With the second quarter WFTDA rankings period closing at the end of the month, June’s bouts represent the final chances for teams to solidify their seeding for the September and October regional tournaments — or claim an invite by breaking into their region’s top ten.
This week, DNN takes a four-part look at how the playoff picture is shaping up over the final five weeks of the WFTDA “regular season.” On Monday we examined the East region and Tuesday covered the North Central; today London bureau chief Lex Talionis digs into the scene in the South Central.
While the top six teams can be predicted with some confidence, picking the rest – or even the order of teams three to six – is a much harder task after a season of upsets in the South Central region. There are at least least seven teams vying for the bottom four places with two new entrants into the qualifying zone looking over their shoulders at two new leagues on the charge, and one old foe who’s got two shots at proving their worth.
Top of the Tree
Texas and Kansas City have had a lock on the South Central region’s top two places for as long as the region has existed, with the exception being a single quarter when KCRW dropped to 3 before the playoffs in 2010 only to win that tournament to reclaim their place in the top two. Neither team has done anything this year that is likely to convince voters they should go in as anything other than the top two seeds with comprehensive victories over lower-ranked opposition.
While neither team has any in-region matchups that could affect their ranking, there are a couple of bouts that have the potential to change voters’ minds. Texas (1SC) faces off against Montreal (6E) on June 22, a rematch of the 2011 bout that saw a rare Texas home loss. With Kansas City’s 31-point victory over the Canadians in April, voters might see a repeat of Montreal’s upset victory as enough reason to bump Texas into the number two spot.
The Chasing Pack
3SC Nashville lost to 6SC Tampa Bay in April 150-87, then beat 5SC Atlanta 166-136 for their two in-region games so far in 2012. They only have one other in region game scheduled before the end of the quarter – a bout against 11SC Duke City this coming weekend. This doesn’t seem likely to be enough to justify a third-place ranking going into regionals; they could conceivably slip behind both Houston and Tampa to find themselves in fifth.
4SC Houston have managed to win big in-region but not really make a airtight case for improving their ranking on their own merits. Big wins in 2012 against 18SC Assassination City, 14SC Green Country and the 12SC Oklahoma Victory Dolls were all expected, and their 203-84 victory over Tampa by – coupled with Tampa’s later win over Nashville -– suggests they will probably make it into third. A relatively close result against region leaders Texas (143-90 in May) also buttresses Houston’s case for rising.
5SC Atlanta were on wrong end of a 122-point drubbing by Tampa, but on the right side of a 152-point demolition of 16SC Memphis. Combined with their loss against Nashville, the WFTDA Championships hosts can expect to see their in-region ranking slide for Q2 – their only remaining in-region game is against 11SC Duke City, which is unlikely to provide a stern enough challenge for voters to justify keeping them in the top half of the region come July, whatever the result.
6SC Tampa Bay‘s comprehensive win over Nashville last month could be enough to see them end Q2 as high as third spot going into regionals, but voters might find it hard to justify putting them above a Houston team they lost to in March shortly after a nail-biting 135-132 victory over 9SC Jacksonville. Their win over Atlanta all but guarantees placement above them, but their mix of results this year mean that they could realistically find themselves at #3, #4 or #5.
Scramble at the Cutoff
7SC Omaha and 8SC No Coast have one of the South Central’s only remaining in-region games that could directly affect tournament seeding to play. Omaha came out the better after a three-point game in February, and go into that June 9th game knowing victory is almost certain to keep them above their regional rivals.
The very edge of the regional top ten is particularly tight, in part because 9SC Jacksonville and 10SC Tallahassee took their spots heavily based on the effect of beating last year’s 7th-place finisher Green Country early in 2012. However, Green Country’s suffered from major problems this year, leading to a dismal 1-7 record and dropping to 14SC; that makes the Jacksonville and Tallahassee upset wins look a little less impressive.
Jacksonville also defeated current 13SC Gold Coast at the 2012 Clover Cup at the end of March, but Jacksonville’s only played one game since their last ranking – a 55-point win over 12SC Oklahoma – and is done with regional play for the quarter. Tallahassee is in an even more tenuous spot at the moment: their wins over Oklahoma and 20SC Big Easy Rollergirls in April aren’t likely to be enough to move them up or down, and their remaining games this quarter against unranked Blue Ridge and 15SC Hard Knox only seem able to knock their ranking down rather than potentially move them into a more secure position.
11SC Duke City could be poised to take advantage of the landscape. They posted a 152-point win against 12SC Oklahoma, and are one of the few South Central teams to have a chance at making a difference before the end of the quarter with games against Nashville and Atlanta next weekend – with the latter being the first time the two teams have met since Atlanta won a 20-minute preliminary in the round-robin portion of the inaugural Dust Devil tournament back in 2006.
Dark Horse Debuts?
Below Duke City, there are two currently unranked teams that have results that could allow them to debut high enough to claim their own spots in the top ten.
Mid Iowa have put themselves in contention for a top-ten debut thanks to a 186-182 win over Omaha on May 19, but only have a game against Kansas’ B-team left this quarter to reinforce their case for a playoffs invite. In April, Mid-Iowa had very little trouble with also unranked Des Moines, winning by 107 points.
Finally, Blue Ridge (Asheville, NC) made their own case when they came within two points of upsetting Jacksonville in March – but they haven’t yet played another South Central team this year. (They did defeat the East’s Cape Fear 185-112 and Charlotte 182-134.) They have one final chance to make their case before the end of the quarter – a June 16th game against Tallahassee. A victory there might be enough to get Blue Ridge into the playoffs, depending on how Duke City does in June and the weight given to Mid-Iowa’s Omaha win.