MILWAUKEE, WI — When Windy City (#9 WFTDA, #10 FTS) takes the track against Philly (#14 WFTDA, #11 FTS) in Friday night’s marquee bout, they’ll be up against two different types of history.
Although Windy City was a top seed at Champs in every year from 2009 to 2012, they were ejected in their first bout each time: once against Kansas City, once against Oly and twice against Denver. It’s possible that their first Friday-night Champs bout since 2008 will actually work in their favor — last time, it started a march to a #2 tournament finish — but team co-captain Yvette Yourmaker says it’s not on the team’s mind: “Playing a first round game hasn’t changed our preparation. We have worked on mental endurance and cross-trained all year. Since the beginning of the season, we had the goal of playing beyond whatever Day 1 meant at Champs.” Â
The other history that Windy will have to overcome will be much more tangible: Windy City has never been able to overcome Philly in four tries since their first meeting in June 2008. However, Philly’s only barely pulled it out each time. The largest margin was 21 points, and two of those games were decided by a single point, including Philly’s 190-189 overtime victory at this year’s East Coast Derby Extravaganza.
Noting that the Philly loss marked the midpoint of Windy’s season, co-captain Bork Bork Bork cited that contentious classic as “a good motivator” that laid the groundwork for a strong second half: “Lots of good things happened in that game, but we gained further insight into what needed to be honed. We went straight to work, and that Philly loss helped us prep for Golden Bowl 2013 and Asheville.”
Late July’s Golden Bowl was assuredly the high point of Windy City’s year so far, cementing their ascension from a team that could compete with the top ten to a team with a solid shot at the Hydra. They entered as considerable underdogs against Denver, Bay Area and Texas in the four-team round robin — and then defeated all three, temporarily rocketing Windy City to #2 on Flat Track Stats. That began a 7-1 run to finish out the season, marred only by a last-jam 150-133 loss to Rocky Mountain in the playoff semifinals.
Can Windy Flip the Script?
Though Windy City’s looking better than ever this year, history isn’t on their side going into this weekend — they’re a combined 1-13 against the teams they’ll likely see on their side of the bracket.
June 2013 (ECDX): Philly 190-189 (OT)
June 2010 (ECDX): Philly 110-89
July 2009: Philly 70-69
June 2008 (ECDX): Philly 92-76
July 2013 (Golden Bowl III): Windy City 237, Bay Area 174
August 2012 (Star of Texas): Bay Area 195, Windy City 180
August 2011 (Golden Bowl): Bay Area 116, Windy City 49
June 2013 (Brewhaha): Gotham 349-76
July 2012 (Star of Texas): Gotham 254-89
June 2010 (ECDX): Gotham 191-50
November 2008 (Nationals): Gotham 134-66
October 2008 (Easterns): Gotham 133-92
August 2007 (Easterns): Gotham 134-71
March 2007 (ECDX): Gotham 147-48
Overall, Windy City has improved significantly on last year’s 9-6-1 campaign by putting up a 13-3 WFTDA record. They’re no stranger to late-game pressure going into Champs, either: seven of those games (against London, Minnesota, Rocky Mountain, Montreal, Philly, Texas and Denver) were still in question during the last jam.
WCR will be bringing almost the same roster from ECDX to Friday’s night faceoff with Philly — with two major exceptions. Illustrious double threat Jackie Daniels missed all of Windy City’s ECDX and Brewhaha games in June after breaking her leg in May, but came back remarkably quickly to play at late July’s Golden Bowl.
The other exception, of course, is jammer Sandrine Rangeon, a key late-season addition. Rangeon was a key part of Denver’s 3rd-place finish at 2012′s WFTDA Championships and was named the jammer MVP of the tournament, but sat out the 2013 regular season before joining Windy City in September. In her one game so far with Windy, she put up a solid 74-point performance (with a +60 point differential) against Detroit in a 240-127 WCR win.
Though many eyes will likely be on Rangeon this weekend, she’s joining a remarkably deep and very experienced Windy jammer rotation that sports numerous skaters who’ve put up clutch game-changing performances this year. Three different 9-year WCR veterans had explosive games: Ying O Fire was the key scoring element of Windy’s must-win 3rd place game over Minnesota in the playoffs, putting up 83 points with a +42 differential, while Varla Vendetta ran up a 91-point, +52 JPD corker in Windy City’s stunner upset of Bay Area at Golden Bowl. Not to be outdone, Athena DeCrime made some noise herself, leading the team with 44 points and +29 JPD on just 4 jams in Windy City’s narrow playoff loss to Rocky Mountain and outscoring Madison with 122 points in Windy City’s 374-87 opening-round romp.
A much more recent addition to the team, 2012 Angel City transfer Killa Nois, rounds out the primary WCR rotation, with Jackie Daniels working a hybrid role after primarily serving as a blocker during WCR’s last season.
Windy City has long been known for the enervating hits of their strongest blockers — this year, probably best illustrated by bruisers Sargentina, Hoosier Mama and Bork Bork Bork — but they did lose one of them right before the playoffs on the retirement of Ol’ Drrty Go-Go. However, the last couple of years have also seen a significant evolution in blocking agility, particularly evidenced in KonichiWOW and Moby Nipps’ work on the boundary lines. Ruth Enasia, Tamikaze and Yvette Yourmaker round out the WCR defense package with rock-solid track awareness that rarely allows lopsided blocker odds to translate into lopsided jams.
Should Windy City slay their history on Friday night with an opening-round win over Philly, they’ll be able to go into Saturday with some confidence facing a very tough Bay Area team. Though BAD sports a 9-2 record on the year, Windy City is responsible for one of those losses, a convincing 237-174 final from Golden Bowl that stands as Bay Area’s biggest loss in over a year.
Another Windy City win in that quarterfinal would then set up a final-four battle with the tournament’s overwhelming favorite Gotham. History massively favors Gotham there — not only has Gotham defeated Windy in all 7 of their previous matchups, the most recent one was Windy’s largest loss ever (349-76) and it happened on the very same Milwaukee floor that Championships will be played on. However, a healthy Jackie Daniels and the addition of Rangeon — along with Gotham’s loss of tough jammer Slambda Phage, who led Gotham with 123 points on WCR in that game — all work in Windy City’s favor this time.
Captain Bork, though, keeps the emphasis off the individuals when asked the most significant thing she’s learned in her first year leading a world-class squad: “Every decision is for the team. Decision-making is not easy, but putting the team’s success first never steers you wrong.”
Windy City Rollers All-Stars
00 Tamikaze // 7 Jackie Daniels // 42 Sandrine Rangeon // 17 Ol Drrrty Go-Go // 219 Hoosier Mama // 24 Wreck N Shrew // 25 Varla Vendetta // 30 Athena DeCrime // 303 KonichiWOW // 312 Killa Nois // 434 T.S. Helliot // 52 Sargentina // 66 Janicide Joplin // 68 Moby Nipps // 75 Bork Bork Bork // 777 Ying O Fire // 81 Ruth Enasia // 9 Thievin’ Tyler // 98 Beth Amphetamine // 999 Yvette Yourmaker