Monday, September 27, 2010

Halfway home

WFTDA Eastern Regionals are over, the top three finishers -- Gotham, Philly and Charm City -- will head to Chicago for the Women's Flat Track Derby Association Championships.

The three beasts from the East will meet the top three finishers of the Western Regionals and the South Central Regionals. The top three finishers of the North Central -- Windy City, Madison and Minnesota -- wait and watch as the rest of the regionals unfold, already besting their respective competition in the North Central Regionals tournament. Windy City, a regional and overall favorite will have home court advantage win the championship tournament begins in November.

Gotham, ranked DNN's No. 1 in the country in September 2010 and WFDTA's No.1 in the East, ran straight through its competition this weekend starting with a 300-point margin of victory against Providence on Day 1, 14-314. Charm City managed 86 points against Gotham City, but lost: 66-223, Gotham pulling away in the second half with a 14-4 lead jammer differential. Philly (DNN No. 4) proved their hardest matchup, including going on a 64-4 run in the bout's last 10 minutes to narrow the point spread to 30 points, but ultimately Gotham was able to hold on 133-103.

The trend of teams killing clock by stalling the jammer starts continues. Several teams in the North Central tournament used this effectively to slow the action, delay the opposing jammer, kill penalty clock on players in the penalty box and otherwise disrupt the flow of the game. North Star used the strategy almost extensively to eat up game clock after earning enough points for a win. Listening to Derby News Network's bout casts,stalling jammer starts continues to irk and intrigue derby fans alike.

Windy City (DNN No. 11, WFTDA NC No. 1) will have it's hands full. Gotham and Philly both proved getting to the championship will be a hard road if the bracket goes through them. Oly and Denver will certainly be a tough matchup if the seeding in the East works out the same way for the West, with the top seeds advancing into the finals. Denver, Oly, Rocky Mountain are all viable contenders to return to the Championship tournament after making it to Day 3 and playing for the top four spots in the U.S. The Western Regionals Rollin' on the River will be Oct. 1-3. The South Central's Texas and Kansas City were both in the National tournament last year, Texas advancing to play against Oly in the championship game, but losing 100-178. The No Coast Derby Dames of Lincoln, Nebraska, will host the South Central regional dubbed Amber Waves of Pain on Oct. 8-10.

The North Central Regionals proved that upsets can and do happen on any battle tested track. Minnesota masterminded two huge upsets to get into the NC tournament finals against Windy City, upsetting DNN ranked No. 13, Detroit, in a 118-99 victory. Minnesota then turned it's sites on No. 14 Madison in a bout that featured a couple of lead changes, including the last in which Minnesota dispatched Madison 119-107, and forcing the Dairyland Dolls to play for the last Championship qualifying spot. Madison would beat Cincinati 165-143 after Cinci jammer K Lethal fouled out upon recieving her seventh trip to the box.

Windy City, a clear favorite, dispatched Naptown on Day 1 of the North Central Regionals 177-85, Cinncinati on Day 2 172-147 and then ending Minnesota's run to the top on Day 3 132-83. Windy City's disadvantage heading home for the championship tournament will be the level of competition in the North Central regional as opposed to the depth in the East and West. Chicago rode their No. 1 status in the North Central all the way to Uproar on the Lakeshore, but the competition will be exponentially more fierce come November 5-7.