Welcome, slightly belatedly, to the 2014/15 regular season!
Weekend 11/12 July
Gotham 294 London 46
The weekend before last, before we even knew the 2014 playoff seedings, teams played some of the first games that will count towards 2015 playoffs. Most notable of these was London’s annihaltion at the hands of the visiting Gotham Girls.
The reigning WFTDA champions steamrollered the #3-ranked-and-rated team in the world and duly bumped them down to #8 on FTS and started off their 2015 playoff campaign with enough rating points to make their 2015 average at or below the bottom borderline for D2 playoff contention. This could end up hampering the Londoners a little given the small number of games they play overall–and it makes their qualification for champs all the more vital, and provides even more motivation for getting more than one game in should they get there. Gotham didn’t quite hit the 1,000 ranking point mark for the game–but still set a new regular-season record, with London having a higher strength factor than any team Gotham has played before.
Gotham looked machine-like in conditions that favoured them; it was the hottest day of the year in the UK with humidity that made the metal box that is Leeds’ Futsal arena with its slippery sportcourt more like the Crashpad than anywhere else. London’s jammers mostly struggled against the co-ordinated Gotham defence, while their defence was made to look slipshod by Gotham’s relentless offense and tough jammer rotation. Both sides of their play had brightspots, but consistency just wasn’t forthcoming.
The three-jammer rotation suited Gotham well, with Vicious Van Go Go stepping up admirably with neither Claire D Way or Miss Tea Maven travelling. Bonita Applebomb did take the star once in the first half as the rotation was shuffled, but that was the only break from their rotation.
London primarily used Kami and Rogue Runner with occasional help from Lexi Lightspeed and Lady GoGo, and called in Stefanie Mainey later in the game. London’s call-offs with lead were generally very sharp, which may have cost them ranking points–but the way the game was played suggested that preparation for playoffs was seen as having higher value. Juke Boxx did recieve a number of star passes but didn’t manage to get any points on the board, unlike when Minnesota played Gotham in Asheville last year. Fake or aborted star passes also proved useful for London as one more than one occasion they provided enough of a distraction for Kami and Rogue to escape the pack and stop Gotham’s scoring.
Elsewhere that weekend Charm City put up a comfortable win over a short Toronto team that is still struggling with its line-ups this year as injuries to key personnel continue to take their toll–Bala Reina, Rainbow Fight and Kookie Doe were all missing as they slipped to a 282-146 loss in Baltimore.
Rat City put some of their Pac Destruction woes behind them with a comfortable 260-77 win over Houston who went 0-3 on their PNW swing. Either side of the Rat game Houston lost to Terminal City 256-136 and Jet City 143-132.
In Utah, Wasatch put up a 179-150 win over Sin City, who managed to just climb into the top half of the D2 playoff spots before the cut-off last month. Finally, Naptown paid a visit to Atlanta where they lost 221-72.
Weekend 18/19 July
The main action last weekend came from the a three-way bust-up in the City of Angels. A triangular series on Saturday saw Rose, Minnesota and Angel City all go head to head in Angel’s warehouse.
All the bouts were reasonably close–but Rose came out on top. They went 2-0, MNRG went 1-1 with a heart-busting win over the hosts in the final jam, while Angel City went 0-2.
The weekend really serves to bolster MRNG’s champs credentials this year as they look to return to the top table after a year out last year following their third-place-game loss to Windy City in Asheville. The team is looking as stong as ever this year. The packs are skating as an even more cohesive unit than previous seasons, and their fierce jamming unit is showing itself capable of bashing through almost anything you set before it with no mercy. Slambda Phage’s quality has been obvious since she first stepped on the track for Gotham but she seems to have stepped up another level this year in terms of effectiveness and discipline. Second Hand Smoke continues to go from strength to strength too, and they have depth to boot.
Rose’s results since the addition of Serelson and Rivas haven’t indicated much of boost for them yet–but this is to be expected as the team integrates. Come playoffs and champs that could be a very different story indeed.
As for Angel City, they’ll be disappointed with two losses on a home track that scarcely ever sees them lose at all these days. At Pac Destruction they showed some weaknesses at the very end of periods that cost them ranking points–particularly against Victoria–and that came back to bite them in the ass this weekend, losing a last-jam thriller to Minnesota 131-127.
The playoff brackets are set so that all three teams should go to champs with Rose having the best shot at winning their tournament; Minnesota would need to beat Gotham to achieve that feat, while Angel would have to beat Bay Area. Rose, meanwhile, have Philly or Victoria as likely final opponents if things go to plan–and their convincing Big O win over Philly certainly suggests they’d be favourites in that encounter.
Rollercon Bouts Preview
Bay Area, Rocky Mountain, Denver and Detroit all face off on the track across the weekend in Las Vegas.
Bay Area and Denver play each other and the other two; Rocky and Detroit don’t play each other this time having already played once this season, in London.
Denver (as we mentioned at the time) looked good against Texas in June, playing with a greater degree of hunger and freedom than we’ve seen for a while. This makes something of a change for the team known for its cohesion above all else in recent years, but if this is a trend they can continue it augurs well for their future as their rigidity was an issue at time last year when things started to go against them.
Bay Area look to be going from strength to strength this year and will hope to put a similar score up against Denver as they did in Milwaukee last November. The games against Rocky and Denver will both provide another chance to see how the team is progressing and how close to Gotham the Golden Girls are coming.
Detroit find themselves heading to Duluth, MN, for D2 playoffs this year. They look under-ranked in the WFTDA system thanks to a very tough schedule in a rebuilding year, and will be hoping to keep things respectable here so that the rankings damage can be undone during playoff season as they look to climb back into D1 for the end of 2014.
As well as the WFTDA games, we also have three sanctioned MRDA games to look forward to.
New York Shock Exchange, St Louis GateKeepers and Portland’s Bridgetown Menace are coming to town for a triangular series across Saturday and Sunday in what should some of the best MRDA action outside of champs in the second half of this year.