The saying “Everything’s Bigger in Texas” is an apt describer for this weekend’s Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA) Championship tournament as this year’s cycle of the postseason contains king-sized narratives across the board.
“LoneStar Showdown” launches this Saturday in North Richland Hills, Texas, with a slate of six games that builds to Sunday morning’s semifinal pairings, and the event’s ensuing trophy tussle later that night.
The ten-team bracketed tournament is similar in complexion to the WFTDA Playoffs in its opening day, quarterfinal format. However, in order for the event to be concluded within a two-day time frame, a true consolation bracket that determines finishes for fifth to tenth place does not exist. A team’s respective seed was determined by the MRDA Fall Rankings that were released earlier this month.
Stories to follow this weekend include defending MRDA Champion GateKeepers Roller Derby seeking its second straight trophy, while three-time champion Your Mom Men’s Derby aims to reclaim a title lost last October. Meanwhile, event host Texas Men’s Roller Derby, last year’s bronze medalists, desires higher placement while fourth-seeded Bridgetown Menace craves its first-ever semifinal appearance.
“LoneStar Showdown” also features the first-ever Canadian entrant to the MRDA post-season, a highly motivated British squad that looks for potential upsets, a New York-state legacy team that wants to “get back into the black,” a perennial outcast from Washington State that eyes semifinal placement, and an entertaining rematch from last year’s opening round.
Here is a capsule summary of the teams competing at “LoneStar Showdown”:
1) GATEKEEPERS ROLLER DERBY – St. Louis, MO – (9-0)
The defending MRDA Champs were dominant during its unblemished regular season. St. Louis netted invitational sweeps at the Big O, Midwest BrewHaha and the newly-founded Sibling Rivalry in June. The GateKeepers collectively outscored its opponents, 2,952-616, in its nine sanctioned games. Toughest challenge this season was a 146-111 victory over #5 New York at Sibling Rivalry. A high-octane offense, combined with a lockdown on defense, sets the tone as St. Louis enters the weekend with a winning streak of 18 MRDA-sanctioned games.
Per custom, solid depth is at the forefront with jammers Magnum P.I.M.P., Corey Porter, Shane Bower, David Metcalfe, and ScreechAround propelling the scoring. Veteran blockers Percy Controll, Bled Zeppelin, Spin Diesel, The Saint, Double Excel, Hulk, Kyle Stark, Wrecking Bill, Nate Bower and a host of others return to defend the title and the 2016 additions of jammer Sir Nixalot and blocker The Doc adds to the charter’s strength.
Back-to-back titles are the goal for the GateKeepers. They certainly possess the line-up to achieve it.
FIRST SATURDAY GAME: Quarterfinals – Saturday 7 PM vs. Winner of Magic City/San Diego
2) YOUR MOM MEN’S DERBY – Des Moines, IA – (5-0)
The loss of the annual Spring Roll Invitational arguably hemmed the three-time MRDA champion (2012-14) as the Iowans traditionally utilized the event to hone its craft with three sanctioned games. Without a big event in its 2016 portfolio, the squad scrambled to obtain enough sanctioned contests before the cutoff to qualify for post-season eligibility. YMMD recorded a pair of overwhelming August wins over #21 Twin Cities and a 429-point win over #37 Bizman Bombers in order to secure berth. Late-September tune-ups against #27 Sioux City and #15 Denver also had lop-sided results. The questions remains, does the lack of strength of schedule hamper a team heading into a competitive weekend?
YMMD still believes that it’s one of the best within the men’s sport, and the charter this weekend has the ability to prove naysayers wrong. Veterans Frank Not So Hotra, Seahorses Forever, Arsonl, and Cleveland Stever already have three MRDA gold medals in their possession. Rollomite, Scott Slamilton, Cory Pain and Chuck Taylor are also projected to make significant impacts during the weekend.
FIRST SATURDAY GAME: Quarterfinals – Saturday 5 PM vs. Winner of Southern Discomfort/Vancouver
3) TEXAS MEN’S ROLLER DERBY – Denton, TX – (8-1)
This year some critics might argue that due to the strength of TXMRD’s schedule, they should have been designated as the weekend’s number two seed. Starting with Saturday’s quarterfinal meeting with #6 Puget Sound, a league they beat by +200 at the Big O, the event’s host desires to reach the gold medal game this weekend by utilizing a combination of derby smarts and ruthless aggression. The lone setback during the regular season was against the top-seeded GateKeepers at Midwest BrewHaha but the Texans did score three nice wins at the Big O over MRDA Top 10 competition. Their other five sanctioned victories during the regular season had differentials of +350 and above.
Jamming is propelled by The Enabler, Dr. Feelgood, Johnny West, and Elkeberry Jam while veteran blockers Rhino, TIP, Kyle Divers, Rufio, and others lay down very physical walls. If TXMRD nets a quarterfinal win over #6 Puget Sound and advances to a projected semifinal meeting with Your Mom, don’t be surprised if the Lone Star State doesn’t rise supreme and gain entry to its first-ever MRDA championship game.
FIRST SATURDAY GAME: Quarterfinals – Saturday 1 PM vs. Puget Sound Outcasts
4) BRIDGETOWN MENACE – Portland, OR – (4-2)
As the fourth seed, the Menace finds themselves in a position to claim their first-ever spot in the MRDA semifinals, and optimism is high considering its late-season push. After finishing the Big O 1-2, the Menace collected three wins in August, including a 45-point duke over then-higher-ranked New York Shock Exchange which resulted in a rankings’ leapfrog. Solid victories over competitive #11 Mass Maelstrom and #12 also helped obtain the franchise’s post-season benchmark. A rematch against NYSE in Saturday’s quarterfinals should arguably be considered the “must-watch” game of the day.
Jammers Don Juan, Shreddy Mercury, Ill Nino, and Munster propel the scoring while blockers Defensive Destroyer, Juke Blocks Hero, Cozmo Damage, and others provide stellar blocking. The Menace certainly raised MRDA eyebrows with its collective late-sprint and will look to keep that momentum rolling this weekend.
FIRST SATURDAY GAME: Quarterfinals – Saturday 3 PM vs. New York Shock Exchange
5) NEW YORK SHOCK EXCHANGE – New York, NY – (4-2)
The 2011 MRDA Champ certainly elevated its portfolio, promotional-wise, with an appearance on CNBC earlier this year. Now it looks to enter the Lone Star State and supplant its legacy brand. The aforementioned August loss to Bridgetown certainly stung, but the team played inspired derby at June’s Sibling Rivalry, finishing 2-1 while giving the top-seeded GateKeepers all sorts of fits in a competitive game. A pair of dominant wins over #11 Mass Maelstrom and #29 Capital District at the 2016 Battle of Bunker Hill in May helped secure its placement in the Top 5. The goal this weekend for the businessmen is to prove that the loss to the Menace was a one-time affair and reclaim its rightful place in the semifinals.
Jammers Jonathan R, Carnage Assada, I AM HAVOC, Kenbo Slice, and Abe Drinkin’ will all don the star this weekend while veteran blockers Malcolm Sex, IDon’t Care Bear, Otter Matic and others will set the tone. It’s a given that NYSE is not too pleased to be slotted as the fifth seed and looks to enact revenge over Bridgetown in Saturday’s quarterfinal round.
FIRST SATURDAY GAME: Quarterfinals – Saturday 3 PM vs. Bridgetown Menace
6) PUGET SOUND OUTCASTS – Seattle, WA – (4-3)
The Outcasts are always in the thick of things when it comes to the post-season and it faces a tough challenge in its opening quarterfinal game against Texas. The squad picked up a pair of wins at Sibling Rivalry which included a triple-digit triumph over Champs entrant Magic City. An August tune-up against unranked Thunderquads Roller Derby Masculino (Buenos Aries, Argentina) resulted in a 312-102 duke. On Saturday, the Outcasts need another high-octane output to keep pace with the event’s host.
With veterans Quadzilla, Cpl. Punishment, Dylan Botts, Ryrod, and Tommy Gun returning for another post-season, Puget Sound certainly has the depth to make a stab for the semifinals. The Outcasts are also expecting heavy rotations at jammer from both Stark and Mamba, who certainly impressed at both the Big O and Sibling Rivalry. They missed out on the Final Four last season and crave a return to Sunday’s winner portion of the bracket.
FIRST SATURDAY GAME: Quarterfinals – Saturday 1 PM vs. Texas Men’s Roller Derby
7) SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT ROLLER DERBY – London, UK – (4-0)
At last year’s MRDA Champs weekend, the Brits were winless and, just perhaps, that provided motivation for this season. While dominating play at the British Roller Derby Championships-Men’s Tier 1 Premiere, Southern Discomfort racked up four sanctioned victories, three of which had winning differentials of over 300 points. On Saturday, they have to out-hustle the tenth seed, unbeaten Vancouver, and then score a bracket buster over second-seeded Your Mom Men’s Derby in order to make it to Sunday’s semifinals. There is the possibility that the UK will get its travel money’s worth this weekend as it could play up to four games this weekend.
It’s not an impossible goal because a good percentage of the team’s starting roster contains numerous skaters that competed with Team England at the Men’s Roller Derby World Cup this past summer. Veterans Blitzkrieg, Reaper, Sutton Impact, Ballistic Whistle, Shrooms, and a whole host of others will utilize Champs familiarity in order to gain an edge over the Canadian newcomers.
FIRST SATURDAY GAME: Quarterfinal Play-In – Saturday 9 AM vs. Vancouver Murder
8) MAGIC CITY MISFITS – Orlando, FL – (2-2)
The Floridians return for its second consecutive post-season, and finds itself at the same seed as 2015. The squad’s even record in the regular season was determined by a 1-2 finish at Sibling Rivalry, highlighted by a 363-31 victory over #21 Twin Cities. The Misfits also had an ultra-competitive scrimmage against WFTDA Champs entrant Jacksonville in February, and notched a 145-138 victory. Saturday’s quarterfinal play-in is a 2015 Champs rematch against ninth-seeded San Diego.
Jeremy Strecker, Christopher Harrell, Chuck Best, Token, Christopher Smith, Michael Bratz, and others return for another cycle. The Misfits posted a 29-point win in last year’s back-and-forth tourney tussle with the Aftershocks. Given an edge in depth of charter compared to last year, they might widen the result this Saturday and advance to face the top-seeded GateKeepers later that night.
FIRST SATURDAY GAME: Quarterfinal Play-In – Saturday 11 AM vs. San Diego Aftershocks
9) SAN DIEGO AFTERSHOCKS – San Diego, CA – (2-3)
After finishing the Big O 1-3, and with other leagues surging upward, the Aftershocks were arguably on the bubble and looked like it could have fallen out of the MRDA Top 10 Fall Rankings. June’s 408-point win over unranked Arizona provided a boost of confidence, and most importantly, solidified San Diego’s second straight playoff trip. A Champs revenge match against the aforementioned Magic City should provide incentive.
Veteran B. Stang is the lynchpin of this group, alongside Champs returnees Waterboy, Plummer, T-Dogg, Boo, and Lambo R Feeties, but there are plenty of newcomers that hope to create tremors, including Scottish-based Optimus Grime who could provide a spark on offense.
FIRST SATURDAY GAME: Quarterfinal Play-In – Saturday 11 AM vs. Magic City Misfits
10) VANCOUVER MURDER – Vancouver, BC, CA – (6-0)
Sporting an undefeated regular season, Vancouver becomes the first-ever Canadian entrant into the MRDA Champs post-season complexion. In fact, its Saturday morning quarterfinal game against UK’s Southern Discomfort marks the inaugural MRDA playoff game that features non-North American opponents for an international benchmark. The Murder’s six wins were highlighted by a three-game sweep at the Big O and a two-victory tally at the August-held O-Town Throwdown. All sanctioned wins claimed during the regular season were decided by triple-digits over significantly lower-ranked opposition. The challenge is to raise its derby cache over the weekend and the play-in game against seventh-seeded SoDisco might provide the barometer to fully assess this talented squad on a global scope.
The jamming rotation of Mr. Testosterone, Memeiro, and Lodge provides a solid trifecta for success while a solid base of blocking, paced by veterans Stan DaSide, Svensson, Tichbourne, Iron Fist, and Russian Destruction, is ready provide assistance. The Canucks are more than ready to play spoiler in its Friday play-in game against the Brits and move into the MRDA’s Elite Eight in a potentially breakthrough weekend.
FIRST SATURDAY GAME: Quarterfinal Play-In – Saturday 9 AM vs. Southern Discomfort
If you’re more of a visual person, Muckety Muck and Magilla Guerilla have got you covered.
MEN’S ROLLER DERBY ASSOCIATION 2016 CHAMPIONSHIPS
NyTex Sports Center – North Richland Hills, Texas
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15 – (All Times CDT)
9 AM – Game 1 – Quarterfinal Play-In: (7) Southern Discomfort vs. (10) Vancouver
11 AM – Game 2 – Quarterfinal Play-In: (8) Magic City vs. (9) San Diego
1 PM – Game 3 – Quarterfinal: (3) Texas Men’s vs. (6) Puget Sound
3 PM – Game 4 – Quarterfinal: (4) Bridgetown vs. (5) New York
5 PM – Game 5 – Quarterfinal: (2) Your Mom Men’s Derby vs. Southern Discomfort/Vancouver Winner
7 PM – Game 6 – Quarterfinal: (1) GateKeepers vs. Magic City/San Diego Winner
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 16
9 AM – Game 7 – Semifinal: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5
11 AM – Game 8 – Semifinal: Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 6
1 PM – Game 9 – Consolation: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
3 PM – Game 10 – Consolation: Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4
5 PM – Game 11 – Third-Place Game: Loser Game 7 vs. Loser Game 8
7 PM – Game 12 – Championship Game: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8