The annual Big O, a three-day flat-track roller derby invitational held in Eugene, Oregon that features both women’s and men’s battles, has historically been beneficial for Arch Rival Roller Derby (ARCH).
In fact, the 2016 chapter held last May resulted in a three-game sweep that provided glimpses of future greatness. For the league’s primary travel squad, the Arch Rival All-Stars, they would inevitably make a second straight appearance at the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) International Championships in November and claim their first-ever victory in the global tourney.
The league will again return to the Lane County Events Center this Friday to participate at the event’s sixth installment that has 52 games held on three tracks and features leagues from all over the world.
Arch Rival, currently ranked eighth internationally by the WFTDA, has Big O contests slated against top-ranked Victorian, #5 Angel City and #16 Crime City.
In addition to Arch Rival’s primary travel squad, the league’s B-team, the Saint Lunachix, also makes a Big O tallyho with meetings against Victorian’s Queen Bees and Rose City’s Axles of Annihilation.
The pair of Gateway City women’s teams looks forward to making initial splashes for success this weekend.
“We were incredibly proud of our finish last season and are ready to carry that momentum into the Big O,” said Arch Rival All-Stars co-captain Bricktator. “We are itching to get the 2017 season underway.”
“Everyone on this team has worked their tail off for this first set of games and we are very eager to bring it to the track,” stated Lunachix co-captain JJ. “Our goals are to leave it all on the track, to give everything that we have built up in our tanks and push our limits.”
The docket is extremely demanding for the Arch Rival All-Stars, who finished last season 12-2, as they face for the first-time historically the top-ranked league within the governing body alongside a perennial WFTDA Champs entrant and a hard-charging Swedish Division 1 squad.
Helping the ARCH cause is the fact that majority of last year’s line-up is back in the fold for 2017.
“We are fortunate this season to have the majority of our players from last year on our charter this year,” said Arch Rival co-captain Bricktator. “There is already an established chemistry to build from which puts us in a great starting place. We continue to set a high bar for our team in the hopes of being the strongest Arch Rival All Star team yet.”
Along with Bricktator, jamming is projected to be handled by returning A-teamer Harmony Killerbruise and Annie Swanson, who claimed MVP honors at last year’s WFTDA playoff round held in Madison, Wisconsin. Returning jammers in the fold also include CupQuake and Kayla Woodward.
ARCH’s much-touted blocking schema contains numerous veterans that competed at last year’s international playoffs, including Cloak N’ DragHer, Jamheiser Bush, Party Foul, Shear-Ra Powers, Shimmy Hoffa, Smarty McFly, Krista Grant and Salty. Blocker Rhino, who returns after a year’s sabbatical, is back in the charter and A-team additions Bolt Action, Cruella Belle-ville, Fletch-A-Sketch, Nox, Pegasass and D’Freakout will also travel to Eugene.
ARCH’s Friday opponent, fifth-ranked Angel City, finished last season 8-5 and reached the second round of the WFTDA Championships. The Los Angeles, California-based Hollywood Scarlets (0-0 in sanctioned play) are an extremely physical team and recorded a non-sanctioned 462-46 thumping of #30 Arizona two weekends ago.
Saturday’s meeting with top-ranked Melbourne, Australia-based Victorian is a monumental in scope. Since calculated rankings were first tabulated in February 2013, St. Louis has never faced the governing body’s mathematical matriarchs. Victorian posted a 16-1 record in 2016 and collected bronze at last year’s WFTDA International Championships. With their strength of schedule figured in, the Aussies currently hold the top spot globally and already have an exhibition game in hand, a 258-138 topper over Team Australia Men held in March.
“One of the best things about sports is that any outcome is possible,” assessed Bricktator of her team’s clash with the WFTDA’s top-ranked team. “VRDL is an incredibly talented team but if we stay focused and capitalize on their mistakes, we could surprise some Aussies.”
Sunday’s inaugural meeting with Malmo, Sweden’s Crime City is another first-time affair. Sixteenth-ranked CCR-A finished last season 11-2 and snared fifth place at the WFTDA Division playoff round held in Columbia, South Carolina last September. Capitalizing on that success, the Swedes already have been active this season by competing in the “Anarchy in the UK” invitational held in mid-April where they finished 2-1 with tight triumphs over #20 Rainy City and #22 Helsinki while holding steady in a 61-point setback to #4 London which is considered a huge success considering the calculated rankings’ complexion.
Bricktator wisely looks at the Big O docket with a trained eye and knows what it will take for a positive journey to the Pacific Northwest.
“The whole weekend will require efficient transitions from offense to defense, smart lines by the jammers, and controlled play until the last whistle of each game,” she said. “We have shown time and again that we don’t stop working until the end of the last jam. “
On the developmental side, Arch Rival’s Saint Lunachix finished last season 7-3 and netted a new historical high point with their seventh-place finish last October at the WFTDA B-team championships, “Sting of the Hill.” This certainly provides motivation for the team’s two-game Big O schedule.
“Competing at B-Champs was an incredibly fun yet challenging experience for us that really set the bar high for this season,” said Lunachix co-captain JJ. “The excitement the team felt coming into this season carried over because we ended on such a high note.”
Alongside Chix co-captain Psychokid D’Freakout, jamming is projected to be supplemented by charter members Aggie Wartooth, Flash, Bloody Gaga and Violet Opposition. Blocking will be provided by the aforementioned JJ as well as Ginger, Hakuna Renata, Snotface, Carmina Piranha, Rock Slobster, Trigger Happy Jackie, Warpath O’ Jen, Sue Bob Fight, Birdsong and SheKill O’Neal. There is also the likelihood of non-rostered Arch Rival A-teamers also being added to the Lunachix mix.
Their Friday opponent, Rose City’s Axles of Annihilation, finished last season 7-1 and claimed the WFTDA B-team title with a three-game sweep at the aforementioned “Sting” tournament. Friday’s meeting with St. Louis marks their first game of the year.
Meanwhile, the Chix Sunday foe – the Victorian Queen Bees – also finished last season 7-1 against cross-continent opposition and already sports a 214-140 March victory over the Sydney Assassins this year. That might seem intimidating from the onset, but JJ feels that the Lunachix compete on the exact same level come first whistle.
“Rose and Victoria are two of the best B teams in the world, but honestly, we don’t think about that when we take the track,” she said. “They are skaters with lives just like us. Their tenacity and reputation just make us work and grind even harder. For many of us, we are getting to play against our role models and show them what we are made of and that’s pretty dang cool!”
What will especially be cool at Big O is for Arch Rival Roller Derby to finish collectively 5-0 by weekend’s end.
Our “Brothers in Derby,” GateKeepers Roller Derby will also be competing at Big O this weekend. The two-time defending champions of the Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA) has contest against #3 Bridgetown, #5 Puget Sound and the unranked Wheels of Mayhem.
The event will have live, free stream coverage throughout the weekend. Check out our official Facebook page as the week progresses for more information.
12:30 PM – B-TEAM: ARCH ST. LUNACHIX VS. ROSE CITY (Track 2)
4:30 PM – ARCH RIVAL VS. ANGEL CITY (Track 2)
8:30 PM – STL GATEKEEPERS VS. WHEELS OF MAYHEM (Track 2)
4 PM – ARCH RIVAL VS. VICTORIAN (Track 1)
8 PM – STL GATEKEEPERS VS. PUGET SOUND (Track 3)
12 PM – B-TEAM: ARCH ST. LUNACHIX VS. VICTORIAN (Track 3)
4 PM – STL GATEKEEPERS VS. BRIDGETOWN MENACE (Track 3)
6:30 PM – ARCH RIVAL VS. CRIME CITY (Track 2)
(Photo Credit: Bob Dunnell)
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