Feb 19, 2019 | Bout News

Survival of the Fastest preview

The Minnesota RollerGirls will hit the track at the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium this very Saturday.

We've been talking about it all season, but at last it's here. The Golden Skate semi-finals. Two of our beloved home teams will punch their ticket to the Golden Skate finals on March 30th here at the Roy. Two will settle for third place and the right to raise the Bronze Bearing. The lineups are loaded; the teams are ready.

About the bout

  • Get to the bout early: First 200 through the door get an t-shirt on us. Doors open at 6.
  • Pre-Show: Step in time as Pros of the Rope joins for a pre-bout of astounding rope-based feats of skill.
  • Halftime: Purple Funk Metropolis
  • Jammers don't count when you lap them.

WAIT, WHAT?

Read that again. Scoring has changed. The opposing jammer no longer counts when you pass them. No more grand slams. It's FOUR big roller derby points now, sports fans.

Every couple of years, the WFTDA - the Women's Flat Track Derby Association - makes minor rule shifts that change the impact and speed of our sport. This year, the rule change is big, and you'll see it first on Saturday night.

You know how it works, right? When a jammer laps the track, they score one point for every opponent whose hips they pass. Since a team fields five players, jammers have always scored five points if they lap both the pack and the opposing jammer.

Starting Saturday, the opposing jammer no longer counts. This will keep the scoring tighter over the bout and make it just a little more likely that we'll see lead changes as teams trade laps.

Got it? Good. Let's get to the matchups.

Atomic Bombshells (2-1) vs Garda Belts (1-2)

Last month, the Garda Belts got VERY close to surprising the ABS with a little help from their friends on the Rockits. After trading leads through the bout, the Atomic Bombshells finally pulled away from the Garda-kits at the last minute. ABS 165-148 Gardas.

Garda Garda Garda

It's unknown whether the Gardas - currently a little short-staffed - will roster players from other teams, but the Bombshells will have their hands full again as Switch Please and Delilah Diamond lead a team of Garda jammers into battle. The unstoppable Switch laid down 96 points of the Gardas' 148, while Delilah picked up 39.

Be on the lookout for RamPaige, Baller, and Crust Almighty in the pack this Saturday. The Gardas' two captains have been working to get their team ready to upset the Atomic Bombshells' plans, while RamPaige raised her game against the ABS and played at the speed of her teammates Obscene Sheen and Siren Annie. Good stuff. Watch RamPaige go this week.

As to the defending champs?

The Atomic Bombshells are right on schedule. With four jammers scoring double digits, they've got a team of vets and newcomer scoring threats alike to take on the Garda Belts. Lazy Susan and Homo Erratic were certainly the stars of January's bout, scoring two-thirds of the points between them, but Peppers and Wheelie Nelson are just behind them.

And - perhaps most important - the standout blockers of the Atomic Bombshells in January have all joined in the past three seasons. Sugar Beatdown, Mercy, Barbell Fett, and co-captain Chocolate Pain all contributed heavily to the win. ABS torch pass: unlocked for the Nth year running.

So who's going ahead this weekend? Who's going to take on the winner of…

Rockits (3-0) vs Dagger Dolls (0-3)

The Rockits withstood an early scare in the opening minutes of their January bout. The Dolls charged from the jammer line and scored fifteen unanswered points…until Jacked Pipes responded with a 29-point jam and sent the Rockits hurtling into the stratosphere (Rockits 243 - 115 Dagger Dolls at the final).

Keys to a Dagger Doll success:

  • A low-penalty jammer rotation: The Dolls have to keep their penalties under control, particularly if they're wearing the jammer star. On jams where Doll jammers went to the box, the Rockits scored over 130 points. That's the entire point difference of last bout. Don't give them the opportunity to tear it up.
  • Take the straightaways: The Rockit jammers have been taking every opportunity to apex jump and use the extra space on the turns to wind through Dollies. Better to engage the Rockits where they have less space to maneuver - just protect those outside lanes where a jammer only needs one skate, not two.
  • Hold back the Pipes: If you're going to concentrate on one jammer, it's got to be Jacked Pipes. Though she only jammed five times in January, she averaged more than two laps on the Dagger Dolls. If you see Pipes on the track, you simply have to stop her.

How about the Rockits?

  • Take the lead and score some points…then keep doing it: Although the Dagger Dolls and Rockits grabbed the lead almost the same numbers of times (18 vs 16), the Rockits were able to hang on to that lead almost 50% more and scored multiple laps. This wasn't just Pipes; five different jammers in red lapped three or more times in a single jam.
  • Pod people: The Rockits work from a game plan that derby players call 'pods'. Pods are usually comprised of 5-6 players that train together and get to know one another's strengths through the season. These groups have been the backbone of the Rockit walls this year and mix-n-match with the jammers freely. Downside is? If your pods can't stop someone, remixing the teams halfway through the bout isn't likely to make things better. So far, it's been working pretty well.

There's no doubt this is going to be a hard fight for the Dagger Dolls. But really, there's no such thing as an easy bout at the Roy Wilkins. Let's see who comes out on top.

See you there, sports fans.

-Garrison Fjord