Last weekend, the derby Internet was exploding with RollerCon photos, stories, and general shenanigans. In the midst of RollerCon fun, there were a few games of D2 significance happening as well as several others across the country. With two weeks to go until the first D2 playoffs, these games will not directly impact the 2014 season, but have the potential to help teams maintain momentum going into playoffs and also set a tone for 2015.
On Friday night in Vegas, Detroit (#44) took on Denver (#9), putting up a tough fight and coming out with a loss of 350 to 82. Then on Sunday, they posted a similar score against Bay Area (#2) 373-96. Detroit has seen a tough decline in rank over the past year and a half. They were ranked as high as #15 in 2013, but with the loss of a few key blockers and having to adjust their game to the new rules set, they’ve continued to fall since. Landing in D2 playoffs is a new spot for Detroit, but offers them the opportunity to reestablish themselves as strong contenders for Division 1.
Detroit also looked to be in a much better position than a few months ago. They have clearly adapted to their off-season losses and worked hard to make adjustments to their gameplay — and in Vegas they looked much the stronger for it, with their 96 and 82 point totals against BAD and Denver comparing very favorably to 22 and 36 against London and 57 against Rocky.
In the Midwest, Killamazoo (#50) took on South Bend (#178), winning by a much smaller margin than anticipated with a final score of 280 to 135. The two teams met in January, and Killamazoo blew South Bend away with a score of 348 to 146. South Bend’s strong showing this past weekend should boost their ranking significantly and should knock Killamazoo back a few spots as well.
Also in the Midwest, the Chicago Outfit (#51) traveled to Ohio, taking on Burning River (#78) and NEO (#70). NEO fared far better than Burning River, losing 217 to 155, better than projected. Burning River lost 260 to 88. Burning River has taken on some tough, higher-ranked teams this season, and does not have a winning record, but has certainly put up some noteworthy fights in the process.
This week’s featured D2 team, Demolition City (#60), also played this past weekend against Nashville (#31). Despite the large rank difference between these teams, Dem City lost 186 to 123, a closer margin than expected. Earlier this season, Dem City played Nashville in an unsanctioned game and came back from a sizable point gap to win by 50 points. While they weren’t able to pull off the win last weekend, their performance earned them a handful of points on Flat Track Stats, and also set a good tone for them heading into playoffs.
Because we’re only a few weeks from playoffs and coming off of RollerCon, the upcoming weekend is a bit sparse in D2 games. Demolition City will take on Blue Ridge (#41), which should be an excellent match up and a good forecast of both teams’ playoff potential. DC (#42) is headed to Texas to take on both Houston (#36) and Dallas (#66). After their upset to Suburbia (#62) last weekend, DC is likely headed to Texas with victory in mind, hoping to reassert their dominance in the D2 realm.
In Michigan, Grand Raggidy (#64) is headed to Ann Arbor (#102). Ann Arbor has been surging forward in their inaugural WFTDA season, and has continually narrowed the point spread in games they’ve played against Grand Raggidy over the past year or so. This weekend may be another opportunity for Ann Arbor to continue their climb up the WFTDA ladder. Grand Raggidy will need to bring a tough game, however, as they prepare for playoffs. GRRG has had a bit of a shaky season, falling steadily in rankings. This weekend’s game is a chance to reestablish their tradition of strong and smart derby.
Meet Demolition City!
Demolition City Roller Derby, out of Evansville, Indiana, set out in 2014 with one goal in mind: to make it to Division 2 playoffs. They knew this was a realistic possibility, and proceeded to set small realistic goals for the duration of the season to help them reach their ultimate goal of heading to playoffs.
Mission: accomplished. Dem City, who is seeded #8 for the second of the WFTDA D2 playoffs, looked to be a bit of a wildcard near the end of playoff qualifications. Their last required sanctioned game took place June 28, two days before the playoff qualification window closed. Some scheduling conflicts forced Dem City to spend the majority of the season not playing sanctioned games. The opponents they had lined up in the spring were then invited to Brewhaha and were thus unable to play Dem City as planned. Naptown agreed to help Dem City out and they played a sanctioned game on June 25. In addition to their scheduled game against St. Chux on June 28, Dem City was able to qualify at the very last minute for playoffs.
Over the past few seasons, DCRD has made large jumps in WFTDA rankings. In early 2013, they were sitting at a #95 rank, and by the beginning of 2014, they had jumped up to #56. Though they’ve seen a bit of fluctuation this season, they’ve generally maintained a rank in the 60s for all of 2014.
Dem City first realized Division 2 playoffs may be a reality early in the season when they took a huge win in a sanctioned game over Cincinnati, ending with a 256 to 66 score over a team that was at that time ranked much higher than Dem City. In the time that Dem City was not playing sanctioned games, they were focusing on upping their offensive game, something that had traditionally been a weaker spot for Dem City.
Skater, Bambi Thumpher, summed up DCRD’s skills focus: “We have…gone ‘back to the basics’ and honed in on our individual skills. Our overall footwork and agility has been a great improvement for us! In our pre-season we played Nashville in a non-sanctioned bout. We were down by 82 points at the half and came back to win by 50! It was a surreal feeling that night. We recognized that our hard work and dedication was paying off, and our team grew closer and stronger together.”
While DCRD certainly had a generally positive season, they did encounter some setbacks, as most teams do. They were forced to move to a new practice facility with a vastly reduced space. They’ve not been able to fit a full regulation size track in their current space, and as such, have had to adjust their training to this. While this has benefited jammer training in a few ways, it has had a negative impact on blockers and is something they will be working to remedy heading into playoffs.
We can expect to see Demolition City bring a strong defensive game to Kitchener, as well as the new and improved offensive strategy they’ve been solidifying throughout this year. Stepheree, a quick and agile blocker known for her ability to stop even the feistiest of jammers, will undoubtedly give opponents a difficult time. We can also expect to see Bambi Thumpher bring a strong jamming game as she’s had a successful season to date. Though seeded toward the bottom of the D2 brackets, DCRD has great potential for upsets and is a team to watch as we head into the 2014 playoff season.