For several years, one of the rumbling complaints about WFTDA tournaments was that all of the high-level play was confined to the North American continent. If you were a great European, Latin American or Australasian team, you had to incur significant travel costs to really face off against the "big" leagues.
Thanks partly to the signal breakthrough of European teams in WFTDA Division 1 last year, this is all changing. No more obvious sign of this is this weekend's European Smackdown - mainland Europe's first ever WFTDA Division 1 Tournament.
The tournament, running all day March 5th and March 6th sees many of the European Division 1 leagues: hosts Crime City Rollers (Sweden, WFTDA #25), Glasgow Roller Derby (Scotland, WFTDA #29), Helsinki Roller Derby (Finland, WFTDA #33), London Rollergirls (England, WFTDA #3) and Stockholm Roller Derby (Sweden, WFTDA #17) face off, joined by Detroit Derby Girls Allstars (USA, WFTDA #20).
The tournament structure appears to be an incomplete round-robin*, but Glasgow Roller Derby's Irn Bruisers are one of the teams with an almost full set of opponents, scheduled to play every other team except Detroit over the weekend.
Irn Bruiser Line-Up Sadie O'Hades talked to us about the team's preparations, "I'm so excited to be doing the line up for the Bruisers this year. Watching the new roster in their training since January has given me the chance to appreciate the individual skill and strength of every member of our team, both returning members and those new this quarter. It's been inspiring for me and I've been upping my game to make sure my dedication matches theirs. We've all been focused on the Malmo tournament as we know its going to be an amazing opportunity to play at the highest level and we can't wait to get over there to compete against the very best that European Roller Derby has to offer. Over the years GRD has developed strong relationships with our fellow European leagues and we will have a great time hanging out with our friends and heroes, but make no mistake - our game faces are on!"
Meanwhile, hosts Crime City Rollers have spent as much time and effort as you might expect to make mainland Europe's first Division 1 Tournament as exciting and professional as possible. Crime City's Katpiss Neverclean told us: "The league are so excited and we've all worked really hard to make this the best tournament possible - and the afterparty will also be amazing - dancecrew performance, wrestlers, DJs and all you can wish for!"
For those who cannot make it to Malmö for the weekend, Crime City have arranged high-definition streaming of the entire event (excepting the CCR/London bout). This is available at https://ccr.solidtango.com. This is a paid streaming service, with individual games priced at 79 Swedish Krona (about £6.60 at the present exchange rate) and a discount for the whole weekend at 229 Krona (around £19 - equivalent to about £2 per game).
*Given the structure of the tournament, we are planning to perform a statistical analysis of the results to produce an inferred relative ranking of all the competitors. Stay tuned for the article, hopefully soon after the weekend!