Alongside the women’s action that will be showcased at the seventh annual “Big O” invitational that launches this Friday in Eugene, Oregon, a baker’s dozen duels sanctioned by the Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA) will be featured. Within the mix of the nine leagues appearing are five factions that competed at last year’s MRDA finale, “Lone Star Showdown,” including the current two-time defending title-holder.
St. Louis, Missouri’s GateKeepers Roller Derby, the 2015 and 2016 MRDA Champions, have a trio of “Big O” games scheduled. Meetings with friendly rivals #3 Bridgetown Menace and #5 Puget Sound Outcasts also contain an inaugural match-up against Baja California, Mexico-based Wheels of Mayhem. GKRD (1-0) notched a 467-16 win against #24 Race City Rebels at an April 9 tune-up at its training facility.
Meanwhile surging Bridgetown, who notched a league breakthrough fourth place finish at last year’s MRDA tourney, has contests against legacy squad #8 New York and stubborn #6 Vancouver. The Menace (1-0) is primed for sanctioned play following their 567-33 mind-melter vs. #33 Lane County in early-March and a weekend sweep maintains their upward trajectory.
The New York Shock Exchange, a perennial MRDA Champs entrant that is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, is 2-1 in sanctioned play heading into the weekend following positive outcomes at the “March Man-Ness” invitational in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The brokers claimed tight wins over #9 Magic City (149-140) and spunky host #11 Philly Hooligans (191-121).
Local favorites Puget Sound seeks an early push in the MRDA complexion with contests against St. Louis, the Wheels of Mayhem and event newcomers Victorian Vanguard. The Outcast (0-1) suffered a 182-130 setback to Vancouver in early April and seeks to right the ship.
The Vancouver Murder (1-0), who notched their first trip to the MRDA Champs last season, will hope to use their aforementioned win over Puget Sound to claim victories over higher-ranked Bridgetown and NYSE as well as unranked Vanguard. No doubt, a British Columbian sweep would certainly be the talk of the weekend.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada-based #16 Glenmore Reservoir Dogs finished 2016 with a 4-4 sanctioned record and looks to impress in their second trip to the “Big O.” The Chinook City Derby entry (0-0) has New York, #29 Lane County and Victoria on their itinerary. The Dogs possess a pair of non-sanctioned wins over Team Japan Roller Derby from the Tomodachi Derby Invitational that was held in Okinawa, Japan in early March.
Oregon-based Lane County (0-2) has an opportunity to claim wins over Wheels of Mayhem and the Reservoir Dogs. The #29 Concussion’s pair of earlier sanctioned losses this season was against higher-ranked #3 Bridgetown and #23 Drive-By. The task will be difficult against Glenmore but a victory over the Wheels of Mayhem is not out of the realm.
Undefeated Aussie entry Victoria Men’s claimed a 213-130 sanctioned win over unranked Sydney City Smash in early March and netted a four-game sweep at the “MRDA Down Under” event in late-April that pushed its current sanctioned record to 5-0. Combined with their inaugural sanctioned win over Sydney recorded last November, V-Double are spotless at 6-0 in sanctioned play.
Finally, the unranked Wheels of Mayhem, founded in 2015, enters “Big O” with a 0-2 record following sanctioned setbacks to #23 Drive-By (213-151) and unranked Antioch, California-based The Skaters Grim (194-130) in early April. Honestly, Friday’s match-up against the top-ranked GateKeepers is projected to be decided within the opening minutes and Sunday’s Puget Sound game might also have a wide differential. However, there is the opportunity for an upset over #29 Lane County if the cards fall into place.
BIG O MRDA LINE-UP
FRIDAY, MAY 5 (All times listed are Pacific)
12 PM – #8 New York vs. #16 Glenmore (Track 1)
2 PM – #3 Bridgetown vs. #6 Vancouver (Track 3)
4:30 PM – UNR Victoria vs. #5 Puget Sound (Track 2)
6 PM – #29 Lane County vs. #16 Glenmore (Track 1)
6:30 PM – #1 GateKeepers vs. UNR Wheels of Mayhem (Track 2)
SATURDAY, MAY 6
10 AM – #8 New York vs. #3 Bridgetown (Track 1)
10 AM – #16 Glenmore vs. UNR Victoria Men’s (Track 3)
4:30 PM – #6 Vancouver vs. UNR Victoria Men’s (Track 2)
6 PM – #1 GateKeepers vs. #5 Puget Sound (Track 3)
6:30 PM – #29 Lane County vs. UNR Wheels of Mayhem (Track 2)
SUNDAY, MAY 7
2 PM – #1 GateKeepers vs. #3 Bridgetown (Track 3)
2:30 PM – #5 Puget Sound vs. UNR Wheels of Mayhem (Track 2)
4 PM – #8 New York vs. #6 Vancouver (Track 1)
8 PM – Big O MVP vs Men’s USA (Track 1)
(Teams ranked by the MRDA from the governing body’s Spring 2017 rankings.)