Dolls, Gores, Betties reach for the top; Chicks fight for their lives at ToRD Double Header

ToRD Poster May 2013The Death Track Dolls have a chance to do something that they have never done before: lock up top spot in ToRD’s house league regular season. Although in 2008 they tied both the Gore-Gore Rollergirls and Chicks Ahoy! with the best record, they lost out on the number one seed through a tie breaker. This season, a simple win (by any margin) guarantees their place in the final. It’s a remarkable turn around for a team that finished last in the league a year ago.

A Smoke City Betties win over the Dolls, however, would vaunt them into a tie for first, while even a loss could still see them through to the semifinals, pending a victory for the Gore-Gore Rollergirls over the Chicks Ahoy! (who will be missing key players this weekend).  A win for the Gores would assure them a playoff spot, but like the Betties, a loss wouldn’t necessarily eliminate them: last year they were blown out in the final game of the regular season but still held on to their playoff spot on a point differential tie-breaker. It could get complicated, but barring any upsets, it could also line up perfectly.

Death Track Dolls LogoDeath Track Dolls vs. Smoke City Betties LogoSmoke City Betties

The battle for first place in the league: the Dolls could clinch with a victory; the Betties could throw the standings into chaos with a big win. The Dolls have lived up to preseason expectations, while the Betties struggled out of the gate but seem to be turning things around. A second straight playoff berth seems all but assured for the Betties, but a win would truly shake things up heading into the post season.

The Dolls have a deep bench that includes seventh-year skater Monichrome. (Photo by Neil Gunner).

The Dolls have a deep bench that includes seventh-year skater Monichrome (battling with the Gores’ Gamma Rei). (Photo by Neil Gunner).

Story to Follow: Bench Depth

Both teams been using fairly even benches this season, a testament to their depth (each team has eleven skaters who have appeared in at least 30% of their team’s jams), but the Betties have shown less consistency than the Dolls  (they handled the Chicks more easily than the Dolls did, but they fell to the Gores, whom the Dolls defeated), which is probably due to less experience in those depth positions on the bench.

Story to Follow: Jammer Battle

These two teams clearly boast the best, most consistent rotations in the league. Each team has a primary trio (three jammers who’ve skated at least 20 jams for their team), with the Dolls trio of Santilly In Yo Face, Bellefast and Getcha Kicks arguably holding a slight advantage (they’ve outscored the Betties trio 352 to 317 with 4.4 points per jam against the Betties 4). However, the Betties rotation of Hailey Copter, Slaptrick Swayze and Udre hold the edge in a vital category, lead percentage, and it’s a significant difference at 62% vs. 50%. There are a variety of reasons for that disparity that could explain away some of the difference, but the fact of the matter is that if the Betties control the lead, they could control the game.

First year Doll Rainbow Fight battles against key Gores veterans Kandy Barr and Chronic. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

First year Doll Rainbow Fight battles against key Gores veterans Kandy Barr and Chronic. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The convenient comparison continues as each team also deploys a consistent fourth jammer. Wolverina has been solid in the role, and played her best derby of the year so far at the Beast of the East under an increased load in the absence of Slaptrick Swayze. The Dolls’ fourth jammer, Rainbow Fight, has been phenomenal from the start. In a limited role, she’s amassed 72 points on a 6.5 points per jam and has recorded an 82% lead percentage; even better, on the two occasions she did not earn lead jammer, she was able to get out quick enough to force a call before the jammers could score, meaning she has a perfect +72 plus/minus as a jammer.

Gore-Gore Rollergirls logoGore-Gore Rollergirls vs. Chicks Ahoy! logoChicks Ahoy!

THE rivalry to ToRD’s early history reignites this weekend. These teams have met in five of the six ToRD championships (each team has won three Boots), but this weekend’s showdown has a distinct focus: the Chicks are fighting for their lives, while the Gores are gunning for second, or even first place, in the league. Not since 2009 has a Chicks Ahoy! team failed to qualify for the Battle for the Boot, and this year, even the playoffs are in doubt. It will take a massive win and some luck for this year’s edition to make it through, and with a lineup as inexperienced as theirs is, that could be a difficult challenge.

Gores rookie Lexi Con is on pace to amass record jammer stats for a rookie.  (Photo by Greg Russell)

Gores rookie Lexi Con is on pace to amass record jammer stats for a rookie. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Story to Follow: Penalties

No surprise given the inexperience of the roster, but the Chicks Ahoy! lead the league with 73 penalty minutes (including 14 minutes in jammer penalties). Contrasted with that, the Gore-Gore Rollergirls enter the game as the least penalized team in the league (a full 30 minutes less than the Chicks), and with a much more experienced pack, the Gores could exploit the issue if the Chicks run into their usual problems, particularly on power jams.  Rookie Lexi Con has been tearing up the league in her first season (129 PTS, 4.3 PPJ, 73% Lead%) and can power through weakened packs and defensive walls on power jams.

The Gores Santa Muerte holds up Betties jammer Slaptrick Swayze, while Emma Dilemma holds off Platinum Bomb. (Photo by Greg Russell)

The Gores’ Santa Muerte holds up Betties jammer Slaptrick Swayze, while Emma Dilemma holds off Platinum Bomb. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Story to Watch: Standout Performances

The Gores have survived their 2013 roster shake up by balancing their lines between veterans and less experienced players—something that the Chicks, with their massive disparity between new and returning players, have not been able to do with as much regularity. And while you hate to place too much weight on individual performances in a game that relies so much on teamwork, that could be the difference in this one. The Chicks will have to find a way to contain the vets on this Gore line up; they will not have to contend with key skater Santa Muerte, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier on the Chicks. Kandy Barr is arguably having the season of her career joining another long-time vet Foxy Sinatra in transformations into triple threats. Chronic and Junkie Jenny remain key in the pack as well, and Emma Dilemma is having a breakout season after being given a lot more responsibility; this has allowed the rookies a little freedom and a lot less pressure, which has helped Purple Pain, in particular, quietly develop into a key, effective part of the pack.

Chicks' veteran Robber Blind and rookie Joss Wheelin hold off Betties pivot Misery Mae. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Chicks veteran Robber Blind and rookie Joss Wheelin hold off Betties pivot Misery Mae. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Chicks will be without three of their track-time leaders this weekend (Kookie Doe, Dyna Hurtcha,  Biggley Smallz), and with such an inexperienced line up, the onus for leadership will fall to two skaters: Robber Blind and Furious Georgia (both have been eating up a ton of track time already this season, and have been key).  The only other pack skater on the Chicks’ roster who has picked up considerable track time (IE: appearing in more than 25% of the team’s jams) is rookie standout Emraged. This means that the Chicks will be relying on big performances from blockers who have to prepare (mentally and physically) to take on significant more track time and responsibility than they are used to.

** Doors at the Bunker open at 5:00 PM. Opening whistle for the Gore-Gore Rollergirls vs. Chicks Ahoy! is at 6:00 PM; Death Track Dolls vs. Smoke City Betties gets under way around 8:00 PM. Tickets are available online or at select downtown outlets.

** Catch up on the Stats and Standings here.

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