There are a little over two weeks left this season and the WFTDA league table is taking shape.
Over the course of the next few weeks the final games from last season will be removed from the rankings and replaced with the final ones from this season, and the post-season picture will be revealed. Why the league table for post-season qualification includes games that don’t count until the death should be the subject of another piece entirely, so let’s just get on to looking at this weekend.
Hosts, favourites, beasts. While it was Texas who drew most of the plaudits from Champs last year thanks to their close final against Gotham, it was Bay Area who laid the groundwork for that game. They punctured Gotham’s aura of invulnerability and opened the door for Texas to do what they did the following day.
This year they have trampled top 10 opposition in Angel City and Denver as well as dismissively sweeping lesser opposition aside. There is absolutely no reason, as things stand, to think they won’t go 3-0 this weekend and hit or surpass FTS expectations doing so.
This would leave them at #2 at the end of the month; if their results don’t hit expectation, the worst that could realistically happen is a #3 placement behind London.
Angel & Windy
Angel will be hoping to go 2-1 this weekend, though their game against Windy looks to be a tossup. Triangulating via Denver makes it look like Angel should have this in the bag–but that ignores the important significant home advantage both Angel and Denver have that makes that sort of triangulation fruitless.
Both teams look set to be tournament second seeds in the postseason this year–but if Victoria does well on their tour later in the month, one of them could find themselves pushed down into a #3 seed position. If tournament brackets go to seed then #2 and #3 seeds play each other in the semifinal round anyway, so the effect of this isn’t too dramatic, but it’d definitely the main thing being fought for this weekend.
That SoCal will go 0-3 this weekend is not in question; what is in question is how well they do at their first attempt of stepping up to this level of competition, and if they can perform well enough to safeguard their position at the bottom of D1 for the post-season and avoid slipping into D2.
They have a decent buffer between them and the critical #40 slot, and with 11 games already in the system for this year, should be safe. They’re safer than they looked in the most recent rankings release thanks to their one game from last season still dragging them down.
Franky Panky gives us 9 sanctioned games, all of which will have an impact on the WFTDA standings. Charm City’s recent slip down the rankings was just a result of their Got To Be NC games from 2013 aging out; this means that all the teams playing them this weekend look set to get at least slightly burned playing them.
Jax have been on a charge this year, and their game against Charm will be a very interesting one to watch when one looks to assess both team’s postseason prospects. Neither team has really been tested by a top-level team in sanctioned play this year as they have climbed up the FTS rankings; their rise is based on thrashings of teams who will not be troubling the top tier of the rankings. They’ve had one close game each–against Boston and Tampa respectively–and while neither of those teams are slouches they’re not in the Champs picture.
One other bout of note is Jax’ one-point win over MRDA #7 Magic City MIsfits that suggests they could be set to rise even further–but that potential is as-yet unproven. It looks like both will be #4 seeds at playoffs if they do as well as they should this weekend. #3 seeding look mathematically out of reach barring highly improbable sequences of events for both. A slip to #4 is a little less unlikely on the cards should either slip up this weekend and the likes of Boston, Montreal and Terminal put together a really strong ECDX–but the odds are very much in Charm and Jax’ favour at this point.
Tampa look to be just underneath these two but could prove that they’re a contender for the top half of the D1 table this year with a good show against them both. They will be looking at worst to hold on in the top 24 to avoid a play-in game at playoffs–and they should manage it unless things go horribly wrong. All that having been said, their rematch with Jax for in-state supremacy will be fun regardless.
Santa Cruz are still a mystery package at this stage. This season they’ve demolished a Wasatch team whose ranking is based almost entirely off the results achieved by a team that mostly consisted of skaters who are no longer with the organisation and put up wins over Sacred, Sac City and Treasure Valley, all of whom have both been on the slide this year. Charm will provide an excellent test of where they are this season and how their post-season might go if they are heading up–while the Oklahoma Victory Dolls and Columbia should provide good markers from underneath.
OKVD look set to go into D1 playoffs as a 9 or 10 seed again this year, while Columbia are in a scrap at the bottom of D1 that is too close to call with Tri City, Blue Ridge and DC; two of those four will probably hit D1 playoffs while the other two will be the top seeds in the D2 tournaments. If Columbia want to stake a claim in D1 they’ll need to outperform expectations this weekend.
Denver @ Texas
Denver visit Texas this weekend in what will be the streaming highlight of the weekend.
The Texecutioners dominated Denver in Milwaukee, and looked at The Big O to be every bit as strong this year as they were last year. For Denver, the biggest single factor looks to be a mid-season roster change. They have lost both Jes Rivas and Shaina Serelson to Rose City–and how the famed Demoralising Denver Defense deals with this loss is going to be one of this season’s most interesting stories to watch.
As well as being exceptional individuals they have worked as a fine team at the heart of that defence. Their loss would surely damage any team, and certainly makes a victory for Denver even more unlikely that it seemed before their departure was confirmed.
What does this mean for the playoff picture? There just aren’t enough points on offer for Texas here for them to overhaul London no matter how well they do; but they will want a strong win to ensure they secure a #1 seed by staying above Rose City who only have Arch Rival left.
Arch Rival @ Atlanta
Atlanta will be looking to put up a win for their home fans after their defeat to Minnesota last time around. You can watch Atlanta’s stream right here on DNN.
Arch Rival are in a rebuilding year in 2014 after retirements and transfers hit their All-Star squad. They have Downtown Dallis back after a nine-month injury related absence last year, but she’s not jamming, and ARRG have struggled to find a third reliable jammer to complement Brickyard and Mighty Mighty Boston. Their much-discussed and sometimes-derided top 3 seeding at playoffs last year is a distant memory now–they’d have to outperform expectation significantly here and at Rose City later in the month to avoid a #7 seed and a play-in game for playoffs this year.
Minnesota @ Madison
Minnesota are looking strong, confident and ruthless this year; they dominated at BrewHaha, had one phenomenal half against Atlanta before holding off a surging comeback of incredible power. They will almost certainly be a #2 seed at playoffs this year whether they destroy Madison, melt down utterly or just perform to expectation; the points buffers around them mean that they’re not going to slip below #8 or climb above #6.
D2 & International Interest
Malmö’s Crime City Rollers and Cardiff’s Tiger Bay Brawlers start their ECDX warm-ups this weekend with games against Roc City and Suburbia respectively; you can read a little bit more about those over in The B Roll.
Speaking of The B Roll you can also read about Tri City, Bleeding Heartland, Hammer city and Brewcity courtesy of Left 4 Deadwards.
The final points of interest are happening in Cairo and Tokyo. The CaiRollers are playing their first-ever full bout when the Isis Crisis take on the Killa Patras while Kokeshi travel to the Japanese capital for a what looks to be the first all-Japanese and All-Asian sanctioned game.