The 2016 Big O WFTDA Review, Part Deux

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EUGENE, OR – As mentioned in the WFTDA Review Part 1, the Big O was the first chance this season for many teams to test their tournament endurance, use newer lineups, and fine tune some strategies. For six of the teams in this part of our review however, they had already hit the track prior to the Big O, so this was more of a progress report for them in 2016 as the end of June and the tournament cut off period nears.

For a quick overview of how the teams performed at the Big O, check out the chart below showing each team’s ranking from both WFTDA and Flat Track Stats before and after the tournament, as well as how many wins and losses they accrued that weekend.

March WFTDA Rank Pre-tourney FTS Rank Team Win/Loss April WFTDA Rank Current FTS Rank
March WFTDA Rank Pre-tourney FTS Rank Team Win/Loss April WFTDA Rank Current FTS Rank
#2 #2 Victoria 4-0 #2 #1
#4 #3 Rose 2-1 #3 #3
#5 #9 Texas 2-2 #7 #6
#7 #5 Angel City 2-1 #5 #4
#8 #10 Denver 0-3 #8 #10
#9 #6 Bay Area 1-2 #10 #11
#10 #11 Arch Rival 3-0 #9 #9
#12 #8 Minnesota 1-2 #11 #8
#13 #13 Rat City 1-2 #13 #12
#16 #21 Rocky Mtn. 0-3 #22 #39
#26 #20 Terminal 1-3 #23 #20
#29 #28 Helsinki 3-1 #26 #21
#35 #31 Sacred City 2-0 #31 #30
#37 #37 Santa Cruz 3-1 #33 #26
#38 #47 Emerald City 1-2 #43 #77
#48 #81 Auld Reekie 0-4 #47 #63
#62 #27 Windy City 2-1 #41 #38

The Rocky Mountain Rollergirls started their season in March, and then played three more games in April before making their way to Eugene. Since they started their Big O weekend on Thursday and concluded on Saturday, they totaled six games that month that led to a drop of 7 spots to #22 in the April WFTDA rankings, while Flat Track Stats nearly dropped them out of the Division 1. With their main jammer rotation exiting to Denver, they have rebuilt a strong lineup headed up by Wild E. Coyote and Havoc, and relied on strong pivots to take star passes when their jammers were held up.

Speaking of blockers with the stripe, Rocky Mountain started at the pivot line often, which sometimes allowed the opposing jammers a speedy head start and other times, Rocky’s slow, braced defense helped make it a successful strategy. Veterans like Fiona Grapple and Assaultin’ Pepa, combined with newer talent such as Love Herts and Catcher in the Thigh helped control the speed from the front mid-jam to prevent the other team from scoring. They lost all three of their games including a 92-point loss against Terminal City who was ranked 1o spots below them in WFTDA at the time, and who RMRG had previously beat by 175 points nearly a year ago. They also just hosted Besterns, where they went 3-1, and will take on #1 Gotham and #7 Texas at Thin Air Throwdown at the beginning of June.

Terminal City vs Arch Rival. Photo credit: Regularman Photography.

Terminal City vs Arch Rival. Photo credit: Regularman Photography.

Terminal City Roller Girls‘ win against Rocky Mountain has been their only one so far this season as they fell to Arch Rival, Minnesota, and Helsinki at the Big O. It was a close 19-point loss against Helsinki (#29 at the time), compared to a year ago when Terminal City took the win by 30 points. With their performance at the tournament, they moved up three spots to #23 in WFTDA rankings, but it could be a temporary bump since their win came against a much different Rocky Mountain who is finding their true place in rankings.

With a fairly consistent jammer lineup from last season, they added Mulan Bruise to the mix from Calgary alongside Evada Peron, Maiden Sane, and Kim Jana. They weren’t able to get a lead jammer status against Arch Rival until about 10 minutes into the game, but were able to score 11 points before that due to star passes and a power jam while ARCH had tallied 55 points. TCRG also experimented with pivot lines starts and defense from the front since blockers such as Scarlet Bloodbath and Palmer could work well bracing each other in just pairs or with all four on the track. Flat Track Stats has them at #20, and we won’t see more of them on the track until July it seems. They will also be hosting one of the Division 1 tournaments this fall in Vancouver.

Helsinki Roller Derby started 2016 at the European Smackdown where two wins and one loss bumped them up four spots to #29. At the Big O they added three more wins to their record, including a Thursday night 173-point win against Rocky Mountain, while their one loss came against Rat City by 135 points. Their defense in all four games during the weekend showed off their strong cubed-style blocking with bracing by Tiina Kimari and Nina Erwes. They did struggle a bit with penalties limiting them to only two blockers on the track often.

Helsinki vs Terminal City. Photo credit: Marko Niemelä Photography

Helsinki vs Terminal City. Photo credit: Marko Niemelä Photography.

Taru Saxelin and Varpu Knuuttila are familiar in the star and return to the jam line this season. They were joined by Mia, who Helsinki didn’t have at D1 Playoffs last fall, and Stockholm transfer Mad Malooney. Maiju Rinne did a lot of the heavy lifting in scoring at Playoffs, but often showed up as a pivot at the Big O, able to take on either the blocking or jamming role. In the April rankings, which included all but their 19-point win against Terminal City, they moved up three more spots to #26, but will have another win and two losses from their tournament Mayday in HEL to contribute to their upcoming May ranking.

The Sacred City Derby Girls started hitting the track in February against a couple different Bay Area teams, and then hit up the Clover Cup where they placed third and picked up three wins and one loss. Sacred came in at the top of D2 last year, and so far this season they have kept moving up the Division 1 ranks. With just two games at The Big O, their 122-point win against Auld Reekie along with a couple games falling off their 12-month average helped them move up three spots to #31. On May 1, they took on a fresh-faced Windy City who had moved up to #41 with the April rankings release, and Sacred City beat them by 61 points.

The Sacred City Sacrificers focused on a flat four-wall with slow positional blocking by Lora Stabs and Annie Anklebiter along with a brace coming from the front or side. Pink Freud, The 4closer, and Ariel-LA-Twister resumed a strong jamming rotation and Lil Beez Neez, a transfer from Shasta, got a couple jams in the star as well. Still a bit penalty prone, they accumulated 12 jammer penalties against Windy City with 43 total, but WCR outdid them with 55 total and 15 jammer trips to the box. Sacred had an overall 52.3% lead jammer status in that same game, but more consistent scoring helped them win 213-157.

Sacred City vs Windy City. Photo credit: Danny Ngan Photography.

Sacred City vs Windy City. Photo credit: Danny Ngan Photography.

The Santa Cruz Derby Girls also attended Clover Cup in March, and their two losses to Sacred City led them to placing fourth at the tournament. They did pick up two wins however, and moved up eight spots to #37, bumping them above the D1 cutoff by the end of March. At the Big O they took three wins, which included a 23-point win against then-ranked #16 Rocky Mountain, and had one loss against Helsinki by 59 points. Their largest win, a 178-point win against Emerald City, as well as a 259-113 victory over Auld Reekie happened on May 1, so their first two games helped moved them up them up an additional four spots to #33 in the April rankings.

The Santa Cruz Boardwalk Bombshells used a strong tripod defense reinforced by blockers like Heartless Harpy, with some wrecking ball offense by the likes of CoraZone. Queen Litigious, TARAism, Roasted Pony, and Skirt Vonna-Gut were the main jammers who benefited from that offense along with newer jammer transfer, Mystery Violence Theater. Against Rocky Mountain they had to deal with a fast, spread out game as RMRG constantly recycled to the front, but Santa Cruz used some passive offense to help take some of the pack control back. With two more wins in May, they could see another increase in their May WFTDA ranking.

Emerald City vs Santa Cruz. Photo credit: Regularman Photography.

Emerald City vs Santa Cruz. Photo credit: Regularman Photography.

Emerald City Roller Derby hosted the three-day Big O event (or five day, if you count the pre-tournament games on Thursday night and a boot camp/Team USA tryouts on Monday), and also managed to fit in three games, with one win coming against Auld Reekie by eight points on Thursday evening. ECRD attended WFTDA Playoffs for the first time last year where they placed eighth at D2 Detroit. Since then, they’ve had a bit of turnover and in the April rankings they dropped just five spots to #43. After they log a few more games this season, we’ll have a better idea of where they stand and if they can return to Playoffs again this year.

Psychotic Rage got the first lead jammer status in their game against Windy City, and Emerald City blockers held onto Killa Nois for over a minute helping them score the first four points. With newer faces Thrash Bandiscoot and Land Tuna joining Rage and Spunkee Bruizer in the jammer rotation this season, they struggled a bit in the pack, but strong, bracing cube-style defense by Reyes, Gemini, and Miss Kitty La Rue made opposing jammers work hard for every point.

The Auld Reekie Roller Girls made the trip from Edinburgh, UK to Eugene, Oregon to play four games over four days, and even though they finished 0-4, it should still benefit them to have logged games against higher ranked opponents. Coming in at #63 in the WFTDA rankings last June they just missed Division 2 Playoffs, but so far this year they have moved up 15 spots in March and with one more move in the April rankings, they landed at #47. If they can maintain that position, they will finally see an invite to WFTDA post-season play this year.

Jess Little, Miss Mollie-Check, and Skinn’er Alive showed off ARRG’s well-practiced star passes, run backs to draw cuts, and braced, buddy blocking which helped support jammers such as MJ, Sharlotte Patterson, Sasha de Buyl-Pisco, and Caitlin O’Carroll. They were quick at recycling and finding each other on the track, but also had some trouble with rapid-fire destructive offense by opponents. On paper, Auld Reekie lost by an average of 100 points at the Big O, but on the track they played a very strong game. While they were maybe out-played by experienced opponents, they logged some valuable experience of their own to take back home and unleash on the local scene.

Auld Reekie vs Windy City. Photo credit: Regularman Photography.

Auld Reekie vs Windy City. Photo credit: Regularman Photography.

The Windy City Rollers have had a rocky road since the mass exodus from their roster leading into the 2015 season. At D1 Playoffs they took ninth place in Omaha, and since then have dropped as low as #62. With two big wins and one loss already logged in their calculator for April, they added two more wins at the Big O to help boost them to #41 in the April rankings. Their last game that weekend was a 61-point loss to Sacred City, a team who has been making their way into Division 1 so far this season.

Killa Nois has stuck around through major turn over, and has been joined by Ska Face and Mia Go Hamm in the jammer rotation, along with Molly Mollenkamp sprinkled in a few jams over the Big O weekend. Most of Windy City’s roster is full of experienced skaters who have had their time on the All-Star charter in the past, or were talented skaters who were have moved up from the Second Wind. Hard hitting by Tay Q Down and Legal Tenderizer kept jammers from escaping the pack, while Mack Savage and Phoebe Fi Fo Fum followed up with strong positional blocking. If they reign in their penalties some more they could work on a consistent place in the rankings this season.

The Big O has been one of many WFTDA Recognized Tournaments in 2016 that has helped shaped what teams look like this season. With the cutoff for WFTDA Playoff eligibility coming at the end of June, there are just a few chances left for teams to secure their spot. Midwest BrewHaHa will take place June 3-5 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, East Coast Derby Extravaganza will happen June 17-19 in Feasterville, Pennsylvania, and Sibling Rivalry will bring many top WFTDA and MRDA teams to Missouri June 24-26.

The post The 2016 Big O WFTDA Review, Part Deux appeared first on Derby Central.

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