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Besterns? More like Wah-sterns.

Wah wah wah. Pout pout pout. Bitch bitch bitch.

That's all we've heard coming from the western half of the country the last couple weeks. "We have all the best teams in the world, they should all be going to Chicago to compete for a championship. I mean Gotham's good and all and they destroyed most of the teams we're talking about in the Hometown Throwdown but still, WE'RE THE BEST REGION EVER!!!!!!! It's not fair." You know what's not fair? Having to put up with your whining for this long.

Last college basketball season, Kansas was ranked #1 for 13 out of 18 weeks. They lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Northern Iowa. Should they have been moved onto the Sweet 16 anyway just because they were ranked so high?

In 2008, the Patriots finished the regular season undefeated. Why did they even hold the playoffs? They should have just handed Tom Brady a Super Bowl ring in early January.

The Miami Heat just signed Lebron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade. Three of the best players in the league. Why even play the season?

The AL East has the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, and Baltimore Orioles. One of those teams has been the AL Wildcard 6 of the last 7 seasons. Maybe the MLB should redistribute the divisions every year to make them even. Screw consistency and rivalry. IT'S NOT FAIR.

Listen, people. This is how sports work. There are cycles. Sometimes one division, region, conference, whatever has a ton of strong teams and sometimes that division, region, conference, whatever is horribly weak. The WFTDA is going to look completely different in 5 years than it does today. Shit, look just two years ago at the Northwest Knockdown in 2008. The championship was Gotham vs Windy City and the 3rd place game was Texas vs Philly. Not a single team currently playing in the West was playing on Sunday.

Things change.

For those not paying attention: Rose City (#12, 9-6), Rat City (#7, 9-6), and Denver (#6, 9-3) are not going to the WFTDA Championship despite all of them being ranked in the top 12 in almost every rankings system in the derbyverse. They are not going because only three teams from each region move onto the Championship and the West has Rocky Mountain (#2, 11-1), Oly (#4, 12-1), and Bay Area (#13, 7-6) who earned those spots.

I'm certainly not saying that the current WFTDA format is perfect. I'm just pointing out that the complaints I'm hearing are a fact of life and how all sports playoffs work. Here are some of the very few "solutions" of this "problem" I've been hearing:

Redraw the region borders every year or few years. I'm not going to deny that this will probably need to happen a couple of times as WFTDA membership grows but that is more of a function of the changing geography of the added membership. Some regions are just growing faster than others and the regions should be pretty even in terms of the amount of teams so this is just a fact of life. However, this is not a permanent solution to keep the playoffs fair. First, there's only so much you'd be able to do since it obviously wouldn't make sense to put Oly in the South Central. Second, sports are about a number of things and tradition and rivalry are certainly on top of that list. Moving teams to a different region every year pretty much destroys both of those things. Nebraska and Colorado just left the Big 12 and that was a HUGE deal in the midwest. People are PISSED. It's destroying all the traditions and rivalries those teams have created over the last 100 years. And, you want to do that every year?

Only have 4 or 8 of the 12 teams make the WFTDA Championship and have the rest selected as at-larges. This is just stupid. Life isn't fair in the playoffs. You lose and you go home, you win and you move on. That's how EVERY sport works. THAT'S WHAT MAKES PLAYOFFS FUN TO WATCH.

Don't hold regionals altogether and just vote the top 12 teams in the country into the WFTDA championship (maybe even include non-WFTDA teams like San Diego). Again, stupid. This would basically be the BCS in college football. EVERY ONE HATES THE BCS. Why would that be the system you copy? And, seriously, San Diego? That team is awesome and I wish they were in the WFTDA but they aren't. The NFL doesn't invite the Grey Cup or NCAA champions to play in the Super Bowl.

User Submission: Top 3 from each region plus 2 to 4 wild cards. Copy what I said from two solutions above. Let me add, having a 14-16 team format would require either having games on Thursday or having teams play twice in the same day. Thursday isn't going to happen at this point. If you advocate the two games be played on Friday, think about what you're asking. Friday will be a bunch of games of 3's vs wild cards. Snore. Then, the schedule as normal. If one or those 3 or 4 seeds won their games, they'd have to play in the morning, at night, morning, night. 4 games in 2 days. Is that really more fair than the current system?
Imagine how awesome it would be if the NCAA Tournament got to the Sweet 16 and then voted on the 4 best teams that lost in the first 2 rounds and then had those 4 teams play the worst 4 teams that made it through on like Tuesday or something, how awesome would that be? By awesome, I mean ridiculously horrible and would make that tournament go from the best in the country to the worst.

If you have any more "solutions", post them in the comments and I'll add to this list.

What people need to remember is that regionals and the WFTDA championship are all part of the same playoff structure. Win and you move on, lose and you go home. If a team can't finish 3rd in their own region then they honestly don't deserve to play for a WFTDA Championship. And, that tournament is called the WFTDA Championship for a reason: to crown a champion. It's about taking the voters out of it and making teams prove it on the track.


  1. "If a team can't finish 3rd in their own region then they honestly don't deserve to play for a WFTDA Championship. [...] It's about taking the voters out of it and making teams prove it on the track."

    Rose City (#4 Westerns) just proved they can beat Windy City (#1 North Central) so... they did prove it on the track. Windy City can't place in the top 3 of the Western region even if they can beat out everyone in their own.

    Maybe change perspective a little and say: "If a Region can't field any top-12 teams they honestly don't deserve to play for a WFTDA Championship." Dump the whole region instead of losing great teams.

    As for alternative solutions? I promised a while back mine is on the way.
    Wanna let this year's championships run their course first.

    Yes, I whine about the dismal regional system and how my team isn't going to Championships (again). I'm a Cubs fan after all- it's my nature. But really what I wanna see is good competition that represents our sport. When Championships rolls around I wont be crying about how my team didn't make it- I'll be bemoaning the lame ass match ups like Oly vs. Nashville in what I can only imagine will be a contender for the blow-out record. Wouldn't you rather see a re-match of close games from top competitors?

  2. Rose City proved that they could beat Windy City in a meaningless game. Maybe Windy City was playing at 100% and wasn't experimenting with different strategies or lineups, you would know more than me since I'm assuming you were there. Really, that doesn't matter, though.

    Rose City had their chance to go to Chicago and they lost TWICE. To Oly and Bay Area. It's as simple as that.

    Would I rather see a rematch of close games from top competitors? No. What's the point? One team already proved themselves when everything was on the line. Why do I need to see that again? The game was awesome the first time because something was on the line. Take that away (by just selecting the top 12 teams or whatever) and that game becomes exponentially less exciting and meaningless. By making the WFTDA Championship slightly more awesome, you make regionals SUCK.

    Even if it's a blowout, I'd rather see an Oly/Nashville matchup because we haven't seen it before and we may never see it again. I really don't need to see Rose City play Rat City for the fourth time this year. I really don't.

    The thing is that these "lame ass matchups" always have the chance of turning into classics. That Minnesota/Detroit game looked like it was going to be a pretty "lame ass matchup." Teams can't surprise you if you don't give them the chance.

  3. Back in 2007 Gotham was supposed to roll over Kansas City, then Tucson was supposed to, and then Rat City was going to walk all over them after just barely beating TXRG in the "unofficial championship game" earlier on.

    That's not quite what happened. Not that I think that's going to happen here, just sayin'.

    I think now that regional MBEs (multi-bout events) like ECDX are ALMOST widespread throughout all of WFTDA's regions competitiveness is going to pick up a fair bit.

    A big part of why East was the toughest region in 2008 and second toughest thereafter is ECDX. Put most of the WFTDA leagues in the region into a big 2.5 day event with more bouts (and generally better-matched) than a tournament. Even if you don't learn by playing you can learn by watching. Being as they always set it for last weekend in June, it has the added bonus of making the KEY 2nd quarter rankings better.

    East has ECDX, West now has Wild West Showdown, North Central now has Midwest Brewhaha, and South Central has... uh... um... a bunch of nice little state championship tournaments that the WFTDA teams usually win over the USARS ones? Hmmm... I guess that hasn't helped so much.

    Uh South Central, are you going to wait until Europe and Canada have put some of these together before one of your leagues turns their considerably less-helpful state championship tournament (in some states it's a "let's build a nice trophy to award to ourselves" event) into a truly useful MBE? I'm hoping someone down there gets to work on it.

  4. How about this, don't have all the teams in the WFTDA playing at the top level. Maybe the top 24 teams playing in an A division and the next 24 teams playing in the B division and so forth and so on. Then the the teams that place 23 and 24 get bumped to B division and the teams that come 1 and 2 get bumped up to A division.

    Why do this you ask? Well let me tell you. This way you can book a regular season where you face off against the teams in your division instead of playing any and all WFTDA teams no matter what their skill level.

    Again, why? Well this way you get proper rankings and not rankings based on votes from the teams in the divisions. Once you have proper point based rankings then you can send the top 12 teams in the A division of WFTDA to Nationals and forget about the discrepency between 3 from each region going.

    I mean seriously, how many real sports let the teams dictate who they play in a season and how often? Let alone a voting policy for ranking. I'm not saying derby has to be like every other sport but there's a reason other sports are structured the way they are.

  5. @Grand Poobah

    Great post and I completely agree about the South Central needing an MBE.

    @Anonymous 6:31

    Roller derby isn't at that point yet. If your plan was in place last year. No Rocky Mountain, no Denver, and no Oly. 3 of the top 4 teams in the country to finish the season wouldn't have been competing for a championship because they weren't in the the top 24 the year before. Then, at least one of those teams wouldn't have made it into this year's top 24 since only 2 could make it. Most likely, that team would have been Rocky Mountain since they lost to Denver at nationals. So last year's champion wouldn't have been in the championship and DNN's favorite this year wouldn't be in the championship.

    I'm completely with you on having a structured regular season, though, and I've written about that before, but there are much better ways to implement that.

  6. Oh Derbytron, Val Capone just turned me on to you and I love you already. When will they make marriage between a derby girl and a website legal, dammit?

  7. What's this top 12 nonsense anyways? DNN Power Rankings? Accurate, schmacurate, all of this hemming and hawing derives from the monthly conversations of three people, the exaltation of the accuracy of their knowledge.

    Those three know the sport, no doubt. But using the opinions of three people for the baseline of national rankings is fucking absurd.

  8. Top three from each region plus two voted-on wild cards! Hell, even four wild cards -- the wild cards play the #3 from each region in the first round, to see if they have a shot at it. If they do, great, and if they don't, the tournament continues as planned.


    I don't think we should redraw borders and I don't think we should vote on everyone; let the regional tournaments shake out as they do every year, but give the wild cards out to teams whose region is slightly tougher that particular year. Arguably, the west AND the east regions are pretty stacked compared to the north and south -- and arguably, that's gonna change from year to year as teams evolve. Let's create a system that RECOGNIZES the flux in skill and works with it instead of against it.

    And be fair: you'd probably whine a bit too if your team had beaten one or more of the top three from every single other regions but still wasn't going to nationals. Doesn't matter what region you're from, that still stings a little. Sports are supposed to be about honest competition and no matter how often unfairness occurs, it still stinks.

    Can't wait to see how the rankings end up!

  9. @Anonymous 10/21 6:30

    Divisions are a good idea; however, there's a substantial road block: money.

    Without substantial financial backing, a lot of leagues can't afford to travel and play as many far-flung teams. Professional/college sports that are divided into divisions have a lot more money at their disposal for traveling than an all-volunteer roller derby league does.

    I'm one of my league's Interleague Co-Chairs, and we're currently working on our 2011 schedule. We're talking to a lot of great teams in all four regions and would love to play each of them next year, but we won't be able to simply because we can't fit it all into our budget.

    At this point, I just don't think it would be reasonable to ask teams to play within their division if it means forcing them to shell out repeatedly for travel expenses.

  10. It's not whining when there's logic behind it.

    Denver and Rose City could wipe the floor with seven of the twelve teams that will be at the Championship, and Rat City could beat at least five or six of them. But they're not going, and instead, we get to see riveting cliffhangers like Oly vs. Nashville. Who will win...who will win?

  11. I would MUCH rather see top derby teams play each other than foregone conclusions like we will see at nationals this year. It does nothing for our sport to have boring blowouts.

    We definitely need to move to divisions and do it next year for 2012. and hey...didnt rat jsut beat denver? the rankings should be reversed.

  12. Clearly, Anonymous fella/woman, you have some opinions. Thought about working for your local league?

    As to your ideas about X whuppin' Y, there's something worth mentioning - because we're a series of unpaid organizations, real life gets in the way a lot for these road trips.

    One of the things I love about tournaments is that the bouts involved are big enough deal that road teams usually are able to get their best out to them. For the most part, we'll be able to see the 1st 14 of each team when the tournaments go down.

    And then we'll see who is best.

    Another note worth thinking about. We're an organization that is heavily on the edge of DIY. We have no BCS, no people watching broadly how individual teams train...the best we have is reactional standings ala FTS and Derbytron or some good back of the envelope analysis from DNN.

    The quantifying of 'this league is better than that one' is difficult to implement, much less a region. Yes, we have an idea that West and East have some superb teams right now, but one would need to have an idea of how to 'prove' it.

    And please, don't say the answer to that is simple and point at stats ala Derbytron or the like. As DT itself puts it upthread, many such changes might well have kept this scrappy kid called Denver and another called Oly from making the finals LAST year.

    Put more bluntly, we've already seen Westerns. They were fun, and we enjoyed seeing BAD put the screws to Denver and Rocky win it all...but don't need a repeat of it, or of Hometown Throwdown.

    The other nine teams have earned that place in the bracket. If the top three from the West turn out to the top three in the nation, that's great. But this is the way they prove it.

    -Garrison Killer

  13. @Margaret Thrasher

    While we may not be able to get married, you can still spread the word about how in love we are to all your friends.


    I'll add your solution to the list in the post. If it's not there yet, I'm getting to it.

    As to your other point. I'd be complaining if my team didn't get VOTED into the WFTDA Championship and I felt they deserved to go, probably like how those 5th and 6th wild cards would get angry every year (thus not changing a thing). But, if my team lost fair and square when everything was on the line, then they don't deserve to move onto the next round. It's as simple as that, even if I think they can beat another team that made it to that round.

    @Anonymous 12:09

    What's your definition when you say wipe the floor? Because when I hear that, I think blowout. How many times should a team be able to lose and still stay in the playoffs? Because 2 of the 3 teams you mentioned lost TWICE. Do you think any of those 3 teams has a chance at winning the championship? If they don't, what's the point? And, again, provide a workable solution. At this point, I'm going to be rooting like hell for Nashville to shut up the west coast.

    @Anonymous 12:20

    Roller derby is not ready for divisions. Exhibit A, B, and C. Look up where Denver and Rocky Mountain were ranked at the end of 2008. I would also bet that Oly wouldn't have entered the top division last year, either. Now tell me that divisions still make sense because those teams would have been left out last year and some of them might have been left out this year. That seems like WAY more unfair than not having teams that LOST in the playoffs not move on to further rounds.

    Blowouts happen in every sport, even in the playoffs. It's not an issue. People won't remember those games, they'll remember the classic games and many classic games are Cinderella stories. Guess what? You can't have a Cinderella if you don't let her play.

    @Garrison Killer

    Excellent post.

  14. Thank you for making the legitimate statements and analogies to more mainstream sports in this post. It's people like you who continue to promote our sport to a certain level of respect on par with these sports.

  15. I like the idea of divisions or different levels of WFTDA. When you look at the teams that sprout up and are awesome right away it's because it's a bunch of girls from other leagues that have formed a new team or league. Teams should have to pay their dues to work up to the major leagues. In the end that will also help prevent leagues from splitting up and forming "super teams" because they'd have to spend 2 or 3 years working towards the A division.

    Short term pain for long term gain

  16. @Anonymous 2:33

    Thank you. I do what I can.

    @Anonymous 2:40

    So, you're saying that Rocky Mountain and Oly shouldn't be allowed to play for a WFTDA Championship? Because, it sounds like that's what you're saying.