World Cup Day Three: Great news… for Scandinavia.

With Scotland relegated to the round 1 consolation pool after facing the Cup’s dark horse, Australia, in their last bout of the day on Friday, the highest potential ranking they could attain would be 9th, requiring an unbroken streak of 3 wins against the other teams dropping out in the first round.

(As an aside, this is one issue with single elimination tournaments with consolation pools; the actual “true” rank of a team losing in the first round could actually be as high as #2, if the seeding was poor; in this case, actually the realistic cap would be #5, given the byes for USA, Canada and England.)

Facing off against Argentina first, Team Scotland managed a a close win, after an uncomfortable period with precisely level scores, Scotland ended the first period ahead by 33 points, thanks to a 23 point jam by Clinically Wasted. The second period was similarly irregular, trailing an dominant first quarter (Wild Oates taking a 20 point power jam) with a worrying central set of jams where Argentina picked up 33 points of their own, helped by an almost continuously depleted Scottish pack. Happily, Scotland resurged in the final 2 jams, Blazin’ Phoenix taking 8 points in the last jam of the bout and drawing out the time to ensure it closed, for a final score of 114:91.

Second up against Scotland was Germany, probably the team who least expected to be in the 1st round consolation pool after a loss to New Zealand. After a fairly even couple of jams, Germany started to pull ahead over the rest of the first period, showing generally better discipline than Scotland. That said, the score at the end of the first period, 73:7, was an overstatement of the advantage from Germany. After what must have been an impressive half-time speech from Knuckles, Team Scotland played a totally different second period, matching Germany score for score, and vastly improving their discipline in turn, to bring the final score to 104:41. (Yes, the second period score balance was 31:34, a narrow win for Scotland). On another day, on the basis of the second period, Scotland might have won this one, but it wasn’t to be…

…so, with Germany off to play their next bout to snatch 9th place overall (over Ireland), Scotland was playing derby newcomers Brazil (who had lost to Ireland) for 11th place in the tournament. Both teams had vying for the title of “Most Loved Team in Tournament”, with the South American team showing almost as much heart as Scotland in all of their jams, although without the advantage, perhaps, of the loudest supporters in the Cup (in several bouts, the commentators noted how deafening the Scottish crowd’s cheering was…). With Brazil heavily reliant on their one highly experienced jammer, Nanda (who plays as Brazil(ian?) Nut for Gotham Girls Roller Derby, but adopted the Brazilian tradition of sporting stars skating under their first names for the national team), Scotland just had to control her, and pick up points when she wasn’t jamming. That’s generally what they did, Marla Mayhem and Mistress Malicious picking up the majority of the points for the Scottish team, with the latter managing not just a 19 point power jam, but a 15 point natural as well!  With a final power jam, Brazil’s Bianca off for track cutting, Blazin’ Phoenix capped off the score with another 13 points, taking the final score to 113:64

With that win, Scotland had played all of the bouts in their consolation pool, 2 wins and 1 loss placing them at rank 11, a solid middle.

Meanwhile, in the elimination tournament, Australia continued their rolling defeat of all challengers, knocking a resilient Sweden out of the 2nd round by 126:80, and the USA, Canada and England all (predictably) won their 2nd round bouts against New Zealand, Finland and France.

This puts the semi-finals as USA : Australia, Canada : England today. While the Canada : England bout could go either way, it would be an impressive upset for Australia to beat the USA (but also probably the most exciting result you could expect in the tournament overall).

Meanwhile, in the 2nd round consolation bracket, fighting for the maximum rank of #5, Sweden defeated New Zealand, and Finland, France, meaning that it is likely that the battle for 5th place will be between the two Scandinavian countries. The last time Sweden played Finland, pre-World Cup, they managed to achieve a win; if they can repeat that performance today, they’ll confirm their #5 seeding. If Finland win, they’ll be managing a big upset, as they entered the tournament proper with a seeding of only #10…

So, with Scotland now officially the 11th ranked country in the world for Roller Derby, their ranking with the crowd at the cup seems significantly higher. Scotland’s determination, and good heartedness (and impromptu dance party in half time versus Brazil!) have seen them mentioned more times by commentators than most of the other teams; challenged only by New Zealand’s haka (which was exceptionally novel to Americans, who aren’t really a Rugby playing nation… ) and Brazil’s general massive underdog status. Wild Oates, in particular, seems to have become a commentator favourite; that point against the USA branding her into the consciousness of everyone with a microphone as “that Scottish skater”.

So, with a next potential World Cup in 2 to 4 years, and the possibility of a European Cup (which some people are now mooting as a “7 Nations”, based on the European component of the current tournament) on a similar timescale, we have a while to wait until another roller derby event of this magnitude. I think it’s fair to say that Scotland will be taking advantage of the remaining day of the Cup to spectate at all the remaining derby; and probably continue to pick up fame from deafening the announcers…

 

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