venus fly tramps

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.

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Beast of the East 2011: Daughters Go Undefeated to Tame the Beast

The top three teams at the 2011 Beast of the East (Slaughter Daughters, Gore-Gore Rollergirls and the Death Track Dolls). (Photography by Derek Lang)

Last year, at the 2010 Beast of the East, amidst all of that Montreal dominance, there were some major surprises. The Toronto Roller Derby League had a terrible tournament by their own standards, with the Smoke City Betties, Death Track Dolls (both 0-2), and Chicks Ahoy! (1-2) all eliminated unceremoniously in the first round. Similarly, Rideau Valley’s Slaughter Daughters—who had an amazing 2009 and came into the tournament with high hopes—were two and done on Saturday. At the 2011 Beast of the East it was a different story, as the Ontario teams were the talk of the tournament and the Slaughter Daughters would be the only squad to go through both days undefeated to deservedly hoist the award, that to trophy-designer Tommy Toxic’s credit, was the by far the most beastly yet created.

La Racaille (MTLRD) and The Derby Debutantes (GTAR) face off in the double elimination round.

DOUBLE ELIMINATION ROUND

The cliché is that records are made to be broken, and although coming into the tournament there was a lot of talk about parity among the top teams, records were set and then broken continuously on day one. It began right with the opening game of the tournament when the GTAR’s Derby Debutantes became the third team to lay down 100 points in a BOE bout with a 124-4 victory against BOE newcomers Les Duchesses de Quebec (who were playing their first-ever bout). It was just the beginning of record setting scores as four teams would be capable of putting down 100 points (the Debutantes would become the first team to have 100 points scored for and against in the same tournament). When all was said and done, it was Montreal’s new-look Contrabanditas setting all of the records in a 148-0 shutout against the GTAR’s Chrome Mollys (who were the second of three teams playing in their first BOE).

For the most part, the opening bouts of the double elimination round went as expected; if there was an upset, it would be the Death Track Dolls victory over the defending champion Filles du Roi (who were tracking an almost unrecognizably young lineup after MTLRD’s off season shake-up)—a bit of foreshadowing of the Dolls-as-Montreal-killers on the weekend. The top game of the opening round easily went to the much anticipated matchup between the Vicious Dishes and the Gore-Gore Rollergirls. Two of the pre-tournament favourites—the top teams from Tri-City and ToRD—did not disappoint. Although the two teams had never played before, there was considerable history built up in recent, tense bouts between the all star teams of the two leagues. This one came down to the final jam, with the Dishes pulling out a thrilling two-point victory.

The Dishes would also be involved in another close first round bout, on the losing end this time to the Ditas (27-21) although both teams would make it through to the round of eight. Joining them in the quarterfinals were the Ditas’ MTLRD league mates La Racaille (who went 2-0), and defending champs FDR who had to win a qualification showdown against the Derby Debutantes. The quarters were rounded out by the Slaughter Daughters and three Toronto teams, the perennial powerhouses Gore-Gore Rollergirls along with Chicks Ahoy! (first quarterfinal experience since 2008), and the Death Track Dolls who returned to the second round for the first time since 2009.

ToRD's Gore-Gore Rollergirls saved their best for day two, scoring one-sided victories in both the quarter and semifinals.

PLAYOFFS

Quarterfinals

From the opening bout of the quarterfinals, it was clear that the top teams were able to step it up to another level when it mattered most. MTLRD’s La Racaille, who had a solid opening day, were dominated by the considerably more experienced Gores, 88-11, marking the first time that La Racaille, the most successful team in the tournament’s early history, would not qualify for the final. Two of the other bouts were somewhat one-sided as well, with the Slaughter Daughters throwing down their “A” game in a 71-3 victory, knocking out the defending champion Filles du Roi; similarly, pre-tournament favourites the Vicious Dishes just couldn’t ever wrestle momentum away from a very physical, very tight Chicks Ahoy! team, going down 48-8, in what was an extremely close bout until the Chicks were able to pull away on the strength of a well-executed power jam with Dyna Hurtcha sporting the star.

ToRD's Death Track Dolls recorded the biggest upset of the tournament in their quarterfinal win over MTLRD's Les Contrabanditas.

But it was the Death Track Dolls and Les Contrabanditas who would provide the greatest excitement in the second round. Montreal’s hopes were clearly on the backs of the experienced Ditas, who looked to be the strongest, most consistent team in day one of the tournament. The Dolls, on the other hand, were already pleased with a return to the second round of competition, which, regardless of what happened, qualified as a success. Not surprisingly, the experienced team from Toronto came into the bout loose and relaxed; taking advantage of early penalty troubles from the Ditas, the Death Track Dolls rode some consistent pack work and fine jamming from Land Shark and breakout player Santilly In Yo Face to an early lead that they would hold onto in the face of a considerable push back at the end of the bout, holding on for the 58-49 upset to push three of the four Toronto teams into the semifinals.

The Slaughter Daughters' bench watches the scoreboard during the final jam of the 2011 Beast of the East.

Semifinals

In the first all-ToRD semifinal, the Death Track Dolls just couldn’t summon the kind of performance that had led them to their win over the Ditas, what may have been the biggest victory in the team’s history. After a so-so Saturday that saw them hold on for a victory over Thames Fatales in a qualifying bout, the Gore-Gore Rollergirls continued to step it up on Sunday. They’d had some slow starts in the first round and certainly remedied that, pulling away from the Dolls early to qualify for their first ever BOE final. It was vindication of sorts for the team that has been the tops outside of Montreal for the past two years.

In the second semifinal, the Chicks Ahoy! continued their strong play on Sunday, creeping out to a slim 8-4 lead in what was another scrappy and defensive performance from the ToRD team. But the Slaughter Daughters showed the same kind of focus and determination that they had all tournament and stayed close, taking their first lead, 11-9, at the midway point of the bout. It would remain close through to the very end, with both teams displaying fantastic pace control defensively to keep things tight and low scoring. It was 19-19 with just under two minutes left when Soul Rekker took a lead on a hard-fought, slow moving jam that allowed her to pick up a double grand slam to break the stalemate and give the Daughters a 10-point lead that they defended, riding a 33-19 victory to advance to the finals.

RVRG's Slaughter Daughters: 2011 Beast of the East champions

Finals

The Death Track Dolls capped off a hugely successful tournament with a historic 42-31 victory over their ToRD rivals, Chicks Ahoy!, in the third place bout. The Chicks didn’t have much left in the tank, their previous two bouts being defensive grinders against very physical opponents. For the Dolls, it represented their first victory over the Chicks after some very close bouts over the past two seasons, and their best showing in this tournament.

When all was said and done, and 14 teams fell away, it was clear that the two best teams of the tournament remained. Rideau Valley’s Slaughter Daughters and ToRD’s Gore-Gore Rollergirls were set to make history as the combatants in the first ever all-Ontario final. The final lived up to and eventually surpassed all possible expectations, coming down to a remarkable final jam. Five-on-five these two teams were well matched, keeping the crowd guessing through numerous lead changes (including three on a Ripper A. Part vs. Bambi jam that had no lead called). What it came down to was special teams and who could take advantage on power jams. Despite leading by 16 at the start of the final jam, the Gore’s jammer Bambi took her fourth minor on her initial scoring pass to send the inexhaustible Soul Rekker on a power jam. Semi Precious and Assassinista led an indestructible trap that kept the pack crawling, and with only 9 seconds left, Soul Rekker was finally able to complete the comeback and take the 20110 Beast of the east 87-85. (*There seemed to be some confusion about scoring at the end, although it looked like Rekker made four, five-point scoring passes).

The Daughters were more than worthy champs, facing any style of play they encountered with confidence and adaptability. They had extraordinary depth at jammer (easily the top 1-2-3 jammer rotation in the tourney), and played special teams simply, but masterfully, owning pace lines and setting hard traps.

The Nerd's 2011 MVP: Semi Precious of the Slaughter Daughters

THE NERD’S PICKS

MVP: Semi Precious (Slaughter Daughters)

After last year’s pack-play-evolution, it was obvious that the team with the top pack would do very well this weekend: that was certainly the case with the champion Slaughter Daughters who could dole out timely punishing hits, positionally block one-on-one with the best of them, and set devastating traps. At the centre of it all was Semi Precious. Big-time recognition has been a long-time coming for this extraordinary blocker.

Breakout Player: Assassinista (Slaughter Daughters)

There were at least a few players in the running for this one, but once again, the packs were the difference all weekend and Assassinista was undeniably a force in the Daughters’ championship pack. This is almost a cumulative recognition for Assassinista whose play for both her hometeam and the travel team Vixens has been turning a lot of heads for some time. This weekend, she proved that she deserves recognition among the elite.

The Nerd's 2011 Breakout Team: The Death Track Dolls (ToRD)

Breakout Team: The Death Track Dolls (ToRD)

In 2009, Dolls’ star jammer Land Shark took home this recognition as a player; two years later, and she’s leading her team to the award. The Dolls recorded an early minor upset over a young FDR squad, and then looked lacklustre in a loss against leaguemates, the Chicks Ahoy!, but things got rolling in a must-win, 84-8 surprisingly dominant victory against the Riot Squad. A major upset over Les Contrabanditas in the quarterfinals, and a third place rematch win over the Chicks cemented this teams’ status as breakout team of the tourney.

* The Beast of the East in its entirety was boutcast live by Canuck Derby TV and has been archived for your viewing pleasure.  Keep an eye out for layer9’s trackside archive as well.

***A special thanks to Montreal Roller Derby who hosted another amazing tournament and Canuck Derby TV for making sure that everyone could see it.

2011 Beast of the East: Preview

This is the fourth edition of the important tournament.

Although the role of the Beast of the East tournament has shifted over the years, its value, and its importance in the development of a stable, sustainable Canadian roller derby community is undeniable. More and more the shift in focus in roller derby in general is toward the travel teams: the teams striving to compete at WFTDA’s highest level. All over North America the growing trend is for more travel-team based tournaments as a way in which to get a handful of sanctioned bouts done in a short period of time (necessitated by the realities of travel expenses, scheduling and the other trivialities that get in the way of a rollergirl’s derby life). So to have a tournament devoted solely to hometeams is becoming an increasing rarity; it also casts an aura of levity around the event: it becomes as much about a celebration of the sport than anything else. But that’s not to imply that teams don’t want to win (they do), and certainly there is a particular expectation in the air this year, as the recalibration of the Montreal Roller Derby League means that its new-look hometeams will not be as formidable a juggernaut as they have been in the history of this tournament, and certainly were last year.

In the beginning the Beast was an opportunity to learn the sport, both on and off the track. On the Friday before the inaugural 2008 tournament, the participants gathered for a viewing of Hell on Wheels, the documentary that tracks roller derby’s revival at the turn of the millennium, and inadvertently the birth of the flat track version of the sport. By 2010, when all three of Montreal’s hometeams completely dominated the tournament, the Beast had become an opportunity for Montreal to introduce the ever-evolving strategies of the sport that they’d learned toiling at the front lines of roller derby’s highest competitive levels. There was a distinct culture shift last year: it became evident that to remain competitive at flat track roller derby, it was necessary to reach for a higher level of physical training and strategic consideration.

One year later, it will be fascinating to see how the teams have adapted; which teams accepted the formidable challenge and have stepped up their games.

THE COMPETITION

Hammer City's absence will be felt (The Death Row Dames were quarterfinalists in 2010). (Photo by Derek Lang)

The noticeable absence this year is Hammer City. Three HCRG teams have played in the Beast of the East, with the Harlots winning the first BOE in 2008, and even last year they were a serious presence as the Death Row Dames went on a spirited run to the quarterfinals. The league has refocused, and reshaped with a clearer focus on travel teams (word on the track is that the historic Harlots will be retained as a B-Team). Nevertheless, 13 teams will be returning from last year including six of the eight teams from the quarterfinals (Vermont’s Green Mountain Derby Dames are the other absent quarterfinalists). Three new teams will be debuting including fresh league additions in GTA (The Chrome Mollys) and Tri-City (The Total Knock Outs), while the newly formed Les Duchesses de Quebec will be making their bouting debut.

ToRD's Gore-Gore Rollergirls have been the top non-Montreal team for the last two years; this could be their opportunity. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

The biggest change in competition comes through Montreal’s realignment. All three of Montreal’s teams have qualified for the semifinals in every tournament (a run that has included all-Montreal finals in the last two tournaments, won by La Racaille and Les Filles du Roi respectively), but this year with the top fourteen players being lifted from their hometeams to play exclusively with the New Skids in the Block, there will obviously be some growing pains for the Montreal teams (only one team, La Racaille, has played with its new roster, scoring a 60 point victory over the GTA’s Derby Debutantes). This opens the window for a handful of teams who have the experience and depth to do very well in 2011 including ToRD’s Gore-Gore Rollergirls, Tri-City’s Vicious Dishes, and Rideau Valley’s Slaughter Daughters. While the Montreal teams remain largely mysterious, they have all retained an important core and shouldn’t be counted out; on paper anyway, Les Contrabanditas look to be most dangerous as they retain seven skaters from last season’s impressive team and picked up two more vets in the off season (Beats Per Minute from Les Filles du Roi, and Low Dive Jenny from La Racaille).

Death Track Dolls and Les Filles du Roi will meet in the opening round; they last met in the opening round of the 2009 BOE. (photo by Derek Lang)

EXPECTATIONS

The timing and nature of this tournament make predicting what will happen tricky. A team could potentially play up to six bouts over the course of the weekend which means that energy conservation and roster juggling become important aspects of the game. Also, the 20 minute mini-bouts mean that often anything can happen: a good power-jam could be the difference, and teams that take longer to warm up could be at an obvious disadvantage. On top of this, there are also differences in the amount of track time these teams have had as well, with the ToRD teams potentially already rounding into mid-season form.

Only the opening match ups in the double elimination round are set, with paths getting complicated after that. While it doesn’t appear that there will be any major upsets, there are a few intriguing pairings. At the top of the list is the Gore-Gore Rollergirls vs. Vicious Dishes bout. Either of these teams are capable of winning this tournament, and if all goes as predicted may even cross paths again in the semi-finals (regardless of who wins this one). The Smoke City Betties and Thames Fatales game could also be an entertaining one, with both teams already having some bouts under their belts this year (and the Betties improving quickly). Finally the Death Track Dolls vs. Les Filles du Roi bout could be surprising. Les Filles (the defending champs) lost a lot of skaters to the Skids realignment and look like they will be tracking a very inexperienced team: because of that, there could be an upset up the Dolls’ sleeve. The harsh reality is, is that one win is not enough and half of the teams will be done by Saturday night.

This could finally be the year Les Contrabanditas rise to the top in MTLRD.

While Montreal may not have the dominant squads they once did, I still think all three teams will make it through to the quarterfinals, joined by three ToRD teams (The Gores, Chicks Ahoy! and Death Track Dolls), the Vicious Dishes and the Slaughter Daughters. Unfortunately for the hosts, I think the round of 8 will mark the end of the road for two-time finalists and ’09 champs La Racaille and the defending champion Les Filles du Roi, with the final four being the Dishes, Gores, Ditas and Daughters. I honestly think anything could happen between these four teams, but it would be nice to see the Gores (or Dishes) and Daughters meet in the final to truly bring an end to Montreal’s dominance. In both 2009 and 2010, the Gores were clearly the top team outside of MTLRD, and this could finally be the opportunity they need. The Ditas, though, who always seemed a step behind one of their Montreal counterparts will be extremely motivated to finally break through and win this.

Whoever manages to prevail, to be capable of pulling it off nothing less than a monumental effort will be required.

***The Beast of the East 2011 gets under way at 8:00 am on Saturday, April 30 at Arena St. Louis. If you’re not going to be in Montreal on the weekend, no need to worry! For the second-year in a row, all of the action will be boutcast live on Canuck Derby TV beginning at 8:00 AM (eastern) and running straight through until a champion is crowned on Sunday.

Quad City Chaos Preview (Part 2)

Tri-City defeated CN Power 122-50 in the team's final bout of 2010. (photo by Joe Mac)

THE UPSTARTS

In 2010, the focus of Canadian roller derby was clearly on Montreal’s New Skids on the Block, which allowed for another amazing roller derby story to go unnoticed by many outside of the Ontario derby community: the rise of Tri-City. Playing in the shadows of Hammer City, ToRD and even Forest City for years, the skaters of the Tri-City triangle have slowly been creating a juggernaut, and 2010 was a coming out party of sorts. In terms of hometeams, the Venus Fly Tramps continued to grow more competitive, and the league added a third team, the Total Knock-Outs to the mix. The league’s top team, the Vicious Dishes, was emerging as one of the top hometeams, not only in Ontario, but in the country. Vctories over ToRD’s Chicks Ahoy! and both Hammer City hometeams exposed the Dishes as a team to watch.

These solid foundations led to the dramatic rise of the Thunder. With their only losses coming against the top tier of Canadian competition (Montreal hometeam Les Contrabanditas and B-Team Sexpos), their strong victories over a string of American travel teams (Roc City, The Lake Effect Furies, Assault City, and Detroit’s Motor City Disassembly Line) turned some heads. But it wasn’t until their final bout of the season that they truly showed how far they’d come: a 122-50 victory over CN Power gave the team a solid 5-2 record on the season and managed to shake up the power politics of Canadian derby. It was arguably a crowning achievement on a fantastic year that saw them graduate into full WFTDA status.

Motorhead Molly leads a breakout jammer contingent for the Thunder. (photo by Joe Mac)

Tri-City’s strength is in its pack. Led by the pivot Jill Standing and the untiring blocking trio of Anita Martini, Bareleigh Legal and sin-e-star, Thunder is capable of playing a stifling pack defense that led them to victories over Roc City Roc Stars and Lake Effect Furies early in the season. While defense is a traditional Tri-City strength, the biggest development over 2010 was the improvement of their offense: Skate Pastor, Motorhead Molly and Lippy Wrongstockings proved to be a more than capable trio for the Thunder in 2010, playing smart, strategic derby even in low scoring, grinders. But they also helped show that Thunder is capable of switching gears and winning a shoot out, as they did in a 134-126 victory over Detroit’s Disassembly Line. The depth of the roster has only increased as all the Tri-City teams become more competitive. Greta Garbage and Gunmoll Mindy provide a lot of depth in the pack, with Garbage capable of laying down some hits or joining front walls, Mindy holding that inside line, and Lilith No Fair joining the pivot corps. Kitty Krasher, Cell Block Bettie and Freudian Whip are all capable of donning the star to jam as well, which provides this team with fantastic depth at offense.

The Thunder should have a slight depth advantage over Rideau Valley, and in terms of pack control and defense, may be the best match-up for Montreal, but I think it’s safe to say that all eyes are on Thunder’s rematch with CN Power to close out the tournament on Sunday (at 4:20 p.m.). Thunder could go a long way in solidifying their position as the team to watch in 2011 with a second consecutive victory over ToRD’s all stars.

The Vixens played their first ever bout at the Hangar, falling to CN Power 199-49. (photo by Derek Lang)

THE DARKHORSE

In 2009, Rideau Valley Roller Girls added a second team, the Riot Squad, to help develop the league and build on the success of the Slaughter Daughters. By 2010, they’d expanded yet again, this time adding the Vixens, a travel team. Due to the quick expansion, there were some growing pains in the early going, with some big losses to tough competition in Toronto (CN Power),  Steel City (B-Unit) and Montreal (Sexpos). But the growth in those months from the one-sided defeat in Toronto to the solid showing in Montreal was undeniable. It only took about six months for the Vixens to gel. By the end of the next six months, they’d evened up their 2010 record with three-straight victories beginning with a confidence boosting blow out (210-54) over the Jerzey Derby Brigade’s Corporal Punishers. They followed that up with two more explosive, one-sided wins against Utica, and Maine’s Calamity Janes.

Soul Rekker (jamming here against CN Power's Land Shark) is the Vixens' biggest offensive threat. (photo by Derek Lang)

Nonetheless, with their last three bouts coming south of the border against unknown competition (in that they don’t have any cross-over opponents with any of the other teams at the QCC), this considerably more experienced Vixens squad is somewhat of an unknown, which is why they are a darkhorse in this tournament. The only clue we have as to how good this team could be is in the performances of their hometeams, and the Slaughter Daughters are quietly becoming one of the top hometeams in eastern Canada, while their other team, the Riot Squad is certainly up and coming, recently taking ToRD’s Smoke City Betties to the limit in a bout. Even when they were losing early in 2010, the talent on the team was obvious. The two captains are the undeniable leaders on the track: Semi-Precious dominates at both leading her pack and delivering devastating take outs; Soul Rekker is an explosive jammer, and will lead the Vixens’ offense, proving equal to the top jammers in the tournament. And while this team is comparatively inexperienced in travel-team play, there is a surprising depth to the lineup, especially in the pack.

The Vixens' pack is led by Semi Precious and a core of Slaughter Daughters. (photo by Derek Lang)

Dee Dee Tee, Sister Disaster and Ripper A. Part round out a veteran jammer lineup, while the pack is loaded full of solid positional and striking blockers. ASSASSINista, Big Block, Blackout Susan, Drunky Brewster, and Surgical Strike form the core of the Slaughter Daughters roster, and that familiarity has bled over to the Vixens. Riot Squad’s Slavic Slayer, Margaret Chock, and N. Toxicate round out a sold pack that could pose problems for the other teams.

Rideau Valley will be aiming to knock off either CN Power or Thunder (and ideally both), and either is conceivable. They’ve been playing a similar amount of games as both teams and are undoubtedly a far different team than the one that last visited the Hangar. The fact that as the Vixens, they are relatively unknown to either team also makes them dangerous. CN Power and Tri-City can make necessary adjustments to face each other based on familiarity; the Vixens will, at the very least, have them guessing, and if they can catch either team off guard, they’ve proven capable of putting up big numbers.

THE RAMIFICATIONS

With all four teams competing at some level within WFTDA, this tournament is important to establish where, exactly, the teams stand in relation to one another. Montreal is currently creeping up to the top 4 in the Eastern Region and playing them will give the Vixens an idea of how competitive the top level of their Region really is. ToRD’s CN Power and the Tri-City Thunder will be chasing each other (and Hammer City) up the rankings in the North Central, making this just the second of what will certainly be many meetings between these teams.

For the New Skids on the Block, they’ll get a chance to pad their stats in the Canadian Roller Derby Rankings and have a competitive warm up for a potentially season-changing Eastern Region tournament in England against London, Steel City (Pittsburgh), and the 3rd ranked Charm City (Baltimore).

On a larger scale, the Quad City Chaos offers a glimpse of the potential beginnings of WFTDA’s Canadian Region.

**Tickets are available online or at various ticket outlets in Toronto. Doors on Saturday open at 1:00pm. For a full schedule, check here.

**Read Part One (focusing on CN Power and The New Skids on the Block) .

Watch ToRD.TV’s video preview of QCC, featuring interviews with CN Power co-captain Lady Scorcher and bench manager Sonic Doom:

Team Preview: Death Track Dolls

DEATH TRACK DOLLS

  Wins Losses +/ – Notes
2010 Regular Season 1 2 +69 Team-record victory (160 pts over Betties)
2010 Playoffs 0 1 -36 2nd semifinal loss to Chicks in 3 years.

 

In 2010, the Death Track Dolls picked up their first regular season win since 2008.

2010

Things got off to a shaky start for the Death Track Dolls when they surprisingly went two and done at the 2010 Beast of the East, but an encouraging exhibition win over Tri-City’s Venus Fly Tramps set the Dolls up for a solid 2010 in which they improved as the season progressed. Glimpses of brilliance (in another regular season nail-biter with the Chicks; in the first half of the bout against the Gores) seemed to indicate that the “rebuilding process” that had been going on since a devastating 2008 playoff loss was finally coming to an end. With a solid core, strong leadership, and a team identity beginning to form, the Dolls seem set for 2011.

LOSSES AND GAINS

Speedee Ramone (seen here in 2009) returns after a single-season retirement.

The key for the 2011 Dolls is consistency. With 16 skaters returning from last year’s squad there is a familiarity among the team members that should be a huge advantage on the track. Plus, after last year’s successful reintegration of Jubilee, another former Doll is coming out of retirement for another shot at the Boot. Speedee Ramone returns after watching 2010 from the sidelines and her experience makes her an easy fit with this increasingly veteran team. When asked about draft decisions, co-captain Betty Bomber said that the Dolls have shifted focus: “Our goal last year was to fill in positional gaps. But this year the team understands that you need to know each position before you’re dominant in one. So our strategy going into draft selections were attitude, progress, and sportsmanship.” That strategy brought the Dolls three skaters whose development will be aided by not having the pressure to perform immediately. Despite not drafting for positions, Bomber also acknowledged that the skaters are quickly settling into potential roles on the track. She referred to Santilly In Yo Face as a “naturally aggressive athlete,” suggesting a skill set potentially suited to jamming, and pointed out that Nyght Ryder already looks comfortable in a pack. A “determined” Kat Atak rounds out the rookie threesome for the Dolls this season.

The major loss the Dolls are facing is to injury. Injured since the end of the last year’s regular season, triple threat Audrey Hellborn remains sidelined after surgery. Audrey was on the track for 52% of the Dolls’ regular season jams last year and averaged 3.2 points per jam as a jammer. This game changer’s absence was noticeable in the Dolls’ semifinal loss to the Chicks Ahoy!, and it will undoubtedly be felt this season as well.

 

Betty Bomber will be key for the Dolls at every position.

BY POSITION

With only three rookies, look for returning bench bosses the Big Chees and Sonic Doom to try to fill holes from within. With the loss of Audrey, Betty Bomber will begin the season as the team’s sole triple threat, a role she thrived in last season.

 

Pivots: Last year’s leading pivots Panty Hoser and Monichrome return. Dolly Parts’em looks to bounce back after an injury plagued 2010 that saw her miss the first two bouts of the season. She came back as a blocker for the final bout of the regular season but has the chops to lead the pack. Betty Bomber notes that second-year skater Sinead O’Clobber’s confidence has really grown and that in the preseason is “taking initiative in becoming a strong pivot.”

Blockers: Even with the loss of heavy hitter Audrey Hellborn,  the Dolls still pack a punch. Once she got her skate legs back, Jubilee had a monster season in the pack taking on an increasingly big role as 2010 progressed. ToRD vet Seka Destroy and original Doll Bonky Kong are also solid blockers with sharp striking ability. Veterans Lucid Lou and Sue Saint Marie, along with third-year blocker Downright Dirty Dawson, lead an increasingly solid core of positional blockers that will be bolstered by quickly improving sophomore skater Speedin Hawking. “Speedin’s pretty ambitious,” Bomber said, “and has been working hard coming up to these last days before our game. I foresee a dazzling future for Hawking this season.”

 

Jammers: Once again the offense will be lead by Land Shark, who has grown into one of the most reliable jammers in the league. When she’s on her game there aren’t many who can keep up and will be key to the Dolls realizing their high ambitions for the season. As with last season, look for her offensive backup to be provided by committee. Demolition Dawn took on a lot of the load in key bouts against the Chicks and Gores last season; and of all three positions, Betty Bomber improved the most as a reliable jammer (joining Land Shark in the 100 point/50% lead percentage club and picking up a lot of JQ points along the way). In her rookie year, SlamWow donned the star at least once in all the bouts, and could potentially continue her apprenticeship. And although she’s become important to the pack, Jubilee has a history with the star as well, including finishing with a Top 10 JQ rating in 2007 and could make for an aggressive jammer.

 

EXPECTATIONS

From the Archives: Bambi and Land Shark will continue a jammer battle that began in 2008.

Expectations are high for 2011. “The Dolls are filled with smart, hardworking skaters and I’d like to see us make an imprint this year as the team to beat,” Bomber says with confidence, as she should. This season could represent a narrow opening in a small window. With such a veteran lineup, much of which has been together for two full season now, the time is now for the Death Track Dolls. With the goal to be a strategic team that relies on smarts rather than brawn and speed, much relies on the ability of the team to stay focused on the track and how much they are able to impose their play on an opponent. But at the same time, they have to be able to adjust when things aren’t going well. Last year after two strong bouts to open the season, the Dolls seemed on the verge of a major upset when they had the Gore-Gore Rollergirls on the ropes in the first half only to see the Gores go the dressing room, make some serious half-time adjustments, and then dominate the second half. It was a lesson learned for the Dolls and one that could actually help them this season. When asked about that challenging bout with the Dolls, Gores captain Brim Stone acknowledged that if the Dolls remain focused, the league could be in trouble. “There is so much potential on that team, and they have some of the best jammers in the league,” she pointed out, naming Land Shark and Betty Bomber in particular. “Their drive to win seemed to build over the year, and if they can maintain that drive they will be serious contenders for the Boot!”

In some circles 2010 was Year of the Doll, but if things go the way co-captains Betty Bomber and Dolly Parts’em envision them, 2011 could be ToRD’s Year of the Doll.

 

Click the poster to see a video preview of the season opener

2010 REGULAR SEASON STATS HIGHLIGHTS

– As a team, managed a +69 because of a big victory over the Betties. Bomber (107) and Sharky (100) each scored over 100 points. Sharky lead the league in Jam%, wearing the star for 33% of the Dolls’ regular season jams.

– Bomber finished with top overall +/- (+132) on the team. Her +80 was also tops among the jammers.

– Monichrome led the team in assists (24); Bomber, in blocks (15); and Audrey led in knockdowns (11).

– Audrey picked up the most minor penalties (28) and served a team-high 10 minutes, while Hoser had 6 majors, more than any other Doll.

Hello 2011 (Part 2): Thunder to take WFTDA by storm; Vixens on the rise

Tri-City will compete in WFTDA's North Central Region this year.

A Few to Watch in 2011

In eastern Canada in 2010, no league turned more heads than Tri-City. Top hometeam the Vicious Dishes scored huge victories over ToRD runners-up the Chicks Ahoy! and both hometeams from Hammer City. This season, TCRG has added a third hometeam as well, the Total Knock-Outs, who look to help drive uip the competitive level during the home season. The Thunder clapped loudly this season as well, when the Tri-City travel team closed out the year with somewhat of  an upset in a one-sided victory over ToRD’s CN Power. Having attained full WFTDA status (they’ll join Hammer City’s Eh! Team in WFTDA’s North Central Region), the Thunder will embark on an ambitious first season in the big leagues challenging a number of North Central foes including Chicago Outfit (in Chicago on May 14) and Killamazoo (at home in October); they’ll also play Montreal’s New Skids on the Block in a closed bout in March, which could be their toughest challenge of the year. With such a challenging and exciting schedule, the Thunder could be this year’s New Skids on the Block.

RVRG recently became Canada's latest WFTDA apprentice league.

If the Thunder are this year’s Skids, than this year’s Thunder will be the  Rideau Valley Vixens. Adding a second hometeam late in 2009 and then creating the Vixens early in 2010, last year the Ottawa league suffered some early growing pains. So-so performances at the Beast of the East were a far cry from the Slaughter Daughters’ run to ’09 quarterfinals, but it all proved to be for the best: Both the Daughters and the Riot Squad picked up some big late season victories.  Taking the Montreal approach and jumping into competition head on, the travel team Vixens took their lumps early in 2010 with losses to tough teams in Toronto, Montreal and Pittsburgh, but they continued to reach wide and aim high for competition and spent the rest of the year turning the tides with a series of big victories south of the border over New Jersey (Jerzey Derby Brigade) and Utica.  They begin 2011 as Canada’s latest WFTDA apprentice league.

Thames Fatales had some big victories against US competition in 2010.

The Expanding Eastern Canadian Scene

The Thames Fatales had another strong season in 2010. Starting with a solid showing at the Beast of the East, the Thames Fatales made forays south as well, scoring some big victories in the US, while making inroads in Canada too with some improved performances against Hammer City and two one-sided victories over GTAR’s Derby Debutantes. With a new Fresh Meat squad (The Luscious London Lunch Ladies), and a continued acceptance of all challenges, the skaters from Forest City could be the next break-out Canadian league. A potential WFTDA apprenticeship in the future?

GTAR was another league to make some big steps forward in 2010 with the Debutantes shocking the competition at the Beast of the East and putting in a hard-fought performance against Edmonton’s E-Ville. An addition of a second team, the Chrome Mollys, could help them narrow the gap between them and the other eastern Canadian leagues. Canada’s original WFTDA league, Hammer City, will also look to rebound after an up-and-down year. With the Eh! Team unable to work their way up the WFTDA rankings, suffering some big losses, including their first ever loss to ToRD’s CN Power. Hammer City hometeams also suffered setbacks to Tri-City and saw the gap narrowed between them and Forest City. But with the realigned hometeam rosters creating a competitive parity between the Death Row Dames and the Harlots that hasn’t been seen in years, Hammer City could get that competitive edge back in 2011.

Halifax is leading the development of a buoyant Maritime roller derby scene.

New roller derby leagues continue to sprout at a surprising rate as well. In Ontario, leagues in Sudbury (Nickel City Roller Derby–who will be playing ToRD’s D-VAS in February), Guelph (Royal City Rollergirls), Oshawa (Durham Region Roller Derby), and Kingston (Kingston Derby Girls) are on the verge of bouting, and there are so many other leagues sprouting up that this is really just the tip of the iceberg of the sport in this province. But the sport is moving further east as well with leagues forming in Quebec City, Moncton (Muddy River Rollers), St. John (Fog City Rollers), Charlottetown (Red Rock ‘N Roller Derby) and St. John’s (709 Derby Girls). The Nerd has a personal interest in the development of a stable league in the city of his birth, Halifax, Nova Scotia. And is excited to say that after a few false starts in the city, the Halifax Roller Derby Association finally has solid leadership and is up and running and gaining a lot of momentum. With Muddy River set to host the region’s first major flat track roller derby training camp in July, 2011 will see a huge surge in the participation in and popularity of roller derby in eastern Canada. This bodes well for the future.

**The Derby Nerd will be business as usual in 2011 continuing here and also my work behind the mic for ToRD.TV. One change is that I will be writing about learning the sport from the inside as well, as I embark on ToRD’s latest Fresh Meat training session. You can follow my growing knowledge of the practical side of roller derby on the Nerd Meat: The Nerd Does Derby page (beginning Friday). Also, I’ve done a little reorganization of the site (to the stats and results pages) and you can now subscribe and share!

**Please feel free to use the comment section below to promote any important dates, tournaments, non-mentioned leagues, events, etc. To a successful and exciting 2011!

Weekend Recap: Hammer City Hosts Tri City

DOUBLE HEADER IN HAMMER CITY

Comparatively speaking, the Tri-City Roller Girls (TCRG) are the new kids on the block in Canadian competitive roller derby. As a burgeoning power in the east (and a WFTDA apprentice league), they are following the road paved by their big sisters in Hammer City, Canada’s original flat track roller derby league. The debt that the sport and its practitioners in Canada owe the Hammer City Roller Girls is great. On Saturday night TCRG’s two hometeams paid their respects by heading across the province to engage in on-track battle: The apprentice versus the mentor; the results: an excellent display of the evolution of the sport.

Vicious Dishes (TCRG) 100 vs. Death Row Dames (HCRG) 50

Despite the lack of a few key veterans on either side, this bout had all the promise of a great one. A reordered Dames lineup has found some success this season (particularly at the Beast of the East), and is certainly one of the strongest lineups this team has ever put on the track. The Dishes, on the other hand, have stuck with a core that has slowly evolved into a great hometeam. With a big part of their travel team (The Thunder) leading the pack for the Dishes, the Dames were never fully able to wrestle control away from them and were doubled up in the end.

Jill Standing with a big jammer take out on Mean Little Mama.

Cut Off got things off to a great start for the Dames, and got the best of Motorhead Molly on the jam line throughout the first half. But that early 2-0 lead was quickly eradicated when the Dishes pack were able to take control. With emerging power pivot Jill Standing leading the way, Skate Pastor scored a double grandslam to take a lead that the Dishes would not relent. Points were hard to come by in the early going, a sign that the Dishes were controlling as TCRG has shown a penchant for thriving in scrappy, defensive, low-scoring bouts. For the Dames, Lock N Roll seems to have returned to her traditional role as pivot and was an effective physical presence all night often trading jammer take outs with sin-e-star. Veteran Ivy Rupted also ran things well for the Dames, and Cut Off was their best weapon throughout the first half. Anita Martini was once again key for the Dishes, and by the time she scored a massive jammer take out on Bitchslap Barbie (who took her share of knocks in the opening half), the Dishes were looking like they were going to run away with it (the score was 48-11 with less than ten minutes to go). But on the final jam of the half, with fired-up vet Barbie at the jam line hungry for redemption after a rough half, the Dames got a power jam and played it brilliantly. They set a solid trap, slowed the pack and frustrated the Dishes (who also went down two in the pack in the midst of it) and manged to narrow the score to 58-31 at the half.

Skate Pastor was a key jammer for the Vicious Dishes.

Some of the Dames vets came out driven  in the second half, hoping to build on the momentum. Miss Carriage and Lock with the stripe, Mean Little Mama with the star and Barbie doing a little bit of everything, led the push back. But it was not to be. The Dishes look increasingly well organized, and were able to adjust to the Dames’ counter attack. Matching Skate Pastor up against Cut Off neutralized the jammer who’d done the most damage for the Dames in the first half, and Stobbelicious had somewhat of a breakout bout putting up some nice numbers from the jam line. And although the big three in the pack (Bareleigh Legal, Anita and sin-e-star) still carried the work load, better management at pivot (rotating Great Garbage and Jill Standing in particular) allowed both to be consistent forces throughout the bout. Although the Dishes ended up pulling away with a 100-50 victory, it was, on all sides, a great display of how far flat track roller derby has come. Fantastic pack control (whether it be isolation and trapping or defensive pacing), big, clean hits and cagey jammers (add a touch of attitude and posturing to the mix), this bout had it all.

Harlots' blockers holding up the Tramps' jammer

Venus Fly Tramps (TCRG) 66 vs. Hamilton Harlots (HCRG) 114

While one could argue that the Steel City Tank Girls was Hammer City’s original team, it is the Harlots who gained much wider recognition in the early going, winning The Betties D-Day in Toronto and Montreal’s inaugural Beast of the East. While there are a few remaining veterans from those days, this is a shiny new Harlots team full of youth and emerging players who are in the process of returning this team to its former glory. The Tramps, on the other hand, is a team in the midst of its initial rise, and a team that seems to be improving each bout.

Early on it was the veteran jammer trio of Vicadoom, Dicey and Perky Set who got things off to a great start for the Harlots, taking the first five leads and building an early advantage for the team. But teams on the rise must have rising stars, and in this bout it was Cell Block Bettie who stepped up for the Tramps.

Cell Block Bettie continued her stellar 2010 with a strong bout for the Tramps

Bettie, who has also been a standout recently for the Thunder, was a key jammer all night for the tramps, leading Konky and Kitty Krasher (with Leighzzie Borden coming on strong in the second half). She also proved to be a capable matchup against the Harlot’s physical jammer, Vicadoom, a further sign of her growing abilities and confidence. Led by strong jams, The Tramps were able to stay within reach, and with just under 10 minutes left in the first, they found themselves on a power jam and down 36-19. In what may have been the turning point in the bout, the Harlots’ Scooby Doom pivoted an excellent defensive pack on the jam, not only denying the Tramps points but actually holding them off until Perky Set returned from the box and took the lead jam. Harlots led 56-26 at the half.

The Harlots went out with a vet heavy lineup in the second half in an attempt to preserve the lead. Chainsaw Mary continued her strong return to form in 2010 with an extremely physical bout, including forcing two jammer take outs against Leighzzie deep in the second half, that allowed the Harlots to put some distance between themselves and the Tramps. But the Tramps never backed down form the challenge. Lillith No Fair and Freudian Whip both had great bouts in the pack for the Tramps, and Gunmoll Mindy continues to develop into an excellent, dependable blocker. As a consolation for their great effort, Konky was able to take to the lead on the final jam, and a jammer take out from Dicey forced the call and ended the bout, a 114-66 victory for the Hamilton Harlots.

NOTE: Carla Coma was a noticeable absence from the Harlots’ lineup, and word on the track is that she has hung up her skates, which is a loss for all roller derby fans and skaters. Truly a legend in early Canadian flat track roller derby;  if there were a Hall of Fame, she’d be well on her way.

IN LA BELLE PROVINCE

La Racaille 73 vs. Les Filles du Roi 116

Montreal continued its extraordinary home season with another classic bout between two amazing teams. With a birth in the final on the line, the last two MTLRD champions faced off. Having lost their opening bout of the season, defending champs Les Filles du Roi needed a victory, and one by a fairly comfortable margin, to get through; 2008 champs La Racaille, who were coming off of a tight victory over Les Contrabanditas, needed any victory to secure their spot. FDR got off to a fast start securing an early lead that they would defend for the whole bout. A late tactical error by La Racaille and a fifteen point jam by Smack Daddy ended La Racaille’s hopes for a shop at the championship. FDR will battle the Ditas on August 7th for the MTLRD championship. Last time these two teams faced each other it was a one-point classic. No reason to expect anything different in the final.