November 8, 2013
By Shelley Shankya
The opening game of the 2013 WFTDA Championship tournament featured Atlanta Rollergirls’ Dirty South Derby Girls versus the London Rollergirls’ London Brawling. Audience members in the packed arena counted down the seconds to the first whistle. Atlanta’s Jammunition lined up against London’s Kamikaze Kitten, and despite losing two blockers to the box in the opening seconds of the jam, Kami grabbed lead jammer. Brawling blockers spent more time in the box during the first half, and that translated into the 17-point deficit the women from London found themselves with at the half.
In the end, Atlanta’s limited box time, their blockers’ abilities to keep London jammers on lock during power jams, and the speedy footwork of jammers like Merchant of Menace and Jammunition gave the Dirty South Derby Girls the power to advance in tournament play, defeating London 184-169.
“We respect these women [London Rollergirls] as athletes, and we know that on any given day it’s anyone’s game,” Atlanta blocker Queen Loseyateefa said. “In the end, we work on trusting each other and focusing on our game. We felt the pressure of playing our own game today, and we put it all on the track.”
Blocker pack advantage swapped back and forth almost as much as lead jammer status during the first half. Atlanta had 10 opportunities for lead jammer status, while London had 11 of the lead jammer calls. During the first power jam of the game, Rogue Runner managed to score 14 points off of Merchant of Menaces’ forearm penalty. However, Menace had scored 12 points before sitting in the box. Lady Go-go also showed her footwork for London, with an epic apex jump in turn four to grab 4 points as Atlanta jammer Hollicidal sped up to the back of the pack. Atlanta jammer Jammunition followed up the 28-point run that London had with a 22-4 jam against London.
No stranger to the track or the fans, Atlanta blocker Wild Cherri had a blow-up hit on London jammer Kamikaze Kitten to slow her down on the power jam off of Hollicidal’s forearm. Later, Alassin Sane and Ozzy Kamakazi managed to force a track cut on London’s Lady Go-go, giving Atlanta the opportunity to turn the tide. In the fourteenth jam, Atlanta took the lead from London, 68-59 and managed to slowly spread the differential.
“Our goal was to play our game and to keep our heads, even until the last jam,” Loseyateefa said. “We play every team with the utmost respect, and we’ll continue to do what we do.”
After an Atlanta timeout and a London official review, the play slowed down as the minutes wound down on the clock. With a penalty for Jammunition in the last jam of the game, London jammer Rogue Runner called off the jam for the opportunity to start the second half with a power jam. The half ended in the Dirty South Dirty Girls’ advantage, 90-73.
The second period saw a noticeable increase in fans at the arena, as well as aggression on the track. The intensity mounted to a pulsating level, as London crept back into striking distance. Atlanta blockers Queen Loseyateefa and Ozzy Kamikazi spent their energy knocking the London Brawling blockers and jammers into the suicide seats. But London didn’t fall short on the blocking side either, as blocker Stephanie Mainey spent the lion’s share of the bout on the track, forcing Atlanta blockers and jammers to contend with the Brawling’s blocking force.
Kamikaze Kitten used the advantage on a power jam in the eighth to pull off 19 points, bringing the score within five points at London 117, Atlanta 122. After climbing out of the deficit, the ruckus on the track continued to grow, and the fans got louder with each hit and every point.
During the fifteenth jam of the second period, it took Atlanta jammer Jammunition a full minute to get past the Brawling wall, and Lady Go-go snuck out from the Atlanta wall only seconds later. London lost several blockers to the box during the jam, so Jammunition only had to pass one skater to grab all four points, ending the jam with a 4-0 differential, making the score 140-131 with 9:00 to go in the game.
The final eight minutes of the game were a blur of London fighting to play on and Atlanta working to maintain their lead. Blockers for both sides absorbed jammer jukes and attempted blow-up hits, and with what looked to be the last jam of the bout, the crowd erupted as London jammer Stephanie Mainey got lead jammer, working to overcome the 30-point lead Atlanta held over their heads. London called a timeout with only 20 seconds remaining, but still had 21 points to equalize the score. Atlanta left its big hitters, Queen Loseyateefa, Alassin Sane, Wild Cherri and Agent Maulder, on the track. While Mainey managed to get lead one last time, Atlanta jammer Merchant of Menace kept pace to finish the game ahead, 184-169.
Atlanta advances to play the Texas Rollergirls’ Texecutioners during Game 5 on Saturday at 10 a.m. CST.
Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.