Friday, December 28, 2012

Stat Man's Christmas Awards

Alright, the selections are in, and it's time to announce the winners!

Best Freshmen Men's Team:
Crash Test Brummies!
  Formed just in time for the MERDC tournament, it took them about 2 months to get their first win.  Nonetheless, they're now ranked #44 in the UK & Ireland, so they're the best new men's team.

Best Freshmen Women's Team:
Hull's Angels Roller Dames!
  Ranked one place above the Brummies, HARD's loss to Newcastle [B] helped to boost them up the standings to win this award.

Most Improved Men's Team:
Tyne & Fear!
  Tyne & Fear spent most of the season in the 40s, dropping as low as #50.  Then, their excellent performance at MERDC raised them 28 places to UK & Ireland #22.

Most Improved Women's Team:
Middlesbrough Milk Rollers!
  MMR started the year in the upper 30s, and are now knocking on the door of the top-10.  At USA-England, someone held up a sign "MMR are coming."  They weren't kidding!

Congrats to all the winners, you've clearly had a great season!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

± and beyond

I just had to give it a great title, to see what happens when a computer tries to alphabetize that character.

Right now, individual skater stats usually end with the ±, or plus minus.  That's number of points scored by that skater's team whilst she was on the track, less number of points scored by the other team whilst she was on the track.
  • Advantages
    • Easy to understand: a skater with a positive helped her team win, a skater with a zero just broke even.
    • Easy to calculate: for-against, could be done without computer assistance.
  • Disadvantages
    • Hard to calculate with: ± is centred on 0, and 0 is very difficult to factor in to future calculations.
    • Boundless: there is no minimum value or maximum value.  Theoretically, a blow-out win could be orchestrated by 1 jammer, who's ± would be something like +80.
In my opinion, those advantages make the ± a great thing for coaches and individual skaters, on a bout-to-bout basis.  However, it's not as easy for derby journalists, statisticians, and fans of the game.

For those groups, there is another option: the jamming/blocking average.  This is the percentage of points that were scored whilst the skater was on the track, that were scored for that skater's team.  Thus, if the jam score was 4 to 1, the lead jammer's jamming average would be .800 and the other jammer's would be .200.
  • Advantages
    • Easy to use for calculations: it's centred at .5, so a 0 is exceedingly rare and refers to 0 impact on the bout.
    • Bounded: all skaters will have a value between 0 and 1.  There is no possible greater or lesser value.
    • Easy to understand: we're used to percentages by now.  A jammer has .525, she just slightly won.  .725, and she's got good control.  Easy!
  • Disadvantage
    • Difficult to calculate: this one requires a computer to come up with.
I think it's a much better option for fans, journalists, and statisticians.  It gives you, at a glance, how much a jammer or blocker affected the scoreboard in her favour.  As well, it can be compared more easily between bouts and skaters.

There is, as well, a third option.  The first two are concerned with every point scored.  What if we instead looked at benchmarks?  (Thanks to The Mighty Bush for help on this one.)
  1. A jammer's job is 1st to get lead jam.  Thus, let's look at the percentage of jams where a jammer got lead.
  2. A lead jammer's job is to record a full pass, denying her opponent any points.  Thus, let's look at the percent of lead jams where the lead jammer scored at least 4 points more than her opponent.
  3. A non-lead jammer's job is to deny a full pass to her opponent.  Thus, let's look at the percent of non-lead jams where the lead jammer scored less than 4 net points.
  • Advantages
    • Easily to understand: this battery of three stats tell right away how successful a jammer is at those three aspects of the game.
    • Bounded and easy for calculations: centred at .5, bounded between 0 and 1, so easy to apply further.
  • Disadvantage
    • Difficult to calculate: this one definitely requires a computer to calculate all the "if...then..." portions.
This option is great for coaches and skaters, as it gives simple yet detailed feedback on three vital aspects of the game.  As well, it's great for journalists, statisticians, and fans as it breaks down a bout and can give a great "why" for a team's success/failure.

So, there are a few good options to measure jammers.  How to measure blockers?  Maybe later I'll argue for why I like to use the exact same metrics to measure their performance.  What do people think?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Derby 1st

Is everyone done bouting for the holiday season?  Good.  Stop thinking about how to help your team win next season.  Stop that right now.  Now is the time to think about how you can help the sport overall next season.

Maybe you can get some people into skating, NSOing, or even just being fans.  Maybe you can mentor a beginning skater or league.  Or maybe you're quite advanced, and can help an intermediate league get over that hump.

What if they come back and beat you next year?  Well, that means there's now one more team playing at your level!  That means there's one more team giving you a challenge!  That means that the overall quality of the game has improved!

Remember, skaters are only your competition for 60 minutes at a time.  The entire rest of the time, they're your compatriots.  They're the ones working with you for better recognition from the public, better venues and practice space, more research into high-quality equipment, and higher quality bout production.

In the long run, they're on your side.  It's not you versus them, it's you and them versus all the obstacles derby faces.

Every team that plays with sportsmanship, with respect to officials and fellow skaters, with a bit of flare and panache, with excitement and drama, and with a smile on their faces helps to improve the game.

Every team that plays only to win, that games the system rather than plays the game, that undercuts referees and fellow skaters, that sees the skaters in the other team only as opponents instead of also as fellow skaters works to set the game back.

Honestly, I tell you that if the game wins, we all win.  If the game grows, we all grow.  If the game improves, we all improve.

If you lose a bout, but the game wins, then we all win.  Including you.

If you win a bout, but the game loses, then we all lose.  Including you.

I have seen jammers who were a little banged up but off the track crawl onto it to force the jam to be called off.  I have seen jammers call out "NO PACK" as they approached, causing them to not be touched as they scored their points.  I have seen blockers aim a shoulder at the other jammer's face intentionally.

They all may think that they gained an advantage, and for a moment they did.  For 1 or 2 seconds and 3 or 4 points they gained an advantage.  And they hurt all of us in the process.

Every one of those actions makes the game less legitimate, less sporting, less enjoyable.  Every one of those actions is a show of contempt for fellow skaters, officials, fans, and the game itself.

However, I have seen teams hold boot camps, and invite local 'rivals' to train with them.  I have seen teams skate a bout Saturday, then run practice together on Sunday.  I have seen ad-hoc teams created by their opponents, just so those leagues that only have 2 skaters past min skills can have somebody with bouting experience.

I have seen leagues produce training videos, showing their tactics and skills to the world.

Every one of these actions helps the game itself grow.

Now is the season to put aside your own growth and think about the growth of the game.  Derby 1st, everybody.  Let's put derby 1st.

If you'd like, think of it as a holiday gift to derby.  "This Christmas, I will give derby my time, helping new skaters get through min skills."  "This Hanukkah, I will give derby my know-how, bench-coaching a team that only has 13 members in their first few bouts."  "This Mayan long-count new year, I will give derby my support, going to every game I can and cheering loudly for every skater."

I'm willing to help any team, near or far, with numerical analysis of their skaters, bouts, etc., and I will hold no secrets.  I will publish my algorithms as open source, so that those with better ideas can improve upon them and make them their own.

What will you do to put derby 1st?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Final Rankings for 2012

TeamWinsLossesRank Pts
1London Rollergirls 20234.8
2Glasgow Roller Derby 71157.8
3Central City Rollergirls 64128.4
4Rainy City Roller Girls 32125.2
5London Rockin Rollers 62115.1
6Leeds Roller Dolls 44109.4
7Auld Reekie Roller Girls 57107.0
8London Rollergirls [B] 3098.4
9Tiger Bay Brawlers 6383.9
+110Big Bucks High Rollers 4448.1
-111Brighton Rockers 5147.7
12Hellfire Harlots 6246.7
+113Hot Wheel Roller Derby 8442.1
-114Middlesbrough Milk Rollers 6241.8
15Birmingham Blitz Dames 4436.7
+516Southern Discomfort 9034.0
+617Quad Guards 7233.3
-118Lincolnshire Bombers 2633.2
-319Sheffield Steel Roller Girls 2532.4
-220Dublin Roller Girls 6230.1
+521Lincolnshire Rolling Thunder 3029.9
-322London Rollergirls [C] 1229.9
-323Royal Windsor Rollergirls 4227.8
+324Dolly Rockit Rollers 3821.5
25Newcastle Roller Girls 5521.5
-226Bristol Roller Derby 8321.3
+627Tyne & Fear 6421.1
-628Croydon Roller Derby 3420.6
29Leeds Roller Dolls [B] 2319.9
30Glasgow Roller Derby [B] 5219.9
-331London Rockin Rollers [B] 0319.9
32Manchester Roller Derby 6419.5
+233Expendables 4418.8
-334Kent Rollergirls 3217.9
+535New Wheeled Order 5717.8
-236Central City Rollergirls [B] 2415.8
+637Inhuman League 51014.7
-238Dundee Roller Girls 5112.3
+339Granite City Roller Girls 1412.1
-240Auld Reekie Roller Girls [B] 2211.5
41Cork City Firebirds 0211.3
-542Liverpool Roller Birds 1611.3
-443Rainy City Roller Girls [B] 339.6
44Seaside Sirens Roller Girls 438.7
+445Crash Test Brummies 178.6
-146Imposters Roller Girls 238.5
-147Romsey Town Rollerbillies 357.9
48Severn Roller Torrent 066.8
-249Plymouth City Roller Girls 336.7
+150Cardiff Roller Collective 505.9
-151Newcastle Roller Girls [B] 815.5
52Sheffield Steel Roller Girls [B] 445.4
+553South West Angels of Terror 405.2
54Hulls Angels Roller Dames 065.0
-255Lincolnshire Bombers [B] 144.9
-156Belfast Roller Derby 344.6
+457Jakey Bites 054.0
-158Dolly Rockit Rollers [B] 324.0
59Wolverhampton Honour Rollers 123.8
60Central City Rollergirls [C] 303.6
-561Tiger Bay Brawlers [B] 313.4
+362Bruising Banditas 222.8
63Liverpool Roller Birds [B] 122.7
-264Milton Keynes Concrete Cows 512.6
+765Bristol Roller Derby [B] 302.5
+166Nottingham Roller Girls 022.4
+167Dublin Roller Girls [B] 312.4
-468Swansea City Roller Derby 342.4
+169Mean Valley Roller Girls 322.2
-470Furness Firecrackers 141.9
-271Rebellion Roller Derby 431.9
+172Portsmouth Roller Wenches 301.6
+173Middlesbrough Milk Rollers [B] 021.5
+174Limerick Roller Derby 021.5
-475Oxford Roller Derby 361.4
76Norfolk Brawds 221.3
+177Fair City Rollers 041.3
-178Wakey Wheeled Cats 121.2
79Fierce Valley Roller Girls 121.2
+180Wiltshire Roller Derby 031.1
+481Birmingham Blitz Dames [B] 120.9
-282Hell's Belles 150.9
+183Shoetown Slayers 030.8
-284Bedfordshire Roller Girls 230.8
-285Preston Roller Girls 110.8
-->86Kernow Rollers 020.7
-187Manchester Roller Derby [B] 230.7
-188Vendetta Vixens 050.5
-->89Dorset Roller Girls 110.5
-290Evolution Rollergirls 130.4
-291Wirral Whipiteres 030.2

Enjoy your holiday break, everyone, and I hope we all do better without those pesky minors.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 15 & 16 bout guide

This weekend is the LAST for minors in the UK!  Boy, am I a happy man about that one!


#14 Hot Wheel look to settle yet another score against #25 Newcastle, who hold a 1-0 record in head to head competition.  A big win could see Hot Wheel overtake #13 Middlesbrough, or Newcastle overtake #24 Bristol.

#33 Tyne and Fear host #26 Lincolnshire Rolling Thunder in the first meeting of the two teams.  Lincolnshire here with an opportunity to finish 2012 with an unblemished record.

#58 SWAT challenge #47 Plymouth City in the SWUK tournament.  SWAT are currently undefeated, but their ranking took a nose dive when one of their early bouts expired.  Look for them to try to earn back that top position within the tournament, currently held by PCR.

Also in that tournament, Dorset and Kernow both have their 2nd bout.  This means that both will make their debut on the chart this Monday, and one will have a win to boot.

Finally, the #65 Bruising Banditas host #50 Newcastle [B] in the absolute FINAL minor-penalties bout in the UK EVER.  Luna, captain of the Banditas said that she hopes her team will "make this game a memorable swansong for the 2010 rule set."

Enjoy the derby, and cheer for every minor you see!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

UKRDA & the off-season

The UK is lucky, in one sense, because there's a voluntary, democratic national governing body for roller derby, the UKRDA. Not many other countries have taken this step. This is a huge potential benefit for the future of the game throughout the UK.

However, so far the mission of the UKRDA appears to be to collect signatures and name leagues as members on their website. They have run tournaments in the past, and I have heard that they do an excellent job of it. But it takes more than that to be a useful governing body.

Now, I've heard through the grapevine that the UKRDA is planning on doing rankings and sanctioning bouts in the future. At first, I scoffed at the idea. There are already 5 rankings that cover UKRDA leagues, listed in increasing order of coverage:
  1. Mine, which covers all UK & Ireland travel teams
  2. European Roller Derby Rankings, which covers all leagues in Europe
  3. EuroDerby, which also covers all Euro-leagues
  4. Flat Track Stats, which covers all reported bouts and leagues
  5. DNN Power Rankings, which covers all leagues, worldwide, who are big enough to merit ranking
Thus, a UKRDA ranking would be the 6th scheme to rank member leagues. Not much added value, or so it seems.
Sanctioning, as well, seems a near pointless exercise at first. Just how much extra does it mean for a bout to be 'sanctioned' as opposed to 'unsanctioned'? Will fans pay more? I doubt it. Will unsanctioned bouts not count for the record or something?


A way of getting rid of that pesky closed-bout problem, maybe? Allow teams to play 'friendlies' that don't count, then bout for rankings in sanctioned contests...

UKRDA are on to something here...

This brings me to my second point in the title. More than a few skaters and coaches have stated the need for an off-season in derby. It would reduce the number of stress-related injuries, it would reduce derby-burnout and early retirement, it would give skaters and leagues a chance to get back to basics in training rather than advanced tactics.

The problem is that leagues which observe an off season don't always observe the same ones. LRG's seems to follow the calendar year, whereas CCR's is tuned to football season.

Here's where UKRDA have the opportunity to help the UK derby scene take a massive step forward:

Only sanction bouts between [March] and [September].

I put the months in brackets because the timing is not the point. The point is that UKRDA can offer an incentive for member leagues to observe the same off-season, and thus clean up one issue facing the game. They can simultaneously demonstrate wisdom and good leadership. And they can ensure that their ranking and sanctioning system will have an important place in the UK derby scene.

This is one of those opportunities that don't come around very often.  This is one of those times for a true continental shift in the game. UKRDA, the lack-of-a-ball is in your court. Use it wisely.

Also, let me say, just because UKRDA exist doesn't mean there shouldn't be a Scottish RDA or a Welsh RDU, or even an East Midland Derby Alliance. The South West UK tournament acts similar to the Football League, as does the End of the World Series. These are de facto governing institutions and cooperative unions for their respective leagues.  

It makes a large amount of sense for local area leagues to unionise to share bout planning, venue hire negotiation, council negotiation, etc.  We all want the sport to grow, let's keep working together to make that happen.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Results & Table for 10 December

What a day of bouts.  Junior derby now underway in Wales, what a wonderful era we live in now.

Also, #9 Tiger Bay lost a close one to #2 Glasgow, 113-107.  Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to move them up to #8, but did move them up 10 ranking points, over 30 clear of #10.

#70 Mean Valley slipped 162-196 to #85 Birmingham Blitz Dames [B], moving the two closer to each other on the table.

Dublin [A]#18 & [B]#68 both defeated Manchester [A]#32 & [B]#86, lifting the A-team further up the chart.  Manchester end the short tour winless, but undoubtedly learned a few lessons to work on over the holidays.

#14 Hot Wheel "settled their score" in serious fashion, 296-71, over #27 Dolly Rocket.  However, neither move, indicating that it was the expected performance.

Full Table:
TeamWinsLossesRank Pts
1London Rollergirls 20237.8
2Glasgow Roller Derby 71159.2
3Central City Rollergirls 64129.8
4Rainy City Roller Girls 32124.0
5London Rockin Rollers 62116.6
+16Leeds Roller Dolls 44110.7
-17Auld Reekie Roller Girls 57108.5
8London Rollergirls [B] 30100.2
9Tiger Bay Brawlers 6385.5
+110Brighton Rockers 5151.0
-111Big Bucks High Rollers 4450.6
12Hellfire Harlots 6247.0
13Middlesbrough Milk Rollers 6241.9
14Hot Wheel Roller Derby 7441.2
+115Birmingham Blitz Dames 4438.0
+216Sheffield Steel Roller Girls 2533.6
17Lincolnshire Bombers 2633.2
+218Dublin Roller Girls 6231.9
+219London Rollergirls [C] 1231.3
+220Royal Windsor Rollergirls 4229.8
-621Southern Discomfort 9025.1
+222Croydon Roller Derby 4424.4
-423Quad Guards 7224.3
+124Bristol Roller Derby 8323.8
+125Newcastle Roller Girls 5423.1
-326Lincolnshire Rolling Thunder 2022.4
27Dolly Rockit Rollers 4822.3
+528London Rockin Rollers [B] 0321.0
29Leeds Roller Dolls [B] 2320.6
+130Glasgow Roller Derby [B] 5220.1
-131Kent Rollergirls 3219.5
32Manchester Roller Derby 6519.0
-533Tyne & Fear 7317.9
+134Central City Rollergirls [B] 2416.6
-135Expendables 4413.5
+236Dundee Roller Girls 5113.2
+437Liverpool Roller Birds 1612.7
-138Auld Reekie Roller Girls [B] 2212.5
+339Rainy City Roller Girls [B] 3412.0
-440New Wheeled Order 5812.0
+241Cork City Firebirds 0211.9
-242Granite City Roller Girls 1411.7
-443Inhuman League 51011.2
44Seaside Sirens Roller Girls 4310.5
45Imposters Roller Girls 238.8
+246Romsey Town Rollerbillies 358.6
-147Plymouth City Roller Girls 328.3
+148Severn Roller Torrent 067.1
-249Crash Test Brummies 176.3
50Newcastle Roller Girls [B] 716.1
51Cardiff Roller Collective 506.0
52Sheffield Steel Roller Girls [B] 445.6
53Lincolnshire Bombers [B] 145.0
54Hulls Angels Roller Dames 064.7
55Belfast Roller Derby 344.5
56Tiger Bay Brawlers [B] 314.4
+257Dolly Rockit Rollers [B] 324.1
-158South West Angels of Terror 304.1
-159Wolverhampton Honour Rollers 123.7
+160Central City Rollergirls [C] 303.6
-161Jakey Bites 052.9
62Milton Keynes Concrete Cows 512.9
+163Liverpool Roller Birds [B] 122.7
-164Swansea City Roller Derby 342.6
65Bruising Banditas 212.5
+266Furness Firecrackers 142.5
+267Nottingham Roller Girls 022.4
-268Dublin Roller Girls [B] 312.4
+169Rebellion Roller Derby 432.2
-370Mean Valley Roller Girls 321.9
71Oxford Roller Derby 351.8
72Bristol Roller Derby [B] 201.8
+273Portsmouth Roller Wenches 301.6
-174Middlesbrough Milk Rollers [B] 021.5
+375Limerick Roller Derby 021.4
+176Norfolk Brawds 221.4
-177Wakey Wheeled Cats 121.4
-478Fair City Rollers 041.4
79Fierce Valley Roller Girls 121.2
80Hell's Belles 151.0
+181Wiltshire Roller Derby 030.9
-182Bedfordshire Roller Girls 230.9
+183Preston Roller Girls 110.9
-184Shoetown Slayers 030.8
+385Birmingham Blitz Dames [B] 120.8
-186Manchester Roller Derby [B] 230.8
-187Vendetta Vixens 050.6
-188Evolution Rollergirls 130.4
89Wirral Whipiteres 030.2

Thursday, December 6, 2012

December 8 Bout Guide

Here's what to look forward to this Saturday out on the track:
  • #67 Mean Valley host #88 Birmingham Blitz [B] in a bid to continue their climb this season.  BBD did not field a B-team in bouts for almost 16 months, and this will be their third bout since their reintroduction.
  • Manchester Roller Derby send both A and B teams over to Dublin for a double header. #85 MRD[B] are 2-2 right now, and can finish the 2012 season with a winning record if they can take down #66 DRG[B], who also need a win to finish 2012 above even.

    The A-team bout features #32 MRD travelling to #20 DRG. The Irish side won their one previous meeting, and have managed to increase the distance between the two leagues on the chart ever since. However, according to MRD's SkullDozer, "This time it's a very different team, we have worked very hard on adapting to situations & reading the other team for their tactics. I think it'll be a tough game, but if they keep their heads & work hard I think they stand a chance!"

  • #27 Dolly Rockit are heading to #14 Hot Wheel for the third bout between the two leagues. Head-to-head, DRR have a 2-0 lead, and the two have traded the higher position on the rankings 3 times in the last 12 months. HWRD have been climbing into the teens, though, whilst DRR are still trying to climb back up after a disappointing July and August.

    I spoke with Jerry Atric from HWRD, who explained to me that it's part of his grand strategy to bout against difficult teams, then "settle the score" if they win the first time. Hence the back-to-back bouts against DRR and Newcastle, both with winning records over Hot Wheel. "Both the Dollies and Newcastle have both shown historically that they can play some solid roller derby and they are certainly not bouts to be taken lightly," he told me.  Saturday should show if they've made that turnaround.

  • In the headline bout of the weekend, #2 Glasgow, fresh off a great performance in Europe and an 11-month undefeated stretch in the UK, take on #9 Tiger Bay, looking to establish themselves as permanent members of the top-10 club. Both teams made significant climbs up the chart this summer, and even a good perfomance in a loss for the Brawlers should cement their reputation as one of the UK's power leagues.

    However, the reason this bout is my headliner isn't the two big-name teams taking the track second. It's the two junior derby teams taking the track first! I think this is the first time I'm excited for a bout that won't go into the ranking scheme, or produce stats, or anything like that. This time I'm excited because British derby will be taking a massive step forward, led by the Brawlers, with the public growth of the junior game.
Good luck to everyone this weekend, and the best to those under-18s skating in Wales!  Roll Britannia!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

See the future...

This weekend, the Tiger Bay Brawlers' junior derby outfit, the Tiger Cubs, take to the track for the first time.  This marks a quantum leap in British derby, as now the new generation of skaters will be learning derby as teenagers, not as young adults.

The first junior roller derby league was established in Tuscon, Arizona, in 2006.  By now, the Junior Roller Derby Association list over 40 leagues in 5 countries, of which only a few are JRDA members.

Why junior derby, though?

Someone once asked a great skater, I believe it was Suzy Hotrod, what she did to be the greatest skater in the game.  Her answer was simply that she had been skating derby longer than anyone else.  A junior derby team is that investment of time into the derby future.

It's the future of the league.  The Brawlers are, like other leagues, normally limited to recruiting over 18s, due to liability issues.  Generally speaking, these recruits have had no derby experience, and must be built up from zero.  Soon, the next generation of Brawlers will have been skating derby for years before even turning 18.  They'll already have all the basics: tactical know-how, equipment, skate skills, and perhaps even a derby name!

It's the future of the fans.  In the US, the growth of youth soccer in the 90s is largely responsible for the growth in fan support for the game.  The parents watch their kids play, get to like the game, then start watching it at the top level.  The same will likely be true in derby; parents will eventually come to bouts that do not even involve their children!

It's the future of Wales.  Two out of the four junior derby teams I've found in the UK are located there.  Perhaps unintentionally, the Welsh have set out to grow their national team from a virtual "M4 Derby Academy" with teams in Cardiff and Swansea.

If you go on Saturday, make an effort to show massive appreciation to these junior derby skaters.  Look around you.  You'll be seeing the future of British derby right there.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Recap and rankings for 3 December

Qualtiy derby this weekend!

Newcastle spoiled Central City [B]'s bid at an even 3-3 season with a solid 102-118 win, earning them a one-position improvement to #26 on the chart.

Bristol [B] debut on the chart at #72 with their strong 224-127 win over #58 Wolverhampton Honour Rollers.  Rainy City [B] were defeated, but with a statistically advantagous 145-124 scoreline.  They actually improve to #42 on the chart, with Bristol [A] holding at #25.

Further north, #85 Manchester [B] were able to keep their hopes of a winning 2012 campaign alive with a 192-108 victory over #87 Evolution, and the Mancunian men's team forced the #47 Brummies to look elsewhere for their 2nd victory convincingly, winning 236-123.

On to the chart!

TeamWinsLossesRank Pts
1London Rollergirls 20242.3
2Glasgow Roller Derby 61168.8
3Central City Rollergirls 64129.3
4Rainy City Roller Girls 32118.1
+15London Rockin Rollers 72111.5
+16Auld Reekie Roller Girls 57111.2
-27Leeds Roller Dolls 44111.2
8London Rollergirls [B] 30105.0
9Tiger Bay Brawlers 6271.0
10Big Bucks High Rollers 4453.8
11Brighton Rockers 5152.0
12Hellfire Harlots 6250.4
13Middlesbrough Milk Rollers 6244.1
14Hot Wheel Roller Derby 6440.5
15Southern Discomfort 9138.5
16Birmingham Blitz Dames 4438.3
+117Lincolnshire Bombers 2635.0
+118Sheffield Steel Roller Girls 2534.8
-219Quad Guards 7234.4
20Dublin Roller Girls 5233.6
21London Rollergirls [C] 1230.8
+122Royal Windsor Rollergirls 4229.4
-123Lincolnshire Rolling Thunder 2029.1
24Croydon Roller Derby 4426.2
25Bristol Roller Derby 8325.6
+126Newcastle Roller Girls 6424.2
+127Dolly Rockit Rollers 4723.9
-228Tyne & Fear 7323.8
29Leeds Roller Dolls [B] 2322.4
30Kent Rollergirls 3222.3
31Glasgow Roller Derby [B] 5221.9
+132Manchester Roller Derby 6420.5
-133London Rockin Rollers [B] 0320.1
+134The Expendables 4419.1
-135Central City Rollergirls [B] 2417.5
36New Wheeled Order 5816.3
+137Auld Reekie Roller Girls [B] 2315.7
+138Dundee Roller Girls 5114.6
+139The Inhuman League 51013.9
+140Granite City Roller Girls 1413.3
+141Liverpool Roller Birds 1613.3
+842Rainy City Roller Girls [B] 3412.5
+143Cork City Firebirds 0211.8
-144Seaside Sirens Roller Girls 4311.4
45Imposters Roller Girls 239.5
+146Plymouth City Roller Girls 329.0
-147Crash Test Brummies 179.0
+148Romsey Town Rollerbillies 358.8
-149Severn Roller Torrent 067.6
+250Newcastle Roller Girls [B] 716.9
51Cardiff Roller Collective 606.6
+252Sheffield Steel Roller Girls [B] 445.8
+253Lincolnshire Bombers [B] 145.6
+254Hulls Angels Roller Dames 065.5
+255Belfast Roller Derby 344.9
+556Tiger Bay Brawlers [B] 314.8
-2057South West Angels of Terror 304.3
-558Wolverhampton Honour Rollers 124.1
+159Dolly Rockit Rollers [B] 333.9
-160The Jakey Bites 053.9
-361Central City Rollergirls [C] 303.8
62Milton Keynes Concrete Cows 513.2
63Swansea City Slayers 343.1
64Liverpool Roller Birds [B] 123.0
+165Bruising Banditas 212.9
-166Dublin Roller Girls [B] 212.8
67Mean Valley Roller Girls 312.7
+368Furness Firecrackers 142.7
-169Nottingham Roller Girls 022.5
-170Rebellion Roller Derby 432.4
-171Oxford Roller Derby 352.0
-->72Bristol Roller Derby [B] 201.9
-173Middlesbrough Milk Rollers [B] 021.8
74Fair City Rollers 041.7
-275Portsmouth Roller Wenches 301.7
76Wakey Wheeled Cats 121.7
-277Norfolk Brawds 221.6
-178Limerick Roller Girls 021.5
79Fierce Valley Roller Girls 121.4
80Hell's Belles 151.2
81Bedfordshire Roller Girls 231.1
-482Wiltshire Roller Derby 030.9
-183Shoetown Slayers 030.9
84Preston Rollergirls 110.9
-285Manchester Roller Derby [B] 220.9
-186Vendetta Vixens 050.7
-187Evolution Rollergirls 130.4
-188Birmingham Blitz Dames [B] 020.3
-189Wirral Whipiteres 030.2

Friday, November 30, 2012

December 1&2 Bout Guide

Going to derby this weekend?  Here's what to look for amongst travel team bouts:

1 December:  #35 Central City [B] v #27 Newcastle
     Both teams are looking for a year-ending win here in Birmingham.  Newcastle, the favourite for the bout, have a winning season already, but have been slowly sliding down the rankings table.  Central City [B], almost the same story, but with a 2-4 record over the past 12 months and unable to salvage a draw for the year.  However, a win would be worth much more to their ranking than to NRG's, as it would be a reasonable upset.

     Either team could put a nice uptick on their ranking to finish off the year here, so it should be a good bout to watch.  Also, look for Central City to put to use some of the lessons learned at the Track Queens tournament to work.  I know their B team was watching all those bouts, and they usually share bench staff between A and B teams, so expect some tactical work learned/perfected on the continent.

2 December:   #25 Bristol Roller Derby v #50 Rainy City Roller Girls [B]
     Change of fortune bout for both teams here!  Bristol have been climbing the chart faster than an Adele album.  Ranked #45 at the beginning of September, they've climbed 20 spaces already.  Exact opposite story for RCRG [B], who peaked at #21 back in June.

     My first question is when the bout was scheduled?  Bristol lately have been booking teams ranked higher than them and winning.  Thus, the meteoric rise.  It's a smart strategy by Bristol: train hard, beat the best, be the best.  Could this have been booked as another bout to help them improve their standing?  Perhaps.  It would be the most sensible explanation.

     Unfortunately for Bristol, this bout could become a stumbling block now.  They will need a decisive victory to avoid losing ranking points here, and Rainy City [B] with almost nowt to lose rank-wise will undoubtedly play clever and hard.

2 December:  Unranked Bristol Roller Derby [B] v #53 Wolverhampton Honour Rollers
     Unfortunately, little is known (statistically) about these two teams.  I've personally seen BRD[B] skate, and they play the same fundamentals-based game of their more experienced sisters.  They defeated Wilts fairly systematically, so look to see more clever pack work and well controlled, simple-yet-effective tactical play on the track.  This will be their 2nd bout, thus they'll debut on the table Monday.

     The Honour Rollers (love that name!) have played two already.  Beat Hulls' Angels and lost to Seaside Sirens, two teams who are not at all cellar-dwellers on the table.  Smart move by them to go ahead and take a challenge for your first two bouts.  (They may have played closed bouts before, but those would have been closed, and thus officially do not exist.)

     Good luck to two newer teams there at Filton!

2 December:  #86 Evolution Roller Girls v #83 Manchester Roller Derby [B]
     Two teams with a chance to move out of the 80s.  MRD[B] are 1-2 over the 7 months that they've been bouting, all against regional opponents, look to even their record out against Shrewsbury's own Evolution.  ERG have about the same history, 1-2 record, about 6 months of bouting history, and all against regional opponents.

     This bout is about who gets to climb into the 70s, and who gets to finish 2012 with an even record.  Both teams are evenly matched, so it should be an exciting bout, even with the combined bouting experience being just over 1 year.

2 December:  #46 Crash Test Brummies v #37 Manchester Roller Derby [Men]
     This one should be fun.  A replay of a MERDC bout that ended in a 100-40 rout of the Brummies, who were still unwon.  However, that sitation has changed.  CTB recorded their first win over the Jakey Bites recently with a dominant scoreline, and thus come into this bout with some momentum.  They're only in their first year, but definitely on the hunt for a 2nd 'W' in the record books.

     The New Wheeled Order, as MRD's men's team are known, proved themselves at the tournament, finishing 4th.  However, since the tournament they've struggled, losing 3 straight bouts.  Still considered the favourite this weekend, they'll look to finish the year with a win, and keep up the position they earned in Birmingham.  It will be fun to see if their style of play has changed since they took on the New York Shock Exchange a few weeks ago; that experience will undoubtedly help them against the much newer Brummies.

Whatever bout you go to this weekend, enjoy!  Roll Britannia!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What does "closed" mean to you?

Freddie from Rollin' News wrote about this one a while back in a magazine, and did a great job covering it.

Basically, the issue is that the word "closed" means different things to different people.  Some meanings have to do with scores, others with audience, and a few with both.

Quoth Freddie:

"I propose the following terms and definitions:
  • Open bout, a bout between two leagues where there is an audience and the score is published;
  • Private bout, a bout between two leagues where there is no audience and the score is published;
  • Closed [door] bout, a bout between two leagues where there is no audience and the score is not published;"

Nomenclature system sorted.  I like this one, but any system needs people to adhere to it.

The issue to me is not what these bouts are called, but how they factor into a stats/ranking system.

Put simply, either scores are public or they aren't.  I cannot, in good conscience, rank a team based on a bout with non-public scores.  As far as the derby public is concerned, that bout did not exist.  That's the main reason some teams have these bouts.  No competitive sport can have rankings change based on closed-door, secret events, and thus these are excluded.

(Side note, can you imagine if MI6 had a football team?  "We may or may not have played a match this weekend.  Any scores, which may or may not exist, are protected under the official secrets act.  However, we are now top of the table.  Trust us.)

Sometimes, it seems that teams are not exactly clear with each other on the public status of scores.  One team is convinced that the bout was closed, whilst the other one puts the scores on their own website, facebook page, or even EuroDerby.

Therefore, I recommend to include a clause in the bout contract for ANY bout concerning publicity of scores.  Save yourselves the 'fun' of being surprised by 25 facebook comments on the score you thought was secret.  Go ahead and hash out publicity ahead of time.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Greater UK Derby Chart, 26-November

Right, so we're in the countdown to my Christmas Awards, but I won't be publicly listing the rankings for those until I make the award.  However, here's the standard table.  Note the importance of bouts expiring, not just on bouts occurring.

The rankings presented here are in accordance with the rules and consider Rollin News as the authoritative source for bout scores concerning UK & Ireland teams.  If a score is not listed as open or public on that source, it will not be included in this ranking.

Disclaimer aside, here you go.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Stat Man's Christmas Awards

We're coming to the end of 2012.  As Derby has no official off season (something I'd like to see WFTDA, UKRDA, or someone like that correct) it seems to me that the Christmas holidays are the right time to stop skating for a moment and reflect on the derby that's taken place over the past year.  And what a year for derby it's been!

Sur5val, MERDC, and Track Queens provided great tournaments to watch, whilst England-USA became perhaps the most sought-after ticket in the sport.  LRG went to the States and won in the first round of the playoffs, and Helsinki brought the pain to Berlin.

I was lucky enough to see many leagues from all over the UK skate, as well as going as far as Malmö to see a rare triple-header.  Considering a derby trip?  Go see Crime City, no doubt.  Great hosts and great derby, what more you you ask for?

Besides just reflecting on how the year went, this Christmas holiday I want to take the time to honour a set of four leagues for their teams' performance over the year 2012.  Awards like this are not common in derby, but to me that seems silly.  After all, rankings are usually used to know who's better than whom.  Why not honour those best at it?

Thus, I am announcing the creation of Stat Man's Christmas Awards.  There are separate awards for Men's and Women's UK & Ireland teams in the following two categories:

--Freshman Leauge: The highest ranked A team who did not play a public, travel team bout in 2011.

--Most Improved: The team who's ranking most improved between Jan 1 2012 and now.

Both of these will be selected purely quantitatively, nowt but maths being used for the choices.  They will be announced on this blog the evening of Monday, 17th December, so that teams will know well enough before Christmas.

I've got the calculation already set up to run, good luck to everyone!  I can't wait to recognise four leagues on providing the mathematically best derby of 2012!  After all, it's why I'm called Stat Man.  Roll on!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Track Queens

What a great weekend for European derby.  So many teams showed the competence of derby on the other side of the pond.  Although it will be a few years before we see another Euro team in the WFTDA playoffs, this tournament showed that time to be drawing closer bit by bit.

How they did

Well, there's final standings, then there's how they really did.  Let's look first at a chart with final standings and initial seedings:
Seed Finish Team
1 1 London
2 2 Berlin
3 3 Stockholm
5 4 Auld Reekie
9 5 Helsinki
10 6 Gent
7 7 Leeds
8 8 Crime city
6 9 Glasgow
4 10 Central City

Helsinki and Gent really outperformed their expectations, with Glasgow and Central City making way for their ascendency.  All in all, not as good a day for UK derby as one may have hoped.

I was asked, though, to re-rank the teams according to my usual calculus.  A regular reader suggested that, although a knockout tournament is very good at selecting the best, it may not be so good at ranking the rest.  Thus, I plugged the scores from the tournament alone into my formula and arrived at the following:
Finish Calc Team Rank Pts
1 1 London 126.1
5 2 Helsinki 99.7
6 3 Gent 96.4
2 4 Berlin 77.8
7 5 Leeds 68.8
8 6 Crime city 64.5
3 7 Stockholm 48.9
9 8 Glasgow 43.5
4 9 Auld Reekie 32.2
10 10 Central City 29.0

Not only did Gent and Helsinki out-perform expectations, they out-performed most of the field!

Take Helsinki, for example.  They lost 1 but won 3.  Only 2 teams held opponents to double-figures scores: Helsinki and London.  That's great company to keep!

This is the problem with using a knockout tournament like this to rank teams.  The team that won definitely is the best; however, the maximum rank for a 1-loss team is determined by when they lose, not actually who they lose to.  A team losing on the 1st day can get, at best, 5th place.  Losing on the 2nd day means you can get, at worst, 4th.  

Two 1-loss teams can have lost to the same team and yet be sorted based on timing, which boils down to seeding.  Consider Helsinki, for example.  Both Helsinki and Berlin lost to only London.  However, Helsinki outscored non-LRG opponents by almost 53 points per bout, whereas Berlin only outscored their opponents by 16 points per bout.

I, as well as my reader, had the feeling that a knockout tournament wasn't the best way of ranking all 10 teams in the field.  This really shows that Helsinki deserve to be considered in the top 3, and Gent have a claim as well.  Well done, you two!

"Running Up the Score"

I know my attitude about a blow-out bout is not commonly supported by skaters.  Skaters want to play against the best their opponent has to offer, and many are concerned that a winning opponent may "take pity" on them.  Ballistic Whistle himself said that he "would never want any team Brawling plays against to go easy on us at all, regardless of what level" and thus would expect his team to do the same against whomever they're playing.

Let me go on record saying I never advocate taking pity on an opponent in competition.  Ever.

I do feel, however, that a blow out bout in which the winning team does nothing different is a missed opportunity.  Trying new skaters, new tactics, new plays in training is only so good.  Try as you might, your own team can't quite be jedi-mind-tricked into not knowing what's coming and reacting naturally.

However, the other team already is.  Even if they've scouted your previous bouts, they don't know what you've got to try out.  Thus, once the game's already in the bag, it's the perfect time to experiment.

This LRG did.  Against Auld Reekie, they gave the star to more than a few skaters I've never seen jam for them before.  This is a huge show of sportsmanship toward your own skaters.  Giving them time to jam on the tournament track in the uniform of the best team in Europe is a massive vote of confidence in them, and shows that London Brawling are more than their top skaters.

As much as I dislike a blow-out bout, I think LRG actually deserve a round of applause for the way they conducted themselves in a tournament that they knew they were going to win by a very large margin.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The New Rules

If you haven't read 'em...

Let's do the bad news first:  No improvement to the pack definition.  That's right, the sausage play, the standstill, all of that is still 100% legal.  As WFTDA rules are voted on, that means that the sort of derby that elicits booing from skaters and fans alike at major tournaments is totally condoned.  Unfortunate.

Also, WFTDA have made the usual unit of derby "10 feet (3m)"  Please somebody tell them those are not the same distance!  Ok, I'll admit, the difference is three inches.  Just annoys a numbers guy.

Good News

Much more of this.  First off, let's take a look at the pre-jam positioning rules. and are some of the more awkwardly written rules in the book, yet are some of the wisest at the same time.  As I read them, I picture a 30's gangster in his hat with his cigar saying "No funny business, say..."

That's what these two do.  They already outlaw pulling tricks to extend a no-pack start.  I had not even thought of having blockers start laid out on the track to delay the time until they're upright.  Now, that's already banned.  Great move, WFTDA!

Oh, and guess what?  Single whistle starts!  So, why even start in a no-pack anyhow?  The scrum became so standard that WFTDA have decided to release the jammers immediately.  When 90% of the game was single whistle starts, why the hell not?  So, a team wanting a scrum can crowd the jammer line, and a team not wanting one can start up the front.  Well done!


Seems when considering roller derby rules, skaters and refs alike naturally reach for the penalty section first.  When they heard that minors were to be excised, many were concerned that this would undermine the idea of safety.

Safety is protected in rule 6.3.9, for example, baring "habitual contact" that would constitute a no-impact-no-penalty low block.  Thus, that skater who would rack up minors from poor skating form still gets trips to the bin.  But now less paperwork needs to be done to send her there.

As well as protecting safety, they also explicitly enhance fairness to the individual skater.  Rule 6.3.2 states that a skater who "falls small" CANNOT be given a low block penalty for having been blocked to the floor.  She is protected by rule if she does her due diligence in tucking herself in.  This is one that I know a good number of skaters will be glad are cleared up.

Track Cut

No Minors?  Where will the minor track cut go?

Simple!  Cut one opponent?  Box.  Cut two teammates?  Box.

Re-enter the track from the penalty box in front of one in-play skater?  Box.

False start?  Box.

Keeps it easy on refs, skaters, fans, NSOs, announcers.  Hell, even the DJ can keep up with everything that's going on now!

Taking Effect

When do they take effect?  Well, if your league is WFTDA, then the next tournament will be done under these rules and all sanctioned bouts from 1 January.  If you're league isn't, then it's up to you and the leagues you're playing.  When bout contracts are negotiated, one clause covers the set of rules to be used.  Thus, it's up to your bouts organisation committee to decide when they take effect.

I would recommend practising with them right away.  Why not scrimmage in training tonight or tomorrow?  Give them a go, and start putting them into your contracts.  Won't it be nice to be able to reduce the number of NSOs?


WFTDA did well.  These were worth the wait, agonising as it was.  Are they perfect?  No, but they couldn't be.  Somebody would be unhappy about something in them, no matter what was done.  I would score WFTDA an 8/10 on this one.

Bloody good job!  Enjoy the rules!  Roll on!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Greater UK Derby Chart, 19-Nov

The rankings presented here are in accordance with the rules and consider Rollin News as the authoritative source for bout scores concerning UK & Ireland teams.  If a score is not listed as open or public on that source, it will not be included in this ranking.

Disclaimer aside, here you go.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A US Scrimmage (or two)

The other day, I NSO'd for two scrimmages here stateside.  One in a nice little practice venue, the other in the bouting venue with a floor big enough to fit 6 tracks with OPR lanes, when the seats were retracted.  Three key things were ran differently to what I've seen in the UK.

  1. Player Rotation

    Basically, the skaters formed a queue where the 'bench' would be. The front 5 decided amongst themselves who would be jammer and who would be pivot. Should penalties dictate that fewer than 5 would skate, those further back in the queue would step out, regardless of skating skill.

    This was amazing! All skaters, regardless of how "good" or not they were got a roughly equal amount of time on the track. As well, those still working on their skills got paired up with (and against) much more talented skaters. What a learning opportunity! Sure it occasionally led to lop-sided jams, but anyone concerned about the score in a scrimmage has his/her priorities seriously, seriously wrong.

  2. Static Recycling

    Recycling the jammer has been explained to death. Everyone knows it, everyone does it. Thing is, these girls did it differently. Basically, when the jammer was hit out, one skater would jet back about 20' to recycle her. The others would immediately form a wall at the back of the pack ready to catch the jammer once she'd come in. No one went back to help the recycler, she sort of expected that the jammer would beat her one-on-one. She'd try, of course, but she'd expect to join the wall as soon as the jammer came back in.

    This meant that the pack was roughly stationary on the track, as the one teams movements were backward when the jammer was out, and only slightly forward when the jammer was in. The team defending the actively scoring jammer was thus limited to a short engagement zone and forced to sacrifice blockers to bridging. It wasn't at all the boring stand-still derby, it was exciting. Loads of contact, skaters jostling for position, and key walling skills. It just didn't orbit the centre.
  3. Jamming on the Margin

    There was one jammer who had this down to a T. She was fast as hell, could juke and jump like a champ. So, needless to say, her first pass was often less than 10 seconds between the double whistle releasing her and lead jam status. Her opposing jammer would usually exit the pack about 40'-50' behind her. Now, conventional logic says to call off the jam just before the non-lead jammer arrives at the pack. Save points, right? I'm a fan of it, and I know others who value saving points almost above all else.

    However, this girl had done her maths. If she gained a 50' advantage on the first pass, she should be able to trust her pack to hold the opposing jammer for just as long on the second. Thus, when she's on her second pass, she should have about 100' of advantage. If she does well to not get held up, and her pack works brilliantly, she may even be able to get a grand slam in on the second or third pass.

    It's a risky play. If she gets held up on her second pass, then she may concede as many points as she scores. But if she goes flying through the pack before her opponent even engages, then she has the time to go around and increase her marginal lead. It was beautiful to watch.
All in all, the quality of derby was comparable to what I've seen in the UK.  There were just these few key things to make it a bit more interesting to watch.  As well, there were no bench staff anywhere to be seen.  I don't know when they practice with their skaters, but it wasn't at these scrimmages.

That's my first report from the States.  Roll on!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Greater UK Derby Chart, 11-November

The rankings presented here are in accordance with the rules and consider Rollin News as the authoritative source for bout scores concerning UK & Ireland teams.  If a score is not listed as open or public on that source, it will not be included in this ranking.

Disclaimer aside, here you go.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

UK & Ireland Derby Chart, 7 November

The rankings presented here are in accordance with the rules and consider Rollin News as the authoritative source for bout scores concerning UK & Ireland teams.  If a score is not listed as open or public on that source, it will not be included in this ranking.

Disclaimer aside, here you go.