WFTDA Creates New Playoff Format for 2013

Gone are the four regions, in are three divisions and a new ranking system. Plus, a look at last year's playoffs under this year's format.

One of the persistent issues facing the WFTDA over the years has been that of competitive balance. Teams want to play teams that are nearer to them in skills and abilities; fans want to see games that are competitive and entertaining, especially in the postseason. The WFTDA wants these things too, and have taken a step to try and get that to happen.

The WFTDA has announced there will be a new playoff structure in place for 2013. Next year, the teams that qualify for the WFTDA Championships playoff tournaments will no longer be the top ten from each of the four current regions. Instead, all 159 members leagues will be lumped into one group, with the top 40 teams based on performance and ranking invited to play for the Hydra.

The geographical regional playoffs will be no more, to be replaced with four of what the WFTDA is now calling the Division I Playoffs, “Division I” being the new name for the top 40 WFTDA teams. Everyone else ranked 41 and below at the time the championship invites are sent will be considered “Division II.” The WFTDA says there will new tournaments added so another 20 teams in D-II will get more competitive action.

Fans and skaters have been wanting the WFTDA to put teams into competitive divisions for a while, and at first glance that’s what the organization has finally decided to do. But look past the “division” moniker and you’ll notice that the WFTDA has just made sure the true top (inter)nationally ranked teams are guaranteed a shot at playoff glory.

Teams will not be segregated by performance any more than they already have been, as being “in the playoffs” (Div.I) versus “not in the playoffs” (Div.II). However, now comparatively weaker teams in the bottom ten of a region, like the South Central, will not get into the playoffs over stronger teams at the bottom ten of stronger region, like the West.

Since the new playoff format will seed teams without regard to where they are located on a map, it will provide a level of competitive consistency across the playoff season. The inevitable blowouts will likely be limited to the first day of each tournament. As seed numbers get closer together, the probability increases that there will be more competitive games.

Strictly from a competion standpoint, this is a very good move by the WFTDA. This format means all four tournaments are sure to have good matchups, the games will get better as the tournaments progress, and the 12 teams that advance to Championships will definitely be the best 12 roller teams in the country (or the world, as it is) based solely on their performance. This is critical if the WFTDA hopes to grow its WFTDA.tv platform, making it easier to sell pay-per-view passes to the common fan if they know they won’t see too many bad games.

It’s also great news for the Hydra-have-nots, as more WFTDA-sanctioned tournaments will be added for the teams that just missed out on the Big Dance. This may be a consolation for the handful of teams that would otherwise be squeezed out of the top 40 due to the killing-off of the regional-based invite system, but I think it’s great that the WFTDA is making sure there’s going to be another event where the small guys can have their chance to shine—and to win.

But in thinking about it, there are a few initial concerns that I would hope the WFTDA has taken into consideration.

Immediately, the question must be raised on how the top 40 teams will be determined in the first place. When regions were voting for their own regional rankings, it wasn’t too much to ask of a league to vote for, at most, 40 leagues nearby them. Surely, the WFTDA isn’t going to expect its population to rank all 159 leagues from top to bottom. Perhaps a system similar to (human) college football rankings will be implemented, where teams assign ranked votes to the teams they think are in the top 40 i.e., 40pts for 1st, 39pts for 2nd, 19pts for 22nd, etc. Total points would then determine rank.

Assuming a viable ranking system is put into place, the next question becomes how leagues are going to afford potentially sending their travel teams to a tournament venue that is very far away from their region. Since geography is no longer part of the criteria for who goes to a specific playoff site, you could get situations where a team like Rose City needs to go to Florida for their playoff opener, or London to a Los Angeles playoff site.

S-curve seeding snakes down columns of seeds (numbers) to find the teams that go in each (part of the) bracket. Now you know!

If the WFTDA is going to go with a rigid S-curve draw, you could have a lot of teams travelling a lot of taxing miles due to how the seeds fall and where the tournament sites fall. On top of that, a team won’t know exactly where they are playing until the final rankings (or the brackets) are released, not giving them a lot of time to plan for the logistics of flying and lodging 20 roller girls to a faraway city.

Finally, there’s the matter of fan support and crowd atmosphere. If a team has to travel a long way, will their cheering sections also make the trip? Since events are more likely to have teams coming in from all around the country (or world), it will by default create a more neutral crowd. Also, a lot of derbyfolk like cheering for their region if they can’t cheer for their team. But when there’s the very real possibility that a tournament located in the south may only have one or two teams based in the south participating, that could lead to issues with marketing and/or event ticket sales, or worse, a mostly disinterested patronage.

So there are a lot of unanswered questions from this announcement. Potential pitfalls, too. However, since I’m a guy that only wants to see good roller derby happen on the track, I’m positive on this news. I like the fact that each site will have a mostly equal distribution of top-, middle-, and bottom-ranked teams. I love the fact that there will be an opportunity non-playoff teams to have a shot of taking home a WFTDA trophy of some kind.

The WFTDA will be releasing further details on their new playoff structure following next month’s 2012 WFTDA Championships, so we’ll see if there are already contingencies in place to guard against some potentially big issues with the new format. While no one can know how this, along with the forthcoming rules update, will shake things up for 2013, there is something we can do to get some insight into what we could expect come next September.

We already know who, roughly, the 25 best teams in the WFTDA were before the playoffs, thanks to the DNN Power Rankings. Just for experimental purposes, we can fill out the remaining 15 teams with an in-no-way-100%-accurate ranking of the remaining teams got in to their regionals.1With this quick estimation, we can ask:

Which teams would have likely reached the WFTDA Championships if the new playoff format were applied this year? How competitive would the weekends wind up being? What would each of the four regional brackets have looked like? How much travel would teams have to do in total?

Before we can answer those questions, first things first: The 2012 Pre-Playoffs Forty are…

 1. Gotham              21. Atlanta
 2. Oly                 22. Carolina
 3. Denver              23. Tampa Bay
 4. Rose City           24. Ohio
 5. Bay Area            25. Houston
 6. Rat City            26. Sacred City
 7. Windy City          27. Angel City
 8. Philly              28. Brewcity
 9. Rocky Mountain      29. No Coast
10. Minnesota           30. Cincinatti
11. Texas               31. Nashville
12. Charm               32. Wasatch
13. Montreal            33. Madison
14. London              34. Dutchland
15. Steel City          35. Omaha
16. Arch Rival          36. Arizona
17. Naptown             37. D.C.
18. Detroit             38. Chicago Outfit
19. Kansas City         39. Tallahassee
20. Boston              40. Jacksonville
.

Seeding for each of the four playoff tournaments will drawn on an S-curve, ensuring equal distribution of power throughout the brackets. If you want to see what an S-curve seed system looks like on paper (and why it’s called that) see the above image. But if you want to see what this year’s playoffs might have looked like under the new format, check this out:

Bracket A

Sample Bracket A
  1. Gotham (1)
  2. Philly (8)
  3. Rocky Mountain (9)
  4. Arch Rival (16)
  5. Naptown (17)
  6. Ohio (24)
  7. Houston (25)
  8. Wasatch (32)
  9. Madison (33)
  10. Jacksonville (40)

Surprisingly, Gotham and Philly wind up in the same bracket, as do regional foes Arch Rival and Naptown, and Houston and Jacksonville. Unsurprisingly, Gotham finds themselves with an easy path to Championships again, albeit against somewhat stiffer competition in their second game. That’s already a positive mark on the new seeding format.

If this were an actual bracket for next year’s champs, Gotham would be the only shoo-in to advance. Philly would be pretty safe as well, since they comfortably beat Rocky Mountain at Rollercon earlier this year. With how hot Ohio was this season, you couldn’t count them out in their opener, but I would think Rocky Mountain would ultimately come out ahead there and in the third place game against whomever they face, owing to previous results against the North Central this year.

Bracket B

Sample Bracket B
  1. Oly (2)
  2. Windy City (7)
  3. Minnesota  (10)
  4. Steel City (15)
  5. Detroit (18)
  6. Tampa Bay (23)
  7. Sacred City (26)
  8. Nashville (31)
  9. Dutchland (34)
  10. Tallahassee (39)

Another easy path for the top bracket seed, which is good for Oly considering every path what will be the former west regional playoff was a tough one. Speaking of that, it’s as if the Roller Derby Gods want there to be Fuck-You-Get-Past-Me roller derby, as Windy City and Minnesota again see each other in this simulated bracket, this time in a champs golden ticket semifinal game.

This distribution of teams highlights a big problem with this seeding format: Oly/Sacred City and Tampa Bay/Tallahassee are about as far apart as you can get in the United States. Unless this theoretical tournament is held in the middle of the country—in fact, unless all four are held in the middle of the country—there are going to be a good majority of teams that will need to hoof it a thousand miles or more, at least, just to get to their divisional tournament. That’s bad news for some of the smaller leagues that might have a harder time affording such a journey.

The good news here is that were this bracket to unfold on the track, there’s little doubt that Oly, Windy City, and Minnesota would emerge as the three winners. And damn it all, doesn’t that sound absolutely perfect?

Bracket C

Sample Bracket C
  1. Denver (3)
  2. Rat City (6)
  3. Texas (11)
  4. London (14)
  5. Kansas City (19)
  6. Carolina (22)
  7. Angel City (27)
  8. Cincinnati (30)
  9. Omaha (35)
  10. Chicago Outfit (38)

Ah, now what we have here is your classic “Group of Death.” There are four teams that have what it takes to be at Championships, but only three of them will get there no matter what. The prospects of Denver, London, Texas, and Rat City playing in what would effectively be four do-or-die games—considering how stacked Champs would be under this format, the bye for winning will suddenly become more important, never mind the third-place game.

The prospect of a wild set of divisional semifinals and finals is music to my ears. But the travel problems in Bracket B turns into a nightmare in Bracket C. If you hold this tourney in the east to accommodate London, you’re making Denver, Rat City, and Angel City travel a cumulative 15,000 miles round-trip, with possibly two of them with nothing to show for it. If put it in the west to center it around the top seeds/majority, you’re asking London to push 11,000 miles and go through up to eight time zones to enter in a tournament. That’s a lot of bake sale money, money that might be better used for other means.

This means depending on where this tournament is being held, London could be put at a severe disadvantage. (A 6 p.m. game in Pacific time would be closer to 2 a.m. London time. Yikes!)  Also, considering Kansas City’s lackluster showing at South Central regionals this year, I’d be hard-pressed to see them getting by two of the above-mentioned four teams, something they would have to do if they wanted to advance. Factoring that in, I’d have to give the medals here to Denver, Rat City, and Texas.

Bracket D

Sample Bracket D
  1. Rose City (4)
  2. Bay Area (5)
  3. Charm City (12)
  4. Montreal (13)
  5. Boston (20)
  6. Atlanta (21)
  7. Brewcity (28)
  8. No Coast (29)
  9. Arizona (36)
  10. D.C. (37)

There are some interesting matchups in this fantasy bracket. Atlanta’s scorching run through the South Central and run at Texas at the regional final is one thing. But how would they match up against the likes of Bay Area or Montreal? Or before we get too far ahead, Charm City? The thing about hot teams is that, for the most part, they’ve only gotten hot against teams from their own region. (See: Ohio.)

Another thing I’m liking about this playoff format is that it pretty much guarantees that good teams have rarely or never played each other will do so a hell of a lot more often during the playoffs. This happens a lot in the March Madness basketball tournament,  and as a side effect it requires teams to cover a lot more ground as far as defending against and attacking many different styles of play, not just different flavors of the same style as you might normally find in a single region. Basically, being good is just part of the equation for success; you must also be quick to adapt day-by-day.

Bay Area has been one the better teams at doing that this past season, so you’d have to see them getting through this bracket with at least a bronze, but probably the gold. If it’s any consolation to the Wheels of Justice, Rose City would have easily returned to Championships if this were the format they bouted under this year, but not this year. Flat Track Stats ratings have Charm City and Atlanta in a virtual deadlock, one of those teams are going to make it to the third place game. But you know what? This is a fantasy bracket—Montreal, you’re going to Champs!

The 2012 WFTDA Championships, 2013 Edition

Let’s compare notes, shall we?

Actual 2012 Championship Teams (Current Regional Format):

Windy City, Minnesota, Naptown, Oly, Denver, Bay Area, Gotham, Philly, Charm CityTexas, Atlanta, Kansas City

Potential 2012 Championship Teams (2013 Divisional Format):

Windy City, Minnesota, Oly, Denver, Bay Area, Rocky Mountain, Rat City, Rose City, Gotham, Philly, Montreal Texas

Teams are arranged by region for ease of comparison. Bold teams have a Champs bye. Red teams made it this year but may have not made it in the 2013 format. Green teams may have made it in the 2013 format but didn’t this year.

Shock of shocks: The power six in the west all made it to fake-Champs, and three of them have byes. (I swear to God I didn’t have a west coast bias when throwing this experiment together.) Tough breaks for the former South Central region, as only Texas managed to make it to the faux-finals. And wouldn’t you know it, the 12 teams at Bizzaro-Championships are in the top 13 of DNN’s pre-playoffs power rankings.

You can slot in the teams of your choice if you feel some of the closer key games would have gone diferently. But the fact is, the new format appears primed and ready to get the best teams to the WFTDA Championships—and there isn’t a holy shit big enough to think about what a tournament with that much skating talent in it would be like to experience. From my perspective, this new format is already looking like a winner on the track.

Hell, I’d pay good money to watch it online without even batting an eyelash.

However, there are still questions to whether or not the inevitable travel costs increase burden will be enough to bare on the still somewhat closed-loop derby economy. If leagues with little resources are forced to do a lot of jet-setting without any financial assistance—which one would assume would come should WFTDA.tv revenues increase thanks to the more competitive brackets—that’s going to be rough on many.

But for now, at least, I’ll be glad to roll with this and give the WFTDA my support. After all, it was the skaters that voted on this, and a majority of them, at that. So maybe they feel this is the right next step to take. Hopefully, for everyone’s sake, it’s a step in the right direction.

  • 10 am LA time is 6 pm GMT

    As for fan support in the tournamnets, I can attest, with certain exceptions(Windy City) there are NO teams that travel well as far as fanbases go, but that’s what happens when you cater to the hipsters rather than the sports fan.

  • Lemmy Hearya

    It may produce a better championship tournament, but, those regional tournaments look even less likely than now to produce many exciting games. Under the regional structure, there is at least a possibility of there being a fair amount of parity among teams within a region, resulting in exciting games in the earlier rounds. Under this system, those teams will be spread out more evenly between regions, which I think will reduce the number of close games and upsets.

    It seems like it wouldn’t be too difficult to allow modification by one position up or down to facilitate travel realities. If swapping two adjacent teams means that neither one has to fly to the other side of the country or world for their tournament, that result seems preferable to slavish adherence to the rankings.

    I think that Division I is too big, and doesn’t really reflect reality. If it was smaller, say 20 or 24 teams, that would be easy enough to split into two tournaments, and those could be geographical. Taking the top 12 teams from the east/Europe versus the top 12 teams from the west/Pacific, I think everybody who is top-tier would have a shot, the games would be more competitive, and travel would be easier.

    • N8

      I agree that these tournaments don’t look any better than the regional tournaments we already had. It’s important to realize, however, that the following year’s (or even years’) tournaments might theoretically be better matched. The top 10 from each region does not necessarily mean the top 40 from all of WFTDA.

      That said, I still prefer the regional format over this one. As Windy Man points out, there’s not a whole lot of significant difference (Montreal over Charm and Atlanta doesn’t seem to really hold any water). There will still be huge blowouts as the top and bottom are still far apart. The problem of distance sounds like a real problem (although it’s already one that teams have to some extent; see London). I would like to see WFTDA enact some sort of cost sharing program perhaps to offer help to leagues that are further away.

    • It seems like it wouldn’t be too difficult to allow modification by one position up or down to facilitate travel realities. If swapping two adjacent teams means that neither one has to fly to the other side of the country or world for their tournament, that result seems preferable to slavish adherence to the rankings.

      I agree. I kinda-sorta alluded to this in the post, but let me finish my thought on this topic.

      The thing that struck me about the wording of the WFTDA announcement was that they were specific in noting how a S-curve seeding system works. While there’s yet going to be more details about this system, until those come out I’m interpreting this specificity as them thinking about making and sticking to rigid seeding with no real flexibility. For the many other reasons this may present issues, sticking a exact seed onto a team based off an inexact opinion poll of peers is not smart. In the regional system, you got hilariously incorrectly ranked teams. In this “divisional” system, you could (inadvertently) cost leagues thousands in additional travel costs.

      The way the WFTDA should handle things is divvy up teams into groups of four based on their Top 40 ranking. Basically, do it the way they do it for the college basketball tournaments. Teams ranked 1-4 in the Top 40 would be made into tournament #1 seeds (with Gotham being the overall #1 seed, as always), 5-8 ranks the #2 seeds, 17-20 ranks the #5 seeds, and so on. The four brackets are then populated by taking one of the teams from each of the seed number pools and trying to match them up with a location that isn’t thousands of miles away.

      This way, the WFTDA has a lot of options to place teams into brackets so they have roughly the same balance of performance-based positioning throughout, but also the flexibility to prevent a financial strain on too many teams. A minor downside to this system is it would take a little longer to put the brackets together, meaning qualifying teams would have less time to plan for travel arrangements. At least with a rigid Top 40 system, teams would know where they’d be going from the moment the rankings are released.

      I think that Division I is too big, and doesn’t really reflect reality.

      Absolutely. I feel this will become a point of contention in the future. Individual leagues in a skater-controlled organization are unlikely to essentially vote away their chances of getting into major playoff contention. The WFTDA saw the need for divisions, but the teams ranked around 30 and below—a large majority—would have probably disagreed with any motion to reduce the number of “top division” teams had it come up. Agreeing to such a thing would have excluded them from or greatly reduced their chances to be in that tier. So what did they do instead? They added consolation tournaments!

      Again, I think it’s a great idea that low-mid tier teams can have legit sanctioned tournaments just for them. But this may soon turn into one of those “bad for the skaters but good for roller derby/good for the skaters but bad for roller derby” decisions I keep talking about, if it hasn’t already. You can’t put everyone into the same division when they clearly should not be, and not expect there to be problems one way or the other.

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  • Celdred

    I put some thoughts down about the new playoff structure and how it influences derby in uprising regions like europe and australia. please read and repost if you like it!

    http://duhastkeineahnung.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/the-new-wftda-championship-seeding-and-its-impact-on-the-world-except-north-america/

    Thank you!

  • I agree with you on the issue of travel becoming a real issue, but it already is a real issue. Just this past month, the North-Central tournament was held in up-state New-York, and the South-Central tournament, located in Nebraska, featured three teams who were from Florida.

    And these large travel distances aren’t exclusive to the central regions. Excluding London, since they will be required to travel no matter where the tournament is held, Rocky is located ~1,000 miles to from their tournament.

    • I agree with you on the issue of travel becoming a real issue, but it already is a real issue.

      You are correct, but then the question becomes “why” it already has been an issue.

      First, the North Central. No one in the North Central region wanted to host its regional tournament. Thirty-seven NC leagues, and not one of them wanted to put it on. Makes you wonder how many bids the WFTDA got in the other three regions, and whether or not this switch to a national system may have played a part in that.

      It would be a complete disaster if playoff teams had nowhere to play their playoff games. Speculating here, but maybe the WFTDA wanted to guard against that possibility by opening up all regions to all regionals in case this had come up again, but then just went ahead and created a seeded national tournament to kill two birds with one stone.

      Second, the West. The west is huge. Our cities are bigger than most eastern states. Travel will forever and always be a problem west–even well-off teams in the NHL Western Conference have problems traveling thousands of miles just for a two-game divisional road trip. The only thing that can be done about that in the WFTDA is to keep western teams on the west side of the country (and the southern teams in the south, etc.) during the playoffs, but then the problem of not having the “best” teams at the finals pops up again if you have a high concentration of good teams in one region.

      Finally, the South Central. Florida isn’t exactly centrally located to anything, so they’d be on the move in pretty much all circumstances. But the better question: Why the heck are there only four regions? At the birth of the WFTDA, two regions were a necessary due to lack teams. Now the WFTDA is pushing 200 teams, and there are still only 4 regions to hold them all…soon to be just one “region.”

      NCAA Men’s Basketball has around 350 Division I schools divided into 32 conferences, roughly based on geography and school resources. So, about 8-14 schools per conference, depending on who/where they are. I know this is impossible at this stage in the WFTDA, but the only way you’re going to solve both the travel problem and the competitive balance problem is to make more divisions, not fewer. And they need to be divided by both region and skill level, not just one of them.

      But I doubt the voting members of the WFTDA will want to do that anytime soon, for reasons I commented previously.

    • N8

      “The west is huge. Our cities are bigger than most eastern states. ”

      As of 2010, here are the lists, in order.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_population
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_population

      Top down of Western Cities
      L.A. – 3,792,621
      Phoenix – 1,526,006
      San Diego – 1,307,402
      San Jose – 945,942
      San Francisco – 805,235

      Bottom up of Eastern States
      Vermont – 625,741
      Delaware – 897,934
      Rhode Island – 1,052,567
      New Hampshire – 1,316,470

      Unless you meant land area, in which case the only city bigger than Rhode Island is Anchorage (and its not bigger than Delaware).

      “I know this is impossible at this stage in the WFTDA, but the only way you’re going to solve both the travel problem and the competitive balance problem is to make more divisions, not fewer. And they need to be divided by both region and skill level, not just one of them.”

      I don’t think anybody, player OR fan, is interested in discouraging the variety in opponents. It’s occasionally fun to have a special rivalry, but if my team has 80% of their games against the same 5 opponents every year, I’m probably not going to stay as interested. Not unless they start playing dozens of bouts in a year anyway (if that ever happens).

      • Whoops, did I say eastern states? I meant cities. Of course states aren’t bigger than cities. I had this map in mind when I said that. In any event, of course I was talking about area. What does population have to do with travel distance across the vast stretches of this country?

        I don’t think anybody, player OR fan, is interested in discouraging the variety in opponents. It’s occasionally fun to have a special rivalry, but if my team has 80% of their games against the same 5 opponents every year, I’m probably not going to stay as interested. Not unless they start playing dozens of bouts in a year anyway (if that ever happens).

        Disagree on two levels. If those five games are against five equally-skilled local rivals, then people will be interested. There are already state and regional groups running, like Derby South, Great Lakes Area RD, Arizona State Conference, etc. They do this to grow local(ish) rivalries and make sure teams get equal(ish) competition. There’s no reason the WFTDA can’t setup or endorse regional divisions similar to these, give the teams in them something to play for, and maybe even give them an invite to a national divisional tournament.

        This is, by the way, exactly how it works in NCAA college basketball. Remember, NCAA March Madness doesn’t invite the 68 “best” teams. It invites the 31 conference champions and fills the rest of the spots with the teams most deserving past that. Eventually, maybe the WFTDA might consider a similar system once more teams are on equal skill levels.

        The other thing? If you think people would ever tire of seeing Oly, Denver, Rocky, Rose City, Bay Area, and Rat City (okay, maybe not Rat City) playing each other a majority of the time all year, you’re insane. (Larger leagues with 4/5 home teams don’t seem to have the problem with garnering interest, outside of the rules issues.) Good skaters on good teams playing good derby is what the priority needs to be for the bulk of the derby season.

        Like I said in this post, it’s great that the new “division” system will lead to more variety come tournament time. But I’m just wondering if the potential financial burden that may put on large and small teams alike will be worth that.

    • N8

      “If those five games are against five equally-skilled local rivals”

      But this is the hard part. Looking at the top ten from each region (of four) that we currently have, we can’t find a set of five teams that are equally-skilled. Perhaps someday in the future things might be different, but right now you can’t satisfy that assumption once, let alone within the entire hypothetical region-divisions.

      • But this is the hard part. Looking at the top ten from each region (of four) that we currently have, we can’t find a set of five teams that are equally-skilled. Perhaps someday in the future things might be different, but right now you can’t satisfy that assumption once, let alone within the entire hypothetical region-divisions.

        Right, you can’t satisfy that right now. So maybe the 40-team regional/national/international tournament system, right now, isn’t the wisest thing to do.

        Sometimes I wonder if the WFTDA membership is biting off more than it can chew.

    • theoriginaldonald

      I think the ONE good thing about no more regions-Burlington VT and Lincoln NE will NOT host tournaments anymore.

    • Celdred

      “I know this is impossible at this stage in the WFTDA, but the only way you’re going to solve both the travel problem and the competitive balance problem is to make more divisions, not fewer. And they need to be divided by both region and skill level, not just one of them.”

      This is as right as it gets. This argument stands above everything else. I salute you!

      “I don’t think anybody, player OR fan, is interested in discouraging the variety in opponents. It’s occasionally fun to have a special rivalry, but if my team has 80% of their games against the same 5 opponents every year, I’m probably not going to stay as interested. Not unless they start playing dozens of bouts in a year anyway (if that ever happens).”

      Now that is just wrong. Every sport in the world is divided by regions and inside those regions further divided by the divisions. the competition inside those divisions is what keeps the fans interested. if you don’t divide by divisions – fans lose interest because of missing competitiveness, if you don’t divide by regions – fans are never gonna travel this far on a large scale!

  • I think this is a really good conversation with a lot of good points, but I would just like to point out that most of the comments about competition is based on the last few years of gameplay. As we all know, things are getting crazy in roller derby and I think overall it will get more competitive. The difference between the top and bottom seed in the regional system and the new system is large now, but we will have to wait and see how teams and the sport will progress. Also, ruleset changes and players changing teams right before playoffs (Joy Collision, Hockey Honey, and Atomatrix going from Arizona to Oly) will have an impact on competitive gameplay.

    To me the big thing about this division system is that there will be lower divisions being added. This is HUGE. It makes the league I am part of excited. We are in a small town and have no real reason to join WFTDA because we would never ever ever be ranked, but in a division system we could have some competitive gameplay. We would probably end up in Division 3 or 4 or maybe 5 depending on everything ended, but to have something to play for would be great. Also, we live near Buffalo, NY home of QCRG. They have some great roller derby, but they are in the East. They would never make regionals in the current system. Setting up a second division will give a lot of teams like Buffalo more of a reason to play competitively. And getting these second (and third and fourth) tier teams more competitive will make the sport so much better. Addy Rawl came from Buffalo to make Team USA. Think of all the other amazing talent that is on the verge of breaking out to be best in the world.