The teams contesting the second game of day one in Sacramento had very different playoff seasons in 2013. Tampa came into Richmond with high hopes of improving on their seeding but dropped down to 9th after an upset by 10-seeded Terminal City on day one. Blue Ridge didn’t just see playoffs in the 2013 season, but they also went to Championships in Milwaukee, placing third. But Blue Ridge were playing in D2 at the time, and only made it into D1 playoffs this year because Oly declined their invite. This pulled Blue Ridge unexpectedly up from a top seed in D2 playoffs into the meatgrinder that is the bottom of D1.
Their 10th seeded entry into this playoffs will still be a new experience for them. Their 2014 season has seen three tournaments, and a substantial number of wins, but mostly against below-40-ranked teams. They have had a busy 11-3 season which included 10 wins on the spin after losing their opening two games of the year as they rebuilt. Their three losses all came against teams outside of the top tier of WFTDA play; DC, Demolition City and Gold Coast are already done for the season after D2 playoffs.
It’s also worth noting that their schedule hasn’t seen them play a D1-level team since mid-2013 when they played Ohio and Charm, suggesting that they might not have been expecting a D1 tournament invite when planning their season. However, while they’ll be lucky to come out of this tournament anything above #10, their impact skaters such as Sugar Magmaulya, Coma N. Ducer and Lady Rider are all likely to make sure they do Asheville proud and put up a fight worth watching.
Tampa Roller Derby, meanwhile, are no strangers to D1 playoff play–and this year’s schedule demonstrates it. Their four-game losing streak looks worrisome until you look at the opponents: Denver, Rocky Mountain, Jacksonville and Charm City. They have wins this year over some lesser lights of D1 including Houston, Steel and OKVD in their 9-5 season and look to be solidly prepared for the threats in front of them this weekend. They have their share of impact players too — if you’re unfamiliar with the ladies in their own particular brand of neon, watch out in particular for Lunch Lady, PhDiesel, Blacque Jac and Little A.
Tampa’s Tantrums found themselves fighting for 9th place first thing in the morning on their last playoffs trip–the knowledge that the win here would save the #7 seeds that relative indignity is likely to drive them on to the win here–as they look to take out one of the top six later on and improve on their seeding this time around. The winner of this bout goes on to play #2 seed Minnesota at 1800 PDT.
Editing, additional reporting and opinions by Lex Talionis