With 46 of 52 weeks of the 2013/14 ranking season done, the qualification picture for WFTDA playoffs is starting to come into focus. This past weekend there were a few bouts of particular note which helped to fill in a few blanks.
Some of those were at Spring Roll, with The Chicago Outfit the big rankings winners there. Their 3-0 weekend broke the 7-game 1393-point losing streak that looked in danger of taking them out of playoff contention for 2014, and their wins over Cincinnati and Tri-City revived their hopes and look set to give them a berth in Division 2 playoffs in August.
Tri-City’s 1-2 weekend definitely won’t help their D1 playoff hopes, but the fact that they will have 20 rankings-eligible games at the playoff cut-off means that the damage will be limited.
Cincinnati’s 0-3 weekend extends their losing streak to 13 games with a total margin of -1963 points, all the way from their astonishing last-jam win in Fort Wayne in last year’s playoffs. Their 493-22 demolition by Jacksonville is a team record margin, record low score, and the first time since 2009 that they have been held to fewer than 50 points in a bout. If the Black Sheep’s chances of making it to playoffs this year were slim-to-none before Spring Roll, this was the weekend Slim left town. To add further indignity for the once-mighty team, they now find themselves outside of Flat Track Stats’ top 100 WFTDA teams for the first time to boot.
As we observed beforehand, Toronto, Jet and Jacksonville are all safely ensconced in Division 1 playoff spots. The only thing really being fought for by these teams was the possibility of a top-24 ranking that might make a top-four playoff finish possible. Jacksonville took a big step towards securing that having just jumped into that region in the last ranking release +877-point 3-0 weekend, sweeping all before them.
Jet’s 1-2 weekend means that they won’t be troubling the upper echelons of D1 before playoffs and will likely be facing a play-in game before possibly facing a top seed when they return to the top level of WFTDA play this September, but their D1 placement is still secure.
Toronto’s 243-116 loss to Jacksonville wasn’t the best opening to the weekend for the Canadians but they showed the ruthless side that hasn’t been visible for a little while to put away Cinci and Jet before the weekend was done to finish 2-1 and keep alive hopes of a top-24 placement.
Outside of the playoff places, Glasgow’s 3-1 weekend showed that they’re also in and around the skill level expected for D2 playoff teams–but these three games won’t be enough to lift their ranking up thanks to a bunch of European games dragging them back down. Glasgow were the biggest FTS winners this weekend with a 60-point climb that saw them move from 107 to 61 amongst WFTDA leagues. They will shoot up the WFTDA rankings in June too, but won’t come close to troubling the playoff places.
Fort Wayne also gave a good account of themselves in their two games with a narrow loss to Glasgow only a minor blot on their copy book. Again, though, they won’t be hitting playoffs this year despite a good run of results in 2014.
Not Spring Roll
Kansas City look to have just saved their D1 playoff bacon with a narrow loss to Arch Rival. They were in very serious danger of slipping out of the top tier but look to have avoided suffering the relative indignity (for a former WFTDA champion team) of going to D2 playoffs as their May 2013 games aged out.
They have one more game before the cut-off, against a Wasatch team that is going to just fulfil their minimum requirements for 2014 in time–and it would take a very surprising result there to leave the Roller Warriors outside the top 40 on July 1.
Minnesota visited Atlanta and extended their 2014 sanctioned record to 3-0. They dominated utterly in the first half, leading by over 100 points at one stage as they shut down a succession of Atlanta jammers. Eventually Atlanta realised that jamming Wild Cherri was the solution to their problems and they started a rally shortly before the half that saw them come within a jam of overwhelming that huge deficit–but fell agonisingly short in the closing jams as Minnesota closed out a 175-150 win. That result will benefit both in the rankings. Minnesota also juiced their rankings with a 277-56 hangover win against Nashville.
Elsewhere, DC continued their strong 2014 with 217-80 and 278-97 wins over NEO and Burning River respectively, taking a big stride towards D1 playoff qualification in the process. Their placement at the top table isn’t quite secure yet–but the odds are now very much in their favour. The results are also a kick downward for both Burning River and NEO.
Finally we come to Montreal’s 0-3 Pacific Northwest swing. Those results were all fractionally below FTS expectation and see them drop out of the top 20. The 202-124 loss in the Rat’s Nest on Friday was Rat’s much-belated revenge for Montreal’s 110-103 Key Arena win from 2011. Their loss to Rose was expected; in fact, the Canadians held it closer in the first half than had been predicted as they rattled the Wheels of Justice before Rose’s defence gathered themselves for a dominant second period as they really ramped up their discipline. That reduced penalty count for most of Rose’s skaters paid dividends in what ended up as a 306-109 rout that gives them a good shout at a top seeding for playoffs, but whether they get it depends as much on their performance against Arch Rival next month as does on Texas’ results before the end of June.
Also of note was Montreal’s loss to Oly; it seemed from the Oly Rollers’ loss to Terminal at The Big O that Oly were still over-ranked, and Montreal were backed by many to win in Olympia. As it happened they lost 230-174 and never really looked in danger of upsetting the former champions. Overall, the three games will be something of a wash from a ranking point of view for the Canadians, but should have provided an important learning experience for the several new members of the Skids squad for 2014.