The 2011 WFTDA Big 5 tournament is just days away, and we are publishing previews of each one, starting with the East Regional “Nightmare on 95“, which takes place in Baltimore, MD on September 16-18. The rest of this week we will publish a preview of each region in the chronological order that matches each event. We have assembled some very observant authors who represent participating teams to provide the analysis, and as always we welcome your thoughts below in the comment section.- RDIT Editors

UPDATE 9/7/2011: Live coverage of all the 2011 Big 5 tournaments will be provided by Blaze Streaming Media and the WFTDA.

WFTDA recently released its rankings for the crucial second quarter, and as the regional tournaments are around the corner; these rankings are the seeds that will grow into our tournament structure.  Given that I reside in the Eastern tentacle of WFTDA’s regional structure, it’s only fitting that I give you a  write-up on each of the teams competing, and how they look going into Regionals.

I will go in the order of the rankings themselves, because numerical order is easy and timeliness is the cornerstone to online articles.  So let’s kick this off with number one and get them out of the way so we can talk about the bigger fights in the region.

  1. Gotham – Ranked number three at 2010’s Championship tourney, the ladies of New York City remain as hard-hitting as ever.  Their bout in June against Philly was a successful rout, with the final score 267-34.  Gotham’s win over Denver on August 13th is a testament to their all-star firepower. New York’s roster has remained solid in what little action they’ve seen this year and it’s unlikely anyone in region will come close to  unseating them.
  2. **Philly **– Philadelphia’s Liberty Belles have had a season of building up new talent and trying out new strategies that have given them a spotty track record this year. Currently, their tally is nine wins to seven losses. However, their squad of skaters is hungry for derby, playing some  intensely strong teams, wherever and whenever they are called to compete. That’s Philly’s thing. Teflon Donna and crew have been all over the  country, and come Easterns, it’s likely that the ladies in black and blue will give it their all to keep their number two spot in the East.
  3. Charm City – The bad-asses of Baltimore are currently 7-6 in sanctioned-play, with their most recent victory coming against Madison. Charm City’s been a solid  competitor this year, but of the top three it’s their spot to lose come September. Charm City was able to hold onto their spot last year against  Boston, but new competitors in the region have been climbing their way up the ladder. Skating lean and clean may be the only way for Baltimore to stay on top.
  4. Steel City – Last year’s performance at the Eastern Regional tournament brought Steel City Derby Demons to the attention of everyone on the East Coast. Currently 9-5, Steel City is climbing the charts and making Eastern teams recognize that they’re ready to bring the pain going into  September. They’ll be facing rising stars, Montreal, on the first day of the tournament.
  5. Montreal – The New Skids on the Block’s trajectory is akin to 80s sports films. Every online journalist talks about how they were a “joke” in  2009,and now they are breaking through teams that had treated them like the amusing kid sisters you bring along with you to the mall. I never shrugged them off. Hard work and a real sense of team identity (some of the best in the sport) have seen them rake in impressive wins and tight losses throughout the season. Unlike many of the teams in the East, Montreal is not in a building year, but a year of ascension. For the gamblers in this sport, this would be a decent team to put money on.
  6. Boston – The Boston Massacre is in a transitional year. Starting off with a one point win over Steel City this season in the final jam was a  nail-biting wake-up call for the “pantsless militia.” Like Philadelphia, Boston’s been traveling the continental United States in search of conquest, but coming up shorter on wins than in seasons past. Spirits remain high, however. The Massacre has been developing new talent and strategies this season, spending more time on experimentation than dwelling on the loss of veterans to retirement and injury. They’re facing Charm City on the first day of the tournament, making their chances for the number three spot less likely than in their previous tournament bouts.
  7. **Carolina **– Carolina’s holding at number seven after being pushed down in the rankings by Boston in the second quarter. In recent action,  Carolina lost to Nashville 143-112 but also soundly defeated Atlanta this Labor Day weekend.  Their state breeds an elastic team of hard-skating heroes. Expect them to pull out all the stops to defeat the London Roller Girls (Seed 10) in order to face Philly.
  8. Dutchland – Dutchland’s been flexing their quads and pushing through some tough opposition this year. At ECDX, they lost to Boston 102-144 before beating Dallas 162-78. Giving Dutchland their due is easy, as they’ve been able to hang with the best in their region and learn from each game. They’re facing number nine in the rankings on the first day of Easterns.
  9. Maine – The Maine Port Authorities have been on a tear recently. The team is a fine mixture of old and new, and their defeats have been nearly as impressive as their wins. Maine’s been in the lower tier of the region for a few years and 2011’s been a year of shakeups. While Steel City defeated them at ECDX 193-113, Maine’s looking to trawl those traps out of the sea and capture some wins.
  10. London – Wow. Two of the top ten teams in the East are not American. While London’s season has been a series of defeats this year, each time they push harder and stronger than many folks within our own borders. London Brawling has taken on some of the toughest teams in our region and the U.S., so it’s going to be a real treat to see how they go against Carolina. Should they win, their first trip to a tournament puts them up against the Liberty Belles. That is worthy of bragging rights on either side of the Atlantic.

Predicting the outcomes of these bouts stinks. However, it being RDIT, I feel it’s my duty to do so:

  • I’m sticking with Gotham in the top spot (if you’re not, you are likely fixing the game) and Philly taking number two, albeit not as easily as the previous year.
  • Number three depends on Charm City’s skating and endurance versus the hunger of the team they face. Thus, we come to prediction 4.
  • In the Montreal vs. Steel City bout, I give it to Montreal by a slim margin. Both teams continue to excel, but the masters of eleventh hour surprise wear neon. Of course, Steel City making me eat my words is encouraged.
  • Charm will beat Boston
  • Dutchland vs. Maine will be a closer bout than the slaughters we typically saw last year. If Maine’s got a full roster of uninjured and present skaters, I see them winning, only to have to skate the same day against Gotham. Yikes.
  • Carolina will defeat London and take on Philly

As for the rest of the games, I’m not going to over analyze. You know for whom you are praying to win. Some of you are actively using negative energy and dark magic to curse those you dislike. That’s cool, too. More importantly, this could be the year where a series of hungry Eastern teams compete with a minimal amount of no-contest games making it a series that’s fun to watch.

Image courtesy of Charm City Rollergirls