Preview: Track Queens: Battle Royal
BERLIN, GERMANY: Oh, you thought tournament season was over? You thought you were all done with minors in sanctioned play? And perhaps you even thought you had seen your last regional tournament. Well, 2012 has some life left in it yet.
Closing out the year Bear City are hosting the first ever WFTDA sanctioned European tournament, with ten of Europe's best teams facing off in the all-too-familiar WFTDA single elimination bracket.
The tournament is missing at least three teams who would have had a very good shot at qualifying on merit: London Rockin' Rollers, Manchester's Rainy City Roller Girls and Cardiff's Tiger Bay Brawlers. That's because when tournament invites were sent out, none of those three had achieved WFTDA status, though all have since been accepted into the apprentice programme. Other leagues on the continent who would also have been challenging for an invitation on current form include Paris Rollergirls, Brighton, Dublin and Sheffield, so be sure to keep an eye on their progress over the next few months.
Of the teams there, only the top two seeds have actually received an official WFTDA ranking: London Rollergirls and Berlin's Bear City, who are fourth and 25th in the East respectively, at least for a few more weeks.
Birmingham's Central City, Edinburgh's Auld Reekie, Glasgow Roller Derby, Leeds, Malmo's Crime City and Helsinki are all full member leagues now, and are the four through nine seeds for the tournament. Prior to this weekend none of them had played enough games against ranked opponents to make them eligible for a regional ranking under the almost-defunct voting system; depending on how the weekend plays out and how quickly WFTDA rolls out its new ranking system, they may well sneak in under the wire for Q4.
WFTDA apprentices Stockholm and Gent take the remaining two spots, seeded three and ten respectively.
The seeding may not be the best guide to final placements: it was decided many months ago between the competing teams shortly after the final team list was finalised, and doesn't take into account any of the bouts between any of the competing teams this season. London are the overwhelming favourites--a sub-par performance from DNN's #11 saw London Brawling beat Bear City 292-44 back in June, and while the Berliners have been fortified by an American trip of their own--which included a thrilling win 154-137 over 6E DC Rollergirls--the two teams performances against Philly show how big the gap still seems to be.
Bear City may not have a lock on second, either. The most likely problems on their path to the final are Stockholm and Glasgow: the latter may be ranked sixth, but they lost to Bear City by a mere 30 points in a nail biter in March, after the tournament rankings had been released. Stockholm's 2012 season has only seen them lose once to a charter team: to the absent Rainy City, so they are definitely coming into the tournament with their tails up. Stockholm have one other advantage too--Swede Hurt, whose wealth of tournament experience could give Stockholm an edge over teams that have never taken part in this sort of event before.
Central City come in at four and will be guaranteed to perform to seed if they just beat Auld Reekie in game one--but then they are very, very, likely to hit London in the semis. While the two have never met, CCR did visit London back in March--and lost 305-34 to the Harbour Grudges, one of London's home teams. If Auld Reekie come out on top in that bout, then the semi would be a rematch of the biggest blowout in WFTDA sanctioned play--London's 667-18 rout of the Edinburgh team back in May.
Glasgow's Irn Bruisers come in at six on an eight-game winning streak since losing their first two bouts of the season against Stockholm and Bear City by 2 and 31 points respectively. Leeds come in at seven, but did post a 41-point win over five-ranked Auld Reekie in August on their way to a second-placed finish at Chaos on the Clyde, which Glasgow hosted, so look a good shout to improve on their initial placement.
Crime City come in at eight after a difficult 2012. They went 7-1 in 2011 (including a 44-point win over Stockholm) but are 2-4 in 2012 after losing key personnel, but against a generally higher calibre of opposition than the previous year. Helsinki have a 7-4 record in 2012, but that masks the calibre of opposition--every time they've come up against a team at or close to the level of those ranked above them, they've lost quite handily, with big losses in may to both Stockholm and Auld Reekie among them.
As ever, the tenth spot is taken up by something of an unknown quantity. Gent Go Go Roller Girls are 6-2 on the year so far--the two most notable results were a 182-132 win over Paris and a 169-140 reverse against Brighton, both of whom will definitely be challenging for spots in the regions top ten in the next year or so, with Brighton having got closer to London's Brawl Saints this year than anybody before them in a two-point thriller.
The tournament will be being broadcast via WFTDA.tv, with Bear City handling local production duties. If you're tuning in, be sure to log in to our shiny new Track Queens chatroom to discuss all the action as it happens.