COLUMBIA, SC – The pride of Malmo, Sweden, put in a strong showing to finish where they began in this playoff tournament, as #5 seeded Crime City Rollers fought back the tide of their cross-North Sea challengers, the 7 seed Rainy City from Manchester, UK. Crime City managed to take home their final win of the weekend, 142-112, and leaves with the 5th place tournament position.
Both teams started strong, with three major lead changes in the first 15 minutes of the game. Rainy relied on the proactive, braced three wall triangle that has been their blocking bread and butter all tournament to harass Crime City’s jammer. Their jammer rotation primarily consisted of team captain Curly Håår, Hanna P, and Prince Sofia.
Rainy City’s jammers also struggled with tight defense by the Malmo team, however. The major difference between the two teams ended up being how long they were able to run jams and score points. Crime City took frequent advantage of multiple scoring passes while holding up opposing jammers, while Rainy typically got only single passes before having to call it off.
Blocker penalties were also a major factor, as both teams struggled to keep full packs on the track throughout the game. Two-on-two starts were common sights and provided jammers opportunities to speed up packs and juke their way through spread out opponents.
Power jams also worked in Crime City’s favor for the first half especially, as primary Rainy City jammer Wolfe took 4 trips to the box. The Malmo team consistently sent offense into defensive packs to infiltrate and break up positioning, allowing Crime’s agile jammers just enough room to juke and weave by for points.
The final lead change came with a 14-0 jam for Crime’s Prince Sofia, partially due to Rainy bleeding off blockers until they were left with just one on the track. Clutch defense by Frix Rode kept Smack Mamba (who only jammed twice for Rainy) held up without ever completing an initial pass, fending off a star pass attempt and then recycling Smack well to back of the pack.
After that, Crime continued to open up their lead while Rainy struggled to keep up. With skaters on the track, Rainy continued to display quick thinking transitions and near seamless pack rotation and bridge work, but Crime was able to send targeted offense—usually in the form of Below Me, Dykestalker, and Sister Stitch—to open quick holes and spring their jammers. Both teams employed an effective strategy of single bridging skaters doubling as quick offense when the rear pack caught up, or quick hole plugging in the front as needed.
After another 10 unanswered points by Crime City, Rainy City’s bench coach Mick Swagger called a team time out to reset, but waited 20 seconds into the between-jam break to do so. The unusual timing would play out again and have major impact late in the second half of the game. It also didn’t stop Crime’s momentum, as they went on to put up a 9-2 jam with Hanna P playing defense on Wilde and successfully pulling a track cut penalty. The tables looked to turn as Hanna then also picked up a cut, but the penalty was immediately rendered moot when Wilde earned an illegal reentry and had to return immediately to the box.
By half time, Crime City had given themselves a comfortable, if not insurmountable, lead of 73-43 over the squad from Manchester.
The second half of the game saw a series of interesting events, including two successful official reviews – a rarity in roller derby – one each for Crime and Rainy. Early on, Rainy asked for a track cut on Curly Håår and won, giving Curly her first jammer penalty of the game (she earned one other as a blocker). Crime later asked for a destroying the pack call on a Rainy City blocker, and won that review. Coaches everywhere cheered.
But the name of the game continued to be multiple scoring passes and deft time management for Crime City. Both Wolfe and crucial blocker Fay Roberts cleaned up their acts considerably in the second, however, having racked up 4 and 6 penalties respectively, but then playing entirely clean for the remainder of the game.
GoGO Chanel proved herself a force to be reckoned with for Rainy, too, enjoying a 60% lead status overall, many times grinding it out against the opposing defense for a full minute to still come out before the other jammer. Rainy blockers Fay Roberts, Bruise ’em Banshee, and Ruthless Philly were stalwarts in the pack, frequently working to play quick, screening offense in order to open holes for jammers while also keeping a tight lock on the lines.
Even when Rainy picked up lead status, Crime was quick to turn the tide in their favor again: Faye-tal Blonde won lead but was followed shortly by Hanna P, who did battle with her long enough for the pack to speed up and catch them for a rare, successful ‘eating the baby’ play. That led to a blocking with the head penalty for Faye and a power jam for Hanna, who, despite a beating by a determined Missy Rascal, was able to put up 9 unanswered points.
Rainy mounted a brief comeback toward the latter part of the half, taking advantage of a run of blocker penalties against Crime City’s crew that included Below Me fouling out of the game after a botched star pass attempt led to two penalties in a row for the pivot. By 7:30 left in the game, the Manchester squad had narrowed the gap to just 16 points, with Crime up 117-101.
But things would swing back solidly into the favor of Crime City for the rest of the game, continuing to grab multi-pass jams and running the clock while Rainy City struggled to score.
In the end, the Swedish squad simply outplayed the Mancs, more able to exploit power jams and control the speed of packs while trusting their jammers to thread every available needle and put up multiple passes—all despite Rainy having a higher lead percentage in the second half. Final score came in at 142-112, with Crime City taking the win, and the fifth place exit from the tournament, leaving as they came in.
Curly Håår dominated for jammers, scoring with 80 points total, an 83.3 lead percentage, and a 60+ differential. She was followed by Prince Sofia at 32 points and Hanna P at 30. For Rainy City, Wilde posted the most points with 42, GoGO Chanel at 38, and Alex Valentine with 28. Blockers with the best point differentials were Frix Rode for Crime City at 24+, and Fay Roberts for Rainy at 17+.