On Saturday, October 2nd, ToRD’s 2010 playoffs get under way with a rematch of last year’s championship final between the defending champion Gore-Gore Rollergirls and last year’s runner-up Smoke City Betties. But this matchup has had a much different build up than last year’s hotly contested final. Since that Saturday night last November, these teams have gone in much different directions. The defending champion Gores completed their second consecutive unbeaten season and seem confident about defending their championship. The Betties, on the other hand, have had a much different 2010, and stagger into the playoffs after going winless so far this year.
YEAR IN REVIEW: Smoke City Betties
In 2009, three years of hard work toward developing the sport in this city culminated in a spot in the championship bout for the Betties. It was a high point for a team who’d had to watch the Gores and Chicks Ahoy! dominate the early days of ToRD’s history. Coming up short in the final, the Betties began a process of rebuilding with hopes of a potential championship somewhere down the road. Led by a core of veterans including Memphis Kitty, Hot Roller and Pretty Peeved, it was a very inexperienced Betties lineup that went 0-2 at the Beast of the East, including a lopsided loss to the Chicks. Clearly, this group of rookies only recently drafted to the team would have to endure its share of growing pains before it could pull itself back into contention.
The 2010 season became a season of rebuilding for this Betties squad, who under the bench guidance of Mia Culprit and Quickdraw charged into every bout prepared and ready to play their hearts out. A series of big losses over the summer never dimmed the spirit of the team, and late in the season, it became evident that this team was learning: the progress could be seen in almost every jam. A few veterans stepped up into key roles in 2010: Lacy Brawler proved a dependable work horse on the track, and Lady Scorcher led by example, stepping into whatever role needed filling (particularly evident in the final game of the season against the Chicks). The rookie squad also saw leaders emerge. In a forward-thinking move, Sail Her Poon was named co-captain and proved that the decision was justified with her play on the track from jamming against the Gores or working the pack against the Chicks. But others too have stepped up into pivotal roles, Genuine Risk in the pack, Mouth of the South with her jammer assists and Tropic Thunder with the star have provided depth for the Betties lineup, while others have shown tremendous improvement from their first bouts to their most recent.
Despite the struggles this season, the Betties have all the potential to once again rise to the top. If this new generation of Betties can pull through these growing pains, they’ve got all the pieces in place for a bright future.
Smoke City Betties 11 vs. Thames Fatales (FCRG) 38 (@ Montreal/Beast of the East)
Smoke City Betties 15 vs. Chicks Ahoy 89 (@ Montreal/ Beast of the East)
Smoke City Betties 58 vs. Gore-Gore Rollergirls 248 (ToRD regular season)
Smoke City Betties 53 vs. Death Track Dolls 213 (ToRD regular season)
Smoke City Betties 42 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 266 (ToRD regular season)
2010 ToRD Recrod: 0-3
2010 Exhibition Record: 0-3
YEAR IN REVIEW: Gore-Gore Rollergirls
The Gore-Gore Rollergirls have had a big part in writing the early history of ToRD. The Gores have reached the final in each of the league’s first three season, their only loss coming at the hands of the Chicks Ahoy in the 2008 final. Last year the momentum of a year-long unbeaten streak propelled them back to the top when they won their second ToRD championship. So far in 2010, they’ve picked up where they left off. Coming off a 4th place finish at the Beast of the East (their only losses coming to Montreal’s Les Contrabanditas and Les Fills du Roi), the Gores rolled through another unbeaten season, running their current ToRD unbeaten streak to seven games. Part of the reason for the success of this squad has to do with how unchanged the core of this team has remained. Led once again by the steadying presence of bench-boss Reverend Ramirez, the Gores remain a unified and focused group.
In the one-sided opening bout of the regular season, the Gore-Gore Rollergirls took the opportunity to mix-up the lineup from its usual formation, deploying different players in roles that they often hadn’t played. The experiment seemed to work well at the time, but as the season wore on and the challenges grew stronger, the Gores slowly reverted back to the team that had already had so much success: It’s hard to fix something that isn’t broken. Having a formidable three-jammer rotation of Bambi, Dust Bunny and Lunchbox (who finished with the 1st, 2nd and 4th highest JQ ratings) at the back essentially creates the pack strategies that you’ll employ: Get out of the way and make sure you take the other team with you. Led by the excellent pivoting of Brim Stone, Junkie Jenny, and Molly Boom the pack has managed to do just that all season. The return of veterans Foxy Sinatra and Kandy Barr (who both took a year off) filled out a lineup already deep with capable, experienced players. Not that the Gores lack for impressive rookies either. The stability of the team has allowed this year’s crop of newcomers a great opportunity to integrate and learn without pressure. Santa Muerte has provided a physical and energetic presence to the pack, while Hurlin Wall stepped in almost immediately to provide a level of positional blocking well beyond her limited experience.
2010 GORE-GORE ROLLERGIRLS
(Current Rollergirl.ca ranking: 5th among home teams, 11th overall)
Gore-Gore Rollergirls 43 vs. Derby Debutantes (GTAR) 20 (@Montreal/Beast of the East)
Gore-Gore Rollergirls 17 vs. Les Contrabanditas (MTLRD) 63 (@Montreal/Beast of the East)
Gore-Gore Rollergirls 45 vs. Green Mountain Derby Dames (Vermont) 22 (@Montreal/Beast of the East)
Gore-Gore Rollergirls 1 vs. Les Filles du Roi 65 (MTLRD) (@Montreal/Beast of the East)
Gore-Gore Rollergirls 21 vs. Les Contrabanditas 91(MTLRD) (@Montreal/Beast of the East)
Gore-Gore Rollergirls 248 vs. Smoke City Betties 58 (ToRD Regular Season)
Gore-Gore Rollergirls 124 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 80 (ToRD Regular Season)
Gore-Gore Rollergirls 133 vs. Death Track Dolls 54 (ToRD Regular Season)
2010 ToRD Record: 3-0
2010 Exhibition Record: 2-3
WHAT TO EXPECT
With the finals more than a month away, don’t expect either of these teams to hold anything back. Expect the Gores to come out hitting hard and dominating the pace and formation of the pack to provide their jammers with the space (or pace) they need. The Betties veterans will lead the attempt to wrestle some sort of control of the pack away from the Gores. Expect to see some great pivoting battles up front as the veterans battle each other. While the Gores jammers prefer the open spaces and gaps that allow for them to deke their way through, the Betties will need to protect their jammers and give them all the aid they can in getting through the pack. The Gores are an explosive team and the Betties cannot allow for them to build up too much of an early lead. Lead jammer status will be hard to come by in this one for the inexperienced Betties, so their jammers will have to be aware of their defensive responsibilities as well.
Realistically, a victory by the 4th place Betties would represent one of the great upsets in ToRD’s history. But it is the playoffs and anything can happen. If the Gores come into the bout thinking that they’re getting a simple tune-up for the championship, they just may be surprised.
As usual, the bout is at The Hangar on Saturday night. Doors open at 6:30pm. Tickets are available online or at a number of Toronto retailers. Check out ToRD.TV for interviews, boutcasts and video recaps.