The first day of the 2017 B-Team Champs, hosted by Tampa Roller Derby, started and ended with close, exciting games, but the ones in-between were a bit lopsided. It seemed to be a day for teams to feel out the competition, lock down their own game, and show off some hidden talent. This may not be the top ten charter teams, but these ten B-Teams brought their A game.
The Saint Lunachix and Minnesota Nice kicked off the day with a midwestern rivalry that game down to the last jam, while Angel City showed they were much stronger than their #7 seed would have indicated. Things are lining up to make tomorrow an interesting game, one that will end with a Gotham versus Denver game that shouldn’t be missed.
G1: #8 Arch Rival Saint Lunachix vs #9 Minnesota Nice: 182-179
Arch Rival’s Saint Lunachix picked up an early 30-point cushion, but Minnesota Nice kept them on a short leash for the whole game. Nice was able to take the lead a couple of times, but things tightened up and got interesting as the end of the game neared.
Going into what looked like the last jam, Minnesota trailed by 14 points, and a lead jammer status for them made a win seem promising. As an Arch Rival blocker went off and their jammer struggled in the pack, MNRG lapped the pack twice for ten points. However, the jam came to a sudden end as a skater went down and forced it to be called. With zero time on the period clock, the head ref decided that the game ended unnaturally and called for an additional jam. One second was added to the period clock, and in the final, final jam, Arch Rival earned lead and called it off to take the first game by three points.
The #8 Saint Lunachix advanced to a later game against #1 Rose City Axles of Annihilation while #9 Minnesota Nice will enter the consolation bracket first thing Saturday against #3 Tampa Bruise Crew.
G2: #7 Angel City Rocket Queens vs #10 Dallas Battalion of Doom: 336-56
The Rocket Queens maintained a cohesive tripod that covered the track laterally throughout the game, forcing the Battalion of Doom jammers to stash the star for potential pass opportunities. Dallas worked more loosely, and while they often looked for offensive opportunities, they got split up more easily. There were individuals who could hold effectively one on one, but it was getting together more quickly in the transition between offense and defense that came slower as the game went on.
Penalties and confusion with a star pass resulted in just one Dallas blocker on the track and Angel City blockers opened up the outside line for their jammer to spin by with ease four times before getting knocked down. When Dallas did earn lead status, they got what points they could and still called off the jam to prevent Angel City from scoring late in the game.
The #7 Rocket Queens went onto a 336-56 win which put them in the day’s last game against #1 Gotham Wall Street Traitors. #1o Battalion of Doom will take on the #5 Atlanta Rumble B’s Saturday at 2pm.
G3: #3 Tampa Bruise Crew vs #6 Denver Bruising Altitude: 251-105
The Tampa Bruise Crew kicked off the game with the first lead status and three points, but then Denver’s Bruising Altitude jumped out to a big lead by earning every lead status for about the next ten minutes and pushed the score to 48-8. Tampa’s defense came together and could hold strongly but didn’t always cover all the way to the edge of the track. Their jammers struggled against a quick-recycling Denver defense that could hold with just two blockers until the pack caught up and reinforced them. Bruise Crew jammers often stashed the star or passed it off to try and stop the bleeding.
Bruising Altitude was effective at positioning themselves in the front at jam starts and mid-jam, sitting on and splitting up the Tampa defense. It was one of the reasons they kept earning lead status, but as the first half went on, Tampa’s tripod defense grew stronger and was able to cling to the Denver jammer longer from the start. That aided their own jammer in pushing out for lead status and they were finally able to make some traction in the score. After the Denver jammer sat in the box twice in the last jam of the half, Tampa iced them there and went into halftime trailing 112-36.
Tampa did earn lead status in the ensuing power start, but after the star was passed to Anghel, it ended as a 6-4 jam for the Bruise Crew. They did a better job getting out first in the second half and more than doubled their score with eleven minutes left in the game. They weren’t able to put up the double-digit jams they needed, however, and even when they passed the star, Denver would let the jam run long and force the new jammer to fight through at least one scoring pass. They were strategic at picking up points, such as when the jam was about to end and it was worth it to let go of the opposing jammer and swarm the pack to get some final points.
The game ended with a 251-105 victory for the #6 Bruising Altitude, pitting them against the #1 Gotham Wall Street Traitors on Saturday at 8pm. The #3 Bruise Crew will play first thing against #9 Minnesota Nice.
G4: #1 Rose City Axles of Annihilation vs #8 Arch Rival Saint Lunachix: 401-77
The first few jams kept it close after Arch Rival opened up the game with two points and then held Rose City to just eight total over the next couple jams. The immediacy in which the Saint Lunachix turned around and switched to offense often helped them throughout the game, but then their penalties held them back and allowed big scoring jams for Rose. After multiple leads and a power jam for the Axles of Annihilation, they led 50-6 with 22 minutes left in the half.
Both teams kept a consistent three-jammer rotation, and Rose City continued to take the front line at the jam start. They were able to let their fourth blocker break off for offense while they held the jammer with their tripod formation. They also used the line as a blocker and pinned the jammer against it when they were reduced to two blockers. As in the previous game, the team that was down would stash or pass the star and the team that was up started to let jams run a bit longer when they had the advantage. As the game went on, Arch Rival’s defense started to break up as they got distracted trying to spring their jammer from the pack.
Rose City’s jammers seemed to be trying to break records with Beyond Thunderdame scoring 38 points and helping push their halftime lead to 232-32, and then Curtis followed up shortly in the second half with a 34-point jam. However, Arch Rival proved yet again how well they know the rules (the All-Stars had multiple calls overturned at WFTDA Playoffs in Dallas), and they retained their review in the second half after overturning a call on one of their main blockers, Pegasass. Despite the point spread, the Lunachix kept their spirits up and celebrated their success when a star pass to Hero Shima turned into a power jam and a 17-13 gain for them.
Ultimately, the #1 Axles of Annihilation won 401-77 and will take on #4 Texas Firing Squad Saturday at 2pm. Arch Rival enters the consolation side of the bracket now and will play Saturday at 6pm against the winner of Game 8.
G5: #4 Texas Firing Squad vs #5 Atlanta Rumble B’s: 233-99
A low-scoring start to this game and dueling power jams kept things close early on, with both teams playing it safe at the jam starts in identical braced three walls. With the front wall, Texas could play offense by sitting on Atlanta’s defense while their jammer pushed forward. The Firing Squad also pulled of textbook offense sweeps during power jams while effectively killing time when their own jammer sat in the box. With about 15 minutes left in the first half, Teas started to pull away 42-20 and Atlanta called a timeout.
The jams stayed fast and chaotic with both teams’ jammers relying on quick footwork and sneaky escapes along the lines. Texas continued to add points, but Atlanta kept them from running away with it in the first half. However, a 20-point gave their lead a little more comfort. At the end of the half Atlanta started to milk the most out of their leads and go long which took them into halftime down at 102-45.
Things continued similarly in the second half with Texas able to capitalize more effectively on their leads and their power jams, while Atlanta could earn lead but often had the other jammer close behind them. One more jam got Atlanta one more lead, much to their delight, and with multiple scoring passes, they were able to end the game cheering despite their loss to Texas 233-99.
#4 Texas Firing Squad will play #1 Rose City Axles of Annihilation Saturday at 2pm while #5 Atlanta Rumble B’s will take on #10 Dallas Battalion of Doom right before that at noon.
G6: #2 Gotham Wall Street Traitors vs #7 Angel City Rocket Queens: 203-150
Fired up from their earlier win, Angel City started strong by placing a blocker on the jam line in lanes one and four, with a pair at the front ready to help catch the jammer in a tripod trap once the jam started. This seemed to throw off Gotham and led to many leads for Angel until it was 37-9. The Rocket Queens started to lose their grip on the game though, and after some penalty troubles and a 10-point power jam, Gotham brought it within five points with 14:13 left in the first half.
Gotham seemed conscious about maintaining a forward facing blocking position while on the jammer and this focus and control continued through the game. Meanwhile, Angel City’s powerful formations started to loosen, and they ended up recycling one at a time on the jammer, chest to chest. Once Gotham found a comfort zone they started earning lead more often and by halftime, they held the lead with Angel City nipping at their heels 82-64.
Things stayed in about this range for the first quarter of the second half, but penalties started to weigh heavy on Angel City, and this allowed Gotham to push their lead a bit more. When the Rocket Queens did get lead, Gotham’s jammers were either out right behind them or were able to pass the star to escape the pack. Angel stashed or passed as well, but Gotham’s control became too much, and they laid on enough points to extend a good distance in the score to ride out the last quarter of the game comfortably.
Angel City utilized their timeouts to extend the game, but the #2 Wall Street Traitors won 203-150 and will take on #6 Denver Bruising Altitude Saturday night at 8pm. The #7 Rocket Queens will play the winner of Game 7, either #9 Minnesota Nice or #3 Tampa Bruise Crew.