Smoke City Betties (0-2) vs. Chicks Ahoy! (1-1)
ToRD’s 2010 regular season comes to a close on Saturday night, as two teams look to wrap up their very different years. Coming off of a sometimes frustrating 2009, the veteran laden Chicks Ahoy! were looking to rebound in a big way in 2010. Although the season didn’t get off to a clean start (poor exhibition showings at the Beast of the East and in Tri-City), the Chicks have found their form at precisely the right time. The rookie filled Smoke City Betties on the other hand (after going through a massive off season overhaul) have spent most of 2010 simply learning. It’s been a tough curve with some big losses, but the experience that this young team has picked up is invaluable. It is rare that so many rookies are given such an opportunity and it can only bode well for the future.
KEYS TO VICTORY
1. Tight packs: Traditionally known as the physical juggernaut of the league, the Chicks have shown much more control in the pack this season. Responding to the recent evolution of the sport in bouts against the Death Track Dolls and especially the Gore-Gore Rollergirls, the Chicks pivots (lead by Rebel Rock-It and Nasher the Smasher) have shown a penchant for strategic pack control that has given another dimension to this team’s defense. The veterans Hoff and Cheri Nova have seemed to thrive in this system, and the potential return of Tara Part only heightens the positional strength of the Chick’s packs. This is an experienced roster, and its ability to control and manipulate the much less experienced Betties packs could make a huge difference.
2. Physical blockers: Despite the renewed focus on pack control, the Chicks are still a team that can wreak havoc with a sustained physical attack. Led by the hard-hitting trio of Nasher, Mega Bouche and Dolly Destrucuto, the Chicks have made a habit of highlight reel jammer take outs this year. Exhausting (and frustrating) the jammers with constant physical pressure was a key in their late comeback victory over the Dolls earlier in the season. With Fireweed coming into her own as a feisty pack presence, and an in-form Fubar Bundy adding to the arsenal, this is a team that can overwhelm its opponents with strength and tenacity.
3. Balanced attack: The keys to a successful offense are balance and consistency: the Chicks seem to have found this in 2010. Traditional triple threat Mach Wheels is having a career year with the star, currently ranked in the top four of every major jammer category including an impressive 75% lead percentage. Despite missing a bout earlier in the season, Candy Crossbones has been consistent as well. While Kari Mia Beere is still finding the fine form of her rookie season, sole 2010 newcomer Marmighty has slowly joined the attack and seems to be thriving under the pressure of being the only rookie on the team. With veteran G-Force still capable of taking a jam here and there to relieve pressure, the Chicks may have developed the deepest and most balanced attack in the league.
1. Cause chaos: The Chicks will look to control the pace and shape of the packs, and in the face of such an experienced foe, the Betties just may be able to create opportunity from chaos. The looser and more stretched the packs, the more to the advantage this may be for the Betties. Look for veterans Hot Roller, Lady Scorcher and Pretty Peeved to take on the all-important role of pivot, and key for them will be to frustrate the Chick’s pivots by breaking up their packs and countering their pack strategies. The Betties may not have the depth that their opponents have, but by tactically employing their vets to support their rookies, they just may be able to keep pace (at least for long enough to cause some damage).
2. Stay disciplined: Always easier said than done, staying out of the penalty box is difficult for any team, but for one as young and comparatively inexperienced as the Betties, it can be the difference between a solid performance and a complete collapse. The Chicks have shown this season that they can work a power jam as well as anyone, and Mach Wheels has been a devastatingly efficient jammer in those situations. Maintaining composure on the track, and being aware of minor penalty counts on the bench will be necessary to keep the Betties in the game.
3. Help the jammer: Aside from on-track leader and veteran jammer Memphis Kitty, the Betties have the most inexperienced attack in ToRD. Rookies Sail-Her Poon, Tropic Thunder and titmouse have emerged as the future of the Betties offense but are being counted on to do a lot in the present. The Chicks have proven that they can frustrate the most experienced jammers in this league and will be chomping at the bit to get a shot at the Betties’ rookies. If the Betties want to generate any sort of offense, jammer awareness will be key: leaving them to fend for themselves in such a harsh environment is simply not an option.
In 2009 these two teams played a gritty, defensive chess match of a bout with the Betties coming out on top 68-61, a key victory in their march to the final. I wouldn’t expect the same sort of stalemate this time out. Despite their considerable improvement throughout this season, this Betties team is still not near to the one that dominated last season, while the Chicks have emerged as a potentially better team than they were at this time last year. The Chicks are determined to return to the championship bout and regain the trophy they held in 2008. This bout will provide them with a final opportunity to prove that they are the contenders that they wish to be. For the Betties, at the very least this bout provides them with one final learning experience before the playoffs; at most, an opportunity for a major upset that would significantly shake up the playoff picture.