BALTIMORE, MD — For the fifth year in a row, Gotham and Philly met in the WFTDA East Region playoff tournament, and for the third year in a row, the clash came in the championship match. Though the previous championships had been split with a 1 point win for Philly in 2009 and a 30 point win for Gotham in 2010, this year was much different, as Gotham controlled the game from the first to the second-to-last jam to win by 151 points, 252-97.
Gotham primarily relied on a jammer rotation of their dual aces Bonnie Thunders and Suzy Hotrod supported by 2011 addition Wild Cherri, a transfer from Tampa Bay who all game long exhibited extremely impressive balance with some graceful spinning moves to remain on her feet. Philly mostly ran Goldy, Persephone, Shenita Stretcher, Mo Pain and Teflon Donna.
Things went south for Philly only 20 seconds into the bout as they lost their jammer Teflon Donna to the box very quickly, but they got a break when Gotham’s leadoff jammer Bonnie Thunders also went to the box after scoring five; the full-length opener went 9-2 for Gotham. Suzy Hotrod took 4-0 over Persephone and put Gotham up 13-2 after two. Philly lost their jammer again two jams later when Shenita Stretcher was boxed during her initial pass, and Bonnie Thunders showed her classic slippery style in a 24-0 jam — with less than 9 minutes off the clock, Gotham was already up 45-2 and Philly called their first timeout.They finally got a jam win with a 8-6 run for Goldy over lead jammer Wild Cherri, where it appeared that Cherri was running the clock to get her blockers out of the box; that made it 58-12. Philly ended up getting some rare momentum on the next jam, as Persephone got lead and a quick 4-0; still, though, they were in a 46 point hole at 58-16 with about 17 minutes in the half.
With the score 79-19 Gotham with about 10 minutes to go, there was a 70 second delay in the jam start between Teflon Donna and B.Zerk that got the crowd restive; however, when the jam finally started, Teflon got a 7-0 that pleased the underdog fans. Still, though, after that 79-26 score, points remained extremely hard to come by for Philly, and it seemed that a fair amount of the points they could get were scored due to Gotham lead jammers choosing to allow points in trade for killing penalty time.
The late half was marked by an extremely canny move by Gotham jammer Bonnie Thunders, who managed to block opposing jammer Mo Pain out of bounds on the outside just before they both reached the pack and then skated backwards all the way back to the front of the pack, baiting Mo Pain into getting reabsorbed by the pack while Bonnie was able to sprint to freedom. At the break, it was Gotham up by 93 points, 130-37.
In the beginning of the second half, Gotham seemed extremely eager to line up directly in front of the jammer line, rushing their packs off the bench to take the position away from Philly, who were on the jammer line bench. Although Philly managed to keep the Gotham lead from growing dramatically in the first ten minutes of the half, it still creeped upwards inexorably — with 19 minutes left in the game, Gotham was up by 120 at 162-42.
Philly had a bit of an opportunity there when Gotham jammer B.Zerk was handled by the Philly pack, leaving the floor open for Gloria Grindem to put a 10-0, but that was one of the few bright moments in the half for them. They didn’t get on the board again until there were about 12 minutes left in the game — again with Gotham lead jammer Bonnie Thunders choosing to allow it to get her team out of a 4-2 pack situation — and the score was 214-56 with 10:38 to go. Philly didn’t have their best jam until the very last jam of the game, where Goldy scored nearly 30 percent of Philly’s point total on a huge 29-4 light-pack powerjam over Sexy Slaydie to finish the game at 252-97.
Gotham goes 3-0 in the tournament, winning by forfeit over 8E Dutchland and defeating 4E Steel City and 2E Philly on the track; Philly goes 2-1 with wins over 10E London and 3E Charm City along with the loss to Gotham. The results of the championship mean that the top three seeds coming out of the East Region playoffs are exactly the same as 2010′s — Gotham at 1, Philly at 2, and Charm City at 3. Gotham will receive a first-round bye at the 2011 WFTDA Championships in Denver this November 11-13; Philly and Charm City also gain invites. All teams will have to wait until the conclusion of all four regional playoffs to find out who they’ll be facing in Denver.