It's been quite a while since the intent for a 2017 World Cup was announced, and it's probably fair to say that everyone's getting a little antsy to find out what's actually going to happen.
We're known for having strong opinions on tournament design, so we thought we'd fill the space by imagining what we might do, if we were planning this kind of important tournament. Obviously, this is not binding on those involved in the actual tournament, either the Roller Derby Nations Committee, or Blood + Thunder, but simply our own opinions.
LocationWhilst the Men's Roller Derby World Cup has had little problem bouncing across the Atlantic, being hosted in two continents (and three different landmasses, given the UK's island status), the Blood + Thunder World Cup has been consecutively hosted in the North American continent.
We'd definitely want to host a putative World Cup outside of North America. Whilst Australasia, Europe and South America can all make arguments for hosting (the former two contain the number 4 and number 2 seeds for the tournament, the latter two contain the bulk of competing nations), our preference would be for a Mainland Europe hosting for a 2017 cup, followed by either South America or Australasia for the next. In this instance, the short timescale for teams to raise funds suggests that minimising total costs for the largest number of competitors is an important aspect, and Europe has by far the largest number of potential attendees.
FormatThis blog has been quite critical of the use of single-elimination formats for large tournaments before, especially when seeding is hard to do accurately, even if group selection is used to provide a shortlist of teams. (Even the Men's Roller Derby World Cup, who do very good work to manage their tournament, encountered an unexpected ranking issue with Mexico in 2016, as the unseeded team slightly unbalanced the Group that it was in.)
Previous Blood + Thunder World Cups have had the problem of Scale, however: if you allow as many teams to compete as can apply and you decide to have all of the bouts happen in the same place, in the same time period, then inevitably you end up hugely pushed for time. ( The 2014 World Cup had 30 participating Nations, and it tried to fit a reasonable contest into just 3 days. Few other sports attempt anything so ambitious in design and limits: the smaller 2002 FIBA World Championship (the Men's Basketball World Championships), with only 16 attendees, took place over more than a week, across two venues; the FIFA World Cup, which does have 32 attendees, takes place over around a month.)
Given that venue availability, and duration, are the limiting factors for Roller Derby (given the amateur nature of the sport, and the duration of the typical bout), we would prefer that World Cups had a maximum number of attendees, perhaps around 20. Playoffs could be held in regions with more National teams than that in order to select for the best teams from that region. (For the moment, this would probably be just Europe and perhaps Latin America).
Given the extremely short timescale for a 2017 World Cup, however, there's clearly no time to arrange a playoffs structure. Assuming that we might have, say 32 attending nations, we'd adopt the following structure (assuming that 3 tracks were available, and at least 6 ref + NSO crews for breaks):