Posts Tagged ‘Brackets’

2013 WFTDA Bracketology #2: Division 1 and the High Cost of Inflexibilty

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With WFTDA rankings locked-in and the participating teams seeded into four cities across the United States, the first-ever WFTDA Division 1 playoff tournaments are set to kick-off this September.

As the growth of the modern game continues to seek a clear direction, the WFTDA is heading into new territory this postseason. Besides overhauling the ranking system to eliminate biases inherent in an opinion poll, the governing body has also made a significant change to its playoff format.

Out are the four distinct regional tournaments, which have been replaced by what is effectively one big championship playoff divided into four equally-seeded qualifiers. This method was selected by WFTDA member leagues to, according to them, allow for “more competitive play within and across” the whole of the playoffs, and ensure that “the best teams are eligible for Championships,” which this year will happen in Milwaukee the weekend of November 8.

In this installment of WFTDA Bracketology, it’s time to pick apart the Division 1 brackets and see how the WFTDA attempted to meet these and other goals, whether or not the methods it selected were the best way of meeting them, and if the concessions it made to do so were really in the best interests of its member leagues, and for roller derby as a whole.

In case you missed it, check out the first WFTDA Bracketology post wherein we discovered some issues with the Division 2 bracket and took observation at an alternate look at the Division 1 tournament, two things which will come in very handy for what you’re about to read here.

The 2013 WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs

The five events that make up the run for the Hydra championship trophy are no longer called “The Big 5” by the WFTDA, but the scale of the tournaments that now comprise the Division 1 playoffs are still pretty damn big. Forty teams are eligible regardless of what people are calling it these days, so let’s give “The Big 40” their due and see who is playing where this year.

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WFTDA Creates New Playoff Format for 2013

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. (Yes, this is leaving out some teams from other regions that would have been in the new Top 40, but that’s not what this about.) With 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…

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Battle on the Bank V Preview

While the WFTDA and flat track roller derby doesn’t get to see playoff action until September, banked track roller derby’s biggest playoff event is happening this weekend.

Battle on the Bank is now in its fifth year, and after stops in Los Angeles, Austin, San Diego, and Phoenix, it’s now Seattle, Wash. and the Tilted Thunder Railbirds playing host to the summer interleague tournament.

Eight banked track teams from five different states will be fighting for the really big Battle on the Bank trophy in 12 games over three days. Of the teams accepting their invites to Seattle, seven played in last year’s Battle on the Bank and have at least two years’ worth of tournament experience; four had played in the first BotB five years ago; three are returning champions; and one team, the Salt City Derby Girls, are playing in their first banked track battle.

The weekend is scheduled to have four games on Friday, six games on Saturday, and then two full-length games on Championship Sunday to determine the top three. Sunday will also feature an interleague junior derby bout in the morning between the L.A. Junior Derby Dolls and the Tilted Thunder Railbird Peeps. Click the image to the right for the full schedule in printable bracket form (PDF) to keep track of the action.

Though there are only two, or maaaaaybe three teams that have a legit chance of starring in the championship final this weekend, the action in the middle of the pack should be very, very interesting to watch, with some of the stronger teams beginning to slip and the up-and-comers firing on all cylinders. This may be the first time in a while where the majority of 30-minute games on the schedule will be relatively close and competitive.

Alas, although all of the teams are winners in our hearts, only one can be a winner on the track. So which team has got the stuff to take it all this year? Let’s find out…

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Battle on the Bank Brackets

Battle on the Bank IV starts next Friday, June 12, in Phoenix, Ariz. Fourteen games will be played amongst nine teams over three days to declare one banked track roller derby champion. With so much action to take in, you may lose your way in trying to follow it. How are you going to make sense of everything during the weekend? With this, of course:

WRDN’s printable BotB IV brackets are ready to serve you.

Hot off the presses, our printable Battle on the Bank IV Bracket will help you keep track of the action, with the full schedule, game match-ups, and places to pencil in scores and advancing teams throughout the course of the tournament. If you’re headed to Phoenix, it’s an essential tool that you can’t be without. The same goes if you plan on staying at home and watching the action live on DNN. How are you going to know who is going to play who and when without it?

Alas, an empty bracket is no good without game results and scores to populate it with. What if you’re one of those Bracketology nutcases who needs to predict the outcome of every game and score ahead of time? Don’t worry—we’ve also got you covered with our Battle on the Bank Prediction Bracket. This interactive bracket will let you pick which teams you think will wind up where and let you enter scores for each game. Once you fill it out and are certain you’ve got it right, you can print it out and refer to it during tournament weekend. Share it with your friends to mock them for how wrong they are!

For best results, download both brackets. Fill out and print a prediction bracket now, and then print the regular bracket so you can fill it out as the action happens during the weekend. That way, you can find out with stunning accuracy how bad you are at predicting the outcome of sporting events! If you need some help picking the winners, be sure to check out our comprehensive Battle on the Bank IV preview to learn up on the teams vying for the title. Just be sure to remember: Bracketology is an exhibition, not a competition…please, no wagering!

Download the Battle on the Bank IV Bracket

  • Print it out and use it to track the action!
  • Refer to a match-up for game time and info
    • Game times shown in Mountain Daylight Time
  • Pencil in game scores in the grey boxes
  • Use cues to place teams in their next games
  • Compare the finished bracket to your predictions!

Download the Battle on the Bank Prediction Bracket

  • Predict how the tournament will go!
  • Use the menu boxes to select teams
  • Type in the grey boxes to enter scores, and remember:
    • Games 1-12 are 30 minutes long
    • Games 13/14 are 60 minutes long
  • Enter your name to claim the bracket as your own
  • Print out the Prediction Bracket when complete
  • Refer to it and brag about your predictions!
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