Monichrome

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.

Dolls and Betties Tussle for a Playoff Spot

The Dolls took the last year's meeting between these two teams, 213-53.

Death Track Dolls (0-1) vs. Smoke City Betties (0-1)

In 2011 there are no playoffs for the ToRD’s 4th place team, which means that starting the season 0-2 could potentially end the championship dreams of either the Smoke City Betties or the Death Track Dolls. But playoff hopes aside, there is a lot more at stake for these two teams at this early stage of the year; namely, pride. Both teams entered 2011 with high hopes. After a year of being the league’s doormat, the Betties drafted for experience and relied on the memories of all those painful 2010 learning experiences to drive them forward into a new era. The Dolls, who had recently gone through growing pains of their own, competed in 2010, going toe-to-toe with Battle for the Boot finalists the Chicks until the second half of last season’s semifinal; nonetheless, with the least amount of roster change this off season, hopes were high.

So it was met with great disappointment when both of these teams struggled out of the gate. The Dolls looked flat in their bout against a Gore-Gore Rollergirls squad loaded with rookies (though they managed some inspired pushes at various moments), while the Betties looked far from unified in their effort against the Chicks Ahoy! relying on the strong individual play of a few key players to keep them in it at all. Needless to say, both teams will be looking for a lot more in this one.

The Dolls will rely on their veteran pivots to control the packs and keep things tight. (photo by Sean Murphy)

THE DOLLS WIN IF…

They play a smart (clean) and simple game. That worked for the Chicks against the Betties and there is no reason to think that it won’t again. A big part of the reason that the Dolls looked overmatched in their season opener was due to a tendency to continue to play an individual game. While this won’t be as big of an issue against the Betties as it was against the ultra-organized Gores, if the Dolls want to take that next step in the competitive ladder, they are going to have to step it up and buy into the types of systems that separate the top teams from the bottom. Following the leads of experienced pivots Panty Hoser, Monichrome and Dolly Parts’ Em will be key. They’ll also have to play a fairly clean bout as well, and their 32 minors against the Gores was only three less than the amount the Betties picked up against the Chicks.

Betty Bomber has become a key jammer for the Dolls, but her presence in the pack is missed. (photo by Kevin Konnyu)

Offense could be the most interesting story in this one. The Dolls jammers ate up the Betties last season, with Land Shark, Betty Bomber and Audrey Hellborn all putting up big numbers. Hellborn’s out for the season and they have yet to find a suitable replacement for her: combined, Sharky and Bomber had the star for an amazing 90% of their team’s jams against the Gores. Remarkably, they seemed to hold up well under the pressure. Land Shark had a comparatively inconsistent season in 2010, but was back to her old self against the Gores, leading the offense as her team’s top rated jammer, scoring 24 points (1.04 PPJ) and managing a 43% lead percentage against formidable opposition. But not having much depth at the position means that Bomber, who is also important in the pack, is stuck playing a one-role game.

Betties vets like Pretty Peeved will be key in getting this team back on track. (photo by Sean Murphy)

THE BETTIES WIN IF…

Well…It’s not quite as simple for the Betties.

In a pre-season interview, when asked about the Betties, Dolls co-captain Betty Bomber said with confidence that “as long as [the Betties] can work together, they will be a team to look out for this season.” Portentous foreshadowing that didn’t play out in the season opener but could become a reality at any time. With an abundance of individual talent, the Betties need to put those pieces together in a unified effort; the Chicks dominated the pack against the Betties, and were unmatched in their walls and isolation strategies. But this Betties team was like a sponge last year, soaking up knowledge in the face of defeat, and that attitude seemed to persist after the opener this year: in post-bout interviews with ToRD.TV both Bruiseberry Pie and Sail Her Poon cited better pack strategies as a key for this team moving forward. It seems that the Betties need to define roles for themselves on the track and on the team, but determined play from veteran pivot Pretty Peeved and jammer Memphis Kitty is hopeful.

Sail Her Poon clears a path for titmouse during their 2011 season opener. (photo by Derek Lang)

While defensively, they held the Chicks to significantly less than the 266 points they managed last year, they were unable to generate any offense. Only Memphis Kitty managed to hit double digits (11 points—she was also the only jammer to manage over 30 % lead percentage). But a little help from a more-together pack could help titmouse continue to build on the invaluable experience she has been gaining with CN Power in 2011 (including a spirited effort against the Skids at the QCC). Sail Her Poon (who had a strong bout but didn’t jam against the Chicks) also has been jamming with the All Stars and managed some measure of success jamming against the Dolls last season, scoring 13 points. Tropic Thunder was also effective against the Dolls in 2010, leading the Betties in scoring with 18 points. While both she and Poon each managed only a 17% lead percentage, upon closer inspection you can see that those two were consistently matched against the Dolls’ top three jammers (Bomber, Land Shark and the currently injured Audrey Hellborn), making leads a hard thing to come by for the rookie jammers.

***Tickets for the April 16 bout are available online or at a number of downtown vendors. Doors at the Hangar open at 6:30 p.m., opening whistle at 7:30.

ToRD.TV sets up the bout with Dolls veteran (and ToRD.TV personality) Monichrome: