On September 22, 2012, at the conclusion of Toronto Roller Derby’s first full season at the Bunker, the Chicks Ahoy! knocked off the Gore-Gore Rollergirls to win their second consecutive Boot and third in six years. It was the fifth time in the then six-year history of the league that the two teams had battled for the Boot—a rivalry and a string of shared dominance so complete that it seemed as if it would last forever.
Fast forward four years and ToRD’s first great rivalry is set for renewal. Although the Gores have been back to the championship game in two of those three intervening years, this will be the Chicks’ first foray into the championship game since that time. Perhaps more remarkably, after sharing the first six, neither team has won the Boot since 2012, a window that allowed first the Death Track Dolls (twice) and then the Smoke City Betties to take home the title. So it seems fitting that on this tenth anniversary of ToRD’s house league championship, its first great rivals return to do battle.
It was a fascinating year in ToRD, with the season beginning with relative parity. The Chicks and Gores managed narrow wins early in 2016 before slowly but surely distancing themselves from their leaguemates. The two teams closed out the regular season with a classic duel that resulted in a narrow, 12-point win for the Chicks. The Betties, battered and broken, limped to a last-place finish before being easily dispatched by the Dolls in the quarterfinals. The Gores, meanwhile, buoyed by the return of blockers Full Deck and Santa Muerte, garnered some revenge on a Sleeper Holdless Chicks team in their quarterfinal match to send them to a second-chance semifinal showdown with the Death Track Dolls. In that game—with the roster fully intact—the Chicks put together their most complete game of the season, absolutely dominating an overwhelmed Dolls 238-74 to set up the classic championship game.
On paper, there is very little separating these teams. Offensively, the Chicks are led by 2016 regular season leading scorer Monster Muffin, who became the ninth skater in ToRD history to record a 200-point season (209 points on a 5.97 points per jams), done so on the back of a 65% lead percentage. However, the Gores respond with Beaver Mansbridge who had a breakout season finishing second in the league in scoring with 197 points and leading the league with a 72% lead percentage (tied for the eighth highest ever). Taking a look at secondary scoring doesn’t make anything clearer. Although spending a lot of time in the pack this season, Sleeper Hold continued to dominate with the star, leading the league with 6.2 points per jam and finishing with a 65% lead percentage. The Gores once again counter with the league’s fourth all-time leading scorer Lexi Con, who put together another solid year (125 points, 61%) joining the elite 500-point club along the way (she actually crested 600 by the season’s end). So it could fall to the depth jammers to be difference makers with the Gores getting strong performances from MurderCat! and WackedHer (in limited action) and the Chicks able to rely on Banshee (who recorded a 57% lead percentage in an incredible rookie season), double-threat Boxcar, and Pink Slamminade.
When all is said and done, give the slight offensive edge to the Chicks.
It’s much the same in the pack, with both teams defined by their depth. With veteran blocker Robber Blind left recovering from injury this season, Biggley Smallz, Joss Wheelin, Rosemary’s Rabies and Vag Lightning were the on-track leaders, supported by Wheels of Misfortune and Slamureye, leading the team to the lowest points against total during the regular season (giving up 138 points per game) and a league high +100 point differential.
However, the Gores were not far behind defensively (142 points per game) even if their offense lagged slightly (+62). But the Gores do sport veteran depth: Santa Muerta, Chronic, Jill ‘Em All and Gamma Rei remain from the last Gores team to win a title all the way back in 2010. And although they are without injured emerging on-track leader Moose Knuckles, track-savvy pivot Viktory Lapp has continued her steady emergence as a dominant blocker in the league. Add the reliability of blockers like Stabbey Road, Full Deck and WackedHer to the mix and the pack advantage tilts to the Gores.
It’s going to be a classic matchup featuring two classically built teams: Chicks Ahoy!’s offense versus the Gore-Gore Rollergirls’ defense. There were wild swings in momentum in the previous 2016 showdowns between these two teams (with each team earning a win) and the 2016 Battle for the Boot could come down to which team is able to impose its style of play and, eventually, its will. Can the Gores’ pack contain the Chicks’ jammers? Does the Chicks’ pack have the depth to go toe-to-toe with the Gores’? Head to the Bunker for Battle for the Boot X to find out the answers.
*Tickets for the June 11th championship game are now on sale and available online. Doors open at 4:00 PM, and the night will open with a future-stars matchup between the D-VAS and Buffalo’s Queen’s Court. Opening whistle for the championship game is 7:00 PM.
* Check out the ToRD website where, in celebration of the 10th anniversary, they’ve compiled complete capsule recaps of every Battle for the Boot including links to recaps and photo galleries. For complete 2016 regular season, playoff results, statistical leaders and standings, click here.