Preview: 2012 WFTDA East Region Playoffs
Bonnie Thunders leads a overwhelmingly favored Gotham team: the New Yorkers have an all-time 15-1 record dating back to the very first East region playoffs in 2007. Photo: Axle Adams.
Charm City has finished third behind Philly in each of the last two East playoffs -- this time, they start off as the 4th seed. Photo: Tyler Shaw.
3 seed Montreal claimed their highest ranking ever in the region on the strength of a 153-131 upset over Charm City at ECDX. Photo: Dave Wood.
7th seed Boston celebrates after winning a dramatic game over a (then-stronger) Arizona team at ECDX. Photo: Dave Wood.
In 2011, Carolina was the first of London's three upset victims; this year, London comes in as the 6 seed while Carolina holds 8. Photo: Tyler Shaw.
Steel City had a tough time with Gotham in last year's playoff semifinals; this time, they'll have to defeat Charm City in their first game if they want to have a chance to advance to Championships. Photo: Tyler Shaw.
9 seed Dutchland has had a lot of turnover since their controversy-laden 2011 appearance in the playoffs; this year, they'll have a second opportunity to face Gotham if they can beat 8 seed Carolina in the tournament opener. Photo: Tyler Shaw.
10 seed DC just barely missed the playoffs last year after appearances in 2009 and 2010; this time they pull 7 seed Boston as their first opponent. Photo: James Calder.
BURLINGTON, VT -- It’s weekend three of the four-week cycle of the WFTDA regional playoffs. After the intensity of the upset-heavy North Centrals and last weekend’s West Playoffs -- a tournament that saw four of the five placement bouts come down to the last jam -- it would appear on paper that the historically more stable East Playoffs may be a little less hectic.
In 2011, the East Playoffs saw a total of three upsets in 17 games, all involving bottom-ranked London rolling over higher-ranked opposition. While the number one position is as locked in stone as it ever has been and probably ever will be, there's plenty to fight for below it. Philly have looked in fine fettle this year too, with their undefeated run at RollerCon showing they are probably hitting form at the right time, but it almost certainly won't be enough to stop throw a spanner in the Gotham machine given the teams' recent history.
The only way Philly will find themselves fighting for third is by losing to the winner of London and Montreal, which would require quite the turnaround from either team. Montreal come in as the third seed for the first time and would be favorites to progress as the third-place team regardless of any other factors given their ECDX win over four-ranked Charm City, the region's perennial third-place finishers of late.
The external factors only serve to boost Montreal's case -- the return of stand-out 2011 stars Smack Daddy and Iron Wench to the Montreal roster can only help them build on their best results of 2012 and push for a first visit to Championships. But would it be enough to get past a Philly side that beat them by 145 points in May? The chances don’t look good -- but both sides beat Charm City by about the same margin during the season, so it's not entirely outside the realm of possibility. Could London upset Philly if they repeat their 2011 win over the Canadians? The Liberty Belles were the only side to beat the transatlantic interlopers at NIghtmare on 95, by a solid 140-53 margin, with the margin almost entirely due to a crushing first half performance. If London are in a position to post a better result than that this year is anybody's guess.
Steel City sit at five and are Charm's first challenge if the All-Stars want to repeat their performance in 2010 and 2011 and reclaim third place in the east. Steel have put up some good results since their loss to Montreal in June and may well fancy their chances; their hopes will probably be boosted by the last-minute losses of Just Carol and Holly Gohardly for Charm City, who have both been lost to injury in recent weeks.
London at six are as unknown a quantity as ever. They put up a record-breaking score against Auld Reekie, but failed to make much of an impression with a narrower-than-expected win over newly minted full WFTDA members of Bear City to get their in-region games in. The result of their recent game against Team USA in London compares favorably with Philly's result at RollerCon--but as the USA rosters for those two games were markedly different, direct comparisons are hard.
Boston come into regionals where they left last year, at seven; they'll be hoping to improve on that, and many of their performances over the year suggest they might. They performed better against Arizona than Steel City did at ECDX, and better against Dutchland earlier in the year; while other results weren't enough to move them up the rankings, if they replicate their best form of the year at Sugarbush Showdown, they have every chance of proving a few voters wrong.
Carolina and Dutchland sit at eight and nine, swapping places from where they left regionals last year. Both teams got within a jam's worth of points against Boston earlier in the year but neither has had the most taxing of seasons--so this bout could be anybody's.
The number ten spot goes to DC -- who have come out ranked ninth in their three previous visits to regional tournaments. They'll have to pull off at least one upset to do so--and their ability to do that depends on how the rest of the bracket shakes out.