Editor’s note: due to burn-out, and the increasingly obnoxious changes on the WordPress backend, our end of year feature content has been delayed. We’ll be releasing it over the next few weeks as we complete it. This is the first item in this content. We apologise for the delays incurred, and will update you all on the future of SRD when we know what that is.
With the growth of Roller Derby worldwide, there has also come increasing regional organisation. Since 2010, and especially since the first Roller Derby World Cup in 2011 focussed thoughts on National structures, a number of nations, and nation-like entities, have begun organising various “National Tournaments” within themselves. At SRD, we consider these to be as important as any other large scale tournament – such as WFTDA or MRDA events – especially as they can also be more inclusive than such series due to reduced travel costs and membership requirements.
As such, we’d like to highlight the winners of each such tournament series we’re aware of in 2018 – and briefly cover the tournaments themselves. As a historical resource, we also host a summary of all of the winners of the tournaments (and some references for them) here: National Tournaments (2010-)
We’ll start with the two largest such events (it’s hard to judge which is larger, as they have exchanged places on various metrics year to year):
UK&Ireland (“British Championships“)
British Champs has been running since 2015, and has made various changes to its structure over the years (the most recent to improve inclusion and accessibility). It is structured as a multi-tiered divisional system, with each “skill level” tier divided into one or more geographical “divisions”; teams promote/relegate between tiers between seasons. Since 2016, Champs has officially run parallel tournaments for WFTDA- and MRDA- conforming teams, and has also allowed competition from non-A teams.
In 2018, the WFTDA-side tournament winners, topping Tier 1 convincingly were: Central City Roller Derby (Birmingham), not only winning every game against their opponents, but also achieving a significantly higher points difference than the second spot team, Liverpool.
2018 has been a good year for Birmingham teams, as the city’s other team, Birmingham Blitz Dames, also hosted the first ever WFTDA Continental Cup in Europe later in the season.
The MRDA-side tournament was topped extremely impressively by New Wheeled Order (Manchester M), also delivering a huge points-difference advantage over second place Tyne and Fear. New Wheeled Order have had a very good few years, and we expect even more from them in 2019.
France (“Championnat de France Roller Derby”)
The French National tournament series is, like the similarly sized British Champs, organised into Tiers by strength, and also loosely divided into geographical regions. (Unlike British Champs, there is competition across regions within a tier; also unlike BC, the Championnat is run directly as part of the French NGB, the FFRS.) The Championnat de France has Feminin– and Masculin– parallel tournaments; some leagues submit teams to the tournament which differ from their Travel teams, and the relaxed structure of the tournament also allows for “combined” team submissions from cooperating leagues. Unusually, compared to many of the other tournaments listed here, the French Championnat is fitted to the French sporting season (roughly following the European school year), and so starts in the previous winter, and finishes in the early summer each year.
Repeating their victory in 2017, Nothing Toulouse (Roller Derby Toulouse) retained the French Championship this year. They remain one of the few non-WFTDA member leagues to hold a Championship position in their home country.
Undefeated champions since the Championnat started in 2016, Quad Guards (Toulouse M) continued their streak for another year in 2018.
Whilst the French and British tournaments are the largest, they are not the longest running National tournaments. Next, we’re going to cover the longest running tournaments in modern Derby, the four which started in 2012:
Sweden (Swedish Roller Derby Seriespel)
The Swedish National Tournament, . Like larger tournaments, the Series is split into tiers (“serien”), with the Eliteserien being the top tier. More recently, Elite tier teams have been allowed to differ from the Travel teams for their league. There is only a WFTDA-gender tournament in Sweden, to date.
In 2018, Crime City Rollers (Malmö) retained their Championship title for the third year running, placing them one more victory behind Stockholm’s streak of 4 wins (from 2012 to 2015).
Finland (Suomi Cup)
Finland’s National Tournament is structured rather like the Swedish version, including the tendency of Elite tier leagues to submit non-Travel team rosters to the tournament. For the first time, in 2019 the Suomi Cup will be open to non-Finnish teams (making it an interesting extension of “National”), as St Petersburg Roller Derby A, the White Night Furies, compete.
For the first time in 2018, Oulu Roller Derby achieved the Championship title, breaking a run of alternating wins by Helsinki and Kallio over the previous 6 years.
[Northern Finland also holds its own tournament – the Pohjola Cup – which started the tradition of welcoming non-Finnish participants in previous years via St Petersburg. So, in some ways, it sets the trend for its higher-profile southern relative.]
Mexico (Torneo Nacional de Roller Derby)
Mexico’s National Tournament series has been organised by their national governing body, the Asociación Mexicana de Roller Derby, since it began in 2012. We’ve covered the leadup to the current season on the blog previously here: Mexican National Tournament article. The series consists of a series of playoffs, selected by rating/ranking in the Mexican league tables (which work using the WFTDA rating scheme), with two divisions. As with many other nations, there are “varonil” and “femenil” parallel tournaments, corresponding to WFTDA- and MRDA- policies.
In 2018, Mexico City Roller Derby retained their title for a three-year streak of victories, despite
In the Varonil side of the tournament, Disorder Roller Derby (Mexico City M) also began a streak, retaining their title from 2017.
Whilst Colombia has run a National Tournament since 2012, the series has had a somewhat more complex past than the others in this category, with a couple of restructurings, and a hiatus from 2015 to 2016. In its current form, the Tournament consists of two parallel series – a multi-fixture tournament for Bogotá’s many leagues (the “Torneo Distrito”), and a separate one for teams in the rest of Colombia (the “Western Region” tournament), with the top teams from both then competing at the Torneo Nacional finals. (We’ve written more about the 2018 series here.)
2018’s Champions, Bogotá Bone Breakers, also retained the Bogotá title in 2018, as well as continuing a three win streak in the national series (albeit across that 2 year gap).
Slightly less venerable than the oldest tournaments, but not in the size rank as Britain and France, our next grouping also covers a large geographical area.
Brazil (Brasileirão de Roller Derby)
Brazil’s national Championship, the Brasileirão, is a single-fixture event at present, which started as least as long ago as 2013 (there’s some evidence it started earlier). Due to the distribution of teams in the country, it’s semi-invitational, although the highest rated teams in Brazil always attend. (We’ve written more about the history of the tournament here.)
2018’s Brasileirão winners were Gray City Rebels (São Paulo), retaining the title from 2017 (and resisting Ladies of Helltown’s attempts to take back the title from 2016).
Chile (Torneo X / Torneo X-Men)
Chile has one of the youngest National Tournaments in Latin America, with the first Torneo X beginning in 2015. Year on year, it has gained more participants, and has had to change structure multiple times to accommodate this, currently using a playoffs and finals structure. For the first time in 2018, B teams have been allowed to compete, enabling Chile’s strongest (and only WFTDA-member) league, Metropolitan Roller Derby, to compete with its Bayonetas.
Since 2017, there has also been a MRDA-gender tournament, the Torneo X-Men, run in parallel, and loosely associated with the original WFTDA-gender event.
For the first time ever, 2018’s winners are a B-team: Bayonetas (Metropolitan B | Santiago), taking a fairly commanding win in the final bout.
In the Torneo X-Men, which finished earlier in the year, Terror S-Quad (Santiago M) were victorious for a second time in a row.
Germany (Bundesliga Roller Derby)
The German National Tournament, or Bundesliga, formally started in 2015, as a multi-tier tournament run by the German NGB, Roller Derby Deutschland (RDD). In this form, its history has been tracked by Derbyposition.de since the beginning; the structure is much like the much larger French and British tournaments, but without the need for multiple geographical divisions, due to its smaller number of teams. (There were two previous events which might count as “German National Tournaments”, in 2010 and 2013, but they are not part of the modern event.)
As with several other National series in nations with very high rated WFTDA-member leagues, those leagues have begun sending “non-Travel teams” to represent them in the tournament.
For the first time in the tournament’s history, Dresden Pioneers comprehensively won the Bundesliga Division 1 in 2018.
Australia (Australian National Tournament & Australian Men’s Nationals)
Unusually, Australia has not had a formally denoted “National Tournament” for WFTDA leagues (although you could claim that the Great Southern Slam counts, given the scope of its attendance). The Australian Men’s Roller Derby organisation, on the other hand, has organised an Australian Men’s Nationals since 2015, as a single fixture tournament towards the end of the year.
More recently, an unusual “State-teams” style National Tournament has been launched (for the first time in 2018), with WFTDA- and MRDA- gender legs, but we’re not sure if this counts as a National tournament in the same sense as the other events in this list.
In 2018, Victoria Men’s Roller Derby won the Australian Men’s Nationals, having lost it for the first time ever in 2017 (to Tasmania!).
For our final grouping, we have another eclectic selection of Nations, all united in having run a National series for 3 years or less.
New Zealand (Top 10 Championships)
New Zealand’s “Top 10 Championships” have been running since 2016, although information on the second year of their organisation is a little patchy due to website bitrot. In general, the series is a flat round-robin style event, distributed across the year, with no tiering or geographical structure. As far as we are aware, there’s only a WFTDA-gender version of the tournament so far.
In 2018, Dead End Derby (Christchurch) won the Top 10 Championships for the first time (ending Wellington’s Richter City’s streak of 2 years).
Spain (Campeonato Nacional de Roller Derby)
The Spanish National tournament is a single event affair, due to the relatively small number of potential competitors in Spain at present. Organised by the Spanish National Governing body, the single tournament sees the top teams in the country play for victory in a single elimination structure. The event has run since 2016, with an additional MRDA parallel event introduced in 2017.
In 2018, Roller Derby Madrid continued their unbroken win streak since the start of the competition.
Similarly, 2018’s winners in the other division were MadRiders (Madrid M), also continuing an unbroken win since last year.
Austria’s National tournament only started in 2017; before then, there was effectively only one sufficiently developed team in the country (Vienna Roller Derby), and so no way to hold such an event. Due to the small number of teams, the Austrian National Championship is a single fixture event; and due to the dearth of MRDA teams, it has only a WFTDA leg.
In 2018, Vienna Roller Derby retained their title from 2017, although competition within the rest of the teams was strong, Vienna have a significant experience advantage in their country.
South Africa (National Derby Fest)
South Africa have held a National Championship event since 2016, although that first event included “home teams” from some of the leagues involved. As South Africa has very few leagues with travel teams, this event is a single fixture which also focuses on developing the sport within the nation. (We’ve written more about the history of the event here.)
In 2018, Johannesburg’s Golden City Rollers retained their win streak since the dawn of the tournament.
Belgium (Roller Derby Belgium National Tournament)
Finally, we come to the newest National tournament in our list: Belgium. The Belgian national tournament, organised by rd.BE, the Belgian NGB, ran for the first time this year, as a year-long series of round-robin fixtures within tiers. (Initial tiers were drawn from FTS Europe ratings.) From the start, the rd.BE event has had a WFTDA- and an MRDA- leg.
Antwerp Roller Derby (One Love Roller Dolls) are the first ever holders of the rd.BE Championship title.
In the MRDA leg, Brussels’ Manneken Beasts achieved the first ever Championship.
Japan (Derby Nights 4×4)
Whilst it’s structure is rather different to every other event in this list, we should note that Japan has also had a Tokyo-series first for the first time in 2018. The Derby Nights 4×4 (“DN4x4”) series was a multi-fixture event with “womens” and “mens” legs, open to leagues of all affiliations in Japan. (As such, the women’s division included both the World Skate/FIRS affiliated Spiral Cats, and all of the WFTDA-affiliated leagues in the Tokyo metropolitan area, from Tokyo Roller Derby to the independent Kamikaze Badass.) This was a unique ruleset, with, we believe, 4 skaters per competing team (3 blockers + 1 jammer), and very short period (15 minutes) and jam lengths (1 minute), along with just 15 second penalties.
In 2018, Neon Roller Monsters (the submitted team from Tokyo Roller Derby) won the women’s division.
The new-in-2018 team, Tokyo Bar Hoppers, won the men’s division (which had only 2 teams this year!).
We’re excited to see what happens with this tournament format, and if it expands beyond the Tokyo region to the rest of Japan.