WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs: You Can’t Spell “Gotham A+” Without Omaha

One more weekend of roller derby will determine the last group of teams that get to play for the Hydra in Minnesota next month.

WFTDA Logo LargeChoo-choo! It’s the last stop of the 2015 WFTDA tournament train! Omaha, Neb. is the site of fourth and final Division 1 playoff weekend. The last ten teams of the full field of 40 will battle through the brackets to try to grab the three final berths to the WFTDA Championships in St. Paul, Minn. on November 6.

Two weeks ago, London, Jacksonville, and Denver finished on the podium in Jacksonville and earned the right to play some more roller derby next month. They join Rose City, Victoria, Texas, Bay Area, Rat City, and Arch Rival in the 12-team Division 1 finals field.

Gotham will be joining them, too, just as soon as they rampage through Omaha in yet another preliminary round on their way to Champs. Angel City, Montreal, and Champs host Minnesota will be fighting over the final two spots.

The bottom half of the bracket, meanwhile, looks as if it will be extremely unpredictable, with a high probability of upsets. WFTDA tournaments are seeded according to the official WFTDA rankings, but had Flat Track Stats taken over seeding duties with their ranking system, the 5-10 seeds would be nearly inverted. Expect a lot of crazy results by the end of Sunday.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, you’ll have to navigate to in order to watch the live web broadcast from Omaha. The moving pictures aren’t free, however—a weekend streaming pass will cost you $15. (The live audio feed is still free, at least!) All the details about the tournament, including schedules, brackets, and ticketing info, are on the WFTDA Omaha tournament page, here.

Who will make it to Minnesota? (Besides Gotham.) Let’s find out!

WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs – Omaha

October 2-4
All Times Listed in EDT

#1 Seed – Gotham Girls Roller Derby
WFTDA Rank: #1
FTS Rank: #1
2015 Record: 6-0
2014 Tournament: WFTDA Champions (6-0)
First opponent: Toronto/Queen City winner, 7:00 p.m. Friday

Remember how at the beginning of the year, when we heard about the roster shake-up at Gotham? A handful of their veteran skaters, notably jammer Suzy Hotrod, stepped away from the all-star team. Together with how close Gotham came to losing the Hydra in 2014, this left many to think that the five-time WFTDA Champions and owners of a 62-game winning streak that’s almost five years old were as vulnerable as they’ve ever been to seeing that streak—The Streak—finally broken.

Well, something was broken alright: Gotham’s Flat Track Stats widget, which is having a difficult time containing their 1000+ rank score. Compare it to London, the #2 FTS team and the team that many are hoping will go one better1 in 2015 than Rose City did last year.


Gotham is not messing about this season. No opponent has scored more than 82 points against Gotham (beating #10 Philly 316-82), nor have those opponents been able to prevent Gotham from scoring  at least 200. Gotham’s “worst” game this year was a 202-67 win against #5 Denver in Denver, which doesn’t seem too bad. However, Gotham promptly corrected that hiccup with a 281-68 win in New York against that same Denver team just two months ago.

There’s really no need to talk about Gotham’s other results this year. (Because, Gotham.) It goes without saying that Gotham is going to breeze through the weekend and secure a first-round bye for St. Paul next month, just like they’ve been doing since 2010. It won’t be until then where we can more realistically talk about any chance at Gotham losing…which they haven’t done since 2010.

#2 Seed – Angel City Derby Girls
WFTDA Rank: #8
FTS Rank: #9
2015 Record: 8-3
2014 Tournament: WFTDA Championships, Lost in 1st Round (2-2)
First opponent: Helsinki/No Coast winner, 5:00 p.m. Friday

L.A.’s flat track team has had a fairly good  2015, winning the games they were meant to win and outperforming their rank with a 135-123 slugfest win over #6 Bay Area at Golden Bowl in mid-August.

There are a few interesting tidbits to Angel City’s season, however. Of note is Angel City’s recent performances against #7 Texas. The two teams have tussled twice in 2015, with Texas taking both victories. At Pac Destruction in June, Angel fell 191-127 (-64 points); at Golden Bowl, Angel did a bit better, only losing 168-122 (-46). (Coincidentally, Texas also beat Angel City in the first round of Championships last year, 192-140.)

But a bigger datapoint is a game from July. The week after the seedings were announced for the 2015 playoff season, which revealed that Angel City and #12 Minnesota were to be paired up in the Omaha bracket, the two teams played in a sanctioned game in Los Angeles. ACDG won pretty easily in the end, 195-109. But the beginning and middle was a different story…

If the two teams are to meet in the semis for a guaranteed berth to champs, if you’re Angel that halftime score is a wee too close for comfort. (There were some circumstances that may have skewed the true result of this game, as we’ll explain below.) However, if Angel City stays the course and keeps winning the games they should win, they should find themselves at the WFTDA Championships for the third year in a row.

#3 Seed – Minnesota Rollergirls
WFTDA Rank: #12
FTS Rank: #13
2015 Record: 3-4
2014 Tournament: WFTDA Championships, Lost in 1st Round (2-2)
First opponent: Boston, 3:00 p.m. Friday

Minnesota has a lot to play for this year. Hosting the 2015 WFTDA Championships in their iconic home venue, the team would like nothing more than to play on the biggest stage in front of their fans. If the Aqua and Army army wants to get there, however, it’s going to have to overcome some challenges.

In April, Minnesota was ranked as high as #6 in the WFTDA. However, big losses to #10 Philly in May (191-106) and #11 Arch Rival in June (169-133) knocked the team down a few pegs. (Minnesota also lost to Gotham by over 200 points. But doesn’t everyone these days?) The Angel City game, an 86 point loss, wasn’t so bad in comparison, especially with how close things were partway through.

However, what that score doesn’t say is how the game in Los Angeles was marred by power outages and lengthy delays. Minnesota only being down by 2 points at halftime might have been helped along by several thunderstorm-induced blackouts stopping play and breaking up the rhythm of both teams. If the expected semifinal between them comes to be, there’s no way of knowing how much an uninterrupted game will affect things, positively or negatively.

Flat Track Stats is flagging a potential win-or-else third-place game against 4-seed Montreal as a tossup. Should Minnesota find themselves in that position, the amount of pressure on them will be absolutely enormous. If Minny can overcome it and get to Champs, one thing will be certain: They’ll have definitely earned it.

#4 Seed – Montreal Roller Derby
WFTDA Rank: #16
FTS Rank: #15
2015 Record: 9-2
2014 Tournament: WFTDA Division 1 Playoff, 5th Place (3-1)
First opponent: Windy City, 9:00 p.m. Friday

Les Skids will be very confident heading into Omaha this weekend. In addition to having an excellent chance of advancing to the championship round for the first time ever, the team has drawn a very fortunate place in the brackets. It turns out they may not have to expel much effort to get their Champs chance in the first place.

Montreal has a 4-0 record against other teams playing this weekend. The most significant of these wins, in both the opponent faced and the magnitude of victory, was at ECDX in June. There, Montreal crushed #20 Windy City 303-97 in a 200+ point blowout. Windy is the 5-seed and Montreal’s first opponent of the tournament, and with WCR’s freefall in the rankings this year, there’s every reason to believe that a similar mismatch is on in the rematch.

This means the path for Montreal is pretty clear: Take care of Windy City in a relatively easy 4/5 game. Advance to the next round and face Gotham. Lose against Gotham. (Doesn’t everyone these days?) Gear up for the third-place game, almost certainly against Minnesota. … Beat Minnesota and make it to Champs? Montreal can focus on that last step a lot sooner than their opponents may be able to, which may give them an edge.

#5 Seed – Windy City Rollers
WFTDA Rank: #20
FTS Rank: #51
2015 Record: 1-7
2014 Tournament: WFTDA Division 1 Playoff, Quarterfinal (3-2)
First opponent: Montreal, 9:00 p.m. Friday

The Windy City Rollers are in rebuilding mode this year, but there are hell of a lot of pieces to pick up and put back together. Their all-star roster was blown to smithereens after Champs last year, which included the high-profile transfer of Jackie Daniels to Texas. The effect this has had on their level of play has been nothing short of devastating.

Windy’s only sanctioned win of 2015 was versus #35 Madison, a 7-point squeaker in June. The team’s next best game was against #35 Madison in August, though this time a 26-point loss. Every other game that Windy City played, all against opponents ranked as high as #9 (a 312-54 loss against Jacksonville) and as low as #34 (a 251-129 loss at Ohio last month), were triple-digit blowout losses, including the one against Montreal, their first-round opponent.

Those results have put Windy City way down at #51 at Flat Track Stats. (Their WFTDA ranking of #20 still includes residual performance from the playoffs and Champs last year.) The discrepancy between the ranking systems is the largest of any single team playing in the postseason, in either division. Not only that, WCR has by far the lowest FTS rating of any team playing this weekend.

In previous years, Windy City qualifying for WFTDA Championships was a bet as sure as Gotham winning WFTDA Championships. This year, it looks certain that Windy will be watching Champs from home for the first time ever. If things fall the wrong way for them, they may even go home without a playoff win. Can you even?

#6 Seed – Boston Derby Dames
WFTDA Rank: #23
FTS Rank: #39
2015 Record: 7-4
2014 Tournament: WFTDA Division 1 Playoff, 7th Place (2-2)
First opponent: Minnesota, 3:00 p.m. Friday

Fans of Boston may have the shortest fingernails of anyone in roller derby. Five of the team’s 11 sanctioned games this year have come down to the last jam.

  • Won 182-159 vs. #41 Rideau Valley (+23 points)
  • Won 196-194 at #29 Steel City (+2)
  • Won 135-121 vs. #19 Charm City (+14)
  • Won 160-148 vs. #25 Helsinki (+12) at The Big O
  • Lost 177-173 vs. #27 Terminal City (-4) at The Big O


That’s an impressive record achieved in an impressive way. Though a few of the losses were quite big (a 213-94 loss against Montreal and a 250-95 loss versus #13 Atlanta, both tournament 4-seeds) the wins should give Boston fans a lot of confidence that their team will pull things out if a game is tight in the closing stages. That may come in very handy against Helsinki—again—who Boston could wind up facing in the 5th place game on Sunday if both teams get that far.

#7 Seed – Helsinki Roller Derby
WFTDA Rank: #25
FTS Rank: #38
2015 Record: 3-6
First WFTDA Tournament Appearance
First opponent: No Coast, 11:00 a.m. Friday

Finland! Like many other international teams in the WFTDA, Helsinki got a big boost in the rankings by travelling to the United States earlier this year, even if a lot of that improvement came by way of better-than-expected losses.

In the days before The Big O, the team played #27 Terminal City (30 point loss) and #15 Rat City (128 point loss). After settling down in Oregon, they went 2-2 at the tournament. Their closest game there was a 157-150 win over Division 2 finalist Nashville, which was even tighter than the 12-point loss against Boston.

Helsinki also got a taste of the upper echelon of the WFTDA, getting roughed up by London this past July. (Final score: London 397, Helsinki 33.) Though getting that opportunity is nice, Helsinki will be glad to face more equal competition in Omaha.

#8 Seed – Toronto Roller Derby
WFTDA Rank: #32
FTS Rank: #44
2015 Record: 6-6
2014 Tournament: WFTDA Division 1 Playoff, 7th Place (2-2)
First opponent: Queen City, 1:00 p.m. Friday

A lot of teams in this half of the bracket have played each other already in 2014. In Toronto’s case, they’ve beat Boston (+55 points) and lost to Montreal (-9), a pair of fantastic early-season results that bodes well for them this weekend, especially as a tournament 8-seed.

On the other hand, Toronto has had their fair share of trouble against lower-ranked opponents, particularly in close games. They beat #48 Naptown by 11 points and D2 Champs-bound #45 Kansas City by a mere 3 points. Those results aren’t particularly strong for a Division 1 playoff team that’s a tournament 8-seed.

Which side of Toronto will show up this weekend?

#9 Seed – Queen City Roller Derby
WFTDA Rank: #33
FTS Rank: #32
2015 Record: 5-3
2014 Tournament: WFTDA Division 2 Playoff, 5th Place (2-1)
First opponent: Toronto, 1:00 p.m. Friday

Queen City has slowly been moving up the rankings in the WFTDA. In 2013, they finished 9th in their Division 2 bracket. Last year, they improved to a 5th place Division 2 tournament finish. This year, they’ve stepped up to Division 1 for the first time.

A significant win against #41 Rideau Valley, 233-101, was a big part of that. Perhaps a close 10-point loss against #29 Steel City, 183-173, helped them out even more. Though Queen City posted a 175-163 loss against #40 Tri-City, the mix of big wins against lower-ranked opponents and OK losses against stiffer competition was the right combination to get them to Omaha.

If you want to understand how unpredictable the bottom half of the bracket is going to be, consider this: Despite being the 9-seed in this tournament, Flat Track Stats actually ranks Queen City as the 5th-best team playing this weekend.

#10 Seed – No Coast Derby Girls
WFTDA Rank: #39
FTS Rank: #34
2015 Record: 4-4
2014 Tournament: WFTDA Division 1 Playoff, 7th Place (2-2)
First opponent: Helsinki, 11:00 a.m. Friday

No Coast is right where they want to be in Omaha, making the short trip over from their home base in nearby Lincoln, Neb. They are also about right where they should be, as far as their place in the grand scheme of the WFTDA tournament season.

Demolition City and Kansas City, the two finalists in the Cleveland Division 2 playoff tournament and one half of the D2 field at WFTDA Championships, both lost to No Coast by similar margins. In April, No Coast beat Demolition 217-172 (+45 points). In July, they beat KC 208-161 (+47).

A pair of losses to #22 Team United, by 9 points in March and by 49 points in June, combined with solid wins over a few other D2 playoff teams, was more than enough to keep them in the Division 1 scene. Like everyone else in the bottom half of the bracket, there’s a lot of opportunity for No Coast to move up in the final standings. Finishing 7th, as high as they did last year, is a realistic goal for them.