COLUMBIA, SC – #7 Rainy City Roller Derby knew they had a mountain to climb when facing off against #2 Jacksonville Rollergirls. The skaters from Greater Manchester came to Beach Brawl this year to test their mettle against American teams, hoping to gain a D2 playoff berth, and they not only broke into D1 play, but confidently beat veteran playoff attendees Steel City, the tournament’s #10 seed, in the first round.
Jacksonville comes into the tournament at #2 having played six Top 20 teams this season, and with a new addition to their roster, veteran skater Snot Rocket Science. Though Jacksonville has been using Snot frequently as a blocker so far this season, they seem to have put her in jammer rotation for the weekend alongside Jamsterella, Krispy Kreme-Her, and Patti Smithereens, since Erin Jackson is currently taking part in an international skating event elsewhere in the world.
The first half started with Jacksonville busting out into the lead, going on a huge 31-1 run in the first four jams, and essentially closing Rainy City out of the game during that time. Whether the game that Rainy had played earlier in the day had them winded remained to be seen.
Rainy City took the time to display their deep jammer bench, with the likes of Wilde, Smack Mamba, Alex Valentine, GoGo Chanel, and Faye-tal Blonde, but when they had to contend with the blocking of Jacksonville’s Legs R Us, Kat Von, and Fancy Schmancy, few points could make it past. Eirinn Go Brawl and Atomic Mel-Down were particularly good at dropping into Rainy City tripods and blowing them apart for the New Jax jammers.
The Rainy tripods, which had been so successful against Steel, were just not iron-clad enough against Jacksonville. At the half, Jacksonville led 133-24.
Coming back from halftime, Rainy City came out making a statement, holding Jacksonville scoreless for the first two jams, and Wilde put up 8 points of her own. The Rainy City tripod became a flexible box, causing Snot to pass the hat in Jam 3 to prevent Alex Valentine from scoring more than 5 points.
Jam 11 saw Alex Valentine pass the star to Ruthless Philly. Alone with Missy Rascal, and against Jamsterella, they not only helped Philly earn 10 points, but drew a track cut on Jamsterella, keeping her score to only 9 points on the jam. Rainy’s first jammer penalty of the second half didn’t come until Wilde got called for a low block (and then a track cut) in Jam 16. Otherwise, Wilde had a killer game, putting up 45 points and gaining lead 7 of her 12 jams. Blocker Fay Roberts had another impressive game, guarding the lines and neutralizing Jacksonville blockers.
“Team Legs” (Bruise ‘Em Banshee, Ruthless Philly, Missy Rascal, and Liz Yeatman) was especially fun to watch against this New Jax squad. Two years ago, Jacksonville played very much like this Rainy City squad, just favoring different formations. New Jax has more experience at a higher level as a team than Rainy and it was why they were successful in this game. You could see it in their reaction time, and their anticipation of events on the track. Rainy moved a little too much, opening holes a little too often, and tried to play fast against the team that defined the fast game derby game in Florida. Jamsterella was Jacksonville’s top jammer, scoring 89 points and gaining lead 7 of her 13 times with the star.
Jacksonville blocking squads are little electron clouds, they move around, but never stray too far from their core and never work against each other. As a unit, they effortlessly bait a fast game at will. When absorbing a jammer they never used a true wall, so much as utilize each other’s strongest blocking abilities to delay and exterminate. Despite that, Rainy was resilient and even Fancy Schmancy commented on the strength of their hits.
Jacksonville Rollergirls beat Rainy City Roller Derby 214-96. That is not a huge margin for a 2 Seed versus a 7 seed. I think it’s safe to say that Rainy City is for real and we can expect to see them as a threat in future D1 tournaments.
Jacksonville moves on to play Denver Roller Derby (#3) Saturday night at 8pm EDT to determine who will clinch an invite to Champs and who will have to fight for Bronze. Last year at the Division 1 Playoffs in Jacksonville, these two teams faced off and Jacksonville took the upset. It’s safe to say, Denver wants payback.
Rainy City will drop into consolation and play Saturday at 4pm EDT against the winner of the Ann Arbor (#9) versus Santa Cruz (#6) game.