Preview: 2012 WFTDA North Central Region Playoffs

BUFFALO, NY — The fourth edition of the WFTDA Big 5 kicks off this weekend in Niagara Falls, NY as the ten top teams from the WFTDA North Central get it on in a tournament hosted by the East region’s Queen City.

See WFTDA’s official tournament bracket here.

As in previous years, the ten-team tournament leaves seeds 7 through 10 at a severe disadvantage; they play an extra opening-round game before entering the quarterfinals against the top two seeds. Advancing past that round is very tough but has been done twice — once in 2009 by Rocky Mountain and once in 2010 by Minnesota.

The top three finishers from the tournament score invites to play at this year’s November WFTDA Championships in Atlanta. Windy City has advanced as the #1 seed from the region in each of its three years of existence; Minnesota joined them in 2010 and 2011, and Madison (2009, 2010), Naptown (2011) and Detroit (2009) have all made it out as well.

This year, 4th seeded Arch Rival looks to make a play for the Championships, having already upset 3 seed Naptown; 5 seed Ohio hopes to build on the winningest WFTDA season ever at 20-1; Detroit, holding on their their lowest-ever seed in the region at #6, wants to reassert their place in the North Central by quickly ending Naptown’s hopes to return to Championships, and should seeding hold, Windy City and Minnesota will get a rematch in the final to finish off a mid-season classic that ended with no clear winner.

Friday, 10am: 8NC Chicago Outfit vs 9NC Brewcity

The Chicago Outfit comes into the first game of the tournament weekend having had something of a strange ride through the season — they’ve gone 7-6 with every single win followed by a loss and vice versa. If that pattern continues here, they’ll be exiting the advancement rounds immediately — they finished their season out with a 174-130 win over Grand Raggidy just last weekend.

While the Outfit does have a win over Brewcity this year, that 93-82 game was the closest contest the Outfit played all year. Brewcity, for their part, has been struggling to find wins this year, with the only win in their 1-7 record a 2-pointer over Bleeding Heartland, who did not qualify for the posteason.

Last year, the Outfit was one of the bigger surprise stories from the tournament cycle, making their playoffs debut at the 9 seed and winning their way up to place 5th; however, roster losses since then — most notably that of Sweet Mary Pain and Gaygan to a Rocky Mountain transfer — have dropped them a few spots in the region. They did pick up ex-Windy City standout Shocka Conduit in 2012, but injury has kept her off the Outfit skating roster all year. Currently the Outfit offense attack is mostly built around Lola Blow, The Joan Ranger, Queefer Sutherland, and Suzie Crotchrot; brutal Lady K is a standout of their defense.

Brewcity continues to sport the highly recognizable and highly effective Servin’ Justice as a primary blocker, High D. Voltage as a primary jammer and Carrie A. HackSAW as one of the more underrated double-threats in the sport, but they’ve lost two major pieces of the puzzle since last year; Rejected Seoul is not on their current roster and Moby Nipps has transferred a bit south to Windy City.

The winner of this one will have their hands full with Windy City at 4pm. A first-ever meeting between Chicago’s two WFTDA teams was narrowly averted last year when the Outfit lost their opening game to Arch Rival by 3 points. Brewcity has also never faced Windy City in sanctioned play.

Brewcity: 0 Bloody Cupcake // 1KCC Scooter // 1 Anna Krajcik (Killy) // 2 Servin’ Justice // 5 Skittle // 8 Carabunga // 14 Strykher // 22 Latina Heat // 23 Sharkira // 24 Carrie A. HackSAW // 25 Chazam // 30 Romaniac // 31 EmFatale // 60 High D Voltage // 99 Becky the Butcher // 216 Frank Hurt’er // 350 The Other White Meat // 425 Betty Clobber // 696 Gynomite // 716 Zotay

Chicago Outfit: 00 Kim Mortal // 12 Ivana Schoop // AR10 Silkk Assassin // 14 The Joan Ranger // 15 Shocka Conduit // 18 Matza Ball Breaker // 24 Queefer Sutherland // 32 Pain Gwen // AK47 Lady K // 67 Valerie of The Dolls // 83 Lindiana Jones // 84 Claudia van Damage // 86 Helsa Wayton // 110 Smashley “the Spaniard” Destructo // 138 Lola Blow // 212 Jenergizer Bunny // 409 Shebiscuit // 666 Suzie Crotchrot // 0902 Hero Shima // 1134 Bloody Elle

Friday, 12pm: 7NC Cincinnati vs 10NC Madison

It’s been a bit of a slide for both of these teams over the past two seasons. In 2010, Cincinnati and Madison got all the way to the memorable 3rd place game in the NC playoffs; Madison defeated Cincinnati by 22 points there to claim a slot at that year’s Championships in Chicago.

Since that game, though, Madison has gone a sobering 5-16 while Cincinnati’s gone 10-18. Last year, Madison lost all three of their games in the playoffs, while Cincinnati lost three of four. This year, though, it looks like Madison has a fighting chance at putting Cincy in the cellar.

Even if Madison can’t win this one, they do look more likely to get out of the bottom spot this time around; they’ve beaten Brewcity twice this summer, albeit by the relatively small margins of 28 and 33 points. They’ve also gotten back a couple of 2010 vets who didn’t play in the 2011 postseason — Dolly Pardon Me and Darling Nikki — and Allie Gator, who missed it on injury, is also back.

Cincinnati lost two major forces last year when Trauma transferred to Kansas City and Sk8 Crime went to Gotham, and hasn’t been able to find the 200 form either — though they’ve been more successful overall than Madison. This year, their only truly dominant wins have been over teams far out of playoff contention — and they were defeated by a lower seed in July when tournament 8 seed Chicago Outfit took them down by 57 points. With Madison scoring two wins over 9 seed Brewcity, it looks like the seeding can’t be trusted to provide a likely winner in this one.

Whichever team comes out on top, though, success is likely to be short-lived as they’ll face a very strong Minnesota team in Friday’s final quarterfinal at 8pm.

Madison: 1OR2 Sugalumps // P1MP Busta Crimes // 2 Dutch Oven // 3 Twisted Halo // 4 Mouse // D4 Magic Missile // 9MM Shananaguns // 14 Darling Nikki // 15 Mack the Knife // 18FT Allie Gator // 27 Wildberry Punch // 31 Ladie Who-Ha // 33 Charlie Hustle // 77 Stank Girl // M80 Thrill Show // B122 Kill’ Ems // 297 Hazed and Contused // 366 Gene Lane // 847 Hello Sailor // 925 Dolly Pardon Me

Cincinnati: 0 Cherry Choke // 2 Sista Shovechild // 3 Karma Krash // 4 Sailor Scary // 6 Railroad // 11 Sk8r-Kinney // 18 K. Lethal // 21 June w/ a Cleaver // 29 Ruff’n the Passer // 30 Kitten Kicker // 32 candyKICKass // 33 Buckhead Betty // 38 Pistol Whippin’ Wendy // 43 Wheezy // 44 Mirderher // 71 Hot Slice // 77 Penn Tupanga // 83 Jungle Lacy // 85 Hannah OuchoCinco // 86 Nuk’em

Friday, 2pm: 3NC Naptown vs 6NC Detroit

Just a couple months ago, this matchup looked like it’d probably highly favor Naptown. Naptown had nearly knocked off region #2 Minnesota in May and also put up a quite respectable result against the West’s Rat City in June, losing by 58 points. Meanwhile, Detroit was upset by Arch Rival by 56 points and steamrolled by Minnesota by 160 after a long offseason and was heading toward the playoffs with their only regional win over 1-7 Brewcity.

However, results in the last six weeks have made this one look a lot tighter. First, Naptown was upset by Arch Rival by 16 on August 4; then, both Naptown and Detroit both traveled to play Kansas City — and both NRG and DDG won by 3 points. There’s almost no calling this one at the moment.

This one’s a rematch of the third-place game from last year’s NC tournament, where Naptown advanced to Championships in front of their hometown crowd with a very narrow 136-125 win. It was the second year in a row in which Detroit had failed to reach Championships despite behind among the top three seeds entering, and they’ll be looking to return for the first time since 2009.

The winner here will almost certainly face Minnesota in the semifinals; while Minnesota would definitely be the favorite whichever team they face, they had a surprising amount of trouble with Naptown in May, unable to put the challengers away until the last 5 minutes of the game. While MNRG did rout Detroit earlier this season, Detroit’s improved considerably since then, and the last two MNRG / DDG meetings in the playoffs have been very close wins for Minnesota (19 points in 2010 and 21 points in 2011).

Naptown: 000 Ima Hurchu // 2 Cereal Killer // N3 Blue Messiah // 4 R.I.P.tide // 6ft Enya Grave // 7 Dora the Destroyer // 43 Piper Sonic // 69 Pushy Cat // 76 Maiden America // 101 Trauma-lina // 105 Majestic // 121 Rachel Tension // 208 Amooze Booche // 218 Asian Sinsation // 237 Scorpiopathic // 317 Shadi Layne // 321 Katya Lookin // 614 G-Rocket // 816 Kentucky Pain // 1942 Veronica Dodge

Detroit: 3 Roxanna Hardplace // MGS4 Meryl Slaughterburgh // 6 Elle McFearsome // 8 Ghetto Barbie // 17 YoYo // N20 Cool Whip // 28 Racer McChaseHer // 33 Cookie Rumble // 45 Feta Sleeze // 46 Fatal Femme // 223 Spanish Ass’Assin // 247 boo d. livers // 303 Bruisie Siouxxx // 620 Lazer Beam // 666 Ally Sin Shoverland // 813 tinja // 1821 Mexi-Go // 1974 Honey Suckit // WOOT Genniferal // BOOM Doom Shakalaka

Friday, 4pm: 1NC Windy City vs winner of 8NC Chicago Outfit / 9NC Brewcity

Windy City has seen some serious highs and lows this year — and, quite literally, the in-betweens as well. Their season started on a very strong note when they easily handled Naptown by 118 — after squeaking by in an 11 point game at last year’s playoffs — and almost defeated Rose City in a 3 point last-jam heartbreaker. But after that, things got rocky — and downright weird. At Midwest Brewhaha, they were slammed with paralyzing jammer penalties and lost to a 10-skater Charm City roster; a couple of weeks later, they played the closest roller derby game ever when a scorekeeping snafu meant that their game with Minnesota ended in a 155-155 tie.

Although their season ended with a 1-3 slide, the quality of their performances leave WCR on an apparent upswing since that midseason mark. They scored a hard-earned win over Texas on the Austinites’ home turf during the Star of Texas Bowl, and lost by 15 and 9 points to Bay Area and Denver, both teams in DNN’s worldwide top 5.

While Windy City’s punishing blocking core has long been known for size and strength, significant improvements in their positional play were evident at both the Star of Texas and the most recent Denver game. The blocking crew, keyed by Bork Bork Bork, Hoosier Mama, Sargentina and captain Ol’ Dirty Go-Go, has been more or less stable for the last couple of years, but 2012 has seen a few new jammers step up — Ska Face and Phoebe Fi Fo Fum have joined the crew along with the more sparingly used Unicoroner. Moby Nipps, a Brewcity veteran, is a very recent addition to the WCR crew.

Though Windy City has still never lost to a regional opponent, they did not have an easy path through last year’s tournament and will likely face stiff competition again in the semifinals. Windy City defeated Arch Rival by 118 in their quarterfinal meeting in 2011, but Arch Rival looks to be very much in the same ascendent position that Naptown was in last year, when NRG almost took WCR down and could be early trouble. And, of course, if seeding holds, Windy City will find themselves up against the only North Central team to ever take the floor against them and … not lose.

If Windy City does go all the way in the tournament, it’ll be an unprecedented 4th straight regional title for them. Entering this postseason, no other team has won more than two straight regional titles.

Windy City: 00 Tamikaze // 0i Ska Face // 4 Unicoroner // 7 Jackie Daniels // 17 ‘Ol Drrrty Go-Go // 25 Varla Vendetta // 27 Zoe Trocious // 30 Athena DeCrime // 38 Mya Ssault // 42 Karmageddon // 52 Sargentina // 70 Georgia on Yer Behind // 75 Bork Bork Bork // 81 Ruth Enasia // 86 Moby Nipps // 219 Hoosier Mama // 303 KonichiWOW // 504 Phoebe Fi Fo Fum // 911 Kola Loka // 999 Yvette Yourmaker

Friday, 6pm: 4NC Arch Rival vs 5NC Ohio

As is the case in most of the WFTDA regional tournaments, the 4/5 game looks like it could be a real gem – on paper. Though a comparison of win-loss records highly favors Ohio, Arch Rival’s been putting up a much more impressive strength of schedule.

After a relatively lackluster early season, Arch Rival caught fire in early June and has been scoring significant surprises left and right — most memorably, downing Detroit by 56 at Midwest Brewhaha, bashing a Chicago Outfit team that had given them lots of trouble last year by 91 points, and most recently taking down the tournament’s 3 seed with a 115-99 win over Naptown. ARRG’s record this year is an impressive 10-2 — but one of those losses came against their opponent here, Ohio.

Ohio has already set a record for calendar-year WFTDA wins this season in building a lopsided 20-1 record — but almost all of those wins have come against severely overmatched teams. 15 of their victims did not qualify for the postseason. While Ohio does have the 168-115 head-to-head win against Arch Rival, that game took place way back in March and doesn’t look like a good predictor at the moment. Ohio’s most recent game against the Chicago Outfit was a solid win at 67 points, but Arch Rival put a bigger hurting on the Outfit in July.

The winner here is overwhelmingly likely to face a highly favored Windy City in the semifinals, but will have a fairly good shot at making it to Championships by winning the third-place game. Arch Rival has already proven they can handle 3 seed Naptown, so no matter what combination of teams makes it to that game, it looks very hard to pick a winner on seeding.

Arch Rival: 0 Polkadot Yr Eyeout // M2 Mighty Mighty Boston // 4 Mayor Francis Slayer // 00P5 Party Foul // 6FU Grave Danger // 7 The Educator // 23 Science Friction // 24 South City Shiner // 33 The Oregon Betrayal // 40 Black Market Baby // 88 Beaster Bunny // 101 Downtown Dallis // 111 Morgan Le Faetal // 121 Smarty McFly // 282 May Require Stitches // 299 Shimmy Hoffa // 314 Shell Shoxx // 520 Eli Wallop // 530 Rhino-Might // 1138 Chewblocka

Ohio: 10 Outa My Wayman // 12 Kitty Liquorbottom // 19 Texas Chainsaw Sasskicker // 22 Blitz Lemon // 23 Phoenix Bunz // 59 Loraine Acid // 88 Lethal Punk’n // 0125 Paige Bleed // 138 Pearl Rogi // 214 Dixie Heartless // 216 Kill Basa // 365 The Smacktivist // 451 Burnadeath // 815 Bigg Rigg // 1066 Angla Vyle // 1098 Amy Spears // 1101 Ava Tarr // 1993 Bratislava Bruiser // 5150 Pippi Ripyourstockings // 5459 HellionBoi

Friday, 8pm: 2NC Minnesota vs winner of 7NC Cincinnati / 10NC Madison

If it’s possible to have a strong eight-game winless streak, Minnesota has managed to pull it off over the past three months. After opening the season 6-1 with the only loss being a 6 point squeaker to Charm City, Minnesota tied Windy City in June — though they were denied the opportunity to be the first-ever North Central team to beat WCR, they did have the satisfaction of ending Windy’s 25-game winning streak in the region.

But Minnesota hasn’t won a game since. They set off on two very tough road trips in the summer — in July, at Rollercon, they went 0-3 but almost defeated both tough Rocky Mountain and Philly, losing those games by 25 and 40 points respectively. When they made a swing through the Pacific Northwest in August, they again came away with respectable performances but no victories, losing to Rose City by 73, Oly by 60 and Rat City by 23.

In a somewhat surprising result, Kansas City whomped Minnesota in a full roster exhibition just last weekend, winning 240-148. Though the exhibition nature of the game makes it hard to extrapolate what it means for Minnesota’s chances this weekend, the fact that Kansas City narrowly lost to both Naptown and Detroit recently will make Minnesota’s semifinal a little more interesting. Either Naptown or Detroit will be their opponent there, assuming Cincinnati or Madison fails to score a miracle upset on Friday night.

There’s been extremely little turnover in the primary Minnesota roster since last year; franchise double threats Medusa and Juke Boxx lead a crew of highly experienced veterans that includes Harmony Killerbruise, Lex’i Cuter, Diamond Rough and Second Hand Smoke; one of the few missing factors from last year’s crew is Vuedoo Prodigy.

Minnesota: 0 0 Naughty Kitty // 2 Fannie Tanner // H8U Tiki Torture // 9 Second Hand Smoke // 13 Medusa // F16 Citizen Pain // A18 Juke Boxx // 28 Scarmen Hellectra // 40oz Crust Almighty // 55 Venus Thightrap // 75 Harmony Killerbruise // 113 Rita Rawkus // 172 Shiva Shankn // 187 L’exi Cuter // 667 Shiver Me Kimbers // 727 Hurtrude Stein // 850 Moto Fluzzi // 1016 Buzz Tight Rear // 1764 Madame De Stompadeur // 1837 Diamond Rough