Weekly Roll-up July 4, 2014: Calculatedly Independent

Last weekend we saw a whole lot of action that set the final few pieces of the playoff picture. This weekend–and for the next few weeks–things settle into a little bit of a pre-Rollercon lull as teams start to amp up their playoff preparations. Let’s take a look at what we’ve got.

Last Weekend

Pac Destruction

Pac Destruction decided the top 12 for D1 playoffs, and did it in some style.

Angel City went an expected 3-0, but were given something of a run for their money by a Victorian Roller Derby League team who were missing their star jammer, Mad Mel Arena, through injury.

Angel’s 187-140 victory was slightly more comfortable than the score implies; outside of uncharacteristically lopsided jams that ended both periods Angel outscored Victoria 2:1. Both teams displayed solid, agile and dynamic defence that both teams’ sets of jammers struggled with in the weekend’s marquee bout, and both switched up to a 3:1 offense strategy when they had enough players on the track. Satan’s Little Helper against stood out for ACDG as she moves up from 2013 bit-part player to full-on star; she is definitely one to watch out for at playoffs in a couple of months.

VRDL and Angel both cruised through their other games, leaving Rat City vs Santa Cruz as the only other bout of the weekend in which the result was in any doubt after the first quarter of play. Rat looked to be almost out of sight towards the end of the first half before Santa Cruz suddenly and violently clicked. In the dying minutes of the half they took the lead and it looked like they might be on course for an upset.

While that chance didn’t really hang around for long into the second period as Rat stretched away again, Santa Cruz again came back hard. For much of the second period it looked like they were going to do enough to claim the #24 spot in the WFTDA rankings–important as it’s the final #6 seed at playoffs, thus avoiding a play-in game and battle with a #2 seed–but a jammer penalty in the final seconds put paid to their hopes. Rat put up 20 unanswered points when Santa Cruz only had a buffer of 10 for the ratio they needed and dashed the Boardwalk Bombshells’ hopes in a crushing final 60 seconds.

Those points didn’t do Rat any good, though–they’d have needed another 100 or so to effect a ranking change of their own. They slipped below the resurgent Charm City on their 1-2 weekend. That in turn put them right in the zone above where Oly were likely to end up–and the Olympia team duly set up the option of a first-round rematch with their near neighbours with their 253-147 win over Arch Rival later in the day.

Rat has seen over 50% turnover in their WFTDA charter since the end of last year, with half of those rostered for last year’s Championship first-round exit no longer on the squad. The losses of the likes of Jalapeno Business, Yoko Onoudi’nt, Jerrica Kallio, Method of Madness and Jukestapose to the All-Stars has hit the team hard, and it is taking them time to rebuild.

Santa Cruz showed why they’re headed towards the top 20 after not quite winning D2 last year. The core of their roster is the same, and watching the team build and progress is a pleasure.

Arch Rival’s Westward Spin

The St Louis team headed west last weekend and raced through games against Jet City, Oly and Rose City.

Arch Rival started in Everett and beat Jet City 291-102. That was better than expected after a couple of results that stung Arch Rival fans against Atlanta and Naptown, even in the context of a rebuilding season for them.

Jet have been climbing the WFTDA rankings since the start of tournament season last year–in fact, the June 30 rankings last year was a rare instance of them being out of the top 40–but they have been sliding on FTS since their tournament win in Des Moines with just one exception: their numbers jumped after playing in Rat’s all-star season opener–and we’ve covered Rat’s travails already.

Arch Rival’s results through the rest of the weekend were a little better than expected in that context too (FTS declines reflected the big boost from their Jet game rather than pre-trip expectations). Arch Rival suffered a swathe of off-season retirements and transfers out that have lowered expectations for this year, which is why a 381-94 loss to Rose–who debuted Shaina Serelson and Jes Rivas–was a relatively good result for the St Louis team that lost by a much narrower 259-107 margin when the teams met last year in Fort Wayne’s consolation bracket.

That win was enough for Rose to secure a #1 seed at playoffs as they snuck ahead of Texas. Rose will be hoping that things go better for them this year than the last time they were a top seed at playoffs, when they were the only #1 seed in tournament history to fail to progress after losses to Oly and Bay Area at Bay of Reckoning in 2012.

Arch Rival’s game against Oly was one which had many people on tenterhooks. Oly fielded Onda Sligh and were pretty much bang on FTS expectations with a 253-147 win. This was their second game in a row since a run of rating losses since 2012. This suggests that Oly, at their current level, will struggle to reach WFTDA Champs this year, if they attend playoffs at all. According to our projections their bracket looks exceptionally tough. To get to Champs they’ll have to first beat local rivals Rat City in what is sure to be a highly charged encounter, then beat one of Gotham, Denver or Minnesota–the strongest projected top 3 of any of the four D1 playoffs.

The uncertainty over their attendance–previously taken as read after the team made the choice to fulfil their obligations this year, unlike last–stems from their likely placement in the same playoff as Wasatch. Wasatch are hosting one of the D1 playoffs after No Coast had to pull out–and that playoff happens to be on the same weekend as USARS nationals, which Oly was also presumed to be planning to attend.

Oly’s squad depth is such that they could field teams at both, so we shall have to wait and see. We have asked the Oly Rollers for comment, and will update you when they catch up with us.

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Tampas Mile-High Comedown

Tampa paid a visit to both Denver and Rocky Mountain and, like many before them, did not find the city a happy hunting ground. A 281-83 loss to Rocky and a 354-62 loss to Denver were both roughly what would have been expected given the home advantage up there.

The Denver result–along with the MHC’s recent close loss to Texas–imply that the MHC has already adapted well to the losses of Rivas and Serelson.

These results didn’t really have a significant effect on playoff seedings in the end. They did serve to keep Denver above Rocky in the seedings–but it would have taken two pretty improbable results to shift that regardless.

This Weekend

This weekend has one D1 game: Gold Coast vs Jacksonville. That’s covered in The B-Roll.

Lex Talionis

Lex is the Content Director for Derby News Network.