ToRD Championships: The Battle for the Boot

#2 Chicks Ahoy! (3-1) vs. #1 Gore-Gore Rollergirls (4-0)

In the future, when people look back at the early history of ToRD, no two teams will feature more prominently than the Gore-Gore Rollergirls and the Chicks Ahoy!. On Saturday, November 13, 2010, these two teams will meet in the ToRD Championship for the third time in four years. The defending champion Gores will be looking for some measure of revenge this year: that loss to the Chicks in the 2008 final marked the only time they failed to win the title  and was also the last time they suffered a defeat in ToRD play, regular season or playoffs. The Chicks, on the other hand, are still looking to regain their championship form.

These two teams have had far different seasons. A team stacked with vets, the Chicks started slow in 2010 with unfocused exhibition showings at the Beast of the East and in Tri-City. The Gores started 2010 where they left off 2009, finishing fourth in the annual Montreal tournament (and first among the non-MTLRD teams), and then opening the season with a dominant victory over the Smoke City Betties to set the tone for the campaign. The Chicks certainly came together as the season went on, rounding into shape at just the right time and saving their best games of the season for the end (including an impressive win over the Death Track Dolls in the semifinals). The Gores completed their second straight undefeated season winning each game by no less than 44 points.

This is the 3rd time the Gores and the Chicks have battled for the boot. (Tara Part and Dust Bunny in a 2009 bout at George Bell Arena)

THE OPPONENTS
While these two teams boast a majority of the members of ToRD’s all-star team, CN Power, they are not exactly uniform in their styles. The Chicks have spent this season focusing on their pack play, and refining the defense that has taken them so far in the past. After a disorganized beginning to the season, the Chicks pack tightened up as it went on and was the difference in their last two victories. Fast moving front walls, and deadly slow back ones (with a heavy hitter lurking on the margins ready to strike) typify their game.

The Gores have a deep arsenal of jammers and that dictates their style of play. Great individual blockers free up space and control pace through disrupting the strategies of their opponents: look for pivots and strikers to crack holes in the Chicks’ walls while the more positionally minded follow through and aid their jammers. The Chicks have shown an ability to adapt this season, while the Gores have been (for the most part) comfortably dictating play. This could come together in an interesting clash over the shape and direction of the championship bout.

Nasher the Smasher is once again one of the top pivots in the league.

THE MATCHUP

In terms of experience, no ToRD team can measure up against the Chicks Ahoy!. After an “off” 2009 (by their own high standards) in which they often looked undisciplined and a step-or-two behind the competition, the Chicks have stormed back in 2010. The pack play has been the leading aspect of the team’s improvement this season, and that transformation has been led by their talented pivots. Veteran pivots Rebel Rock-It and Nasher the Smasher are as good a one-two punch at the front of the pack as the league can deliver and both have had exceptional seasons. Hoff and Hum Dinger have also been predictably reliable this season, and Mega Bouche has been her usual devastating self. The inspirational return of Tara Part has only added more experience to an already deep pack, and stand out-rookie Marmighty looks extremely comfortable on the track. Triple Threats Mach Wheels and Dyna Hurtcha have been in and out of the lineup all season, but are in game shape right now and with Candy Crossbones in form as well, this marks the first time all three of these jammers will be available in the same bout this year.

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls did not have the same stability in their lineup as the Chicks did, incorporating a handful of rookies while at the same time making space for the return of two vets, Foxy Sinatra and original Toronto rollergirl Kandy Barr. But with such a stable core and solid leadership (including long-time manager Reverend Ramirez), the rookies have not looked out of place this season. The athletic Hurlin’ Wall has stood out in large part because of the ease with which she carries herself on the track: a strong positional blocker, her timing has been improving as well, and she’s more and more capable of making the big hit. Santa Muerte, Aston Martini and Gamma Rei have also looked strong in pack, and Pinky Violence’s role as a potential depth jammer became more defined in the semi-finals. But this is a team that is built around a solid core of more-than-capable vets. Junky Jenny and Molly Boom are steady presences with the stripe, while Lady Gagya has continued her rise as an effective striking blocker. The emergence of Brim Stone as a triple-threat has given the Gores a reliable weapon to complement the amazing jammer trio of Dust Bunny, Bambi and Lunchbox.

Expect Chicks' triple threat Mach Wheels and Gores' pivot Molly Boom to have more than a few battles

THE OUTCOME

At the beginning of 2010, it didn’t look like any team could compete with the defending-champion Gores, but as the season progressed there have been some signs of vulnerability in the seemingly impervious Gores’ game play. The Dolls dominated large swathes of the first half of their August bout, and the Chicks controlled the pack, and therefore the play, in isolated parts of their bout against the Gores in July. Also, the Chicks don’t look anything like the team that stumbled out of the gates at the start of the season. They also had the stiffer, more challenging test in the semis in a hard-fought bout against the Dolls, while the Gores had a comparatively easier time with the Betties.

It could come down to how well the teams respond to the atmosphere at The Hangar. Raucous and involved on a regular night, the sell-out crowd surrounding the track, coupled with the bright lights of the TV cameras and expanded media presence at the championship, will put a level of pressure on these clubs that has yet to be experienced at a ToRD championship. While almost all of the Chicks have experienced this big-game pressure (and mostly together), it remains to be seen how the Gores’ rookies will hold up. However it plays out, one thing is for certain: this is a bout that will live up to all historic expectations.

The defending champion Gore-Gore Rollergirls are looking for their 3rd ToRD championship.

Doors at The Hangar open at 6:30pm on Saturday, November 13, 2010. Bout time is 7:30.

Word on the track is that available tickets are few and far between. Online tickets sold out in record time last week, and a few ticket outlets are reporting sell-outs too, so call ahead.

If you can’t get tickets, don’t despair! For the first time in ToRD history, The Battle for the Boot will be televised. A bout replay will air on Rogers TV on Saturday, December 4, at 8:00pm.

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