In their past three post-seasons, the primary travel squad for St. Louis-based Arch Rival Roller Derby has reached the quarterfinal round of the Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Association (WFTDA) championship tournament.
Reaching Elite Eight status internationally has been quite the achievement for the local franchise that will celebrate their crystal anniversary in 2020.
Within that same three-year stretch, ARCH failed to snare a spot to the semifinals and was subsequently bounced to the consolation portion of the bracket.
Fast forward and Arch Rival travels to the WFTDA’s finale that takes place in Montreal, Quebec, Canada this weekend and a similar fate might lie ahead.
However this time, the complexion of their entry has been more favorable and optimism heading in is reaching a newfound high.
ARCH, seeded fourth in the ten-team bracketed tournament, skates against fifth-seeded Denver Roller Derby in Friday’s quarterfinal whose first whistle blows at 2 PM Eastern (1 PM St. Louis time).
Arch Rival (5-2) completed one of their toughest regular seasons to date and their lone setbacks were narrow losses to the teams that are the respective second and third seeds in Montreal (Victorian Roller Derby League and Gotham Girls Roller Derby).
Those tight differentials, combined with a quintet of massive wins against teams within the WFTDA’s Top 20 this summer, resulted in the team’s fourth place rank when the governing body calculated their post-season complexion in July.
This meant that the team, for the first time ever, bypassed the traditional WFTDA post-season playoff rounds that are held in September and automatically received one of four coveted bids to the November global finale.
Consider the fast-track a monumental weight lifted off of their shoulders and an opportunity to scout other Leagues from the comfort of a couch with Septembers’ online coverage.
“By getting the automatic bid to Champs, we were able to watch the games at Playoffs with an eye towards evaluating our potential opponents,” said Arch Rival co-captain Bricktator. “It allowed us to focus more on our team development and worry less about making travel plans and fundraising.”
That aforementioned development has been seen at the team’s most recent scrimmages at their South City St. Louis practice facility. The roster of 19 skaters has been going through vigorous training methods multiple times weekly in order to enter Montreal at peak performance.
“We’ve been able to practice both our fundamentals and high-level strategy,” said Bricktator. “Doing both of those things will drive our success at Champs.”
The co-captain, who is a perpetual fixture of the jamming rotation, will be joined at that scoring position this weekend by teammates Annie Swanson, Loki Doki and Jedi Knight-N-Gale while newcomers Violet and PopTart look to supplement.
Most importantly, the success obtained by ARCH this weekend is propelled on the pack work of blockers Vicious Van GoGo, Smarty McFly, Shear-Ra Powers, Cloak n Dragher, Bolt Action, LuxFurious, Kayla Woodward, Ace, Jamheiser Bush, Thestral, Splatter, Dad Bod and Cruella Belle-ville.
The veteran corps helped ARCH outscore their opponents within their five victories by a margin of 1152-414.
Even with those impressive numbers, the team does not feel that they should be considered automatic favorites to win against a Colorado team that has been a WFTDA Champs entrant since 2008.
“I think we are still considered an underdog despite our automatic bid to Champs,” assessed Bricktator. “Denver has a longer history of playing at Champs so some people have a bias towards their success. But we’re ready to prove those people wrong.”
Denver (7-4) claimed their fifth-seed position on the bracket by easily sweeping the WFTDA Playoff Round held in Seattle, Washington in mid-September. The Mile High Club collectively outscored their three opponents, 871-294, to pick up the gold medal.
The rivalry runs deep between the pair of comparably-ranked squads. When Arch Rival historically reached the WFTDA quarterfinals in 2016, they topped Denver by a dozen points. When they met again in 2018 at the quarterfinals held in New Orleans, Louisiana, Denver thumped St. Louis by 70 points.
Historically, Denver holds a 4-2 edge over ARCH in overall victories, which includes a current three-game win streak.
“We’re not huge fans of Denver,” said Bricktator. “I’ll leave it at that.”
Most fans of the sport will be tuning in for the highly anticipated quarterfinal. The winner advances to Saturday’s semifinal round and a meeting with projected opponent Rose City, the current defending Hydra Cup champ, is on the docket.
Arch Rival would like to use a Friday victory over Denver as a catapult to claiming their first-ever global medal.
“It would be everything to win a medal at Champs,” said Bricktator. “Every year we get closer and closer to the medal stage. This year, we’re ready to make history.”
For more information on ARCH, GO TO THIS LINK.
After this weekend, Arch Rival returns to their four-team local season that takes place at Midwest Sport Hockey in Ballwin. A seven-event season pass for $60 can be purchased at this link.