Eastern Regional Preview: The Top Seeds
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MADISON, WI -- The Eastern Regional format is the exact same as that of last week's Westerns -- the top four seeds have a first-round bye, which means that they only need to win their first bout to advance to the final four and claim an automatic spot in Nationals, November 14-16 in Portland.
Thus far this cycle, there's already been one team that didn't benefit from its bye -- last year's WFTDA champs, the Kansas City Roller Warriors, came into the Western Regional as the top seed but were dismissed by 9th seed Duke City in a tremendous upset. All other bye teams advanced to Nationals.
The #1 and #2 teams play their opening bouts on Friday evening against teams that will have already played a bout at either 8am or 9:45am, while the #3 and #4 teams will play on Saturday morning and hence face slightly more well-rested opponents at a less natural time.
Very few teams in roller derby can claim the respect that this crew from the Big Apple commands. Since the start of last year's Eastern Regionals in August of 2007, they've strung together a 10-1 record, with that only loss being a narrow 15-pointer at the 2007 Nationals to the eventual champion Kansas City Roller Warriors. Even more worryingly for anybody who gets in their way, the ten wins of that streak have been by an average of 92 points -- including two shellackings of highly respected top-ten teams in Texas (125-65 in June) and Philly (113-48 in April). It's hard to talk about Gotham without using the word "steamroll" somewhere in the conversation.
Adding to Gotham's menacing persona is one of the most feared and respected blockers in the nation in Beyonslay, who immediately became a hero to non-jammers across the nation when she laid possibly the most famous block in the history of flat-track roller derby on Texas' Rice Rocket during their defeat of Texas. Smaller but also deadly effective are Gotham pivots Kandy Kakes and Sweet Sherry Pie, whose tenacious play at the front of the pack often allows Gotham packs to re-engage jammers who thought they were just a step from freedom.
If there's any chink in GGRD's armor, it may be that their famously tight four-jammer rotation may be missing one of its wheels for this tournament. Crowd favorite Beatrix "Bunny" Slaughter suffered a collarbone injury in an August home bout -- she's rostered for this tournament, but may not skate. That leaves the core Gotham jammer rotation as flashy speed demons Suzy Hotrod and Bonnie Thunders and the sturdy, eminently reliable Cheapskate (formerly of the banked-track Lonestar Rollergirls), though Brigitte Barhot, Fisti Cuffs, Anne Phetamean and Sweet Sherry Pie, among others, are all more than capable of taking the jam star at the tournament level of play.
The top-seeded New York posse will face off against either Minnesota or tournament hosts Madison on Friday night at 6:15pm.
Ana Bollocks 00 // Anne Phetamean 7 // Ariel Assault 23 // Beatrix Slaughter 42 // Beyonslay Top 40 // Bluebonnet Plague 5 // Bonnie Thunders 340 // Brigitte Barhot Swingin' 60s // Cheap Skate 2 cents // Donna Matrix 2 // Fisti Cuffs 241 // Ginger Snap 80 // Hard Anya i4i // Hyper Lynx 404 // Kandy Kakes Perfect 10 // Raggedy Animal 67 // Scarlett Rage 75 // Surly Temple 99 // Suzy Hotrod 55 // Sweet Sherry Pie 201
While not the oldest league in flat-track, Carolina is by one measure the most experienced -- they've played more WFTDA-regulation all-star bouts than any other team with 27, having amassed a 19-8 record in that time. They've had notable ups and down since last year's Nationals tournament, where they were the only one of 4 Eastern seeds to advance beyond the first round. They'd be bumped out by the eventual champs Kansas City, but got soon afterwards got revenge in one of the most thrilling bouts of the last year, where they knocked KC off by a single point at home.
In 2008, they've had a couple of high-profile wins against top teams from the East, including two of the other top bye seeds in this tournament -- they took down 4th seed Philly 107-86 in August and 3rd seed Windy City 76-60 in June. Their only loss of the year was an entirely unexpected one, when they were narrowly upended by lowly-ranked Cincinnati in July, 74-69 -- with Carolina ranked 3rd and Cincinnati ranked 26th at the time, it currently stands as the biggest ranking upset in WFTDA history. (As it happened, though, the bout occurred just barely after the quarterly ranking period had closed, and it did not affect either team's seeding for this tournament.)
The crew that will be representing this year is slightly different than the one who went to Nationals last year -- Denise Lightning, their primary point-scorer for much of 2007, is gone to Arizona, but they've regained firebrand Roxy Rockett, who spent most of 2007 playing for Philly. Also, longtime veteran Penelope Bruz, who sat out the 2007 tournaments with an injury, suits up for high-profile play for the first time in a cycle.
Carolina gets the winner from Friday morning's Boston / Grand Raggidy; they'll play that bout to close out Friday night action at 7:45pm on Friday.
Betty Rumble 11 // Bianca O'Blivion 83 // Billy the Kid ACE // Daisy Rage 66 // DVS 131 // Elka Meano 454 // Holly Wanna Crackya 999 // Kelly Clocks'em 212 // Kitty Crowbar 110 // Lucy Lastkiss 5 // MC Fyte 12 // Militia 10 // Minnie Mauser 763 // Ms. Anthrope the Mordant 17 // Penelope Bruz 36 // Princess America 1492 // Roxy Rockett 77 // Shirley Temper 56 // Trudy Struction 22 // Zella Lugosi 73
#3 Windy City
Last year, Windy City was the Cinderella team from the East, going from a wretched performance at the 2006 Dust Devil tournament to a multiple-upset romp through the 2007 Eastern Regionals that unexpectedly landed them in the championship bout against Gotham. Nobody saw them coming that year, but all eyes are on them this year.
Windy City is arguably the hottest team in roller derby right now, having been absolutely on fire all summer. Three of their last four wins have been by over 100 points, and all against tournament-level teams -- Tucson, Minnesota and -- most shockingly -- 2007 WFTDA champions Kansas City. Their solid 39 point victory over #12 Rocky Mountain -- a remarkable feat for almost any other team -- seemed almost tame in comparison.
The Chicago group hasn't been quite invincible throughout the summer, though. They lost back-to-back thrillers at June's East Coast Extravaganza tournament, going down to Philly 92-76 and to Carolina by the exact same point margin, 76-60. Notably, they were missing two of their most effective blockers there in Megan Formor and Malice With Chains -- with the whole crew intact for this bout, and Madison only a short drive away from Chicago, Windy City promises to be a very difficult crew to overcome.
Windy City will get Friday off -- their first bout will be on Saturday morning at 9:45am against the winner of Friday morning's Charm City vs. Cincinnati matchup.
Athena DeCrime 30 // Belle Diablo 666 // Beth Amphetamine 98 // Blossom Bruiso 5 // Dee Monica 1114 // Donna Party 1847 // Eva Dead 0 // Goldie Shocks! 16 // Hoosier Mama 219 // Karmageddon 42 // Kola Loka 911 // Malice With Chains 6 // Megan Formor 1980 // Nina Millimeter 9 // Phannie of the Opera 8 // Shocka Conduit 15 // Tori Adore 19 // Varla Vendetta 25 // Ying O' Fire 777 // Yvette YourMaker 999
In the 2007 edition of the Eastern Regionals, Philly had a bit of unfortunate seeding luck when their first-round bye proved to be of no benefit whatsoever, as it forced them to play eventual tourney champs Gotham in their first bout. One 139-81 rout later, Philly's hopes of going to Nationals were immediately down the drain, and they turned their eyes to '08.
They took on a very strong schedule of challenges after the 2007 tournament season, and it paid off for them when they rose just high enough in the rankings to snatch the last bye seed from the previous East #4, Detroit. Every Philly bout since last year's tournament has been against a team that qualified for this year's tournaments, and they've taken down some of the best -- Bay Area (last November), Windy City (this June) and Rose City (this July). They also gave highly-regarded Carolina a run for their money in August, falling just a little short at 107-86.
Philly features arguably one of the best all-around skaters in derby in Teflon Donna, who is a serious threat to opposing teams no matter which position she's playing on the track, and a speedy, hard-to-hit star jammer in Mo Pain. Very punishing hits come from sturdy Robin Drugstores and Nina Knockout, while Philly crowd favorites Annie Christ and Ivana Rock always seem to find a way to use their relatively small frames to put opponents on the floor.
Philly will also not be playing on Friday -- their first bout opens up the Saturday action at 8am, as they take on the winner of Detroit / Providence.
Annie Christ 7 // 100cc Antidote // Dara Licks 67 // Dotti Horror 77 // Eurothrash XIV // Felony Griffith 44 // Gefilite Fists 18 // Ginger Vitis 93.3 // Ivana Rock 11 // Mandawar 33 // Mo Pain 8 // Nina Knockout XXX // Olivia Face 668 // Persephone 15 // Robin Drugstores 714 // Tara Newone 76 // Teflon Donna 85 // Violet Temper 06 // Wendy Whiplash 1369