2009 Nationals Preview: Team Profiles

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Philly | Gotham | Boston | Windy City | Madison | Detroit | Texas | Kansas City | Houston | Oly | Rocky Mountain | Denver

Philly (East #1)

First Bout: vs winner of Rocky Mountain vs. Houston, Saturday 11:45am

2009 WFTDA record: 9-1

2009 biggest win: 291-50 over Steel City, September 11 (Eastern Regionals)

2009 biggest loss: 149-74 to Charm City, August 22

2009 closest bout: 90-89 victory over Gotham, September 13 (Eastern Regionals); also 70-69 victory over Windy City, July 25

2009 background: Philly spent their first few bouts of 2009 quietly scoring convincing wins over regional rivals Carolina and Boston, but it was their turn at the East Coast Extravaganza that really showed they were prepared to be a challenger for the national title, as they squashed two tough teams in Kansas City and Rat City by 100+ each on consecutive nights. The only blemish on their year was a rather lopsided 149-74 loss to Charm City when they sat most of their star players in a bout just before Regionals, but in one of derby’s great ironies, the Philly-Charm rematch at Regionals went to Philly by the exact same score.

In another statistical anomaly, Philly dealt both Gotham and Windy City their only losses of 2009 — both by 1 point — both scored in the final jam by Teflon Donna.

Tournament history: Like Windy City, Philly has a long checkered history with Gotham when it comes to WFTDA tournaments. In the 2007 cycle, Philly was seeded higher than Gotham going into Easterns and had a first-round bye, but Gotham steamrolled them to eliminate Philly after just one bout. In 2008, Philly was the only team to come close to Gotham all year long, falling just 5 points short in the Eastern Regional semifinal — but Philly was crushed by 137 points when they met again the following month at Nationals. This year, of course, Philly finally got their revenge by ending Gotham’s 18-game winning streak in the finals of Eastern Regionals 2009, claiming the #1 seed in the East along with it.

Lowdown: Philly is not a very flashy team; when faced with a team near their skill level, they’ll generally rely on workmanlike point-denial to start building a lead slowly and surely rather than exploding for big jams early. Often they seem not as concerned with locking up the opposing jammer indefinitely as they are with delaying her just long enough to claim lead jammer status and some daylight out of the pack for their own jammer. That keeps them from putting up the multiple grand slams and astronomical scores of teams like Denver or Texas … but it’s hard to argue with the success of their style.

If history is any guide, look for a lot of 4-0 jam calls and the lowest point totals this weekend to come from Philly; in the past Philly has played some remarkably low-scoring games, including a 70-69 and 92-76 against Windy City, an 85-46 against Carolina, and the 5th lowest-scoring bout in WFTDA history, a 62-56 against Bay Area a couple of years back in 2007.

Players to watch: It’s particularly hard to single out players on Philly as ones to watch; this is one of the most even teams in the sport. Philly sports an incredibly well-rounded jammer lineup — top speed is probably held by the small but mighty Mo Pain and Persephone, while Shenita Stretcher and Teflon Donna are plenty fast and also have the size to absorb potential takeout hits. Violet Temper and Elle Viento can also step in when needed, giving Philly a lot a depth offensively. Philly’s D is equally deep with hard hitters: Nina Knockout, Robin Drugstores, Gloria Grindem, Olivia Face, Ivana Rock and 2009 addition Heavy Flo are all capable of putting an opponent in the air.

Road to the championship: Philly has a first round bye and faces the winner of Rocky Mountain / Houston on Saturday. If they are victorious there, they will go up against Texas, Madison or Boston in the final four. Philly has the chance to be the first hosting league to win a WFTDA tournament.

Roster: Annie Christ 7 // Dara Licks 67 // Dotti Horror 77 // Elle Viento 22 // Eurothrash AK47 // Gefilte Fists 18 // Ginger Vitis 933 // Gloria Grindem 1972 // Heavy Flo 527 // Ivana Rock 11 // Leggs Benedict 04EZ // Mo Pain 8 // Nina Knockout 911 // Olivia Face 668 // Persephone 15 // Robin Drugstores 714 // Shenita Stretcher 305 // Teflon Donna 85 // Violet Temper 06 // Wendy Whiplash 13

Philly | Gotham | Boston | Windy City | Madison | Detroit | Texas | Kansas City | Houston | Oly | Rocky Mountain | Denver

Gotham (East #2)

First bout: vs Detroit, 8:45pm Friday

2009 WFTDA record: 6-1

2009 biggest win: 181-25 over Providence, September 11 (Eastern Regionals)

2009 biggest loss: 90-89 to Philly, September 13 (Eastern Regionals)

2009 closest bout: 90-89 to Philly, September 13 (Eastern Regionals)

2009 background: Gotham was the most dominant force in derby dating back to October 2007, where a win over Rose City began a WFTDA-record 18-game winning streak. This year they continued to drop 100 point margins on highly-ranked teams like Carolina and Boston, but the near-invincibility of 2008 was punctured in a classic June bout against Texas, where Gotham survived for a 84-76 victory, and finally shattered by Philly, who squeaked out a (belatedly controversial) 1 point victory in the finals of Eastern Regionals.

Tournament history: The defending champs from 2008 sport the best record in WFTDA tournament history. They went 3-0 in the 2007 regionals, 0-1 in the 2007 Nationals, 3-0 in the 2008 regionals, 3-0 in the 2008 Nationals, and 2-1 in the 2009 Regionals for a stellar 11-2 overall. Philly is the only team to have given them serious tournament trouble in the last couple of years, as their 2008 Eastern Regionals match came down to a last-jam before Gotham escaped with a 5 point win.

Lowdown: With the possible exception of Texas, no other team plays with quite the machine-like precision of Gotham — while they’ve got a few players who can wind up and hit hard, the Gotham game is heavily based around ownership of the front of the pack and never falling out of position. Disruption of the Gotham pack work is extremely difficult, but Philly and Texas showed this year that it’s the only road to potential victory.

Players to watch: Jammers Bonnie Thunders and Suzy Hotrod get a lot of deserved accolades for their eye-catching style with the jam star, but an emerging force for Gotham this year has been 2009 addition Polly Gone, who can lay some bone-crunching hits for her compact size; returning vet Surly Temple got a little bit overlooked in 2008 Year of Beyonslay, as Surly has a pretty devastating blocking attack of her own; up and coming speedsters Em Dash and Barbara Ambush may be developing into the next generation of NYC jammers.

Road to the championship: If Gotham defeats Detroit on Friday, the NYC crew is set for a long-anticipated battle with the #1 seed from the West, Oly — with Gotham’s 23 month winning streak at an end, Oly now holds the longest (temporal) winning streak among Nationals teams. Beyond the Oly Armageddon lies Windy City, Kansas City or Denver in the final four.

Roster: Ana Bollocks 00 // Barbara Ambush 1600 // Beatrix Slaughter 42 // Bonnie Thunders 340 // Brigitte Barhot 60 // Donna Matrix 2 // Em Dash 9 // Fisti Cuffs 241 // Ginger Snap 80 // Hard Anya i4i // Hela Skelter 31 // Hyper Lynx 404 // Kandy Kakes 10 // Luna Impact 295 // Miss American Thighs 76 // Papierschnitt 500 // Polly Gone 13 // Surly Temple 99 // Suzy Hotrod 55 // Sweet Sherry Pie 201

Philly | Gotham | Boston | Windy City | Madison | Detroit | Texas | Kansas City | Houston | Oly | Rocky Mountain | Denver

Boston (East #3)

First bout: vs. Madison, 3:30pm Friday

2009 record: 9-8

2009 biggest win: 298-22 over Pikes Peak, September 19

2009 biggest loss: 188-44 to Gotham, March 28

2009 closest bout: 82-81 loss to Carolina, June 27 (East Coast Extravaganza)

2009 background: Boston started slow in 2009, losing six out of their first 8 bouts against tough competition, but after a 155-107 win over Duke City in July, their season began to turn around a bit. A big 129-58 victory at Rollercon against Bay Area announced that they were a serious national threat, and they made good on that promise at Eastern Regionals by beating two teams they’d lost to earlier in the year — first decisively taking the upper hand in their long rivalry with Carolina by dismissing them 112-40, and then hanging on for a upset of favored Charm City in the third-place bout, winning 156-142 to advance to Nationals.

Boston is one of four Nationals teams to have played a bout between Regionals and Nationals — they spanked Pikes Peak in August, 298-22.

Tournament history: This is Boston’s first appearance at Nationals, and in doing so they shake off a tough-luck reputation from their 2007 and 2008 Regionals appearances, where the went to the last jam with Detroit (in 2007) and Carolina (in 2008) before being eliminated in those two bouts. Notably, they did knock off Madison 90-88 in a thriller of a consolation-round bout in the 2008 Regionals; Madison will be their first-round opponent here to kick off Nationals.

Lowdown: Boston’s defense can get lights-out when things are completely clicking –they held Pikes Peak, Carolina, Montreal and Connecticut to under 40 points each this year. However, they have shown an occasional propensity to allow big scoring runs for their opponents that can either put a mostly close game out of reach or allow a game that seemed won to almost be lost.

The most notable examples of that this year came in their June bout against Carolina, where Boston had a tough time getting started and was behind 47-12 before getting it together, and their Regionals bout against Charm City, where they were up 145-72 with about 12 minutes to play, but a massive Charm City surge brought that 73 point lead all the way down to 14 points before time finally expired. Boston certainly won’t be able to afford any lengthy lapses like those if they’re going to go deep in this very tough tournament.

Players to watch: Blocking is keyed by lanky pivot Shellby Shattered, a serious force in the front of a pack, Harley Quinn, who excels at one-on-one blocking, and the particularly hard hitting from Etta Maims and Harlot Fevah. Savvy longtime vet Anna Wrecks’Ya can also provide some confounding positional play in the pack. On the jam line it’s Krushpuppy and Claire D. Way who usually lead Massacre scoring, with the particularly agile Claire occasionally performing some crowd-pleasing, physics-defying 360 spins to keep her balance after hits.

Road to the championship: A first-round date with Madison (#2 North Central) will be followed by a match against South Central #1 Texas on Saturday if Boston prevails; Texas defeated Boston 118-84 earlier this year, but as noted before, Boston has managed to get revenge on two teams already this year. If Boston can score a huge upset on Texas, they’ll face Philly, Rocky Mountain or Houston in the final four.

Roster: Anna Wrecks’Ya 101 // Claire D. Way 1984 // Etta Maims B52 // Harley Quinn 9669 // Harlot Fevah 99 // Kitty Twister 138 // Krushpuppy (843) // Lois Carmen Dominator 011 // Maude Forbid 7:1 // Maura Buse 34B // Mrs. Dash 360 // Pina Collidah 77 // Pussy Venom 28 // Quick Sandy 24 // Rocky 5 // Shellby Shattered -0 // Sugar Hits 1001 // Triple Deck-Her 3D

Philly | Gotham | Boston | Windy City | Madison | Detroit | Texas | Kansas City | Houston | Oly | Rocky Mountain | Denver

Windy City (North Central #1)

First bout: vs winner of Kansas City / Denver, Saturday 1:30pm

2009 WFTDA record: 10-1

2009 biggest win: 186-45 over Arch Rival, April 25

2009 biggest loss: 70-69 to Philly, July 25

2009 closest bout: 70-69 to Philly, July 25

2009 background: Windy City has more 2009 wins than any other team appearing at this year’s Nationals, and came within just one point of a perfect season thus far in a loss to Philly. Other than Philly, though, hardly anybody has been able to touch them. Charm City came the closest by playing a fierce last quarter to lose by 19 points in August, but the average margin of victory for WCR in 2009 has been 74 points, and WCR wasn’t taking on slouches — all of their opponents were top-25 teams.

With the exception of a loss to a since-depleted Carolina team back in June of 2008, Windy City has only lost to Philly (twice) and Gotham (twice) in the past two years.

Tournament history: Since 2007, Windy City’s tournament road has almost always had a Gotham-sized wall at the end of it. WCR reached the finals of the 2007 Eastern Regionals and was stopped by Gotham there; they were one-and-done at 07 Nationals when they went up against Texas. In 2008, Windy City once again reached the finals of Easterns and lost to Gotham — they got a chance at revenge six weeks later in the finals of Nationals, but for the third time Gotham was victorious. In WCR’s three tournament matches with Gotham, they’ve lost by an average of 57 points.

Lowdown: Like all of the teams that have progressed to the point where they can take a regional championship, Windy City has turned re-engagement into an art form — they’re particularly effective at forcing a nearly-free jammer to get to the back of the line. WCR’s team blocking has gotten so precise that they’ve coined their own name for it — watch for their “Chicago typewriter” triple-hit, where a jammer unfortunate enough to get stuck on the outside of a turn trying to beat the last girl will receive three rapid-fire hard hits from the remainder of the WCR pack and suddenly have to start the pass all over again.

Players to watch: WCR has serious contrast in their jammer styles, as tiny Varla Vendetta and Shocka Conduit get support from tall and leggy Eva Dead, Athena DeCrime and the up-and-coming Ruth Enasia.

Windy City mainstays Malice With Chains and Megan Formor are both set to retire after Nationals, which will likely inspire even fiercer play from both of those already intense blockers. Watch for Megan’s particularly impressive ability to point her skates away from each other and ride the curve to stay in bounds after hitting a jammer into the corners. Also in the pack, keep an eye on tough Hoosier Mama, a dangerous combination of raw power and agility for any jammer to contend with.

Road to the championship: Windy City’s bye gives them Kansas City or Denver in their first bout; WCR thumped Kansas City badly the last time they met a little over a year ago, 155-39. Windy and Denver have not played before. If Windy City gets past their first test, they get it on with Oly, Detroit or their longtime nemeses Gotham in the final four.

Roster: Amy Nonamey 57 // Athena DeCrime 30 // Beth Amphetamine 98 // Blossom Bruiso 5 // Donna Party 1847 // Eva Dead 0 // Georgia on Yer Behind 70 // Go-Go Hatchet 17 // Hoosier Mama 219 // Malice With Chains 6 // Megan Formor 1980 // Mo Vengeance 22 // Nina Millimeter 9 // Ruth Enasia 81 // Shocka Conduit 15 // Tori Adore 19 // Varla Vendetta 25 // Wreck N Shrew 24 // Ying O Fire 777 // Yvette YourMaker 999

Philly | Gotham | Boston | Windy City | Madison | Detroit | Texas | Kansas City | Houston | Oly | Rocky Mountain | Denver

Madison (#2 North Central)

First bout: vs Boston, 3:30pm Friday

2009 WFTDA record: 7-3

2009 biggest win: 199-56 over Brewcity, September 18 (NC regionals)

2009 biggest loss: 275-76 to Detroit, October 10

2009 closest bout: 107-95 victory over Detroit, September 19 (NC regionals)

2009 background: Madison rolled up some big wins and a solid winning record this year but scored most of their wins against teams that stood considerably lower in the ranks than Madison — North Star, Arch Rival, Tampa Bay and two over Brewcity. When they’ve gone up against other teams that will be appearing at Nationals, it has not gone well for them — a 152-112 loss to Kansas City and a 150-56 loss to Windy City are on their record.

They did score an upset over regional rivals Detroit when it counted most, though, swapping spots at North Central regionals by winning 107-95 in the semifinals. Worryingly for Madison fans, though, Detroit absolutely smoked them in a rematch less than a month later, dropping nearly 200 points worth of margin in a 275-76 rout.

Tournament history: This is Madison’s first trip to Nationals, and it comes two years after one of the most notable upsets in the young sport — in 2007, Madison was the #1 seed in Eastern Regionals but lasted exactly 60 minutes before being shocked by the (then) upstart 7 seed, Windy City. The following year, Madison hosted Regionals but had the bad luck of facing the nearly unstoppable #1 seed Gotham on the first day, and were eliminated early again.

Lowdown: Madison is a team built on speed and fairly consistently puts up huge point totals when they win; they’re not a crew known for the 4-0 hit-and-quit. When an opponent can handle that speed and deny Madison multi-pass jams, it seems Madison has a tough time adjusting. Checking out their history on FlatTrackStats.com, a pattern becomes abundantly clear — in the last three years, with the exception of their 152-112 loss to Kansas City, Madison has not lost a game in which they scored over 100 points and not won a game in which they scored under 100. That’s 23 out of 24 bouts in which the triple-digit total has been the decider between a Madison win or loss.

Players to watch: Jewels of Denile, Mouse, Darling Nikki and new face Juke Boxx are the main jammers in an offensive-heavy lineup; Wildberry Punch, Back Doris, Chop Suzzy and Charlie Hustle also have gotten time with the jam star. Quietly effective in the Madison pack are Back Doris, Dolly Pardon Me and Allie Gator.

Road to the championship: Madison opens the tournament with a bout against Boston, to whom they lost a last jam nailbiter in the consolation rounds of 2008 Eastern Regionals, 90-88. If they can get the win there, they draw the #1 seed from South Central, Texas. Madison and Texas have met once before, with Texas taking a 144-59 victory at home in September 2008. Texas would have to be the favorite in that matchup, but a Madison upset would put them in the final four against either Philly, Rocky Mountain or Houston.

Roster: Back Doris 1134 // Charlie Hustle 33 // Chop Suzzy 311 // Darling Nikki 14 // Dolly Pardon Me 925 // Jewels of Denile 99 // Juke Boxx A18 // Mack the Knife 15 // Mauly Tov 131 // Mouse 4 // Mustang 66 // Stank Girl 77 // Stitch 444 // Wildberry Punch (Captain) 27 // Allie Gator 18 Ft. Long // Tango De Muerte 22 // Rosetta Stoned 420 // Meanie Cooper 37 // Major Kusaknocky 98

Philly | Gotham | Boston | Windy City | Madison | Detroit | Texas | Kansas City | Houston | Oly | Rocky Mountain | Denver

Detroit (#3 North Central)

First bout: vs. Gotham, 8:45pm Friday

2009 WFTDA record: 8-4

2009 biggest win: 275-56 over Madison, October 10

2009 biggest loss: 119-59 to Windy City, March 28

2009 closest bout: 107-95 loss to Madison, September 19

2009 background: Something of an odd up-and-down year for Detroit, as they lost to two teams that didn’t qualify for Nationals — Rat City and Charm City — but also defeated two teams that will be heading to Nationals, Boston and Madison. The Detroit / Madison situation is a particularly good example of the strange nature of Detroit’s year. Detroit lost in the semifinals of the North Central regionals 107-95, and was therefore relegated to 3rd place in that tournament and its attendant 3 seed slot in Nationals, but Detroit roared back three weeks later to pulverize Madison 275-76.

Tournament history: Detroit was a surprise party crasher at the 2007 Nationals after they dealt Minnesota an upset at that year’s Eastern Regionals, and although they didn’t make it to Nationals in 2008, they quite nearly knocked out Philly in a 10-point loss during 2008 Eastern Regionals.

Lowdown: Detroit fulfills their city’s rep for physical defense, as they’ve got one of the more bruising lineups coming to Philly — last year’s aforementioned Regionals clash with Philly was a brutal matchup of power on power in the pack. Even most of Detroit’s offensive weapons, particularly Sarah Hipel and Racer McChaseher, are power jammers that are every bit as likely to knock an opposing blocker of their way as to wait for a hole to develop. That doesn’t mean they lack in speed, though — a star pass at North Central Regionals allowed Detroit’s Racer and Sista Slit’chya to combine for one of the only two 30-point jams in WFTDA tournament history.

Players to watch: Sista Slit’chya has come on the Detroit all-star scene as an important new jammer in 2009 and vet Boo D. Livers has been reliable for a long time, but it’s the Detroit blockers that provide most of the fireworks. Look out for Cookie Rumble, Black Eyed Skeez and Rock Candy — along with double-threat Hipel and Racer — to be dispensing measured violence left and right in the pack.

Road to the championship: Like fellow 3 seed Houston, Detroit has an extremely tough road ahead of them. First they’d have to take down defending champs Gotham, and follow that up by knocking off West champ Oly, still undefeated in 2009. After that, it’s Windy City, Denver or Kansas City standing between Detroit and a trip to the championship bout.

Roster: Black Eyed Skeez 313 // boo d. livers 24/7 // Bruisie Siouxxx 303 // Bytch Ryder 44 // Cookie Rumble 33 // Del Bomber 76 // Devil Kitty 20 // Diesel Doll I75 // Elle McFearsome 6 // Fatal Femme 46 // Honey Suckit 1974 // Polly Fester 100% // Racer McChaseHer 28 // Rock Candy 10 // Roxanna Hardplace 3 // Sarah Hipel 989 // Sista Slit’chya 5 // Summers Eve-L 68 // Vega Vendetta 181 // Vicious Vixen 0

Philly | Gotham | Boston | Windy City | Madison | Detroit | Texas | Kansas City | Houston | Oly | Rocky Mountain | Denver

Texas (#1 South Central)

First bout: vs winner of Boston / Madison, Saturday 11am

2009 WFTDA record: 9-1

2009 biggest win: 451-8 over Oklahoma, May 30

2009 biggest loss: 84-76 to Gotham, June 19

2009 closest bout: 83-77 win over Bay Area, September 6

2009 background: The sport’s progenitors have long been known for giving newbies and developing teams a harsh welcome to top-flight play, but they outdid themselves this year with five 200+ point games, 4 of them coming against teams that qualified for the South Central tournament. When facing more experienced teams , though, Texas still almost always wins, if by much closer margins: they turned back stiff challenges from Boston (34 points), Charm City (8 points) and Bay Area (6 points) this year. Their biggest bout of the year was a grudge rematch with Gotham, where each team held the lead for about half the bout before Gotham put it away in the final few minutes.

Tournament history: It would be a little absurd to try and compare the intangible aspect of which teams “want it more” … but that being said, it’s hard to imagine a team wanting it more than Texas at this point. They’ve had tremendously frustrating ends to their last two appearances at Nationals, reaching the semifinals in 2007 but getting eliminated by Rat City in an infamous deathmatch and getting exactly as far in 2008 but losing a dramatic overtime contest to Windy City. Texas is the only team at this year’s Nationals to have advanced to the semifinals in both 2007 and 2008.

Lowdown: As one might expect from the most experienced team in derby, Texas is a total package of derby skill — hitting, positional blocking, speed and game smarts. They have a great deal of depth and no obvious weaknesses. On top of that, they’re among the best in penalty management and are one of the few leagues whose blockers will check the penalty box time remaining between jams to see exactly how much time is left to kill.

Players to watch: Veteran Rice Rocket was one of Texas’ main jammers for years but has been slowly transitioning to a blocking role and doing it exceptionally well; keep an eye out for her ability to plow stop wide in front of a jammer and erase her escape route. On the flip side, Olivia Shootin’ John has blossomed into one of Texas’ most deadly jammers; she’ll be one of TX’s major scoring threats alongside the intense Bloody Mary. And there will likely be nobody all weekend hitting harder than Bullet Tooth Tracy, whose deceptively lackadaisical patrolling at the front of the pack becomes a ferocious rush once a jammer gets too close.

Road to the championship: Texas lies in wait for the winner of Friday’s Boston vs. Madison opening bout; Texas has played each team once and won both games. After that, Texas gets either Philly, Rocky Mountain or Houston in the final four.

Roster: 1889 Belle Starr // 40 Bloody Mary // 17 Bullet Tooth Tracy // XX  Cat Tastrophe // 41 Cheap Trixie // 100 Crackerjack // 76 Curvette // 222 Desi Cration // 333  Dilla // 5 Kat A Killzem // 56 Lucille Brawl // 19 Molotov M. Pale // 22 Morphine // 03 Olivia Shootin’ John // 3E8 Rice Rocket // 21 Rita Menweep // 13 Ryder Down // 18 Shank // 360 The Angie?Christ  // 53 Vicious van GoGo 

Philly | Gotham | Boston | Windy City | Madison | Detroit | Texas | Kansas City | Houston | Oly | Rocky Mountain | Denver

Kansas City (#2 South Central)

First bout: vs. Denver, Friday 7pm

2009 WFTDA record: 8-3

2009 biggest win: 198-77 over Tampa Bay, September 25 (South Central Regional)

2009 biggest loss: 145-44 to Philly, June 28 (East Coast Extravaganza)

2009 closest bout: 135-115 loss to Charm City, July 11

2009 background: Most of KCRW’s bouts this year have been big wins, but they don’t really have any memorable upsets to their name in 2009, with all of their bouts playing out more or less the way the rankings would have suggested. They did come pretty close to upending tough Charm City in July, holding a 58-29 lead in the first half before falling victim to a signature second-half Charm comeback and losing 135-115. Philly and Texas treated the KC girls more roughly, with Philly dropping a 101-point margin on them in June and Texas swamping them 153-70 in the final of the South Central tournament.

Tournament history: Kansas City has experienced both the highest and lowest points of tournament competition in the last two years. In 2007, they were the very definition of a Cinderella story when they were the 4th of 4 seeds from the West but knocked off Gotham, Tucson and Rat City to claim a shocking victory at the first Nationals. The next year, though, they lost their first Western Regionals bout to Duke City in one of the most memorable derby upsets yet and had their title defense snuffed out after just 60 minutes.

Lowdown: Kansas City has long had a well-deserved reputation for smart effective defense, even with a fair amount of turnover in those defensive platoons over the last couple of years. Rarely do this team’s blockers go lone-wolf on opposing jammers — they’re consistently good about staying together and using strength in numbers, with the KC jammers usually getting some time to pick their way through while the opposing team attempts to destroy the KC walls. They’re also a team that stays together effectively while still going fast, which can seriously frustrate jammers that rely on their own acceleration rather than offensive blocking schemes.

Players to watch: Kansas City is a particularly fun team to watch for pack play, as they’ve got a lot of different elements with different strengths. Canny blocker Annie Maul is a master of putting the track-cut trap on opposing jammers, able to power her opponent out of bounds and then shave off speed instantly to force the slowing; meanwhile, her fellow blockers Eclipse, Rita Ploy and Jessika Rabid like to take care of jammers the old-fashioned way by trying to launch them into parking lots. Princess Slay’Ya uses lateral movement exceptionally well to keep opponents frustrated and hemmed up, and pivot Bruz-Her is often found at the front of the pack putting all of those different approaches together.

Unfortunately for Kansas City, one of their most fun players to watch will be watching this tournament herself; rookie jammer Track Rat suffered an exceptionally regrettably timed major injury on Sunday, breaking her fibula just five days before the tournament in practice. That’ll put a little more pressure on the standing KCRW jammer rotation, which will likely be built around Hall Balls and Strawberry Cutthroat.

Road to the championship: Kansas City’s first-round matchup with Denver looks like it might be the most closely matched of the opening day; Denver’s never beaten Kansas City but it’s been closer and closer every time, with the most recent meeting being a 132-90 win for KC in a consolation-round bout at last year’s Western Regionals. If KC prevails, they get rewarded with a date with #1 North Central seed Windy City — and Windy City punished KC 155-39 the last time they met, in September 2008. Beyond Windy, Kansas City would face Oly, Gotham or Detroit in the final four, should they get that far.

Roster: 7 Ami?Geddon // 111 Annie Maul // 999 Bad Omen // 26 Bella Fire // 45 Bomb Pop // 244 Bruz-Her // 44 Damsel of D’Tension // 187 Delia Death // 0 Eclipse // 76 Hayley Vomit // 30 Hall Balls // 11 Jessika Rabid // 1 Missle Toes // 4 Princess Slay-Ya // 19 Rita Ploy // 22 Ruth Canal // 1111 Scratch N Tiff // 85 Strawberry Cutthroat // 84 Tuff Noogies

Philly | Gotham | Boston | Windy City | Madison | Detroit | Texas | Kansas City | Houston | Oly | Rocky Mountain | Denver

Houston (#3 South Central)

First bout: vs. Rocky Mountain, Friday 5:15pm

2009 WFTDA record: 5-2

2009 biggest win: 254-43 over Big Easy, January 24

2009 biggest loss: 145-76 to Kansas City, August 22

2009 closest bout: 113-101 over Dallas, September 27 (South Central Regionals)

2009 background: Houston was the least active of the 12 teams to make it to Nationals — nearly half of their 2009 WFTDA sanctioned action came in their three bouts at South Central regionals. While they did survive a tightly-clumped second-tier of SC teams in 2009, narrowly defeating aspiring Atlanta and Dallas, they appear to not yet be functioning at the same level as the top two SC teams, Texas and KC — Houston faced Kansas City twice in 2009 and lost by similar margins each time, 145-76 and 118-56.

Tournament history: Houston makes their first trip to Nationals this year. They did not appear at the 2007 Western Regionals, but hosted in 2008, where they were bounced in the first round by Rocky Mountain.

Lowdown: Like Madison, Houston is an exceptionally speedy team that can seriously light up a scoreboard when they have the advantage, but gets into some trouble when faced with a fast team that can play a tight defense. While Houston features some extremely hard hitters, that can also get them into trouble when intended big hits don’t take out their target.

Players to watch: Death By Chocolate is one of the most athletic skaters on any roster Nationals weekend, and is a huge help to Houston’s fortunes no matter what position she’s playing on the track — she’s got a combination of speed, power and agility that allows her to move around the pack seemingly effortlessly. The smaller Mistilla isn’t a power jammer, but has blazing away-from-pack speed that makes her a serious danger for 20+ point jams whenever she’s got the star. De Mentia, though perhaps not quite as flashy as her jammer brethren, was consistently reliable for points and quietly kept Houston in their third-place bout against Dallas. In the pack, Goldie Bloxxx, Nawty Dread Locks and Miss Lead lay some thundering blocks.

Road to the championship: It’s a very tough row to hoe for Houston, who would have to stop the swift rise of Rocky Mountain in the first bout and then find a way to upset East #1 seed Philly the next day. If they can manage both those upsets, they’ll find themselves up against Texas, Madison or Boston in the final four.

Roster: 866 Becky Booty // 26 Brand?aid // 37 Carmen Geddit // 80 Chainsaw Chic // 69 Death By Chocolate  //13 DeMentia // 007 Goldie Bloxx // 21 Jekyll & Heidi // 22 Miss Lead  // 16 Mistilla // 4 22 Nawty Dread Knocks // XXX Panty Raider // X Rebel Ann // 7-11 Sick Nick // 903 Sinister Sista // 3 Speed?O // 411 Starr Doom // 6 Tex Offender  // 35 The Prosecutor // 29 Sweet Commotion

Philly | Gotham | Boston | Windy City | Madison | Detroit | Texas | Kansas City | Houston | Oly | Rocky Mountain | Denver

Oly (#1 West)

First bout: vs winner of Gotham / Detroit, Saturday 3:15pm

2009 WFTDA record: 8-0

2009 biggest win: 285-47 over Slaughter County, January 18

2009 biggest loss: No losses

2009 closest bout: 170-168 victory over Denver, April 11

2009 background: Oly is the only team at Nationals that is undefeated in 2009, and their run at Western Regionals was quite impressive as they rolled over their opposition by 73 points (Duke City), 37 points (Rat City) and 55 points (Rocky Mountain.) Much earlier in the year, they played nailbiters against Denver (170-168 in April) and Rose City (157-151 in March.)

Tournament history: This is the first year that Oly has been eligible to participate in WFTDA tournaments.

Lowdown: Oly arguably has the greatest collection of individual talent on display at Nationals, but an oft-heard knock on them all year was that the individual talent was covering up less-developed gameplay knowledge and that it’d be exposed at the tournament level. However, that pretty definitively didn’t happen at Westerns. On top of that, it’s worth noting that Oly was the only non-local team to advance from the high altitude of Denver’s Western Regionals to Nationals — any endurance factor that they were suffering from didn’t keep them from #1, and won’t affect them in the regular elevation of Philadelphia.

Players to watch: Oly is star-studded and not just in the sport of roller derby; multiple players got their starts as world-class hockey and speed skaters before derby, including Sassy, Tannibal Lector and Atomatrix. Longtime fans of the derby scene will take notice of a surprise appearance on the Oly roster — derby vet Femme Fatale, sister of D-Bomb and Blonde ‘n’ Bitchin, left Rat City after the 2008 along with her sisters but hadn’t appeared on an Oly roster until this weekend.

Road to the championship: Oly’s first round bye will hand them either Gotham or Detroit in the their first bout on Saturday; a clash with Gotham would be a fascinating matchup of the established vs. the upstart. If Oly can put down Gotham, they’d be in the final four against either Windy City, Kansas City, or Denver. Of those three, they’ve only faced Denver in the past, claiming an extremely narrow 2 point win in April.

Roster: Atomatrix 03 // B Tease N 5 // Blonde an’ Bitchin 28 // D-Bomb 8 // Femme Fatale 18 // Foxy Blocker 7 // Halle Scerry 815 // Heffer 2TON // Intended Anger 911 // Mary Stoppins SPOONFUL // Punchin’ Judy TKO // Riot Girl 22 // Sassy 2 // Surly Sioux 10 // Tannibal Lector 9 // Trickk Tracy 27 // Wax Job 00 // Wheel-Her 4×4

Philly | Gotham | Boston | Windy City | Madison | Detroit | Texas | Kansas City | Houston | Oly | Rocky Mountain | Denver

Rocky Mountain (#2 West)

First bout: vs. Houston, 5:15pm Friday

2009 WFTDA record: 5-4

2009 biggest win: 187-14 over Omaha, June 6

2009 biggest loss: 179-93 to Duke City, February 22 (Four Corner Feud)

2009 closest bout: 122-107 victory over Denver, October 3 (Western Regionals)

2009 background: Rocky Mountain is most assuredly the biggest surprise guest at Nationals this year, as they opened up 0-3 for the year with losses to Duke City, Pikes Peak and Boston and only picked up two wins by defeating a couple of teams who did not qualify for the 10 team regional tournaments, Omaha and Sacred City. However, a timely influx of seasoned talent in DeRanged, Psycho Babble and Ecko Girl from nearby Pikes Peak helped give Rocky Mountain a new dimension just in time for Western Regionals — and they became the lowest seed to ever advance from Regionals, bucking their #8 seed to upset both #3 seed Rose City and #2 seed Denver and finish second to Oly.

Tournament history: Rocky Mountain was the definition of a middle-of-the-pack team in 2007 and 2008 Western Regionals. They entered 2007 as the 9 seed, and lost to #8 Duke City in the first round; in 2008, they came in as the #6 seed and survived a round before getting solidly bounced by Texas. This is their first Nationals berth.

Lowdown: Rocky Mountain long had a reputation for being mostly defensively-minded and relying on a grinding game to eventually let the remarkable endurance of a short jammer rotation win the day; for the last two tournament cycles, Frida Beater and She Who Cannot Be Named handled the lion’s share of the jamming duties. With the addition of De Ranged as a go-to jammer and Psycho deployed mostly in the pack, Rocky’s game has gotten quite a bit more dynamic. Frida is showing she’s remarkably dangerous as a blocker and the Pikes Peak transfers have brought their signature jammer defense skills with them, allowing RMRG to stall off the line and often pick the moment when their jammers will make their initial dive into the pack.

Players to watch: Somewhat overlooked in DeRanged’s star turn at Westerns was the emergence of explosive new addition Whipity Pow, a small but gutsy jammer always scrambling to find a lane. Veteran Anne Shank, long primarily used as a blocker, was a surprise force with the star, marrying speed and determination in equal amounts to power her way through to daylight.

Blockers Catholic Cruel Girl and Assaultin’ Pepa both had standout tournaments in the pack, consistently sending opposing jammers flying into the corners. Still, though, it’s hard to understate the impact that DeRanged has on the team — and on whichever jammer is unlucky to line up against her, as De loves to mess with her opposing number from the second whistle all the way to the end of the jam.

Road to the championship: Rocky Mountain is the seeding favorite in their matchup with Houston, and if RMRG gets past them they’ll have their work cut out for them when they go up against Eastern Region champs Philly. An upset win there would pit Rocky Mountain against Texas, Madison or Boston in the final four. (Rocky Mountain and Denver are on opposite sides of the bracket, so a rematch of their chaotic, instantly infamous clash at Western Regionals will only happen if they both reach the championship.)

Roster: Edie I Mean 97 // Tia Juana Pistola Colt .45 // Ecko 1972 // Red Die 40 // BatAss 100% // Anne Shank 13 // Annia LateHer 57 // Assaultin’ Pepa 86 // Winona Fighter 8 // She Who Cannot Be Named 88 // Frida Beater 18-3-202 // DeRanged 27 // Catholic Cruel Girl 3 // Whipity Pow 52 // Annsanity 96 // Flame n Fury 811 // Green Venom 127 // Ho J. Simpson 32 // Psycho Babble 21 // RoboFlow 10

Philly | Gotham | Boston | Windy City | Madison | Detroit | Texas | Kansas City | Houston | Oly | Rocky Mountain | Denver

Denver (#3 West)

First bout: vs. Kansas City, 7pm Friday

2009 WFTDA record: 8-2

2009 biggest win: 307-32 over Angel City, October 2 (Western Regionals)

2009 biggest loss: 122-107 to Rocky Mountain, October 3 (Western Regionals)

2009 closest bout: 170-168 loss to Oly, April 11

2009 background: Denver has had a nearly flawless season, getting things off to an excellent start with a 3-0 victory run at the Four Corner Feud mini-tournament in February, moving on to barely lose a 2 point squeaker to eventual Western Region champs Oly, and then blowing up the scoreboard against multiple teams (scoring 313 points on West Texas, 307 on Angel City, 299 on Atlanta, and 198 and 172 on Rat City.)

Unfortunately for them, the only other loss came at the most important moment against their crosstown rivals Rocky Mountain. RMRG upset them in the semfinals of Western Regionals in a 122-107 classic that ended in chaos and controversy when some overeager audience members rushed the track during the last jam when there was still a minute left to play. Denver and Rocky Mountain are on opposite sides of the Nationals bracket, so a rematch will only happen if those two teams both reach the finals, but stranger things have happened in roller derby.

Tournament history: Denver is the second-most recent WFTDA addition to appear in Nationals, and as such was not in the organization in time to participate in the 2007 Regionals. In the 2008 edition of Westerns, they put up a game first-round fight but were booted by Rose City.

Lowdown: Denver is an extremely well-conditioned team, which accounts for some of those tremendously high-scoring bouts — they just don’t seem to get tired. On top of a remarkably strong jammer core, Denver’s blockers seem to be equally proficient at positional work or straightforward pummeling and can switch that up multiple times per jam, giving Denver’s pack a constantly shifting look that has been the bane of many jammers this year.

Players to watch: Longtime speed-skating competitor Heather Juska has fantastic speed off the line and doesn’t get any slower after that; tiny and nimble Angela Death has superb balance along with a wickedly sharp cutting ability that can leave even seasoned blockers lunging at air when they think they’ve got her lined up. Teresa Rusk and Deirdre Sage can put on some barbaric hits; flashy Ariel Quigley is often a serious lockdown positional-block threat.

Road to the championship: Denver has a showdown with Kansas City to start their path; if they get past KC, they’ll have to contend with North Central champs Windy City. Should Denver reach the semifinal, they’ll be faced with Oly, Gotham or Detroit as the last step before the championship bout.

Roster: Gabrielle “Fonda Payne” Begeman 90 // Honey Punches of Throats 13 // Deirdre Sage 5 // Priscilla Wilber 89MPH // Monica Carson 20 // Kimmy Kimmy Bang Bang 311 // November James 357 // Sheila Tack 1.21gw // Jessica Rivas 350 // Natalie Meagher 33 // Danica Doležal 10 // Jessica Reutlinger 908 // Vicky Cruz 9v // Heather Juska 303 // Angela Death XIX // Tracy Akers 99 // Ariel Quigley 1982 // Caitlin Preston 1055 // Ida B. Scrappin 1020 // Teresa Rusk 911

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