Just got back from Derby of the Dead: a doubleheader of Black vs. Blue (two mashup teams of Jet City rollergirls), and an invitational match between the Sacred City Derby Girls and Jet City's new travel team, the Jet City Bombers.
The Black vs. Blue bout was pretty evenly matched, and some decent derby. But the real action was in the invitational. Sacred City is all but undefeated (I heard they've only lost once—to Rat City), and this was the Bombers' first bout as a team, so perhaps a defeat was to be expected. But the match ended with nearly a hundred-point spread (ouch).
Sacred City pulled ahead right at the beginning; they had a few star blockers and some solid jammers. But I think what really won the game for them was their defensive coordination combined with Jet City's inability to learn from their mistakes. SCDG were great at controlling the front of the pack, so that every time their jammer made it halfway through the pack she had nothing but her own girls ahead, and they could just whip her through; whereas the Jet City jammers were constantly getting stuck behind a wall of two or three Sacred City blockers at the front of the pack, and the rest of their blockers hardly ever stepped up to try to break that wall or help their jammer through. On the few jams that they did make an effort to match Sacred City at the front of the pack, they did much better as a team, and held the score even for a few jams before falling to the back of the pack again (and sliding back down the scoreboard).
Sierra Fist did some really awesome jamming for Jet City, but unfortunately her best jam got discounted (the time got put back on the clock and the points taken off) because it was decided that Sacred City's jammer had been incorrectly sent to the penalty box, where she'd spent most of that jam. And Ta Ta Tina (who used to skate with my squad!) was getting in some really solid blocks [edit: apparently I'm an idiot; she was skating for the Blue team at this bout, not the Bombers; but she was still rockin']. But as a team JCRG's coordination and strategy just wasn't enough. They also weren't using the lead jammer position as strategically as they could have: every time a Jet City jammer broke out ahead of Sacred City's jammer, she'd just keep skating (probably trying to make up the point difference), but that usually just gave Sacred City a chance to catch up and match the points Jet City had just scored. Hopefully JCRG will be able to analyze this game after the fact and get some good takeaways and strategy from it.
One thing I didn't like was that Sacred City seemed to have a bit of an attitude. Perhaps the standards for bout behavior are different in California than up here; but it seemed like their team was constantly arguing with and yelling at the refs, questioning every call, and their skaters were swearing and giving the finger when they were called out. I totally get that derby is an aggressive sport, but some of it seemed in bad taste to me (especially for a team that was so obviously winning). They even had some fans and statskeepers in the bleachers next to me who were laughing at and mocking the Jet City skaters. Sure, some friendly trash-talking is all part of the bargain, but making fun of people for falling? or for what they're wearing? I thought derby fans were better than that.
My final gripe was that the score whore this evening was pretty disappointing. She wasn't even on skates (!), and she looked completely disinterested in what was going on. She could've been walking on a treadmill instead of around a derby track, for all it registered on her face.
To end on a positive (if not entirely derby-related) note, check out this most excellent skating video I just came across. I think this beats even the Google ball pit: