Published on October 17th, 2014 | by Andy Frye0
New York Shock Exchange vs. St. Louis Gatekeepers at Mohawk Valley Cup, photo by Sean Hale
MRDA Champs 2014 Preview
This weekend, October 18 & 19, men’s roller derby hits its commanding heights, as the Puget Sound Outcasts host the 2014 MRDA Championship, entitled “Maritime Mayhem.” Originally scheduled to take place at “The Rat’s Nest,” home of the Rat City Rollergirls, Mayhem’s venue has been moved from Seattle to the Tacoma Armory, in Tacoma Washington.
Actions starts bright and early Saturday morning as the two-time national champions, Your Mom Men’s Derby take on the Texas newbie sensation Denton County Outlaws at 9 a.m. Following the kickoff bout, the St. Louis GateKeepers play the lads from across the pond, facing off against Southern Discomfort of London, England. And in the afternoon, Mayhem’s contest shift gears into local rivalries relocated, as the New York Shock Exchange again face the Massachusetts marvel Mass Maelstrom Roller Derby, while tournament hosts Puget Sound start off against familiar faces from Portland, Oregon’s Bridgetown Menace.
Here’s a rundown on the eight teams that will be facing off each other this weekend.
#8 – Denton County Outlaws
The Denton County Outlaws, the #8 seed, hail from just outside Dallas, Texas. They set up shop in March of 2012 and hit the flat track with reasonable success before launching their 2014 season with a terror streak. Closing out the late summer, DCO climbed up the MRDA Fall Rankings to snag the #8 spot and a coveted slot at MRDA Champs.
Kung Pow, a longtime skater and key member of the WFTDA-member North Texas Derby Revolution was one of the founders of the new men’s league, and acts as the Outlaws’ coach. Setting up a men’s league back in ‘12 seemed natural, she said, adding that “the interest in our area was high for men’s derby” as many husbands or boyfriends of women’s derby players within Denton savored their chance to play. KP said that much of the Outlaws’ quick success comes from their work ethic.
“Their talent on skates is out of this world and their teamwork is top notch. They care about each other, and hold each other accountable,” she said.
After a decent showing at Spring Roll earlier this year, Denton County picked up important wins mid-season, and eventually beat both the Deep Valley Belligerents and Arizona at the Southwest Sausagefest in August.
DCO’s roster, featuring Haterade, Sexual Chocolate and others, regularly puts forth a well-rounded mix of athleticism, pace and competitive if opportunistic play. The Outlaws are certain to add a spark of new excitement in their Champs debut this weekend.
#7 – Southern Discomfort Roller Derby
Just a year after their sister team, the London Rollergirls, crashed the party at WFTDA Champs last year, London Town is serving up Southern Discomfort as Europe’s first ever contestant at the men’s championship.
This spring So Disco went on a whirlwind roller derby tour of the US, spending much of it in the Midwest battling top teams like Your Mom, Mass Maelstrom and the GateKeepers. Completing their “seven bouts in nine days” tour, the Londoners also played the Twin City Terrors, the Capital City Hooligans, Denton County, and the CT Death Quads, all of whom London beat.
Southern Discomfort’s #7 ranking probably belies their team’s versatility and ability to pose a threat to the usual powers in MRDA at the Championship. Like their counterparts in New York City, Southern Discomfort stocks a well-rounded arsenal of able jammers and double-threats, flanked by hard hitting blockers of the best measure. Notable players to keep an eye out for include jammer Ballistic Whistle and versatile blockers Rolling Thunder and Sutton Impact.
As the holders of 2014’s European Cup and MRDA’s first international visitors to Champs, Southern Discomfort look to stoke a new fire in one of the premiere events in the sport.
#6 – Mass Maelstrom Roller Derby
Perhaps three times will be a charm for the Mass Maestrom, who face their archrivals, the New York Shock Exchange, in a first round spar, for the third time in 2014.
At MRDA Champs 2013, the Maelstrom held their own, beating Magic City in their first bout 212-144, before bringing a respectable fight to Your Mom in the second round, losing 173-119. In the end, Mass took fourth place overall after a consolation round final battle with St Louis in which the GateKeepers won 168-102.
Stocked with veterans who have played roller derby from the beginning of the men’s game, the Mass Maelstrom can hang with any of the top teams and is in a good position to place within the top four at Champs this weekend.
#5 – Bridgetown Menace
Portland had a hell of a weekend at RollerCon this summer, gunning back to back against both the St Louis GateKeepers and the New York Shock Exchange in two bouts which saw them fight hard without a win in either matchup. That said, Portland’s men are a rough-and-tumble squad that boasts an excellent workmanship and team approach that has made them a force to be reckoned with and a persistent threat to the top teams in MRDA.
With able players like jammer Chad Von Sausageclause, Don Juan and Cougar Bait, the Bridgetown Menace are a team that likes to put out hard hits and play with opponents’ minds with the hope of taking them out of their element. At Champs 2012, Portland was bested by both New York in the first round and the Mass Maelstrom in the consolation, but put up a good contest in both bouts. Last year, the Menace handily beat Deep Valley 250-107 before being narrowly edged out by Puget Sound, who they face first this time around, at 3 pm Saturday.
If Portland can outplay the hosts in their first bout, as a reward (barring any unforeseen outcomes) they get to face two-time Champions, Your Mom, up next.
#4 – Puget Sound Outcasts
Like New York, St Louis and Your Mom, the Puget Sound Outcasts –who host the tournament for the first time this year– have a cast of well-traveled skaters that would make up dream roster for almost any roller derby enthusiast or observer.
Well-known names like Quadzilla LK, Speed Dealer, Slamilton and Radillac, to name a few, represent a team full of double-threats and tough blockers that would make almost any talent in the game flinch.
In 2013, Puget lost narrowly in the first round by 12 points to St Louis, and following that, manhandled the Magic City Misfits before another close final bout against Portland’s Bridgetown Menace.
Retooled and ready, the Outcasts look to land a heavier footprint on MRDA this weekend, having worked all season to strengthen their game and streamline their assets and style of play to take down Your Mom. Though Puget will have a real fight in their first matchup against Portland, their squad is as equipped as any to stage a possible upset this year at Champs.
#3 – New York Shock Exchange
After a hard-fought title bout in 2013 that ended in second place finish at MRDA Champs, the New York Shock Exchange have rebooted and retooled their game to continue their push for the top prize. Nearly a half dozen Shock players took part in the first-ever Men’s Roller Derby World Cup in March, ahead of the 2014 MRDA Season. In the mix, their captain, Jonathan Rockey aka “Jonathan R,” bagged the Most Valuable Player award at the World Cup in England while also showing up in a feature article about the tourney and the rise of men’s roller derby on ESPN.com.
An ever-positive and analytical jam master, Rockey looks at this season and its preparations as one big project, with each bout and new opponent as a learning opportunity and a challenge.
“We constructed a new blocker methodology that we first tested against the Connecticut Death Quads in a closed scrimmage, (and) our first public game was a crowd-pleasing, slobber-knocker victory [at ECDX] against our regional rival, the Mass Maelstrom,” Rockey said.
New strategies or not, NYSE boasts a list of guys on their roster who can jam, block and do it all. Maulin Brando and Abe Drinkin’ and other veterans of the team know the competition and their own style of play well enough to let Rockey run wild, racking up points while wearing the star.
2014 showed yet again what the New York boys are capable of. In August, the Shock Exchange won the Mohawk Valley Cup, outskating the Quadfathers, 498-27 in the semifinals, while also putting the hurt on the Mass Maelstrom a second time, winning 306-70.
Last year, New York slipped by the St. Louis GateKeepers to get to the final game at Champs. Citing this year’s clash at RollerCon, Rockey called the latest matchup against St. Louis a “nail-biting blood bath,” one that likely foreshadows the intensity to come this weekend.
Spectators at Champs this weekend should not only expect NYSE to go far at Champs, but should also expect this perennial force in roller derby to make a lot of noise. And to top it off, they get a third chance to rile up their East Coast rivalry with a first-round crunch against the Mass Maelstrom on Saturday.
#2 – St. Louis GateKeepers
The GateKeepers moved up a spot to #2, and it shouldn’t come as any surprise. The St Louis men bowled over everyone this season, capping it off with a critical win over the New York Shock Exchange 161-153 in Vegas, to remain undefeated in regular season play.
Moreover, the GateKeepers look the likely challengers, if any exist, to take down two-time champion Your Mom this weekend. They nearly did it two years ago during MRDA Champs 2012, when in the last jam of the final the GateKeepers led by four, only to concede a quick grand slam, losing the title to Your Mom by one point.
Despite the rivalries and this year’s success, St Louis captain and co-founder Magnum PIMP doesn’t expect his men to waltz into Tacoma with any presumptions or a chip on their shoulders.
“We played some tough competition during the year so we’re happy to have executed well against high-level teams. This is the deepest team we have brought into the MRDA Championship,” Magnum said.
“Looking at the rosters of other teams, it looks like they are sending their best teams to date as well,” said Magnum. To their own credit, St Louis counts some of the best in men’s derby as a part of their squad, including Percy Control, Gnat King Kill, Debaucherous Prime and Neil Death Experience, all of whom joined Magnum on Team USA.
Maritime Mayhem, according to Mangum, is set to be a great display of men’s derby. “(The Championship) will have many rematches of storied rivalries and the action will be intense,” he said.
The GateKeepers start things off with MRDA’s first-ever international clash at Champs, against London’s Southern Discomfort.
#1 – Your Mom Men’s Derby
Winners of the last two consecutive MRDA Championships, Your Mom Men’s Roller Derby hails from Des Moines, Iowa, yet has names on their roster from all over the country. Much like the Oly Rollers did in 2009, Your Mom burst on the scene, upping the ante on competition by rostering a team full of exemplary, world-class speedskaters who learned how to play effectively as a team.
Some of the familiar names on the roster this year include Sugar Boots, Seahorses Forever, Twinkle Toes, Dirty Larry, B. Stang, and the Muse brothers, Frank NotSoHotra and Peter Pan. New additions to the Champs roster include Steven “Rollomite” Carter and league newbie Jeremy “Jer-onimo” Britton.
The MVP Blocker from last year’s Championship, BS Smacker, was one of eight of Your Mom’s players to make Team USA and the World Cup in March. Despite personal accolades and consecutive titles, BS says that he looks up to his teammates, and that much of the team’s success comes directly from their coaching.
“(Your Mom’s) Coach Mark Muse pushes all of us each and every practice to strive to be the best we can be,” BS said. “(Our) progress through the season regardless of our opponent is/was to better our self each and every time we hit the track. We are as hungry now as a team as we were the first time I attended practice back in 2012.”
While it’s fair to say that Your Mom has all the tools in their arsenal needed to repeat their performances from the last two years and take their third-consecutive MRDA title, the champions will have to earn it. And they know that.
One of the best parts about Champs this year is that the roller derby community all across the world will get a glimpse of what men have done to further build the game.