Pac Destruction: Day 3

Pac Destruction: Day 3 Photo by Matthew Becker Photography - www.mbeckerphoto.com

The London Rollergirls put off sanctioned play in 2015 until June, which meant they entered the United States perhaps a bit underranked at #11, as the rest of the top ten were active, and moved places around them. Their 294-56 loss to Gotham last July will linger on their stats going into playoff season, but it’s their performance this past week that shows what a strong competitor they will be in the tournament season.

With a clean sweep of their California games, Flat Track Stats puts London at #3. Angel City took their first win of the weekend over #12 Rocky Mountain, and a London/Texas matchup proved to be the game to watch.

#8 ACDG vs #12 Rocky Mountain, 251-129

The Angel City Hollywood Scarlets met Rocky Mountain 5280 Fight Club once before during last season’s playoffs, and Angel City took the win then by 56 points. At Day 3 of Pac Destruction, Angel City was able to slightly more than double the difference from their last matchup. With a decisive win over Rocky Mountain, Angel City finished the weekend with 1 win and 2 losses.

ACDG gained the first lead status of the game and were the first to put points on the board, something that the Hollywood Scarlets did in each game of Pac Destruction. Rocky Mountain responded with a lead jammer call of their own, and stole the lead from ACDG in the second jam. It was short lived  however, as Angel City regained control 5 minutes into the game.

Rocky Mountain vs Angel City. Photo by Matthew Becker Photography.

Rocky Mountain vs Angel City. Photo by Matthew Becker Photography.

Rocky Mountain gave Angel City an early pack advantage that lasted throughout multiple jams allowing ACDG to capitalize and pushed the score. Soon, much like their game against Texas, penalties on Rocky Mountain’s penalties jammers and blockers took its toll. The Fight Club were the first to give up a power jam, but Angel City returned the favor in the same jam after Satan’s Little Helper picked up a track cut while pirouetting on the inside line after taking a hit.

Rocky Mountain’s jammer picked up another penalty after reentering the track, passing the power jam back to Angel City. ACDG proved more effective on the penalty kill than Rocky Mountain, as they were continually able to hold Rocky Mountain on the initial pass for the duration of the penalty.

In the first half, Rocky Mountain abandoned the start strategy they relied on against Texas, instead choosing to line up on the jam line rather than the pivot line. By the second half, Rocky Mountain reverted to the pivot line and found more success by starting at the front.

Late in the second half, Angel City’s blockers fell into penalty trouble and Rocky Mountain was quick to take advantage of their leverage in the pack, earning lead and building their score. ACDG responded with a team time out and emerged refocused, holding Rocky Mountain scoreless for 3 jams. The point drought ended thanks to a power jam against Angel City, but unfortunately for Rocky Mountain, the jam ended in a power jam for ACDG.

Ultimately the sheer number of penalties against Rocky Mountain hurt their chances, and Angel City came away with the win, 251-129.

#11 London vs # 6 Texas, 166-134.

The final score of the game between London Brawling and the Texecutioners does not capture the close, back and forth battle that, for the majority of the game, was within 1 or 2 points. Jammer penalties were high on both sides, something that every team at the 2015 Pac Destruction experienced throughout the weekend. By the end of the game, Texas racked up more overall penalties, but fewer jammer penalties than London. Despite that, Texas fell to London in a WFTDA rankings upset, 166-134.

London elected to start at the pivot line for much of the game, leaving Texas to occupy the middle of the straightaway. This tactic proved advantageous to London by playing to their jammers explosiveness and agility.

Texas vs London. Photo by Matthew Becker Photography.

Texas vs London. Photo by Matthew Becker Photography.

Texas maintained an early lead, 15 minutes into the first half the Texans led, 46-16. A few power jams against Texas later, and London retook the lead by 1 point. For the rest of the first half and the first 15 minutes of the second, the teams kept the score mostly within 1-2 points, trading lead virtually every other jam.

Both teams played a similar style of defense: a braced four-wall designed to rotate and swarm the jammer, complemented by hit-outs and frequent recycling. London’s defense rotated more efficiently than Texas, providing greater track coverage. Texas struggled to move laterally in time to cover the inside line, which was deadly against the jukey and explosive, Lexi Lightspeed and Rogue Runner.

Texas trailed late in the game, but had an opportunity to close the gap when London’s jammer was sent to the box, leaving Freight Train on a power jam. The Texecutioners’ power jam ended quickly as Freight Train was called out on a forearm.

London continued their winning streak in California with an upset over Texas, 166-134.

#11 London vs #12 Rocky Mountain, 233-101

In the battle between the closest ranked in the tournament, this game certainly didn’t feel like that estimation.

Rocky came on strong in the first minutes of play, amping up past 8 unreplied points. As so often happens in roller derby though, starting out strong isn’t always indicative of how the rest of the game will go. A handful of minutes later, even a speeding pack wasn’t about to dissuade Mainey from taking game leading points for London on a 9-point jam. She also turned, and engaged the opposing jammer who was returning from the box, holding Rocky once again on points.

By 10 minutes in to the game, London had firmly taken charge, leading the points 32-14. Even a Sweet Mary Pain lead grab was baffled by four-braced defensive blockers at the front by London, who wouldn’t let her gain any inches forward in the pack.

You can catch a hint of Juke Boxx's massive black eye in this photo by Matthew Becker Photography.

You can catch a hint of Juke Boxx’s massive black eye in this photo by Matthew Becker Photography.

As the game entered the second quarter, Rocky seemed to have begun to figure out the jamming tactics of London, as Smackanawa was confounded by recycling and constantly moving and engaged defensive play.

The game continued with London holding onto an approximate 2:1 ratio to Rocky’s additions, and didn’t seem in any danger of slipping out of London’s control. By the final jam of the first period, Rocky had hemorrhaged blockers and a jammer to the box, and London pushed further than double their score, to enter the break with 96-40.

The return to play gave us the usual possibility that some serious ‘locker room’ conversations had happened during half-time, to bring one team out as an even more solid contender for the game win. This time it was London who pulled ahead of their already more than respectable performance, holding Rocky to only 43 points long into the period, as they continued ticking up their score. By the time Rocky scored again, with a little over 23 mins left in the game, London had already ticked themselves up to 125.

London wasn’t about to let go of the reigns on this game, and so their relentless climb continued as they finished off their California adventure in the intensely engaged winning style they’d entered it, taking a final 15-point jam to finish the tournament on a 3-0 winning streak that gave them a total 5-0 record for their Brawlifornia trip.