Monday, June 30, 2014

When Losing Means Winning

Ever go to a WFTDA game and the winners look sad and the losers are happy? Welcome to the skewed world of the WFTDA rankings calculator. Some skaters understand it and some ignore it, but if you ever want to be competitive in WFTDA, you need to understand how the numbers of the game are like the 15th player on the track.

What are WFTDA rankings?  There are currently 215 leagues that are competitively ranked throughout the world against each other. Each WFTDA sanctioned game that is played not only affects the leagues that play each other but they affect each of the 215 leagues throughout the world because our rankings are inter connected with each other.  Each team is ranked numerically from 1-215 and given a strength score based on their past 12 month rolling history of games. The current #1 team in the world, Gotham, has a strength score of 4.25, whereas the lowest team, located at #215 of WFTDA, has only a strength score of 0.50. 

So when is a WIN really a LOSS and a LOSS really a WIN in derby?  It all has to do with a team’s current rankings, the opponent’s strength score and the point spread of the game.  You can see WFTDA’s rankings calculations here: , but here is the short version of how it is done.

When a team schedules to play another team, they must consider their own current ranking, and the strength score of their opponent.  The calculator can be tricky, but the basic equation states that you multiply 3 x (your points/total game points) x your opponent’s strength score x 1 (game weight) x 100.  Unless you are in a tournament or play off, the game weight will be 1.   

Let’s take LVRG as an example.  This last weekend they played Providence Roller Derby, ranked 69 in WFTDA, whereas LVRG is ranked 108.  That is a huge difference in rankings and both teams had a large gap in their strength scores.  LVRG, according to only had a 3% chance of winning, so why would LVRG even consider playing a team ranked 39 spots above them?  The answer is in the STRENGTH SCORE. LVRG’s strength score going into this game was .95 and Providence was 1.46.  Let’s explain how a game result of 250-99 (Providence won) ended up being really a win for LVRG.

LVRG’s WFTDA points average prior to this weekend’s game was 114.90 points. This included 8 games in a 12 month rolling year.  Let’s GEEK OUT for a second and run the numbers.  The total game points was 349 (250 for Providence plus 99 for LVRG). So using the ranking calculator: 3 x (99/349)x 1.46 (opponent’s strength score) x 1 x 100, this equaled approximately 124 WFTDA points.  Because 124 is HIGHER than LVRG’s current WFTDA points average (114.90), when combined into their current ranking, the end result after this weekend’s loss to Providence would result in an INCREASE in rankings for LVRG.  

LVRG will now have a 115.90 average including 9 games on a 12 month rolling scale. So in this case, LVRG’s LOSS was really a WIN for LVRG because they increased their WFTDA rankings.  As WFTDA rankings increase and decrease for each team, rankings change monthly and affect all other teams connected. This is how teams know going into a game how many total percentage of game points are needed to increase their rankings. Who knew derby included MATH!?

The moral of the story is to choose your opponents wisely.  It’s not important to just win, but sometimes you have to win by enough to cover a point spread to benefit your own team if your opponent’s strength score is low. And sometimes when you lose, as long as you get a certain percentage of the total game points, you will still benefit.  Roller Derby is a crazy sport. That is why every point counts, and that you should never give up until that 4th whistle. 

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All photos compliments of Michael Hess.

A big thank you to all of the volunteers, officials, friends, and family that make our team the best in the Lehigh Valley. This is as much your team as it is ours. Thank you

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