Welcome to “Live Your Life 2 Minutes at a Time.” After announcing a countless number of bouts over the past four years, I have decided to add blogger to my derby resume. Hey, all the anchors and pundits at ESPN are doing it, so why can’t I? This blog is solely my point of view and in no way reflects the views or opinions of my home league, The Cincinnati Rollergirls. I am not writing this blog for “scene points” or to make friends. I am writing this column for the simple fact that I love roller derby and enjoy talking about it.
One of the greatest things about sports are the story lines, drama, and predictions associated with them. I will not make personal attacks at anyone with my blog, but at the same time, I am not going to pull any punches and I plan to tell it like it is. My goal is to spur discussion and debate in the derby community and help convert casual fans into diehards that come back bout after bout to see the best sport in the world. Thoughts, props, and hate mail can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and feel free to check out my website, http://www.tankofalltrades.com.
The 2009 WFTDA Regionals are upon us. This year the top 40 teams will slug it out in 4 regionals tournaments for 12 open spots for nationals. With the WFTDA doubling the amount of regionals, more teams then ever before have a chance to capture the Hydra.
In the past, major story lines have concluded and new ones have developed at regionals. The only thing that is for sure is the unpredictability of what will happen. Will another number 1 seed get bounced from the ball early, like Madison did at Heartland Havoc in 2007? What team will come out of nowhere to be the Duke City of 2009? Can Texas make it back into the national championship game for the first time since the original Dust Devil? Will Boston finally make nationals? Is now Charm City’s time? Are Rat City, Carolina, and BAD slipping as elite, high caliber programs? Can someone finally defeat the Beast from the East known as Gotham? Read on to get my take on these questions and more. Sit down and strap in–the road to the national championship begins now with my predictions for the Eastern Regionals.
Eastern Regionals: Wicked Wheels of the East
Dates: September 11-13
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
The East Regionals will host some of the largest battles since Destroy All Monsters. With only 3 spots available for nationals, 5 of DNN’s top 12 teams will be fighting tooth and nail for them. Providence and Steel City want to crash the party while Connecticut, DC, and Dominion hope to win a game or 2 against some of the best competition in the nation.
1. Gotham Girls Roller Derby: The Gotham Girls have had a chokehold on the derby world for nearly 2 years now. With an impressive 16-game win streak, they are definitely a top contender to repeat as back to back national champions. However, Gotham has shown that they aren’t invincible and have some chinks in their armor, as Texas was beating them in the second half before TXRG’s Achilles’ heel, penalties, reared its ugly head. That being said, I don’t see them getting their first loss in a long time in this tournament. Suzy Hotrod and Bonnie Thunders are the best one-two punch in roller derby today and have blocker/jammer hybrids Beatrix Slaughter, Brigitte Barhot, and Hyper Lynx to help shoulder the load. Plus with Ana Bullocks, Ginger Snap, and Hard Anya in the pack, they are stocked to win the number 1 seed of the East for Nationals. They will go through Providence and while Carolina or Boston will give them more of a challenge, Gotham’s real competition won’t come until the championship game.
2. Philly Roller Girls: The bridesmaids of the East Coast are looking to get their first W over Gotham and net a trip to the Nationals in the process. Philly has come on strong in the past 2 years, taking on top level competition all year long with big victories over Rat City, Kansas City, and beating number 2 Windy City on their home track breaking WCR’s undefeated streak at home. Lead by the triple threat known as Violet Temper, Philly’s talent pool is deep. The jammer corps are stacked with Mo Pain, Persephone, Dara Licks, and Teflon Donna. Shenita Stretcher, Robin Drugstores, and Nina Knockout are brutal pack players that look to blast anyone who lines up against them. It’s not always sunny in Philadelphia, however, as they recently dropped their first game of the season to conference rivals, Charm City. That being said, the Philly team that shows up will decide if they are the first seed or the third. If they are on, they CAN beat Gotham, but if they are having an off weekend, Charm City will prove their victory was no fluke by doing it again.
3. Charm City Roller Girls: The yellow and black attack has put together one of the toughest schedules this season to prep for Regionals, including playing back to back games against two WFTDA teams in a night. Dolly Rocket has made a name for herself as arguably the best pivot in the game today and a personality that you either love or hate. Look for Joy Collision to use this tournament and nationals to cement herself as one of the top 10 jammers in all of the WFTDA. The Duchess of Torque, Flo Shizzle, Just Carol, and the rest of the Charm City bench are primed to launch themselves into their first berth at nationals. Charm has already proven they can beat upper echelon talent as they hold victories over Rat City, Boston, Carolina, Detroit, and Philly. While they do have some stand out players, I don’t think their bench is deep enough to get a victory over Gotham. However, regionals are the time of the year when what shouldn’t happen does happen, and if Charm could get Gotham or Philly into penalty trouble, they have a shot to upset both of them.
4. Carolina Roller Girls: 2009 has not been a good year for the once mighty Carolina Roller Girls. This season, Carolina decided to test themselves by taking on the very best teams in the WFTDA. While that was an ambitious idea, the toughest schedule in the nation has left them with a 1-6 record. What made them a stand out program 2 years ago, strategy and skate skills, has been been adopted by leagues with bigger, faster, and stronger skaters, thus stifling their finesse game. On the bright side, they are still ranked number 4 in their division and it’s about how you play that weekend in tournaments, not how you played all year. Playing nothing but the best in game this season will have CRG battle hardened for the East and they have played in big games before, so nerves won’t be an issue for vets such as Princess America, Holly Wanna Crackya, and DVS. Plus we get to see Boston vs. Carolina III, a series that has seen CRG win the previous 2 bouts by a total of 3 points. Will Carolina get some wins this weekend? Yes, definitely, as they still have a lot of talent. Will they go to Nationals? My magic 8 ball says “doubtful.”
5. Boston Derby Dames: Boston has been the on the outside looking in at the national tournament for two straight years now. They lost in overtime in 2007 to Detroit and then to Carolina in 2008 by 2 points. Boston’s skate skills are second to none and they can stall block opponents with the best of them. Their problem is, they don’t have strong enough pack players when they play physical teams like Texas, Gotham, and Philadelphia who open holes in the pack with good old fashioned heavy checking. They also always seem to come up short in big, must-win games, which could mess with them mentally in the later rounds of this tournament. With Clarie D. Way on the line and Pussy Venom, Lois Carmen Dominator, and Krushpuppy in the pack, Boston will continue to be a top-tier program. At the same time, I just don’t seem them beating Gotham, Philly, or Charm City. Boston will make it into the 3rd vs. 4th place game, but for the third straight year I think they will be shut out of nationals.
6. Providence Roller Derby: Don’t call it a comeback: Providence has been here for years. 2008 was a rough year as the Riveters lost a number of players from their 2007 squad, including Dolly Rocket to Charm City. Hard work and a no-quit attitude has paid off for 2009 as they have got back into the win column on a regular basis. Craisy Dukes, Jetta Von Diesel, Shelby Bruisin’, and Baby Fighterfly all have game, but there is a big gap between the top 5 and the bottom 5 teams in the East regionals. On top of all this, their first game of the tournament is against Gotham, which is equal to having to battle Tyler Durden at your first night in Fight Club. 2009 was way better then 2008, but Providence is going to have to wait till at least 2010 to start thinking nationals.
7. Steel City Derby Demons: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is known for breeding large, dominant football players and the same can be said about their daughters when it comes to roller derby. Steel City is 7-2 in their past 9 games and they have broken 100 points in each one of those bouts. While I do think they will handle Dominion, they are woefully unprepared for in-state rival Philly in the next round. Look for Detroit transfer Kat Von D’stroya to help bring fellow jammers Hurricane Heather and The Crippler up to a whole new level. This tournament will also be a great learning experience for human bulldozers Athena and Betty Bonecrusher to see how the elite pack players play. 2009 has been good for Steel City, and now it’s time to put some higher level competition on the 2010 schedule to prepare for next year’s regionals and continued ascension up the ladder.
8. Connecticut Rollergirls: 2009 has a been a big year for Connecticut and by that I mean, they either win big or they lose big. They are one of the few teams in the East that I have never seen play as I have always been calling other games at ECE when they have been skating. Going by the data I have collected from flattrackstats.com, they should match up fairly even with DC in the opening round. However, whoever wins that game is going to walk headfirst into the wood chipper known as Charm City. Scheduling more inter-league games next year will help prep them for the 2010 regionals.
9. DC Roller Girls: The DC Roller Girls might be saying “Yes, we can,” but realistically their chances of making nationals is on par with Sarah Palin winning the presidency in 2012. However, things are looking up in the nation’s capital as DC has gone 3-1 in its past 4 games. Look for this to be a great learning experience for them as they continue to improve. As I stated above, DC and Connecticut should give us a fun game to kick off the tournament, but if they get the W, they aren’t getting past Charm City.
10. Dominion Derby Girls: It’s been over a year since Dominion has won an inter-league game. While I would like to see them get a W, I don’t think it’s in the cards at this tournament. Every sports team has its down years, and hopefully 2010 will treat the ladies from Hampton Roads much more kindly.
I can’t wait for this weekend, as the top 2 teams who come out of it will be heavy favorites to win nationals. I am in the process of moving but hope to get my preview of the North Central regionals up either next week or at the very least two. The North Central is going to be intense, especially with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th seeds being so close in talent and a slot to nationals on the line. Until then, remember to live your life two minutes at a time.