Q2 Homestretch 2012: East Region
6E Montreal lost twice to 4E Steel City in 2011, but have a chance to pull themselves up the rankings when the teams meet again on June 9. Photo: Neal Humphris.
With the second quarter WFTDA rankings period closing at the end of the month, June's bouts represent the final chances for teams to solidify their seeding for the September and October regional tournaments -- or claim an invite by breaking into their region's top ten.
This week, DNN takes a four-part look at how the playoff picture is shaping up over the final five weeks of the WFTDA "regular season," starting in the East.
Leaders of the Pack
If history is any guide, the top three spots in the region are unlikely to change following June's results. Although 1E Gotham hasn't been challenged at all this year in their two enormous regional wins over low-ranked Long Island (630-65) and Connecticut (505-19), the 2011 WFTDA champs seem to be pretty much a lock to take the top seed in the East playoffs for the 5th year in a row.
The only threat in their way will be 2E Philly, who they'll face in Philadelphia on June 9. While the Gotham / Philly rivalry is one of the oldest in modern derby –they first played in October 2006 – it's been pretty much all Gotham from the start; Gotham holds a 9-1 advantage in the series.
What's more, the last two Gotham / Philly matches have been the most lopsided -- Gotham beat Philly 267-34 and 252-97 in 2011. With Gotham currently on a 17-game winning streak, a victory for Philly on June 9 would assuredly be the biggest upset of the year.
3E Charm City has come quite close to Philly in their last couple of meetings, losing by 26 and 8 points in 2011, but this year Charm City hasn't played a regional schedule that gives them a good argument for passing Philly before June 30. They smashed 13E Queen City 440-62 in their March season opener, but they'll face tougher competition near the end of the month when they face 6E Montreal and 7E Boston at the East Coast Derby Extravaganza. Still, though, Charm will should come in as a strong favorite over the weekend even though they've seen dramatic roster turnover since their 2011 campaign. In 2011, Charm defeated Montreal by 122 and Boston by 103.
Battle for the Middle
Things get a little less predictable after the top three. June 9th's match between 4E Steel City and 6E Montreal has the potential to shake things up a little bit. Steel City is a solid favorite on paper as Steel City beat Montreal twice in 2011 (144-121 in April and 134-88 at the East Playoffs), and key injuries and departures on the Montreal team have left them looking slightly weaker than they did last year. However, should Montreal get the upset here, they'd have good momentum to take into their ECDX matchup with Charm City and potentially crack the region's top 3.
The result of Steel City / Montreal will be of particular interest to 9E Dutchland. The surprising May 5 result between Steel City and Dutchland, in which Steel City won by just 6 points at 146-140, could potentially give Dutchland a chance to break past Montreal. On the other hand, Dutchland also has a close head-to-head loss to 7E Boston (172-153) on May 19 that could keep them pinned below Boston no matter what happens between Steel City and Montreal.
8E Carolina looks to currently be perfectly ranked, as they lost to Boston by slightly less than Dutchland did (149-140), also in May. Neither Dutchland nor Carolina can further affect their own fate in June, as neither have any more regional games scheduled.
5E London hasn't played any US teams at all this year and will have to wait and see how the WFTDA voters react to that; their record-setting 667-18 win over unranked Auld Reekie is their only result of the year so far, though they'll get another one in against Bear City (Berlin) on the same weekend of the ECDX.
Dark Horses and Potential Spoilers
11E Maine reached the playoffs as the 9th seed last year, but fell behind London following the playoffs and lost a key matchup to 10E DC in April, 197-131. That puts Maine in a must-win situation for all three of their June games; they're already favored on June 9 against 14E Suburbia and June 24 against unranked Ithaca, but their playoff hopes hinge on upsetting 7E Boston on June 16. Boston defeated Maine twice in 2011, including a 107-point rout during the playoffs -- even with Boston suffering continued roster upheaval in 2012, it'll be an uphill battle for Maine.
12E Providence will have a chance to play spoiler when they play Boston the day after Maine gets them, but while they could possibly knock Boston out of the playoff hunt by scoring what would be an enormous upset, it's hard to envision a scenario in which Providence could punch their way into the top ten. They've already lost in head-to-head matchups with 15E Connecticut and 16E Dominion.
If Boston survives their Maine / Providence weekend as expected, it'll be up to 16E Dominion to come up with the wins that would change the playoffs invite list. Dominion faces 10E DC at home on June 2; the teams have something of a odd history, with one 100+ point blowout for each team and one very close 95-77 win for Dominion. It's been two years since they last met, though, and both rosters look quite different these days. Should Dominion manage to get the upset win over DC, they'd probably still need quite convincing wins over 25E Lehigh Valley and 24E New Hampshire at ECDX to back up an argument for the bottom playoff spot.