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November 17 Analysis - 2009 Final Rankings Edition

By my count, there only 5 scheduled WFTDA sanctioned games for the rest of the year so nothing major is going to change. What better time to present the final rankings than right after nationals? The Derbytron will be back sometime in early 2010 bigger and badder than ever.

Anyway, let's get to Oly. Talk about bigger and badder, no one has yet to combine speed and teamwork as this group of former speed skaters has been able to do. They just out-athleticked (athleticed? athleted?) everybody on their way to the national title. There are no arguments against 11-0 and they're the main reason that I am going to have to dig in really hard to rework the derbytron equation. Obviously, the current rankings are a little off. Oly has beaten the current #1, #3, #6 (twice), #8, #9 etc, all in pretty convincing fashion. There are no teams left that even have only one loss (except for teams that have played two or less games).

The rest of the rankings do not appear to be too far off. Perhaps Charm City is a little high (although, this is only based on one somewhat lackluster tournament). Also an argument could be made that pretty much every Western team is ranked too low.

Every incorrect prediction in nationals was due to a Western region team being ranked too low. The reasons for the lower ranked Western region seems to be two-fold. The top teams improved dramatically throughout the year. Oly came out winning but won two of their first few games by single digits. Oly beat Denver at home in April by two points and then won in Philly by 87. Denver also improved consistently throughout the year and obviously Rocky Mountain made a giant leap after picking up the Pikes Peak skaters. The issue with this is that the games in January count just as much as the games in September so a poor start to they year could hurt a team's rating towards the end of the season.

The other factor is a lack of inter-region games. The following is a list of the teams that played at western regionals and the number of teams they played outside of their region before nationals: Oly (0), Rocky Mountain (2), Denver (2), Rat City (5), Bay Area (2), Duke City (4), Rose City (2), Angel City (0), Tucson (0), and Pikes Peak (3). Rocky Mountain was the only nationals team representing the Western region to have played another nationals team during the regular season (Boston). Obviously this is not a lot of information to go on when you compare those numbers to those of the other teams at nationals: Philly (3), Gotham (1), Boston (7), Windy City (5), Madison (2), Detroit (5), Texas (4), Kansas City (5), and Houston (1). So, with one less team, the other regions played 13 more games inter-regionally and they all played at least one. There is a clear difference there and one of the main regions the West was underrated.

These are clearly some of the unique issues roller derby presents. Every major American team sport plays a non-division schedule. The lowest number of non-division games that I know of is college football with three although most conferences play four.

Another issue that I will be looking at are what I'm calling trash games. In other words, sanctioned games that don't include a large number of the top players of one of the teams involved. Two clear examples of this were the Charm City/Philly game as well as the Madison/Detroit game. The two games skewed the rankings dramatically despite clearly being unimportant based on other results.

These are the issues that will be tackled in the offseason so stay tuned for the 2010 rankings.

2009 was the first year of the Derbytron Rankings and as such was a very successful start. Derbytron finished the year correctly predicting 84.4% of official games. Roller Derby is a sport, and a great sport at that, which means it's unpredictable, as it should be, so anything over 90% is pretty close to impossible to achieve. I'm still hoping to get there, though.

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