On Saturday night the Dolls and Gores meet in the Battle for the Boot for the first time in history. The defending champ Dolls will try to hold off the three-time champion Gores to successfully defend the Boot.
Before 2013’s year of Dollmination, the Death Track Dolls had defeated the Gore-Gore Rollergirls only once in the team’s history, a close, controversial decision in 2008. From 2009-2012, the Gores dominated the rivalry and won a few championships along the way, while the Dolls struggled through losing season after losing season. All of that changed in 2013 when an undefeated record and a record-setting Battle for the Boot victory ushered in the Dolls’ era in ToRD.
Despite a slew of retirements and CN Power call-ups after the championship run, that era continued unabated through the early months of this year’s regular season as well. For the second-straight year the Dolls finished atop the regular season standings with a perfect 3-0 record. On top of that, their 652 points was the second most ever scored in a ToRD regular season (just below their own 2013 record-setting clip). The Dolls even dominated the other playoff-bound teams, notching a 100-point win over the Gores and a smothering 272-35 mauling of the Chicks Ahoy!. Everything seemed to be coming up Doll in 2014.
However, you should never count out the Dynasty.
Things started slowly this season for the Gores, but not as direly as you might expect for a supposedly rebuilding team. They managed to wind up second in the regular season standings after knocking off last year’s finalists, the Smoke City Betties, in the last game of the regular season and looked very impressive in dispatching a scrappy Chicks team in the semifinal. But the biggest indicator of how far this Gores team has come may have been their performance at the Beast of the East at the end of spring. It was a thrilling, often grueling run, where they won games they had no right winning, dominated teams they had no right dominating, yet struggled and fought and never gave up on their way to the shocking tournament win. It showed, clearly, the depth of heart on this team; the kinds of intangibles that can win championships.
But if the Gores want to win the championship, they will have to contain the Dolls explosive offense; an offense that has put up nearly 1400 points over their last six regular season games. In the teams’ one meeting earlier this year, the Dolls threw everything that had at the Gores, with five different jammers scoring at least 17 points (four of them had at least 24). It is that varied offense that is so dangerous, but look for the Dolls to keep the jammer rotation tight: Bellefast (who led the league with 164 points and a 77% lead percentage); Sleeper Hold (98 and 59%); and Devochka (156 and 59%); with captain Android WK as relief. In the pack, the Dolls may be vulnerable, with some mid-season retirements having eroded their once menacing depth; it will be a comparatively inexperienced pack that goes to the track on Saturday led by veterans Android WK, Getcha Kicks, Audrey Hellborn, and Dawson, but supported by a new generation of skaters led by second-year Doll Robotomy.
But the Gores have come into their own in 2014. In the regular-season meeting between the two teams, Lexi Con was the mos successful Gore jammer against the Dolls defense—but the Gores have a rotation of jammers that has improved as the season has gone on. The Dolls managed to contain Lumberjack Flash in the regular season game, but she has since taken the league by storm, and was second on the Gores in scoring with 24 points in the semifinal win gains the Chicks (Lexi Con tore up the track with 86 points on a 69% lead percentage in that game). Double threat Beaver Mansbridge was also called into considerable action in the semifinal, but with Taranosaurus Rex back from injury, she may be able to slip back into the pack a little more. But despite the developing jammer rotation, the real depth of the Gores is in its pack. Led by veterans Santa Muerte, Chronic, and Kandy Barr, there is an increasingly intimidating bench alongside that core, beginning with veterans Gamma Rei and Miss Kitty La Peur and extending all the way to next-generation Gores like Moose Knuckles and Full Deck.
While both teams are suffering injuries to key pieces (including two up-and-coming blocking stars in Beast MVP Machu Beatchu and first-year Doll Block Quebecois, but extending even further into each roster), don’t expect anything less than a brawl on the track. The Dolls are looking to join the Chicks and the Gores as back-to-back titleists, while the Gores are looking to break a historic tie with the Chicks and win their unprecedented fourth ToRD championship.
Battle for the Boot 2014 by the Numbers
This is the 8th Battle for the Boot.
The number of times the Gores have battled for the Boot (followed by the Chicks , and the Dolls and Betties ).
The number of ToRD championships the Gores have won (the Chicks have also won 3; the Dolls 1.).
The amount of points the Dolls scored during the regular season.
The amount of points the Gores scored during the regular season.
The average point differential the Dolls had in victories against the Chicks and the Betties this season.
The average point differential the Gores had in victories against the Chicks and the Betties this season.
The amount the Dolls beat the Gores by when they met in March.
The number of skaters playing on each team Saturday night who were active during ToRD’s first season (the Dolls’ Demolition Dawn played for the Smoke City Betties, while Kandy Barr is the sole remaining skater from the Gores’ 2007 championship run).
***The championship game will be preceded by an exhibition match featuring the hometown Smoke City Betties hosting the Renegade Derby Dames’ Striking Vikings out of Alliston, Ontario. The Vikings are a WFTDA travel team and should provide a strong challenge to the Betties, who missed the ToRD playoffs in 2014 after Battling for the Boot last season.