The pack-control evolution that entered the derby mainstream at last year’s WFTDA Nationals has made its way into Canadian roller derby. Starting at the Quad City Chaos in Toronto, it is becoming apparent that the team that controls the pack, controls the bout. It was obvious early on that this adage would hold true at BOE 2010 as well.
In terms of results, the opening bouts went as planned. One-sided victories by the three MTLRD teams and impressive performances by Thames Fatales and the Green Mountain Derby Dames were expected. But the playing field was blown wide open with some unexpected performances. A new-look Death Row Dames, who were barely a presence in 2009, roared out of the gates in 2010 putting up 63 points against the Venus Fly Tramps, while GTA’s Derby Debutantes shocked cross-city rivals and defending ToRD champions Gore-Gore Rollergirls with a back-and-forth bout that the Gores eventually were able to rein in (43-22). And 2008 BOE champs, The Hamilton Harlots, could only put up 6 points against Les Filles du Roi in a surprisingly one-sided loss.
Eventually the Green Mountain Derby Dames and the three Montreal teams won their second bouts and advanced straight through to the quarters. The first major upset in 2010 came in an exciting (and controversial) bout between the Derby Debutantes and 2009 quarter finalists Death Track Dolls that saw the derby girls from GTA gain their first ever BOE victory 38-29.
In the third and final round of the Double Elimination bouts, Thames Fatales eliminated The Venys Fly Tramps, the Death Row Dames continued their impressive run with a 42-34 upset over the Chicks Ahoy which left the Gore-Gore Rollergirls (who eliminated the Harlots) as the sole remaining ToRD team. Tri-City’s Vicious Dishes ended the impressive run by the Derby Debutantes with a 52-14 victory.
La Racaille and Les Contrabanditas opened the quarter finals with victories to set up one all-Montreal semifinal, while Les Filles du Roi had their hands full against against a scrappy Thames Fatales team, who were the first team to put up a double-digit score against the defending Montreal champions. But the most thrilling bout of the quarter finals saw the Gore-Gore Rollergirls end Green Mountain’s BOE run with a 45-22 victory that seemed even closer than the final score indicated.
La Racaille and Les Contrabanditas kicked off the semifinals with an absolutely amazing bout that featured some of the biggest hits and most controlled packs of the tournament. The traps that both these teams employed with ease early in the tournament were defended beautifully in this bout, with neither pack able to take any clear advantage. In the end it was a late power jam taken advantage of by the Iron Wench that was the difference as La Racaille pulled away with a 69-46 victory.
The second semi-final pitted the defending champs from Montreal and Toronto (Les Filles du Roi and Gore-Gore Rollergirls respectively) against one another. The Gores’ jammers (Lunchbox, Bambi, and Dust Bunny) were the difference early on as they matched up well against FDR’s jammers, keeping things tight for the first five minutes. But it was the pack control of the Montreal team, led by pivots Jess Bandit and Lady J, that eventually was the difference, frustrating the Gores and leading to pack advantages and power jams for FDR. Les Filles made sure it would be an all Montreal final with a 65-1 victory.
Les Contrabanditas would defeat the Gore-Gore Rollergirls for the second time on the weekend to take third place (91-21).
16 teams, 2 days, 27 bouts and it came down to La Racaille and Les Filles du Roi. FDR essentially marched to the final never giving up more than 12 points or winning by less than 64, while La Racaille managed an astonishing shut out in the double elimination round, but did face a considerable challenge against the Ditas in the semifinals.
The final lived up to all expectations. These two extraordinary teams provided a highly fast-paced and hard hitting final. The Iron Wench was key again for La Racaille, even skating back-to-back jams at one point (and pulling off at least one bafflingly amazing strategic move that has to be seen to be believed), though she was admirably aided by Wrath Poutine and Lyn-dah Kicks. Smack Daddy was often used as a physical counter to the Iron Wench and Lil Mama provided some key strategic jams for FDR.
While neither pack could control the bout quite as it had throughout the weekend, pack control was once again the key. For FDR, Jess Bandit and Lady J continued to wear the stripe almost exclusively, and controlled their packs exceptionally well. K-Dawg, Striking Viking and Bone Machine countered for La Racaille, and the battles led by the pivots was extraordinary. In what could have been the turning point in the bout, Lady J led a brilliant pack defense on a power jam being skated by Lyn-dah Kicks, holding off the La Racaille jammer until Smack Daddy could reenter and force the call. After that Smack picked up 4 on a jam in which Wrath Poutine took a penalty. Jess Bandit slow-skated 4 points on the following power jam to strategically take a ton of time off the clock. La Racaille could only chip away from that point on, with FDR holding on for a 36-20 victory and their first ever Beast of the East championship.
THE NERD’S PICKS
MVP: Jess Bandit (FDR)
This was a tough call, with the Iron Wench continuing to be one of the best jammers in the game, and Ewan Wotarmy emerging as one of the best two-way players in Canada (though she got a lot of help on the Ditas from her triple-threat teammates Georgia W. Tush and Cheese Grater). But in a tournament all about pack control, FDR’s master pivot Jess Bandit led the way. She ran her pack with precision and ease throughout the weekend, all the while remaining calm and level headed. In the final, it was her ability to contain the Iron Wench that was a key component in holding La Racaille to only twenty points, while her ability to evade or break-up La Racaille’s formidable pack traps allowed her team to stay ahead of things after they established the lead.
Breakout Player: That’s What She Said (FDR)
Again, this one was tough to call. There were so many amazing performances this weekend by players who may not have yet drawn the attention of the derby masses. Killson proved to be an explosive jammer and was a key in Thames Fatales’ run to the quarterfinals, while Gore-Gore Rollergirls’ rookie Santa Muerte was a huge physical presence, and did her best to stymie Les Contrabanditas’ pack traps in their two bouts. K-Dawg was a standout wearing the stripe for La Racaille as well, and Ninja Simone looked comfortable up front for the Ditas. But it all came down to looking at the role That’s What She Said played on the champion FDR. This rookie was one of the key jammers all weekend and didn’t flinch at being played in key moments against much more experienced jammers in the final against La Racaille. Look out for this jammer in 2010.
Breakout Team: Hammer City’s Death Row Dames
GTA’s Derby Debutantes were the front runners for this early on; Thames Fatales and Green Mountain Derby Dames had amazing performances too, but in the end I thought Hammer City’s Dames were clearly deserving of this designation. After forming in the shadows of the great Hamilton Harlots (and in the wake of the Steel City Tank Girls), the Death Row Dames were completely overwhelmed in their debut at the 2009 Beast of the East. But after an off season shake-up (and picking up former ToRD standout Lock N Roll) the Dames entered this year’s tournament revitalized and refocused, and with a strong core of veteran players (including Bitchslap Barbie, Eduskating Rita, Mean Little Mama, Hozone Slayer, and Ivy Rupted just to name a few) this is a team that looks poised to continue their breakout throughout 2010.
A special thanks once again to MTLRD for putting on another extraordinary tournament (and one that ran completely on time!). All the footage was live boutcasted and has been archived here. For a high-def track-side seat, check out layer 9′s footage.
For a different perspective on the tournament, read Derby Luv’s excellent recap.