Mayday in HEL – an International tournament in Helsinki

Mayday in HEL – an International tournament in Helsinki Photo credit: Marko Niemelä Photography. facebook.com/punkmarkophotos

Over the weekend of May 14th and 15th, Helsinki Roller Derby held a two day tournament called Mayday in HEL in Helsinki, Finland. The tournament had five Division 1 teams, four of which are among the top five in Europe: Stockholm Roller Derby All-Stars and Crime City Rollers from Malmö from Sweden, London Rollergirl’s London Brawling from the UK, and the home team Helsinki Roller Derby All-Stars from Finland. There was also a team visiting from Canada, Montréal Roller Derby- New Skids on the Block, as well as a men’s game and a juniors game.

Day 1

Game 1: #18 Crime City Rollers vs #26 Helsinki Roller Derby
The game was very tough and defensive throughout. Both sides battled for the full 2 minutes in several jams without getting a clear lead, or just exited the pack a few seconds before the full jam time. The game focused on defence, and the first period was very even. In the second half, Malmö managed to untie Helsinki’s defensive knots a bit more, and made the necessary points to cruise into a 156-91 victory.

Game 2: Crime City Candy Snatchers vs. Helsinki Roller Derby Juniors

Junior skaters. Photo credit: Marko Niemelä Photography.

Junior skaters. Photo credit: Marko Niemelä Photography.

This game was a long awaited junior game, and the first game ever for Helsinki’s juniors. Crime City’s experience was more evident in the first period, while Helsinki was still learning from their opponent and slowly gaining momentum. The second period was much more even, and the jams got tighter and walls got stronger on both teams. Jammers were performing exceptionally well on both Helsinki and Crime City, and even apexes were spotted! The Crime City Candy Snatchers won the game 187-106.

Game 3: #4 London Rollergirls vs #14 Montréal Roller Derby
This was the game everyone had been waiting for because it was the highest level roller derby ever seen in Finland. The audience had difficulties deciding which of the two superstar teams to root for, but the neon colored underdog seemed to win their hearts a bit more. For the first period, London made two points for every one of Montréal’s points. The New Skids however, who played already one game the day before (a 183-106 win against Stockholm) and coached a boot camp earlier in the day, showed no marks of fatigue.

Montreal vs London. Photo credit: Marko Niemelä Photography.

Montréal vs London. Photo credit: Marko Niemelä Photography.

Both teams had very talented jammers although the slippery floor caused some problems, making toe stops almost useless and causing a few dog piles on the track. While the crowd always loves an apex jump, Rogue Runner delivered some on the straightaways. Montréal gained TerminateHer from Green Mountain this season, and she was an excellent addition to their jammer rotation. The final score was 208-78 in London’s favor.

Game 4: #26 Helsinki Roller Derby vs #20 Stockholm Roller Derby
Old frenemies meet again! This really even game was won by Helsinki with their deeper roster and clever strategies that out played Stockholm’s strengths. It took Helsinki one whole period to figure out how to keep the soap bar called Lil Slinky behind their walls however. Maybe it was also Helsinki’s advantage that they had already played one game on this floor, but on the other hand Stockholm had fresh legs. The final score went to Helsinki, 152-106.

Helsinki vs Stockholm. Photo credit: Marko Niemelä Photography.

Helsinki vs Stockholm. Photo credit: Marko Niemelä Photography.

Day 2

#14 Montréal Roller Derby vs #18 Crime City Rollers
The spirit in the hall was amazing for the start of Day 2, and the audience even had a singing contest before the first jam! Crime City was leading the game in the beginning of the first period, but due to a series of Malmö jammer penalties, Montréal managed to build a gap in the point differential, leaving the score at 70-41 in Montréal’s favour by halftime. Below Me #1 from Crime City managed to rotate the Montréal jammers impressively, even though a dramatic and unfortunate loose wheel forced her to stand one jam in the infield. Malmö returned strong in the second period and seemed to narrow the gap quickly, but the New Skids took the victory with a final score of 166-94.

Team Finland Men’s Roller Derby vs. England Men’s Roller Derby
As was expected, the audience was delivered a fast game that focused more on the offense when the two national men’s teams clashed in the early hours of the afternoon. England started strongly with the help of their leading jammer Reaper and his counterpart Alien-Al, and it took nearly 10 minutes of time until Keiski from Team Finland scored the first points for the white shirts. The biggest problem for Finland in the first half was caused by the high amount of penalties, but when the lineups were even, Team England really had to work for their points. The second half was clearly under English domination, and even when the Finns got their game under control, they had difficulties breaking the red walls, thus allowing the English side to cruise onward to a clear 286-72 victory.

Team Finland Men's vs England Men's. Photo credit: Marko Niemelä Photography.

Team Finland Men’s vs England Men’s. Photo credit: Marko Niemelä Photography.

#18 Crime City Rollers vs #20 Stockholm Roller Derby
The clash of the Swedish teams started very tight, with both teams defending to the last second of every jam. Crime City was leading at the half 63-45, and then solved the defensive Rubik’s cube of Stockholm during the break, and started to pile up points very effectively in the second half. They also gave Stockholm’s jammers a hard time, and went on to take the victory 158-68.

#14 Montréal Roller Derby vs. #26 Helsinki Roller Derby
This last game kept the audience on the edge of their seats and it was yet another intense, evenly matched game. Montréal maintained impressive stamina in their 4th game, after also holding a boot camp the previous morning, and still their skating looked effortless. Compared to the games from Day 1, Helsinki played a faster game with more offence by utilizing a detached blocker dedicated to helping their jammer. The second period started at 68-56 for Montréal and after five minutes the lead change to 74-68 for Helsinki. TerminateHer changed the lead again for Montréal, but Salla “Moomin” Karjalainen managed to take those points back on her jamming debut after a star pass.
Helsinki vs Montreal Photo credit: Marko Niemelä Photography.

Helsinki vs Montréal Photo credit: Marko Niemelä Photography.

The audience very vocally disagreed when Taru Saxelin had to sit for one minute due to a cut call and then an insubordination. The lead changes kept happening, which really gave the audience their money’s worth, and with 50 seconds left on the clock, Helsinki called a timeout while down 126-117. The audience chanted while both coaches gave instructions to their players and in the end the final score went to Montréal 136-121. Helsinki lost to the Canadians nearly a year ago at the Big O 258-175, so this game was much tighter than the audience had anticipated.
The audience took note of TerminateHer from Montreal, who was voted MVP jammer. Photo credit: Marko Niemelä Photography.

The audience took note of TerminateHer from Montreal, who was voted MVP jammer. Photo credit: Marko Niemelä Photography.

The tournament MVP’s, as voted by the fans, went to  Crime City Roller’s #1 Below Me for MVP blocker, and #1984 TerminateHer from Montréal for MVP jammer. You can watch the archived games for a limited time here: Day 1 & Day 2.