Sunday, November 15, 2009

Upset Mania! Declaration of Derby - Day 2

Once again bringing you a wrapup of the days events at the WFTDA Nationals, it's everyone's favorite crotch, Crotch Rock-It!

Oh. My. God. Today completely made up for Friday's lack of surprises, as half of today's six bouts resulted in upsets when two number-one seeds and a favored number-two seed lost their chance at the Hydra. I'll leave the play-by-play action to Justice Feelgood Marshall at Derby News Network, but I will give you my impressions on each of these intense bouts.


Boston showed everyone today that they are a team on the rise as they played very competively against Texas. The Massacre had a rough time in the first half as they trailed 60-26, but they actually outscored Texas 46-41 in the second half to lose by a respectable 111-72. Some may argue that Texas was saving themselves for the semifinals, but I've never heard of the Texacutioners doing anything less than racking up as many points as possible against their foes. Even though this was the only matchup in the quarterfinals that went as I expected, Boston will be a team to look out for next season.

Philly vs. Rocky Mountain. Now here is where things get interesting folks. I find it a bit ironic that Philly entered the track to the Rocky theme song, because tonight was certainly Rocky's night to shine. For the first 16 minutes of the bout, they completely shut down Philly's offense and led 28-3. Philly was finally able to start putting a few points up as the score reached 65-44 to Rocky at the half. Then Philly finally realized that the Hydra wasn't going to just be handed to them as a gift from the derby gods for beating Gotham a few months ago and for hosting this whole shindig. They kicked it in gear and lead for some of the second half but as the bout drew to a close, they were tied at 111. I've never seen an overtime jam before, and this one was quite thrilling to watch, but unfortunately for Philly, it didn't end as well for them as it did in Regionals, as Rocky was able to score a grand slam and put the game away, 128-121. Rocky's cinderella hopes were still alive.

Next up was Windy City vs. Denver. I was really looking forward to watching Windy beat the snot out of Denver, as was most of the audience, but alas, it was not to be. Denver continued with the excruciating-to-watch strategy of taking smoke breaks on the track, and I was horrified that Windy fell into the trap just as badly as KC did, falling behind 101-52 at halftime. Windy was able to close the gap later on, but couldn't seal the deal as Denver held on to win it 157-125. I'm gonna take a moment to editorialize here, because it's my blog and I'll say whatever the hell I want. Plus, that's what blogs are for. I hope that Denver's slow pack strategy of often stopping and sometimes even going backwards, dies a slow and painful death in the bowels of derby hell. Nobody likes to watch it, and I don't give a rat's ass if it is effective sometimes, as it was for Denver twice (note that I didn't say three times!!!) in the tournament. Any sport is ultimately about pleasing the fans, and the fans all voted tonight with deafening boos directed towards Denver. Mile High ladies, I've got nothing against y'all personally, but please cut that shit out.

A halftime show highlighting all that was wrong with the 80's

The final bout of the quarterfinals pitted Gotham against Oly. I was impressed with Gotham last night, but I was floored by Oly tonight as they slammed the door on Gotham's hopes for a title repeat and forever shut up the naysayers that they were just a bunch of speed skaters who couldn't play derby. This bout was everything the WC/Denver bout wasn't: fast, physical, fun mutha-f'ing derby! They exchanged blows and the lead for an entire 60 minutes, but in the end Oly pulled what I consider to be an upset with a 136-105 win. As I watched this bout progress, I couldn't help but feel that a torch was being passed. As Gotham has lost two out of their last three, Oly is now the standard-bearer. Oly is the new Gotham. Oly is for real folks. Be very afraid, especially you, Denver!!!

Rocky Mountain is another up-and-comer like Boston that everyone should beware of next season, but Texas showed that they deserve a shot to bring the Hydra home to Austin by turning Rocky's cinderalla hopes into rags, a pumpkin, and a bunch of mice. Rocky stayed in the hunt for the first half, trailing only 76-49, but the Texacutioners pulled away in the second and finished ahead 139-82. DeRanged and Psycho Babble are a great addition to Rocky, but Texas frustrated the hell out of them to the point where DeRanged actually took a swing at the back of a Texas helmet, and she was rewarded with an expulsion and suspension from the consolation bout tomorrow. As DeRanged was escorted off the track, Psycho Babble looked mutinous, but her bench coach was able to calm her down enough to finish the bout. It's a shame that hot tempers cast a shadow on an otherwise stellar tournament season for Rocky, and they may have their hands full tomorrow against Denver without DeRange's help.

The final bout of the night was Oly vs. Denver. This was an immensely fun bout to watch as Oly made a laughingstock of Denver's previously successful strategy. Every time Denver attempted to stop the pack, Oly's ridiculously fast and agile jammers just whipped right on by and thanked Denver for making their job so easy. Eventually Denver gave up going slow and were forced to go at Oly's preferred high pack speed. Oly cruised to an easy 178-91 victory and earned a spot in tomorrow's championship bout. I said originally that I hoped Texas wins the Hydra, and I still do, but I wouldn't mind one bit if Oly won either, because they are a stellar team and a complete package now that they have their pack strategy down and have mostly sorted out their previous penalty issues. Plus, Hazmat and I both have a derby crush on Atomatrix now. I can't wait to see two of the most entertaining teams in all derbydom duke it out for the championship tomorrow!!!


  1. Nice post. Thanks.

    Just a note: in the national tournament bouts that I saw (not all of the bouts), Madison, RMRG, Denver, and Oly (in the championship bout) were teams which completely stopped their packs at points during their bouts.

    You noted that counter-strategies were available to derail stopped pack tactic, and that Oly successfully employed one such strategy.

    Tactics, strategies, and rules are still evolving in contemporary, competitive derby. Currently, pack stopping is a sometimes successful tactic, one employed by three of the top four placing teams in this year's WFTDA national tournament.

    We shall see what the future holds.

    The spectator addiction to constantly fast, forward-motion skating is a throwback to the dumb old scripted derby (or to the contemporary scripted Bay Area Bombers-style derby). Scripted derby is available for those spectators who still require a constant, counter-clockwise velocity.

    Best wishes to all.

  2. I think there is an argument for stopping the pack as dumb old scripted derby. Two words: Whip It.

    Picture that scene.

    If the rules are in place here to protect skaters (as they should be in these mostly skater run leagues), then the ol' stop & clock should be completely illegal. As evidenced by the RMRG/DRD bout. It's dangerous and just barely legal right now.

  3. Also, it might be effective, but so is hiding a razor blade in yr wristguard....

  4. Chuckling at your descriptions in these nationals posts of Denver's pack stopping/reversing. I was at nationals for the quarter- and semi-finals; as a fan of both modern derby and (decades ago) scripted derby, I too was infuriated ... and booed as we Philly sports fans like to do. Didn't seem right. Packs need not always move fast but they must move forward IMO.