spirit of the WFTDA lives in many cities, and Omaha is by no means the least of them.
3. The Kansas City-Texas game was closer than the score reflects.
The Texas Rollergirls wound up winning the South Central Region title by 40 points, and that’s not a huge margin, but it still doesn’t accurately reflect the intensity of the game on a whole.
When the tournament began on Friday, Texas left me with the impression that they were a one- or two-trick pony — they relied extremely heavily on star jammer Olivia Shootin’ John to the exclusion of nearly every other jammer on the team, with the possible exception of Vicious van GoGo, who saw more and more action as the tournament progressed. But given the team’s over-use of John, particularly in the second game against Nashville on Saturday, one wonders where they would be if she were to be injured and Texas had only GoGo and their stellar defense to guide them. I dare say they would not have defeated Kansas City, and indeed, Nashville would have been a much bigger problem, even taking into account the 143-point victory that Texas eventually celebrated over them.
Kansas City, on the other hand, has a stellar defense as well, but they also boast an impressive array of jammers whose varying styles of play can only serve to confuse opponents. Hall Balls, clearly the best of the bunch, sports a quiet, understated, graceful style of ass-kicking that simply doesn’t alert the opposing team to the threat they face. Up-and-coming jammer Jade Lightning also seems to have adopted this approach and will likely achieve a similar level of success with the proper experience. By contrast, dynamic jammers Track Rat and Kelley Young are like a rain of fire, storming the pack and breaking through like the Kool-Aid man whether anyone’s thirsty or not.
Drink up, bitches.
Strong, lanky jammer Case Closed seems to be the most versatile of the bunch, capable of catching opposing blockers completely off guard with her unpredictable skating style and her ability to switch from Track Rat to Jade Lightning in the blink of an eye.
Facing down Kansas City, though, and working to their obvious disadvantage, was the penalty trouble that is the result of their naturally aggressive style of play. Too often, jams began with only two Kansas City defenders and sometimes no jammer, the missing skaters relegated to the box after much back-blocking and track-cutting ensued. At no point did Texas suffer from any comparable defensive disadvantage, and they enjoyed many more power jams than they should have as a result.
And while the two teams’ defensive strategies are similar, Kansas City’s jammers experienced an inexplicable difficulty breaking through the pack that Texas simply did not, by and large, and between that and the penalty trouble, it was just too much for the Wolfpack to overcome. They did surprisingly well in the face of all this, and their extremely sportsmanlike conduct on the track after the game was inspiring on a level that I have never witnessed in any other sport, professional or otherwise.