Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wheel Bite preview - Hammer time.

For a team with as many miles on the track as the Minnesota RollerGirls - a league that has brought so many road teams to the Roy...where else to go but international?  On Saturday the 21st of November, your hometown MNRG All-Stars take on the 'Eh! Team' of Hamilton, Ontario.  Hammer City invades Minnesota, folks...and it's time to see how we play against a foreign power.

Here's what we know about this league:
Hammer City began playing in 2006 and currently have an active roster of about thirty players over two intraleague teams (in comparison, the MNRG numbers about seventy for this season). The league's no stranger to the road; Hammer City teams have competed in two tournaments and the Eh! Team has played teams across the nation in 'unofficial' bouts (that is, not sanctioned by WFTDA, our sport's umbrella organization.)  They became members of WFTDA in 2009 and are looking to play as many leagues as they can within our association.  Who better to play than the MNRG, one of WFTDA's founding leagues?

So this weekend, Hammer City will send their All-Stars...the 'Eh! Team' to the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium.  They'll be fielding fourteen players:

The HCRG Eh! Team:
Bitchslap Barbie #-98 (captain)
Vicadoom #4:20 (co-captain)
Perky Set #pi
Judge Jodie# 67
Mean Little Mama #0
Torinado #8
Snuffette #882
Eduskating Rita #2009
Carla Coma #621
Dicey #905
Cut Off #706
Little Red Rollerhood #7
Miss Carriage #33 1/3
Hawkeye Fierce #4077

Watch for jammer Carla Coma to find paths on the inside of the turns; she's got that ability to keep her head under pressure and keep her skates just within the track as she speeds through the apex of the corners.  If you're a fan of those single-skate high-risk jams, I'm pretty sure that you're going to like her style.  She and HCRG co-captain Vicadoom also share some lateral agility; they'll be the ones moving from side to side on the straightaways, looking for a path through MNRG blockers.  Oh yes, and the jammers of Hammer City are fast - their pack plays at a slower pace, but Carla Coma, Vicadoom, and Dicey all have some rockets built into those quads.

Their blocking staff seems to prefer a woman-on-woman defense in the back; watch for HCRG sweepers to go divebombing for our jammers all game long.  From the limited amount of tape we've been able to acquire, it seems that the front of the pack likes to work in pairs; Miss Carriage and Dicey look pretty tight up there, as do some of their other front blockers.

Also...Hammer City's blockers seem to like placing themselves as a unit in the front of the pack.  Now, this can be a useful tactic, and let me tell you why.  Say you've got two jammers coming around to make their scoring pass at about the same time; if your blockers are up front, your jammer can start scoring on your opponent's blockers before the other jammer can even put a point up.  There are downsides; the last blocker in such a pack can get slowed up and caught amidst the opponent's blocking staff.  If the opponent's team hits the breaks, your blockers are suddenly out of the pack - that amorphous location where both teams have the most players.  If you're out of the pack, you suddenly have a bunch of players who can't block without getting a trip to the penalty box.  The other problem?  Your jammer had better be mighty sure of herself; with no interference from your own blockers, it's just your jammer against your opponent's entire defensive line.

Clearly, the 'Eh! Team' should be a fun team to play against.  They've certainly had their opportunity to play other teams - Hammer City has travelled to Chicago, played against Madison's B-team (Team Unicorn), and have even played against up-and-comer Steel City (Pittsburgh). Hammer City's been getting ready for this match; their heads are probably full of ways to try to confound your own MNRG All-Stars.

The MNRG All-Stars:
Citizen Pain #F16
Coochie Coup #333
Diamond Rough #1837
Harmony Killerbruise #75
Honeydew Felon #25
Jax Kvaas #23
Lexi Cuter #187
Misfit Maiden #313

Psycho Novia #109
Scarmen Hellectra #28
Suzie Smashbox #91
Tiki Torture #H8U
Venus Thightrap #55
Vuedoo Prodigy #69

Couple of changes from the Carolina bout.  Sweet Justice is rumored to be working hard with her hometeam for January and has stepped aside for the fourth quarter, while All-Star co-captain Mitzi Massacre is bench coaching this bout.  This leaves two gaps to be filled on the roster.  Returning to the track is Garda Belt co-captain Citizen Pain, who'll likely be taking up her usual, frightfully-competent spot in the blocking staff. She'll be joined by last year's MNRG most improved player - Diamond Rough.  Watch for this ex-rugby player and fan favorite to be giving Hammer City a ride off the track.

What can we expect from our players?  It's hard to say.  Certainly, we'll be seeing Suzie Smashbox and Harmony shooting for points as well as the younger L'exi Cuter and Psycho Novia.  Novia and L'exi have each had one excellent game over the past few bouts; if both start scoring grand slams against Hammer City...well, it'll be hard for the Hamilton-based Canadiennes to catch up.

As before, our All-Stars will likely partner up to try to corner the players to the sides of the track.  We've been getting a lot of great results from isolating jammers from their blocking staff, either to then send a sweeper like Vuedoo or Honeydew to knock them out, or to just waste enough time that the jammer cannot score.

Also of note:

- If either team opens up a significant lead, watch for the play to start getting weird.  Slow packs off the whistle, clockwise skating, you'll know it when you see it.  Many of us watched the roller derby nationals via the Derby News Network this past weekend, and no one would be surprised to see the teams trying out some of the winning tactics from the tournament.  Incidentally, congratulations to the Oly Rollers of Olympia, WA - the newly-crowned champions of women's flat track roller derby.
- Watch that pack.  Everyone loves a jammer, but it's the blockers out there that make it hard for the opposing side to score.  October's victory against Carolina came about because MNRG's defensive line stopped Princess America and Holly Wanna Crackya, not simply because L'exi, Harmony, and Suzie had great games.  Even when our defensive lines were cracking because of penaltiy issues, the MNRG blockers kept the Carolina jammers to five points or less for every jam of the second half.  Blockers - and the pivots who sit on jammers in front and call plays - win games.

BUT WAIT...there's more.  We never just have one bout at the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium.  Our series of league mixers continue this month with a little game of cops and robbers:

The Cops:
Abbie Mischief
AliSin Chains
Anita Spankston
Bonnie Rotten
Cassie Rolle
Cookies 'n Scream
DieAnne Isis (captain)
Double D Fense
Gogo Galore
Hell N Ready
Norwegian Mafia
Rumblebee (captain)
Shady O'Dread
Shiv and Let Die
Stacy Wrekt 
Sweet Justice
Wanda Wreckonwith

Boombay Safire
Buffy the Vampire Skater
Candi Pain
Flora Flipabitch
Ice Pack
Killamon Jaro
Konceal and Kari
'Lil Tornado
Lola Blackenblue
Optimiss Crime
Ova Achieva
Patently Offensive
Rita Rawkus
Shiver Me Kimbers (captain)
Skullerateral Damage
Tara Skatesov
Trinity Knox
Trixie Whipsum
Wonderbroad (captain)

So.  Teams comprised of the players from the MNRG's past, present, and future - mashed up like a rickroll beaten by a sack of potatoes - take on each other.  Garda against Garda, veteran against veteran, [noun] versus [exactly the same noun] (you've seen this construction before, haven't you?). As in the previous mixer, it's hard to work out how this game will go down, but it might come down to how the rookies will be used. The October bout's Angels put together a more rookie-centric series of lines (that's derby jargon for the group of five players in a jam) than the Devils, and that may have been one reason that the forces of darkness overtook the folks with the halos.

That said, there's some great new players to keep an eye on.  Dagger Doll Patently Offensive had a tremendous debut in October.  Her speed-skating background showed as she raced for Devil points throughout the bout; the Dolls must be pleased about their new acquisition.  So, too, must the Gardas for Damnzelsly - though she had relatively few moments to play, we got to see some remarkable blocking precision from the new girl in green. And there's more to come; we've just met our newest players - plenty of time to find favorites amidst '09 rookies.

In short, derby.  Season six continues.  Join us on Saturday; in addition to everything we've laid out for you just now, we'll be bringing the Bratwurst Brothers for halftime, the Saint Paul Bouncing Team for a little preshow entertainment, and an afterparty at O'Gara's. We will see you there!

Reporting from where all the women are strong, all the men are accessories, and all the children turn left,
-Garrison Killer, MNRG sidelines reporter


Reverend Killjoy said...

Thanks for the preview, and I'm sorry to be missing the bout - I announced all of Hammer City's presence at Fall Brawl 2008, when they placed second to the Chicago Outfit in the non-WFTDA division. They were fun to watch, and though I rememeber names, details about most skaters are hard to recall. Enjoy the bout!
Oh and PS: Olympia, WA. :)

Garrison Killer said...

And that's why I post these here first. Between you and Harmony, I think I've knocked out the inaccuracies. Thanks, Killjoy.