Moving on to the second set of four groups:
Prediction: Australia, Belgium, Italy, Greece
Australia was very strong in the 2011 tournament, winning by large margins until it came up against the USA and England. Although they have not bouted as a team since, VRDL made it to the WFTDA champs, so Australia are the first of the powerhouses in this tournament.
Belgium did reasonably well at the European tournament, coming in third. Additionally, they split their record with Germany, each beating the other once in 2014. The other two teams have limited bouting records, indeed. Their contest against Switzerland gives Italy the edge in terms of experience as a national team, so I stay confident listing them third.
Overall, this is a relatively inexperienced group. When watching this group, it will be fun seeing the learning curve as these teams improve over the course of the tournament.
Prediction: England, Germany, Ireland, Spain
Confidence: Fairly Low
Without a doubt, England will win the group. The team have a strong statistical case of being the #2 seed in this tournament--they defeated Canada and out-competed Canada against USA in a friendly. They will expect to roll through the group and into the knockout stage.
Selection for the second spot will be some of the most intense in the tournament! Germany took second at the European tournament, and so have a strong claim for the strongest non-ranked team in the tournament. Ireland can almost make that claim, having beaten Wales and West Indies in a second tournament. Spain took 7th at the event Germany played in, so they will most certainly bring up the rear of this group.
Going by overall strength, this is one of the top groups, and that Germany-Ireland bout may turn out to be the barnburner of the tournament. I'm not calling for an upset here, but Germany will have to fight hard to maintain!
Prediction: Canada, Argentina, Denmark
Confidence: Fairly Low
Canada took second in 2011, and have been dogfighting with England for that spot since. They will undoubtedly roll on to win this group. The interesting part is who will take the other advancement spot.
Argentina beat Colombia, and their men's team were the break-out stars of the MRDWC. It's likely that they'll make a very strong showing here. Denmark took 6th in the European tournament, falling to Wales in their final bout. There's very little ability to triangulate between the two, so this one will be exciting.
In these three-team groups, the fun will be the bout for second place. Nothing like winner-take-all derby!
Prediction: USA, Netherlands, Puerto Rico
USA will march on to victory, again. Although skaters from London made it to the semi-finals of champs, it's likely that USA have at least the top 16 skaters in the world.
The question here is Puerto Rico. Netherlands are fairly well known--4th in the European tournament, a consistent host of top leagues in Europe, home of one of the perennial European contenders. Puerto Rico, though, is a total enigma. Are they a hidden power? Will we see the emergence of a regional rival to the US and Canada?
This group will be fun. Seeing who Puerto Rico are combined with watching USA put on a masterclass in derby twice will be an absolute delight.
Now that we've gone through the group stage, I'll analyze the effects on the knockout stage later in part III. I hope you enjoy this, and again, if you find any facts in error, please don't hesitate to let me know!