Rideau Valley Rollergirls

Lay of the Land: Where Canadian Teams Stand Midway Through WFTDA Season

The Nerd breaks down the rankings and records of Canada’s top WFTDA teams as the playoff push continues.

DIVISION 1

All four Canadian D1 teams have seen considerable action this season, and at the midway point, all seem fairly secure in their D1 status for the season. Barring any disastrous summers, the next few months should be dedicated to improving placement.

Photo by Bob Ayers (from TCRG All Stars home page)Terminal City All Stars

Current Ranking: 17th / 2015 Record: 4-0

Terminal City is officially the top team in the nation, but they have not in any way distanced themselves from Montreal and Toronto. Impressive wins over Helsinki and Nashville to kick off the season were followed by the narrow streak-stopping victory over Montreal (182-177) and an even narrower win over Boston (177-174). Interestingly, despite the loss to Vancouver, Montreal has better results against Nashville and Helsinki, and Toronto has a better result against Boston but lost (barely) to Montreal. It seems that there is nothing really separating Canada’s top three teams right now.

The Terminal City roster returns largely unchanged from last season but there have definitely been internal shifts, with the likes of Eve Hollows and Sundown taking on more on-track leadership and Maiden Sane rising to the top of the jammer rotation.

Next up for Terminal City are Wasatch (39th) and Rocky Mountain (14th) at Besterns on May 29th.

Photo by Ulrick Wery (from Skids home page)

Montreal Roller Derby: New Skids on the Block

Current Ranking: 20th / 2015 Record: 4-1

Montreal started the season very well holding off frantic pushes from both Rideau Valley (166-140) and Toronto (180-171) before handling Nashville and Helsinki with relative ease and then suffering the team’s first ever defeat to a Canadian team in the last-minute loss to Terminal City.

Montreal is going through a minor rebuild this season from the bench staff right through to the jammer rotation. And while skaters like Ohi(0) and Demanda Lashing in the pack and Falcon Punch with the star have emerged as prominent pieces, there is still a very experienced core at the heart of this team that includes Jess Bandit, Mange Moi El Cul, Cheese Grater and Mel E. Juana.

The Skids have a busy June coming up with tough games against Boston (21st), Stockholm (32nd), and a tumbling Windy City (13th) scheduled.

CNPOWER 2015

Toronto Roller Derby: CN Power

Current Ranking: 24th / 2015 Record: 4-3

Toronto has been very busy so far this season and despite a considerable roster shuffle in the off season has looked strong in 2015. An impressive three-game winning streak over Rideau Valley, Steel City and Boston built up CN Power’s confidence going into a showdown with long-time rival Montreal, a game they led most of the way before losing narrowly. An up-and-down Spring Roll saw them sneak by Kansas City (191-188) before strong performances in losses to higher ranked Arch Rival (18th currently) and the surging Dallas Derby Devils, who have jumped 31 spots in the standings so far this season.

Toronto, largely, has a new-look jammer rotation with transfers Mad Megz, Smoka Cola, and Bay Street Bruisers graduate Bellefast all in the top four of the depth chart. Blocking, Misery Mae has added some much-needed power to the pack while Ames to Kill has emerged as a more-than-capable team leader.

Toronto faces some old (and also rebuilding) rivals in Naptown (35th) and Ohio (22nd) next.

vixens2014_logo-resize

Rideau Valley Vixens

Current Ranking: 34th / 2015 Record: 3-4

The Vixens remain somewhat of an enigma. Although their record speaks to the quality of competition the team has faced in 2015, they have had some inconsistent results. Starting the season with a big win over Steel City, Rideau Valley looked very good in losses to the higher ranked Toronto (32 point loss), Boston (23) and Montreal (26), they then crushed Green Mountain and held off a cagey Tri-City before coming up flat in a loss to Queen City (a team that, to be fair, has often seemed to baffle the Vixens—for whatever reason).

While the Vixens have been slowly extending their bench (and the B-Team Sirens are developing well), depth remains a problem. Skaters like Jamie’s Got a Gun (who has transitioned nicely from the junior to the senior game) and Restless Ross are taking on more responsibility in the pack, but they still have problems at the jammer position. With Shania Pain once again missing most of the summer schedule, they have yet to find a consistent third jammer capable of replacing her at this level, a gap that was evident in the loss to Queen City.

The Vixens do, so far, have a quiet summer planned, but have a very important showdown scheduled against Baltimore’s Charm City in July.

DIVISION 2

Canada has two teams securely in Division 2 playoff spots, and although both would love to advance to D1 by the season’s end (and it remains a possibility), either team could do some serious damage in the D2 playoffs and would both be considered contenders if they remained.

Photo by Brangwyn Jones from CRDA All Stars home page

Calgary Roller Derby Association All Stars

Current Ranking: 43rd / 2015 Record: 3-6

A very busy Calgary team is getting a crash-course in how hard it is to stay competitive in WFTDA’s Division 1. The darlings of the Association last season (built upon a record-setting surge up the standings), Calgary briefly slipped into D1 early in 2015 before settling back high in the D2 standings. Calgary hasn’t yet managed the big wins this season as they’ve faced some stiff competition, losing one-sided decisions to strong teams from Arizona, Jacksonville, Arch Rival and Dallas. However, most surprising was their recent loss to 54th ranked Tri-City (208-196) in a thrilling game between the cross-nation teams.

Calgary retains its core after last year’s run up the rankings and their jammer rotation (led by Team Canada’s Kryss Myass) has been shored up by the strong play of Mulan Bruise and Easy Break Oven.

Calgary awaits its schedule for Beach Brawl 2015 in June, and also has yet to announce an opponent for a June 6th home game.

TCRD travel team 2015

Tri-City Thunder

Current Ranking: 54th / 2015 Record: 6-2

After a seemingly ominously auspices start to the 2015 season (a one-sided loss to a rebuilding Ohio), Tri-City has turned its fortunes around and anchored by a solidly rebuilt jammer rotation has won six of the last seven games to all-but-secure a spot in the D2s once again (they were in the D1 playoffs last season, but the D2s in 2013). The only loss in that run was to the higher-ranked Rideau Valley (186-156) and included considerable upsets over Calgary (43rd) and Queen City (30th).

Changes all around have helped to shore up Tri-City’s game. Recent transfers Andy Slamberg and Anne Tastic join Fox Hadley, Wylde Leigh Coyote, and Fraxxure in a deep pack, while the jammer rotation has been completely rebuilt around transfers Honey Badger and Crazy Squirrel (with double threat AnneX providing the most consistent relief with the star).

Up next is a tough June meeting against 45th ranked Chicago Outfit in Chi-town.

THE BEST OF THE REST

The rest of Canada’s WFTDA teams are either currently unranked due to lack of sanctioned games (Muddy River and Winnipeg, for example, who both just picked up a handful of games after strong performances at Mayday Mayhem and will enter the rankings shortly) or have either fallen far out of D2 (Hamilton continues its slide, down now to 141st) or haven’t yet climbed their way into it (Forest City, for example, whose inconsistency has them still hovering at 136th).

However, the best of the rest is easily the Royal City Roller Girls’ Brute-Leggers, who after winning their first three sanctioned bouts, have leap-frogged the rest of the Canadian competition to find themselves ranked 105th and on the cusp of Division 2. The Brute-Leggers’ next sanctioned action comes in June at ECDX where they will square off against Salisbury (107th) and Connecticut (112th). It will easily be the stiffest test the team will have faced yet in sanctioned play, but they are both winnable games that provide a quality opportunity to build on what has been an incredibly successful start to their WFTDA run.

Nerd Glasses

*I’ll be at the Bunker in Downsview Park this weekend working with Rogers TV to broadcast Toronto Roller Derby’s playoffs! After their quarterfinal win on May 9th, the Smoke City Betties have advanced to take on the defending champion Death Track Dolls for an opportunity to play in this year’s Battle For the Boot. The night will begin with the D-VAS hosting Royal City’s Our Ladies of Pain (5:00 PM), with opening whistle for the semifinal scheduled for 7:00 PM. Tickets are now available.

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Busy Weekend for Canada’s WFTDA Teams: Montreal, Toronto, Tri-City and Rideau Valley in Action

Montreal heads to the West Coast on an important three-game road trip; Toronto and Tri-City head to the Mid West for Spring Roll; and Rideau Valley heads to the East Coast.

Montreal Heads West

Montreal's Honey Badger tries to get passed Toronto's Ames to Kill and Mega Bouche in a March matchup up in Toronto. Montreal won 233-216. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Montreal’s Honey Badger tries to get passed Toronto’s Ames to Kill and Mega Bouche in a March matchup up in Toronto. Montreal won 233-216. (Photo by Greg Russell)

As the spring crawls toward summer, the WFTDA schedule is ramping up as teams jockey for playoff positions or, in the case of Division 2 teams, simply fight for a playoff spot. Fans of Canadian derby get a little bit of everything this weekend as four of the nation’s top five teams are all in action.

First off, Montreal (currently ranked 12th after moving up a few spots in the most recent rankings) head to the West Coast for an important three-game road trip all against Top 20 teams. They kick things off with a game against Seattle’s Rat City on Friday night. It was February 2011 when these two teams first faced off, with Montreal recording an at-the-time shocking 110-103 win. It would announce Montreal’s reaching the highest level of competitive play: a level they have stayed at since. They will continue their challenging road trip with games against Rose City in Portland and then the Oly Rollers in Olympia.

Montreal is off to a great start in 2014 with a 4-0 record that includes two victories in a home-and-home series against Toronto. Rat City (ranked 18th) crushed Sacred City 444-58 in their season opener, while Rose City (5th) is 3-1 in WFTDA play with 300+ point victories over Kansas City and Treasure Valley, and a tight 252-199 win over Philly. Their loss came at the hands of Texas (274-194). Montreal will end the weekend against the Oly Rollers who return to WFTDA after focusing on USARS last season. Oly is a team largely rebuilt from its run to the 2012 WFTDA championship game, and has had a rough return so far with a pretty one-sided win over Treasure Valley being followed by un upset loss to Vancouver’s Terminal City (139-130) and a 263-140 loss to Rose City.

Toronto and Tri-City At Spring Roll in Fort Wayne

Toronto (23rd) and Tri-City (40th) will both be heading to Fort Wayne for this Spring Roll 2014 Banneryear’s Spring Roll. Both play their first games on Saturday with Tri-City (3-5 on the season with wins over Ft. Myers and Queen City and losses to teams including Detroit and Naptown) kicking things off against Everett, Washington’s, Jet City (36th), while later in the day they’ll have the privilege of playing a cross-ocean opponent in Glasgow (ranked 104 and who are coming off of a season-opening loss to Cardiff’s Tiger Bay Brawlers). Tri-City will close out the weekend on Sunday against New Orleans’ Big Easy Rollergirls (82nd). Tri-City recently slipped into Division 1 and this weekend’s favourable draw gives them an opportunity to at least hold that (and perhaps even increase it with a win over a beatable Jet City team).

Toronto finds itself attempting to slow an early season slide. They peaked at 13th in the WFTDA after opening the year with two wins but have since dropped eight in a row (to tough opponents including Monteal, Rocky Mountain and London). This weekend gives them an opportunity to, at the very least, hold their position. They’ll face off against a surging Jacksonville on Saturday (16th), a team on the exact opposite trajectory as Toronto at this point in the season; it will be a good challenge, especially after they showed signs of improvement in losses last weekend to Pittsburgh and Atlanta. Toronto also has two games on Sunday, starting with Jet City (36th) and concluding with a matchup against Cincinnati (56th), a team that beat Toronto by only 20 points last year but that has been on a freefall since, and could even be in danger of losing a spot in the D-2 playoffs at this rate.

All games will be boutcast. You can find the complete schedule here.

Rideau Valley Vixens Head East

Finally, Ottawa’s Rideau Valley Vixens (64th) will be on the road to take on Maine Roller Derby’s Port Authorities (72nd) on Saturday night. Rideau Valley jumped five spots in the current ranking after knocking off DC on the road in their season opener. Rideau Valley is on the cusp of a D-2 playoff spot and a convincing win over Maine (who beat Rideau Valley last season by 35 points [187-152]) would help the push for a position. Maine is not a team to take lightly though. After tumbling badly in 2013, they have had a hot start this season, jumping 9 positions so far in 2014 on the strength of their 5-1 record.

Maine and Rideau Valley met last year with Maine picking up the 35-point win.

Beast of the East 7: A Preview of BOE 2014

Two days, sixteen teams, twenty-six games, and one winner. The 2014 Beast of the East promises excitement and unpredictability.

BEAST 2014 posterThe seventh annual Beast of the East comes at an exciting time in eastern Canadian roller derby history, and specifically in Ontario and Quebec’s history. Ontario alone now has eight full WFTDA member leagues (three of whom will be represented at the tournament). On top of that, Toronto is now ranked in the Top 20 (although that may change in the next rankings), Tri-City remains on the cusp of Division 1, and both Rideau Valley and Hammer City have more-than-valid shots at a place in this year’s D-2 playoff tournament. These are, indeed, boom times, and when there is such consistent competition at the top, it inevitably filters down through all ranks of the sport.

The great charm of the double-elimination Beast of the East is that it is exclusively a house league tournament, featuring the future (and even some current) stars of the sport in the region. This year, seven teams will be playing in their seventh Beast (Forest City’s Thames Fatales, the three Montreal teams and Toronto’s three representatives were all competitors in the original Beast), while another (Rideau Valley’s Slaughter Daughters) will be in its sixth. Added to that mix of experience will be a contingent of new teams and leagues as well: Four teams will be making their second appearance, and two will be debutantes: the Killer Queens will be the first representatives from Guelph’s Royal City Roller Girls to make an appearance, while Durham Region’s Atom Smashers will join their leaguemates, the Motor City Madames, who will play in their second tournament.

These teams will have a lot to live up to, as by most accounts, last year’s tournament was the best of the bunch, featuring the highest level of competition the tournament had ever seen.

The 2013 Beast was also a tournament of firsts:

THE CONTENDERS

Least year's champs, the Slaughter Daughters, have gone through a major off-season overhaul.

Least year’s champs, the Slaughter Daughters, have gone through a major off-season overhaul.

If you look at the history of this tournament, it has been one dominated by three leagues. From 2008-2010 the hosts placed nine teams in the Top 3 (peaking in 2010 when the Montreal home teams ran the board). But since that time, only La Racaille (second last year) has medaled. The only other league to come close to this level is Toronto, who has had five medalists over the years. And finally, Rideau Valley’s Slaughter Daughters have absolutely dominated the past three tournaments, winning two and losing in the final of the other.

Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

After a few years of struggling to place teams, Montreal showed signs last year that they are ready for the top once again. All three teams are potential contenders, with winners of the recent MTLRD round-robin kick off tournament Les Contrabanditas leading the way (they remain the only host team to yet win the Beast). But that tournament was tight (La Racaille only lost to the Ditas by 3 points), and all three are viable threats.

Toronto Roller Derby has also become a perennial contender with both the Death Track Dolls and Chicks Ahoy! picking up top three finishes in the past three years. While the Chicks (currently tied for second in ToRD’s house league) won’t be in this year’s tournament, the defending ToRD champs the Dolls will be back along with a resurgent Gore-Gore Rollergirls (who have underachieved since a heartbreaking loss in the 2011 championship game). Both should be considered threats.

The biggest (and most exciting) off-season change in Ontario roller derby was the reshuffling of Rideau Valley’s house league into three teams, two of whom, have to be considered contenders. The Prime Sinisters and the Riot Squad are both loaded with talent including many members of RVRG’s A-level travel team, the Vixens. While neither is quite the juggernaut that the Daughters were, they are both threats in this tournament.

THE DARK HORSES

Durham Region's Atom Smashers will be making their debuts and could turn a few heads.

Durham Region’s Atom Smashers will be making their debuts and could turn a few heads.

After last year’s thrilling run to the quarterfinals (including a last gasp 2-point victory in a must-win game against Toronto’s Smoke City Betties), no one should be surprised by the strength of Roller Derby Quebec’s Rouge et Gore. Nine members of the team form the core of the RDQ’s travel team, Les Duchesses, add coach (and member of Canada’s National Men’s Team) El Tennant to the bench, and this is a team that has a lot of track experience. Emboldened by last year’s run to the final eight, they should be a team to watch this year as well.

One team that may be off of people’s radars is Durham Region’s Atom Smashers. The Smashers are a team that features a nice balance of veterans (including former and current Toronto skaters in Amefyst and Lucid Lou, who appeared in this tournament with the Death Track Dolls for years) and up-and-coming stars. They have dominated Durham Region the last two years, winning the Gibson’s Cup twice (DRRD’s championship) and compiling an 11-2 record over that time.

NERD’S PICKS

This will be Riot Squad's fourth appearance in the tournament, but their best shot at winning it.

This will be Riot Squad’s fourth appearance in the tournament, but their best shot at winning it.

This year’s tournament feels particularly wide open, and given the unpredictable nature of the 20-minute format, making predictions sometimes seems like an exercise in futility. Nonetheless, the Nerd sees a final eight consisting of the three Montreal teams, Toronto’s Dolls and Gores, Rideau Valley’s Riot Squad and Prime Sinisters and Quebec’s Rouge et Gore, with a potential Sinisters vs. Riot Squad showdown in there as well.

On paper, these two Rideau Valley teams are virtually equal, and given the amount of collective experience on the two rosters, both should be considered top contenders to take top spot. Although the edge in depth may go to the Sinisters, the slightest edge in experience at the top could be given to the Riot Squad.

Of course, predictions are meaningless once the whistle blows. And first whistle blows at 8:00 AM on Saturday.

***The tournament will be boutcast (at least some of the tournament: stay tuned to the event page for further details and schedule).

***Tomorrow the Nerd looks at Friday night’s CN Power / New Skids on the Block showdown.

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.

Beast of the East 5: Preview

The nature of the Beast is changing.

Montreal’s wildly popular annual Beast of the East tournament will be played out for the fifth time this weekend at Arena St. Louis. In the beginning, this tournament acted as a showcase of Eastern Canada’s top hometeams. All fifteen teams in the region took part in the first tournament in 2008, and Queen City’s Devil Dollies (Buffalo) were brought in to fill out the 16-team bracket. Once again in 2010 an American team (Vermont’s Green Mountain Derby Dames) were brought in to fill out the bracket. But around that time there was an explosion of derby happening all across North America: the post Whip It second wave of derby expansion that has continued unabated. Remarkably, it has only been two years since there weren’t quite 16 Eastern teams prepared to play in the tournament. Well, times certainly have changed.

With upward of 25 distinct leagues operating in Ontario and a major boom happening in the Atlantic provinces, finding 16 teams to play in the Beast of the East is certainly no longer a problem, limiting the number to 16, on the other hand, is a new challenge. While spaces were held for the eight teams that had taken part in every tournament, and an additional one held for the defending champions, for the first time in the tournament’s half-decade history a lottery had to be performed to determine which teams would fill out the rest of the bracket. This lead to an interesting mix of participating teams, ranging from the very experienced, to the very new. While this system may not have produced the most competitive tournament, it has successfully succeeded in continuing what has always been the underlying importance of the tournament: the idea of developing the competitive level of the Eastern Canadian hometeams. It’s an opportunity for some of our nation’s best skaters to face against some of our nation’s newest.

THE COMPETITION

Rideau Valley's Slaughter Daughters defeated Toronto's Gore-Gore Rollergirls in last year's final. (Photo by Derek Lang)

Last year, because of Montreal’s 2011 travel-team realignment, it was widely known that the defending champion Les Filles du Roi (with an almost unrecognizable roster) would be hard pressed to repeat as champions; it left the field wide open. In 2012, the defending champion Slaughter Daughters are not facing the same kind of impossible odds, though they do have to contend with history: no team has successfully defended the Beast championship (La Racaille appeared in the first three finals, winning in 2009). The Daughters have suffered some big roster losses, but have gained some new skaters as well, and retain the core that carried them through last year’s stunning victory.

Toronto Roller Derby will be represented by all four hometeams, three of whom appeared in last year’s final four; the teams look strong again this year, and based on very early action in the 2012 ToRD season, the Smoke City Betties look the strongest that they have looked since their exciting run to the semifinals in 2009. Although all three Montreal teams appeared in the quarterfinals last year, none made it any further, the first time that has happened at the tournament. With one more year of experience under their belts, expect the host teams to look to change that. The final invited team is Forest City’s Thames Fatales. Although the team has only advanced out of the first round once (2010), they are always a hard-working team that provides exciting games.

The lucky lottery winners are the Tri-City’s Vicious Dishes (making their fourth appearance); GTAR’s Derby Debutantes (also for the fourth time); Roller Derby Quebec’s Les Duchesses returning after debuting last year; and first-time participants Reines of Terror (from Moncton’s Muddy River Rollers), Motor City Madames (Durham Region Roller Derby) and Thunder Bay’s Babes of Thunder.

Chicks Ahoy! have only been on the rise since last year's impressive 4th place finish. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

THE EXPECTATIONS

Despite having a ton of success in ToRD’s house league (including finals appearances in 2007, 2010 and a championship in 2008), the Chicks Ahoy! could never find success at the Beast of the East. A quarterfinal loss in 2008 was followed by shocking first round exits in 2009 and 2010. Finally, last year the Chicks made it to the final four before being taken down by the eventual champion Slaughter Daughters (they were then upset by the Death Track Dolls for third place). But with another ToRD championship under their belt and a four game winning streak on the go, the Chicks Ahoy! could finally erase those bad memories and pull it all together this year. With a solid and now experienced four-jammer rotation, packs led by all star pivots and supported by all-star blockers, the Chicks Ahoy! look a lot like a roller derby juggernaut, and for the first time in the team’s history, may be steamrolling into Montreal at just the right time. With a deep bench and a winning swagger, the Chicks may be a hard team to beat right now.

One team that will have a lot to say about that is the defending champion Slaughter Daughters, and they’ll get to say it in the opening game of the tournament. The Chicks and Daughters will get things started on the opening day of the two-day double elimination tournament and the outcome of that game could inform a lot about how things shape up (no matter who wins this first game, both teams could—and should—still make it to the semifinals). Based on the way the bracket worked out this year, and based on continuously excellent performances, it is conceivable that this year’s final four could be same as last year’s (Dolls and Gores being the other two).

Les Filles du Roi won Montreal's season-opening round robin tournament, making them automatic contenders for this year's Beast. (Photo by Single Malt Scott)

The three co-hosts, of course, will be looking to keep that from happening. Although defending Montreal champions and Beast record setters (a 148-0 shutout last year), Les Contrabanditas lost to both La Racaille and Les Filles du Roi in Montreal’s season opening round-robin tournament, they have an amazing roster and should not be overlooked. They will get a chance to avenge a 2011 quarterfinal defeat to ToRD’s Dolls in another intriguing opening-round matchup. La Racaille, the winningest team in Beast history, also has a massive challenge in the first round, slotted to play last year’s finalists the Gore-Gore Rollergirls, and it may not get any easier after that (with either the Daughters or the Chicks after that). This year’s intriguing Montreal team, round robing winners Les Filles du Roi, will face off against BOE freshmen Babes of Thunder, and while they could face a daunting second match against the Vicious Dishes, should also have a clear path to the final eight. Without any significant action outside of Montreal, it is hard to judge how far these Montreal teams have grown. One thing is certain: it would be dangerous to underestimate them.

While this tournament has a tendency to be unpredictable in the early rounds, things usually settle down by the knockout stages, and this year should be no different. Expect the ten most experienced teams to compete for the final eight spots, with La Racaille and potentially Les Contrabanditas and the Gore-Gore Rollergirls facing the biggest challenges for a spot in the quarterfinals out of that elite group.

*** For the third year in a row, Canuck Derby TV will be covering all 28 bouts live. Tune in beginning at 8:00 AM on Saturday, April 21, 2012, for all the weekend’s action (the tournament opener is Chicks vs. Daughters; if that’s not enough to get you up at 8 on a Saturday morning, I don’t know what is!)

***The Derby Nerd’s coverage of this year’s Beast of the East is brought to you in part by the fine people at Neon Skates!

Team Canada Roster for 2011 Blood and Thunder World Cup

Here it is! The final picks are in and Team Canada’s Roster has been selected (with leagues and team(s)):

Killson (London, Forest Derby Girls; Thames Fatales)
Soul Rekker (Ottawa, Rideau Valley Roller Girls; Slaughter Daughters, Vixens)
Brim Stone (Toronto, ToRD; Gore-Gore Rollergirls, CN Power)
Motorhead Molly (Kitchener, Tri-City Roller Girls; Vicious Dishes, Thunder)
Rainbow Fight (St, John’s, 709 Derby Girls; Vaders Vixens)
Georgia W Tush (Montreal, MTLRD; New Skids on the Block)
Smack Daddy(Montreal, MTLRD; New Skids on the Block)
Lil Mama (Montreal, MTLRD; New Skids on the Block)
Iron Wench (Montreal, MTLRD; New Skids on the Block)
Bone Machine (Montreal, MTLRD; New Skids on the Block)
Jess Bandit (Montreal, MTLRD; New Skids on the Block)
TAZ (Red Deer, Red Deer Roller Derby Association; The Belladonnas )
Gunpowder Gertie (Red Deer, Red Deer Roller Derby Association; The Belladonnas )
Maiden Sane (Regina, Pile O’ Bones Derby Club; Lockdown Lolitas
Hell ‘on Keller (Edmonton, E-Ville Roller Derby; Los Pistolitas)
TeeKnee (Edmonton, Oil City Derby Girls; Oil City All Stars)
Beretta Lynch (Kootenays, West Kootenay Women’s Roller Derby; Kootenay Kannibelles)
8Mean Wheeler (Vancouver, Terminal City Rollergirls; Faster Pussycats, Terminal City All Stars
LuluDemon(Vancouver, Terminal City Rollergirls; Riot GirlsTerminal City All Stars)
Windigo (Houston, Houston Roller Derby; The BrawlersHard Knocks)