Beast of the East

La Racaille Becomes First Team to Repeat at Beast 10.

BOE 2017

There’s just something about the Beast of the East.

With the flat track roller derby community on the eve of its biggest regular season weekend of the year—where dozens of the best men’s and women’s flat track teams in the game will converge upon Eugene, Oregon, for three days of brutal WFTDA and MRDA action over three tracks—it seems remarkable that in the day and age of competitive algorithms and opponent weight, a comparatively modest house league tournament in a similarly modest neighbourhood rink in Montreal has captured the hearts of so many. And the fact that it continues to do so year after year is a testament to the importance of the grass roots movement at the heart of modern roller derby.

Celebrating its tenth year, the Beast of the East—a two-day double elimination tournament featuring home teams primarily from Quebec and Ontario—has over the years developed its own mythology. The longest continuously running tournament in Canada’s modern roller derby revival, the event has weaved its way into the very genetics of the sport in eastern Canada. And this year, for the first time since 2012, the tournament was reopened to teams from Canada’s east coast, and the Muddy River and Anchor City Rollers represented the region well.

wench beast 17 Neil

La Racaille was in the mix yet again with Iron Wench leading the way. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

In the mythology of the Beast, the team that has muscled its way into the centre of the narrative is Montreal Roller Derby’s La Racaille; and the skater who is the undeniable hero in this mythology is the Iron Wench. Arguably our nation’s best and, at one point in time, most well-known jammer, Wench stepped away from the spotlight (and briefly the sport) after a heartbreaking 2013 WFTDA Division 1 playoff tournament. Back on the track with La Racaille since 2016, the public outside of Montreal must wait until April of every year to see her skate. And in the past two years, that legend at the centre of the Beast mythos has continued to grow.

La Racaille entered Beast 10 as the defending champs and the tournament’s most successful squad. The only team to have won over 30 games in the tournament’s history, they were two-time champions (2009, 16), five-time finalists (2008, 10, 13), and had managed a third-place finish in 2014 as well. The one thing that La Racaille (nor any other team) had ever done was to successfully defend the Beast. And in an all-Montreal final for the second year in a row, they pulled it off: yet another accomplishment in the incredible history that the team has already established. And they did so in dramatic fashion: the 124-122 two-point victory over leaguemates Les Contrabanditas was the closest since the Slaughter Daughters pulled off a last-jam comeback to defeat the Gore-Gore Rollergirls 87-85 in 2011.

Double Elimination Round

The double elimination round featured an interesting mix of traditional powers dominating along with some unexpected underdogs pulling off some impressive wins. Ten-time participants Les Contrabanditas, La Racaille, and the Death Track Dolls (with a combined eleven Top 3 finishes between them) advanced directly to the quarterfinals with two-straight wins on Saturday morning (although the Dolls were tested mightily in a two-point win over Quebec’s Casse-Gueules). The fourth team to do so, however, were Halifax’s Harbour Grudges who pulled off 63-54 and 56-34 victories over Durham Region’s Atom Smashers and Toronto’s Smoke City Bandits respectively to be the surprise team of the opening round.

Grudges BOE 17 Neil

The east coast teams provided the biggest surprises of the tournament, with Anchor City’s Harbour Grudges advancing out of the first round with two straight wins. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

There were tougher roads to the quarterfinals for cohosts Les Filles du Roi and (who dominated the Bandits in the must-win game after a narrow loss to Casse-Gueules); Capital City’s Cupquakes (who won the Beasts’ second ever overtime game when they eliminated the Gore-Gore Rollergirls 69-67 after a wild, thrilling 24-22 OT jam); Moncton’s Mad Hitters (who eliminated the Smashers and Les Casse); and Toronto’s Chicks Ahoy! who, despite an early loss to the Ditas, dominated their way out of day one with a record-setting 181-39 win over tournament debutantes Les Rebelles out of Sherbrooke (a game that featured a remarkable 40-point jam from ToRD’s Monster Muffin).

Playoff Round

Chicks Neil

Despite a first round loss to the Ditas, Chicks Ahoy! advanced to the quarterfinals with a record-setting scoring performance. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The quarterfinals did not deliver the kind of tense matchups that the elimination round saw, but was most notable for strong performances in losing causes. The Mad Hitters’ tournament came to an end at the hands of La Racaille in a more-than-respectable 53-29 loss. The last time a Muddy River team came to the Beast—the now defunct Reines of Terror in 2012—they were two and done after being outscored 210-34 in those two games (including a 139-0 shutout), a far cry from the competitive performance put forth by the Hitters. Similarly, The Harbour Grudges gave the Chicks Ahoy! all they could handle before the traditional ToRD power pulled away. A severely shorthanded Death Track Dolls also pulled away from the Cupquakes late in their quarterfinal showdown to make the final four for the first time since 2013.

The Dolls simply didn’t have the fire power to match up against an inspired Ditas in the semi finals (falling 91-54), before a thrilling, last gasp effort from Iron Wench helped La Racaille stun the Chicks 65-63 in the other.

What it all led to was a classic medal round showdown featuring two league-on-league battles. The Chicks and Dolls last met in the third-place game all the way back in 2011 with the Death Track Dolls picked up the team’s first (of two) Beast trophies; this year, the Chicks got some measure of delayed revenge picking up their own second Beast trophy with a 157-79 victory.

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Watch the Beast of the East final on layer9.ca.

You’ve got to go back even further, to 2009, to find the last time Montreal’s Contrabanditas and La Racaille squared off for the Beast title. Iron Wench is the only remaining member of that great 2009 Racaille team that took down the Ditas 49-34, and once again she led her team back to the crown again, though this time getting help from her other throw-back counterparts: Squarrior (returning to the league) and the freshly unretired Greta Bobo were part of the team’s old-school jammer rotation (and it was Bobo who was out for the critical final jam). And all three were needed to contend with a determined Ditas team who were led offensively by Wild Card (the former Dyna Hurtcha), who similarly retired from travel team play to focus on home teams, and who over the Ditas inspired run, put her own statement on this legendary tournament.

Beast by the Numbers

2: The differential in the final, tying the previous record set in 2011.

2: The number of overtime games in Beast history after the Gore-Gore Rollergirls and the Cupquakes played the Beasts’ second overtime game (the first was a 2014 quarterfinal won by the Riot Squad 71-62 over the Luscious Lunch Ladies).

36: The number of games won by La Racaille in Beast history (only two other teams have won over 20).

39: Number of points scored by Iron Wench in a single jam against Les Rebelles in the first round.

40: Number of points scored by Monster Muffin in a single jam against Les Rebelles in the first round.

181: Points scored by Chicks Ahoy! in first round. A team scoring record (the previous being 164).

220: Combined points scored by Chicks Ahoy! and Les Rebelles in their first-round game (181-39). Also a record.

Nerd Glasses

Review the full bracket here.

Select trackside footage available on layer9.ca.

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All Quebec Final at Beast 2015

Photo by Ulrick Wery (www.ulrick.be)

Casse-Gueules came out on top of an all Roller Derby Quebec final (161-142) to win Beast of the East 2015. (Photo by Ulrick Wery / http://www.ulrick.be)

Only moments had passed since Les Filles du Roi’s unlikely last-jam comeback in the third place game of the 2015 Beast of the East and Arena St. Louis was still abuzz. The raw emotion generated by the sole remaining host team in the tournament coming back mightily against a former champion had threatened to blow the roof off the place. The roar of the partisan crowd lingered.

In the upper reaches of the stands, first-time attendee and Kingston Derby Girl announcer Dr. Sneaks was standing dumbfounded, glowing from the emotion, taking long sweeping glances to reel it all in. He had that look in his eye that only a first-timer truly has; it’s that look that people get when in they are wrapped up in the early throes of a new love.

After taking a moment to gather himself, he turned to me and said without hesitation, “I’m never missing another Beast of the East.”

It’s a moment that has happened countless times in the eight-year history of what, many argue, remains flat track roller derby’s greatest weekend of the year. There is just something about it: maybe it’s the downtownish venue, the raucous crowd, the cheap PBR, or maybe just the city of Montreal itself, but the Beast of the East is like the beating heart of the flat track roller derby in this country and every year offers something amazing.

While this year’s version of the tournament didn’t have the across-the-board parity of last year’s, what the 2015 Beast did have in abundance was engrossing narratives. It was a tournament of stories.

Storyline #1: The Rise of the Roller Derby Quebec

This is actually a story that has been playing out over the past three Beasts (and really, since 2011 when the league debuted), but this year the narrative reached its dramatic conclusion. It was the first time since 2010 that two teams from the same league faced off in the final (Montreal did it two years in a row from ‘09-10), and eventual champions Casse-Gueules joined La Racaille (2008-2010) and the Slaughter Daughters (2011-2013) as the only teams to reach consecutive finals.

Two years ago, the Rouge et Gore shocked the tournament, first by setting a scoring record (159 points—a record that was broken this weekend) and then by advancing to the quarterfinals. Not to be outdone, their leaguemates did one better last year by advancing all the way to the final, losing in a heartbreaker. But this year, both teams stole the show.

The Casse-Gueules started slowly (as they did last year), but eventually got rolling, including eliminating the team that had defeated them the year previously (the Gore-Gore Rollergirls) in a low-scoring, yet still fairly one–sided game (55-25) before putting together a truly dominant quarterfinal win and eventually holding off their surging sisters in the final. The Rouge et Gore also saved their best for the later stages of the tournament playing their most complete game in a dominant semifinal win over the Slaughter Daughters (84-10).

Their final was a thrilling one, with Casse pulling away early and holding on in the end for the 161-142 win (the Rouge et Gore outscored them in the second half 84-61).

How this all translates to Roller Derby Quebec’s travel-team season will be remarkable to watch.

Storyline #2: Team Breakout Story: Skateful Dead

It’s so predictable by now that no one should be surprised when a team comes from out of nowhere and goes on a spirited run. In its somewhat fractious history, Kingston Derby Girls have had to deal with division (there was a second Kingston league in the early going) and debates over direction, but they have remained a strong league in spite of it all. Their travel team Disloyalists have been up and down over the years, but if the strength of this Skateful Dead home team is any indication, things seems to be improving from the ground on up.

After a one-sided trouncing at the hands of Rouge et Gore in their opener, you’d be excused for thinking that the tournament would be short for the Dead. But then stunning back-to-back upsets of perennial powerhouses (ToRD’s Death Track Dolls followed by Montreal’s La Racaille) sent shockwaves through the tournament. Although their tournament ended in the quarterfinals, they acquitted themselves exceptionally well there, losing by 10 (88-78) to the Slaughter Daughters in the closest game of the round.

Story #3: Skater Breakout Story: Le Grande Noirceur

FDR's Le Grande Noirceur tries to power her way through a Casse-Gueules wall. (Photo by Joe Mac)

FDR’s Le Grande Noirceur tries to power her way through a Casse-Gueules wall. (Photo by Joe Mac)

There are always so many breakout stories at the Beast that it’s hard to keep track. This year was no exception with Kingston’s Kazi anchoring the most surprising offense of the tournament, Rouge et Gore’s Minnie Small showing the depth of Quebec’s rotation, and the Slaughter Daughter’s Wreck Therapy emerging from Rideau Valley shadows, it was a weekend where new jammers stole the show.

But in one jam, Les Filles du Roi’s Le Grande Noirceur broke out in the biggest way. It was she who, despite an apparent upper-leg injury, flung herself viciously around the track on that final jam of the third-place game to win the beastly trophy for FDR. This is a story that close watchers of the eastern game have seen coming. First, at last year’s Clam Slam she surprised with her poise in the opening game, and then poured it on again at the Fresh and the Furious, playing for Quebec’s Les Bûches.

Actually, many of the breakout stories from this weekend can, not surprisingly, trace their tales back to last year’s Fresh and Furious. Kingston’s Kazi formed part of a strong—tournament winning—Capital City jammer rotation along with Labrosse and Kaio-kensi (both of whom also made their Beast debuts with their CCDD home team, the Beauty School Dropouts).

Story #4: The Return of the Slaughter Daughters

After completely rebuilding the roster two years ago, this Daughters team could have fallen into the “breakout team” category with their performance this year. Last season after a massive Rideau Valley re-rostering, the traditional powerhouses had slipped all the way to the bottom of the three-team league. But this team has rebuilt and rebuilt quickly. With two of (arguably) our nation’s top-ten jammers on the bench (Shania Pain and Melanie Austin[Tatious]), the Daughters stuck to their guns and kept those weapons in the pack (where they were awesome) and instead allowed their newer jammers to flourish; and flourish they did. Wreck Therapy, Angel Poison, and Knotty Knitter were solid all weekend (and got some great support from double threat Anderson). The pack was led by another new Vixen (and former junior skater) Jamie’s Got a Gun. The Daughter’s reemergence should make for a very interesting houseleague season in Ottawa in 2015.

In the end, it was another successful Beast, but then, that’s never truly in question. There’s been a power shift at the home team level with a Quebec taking over (it was the first time in five years a ToRD team did not make the Top 3) and fascinatingly, it’s not Montreal at the helm.

Nerd Glasses

***As has become tradition, on Friday night Montreal’s New Skids on the Block hosted Toronto’s CN Power. It was another incredibly tight match-up between these two teams with The Skids eventually taking it by a measly 9 points (180-171) to maintain top spot in the country. Layer9 has posted his track-side footage; watch it here.

Beast of the East 8: A Preview of BOE 2015

BOE 2015 PosterOne thing that the Beast of the East has proven over the years is that it is virtually unpredictable: sixteen house league teams randomly selected from a variety of leagues in Ontario and Quebec; no accurate ranking system for teams that may—at most—face off once a year; and a twenty-minute game format that punishes mistakes brutally. It equals a recipe for bracket breaking.

So here’re two predictions for the unpredictable:

1. This year’s tournament could even be more unpredictable than most.

2. It’s going to be awesome.

Two years ago, in 2013, I declared that tournament to be the Beast of Beasts: unbelievable action, completely unpredictable (except, it turns out, for the finalists), and some of the most exciting moments in the tournament’s history. Then along came 2014 and the tournament managed to top even that historic event. This is simply, a tournament that just keeps getting better.

2014 was not only arguably the best Beast ever, it was actually one of the best roller derby tournaments I’ve ever been to. In the two Sunday playoff rounds, the average point differential was 8 points, with three games being settled by 4 points or less and one more going to overtime. And the two medal games (played in two twenty-minute halves) continued the trend with co-hosts La Racaille taking third by 17 points and Toronto’s Gore-Gore Rollergirls winning the tournament with a 15-point win, capping a most unlikely run to the final. Actually, no championship team has ever faced such adversity as the Gores did last year. After a one-sided tournament-opening win over Durham’s Motor City Madames, the Gores won their next three games by a combined score of 10 points to advance to a final that was tied at half-time. It was a heart-stuttering run unlike any seen before from a team that simply refused to lose.

This year brings back a handful of tournament regulars with the three Montreal teams joining Toronto’s Death Track Dolls and Gore-Gore Rollergirls and Forest City’s Thames Fatales as the sole remaining OBers (Original Beasters), while Kingston Derby Girls (Skateful Dead) and Ottawa’s Capital City Derby Dolls (Beauty School Dropouts) make their league debuts.

THE CONTENDERS

The Casses-Gueules caught many off guard in their run to the final. They're favourites this year. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The Casse-Gueules caught many off guard in their run to the final. They’re favourites this year. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Particularly after teams had such a hard time distancing themselves from each other last year, this year’s collection of competitors boasts its fair share of contenders. Although a Montreal team has not won this tournament since 2010, they are always contenders (and La Racaille—the tournament’s most successful team historically—has made two straight final fours). At this year’s annual round robin tournament, Les Fills du Roi defeated their leaguemates (though narrowly) to immediately launch themselves into the position of being potential favourites.

However, don’t count out the defending champion Gore-Gore Rollergirls. Exhibiting the same tenacity that won them the Beast last year, the Gores have clawed and fought their way to first overall in the ToRD standings in a season where there doesn’t seem to be much separating the teams.

Rideau Valley’s Prime Sinisters debuted at the Beast last season and got noticeably better as the tournament progressed (losing narrowly in the quarters to eventual finalists, Casse-Gueules) eventually using that tournament as a launching point to winning the RVRG house league championship.

Finally, Roller Derby Quebec’s Casse-Guelles and Rouge at Gore have managed to slip under the radar for the last two seasons and turned heads with thrilling performances: they won’t have the element of surprise in 2015 and, indeed, should both be seen as potential contenders for the tournament.

This is the fourth appearance for the Tramps, but the first since 2011.

This is the fourth appearance for the Tramps, but the first since 2011 (Photo by Joe Mac).

THE DARK HORSES

With past dark horses like Roller Derby Quebec’s teams and Durham’s Atom Smashers establishing themselves as solid competitors (the Smashers won the 2015 Winter Wipeout, a Beast-style tournament), this year’s potential surprises may be harder to see. So I’m looking to two returning teams as potential troublemakers: Tri-City’s Venus Fly Tramps and Total Knock Outs. Both have histories at the tournament but haven’t appeared since 2011 and 2013 respectively. Only one Tri-City team has ever podiumed (2012 champs Vicious Dishes), so this established league is due for another strong showing.

NERD’S PICKS

Every year it seems more and more futile to try to establish picks for the tournament, but that doesn’t stop derby prognosticators from trying (and last year, I did managed to pick six of the eight quarterfinalists, which provides undoubtedly false confidence).

Look for possibly two Montreal teams to advance in Les Filles du Roi and Les Contrabanditas (though the Ditas could be in tough against the TKOs for that final spot), with ToRD (The Gore-Gore Rollergirls, Death Track Dolls) and RDQ (Casse-Gueules, Rouge et Gore) sending through two as well. That leaves only two spots open, one for RVRG’s Prime Sinisters and the last for Tri-City’s Venus Fly Tramps. In three previous appearances, the Tramps have failed to advance beyond the opening round (the only Tri-City team that has yet to do so), look for that to change this year.

However, take these predictions with a grain of salt. One thing that you can always guarantee at the Beast is that somewhere along the line, your bracket will be busted.

Nerd Glasses

**The Beast takes place at Arena St. Louis. Full weekend and daily passes are available here.

**Sadly, this year’s Beast will not be boutcast. But follow The Derby Nerd on Facebook and Twitter for updates throughout the event.

Beast of the East 2015 Participants Named

Beast of the East 2015 is the eighth annual house league roller derby tournament hosted by Montreal Roller Derby. It is a sixteen team, two-day, double elimination tournament featuring teams exclusively from eastern Canada. Listed are this year’s participants by league.

Montreal Roller Derby logoMontreal Roller Derby

La Racaille

Les Contrabanditas

Les Filles du Roi

All three Montreal teams return once again. Last year, only La Racaille (champs in 2009, runners up in 2008 and 2010), made it as far as the semifinal. After Les Filles du Roi’s victory in 2010, Les Contrabanditas (runners up in 2009) remain the only Montreal team to have yet won the tournament.

ToRD logoToronto Roller Derby

Death Track Dolls

Gore-Gore Rollergirls

Chicks Ahoy!

For the second Beast in a row, three teams will represent Toronto Roller Derby in the tournament (the Chicks Ahoy! return after a year-long absence). The defending champion Gore-Gore Rollergirls (also runners up in 2011) return to defend their crown, while 2013 third-place finishers, the Dolls (also third place in 2011) join the Gores, the Montreal teams, and Thames Fatales as the lone participants in every Beast.

Rideau Valley ROller Gilrs logoRideau Valley Roller Girls

Slaughter Daughters

Prime Sinisters

Although the Slaughter Daughters last won in 2013 (along with a title in 2011), Last year, after RVRG did a league-wide roster shuffle, the Prime Sinisters eliminated Slaughter Daughters in first round, while the Riot Squad (who will not be appearing this season) made the final four for the first time; however, it was the Prime Sinisters (back for their second appearance) that ended up winning the first RVRG house league championship at the end of last season.

Forest City logoForest City Derby Girls

Thames Fatales

The Thames Fatales continue their run of appearing in every Beast of the East tournament. In 2013, Thames made the quarter finals for the first time since 2010. Last season they fell in the first round while their leaguemates (Luscious Lunch Ladies) made the quarterfinals.

Roller Derby Quebec logoRoller Derby Quebec

Le Rouge et Gore

Les Casse Gueules

Although they competed as Les Duchesses in 2011 and 2012, in 2013, RDQ divided its travel team into two home teams, both of whom made their Beast debuts. Le Rouge et Gore turned some heads with an impressive run to the quarterfinals that year, while last year it was Les Casse Gueules’ turn to make a run, one that took them all the way to the final. They may have had the element of surprise on their sides in the last two tournaments, but there will be no underestimating either team this year.

Durham Region Roller Derby LogoDurham Region Roller Derby

Atom Smashers

After first making an appearance in 2012, the Motor City Madames made their second appearance last season with leaguemates the Atom Smashers, but their leagumates stole the show, putting up a strong fight in the opening round taking a win before losing in the double elimination bout. The Smashers will have  a chance to build on that this year.

New name, new logo. Tri City Roller Derby 2014 Logo

Tri-City Roller Derby

Total Knock-Outs

Venus Fly Tramps

After having no participants last year, Tri-City sends the TKOs and the Venus Fly Tramps this season. This will be the fourth Beast appearance for the Tramps (but the first since 2011), while the TKOs make their third appearance and first since a run to the quarterfinals in 2013.

Kingston Derby Girls LogoKingston Derby Girls

Skateful Dead

Kingston makes its long-awaited debut at the Beast with the appearance of Skateful Dead. The Dead defeated their leaguemates the Rogue Warriors in last year’s KDG Championship.

Capital City Derby Dolls LogoCapital City Derby Dolls

Beauty School Dropouts

Capital City joins Kingston in making its Beast debut. The Dropouts are one of three house league teams in CCDD and with their appearance, will help CCDD become the third league  to represent Ottawa at the Beast of the East.

Nerd Glasses

The Beast of the East will take place over two days beginning on April 25th. For more information stay tuned to Montreal Roller Derby’s website.

Beast of the East 2014 Participants Named

Beast of the East 2014 is the seventh annual house league roller derby tournament hosted by Montreal Roller Derby. It is a sixteen team, two-day, double elimination tournament featuring teams exclusively from eastern Canada. Listed are this year’s participants by league.

Montreal Roller Derby logoMontreal Roller Derby

La Racaille

Les Contrabanditas

Les Filles du Roi

All three Montreal teams return once again. Last year, La Racaille (champs in 2009, runners up in 2008 and 2010), reached their fourth final. After Les Filles du Roi’s victory in 2010, Les Contrabanditas (runners up in 2009) remain the only Montreal team to have yet won the tournament.

Rideau Valley ROller Gilrs logoRideau Valley Roller Girls

Slaughter Daughters

Riot Squad

Prime Sinisters

Although the Slaughter Daughters are the defending champions (and winners also in 2011), it is a very new roster that will take part in this year’s tournament. After last season, RVRG formed a new home team (the Prime Sinisters) and re-distributed their rosters. This is the fourth appearance for the Riot Squad and will mark the out-of-Ottawa debut for the Sinisters (they’ll debut at home against the Slaughter Daughters on April 12).

ToRD logoToronto Roller Derby

Death Track Dolls

Gore-Gore Rollergirls

Smoke City Betties

For the first time in Beast history, only three teams will represent Toronto Roller Derby in the tournament (the Chicks Ahoy! did not get selected this season). Last year’s third-place finishers, the Dolls (also third place in 2011) lead ToRD’s charge. The Gore-Gore Rollergirls were runners up in 2011, while the Betties have not cracked the final four since 2009.

Forest City logoForest City Derby Girls

Thames Fatales

Luscious Lunch Ladies

The Thames Fatales will join the Montreal and Toronto teams as the only participants in all seven Beast of the East tournaments. Last year, Thames made the quarter finals for the first time since 2010. The Lunch Ladies will be making their second consecutive appearance in the tournament.

Roller Derby Quebec logoRoller Derby Quebec

Le Rouge et Gore

Les Casse Gueules

Although they competed as Les Duchesses in 2011 and 2012, last year, RDQ divided its travel team into two home teams, both of whom made their Beast debuts. Le Rouge et Gore turned some heads with an impressive run to the quarterfinals. Les Casse Gueules will be looking for its first tournament win.

Durham Region Roller Derby LogoDurham Region Roller Derby

Atom Smashers

Motor City Madames

The Motor City Madames return to the Beast for the second time after an appearance in 2012. This time though, they’ll be joined by their leaguemates the Atom Smashers, who will be making their debut.

Royal City Roller Girls LogoRoyal City Roller Girls

Killer Queens

Guelph’s Royal City has its first representative at the Beast of the East as the Killer Queens, one of three Royal City home teams, makes its debut. Royal City will be the fifteenth league to take part in the tournament.

The Beast of the East will take place over two days beginning on April 26th. For more information stay tuned to Montreal Roller Derby’s website.

The Beast of Beasts: Daughters win second Beast in a thrilling tournament

Tommy Toxic's trophies are always a hilight of the tournament, but this year's were particularly beastly. (Photography by Joe Mac)

Tommy Toxic’s trophies are always a highlight of the tournament, but this year’s were particularly beastly. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Some things just get better with age. Like wine, cheese and scotch, Montreal Roller Derby’s annual Beast of the East just keeps on improving. While it could just speak to the age of the sport and overall development of the game, it also speaks to the strength, popularity and steady growth of roller derby in this region specifically. Despite the fact that the best players in the two biggest leagues represented (Montreal and Toronto) were not involved in the tournament (their talents were on display in a thrilling Friday night WFTDA showdown won by the New Skids on the Block 210-121), the competitive level and the display of skill far surpassed the expectations for a house league tournament.

The Slaughter Daughters accept their second Beast in three years. (Photo from the Slaughter Daughters Facebook page)

The Slaughter Daughters accept their second Beast in three years. (Photo from the Slaughter Daughters Facebook page)

It was a historic tournament on a historic date, and in the end it became a duel between the two most successful teams in the tournament’s history. In the process, MTLRD’s La Racaille became the first team to appear in four finals, while their opponents, Rideau Valley’s Slaughter Daughters joined the 2008-2010 La Racaille team as the only to reach three consecutive championship games, but then one-upped them by becoming the first ever repeat champion.

From the energy and consistency of the nearly perpetually capacity crowd, to the stunning displays of athleticism on the track, this 6th annual Beast certainly lived up to the moniker the Beast of Beasts.

ToRD's Chicks Ahoy! kicked off the tournament with a minor upset over Rideau Valley's Riot Squad. (Photo by Joe Mac)

ToRD’s Chicks Ahoy! kicked off the tournament with a minor upset over Rideau Valley’s Riot Squad. (Photo by Joe Mac)

DOUBLE ELIMINATION ROUND

A remarkable twenty games get played on the opening day of the Beast, and the tone was set when the tournament kicked off with a minor upset. The Chicks Ahoy!, ToRD’s most inexperienced team (playing short handed at that) managed to hold off Rideau Valley’s Riot Squad by 8 points. Remarkably, seven teams managed to top the century mark in the opening round as for the most part things went as expected early. The Slaughter Daughters dispatched two ToRD teams early on to advance straight through to the quarter finals (scoring over 100 points in both games including a 117-2 win over the Smoke City Betties), joined by Montreal teams Les Filles du Roi and La Racaille and ToRD’s Death Track Dolls as teams going 2-0 to advance. Even at this stage of the tournament it was clear that La Racaille and the Dolls were joining the Daughters at a level of play that was going to be hard to match. La Racaille also topped 100 points in both their openers, while the Dolls looked equally impressive dispatching Les Casse-Gueules and then shocking the hometown Contrabanditas 96-30 in a surprisingly one-sided win.

Vicious Dishes pivot Sofanda Beatin puts a hit on Filles du Roi jammer Beth Rave. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Vicious Dishes pivot Sofanda Beatin puts a hit on Filles du Roi jammer Beth Rave. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The rebuilding Vicious Dishes became the first defending champion not only to lose in the first round, but were actually the first team eliminated from the tournament when they lost to the Riot Squad. First timers from Quebec, Les Casse-Gueules, and London, the Luscious Lunch Ladies, also fell 0-2 to be eliminated, joined by five-time participants, the Derby Debutantes, who have yet to make it past the first round in their history at the event.

The final four elimination games lived up to the expectations, all providing thrillingly competitive action. The Chicks Ahoy! concluded their surprising tournament by giving the far more experienced Thames Fatales all that they could handle before falling 53-46. It took a while, but Les Contrabanditas were able to hold off the Riot Squad 86-57 and the TKOs eliminated the Gore-Gore Rollergirls in a scrappy, penalty-filled affair that seemed closer than the 85-42 score indicated. Finally, rookie participants from Quebec, Le Rouge et Gore, pulled off the stunner of the tournament, holding off a shocked Smoke City Betties teams 58-56 in the closing game of the opening day, and arguably the most emotional win of the tournament.

ToRD's Death Track Dolls picked up momentum early in the tournament and carried it all the way through. (Photo by Joe Mac)

ToRD’s Death Track Dolls picked up momentum early in the tournament and carried it all the way through. (Photo by Joe Mac)

KNOCKOUT ROUND

Quarterfinals

By the time the quarterfinals rolled around, three teams, at least, had clearly distanced themselves from the pack. While Les Filles du Roi were able to dispatch Le Rouge et Gore 76-17, it was the performances in the other quarterfinals that truly impressed. La Racaille simply overwhelmed their leaguemates Les Contrabanditas (117-64), while the Daughters slaughtered the Thames Fatales 113-31 (with only a 29-0 four minute run midway through closing the gap for the Thames), and ToRD’s Dolls, despite major penalty trouble, rode some phenomenal power killing to a 79-35 win over the surging TKOs.

Semifinals

Photo from Slaughter Daughters Facebook page.

2013 Beast champs the Slaughter Daughters flanked by 2nd place La Racaille and 3rd place Death Track Dolls. (Photo from Slaughter Daughters Facebook page)

In the opener, Les Filles du Roi played their absolute best derby of the tournament. With La Racaille leading 50-9 and seemingly on cruise control, Les Filles mounted a major comeback, completely flipping the table to outscore their leaguemates 51-10 the rest of the way and set up a final jam with the score tied at 60. An FDR jammer penalty on the first pass sealed the deal and La Racaille picked up 25 to win 85-60. In the other semifinal, the Dolls and Daughters engaged in one of the hardest hitting bouts of the tournament with blockers from both teams providing their entries for hit of the tournament, while the Daughters ended up pulling away in the end (it was 26-24 at the midway point) to win the thrilling game by 28 (68-40).

Finals

The Dolls shook off their semifinal loss to compose themselves and come back and dominate Les Filles du Roi 136-29 in the third place game, completing an impressive tournament and earning them third place honours for the second time in three years. The historic final matchup (this year extended to two twenty minute halves) started off incredibly tight with La Racaille playing some of their best derby to keep pace with the Daughters, down only 2, 43-41 at the half. While La Racaille were able to keep pace, they could never dictate it, and eventually the relentless Daughters, who had the deepest bench in the tournament, inched ahead before pulling away for good at the end, holding on for a 103-74 victory to become the first ever two-time Beast of the East champions.

The Dolls' Rainbow Fight (right, warming up with Santilly In Yo Face) was virtually unpassable as a blocker and unstoppable as a jammer. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The Dolls’ Rainbow Fight (right, warming up with Santilly In Yo Face) was virtually unpassable as a blocker and unstoppable as a jammer. (Photo by Joe Mac)

NERD’S PICKS

MVP: Rainbow Fight (Death Track Dolls)

The continued development and depth of the Slaughter Daughters knocks Hanna Murphy (formerly Semi-Precious) off the perch she’s held for the past two years. Not that she’s not still worthy, but the play of skaters like Eh Nihilator (finals MVP), Margaret Choke, Da Big Block, Sister Disaster and others have risen to a more equal level (no doubt pulled up by the continuous excellence of Murphy). And certainly a few other skaters warrant consideration with the exceptional Mel E Juana leading the way (Sofanda Beatin looked strong early but her Vicious Dishes only played two games). But this weekend, Rainbow Fight emerged as a powerhouse in the sport (those who saw her dominate on the smaller scale of last year’s RDAC Atlantics aren’t surprised).  Virtually unpassable as a blocker/pivot, Rainbow also could win the argument for top jammer on the Dolls, if not in the tournament: handed the star whenever her team needed a shift in momentum, she consistently delivered. On a Dolls team loaded with individual talent, Rainbow Fight still managed to stand out.

Breakout Player: Miracle Whips (Les Contrabanditas)

Miracle Whips jamming against the Thames Fatales. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Miracle Whips jamming against the Thames Fatales. (Photo by Joe Mac)

There were a handful of players in contention here. Beth Rave and Demanda Lashing stepped up for Les Filles du Roi in a big way, and Nana Bistouri was a huge reason behind the surprising success of the Le Rouge et Gore, while it’s easy to forget that Ova Kill is only in her second year with the TKOs, and rookie Kindree Surprise seems to be the centerpiece of a rebuilding Thames Fatales offense; however, there is no new player who had a bigger impact on her team than Miracle Whips. A star at last year’s Fresh and Furious rookie tournament in Toronto, the argument could be made that there was no single player who was more important for her team all weekend. The rebuilding Contrabanditas were constantly buoyed by the consistent play of Whips who almost single-handedly gave them a boost whenever things seemed about to get out of hand.

Le Rouge et Gore made it all the way to a quarterfinal bout against La Racaille in their first Beast. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Le Rouge et Gore made it all the way to a quarterfinal bout against La Racaille in their first Beast. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Breakout Team: Le Rouge et Gore (Roller Derby Quebec)

For the second year in a row, this was a pretty easy selection. From their record-setting performance against the Derby Debutantes (most points scored by a single team, 159, and most combined points in a 20 minute BOE game, 191), to their stunning upset over the Smoke City Betties (58-56 in a must-win elimination game), Le Rouge et Gore proved to be a team to watch in a league on the rise. From the clutch jamming of Nana Bistouri to the relentless pounding of Mobydith to the depth provided by Dina Myth and Douche Nuken, this Rouge et Gore team more importantly displayed a spirit of perseverance that was impossible to ignore.

** For the fourth season in a row, Canuck Derby TV broadcast all of the action live, and you can relive it here at the archives.

**The Nerd would like to extend a special thanks to Montreal Roller Derby once again, and also to the crew (production and announcing) at Canuck Derby TV led by Dr. Johnny Capote.

2013 Beast of the East Falls on Historic Date

The 6th Beast of the East happens to fall on the 10th anniversary of the first official flat track roller derby game.

The 6th Beast of the East happens to fall on the 10th anniversary of the first official flat track roller derby game.

In derby time, it’s been forever.

In derby time, it’s been eons since flat track roller derby first took shape. There have been massive, glacial shifts in the attitude of the sport, in the collective goals and aspirations of its participants. There have been evolutionary developments in the game itself, as flat track roller derby has gone from being a secondary offshoot of a dying sport to the dominant style of play in the fastest growing game in the world; its gone from being a DIY feminist-punk movement to a globally competitive sport.

In derby time, it’s been forever. In real time, it’s been 10 years.

On April 27th, 2003, the first official game of flat track roller derby was played. The roots of the sport, of course, run deep and date all the way back to the 1930s and even earlier, but on that Saturday in Austin, Texas, The Texas Rollergirls committed to the flat track and kicked off their inaugural season by blowing the opening whistle on the ruleset that would eventually form the basis of the WFTDA rules that we play under today.

It seems fitting somehow, that the opening day of the 6th annual Beast of the East falls on the historic 10th anniversary of this seminal event. Montreal Roller Derby’s Beast of the East is the original tournament in Canadian roller derby, and is the last major tournament in the sport that features house league teams exclusively. Its importance in the development of roller derby in this country, and in its continued celebration of both the spirit and the sport of the game, cannot be denied.

Forest City's Thames Fatales (6th) and Luscious Lunch Ladies (1st) will both be appearing at the Beast. (Photo by Derek Lang)

Forest City’s Thames Fatales (6th appearance) and Luscious Lunch Ladies (1st) will both be appearing at the Beast. (Photo by Derek Lang)

THE COMPETITION

Two days, sixteen teams, twenty-eight games, eastern Canadian house league domination on the line. Of the participants, eight of the teams have participated in every single BOE tournament since 2008 (Forest City’s Thames Fatales join the four ToRD and three MTLRD teams as original participants), while the Derby Debutantes (GTAR), the defending champion Vicious Dishes (TCRG) and 2011 champs the Slaughter Daughters have been involved since 2009. After a year off, both RVRG’s the Riot Squad (third appearance) and TCRG’s Total Knock-Outs (second) return to the tournament representing house leagues whose other representatives have won the last two events.

Finally, three teams will be making their debuts, but all three play in leagues that have strong ties to the tournament. Roller Derby Quebec has been represented in the last two tournaments by Les Duchesses, which is now a travel team supported by two house teams, Les Casse-Gueules and Le Rouge et Gores, who will both be making their tournament debuts. The Luscious Lunch Ladies will also be debuting, representing London, Ontario’s, Forest City Derby Girls. This is actually the third London team to play in the Beast after the now defunct London Thrashers accompanied the Thames Fatales in 2008.

The Slaughter Daughters defeated the Gore-Gore Rollergirls in the 2011 final and are the favourites heading in to the tournament. (Photo by Derek Lang)

The Slaughter Daughters defeated the Gore-Gore Rollergirls in the 2011 final and are the favourites heading in to the tournament. (Photo by Derek Lang)

THE EXPECTATIONS

In the first three years of the tournament, Montreal Roller Derby dominated, placing all three of the league’s teams in the final four. Then, as the roster of Canada’s top team, the New Skids on the Block, left those teams, the field suddenly opened up. In 2011, while Rideau Valley’s Slaughter Daughters would win the wildest final in tournament history (watch the final jam here), this edition of the event was dominated by ToRD, whose teams finished in the second through fourth place spots. Last year there was true parity finally, as the final four teams would represent four different leagues with the defending champion Slaughter Daughters figuring prominently once again, falling in the final to the Vicious Dishes.  That Daughters team would follow MTLRD’s La Racaille as the only team to reach back-to-back finals. La Racaille actually qualified for the first three finals of the tournament’s history (2008-2010, winning in 2009), a feat that the Daughters could—and should—match in 2013.

However, the bigger story of the tournament could be the return of Montreal as a house league power. This is the third year of the house league’s rebuild and after the decimation of the 2011, they fared well last year with all three teams making it to the quarterfinals, and La Racaille finishing in the fourth spot.  With La Racaille winning MTLRD’s preseason round robin tournament, look for them to lead the charge, facing potential challenges along the route from Tri-City’s TKOs and ToRD’s Death Track Dolls. Montreal could easily send three teams back to the final four for the first time in two years.

La Racaille won MTLRD's preseason round robin tournament and could lead a Montreal return to power at the Beast. (Recap photography by Sean Murphy)

La Racaille won MTLRD’s preseason round robin tournament and could lead a Montreal return to power at the Beast. (Recap photography by Sean Murphy)

ToRD could face the same drop off this season as Montreal did in 2011. With the majority of CN Power skaters now playing exclusively for that team, the ToRD house league teams are rebuilding. Chicks Ahoy! who’ve been power houses in the last two tournaments (4th and 3rd place finishes) were the most affected and could be done on day one (although a favourable draw and some strong play could seen them sneak into a Sunday matchup against the Daughters); the Gore-Gore Rollergirls also could be done early, the victims of a tough draw that will see them open against the Slaughter Daughters. Look for the Death Track Dolls and 2012 quarterfinalists the Smoke City Betties to carry the torch for Toronto and should both score final eight spots.

Speaking of change, last year’s champs the Vicious Dishes have gone through a massive roster change up and recently lost to the TKOs in an interleague showdown, showing that they may not be ready to defend their title, and that the TKOs could be the team to watch from Tri-City, and should make it to the quarterfinals. With the Quebec teams lacking experience, Thames Fatales and the Lunch Ladies rebuilding, the story of this tournament should once again be the Slaughter Daughters. Boasting a number of skaters from the travel team Vixens, the Daughters are poised to join the 2008-2010 La Racaille as the only teams to reach three straight finals (actually, don’t be surprised to see these teams face off against each other in the final)

On that historic night ten years ago in Austin, two of the sport’s first housleague teams, the Hotrod Honeys and Honky Tonk Heartbreakers took to the track for the initial game of flat track roller derby. Thousands of kilometres away and ten years after the fact, Rideau Valley’s Riot Squad and ToRD’s Chicks Ahoy! will kick off the Beast of the East and carry on a tradition that though still young, has come a long way in a short period of time.Canuck Derby TV logo

* On Friday night, ToRD’s CN Power will take on MTLRD’s New Skids on the Block in a WFTDA showdown.

* All of the BOE 2013 will be boutcast live by Canuck Derby TV. Tune in starting at 8:00 AM (EST) on Saturday, April 27th, to catch all 28 games.

* Catch up on the history of the Beast of the East here.