STUNT DEVILS/SMASHINISTAS BATTLE FOR TOP PRIZE
by the Grand Poobah
Greetings, my friends, from the ARRG Newscenter…
Before I preview this Saturday’s title bout between the defending league champion, The Stunt Devils, and their arch rival, The Smashinistas, let’s revisit the final 2010 intraleague standings for ARRG.
To tell the truth – and anyone who is honest will agree – this season has been an unprecedented one for ARRG.
Don’t let the “top heavy” appearance of the standings fool you. It easily could have looked differently.
The regular season has been a historical one – not only in terms of attendance, but also in the caliber of play.
Veteran skaters have had a season that have solidified their legacy while newcomers have had a season that offer to ARRG Nation a glimpse of greatness to come.
In short, ARRG has been proud of its accomplishments in 2010, and we thank you all for your patronage and support the first six months of the year.
And now, by comparison, let’s look at how the preceding graphic should be represented this week.
By no means is this “artisitic representation” meant to discredit the regular season – far from it, this is how both teams reached the championship bout – but rather it’s a reflection of how this bout should be considered.
The regular season statistics are of no influence Saturday…the numbers are reset…the slate is wiped clean.
In short, you can look at Saturday as….
ONE BOUT – WINNER TAKE ALL!
And when sixty minutes of high-impact action concludes at the All-American Sports Mall, which team raises the championship trophy?
Both squads are more than deserving, because both have faced adversity throughout the season.
Let’s first look at the defending champions.
Riding high on a 2009 title win, the Stunt Devils were considered the team most likely to return to this season’s title bout. With most of their line-up from the previous year intact, the Stunts quickly showed their domination with lopsided wins in their first two bouts of the 2010 season – wins that saw them outscore the opposition by a 260-161 margin.
In short, this freight train was a runnin’ – and it showed no signs of slowing down.
Much of the offensive success this season was anchored by a power duo of jammers – 2009 scoring champion Artemischief and Starry Starry Fight, who scored 77 points in her first bout of 2010.
But beyond the top two jammers, the Stunts had depth in skaters who “donned the stars” on the helmet, including perennial all-star South City Shiner and newcomer Morgan LaFaetal.
Augmenting the high-octane attack were a cohesive set of blockers up front, including veterans Grave Danger, Danikka Doom, Deathica Steele, Domme E. Nation, Smarty McFly, Miss Lippy and the lynchpin of the front line, pivot Mayor Francis Slayer.
Plus, the addition of newcomers Mighty Mighty Boston, Whip Scream, Baretta Michaels and Cookies N. Cream – as well as derby vet Chewblocka – made the ladies in purple not a team, but THE team, to reckon with in 2010.
In summation, you couldn’t have asked for a better line-up to work with…it was just that damn impressive.
And it showed – a perfect 4-0 regular season record, with point accumulations that were unheard of.
It seemed that all would be well…or so it seemed.
As their season progressed, the other two squads of ARRG – the aforementioned Smashies and the M-80s – figured out a way to counter their methodology. It resulted in early bout deficits for the defending champions. Yet this proud group of skaters re-dedicated themselves as the bout progressed and were able to pull out victories down the stretch.
The late-season loss of 2010 ARRG scoring champion Starry Starry Fight – who relocated to the Pacific Northwest – hurt. It hurt the Stunts a lot.
Not only was it a loss of a significant source of scoring firepower, but it also meant the loss of a veteran voice to the squad…a voice who provides expertise for the younger group of Stunts who had joined the club.
In her absence, more of the jamming duties were placed upon the shoulders of Shiner and LeFaetal, who answered the call with career-best performances.
But even with the reloaded line-up, ARRG Nation noticed a vulnerability in the Stunts that was not present earlier in the year.
Did the other squads figure finally them out? And if so, could the Stunts counter and say “…oh no, you didn’t” and effectively continue its journey to hoist the trophy in 2010?
The Stunt Devils have worked too hard this year to be considered a “one and done.” They would love nothing more than to silence the critics who thought there was a dent in their armor.
By contrast, heading into the 2010 season, very few would have given much of a nod to The Smashinistas to make it into the championship bout.
This was a team that had a complete overhaul in the roster. Eight skaters from the 2009 line-up had retired.
It was a team that had individual talent, but would they be able to perform together as a team?
And even if that answer was tested repeatedly as the season progressed, one would have to admit that the answer to that question would be an unequivocal “yes.”
Their 1-3 regular season record is misleading – if not for a few misfires, it easily could have been 3-1.
At the heart of the Smashies’ resurgence this season would be the leadership of veteran jammer The Educator, who was one of ARRG’s best jammers of 2010. Her 36-point per bout average was a reflection of her dedication to the league – and more importantly, her team – this season.
Added to that were two skaters who supplemented the scoring for the ladies in camo – jammers Punches Pileup and Downtown Dallis. Pileup had a breakthrough year, notching a 28-point per bout scoring average. Texan transplant Dallis notched up 15-pointers per bout as well.
What makes this multi-faceted trio lethal is the fact that all three are also very effective blockers – and in some cases, pivots.
Speaking of blocking – the Smashinistas possess a very talented line up front. Veteran All-Star Eli Wallop has proven that she is one of ARRG’s best all-around skaters, and as team co-captain, provides the voice of reason for this young group of skaters.
She is supported by veterans Davey Blockit, Sue She and Jezebelle, who all record lengthy stretches of track time per bout.
And with the departure of skaters from last year’s squad, crucial track time has been given to blockers Polkadot Yr Eyeout, Shillelagh Spillblood, Beat-n-Chix Kiddo, Ginny Beastley and Boom Boom Pow. All have accepted the challenge quite nicely.
The Smashies are looking to avenge an 85-77 loss to the Stunts on June 19. One can expect that the camo braintrust has been working hard to concoct the perfect plan.
It’s a young squad – but a very hungry squad.
And nothing would cure that appetite more than something that this scrappy franchise has never experienced – a title bout win.
In summation for the Smashinistas, the journey that has been filled with newfound experiences for numerous skaters this season would in the end be worth it by raising the championship hardware…all while wearing moustaches.
Now that you have all the participants for Saturday’s title bout in front of you, let’s look at some of the defining particulars that could weigh heavily in this bout…
THE PENALTY BOX
This, by far, is the most crucial aspect of any derby bout, as a “5-on-4″ or “5-on-3″ situation could lead to a huge scoring rush for a team – a rush that might swing the total complexion of the bout.
In the Stunts/Smashies June 19 match-up, both teams were neck-and-neck in the area of minor penalties – the Stunts Devils had 62 while the Smashinistas recorded 59.
However in the area of major penalties, the Smashies kept the infractions to a minimum, only six compared to the Stunts’ 18. This stat contributed to the Smashies’ near-comeback last month.
The ARRG officiating crew, arguably one of the best in the WFTDA, watches the development of a bout like a cat ready to pounce on a mouse. They are unafraid to call infractions when necessary.
In order for a team to be successful, it has to play in complete control during the jams, both offensively and defensively. Rough play is not tolerated. And to the credit of both squads, they have limited the number of infractions in 2010 considerably.
Yet the emotional battle that culminates in championship bouts could potentially result in chippy play, especially down the stretch of a tight-scoring bout.
In short, the zebras won’t tolerate it…and the team the commits the fewest infractions – especially majors – gains the decisive advantage.
JAMMER VS. JAMMER PAIRINGS
Don’t think for one moment that a squad will use their top-scoring jammer against the opposition’s counterpart – or vice versa. Configuring a jammer vs. jammer pairing is like figuring out which chess piece to move in certain situations.
On June 19, once again both teams were nearly identical – 21-19 in favor of the Stunts in obtaining lead jammer status. South City Shiner and The Educator both recorded eight lead jams for the Stunts and the Smashies respectively.
But a closer look at the stats would show that when she was lead jammer, The Educator would score an average of one extra point per lead jam.
In a sport where every point is crucial, that extra point per jam could potentially play into the final outcome.
This certainly leads to some interesting potential pairings. Would either team gamble and “shake things up” in order to confuse the opposition?
Also look for the launch of both squads’ jammers after the pack leaves. Artemischief uses her “track launch” to gain an advantage, while Dallis has an internal clock in her head that precisely knows when to leave. Utilizing fast sprints from the outset, both are experts at what they do.
If things aren’t shaping up match-up wise in the jammer head-to-head battle, expect both teams to change on-the-fly as the bout progresses.
Also crucial are the first jams of both halves. These jams enable teams to send a message to the opposition. Neither squad wants to start out cold. A dramatic score to begin the second half of play might also play a determining factor in the bout outcome.
PACK CONTROL BY THE PIVOTS
Think of the pivot as an air-traffic controller – one who can singlehandedly dictate the flow of a bout. They provide that last line of defense to keep an opposition’s jammer at bay.
Both squads contain all-star caliber pivots up front. The Stunts primarily go with Slayer and Danger (who combined last bout played pivot in 34 out of 43 jams). The Smashies preferred “pivot by committee” on June 19. The Educator, played pivot in seven jams in that bout to pace the team, while Wallop, Blockit and Dallis recorded six jams at that same position.
Do we see the break-neck pace that the Stunts use so well, or does the action play into the more methodical pace that the Smashies utilize effectively?
BREAK OUT STARS
Heading into this title bout, both teams look to three primary jammers for scoring. The Stunts will go with Artemischief, Shiner and LaFaetal while the Smashies counter with The Educator, Pileup and Dallis. Anyone of these six could singlehandedly shift momemtum.
But what if the opposition contains one of these talented skaters? An “off-night” from one of the six could potentially decide the outcome.
Who fills the shoes (or the quads) in a tough situation?
This might be the bout where we could see an unsung hero getting an important jam or assignment during a crucial section of the contest. Could this be the night that the Stunts’ Mighty Might Boston (who scored six points on June 19) or the Smashies’ Shillelagh Spillblood (one lead jam last bout) gets the call-to-action?
This will undoubtedly be the hottest bout of the season, figuratively and literally. The All-American Sport Mall has a tendency to be a kiln at its worst.
But much to their credit, both squads have members who can play up to 60% of a bout (roughly 36 minutes) at full speed.
For the Smashies, Blockit, Wallop and Dallis are out there a high percentage of the time, while Slayer and Danger chart long clock times for the Stunts.
Forty-three separate jams were recorded in the June 19 bout, which makes once again the task of figuring out when to give someone a much-deserved breather a daunting task.
The high-energy style of play could make a team weary as the hard hits progress. Late bout jams become crucial. The team that has the better stamina on the track potentially prevails down the stretch.
In conclusion to my derby dissertation, I can only predict this for Saturday’s title bout.
If you’re a fan of the Arch Rival Roller Girls, you won’t be disappointed.
And if you’re not, you’ll become one.
I don’t make final predictions on outcomes, because one can’t in situations like this.
There’s too much at stake for the women who have waited eleven months for this moment to happen.
The training. The practices. The bout play. The injuries.
The out-of-pocket expenses. The time spent away from home.
The peaks, the valleys.
The laughter…and yes, the tears.
It all comes down to sixty minutes on Saturday night.
Winner take all.
I could say that I hope to see you there on Saturday night.
But I don’t have to…because I already know you’ll be there.
The Grand Poobah and Hells LaBelle are bout announcers for the 2010 season of the Arch Rival Roller Girls. Check back in this section on Monday to revisit what you experienced Saturday night.