WFTDA International Playoffs: My D2 Wichita Picks

If you’re not watching footage, you should be and if you’re already watching footage, then you should be watching more.

There’s never enough footage and until quite recently I could brag I’d watched 95% of the games stored on the WFTDA archive. In fact, one glance at my YouTube history and you’d quickly realise I use YouTube for nothing more than searching for obscure roller derby and the most talked about games.

Division Two is a relatively new level of roller derby for me, as like most Brits I’d previously only watched to see the European teams smashing it up.

But this year I’m committed to watching as much of the WFTDA feed as possible, especially because I paid approx £70 for the privilege. BUT also because I signed myself in for the UltraCompetitive league on Fantasy Derby, with some of the world’s favourite London-based skaters… I look practically unambitious compared to the crowd below.

fantasy roller derby game

Unlike me you might have had more raucous weekend plans (sub in “a life”), and as a result may have missed some of the Division Two play. So below I’ve listed out two games I think are a must watch, and a couple of reasons why. A warning, the final scores are included, as are the winners. So there are spoilers, but if you like watching great roller derby again and again then maybe you’ll enjoy knowing the ending…

 

— Nashville Rollergirls vs Tucson Roller Derby —

Okay I admit it that this was the first game of the tournament I got to watch, so I may doing an injustice to the two games that came before this. BUUUUTTTT I did hear the announcers say they were largely blow-outs, and I don’t want to recommend any one-sided games.

Nashville vs Tucson took place on the first day of D2 Wichita, and was the third game of the day and the tournament. Nashville came into the tournament as third seed and Tucson was sixth, so I don’t think you’d have been critiqued on making a judgement call on who was going to win.

However, the game unfolded quite differently to how everybody (maybe just me) imagined and the gameplay and strategy on display was for the most part closely matched.

Early on it looked like the game was Nashville’s but after a lead change, Tucson led with varying margins for most of the game. In fact, it seemed for a while that only Nasville’s Lady Fury was capable of breaking through the Tucson defence to score points, which looked like a great source of frustration for Nashville and Lady Fury. Understandable really with the rumours that Nashville would be losing nine of its charter to retirement at the end of this year and the announcer confirmed departure of Lady Fury at the end of the weekend.

By the last quarter of the bout (yeah bout, what of it?!) was Tucson’s to lose. Which, unfortunately, they did.

With Lady Fury out for Nashville from a big and high hit on the jam line, it genuinely looked like Tucson had this in the bag, but a series of jammer and blocker penalties, poor clock management and some excellent defence from the Nashville blockers saw Music City take the lead in the closing jams.

Far from a bracket upset with the third seed clinching the win this game was still a differential killer and definitely worth a watch (if only the second half).

Final Score: 152 – 149 to Nashville

Seeds entering the tournament:

Nashville Rollergirls – 3

Tucson Roller Derby – 6

Finishing position in the tournament:

Nashville Rollergirls – 4th

Tucson Roller Derby – 7th

 

— Houston Roller Derby vs Boulder County Bombers —

If this game was one thing, it was close. If I could give it another adjective, it’d be hitty.

The game started out quite formation heavy with many iterations of braced three walls and a dedicated offence. Expectantly, this created some long periods of play without a lead jammer. But as the game progressed each team became more desperate and hungry for the win and as a result the game became more individual, contact-heavy and demonstrative of solo skill.

Yet none of the above is the reason why I’m recommending that you watch this game. Nope.

I recommend watching this game (spoiler incoming), which was the 5th/6th position playoff because you’ll see the Boulder County Bombers, the 8th seed in Division Two Wichita, come from behind at halftime to beat the second seed, Houston Roller Derby.

THAT’S RIGHT – Boulder County Bombers usurped Houston for fifth place, and what’s more they did it all in the last fifteen minutes of the second half. If ever I thought there was a game to drink to, game 15 of the Divison Two Wichita International Playoffs was it.  The amount of lead changes would have made even the most seasoned derby drinker drunk as a skunk.

Final Score: 184 – 181 to Boulder County

Seeds entering the tournament:

Houston Roller Derby – 2

Boulder County Bombers – 8

Finishing position in the tournament:

Houston Roller Derby – 6th

Boulder County Bombers – 5th

 

All-in-all I think the Division Two Wichita International Playoffs were a tournament categorised by surprises and upsets. Of course there were blow-outs, but surely we can all expect that at any level of play now in roller derby? The game of jostling for position is always going to have its ebbs and flows of epic growth and mammoth come-downs.

But what was really surprising in this tournament was just how different the final tournament positions were from the start; out of all 10 teams, only two remained in the same seed.

If you have a favourite game of D2 Wichita please let me know.

WFTDA D2 Wichita Roller Derby

Bracket from WFTDA

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