Day 2 superbrief wrap-up

In a nutshell:

Bout 5: Texas over Minnesota 141-108
Bout 6: Gotham over RMRG 187-139
Bout 7: KCRW over Windy City 112-95
Bout 8: Oly over Philly 181-95

Bout 9: Gotham over Texas 195-113
Bout 10: Oly over KCRW 124-104

Another amazing day of great roller derby, with no blowouts and some a few teams threatening to upset in a big way.

MN had an amazing start against Texas first thing in the morning, with jammers earning lead in jam after jam. MN jammers played smart, letting Texas pick up minors in the engagement zone, often earning lead despite being second through the pack. 67-66 Minnesota at half time. But Texas fought in the second half, and both teams kept it close throughout the period. Really great jamming by Lexi, Medusa and Harmony, and fantastic pack work by the whole MN bench.

Then Gotham vs. Rocky Mountain… and what a bout! I’d never seen Gotham play before, and had only seen Rocky Mountain in last year’s finals and the previous day against Nashville, so it was hard to know what to expect. They didn’t disappoint — not that anyone has, really. Gotham is fierce, and had a strong lead throughout the first half, going to halftime at 75-50. Very fast, open packs, constant recycling by both teams, and not an instant where they didn’t all know where both jammers were. Watching Bonnie Thunders and Suzy Hotrod jam is like a master class on jamming, really. Different styles, but both so powerful and wily, able to speed through the smallest space that opens in an instant. Hard not to be a fangirl with such talent all around this weekend. RMRG was their own worst enemy in this game, though, getting in to penalty trouble in the second half that sent Psycho Babble, Urrk’n Jerk’n and Amanda Jamitinya out of the game entirely. That team seems really hotheaded to me… they make dumb mistakes. Be prepared for an echo in Game 10.

I was looking forward Windy City vs. KCRW; I was pretty sure I’d underestimated KC going into this, and was almost hoping they’d spoil my bracket here. The game was close throughout, with the score at 25-24 KCRW halfway through the first period. KC pulled ahead to leave it at 42-29 at the half. Windy didn’t play Beth Amphetamine – not sure why, unless they expected to win and were saving her for a later game. Jackie Daniels and Varla Vendetta handled most of the jamming for Windy, and Kelly Young and Track Rat did an amazing job for KC.

Last game of the second round was Oly vs. Philly, and I think my derby-watching brain was full, so I made an emergency Starbucks run and loaded up the feed to catch the second half. A little sorry to see Philly lose, but not really a surprise.

After a much-needed dinner break, we got down to the semifinals with Texas vs. Gotham and KCRW vs. the Oly Rollers. Derby Royalty in these semifinals… KCRW won in 2007, Gotham in 2008, Oly in 2009, and of course Texas is the original (modern) flat track derby league.

Texas-Gotham was incredible… scrum starts every time, with both teams racing to get to that line, mostly kneeling sideways to claim the line. Gotham had the advantage of being closer to the jam line in the first half, and Texas in the second, and I have to wonder how much of a difference that made to their strategy — both seemed to rely on having the back line. Best quote of the day: “Suzy Hotrod, still stuck in the pack” — definitely something you don’t hear every day! Amazing jamming by both teams, and incredibly fast packs. But Bonnie and Suzy are like gunshots through those packs, they’re practically unstoppable.

Last up, KCRW vs. Oly. And some actual starts at the pivot line! KC kept it fast, controlling the pack speed well, right away. Nice defensive jamming from KC’s Trauma, giving her the edge to get through on scoring passes. Oly got in some penalty trouble, with two of their toughest blockers, Tannibal Lector and Hockey Honey, in the box for 6 minutes of play (both were ejected near the end of the second period). Tannibal is a hell of a shark, and a powerful jammer, but they made some crappy decisions to split the pack that got them in trouble. Close game, great game, and I was so engrossed that I didn’t write much in the notebook. By the second half, I was surrounded by Texas and Gotham, and quite a few Oly hecklers in that group. Obviously both teams were heavily invested in watching these teams play, as Gotham would play the winner and Texas the loser of this bout.

Another amazing day of derby. One more day to go, just two bouts left, and they should be just as amazing. I almost feel guilty for having this close-up view. Almost.

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