Saturday Recap: Texas and Angel City Will Head to Champs, Go for Gold at 2019 International WFTDA Championships: Winston-Salem

After Friday’s bracket upsets, the top-seeded teams dominated Day 2 of the 2019 International WFTDA Playoffs in Winston-Salem. After playing some incredibly hard-fought games, Texas Rollergirls (Seed #1) and Angel City Derby (Seed #2) will compete for the gold medal on Sunday, and clinched their spots at the 2019 International WFTDA Championships in November. Rainy City Roller Derby (Seed #3) and 2×4 Roller Derby (Seed #4) will play for bronze and the third spot at Champs.

More on the day’s action:

Game 7

Rainy City Roller Derby145

Helsinki Roller Derby 126

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Being amongst the top European teams, Rainy City Roller Derby of Manchester, England, U.K. (Seed #3, WFTDA #10) and Helsinki Roller Derby of Helsinki, Finland (Seed #6, WFTDA #15) have a long history, having met 5 times before this game (Rainy, the higher seed, have won 4 of those games, with one of their closest scoring games at 173-172).

Both teams have had plenty of time to learn each other’s styles and strategies and were able to put this into practice in their closest scoring game since 2017.

Rainy City vs Helsinki in Game 7 of the 2019 International WFTDA Playoffs: Winston-Salem
Photo: Phil Lackey

The first jam truly set the precedent for the remainder of the game. It was hard-fought with strong walls holding the jammers (Malou and Lauren Swaffield) for over 1 minute 45 seconds, with Helsinki’s Malou finally pushing past for lead and scoring 3 points as the jam ran to time.

Helsinki dominated in the first half, with strong walls shutting down Rainy’s jammers and allowing Helsinki to take the lead, ending the half at 71-47. Although lead jammer status was fairly even between the teams, Helsinki consistently picked up bigger scoring jams.

Rainy’s highest-scoring jam was capped at 6 points until Fairy Quake picked up 12 points in the last jam of the half.

Fresh back from half time, with some adjustment to their play, Rainy’s jammers Mia and Ducky picked up 16 and 8 points respectively before Swaffield’s 4 points in jam 4 gave Rainy the lead. Assisted by some incredible offense from Lily Gaskell (especially in Fairy Quake’s 20 point jam) Rainy was able to start breaking apart Helsinki’s walls and start scoring those higher jams that solidified their win.

Helsinki’s strong blockers, with some incredible reactive bracing and one-on-one blocking from Ruotalainen, kept Rainy from pushing too far ahead. Helsinki fought till the very last whistle, keeping the down the differential. Despite Kujala scoring 16 points in the ultimate jam, Rainy maintained their lead, winning 145-126.

Rainy City advanced to play Angel City in the semi-final later on Saturday. Helsinki will play a consolation game against Atlanta, Sunday 11:00.

Fairy Quake spoke about Rainy City’s game, and how they adjusted in the second half to earn their win. “Knowing we could definitely beat them, we’ve had that experience! We know the team really well,” Proving that she is just lovely off the track she followed with: “We love Helsinki so much! It’s a shame that we had to knock them out to get to Champs!”

On possibly meeting Angel City in the semi-finals:

“We’re hoping to meet them this year, it was so close (last year),” although Angel City took the win last year: “We’re not going to get in that situation this year, we’re gonna dominate.”

— Chewblocka

Game 8

Angel City Derby268

Bear City Roller Derby 76

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Long jams, tough defense and lots of penalties were the story in Saturday’s second game, as Angel City Derby of Los Angeles, California, U.S. (Seed #2, WFTDA #7) posted a decisive victory over Bear City Roller Derby of Berlin, Germany (Seed #10, WFTDA #24).

Angel City dominated the game from the start, as their jammers repeatedly made use of the inside line on the polished concrete floor to toe-stop-sprint out to lead jammer status. The Los Angeles team pulled away as early as Jam 3 when De’Coldest Winters put up a 20-point jam. They had a 129-25 lead at halftime.22

This was the first-ever meeting between the two teams, which are 17 places apart in the WFTDA Rankings. Perhaps anticipating that gap, Angel City used a deeper jammer rotation than in previous Playoffs appearances. Pearl Jam had a game-high 25-point jam, while Rachel Rotten led all scorers.

The teams combined for 53 penalties in the game, including back-to-back jammer penalties for Angel City in the second half. But the Hollywood Scarlets defense — highlighted throughout the game by Smash, Juana Tease, Death Down Under, Tui Lyon, and PuRRfect — prevented Bear City from capitalizing on the advantage.

Bear City had upset Seed #7 Windy City Rollers on Friday to advance to this game. The Berlin team was led by jammers Maya Mangleyou and Mia Missile.

While some might joke the “wheels were coming off” in terms of game penalties, that literally described the scene when a jammer referee lost a wheel and smoothly switched positions with the head referee. Bravo, officials!

Angel City advanced to meet Seed #3 Rainy City Roller Derby later Saturday. Bear City will face Seed #12 Paris Rollergirls on Sunday 1:00 pm.

Angel City vs Bear City in Game 8 at the 2019 International WFTDA Playoffs: Winston-Salem
Photo: Phil Lackey

Speaking after the game, Angel City’s Soledad said, “We worked hard to get here, went out tried to play our game, nice, tight and cleaner than we played before.”

She also mentioned Angel City’s infamous hand signals: “I can’t tell you what they’re called or what they mean, but (we) have an entire book of top-secret Angel City hand signals that help us play our best game.”

On advancing to meet Rainy City, Soledad said, “Rainy is a really tough opponent but we’ve worked hard to get here, studied footage, going to go out and play our best game. We met them in Spain last year at playoffs and they’re a really tough opponent.”

— PulHitzHer Prize

Game 9

Bay Area Derby222

Lomme Roller Girls 79

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Despite the expansive geographic distance between Bay Area and Lomme, the point spread between Bay Area Derby of San Francisco, California, U.S. (Seed #8, WFTDA #20) and Lomme Roller Girls of Lomme, France (Seed #11, WFTDA #27) stayed relatively slim in the first moments of the first consolation game of the tournament. It wasn’t until Bay Area jammer Kate Silver picked up 9 points as the Lomme skaters idled for nearly five minutes that Bay Area started to pull ahead.

Despite Lomme’s Garce Attack’s 20 point jam, (bringing the score to 51-31 to Bay Area), Bay Area continued to pull ahead. They took quick advantage of Lomme’s jammer penalties. With Lomme’s jammer Honey Boo Boo in the box, Bay Area employed a quick run back to the jammer line for a split pack call to get jammer Eva Menace through for lead. She took down 16 points to extend Bay Area’s lead to 83-39 with only 5 minutes left in the period.

Lomme vs Bay Area in Game 9 of the 2019 International WFTDA Playoffs: Winston-Salem
Photo: John Blood

Bay Area’s blocker Red Card executed impressively recycles and spinning footwork to help Legs//Cité score 12 points. The score going into halftime showed Bay Area eclipsing the century mark at 119 over Lomme’s 50.

The first eight minutes of the second half were fruitful for Bay Area, as they scored 28 unanswered points. Lomme called a timeout in an effort to stop Bay Area’s momentum, though the pause didn’t work to their advantage, as Bay Area jammers Eva Menace and Legs//Cité continued their attack with the help of blockers Brawlin Angel and Big Perm. Lomme blockers rotated in and out of the penalty box, and with 18 minutes left in the half, blocker Minimoiz fouled out of the game.

It took 15 minutes for Lomme to grab the lead and gain two points as jammer Kaamos snuck through but then was forced to call off the jam as the Bay Area jammer was hot on her heels. The two points marked an end to the 47-point run by Bay Area.

Even though the win was out of reach for Lomme, the team never flagged. Bay Area’s superior blocking and jammer agility put the team from San Francisco on top, 222-79.

— Shelly Shankya

Game 10

Santa Cruz Derby Girls134

Windy City Rollers 118

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The Santa Cruz Derby Girls of Santa Cruz, California, U.S. (Seed #5, WFTDA #14) survived a second-half surge from the Windy City Rollers of Chicago, Illinois, U.S. (Seed #7, WFTDA #19) to take a 134-118 victory in the consolation bracket on Saturday.

Santa Cruzy vs Windy City in Game 9 of the International WFTDA Playoffs: Winston-Salem

The Boardwalk Bombshells of Santa Cruz built a solid lead in the first half on the strength of a 34-0 run following a productive timeout just before Jam 10. They capitalized on Windy City’s penalty troubles while jammer E-Wrecks had a 100 percent lead jammer status rate and Santa Cruz took a 77-32 lead into the half.

The script somewhat flipped in the second half, as Windy City jammers Vazquez, Ice Hurt, and Killanois posted multiple scoring passes while drawing penalties on Santa Cruz blockers. The Chicago crew went on a 30-7 run to start the half.

Windy City made their closest approach, to within 11 points, at the start of the game’s last jam but Santa Cruz defense kept them at arm’s length. It took Bombshell jammer E-Wrecks about 30 seconds to secure lead jammer status, but she posted eight points to seal the victory.

Defensively, Santa Cruz was led by Shamrock N. Roller, Artoo Detoonate, Jem Jones, Hell Louise, and Ace Wenchura. Windy City standout blockers included Bork Bork Bork, Rachel Rage, Kidney Lauper and Regina S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

This game was the result of Friday’s upsets, as both teams were defeated by higher-seeded teams to get to their final game of the tournament.

Longtime Santa Cruz skater Shamrock N. Roller announced her retirement following the game. “My takeaway is just love of the game. I really, truly love roller derby. Over there they say roller derby can change the world, it changed my life in so many ways and I’m grateful for it,” she said.

Her advice to skaters: “Just play for the love of the game, for your teammates, for the sport and the community.”

— PulHitzHer Prize

Game 11

2x4 Roller Derby58

Texas Rollergirls 143

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In the first semi-final game of the night, 2×4 Roller Derby of Buenos Aires, Argentina (Seed #4, WFTDA #12) faced off against Texas Rollergirls of Austin, Texas, U.S. (Seed #1, WFTDA #6). Both hungry for the win, the two teams nevertheless differ greatly in their histories. 2×4 have soared in the rankings in recent years, making their Playoffs debut in 2017, a first for a South American team. Texas, on the other hand, have made Championship appearances since they began in 2006. Having never played one another before, the two teams spent the first half of the game locked in a close battle, figuring out each other’s tactics.

Period one was a showcase of solid defense on the part of both teams. Despite Texas’ fierce offense, 2×4’s fluid walls managed to hold back their jammers. When Texas gained lead (as they did 100% of the time when Freight Train jammed in the half), 2×4 made quick, strategic star passes. As 2×4’s most frequent pivot, Maki Lombera often forced Texas to call jams early. After staying within 20 points for much of the half, the period ended with Texas leading 61-39 over 2×4.

With everything on the line, the second half began with a slew of jammer penalties for both teams. Then a string of back-to-back leads by Freight Train and Hauss The Boss, and some strategic defense by Texas against 2×4’s pivots, allowed Texas to build their lead. 2×4 suffered a heavy penalty count in the second half, and big jams by Texas continued to widen the gap in their scores. Still, in a game characterized by slow, tough jams where packs often barely made it past the pivot line, the teams fought hard against one another to the end.

With their 153-58 win over 2×4, Texas has secured a spot at the 2019 International WFTDA Championships for another year. Texas moves on to the gold medal game, going up against Angel City Derby at 5:30 PM tomorrow. 2×4 will face off with Rainy City Roller Derby at 3 PM for third place and a spot at champs.

Texas vs 2x4 in Game 11 of the 2019 International WFTDA Playoffs: Winston-Salem
Photo: Phil Lackey

Following the game Texas’ Legal Knievel spoke of the consistent hard work from the team: “We basically have gone into every game just feeling like we aren’t sure what’s going to happen, but we know the preparation that we had, how hard we’ve trained in the Texas heat, so we’re ready for whatever teams want to bring to us…We just had to really harness our energy and all of our hard work that we put into this.”

Speaking of tomorrow’s game, she said: “Preparation, preparation, preparation. We are ready for whatever comes at us tomorrow.”

— Molly St. Clair (Kanga Ruin)

Game 12

Rainy City Roller Derby106

Angel City Derby 162

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The second semi-final game of the night was a close match-up between Angel City Derby of Los Angeles, California, U.S. (Seed #2, WFTDA #7) and Rainy City Roller Derby of Manchester, England, U.K. (Seed #3, WFTDA #10). Tough, tight defense from both teams made for a grueling game, with Angel ultimately pulling away with the lead.

Angel City vs Rainy City in Game 12 of the 2019 International WFTDA Playoffs: Winston-Salem

Rainy City started the half with two quick leads and 9 points on the board before Angel City could score. A flurry of jammer penalties in the opening minutes of the game allowed for a number of lead changes traded between Rainy City and Angel City. Although Rainy City gained more lead jams, Angel City played a cleaner period with bigger jams, ending the half at 71 to Rainy City’s 62.

Capitalizing on their formidable defending walls in the second half, Angel City began running long jams to their advantage. Jammers Darby Dagger and Rachel Rotten earned Angel City a handful of double-digit jams, while Rainy City continued to struggle with penalties. Halfway through the second period, a low block called on Rainy City’s jammer, Fairy Quake, gave Angel City the opportunity for a 16-4 jam. In the following jams, Angel city continued to widen their lead, ending the game 162-106 with a guaranteed spot at the 2019 International WFTDA Championships in Montréal Nov. 15-17, 2019.

Angel City goes on to play the Texas Rollergirls in the gold medal game at 5:30 PM Sunday night. Rainy City will match up against 2×4 Roller Derby in the 3rd place game at 3PM, fighting for a spot at Champs.

Interview with Angel City’s Rachel Rotten:

“I think the most special thing about being a part of the team for this long is getting to fill the spots of the skaters who leave. It makes me so proud that year after year we’ve been able to field a team that has been able to take us to champs every year. I’m always impressed by the mental toughness and the ability of my teammates to step up and really play some amazing roller derby.”

On how she’ll be celebrating tonight: “I’m going to go to sleep and get a lot of rest to play Texas.”

— Molly St. Clair (Kanga Ruin)

Watch the finalday of the 2019 International WFTDA Playoffs Winston-Salem on, as we find out who will join Texas and Angel City in Montréal, and who will take home the gold.

Visit 2019 International WFTDA Playoffs: Winston-Salem Tournament Central