Coming up this weekend: the annual Big O Invitational in Eugene, Oregon (USA). While there have already been a few high-level tournaments already this season, this has become one of the most highly anticipated WFTDA Recognized Tournaments since it’s the first time we see many of the top-ranked teams back on the track each year.
There will be a few exciting rematches from last year, some new teams to watch, and plenty of roller derby on three tracks for three days. Are you ready?
Keep on reading for a quick briefing on the WFTDA and Junior teams in attendance. You can also check out our coverage of the MRDA briefing by Muckety Muck, as well as some tournament survival tips for fans by Sean Hale. Streaming of all three tracks will be done through WFTDA.tv and all WFTDA rankings are from today’s April 30th release.
Games will begin each morning at 10 am Pacific time, with the last game starting at 8:30 pm on Friday and Saturday – a fairly standard set-up for tournament play. The weekend will wrap up Sunday on track 1 with a modified Junior expo, followed by games between the Big O men’s and women’s MVPs and their respective USA national teams.
#1 Victorian Roller Derby League “All Stars” & “Queen Bees” (Melbourne, VIC, AUS)
Victoria just took over the #1 spot in the WFTDA rankings without even taking to the track, but this weekend we will see how VRDL really stacks up. On ESPN last year they beat Rose City in a penalty-heavy game with both sides missing a top jammer. Christy Demons was sidelined for most of the year, but played four jams at Playoffs and then was back in the regular rotation at Champs. Her absence allowed Lady Trample to showcase her bowl skating talents on the track, and prove that she can take on a strong role in their scoring lineup.
Mick Swagger and Mary Fagdalene’s hung up their skates this year, but the VRDL All-Stars’ defense seems pretty unchanging with prior glimpses otherwise. For the first time we will get to see the VRDL up and comers with their Queen Bees roster crossing the Pacific with them. First thing on Friday, the Victoria All-Stars will rematch #3 Rose City who they went 1-1 with in 2016, the only team to beat them last year. On Saturday they’ll first face #9 Arch Rival and then take on #5 Angel City later the same day. Then they will close out the weekend with another Big O rematch: the #4 Texas Rollergirls.
#3 Rose City Rollers “Wheels of Justice” & “Axles of Annihilation” (Portland, OR, USA)
Over the past few years, skaters seemed to be making the pilgrimage to Portland, and Bonnie Thunders is one of their most recent roster converts. While Morgan Levy and Zip Drive joined from Nashville, Curtis came from Denver and traded places with Scald Eagle and Brawn Swanson. So far this season, Rose City has only played themselves with the winner being decided by two points, showing some major consistency throughout their league.
Their first game is against #1 Victoria, the one thorn in their side from 2016. Last time Scald Eagle’s foul out hurt their jammer rotation, but a cool, calm Bonnie doesn’t usually fall into the penalty trap. On Saturday they’ll take on their former teammates when they face Denver, and Sunday is another Big O rematch against #8 Minnesota. The Hydra has lived in Portland for two Championship wins already, but we’ll get a peek this weekend at whether or not Rose City is the new WFTDA super power.
#4 Texas Rollergirls “Texecutioners” (Austin, TX, USA)
Texas had a big retirement last year with Bloody Mary stepping down as Executive Director of WFTDA before hanging up her skates after Championships. Joining her (officially this time?) is FiFi Nomenon but back this season is Polly Gone. Losing two main jammers won’t affect them too badly with a jammer bench that went six deep last year, and others like Smarty Pants or Jackie Daniels who can take on either role.
They kicked off 2017 with a win against #13 Dallas 277-66, but they closed out 2016 with just a 14 point deficit to Rose City at Champs. Their win last month boosted the Texans two spots to #4 in the rankings. Texas will have four games at the Big O, first taking on #7 Denver on Friday before facing #8 Minnesota on Saturday. They’ll have double duty on Sunday playing #21 Terminal City before closing out the weekend against #1 Victoria.
#5 Angel City Derby “Hollywood Scarlets” & “Rocket Queens”
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Dropping the “Girls” from their name, Angel City Derby also had a few roster changes since last season. Micki Krimmel, Hunnie Brasco, and Ashley Hobbs all retired while Chica Go Lightning is back in the mix. In April ACD had an unsanctioned scrimmage with Arizona and came out with a 462-46 win. Their last sanctioned game was played against Gotham at Champs where the Scarlet blockers showed they could effectively open the door for their jammer to pick up points.
Angel City’s weekend will kick off with a game against #9 Arch Rival before a match up against #1 Victoria on Saturday. Last season Angel City played VRDL at the Big O and lost by 89 points, but then at Vancouver Playoffs, ACD held a lead over the Australians for a majority of the game before falling to them by three points. On the final day Angel City will play #7 Denver, a team they beat by 133 points last year at the Big O.
#7 Denver Roller Derby “Mile High Club” (Denver, CO, USA)
Denver’s roster went through some changes last season and they ended up with a solid three-jammer rotation of D1 Playoff MVP Wilhelm , Gypin, and Klein. Flying high for them now is Scald Eagle with sister Brawn Swanson also joining the blocking force. They were knocked out of the first round of WFTDA Champs last year by Arch Rival (177-165) but already have two solid games under their belts in 2017. First was a loss to #2 Gotham 215-98 (compared to as loss to them almost a year ago at 208-66) and a 264-66 win over #15 Philly.
Last June, Denver came within 44 points of Texas and will get another shot at the #4 Texecutioners on Friday. They also had two losses to Rose City last year and will play them on Saturday before taking on Angel City on Sunday. Denver played a whopping 16 sanctioned games last year, including WFTDA Tournaments, and have come a long way since their last Big O performance when they lost to ACD by 133 points.
#8 Minnesota RollerGirls “All-Stars” (St. Paul, MN, USA)
If the MNRG B Team is called Minnesota Nice, what does that make their A Team? These Midwesterners have played a strong, aggressive game for awhile now and have been hovering on and around the edge of the top 10 for many seasons. The addition of Brickyard last year helped pack a 1-2 punch in their jammer rotation alongside Jacked Pipes, but rounding it out with a solid third point scorer has been a struggle for them. They have many talented skaters who can take the star or blockers who can take on both roles, but a third jammer who can consistently handle the likes of Championship level teams would help push them further into the top.
The Minnesota All-Stars did gain two jamming options this season with Shock Therapy, joining them from Rat City, and charter rookie Milham. They were both on the track when MNRG opened up 2017 with a 251-92 victory against a different looking Philly, a win that boosted them two spots to #8. Shock Therapy may have some insight for Minnesota on Friday when they play #14 Rat City. Saturday they have #4 Texas on their schedule, and then will finish the weekend with a Big O rematch against #3 Rose, an opponent they lost to by 123 points last time.
#9 Arch Rival Roller Derby “All-Stars” & “Saint Lunachix” (St. Louis, MO)
Arch Rival showed up strong last season and look to ride that momentum into 2017 with a steady roster and a continued hunger to work their way up. Going 12-2 their only losses came one each at Playoffs and Championships, closing out 2016 with a 197-94 loss to London. Bricktator led the way for them in scoring and was followed by D1 Tournament MVP Swanson.
This weekend they have three new opponents on their schedule, first taking on #5 Angel City before facing WFTDA’s new #1, Victoria. They’ll round out the tournament with another opponent from outside the United States, #12 Crime City Rollers.
#12 Crime City Rollers “CCR A” (Malmö, Sweden)
Roller Derby in Europe kicked off in March while many top American D1 teams are having their 2017 debut this weekend. Crime City had two unsanctioned wins in March and April before attending Anarchy in the UK where they won two and lost one game against London 198-137. Whether it’s indicative of the whole level of derby rising in Europe or of Crime City’s play, their win margin against Rainy City went from 30 points at last year’s Playoffs to just two points at Anarchy.
Crime’s roster looks fairly consistent with Hanna P and Prince Sofia leading the way for jamming, and Tjutet and Dykestalker in the blocking lineup. Last year Crime City stayed in Europe to get their games in, but since they are hosting a Divison 1 WFTDA Playoff later this year, that likely opened up funds for them to travel a bit further in the regular season. They’ll have four games at the Big O, first playing #48 Sydney before taking on #21 Terminal City and #14 Rat City both on Saturday. They’ll end the weekend playing #9 Arch Rival on Sunday.
#14 Rat City Roller Girls “All-Stars” (Seattle, WA, USA)
While there are many mainstays still on Rat City, such as Luna Negra jamming and H. Botts, CeeCee, and Carmen Getsome blocking, their roster still seems to have shed a few players. They recently took on Team Mexico and won 207-80, and did so having lost Cassie Beck to Bay Area, and without Xena or Genevieve Moore/Scratcher in the Eye jamming.
Seattle was able to make it to WFTDA Champs last year but was knocked out in the first round against Texas, 238-50. At the Big O they will first take on #8 Minnesota before facing #12 Crime City and #16 Helsinki, two European teams who have had strong games so far this season.
#16 Helsinki Roller Derby “All-Star Ninja Turtles (Helsinki, Finland)
With such a consistent roster from last season, Helsinki seems to just be getting stronger on the track. At Anarchy in the UK they won two games, 154-102 versus #20 Rainy City and 222-156 against #31 Stockholm, and lost two. This time last year they lost to Crime City by 65 points, the #2 team in Europe, but at Anarchy they came within 18 points.
At the Big O they’ll have four games, three of which are against new opponents. They will take on #38 Windy City on Friday and #48 Sydney on Saturday. Sunday will be their doubleheader day with matches against #19 2×4 and #14 Rat City. Last year at the Big O Helsinki lost to Rat 246-111.
#19 2×4 Roller Derby “Team OSOM” (Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina)
2×4 came onto the WFTDA scene late last year after coming to the midwest from Argentina and playing their first sanctioned games against No Coast, Arch Rival, Kansas City, and Oklahoma City. Entering the rankings at #40, they already had a handful of sanctioned games in April at Violentango5 that took them up 24 spots in the rankings to #19.
The Big O will be a big trip for the South American team, and this tournament will be a huge stage for them to be seen early in the season. They will play a range of ranked teams starting with #57 Boulder County, then #38 Windy City, and #16 Helsinki. Help support 2×4 in getting to the Big O.
#21 Terminal City Rollergirls “All-Stars” (Vancouver, BC, Canada)
Last season Evada Peron retired before the year was up and Kim Jana’s career came to a close after Playoffs in Vancouver. Maiden Sane took a strong role in Terminal City’s point scoring and will probably lead their jammer rotation this year. Many of the same, strong blockers will be returning to their braced formations and star passes have highlighted their strategy in the past.
Terminal City’s last sanctioned game was at D1 Playoffs last year, ending the tournament in 5th after a 239-133 victory over Queen City. Ahead for them will be #12 Crime City on Friday, #38 Windy City Saturday, and then #4 Texas on Sunday.
#38 Windy City Rollers “All-Stars” (Chicago, IL, USA)
Windy City is back this season with a few new faces and the return of a few veterans, Ying O’fire and Bork Bork Bork. Killanois still tops their jammer rotation with Mia Go Hamm and last year’s transfer in, Bambi Bloodlust. Their roster is full of skaters with varying experience within the league but plenty of hunger to work their way back up the rankings.
The Windy City season started at the beginning of April with a 188-119 win against #32 Naptown, a matchup Flat Track Stats predicted #32 Naptown would win. Windy has got four games on their schedule this weekend starting first with #16 Helsinki and then both #19 2×4 and #21 Terminal City on Saturday. They’ll finish the Big O against #55 Pirate City on Sunday.
#48 Sydney Roller Derby League “The Assassins” (Sydney, NSW, Australia)
Sydney hasn’t played much out of their region since becoming a WFTDA member league at the end of 2014. The first time they did travel far and the last sanctioned games they got in were at ECDX last June with wins against both Blue Ridge and Garden State. Their roster looks similar to last year besides their top scorer from ECDX, Power Pout, who will be showing up this weekend as Sarah Chambers with Victoria instead.
Sydney took on the VRDL’s Queen Bees in March, losing 214-140 which was a slightly larger margin than when they came within 23 points of the Bees last October. With four games ahead of them, Sydney will play two on Friday, #55 Pirate City and #12 Crime City. They last played Pirate City in September of 2015 where the Assassins won 232-70. They’ll finish their Big O weekend with games against #16 Helsinki and #57 Boulder County.
#55 Pirate City Rollers “All Scars” (Auckland, New Zealand)
Pirate City was already in the United States for K-Town Shakedown last weekend in Kalamazoo, Michigan and after a few days rest are back at it in Eugene. At K-Town they picked up three wins against #62 Tri-City, #86 St. Chux, and #74 Chicago Outfit. That tournament pushed them up 32 spots and warmed them up for another weekend of big games.
Three more games on their docket will be against #48 Sydney, #57 Boulder County, and #38 Windy City. These couple weeks will get them more sanctioned games then all of last year, kicking off their 2017 season strong.
#57 Boulder County Bombers “All-Stars” (Boulder, CO, USA)
Boulder attended Division 2 Playoffs last year and finished 5th after entering #8. They played #53 Steel City most recently, a team who has been dropping in the rankings so far this season, and won 209-134. There are a few names missing from last year’s roster, and so far this year they’ve fallen 10 spots before going back up seven to #57.
Boulder County’s weekend has teams from three different countries. First, they will play #19 2×4 from Argentina, then #55 Pirate City of New Zealand, and #48 Sydney Assassins from Australia.
The #3 Angel City juniors are returning to the Big O and will get a rematch against the #6 Emerald City Junior Gems. Last time Emerald won 239-142, but Angel City beat them by 17 points later in the year at JRDA Champs.
The Lava City “Cinder Kittens” will be joining them from Bend, Oregon, along with the Gapland “Small Town Smashers” from Rocanville, SK, Canada.