A group of KRG league members travelled all the way across the pond and then some to Malmö in Sweden to witness some high level roller derby at the WFTDA division one championship playoffs. The tournament was being hosted by the phenomenal Crime City Rollers and would feature some of the highest ranked roller derby teams in the world!
Brute 66 (aka Jon), KRG head coach and bench manager, and Kent Mens Roller Derby skater, agreed to share what he took from the experience with us…
This past weekend a selection of KRG members made their way to Malmö to watch the first ever WFTDA D1 playoffs to be held outside of North America. This monumental event was being hosted by Malmö’s very own Crime City Rollers, and what brilliant hosts they proved to be. A slick well organised event in a wonderful venue, of which teams in the U.K. crave, with. Friendly atmosphere and amazing halftime entertainment including cheerleading, international skipping champions and a drum line.
The tournament bracket meant we would get to see some of the best teams within the WFTDA, the highlight for most would be watching Gotham Girls in the flesh. However the tournament bracket threw up the possibility of, for me, the most mouth watering clash. If Rainy City could beat Calgary they would face London in a clash of the Brits, a game that only had a 40 point differential at Anarchy this summer.
The tournament started with a high paced games between Kallio of Finland and Detroit, who turned out to be my favourite American team to watch over the weekend, and from that moment the action never stopped. We were treated to some of the best D1 action, with ferocious walls, gravity defying jammers and world class officiating. It would be impossible to retell it all, you’ll need to watch the footage for that, but special mentions have to go to the Jammer Rotation of Stockholm, with Lil Slinky standing out above the crowd, Helsinki Roller Derby for putting on an amazing show, the aforementioned Detroit who were brilliant despite the bum deal that meant they had to play Gotham 4hours after their opener, and of course to the finalists Denver and Gotham. Denver fought hard and have some amazing skaters, Akers showing why she’s Team USA, and of course we know of Scald and Brawn, but a special shout out to #4 Leah who was dominant on track. Of course the winners were Gotham, who looked lethal on track, a dominating unit who were not feeling the lack of a certain Thunders as Maven, Space Invader, Giles (VRDL transfer) and Short Stop racked up the points, whilst V-Diva and crew dominated the pack. Gotham are on the Hydra Hunt.
Finally you will have noticed I haven’t mentioned Detroit coming up against Gotham four hours after their winning start in game one. Terminal City were the stand out team of the Canadian participants with Arya Ready providing some mean jamming action.
The gold medal match was Denver vs Gotham and as expected Gotham came away with the gold. However Denver put up a fight, the arrival of Scald Eagle and Brawn Swanson has really bolstered their game with Tracey Akers standing out from their roster. However there was no stopping Gotham, they were a disciplined imposing unit all weekend and show no signs of feeling the loss of Thunders. Space Invader, Maven, Giles (VRDL transfer) and Short Stop (MVP) racked up the points whilst Rocy Dallas, V-Diva and Co. dominated opposing walls all weekend. Gotham are on the hydra hunt people.
However, now we have to talk about THE game of the weekend. Rainy did indeed win their opening game and that meant a 10am Saturday showdown with London Roller Girls London Brawling.
WHAT. A. GAME.
Rainy took the first three leads, Alex Wilde showing why she could just be the best british jammer around right now. They started to stretch their lead, with both teams show wall work to be admired. Ruthless Philly, Faye Roberts, Banshee, Missy Rascal and Fairy Quake were all outstanding, though it is unfair to pick out any one Rainy skater as they were all playing their hearts out. The blocking was so good on both sides that the scores were kept low, but Rainy continued to edge ahead. Could Rainy do it? Could they be the first european team to defeat LRG?
Suddenly there’s a power jam and Rogue Runner put 23 points on the board and then the game is tied 101-101, everyone drink. The game went to the wire and I have no shame in admitting I was screaming myself hoarse looking for the Rainy upset. It came to the final jam, and though Wilde got lead she couldn’t overturn the final 5 points and LRG came away with the win. In all their big game experience showed and lead by the ever phenomenal Kid Block who was a jammer magnet all weekend they progress to Champs along with Gotham, Denver and hosts Crime City. This game was the most nerve wracking experience of roller derby in my life. Between us we cheered ourselves stupid and drank far too much for 10am just to calm the nerves.
Rainy may feel hard done by but they have made so many fans and now find themselves ranked 11th in WFTDA, this from a team ranked 99 in december 2015. The rise of Rainy is something all teams should admire, applaud and be wary of. 2018… the year of Rainy.
Thank you Crime City for an amazing D1 experience. Until the next time.
Kent Roller Girls Head Coach
If you’d like to see more photos and info about what happened in this crazy weekend of Roller Derby, see the WFTDA website.