DNN Best of 2011 Poll: Results

DNN Best of 2011 Poll: Results Bout of the Year 2011 (Women's): London 137, Montreal 135 in the 5th place game of the WFTDA East Region Playoffs. Photo: Tyler Shaw.

Bout of the Year (Women’s)

Winner: London 137, Montreal 135 – WFTDA East 5th Place (574 votes, 35%)

2. Rocky Mountain 156, Gotham 153 – Chicago Invitational (228 votes, 14%)
3. Oly 124, Kansas City 104 – WFTDA Championships Semifinal (185 votes, 11%)
4. Kansas City 146, Rose City 135 – WFTDA Championships Opening Round (155 votes, 9%)
5. Windy City 128, Naptown 117 – WFTDA North Central Semifinal (137 votes, 8%)

Featuring a wild comeback from favored Montreal in the last 18 minutes that almost erased a 68 point London advantage, plus a heart-stopping last jam that began with Montreal down by 6 points and only 3 seconds on the period clock, the drama on the scoreboard would have made this one a solid contender for Bout of the Year even without the particular identities of the two teams. But it was also a historic matchup as the first time two non-US teams had faced each other in the WFTDA playoffs, not to mention its storyline of previously winless, tournament bottom-seed London putting a cherry on top of their 3-1 run of upsets to finish in 5th place in the WFTDA East. The Bout of the Year chatter had started amongst fans before London even finished their post-bout celebration, and proved prescient. Full recap of this classic here.

Best Rivalry

Winner: Gotham / Oly (358 votes, 22%)

2. Oly / Rocky Mountain (273 votes, 17%)
3. Texas / Kansas City (248 votes, 15%)
4. Chicago Outfit / Arch Rival (172 votes, 10%)
5. Bay Area / Rose City (163 votes, 10%)

Although the two teams have only faced each other twice in their history, this year the Gotham / Oly rivalry was more about two adversaries slowly circling each other from afar as they piled up wins against their respective schedules. By the time the New Yorkers and Olympians finally met on the track in the WFTDA Championship final, Oly had built up a 13-0 record while Gotham was 12-0, marking the first time two undefeated teams had ever met in the last game of the WFTDA season. Gotham’s convincing 140-97 win in that game may have lacked the lead changes and lengthy track history of the other nominees, but finally provided the definitive answer that fans had been arguing over since Oly knocked off 2010 champions Rocky Mountain twice earlier this year.

Most Improved Team

Winner: London (656 votes, 41%)

2. Rose City (229 votes, 14%)
3. Naptown (176 votes, 11%)
4. Minnesota (169 votes, 10%)
5. Chicago Outfit (115 votes, 7%)

Not quite a majority, but London easily wins this category with nearly three times as many votes as the second-place team. When the UK team played their first WFTDA-sanctioned game in April 2011, they got out to an ice-cold 79-14 first half against Montreal on their way to a solid loss at 137-57. Their invitation to the WFTDA East Region tournament was a controversial one, as they were sitting on a 0-3 record and their presence edged out the 5-9 tournament co-hosts DC. But that September, London made their case in grand fashion, knocking off #7 seed Carolina, #6 seed Boston and finally – as fate would have it – #5 seed Montreal (see “Bout of the Year”).

Best Announcer

Winner: Dumptruck (529 votes, 33%)

2. Val Capone (349 votes, 21%)
3. Plastik Patrik (164 votes, 10%)
4. Pelvis Costello (141 votes, 8%)
5. Justice Feelgood Marshall (92 votes, 5%)

For the second year in a row, the unmistakable and irrepressible Dumptruck takes first-place honors in the Best Announcer category. Though it’s always his voice you’ll notice first — unless, of course, you happen to see him first — Dumpy brings a lot more than the immediate to his announcing style, with a quick, informative and highly entertaining delivery that has called many of the sport’s most memorable games.

Best Venue

Winner: The Doll Factory, Los Angeles, CA (265 votes, 21%)

2. 1STBANK Center, Broomfield, CO (219 votes, 17%)
3. UIC Pavilion, Chicago, IL (197 votes, 15%)
4. Key Arena, Seattle, WA, (145 votes, 11%)
5. Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland OR (131 votes, 10%)

The banked-track LA Derby Dolls get the nod this year by edging out the site of this year’s WFTDA championship in Broomfield, CO. Whether you’ve only seen the Doll Factory online from LADD’s live stream, or you’ve been lucky enough to attend a bout there live, the unique Factory marries the early chaotic punk vibe of modern derby to professional-level production values perhaps more effectively than any venue in the sport.

Best Regular Season Event

Winner: East Coast Derby Extravaganza, Feasterville, PA (521 votes, 34%)

2. World Cup, Toronto, ON, (326 votes, 21%)
3. Rollercon, Las Vegas, NV (299 votes, 19%)
4. Anarchy in the UK, London, UK (196 votes, 12%)
5. Spring Roll, Fort Wayne, IN (124 votes, 8%)

Another two-time winner here, the ECDX had its 5th anniversary in 2011 and shows no sign of slowing down. Its unique timing on the final weekend of the WFTDA second quarter means that there are always games with huge playoff implications, and some of the most memorable events in WFTDA history have played out there, from 2007′s almost-but-not-quite deadly ice storm to 2009′s infamous power outage during Charm City / Rat City to 2011′s beta testing of the long-debated no-minors ruleset.

Oh, and there’s an all-weekend pool party. That’s kind of a thing too.

Bout of the Year’s (Men’s)

Winner: New York Shock Exchange 143, Puget Sound Derby Outcasts 133 – MRDA Championship (253 votes, 29%)

2. New York Shock Exchange 139, Magic City Misfits 131 – MRDA Championships Semifinal (252 votes, 29%)
3. St. Louis GateKeepers 158, New York Shock Exchange 138 – Spring Roll (200 votes, 23%)
4. New York Shock Exchange 125, Puget Sound Derby Outcasts 118 – Spring Roll (90 votes, 10%)
5. Puget Sound Derby Outcasts 127, St. Louis GateKeepers 106 – MRDA Championships Semifinal, (73 votes, 8%)

There is no doubt that the NYSE saved its most exciting games of the year for last – not only were the top-two vote getters here the semifinal and final of the first Men’s Roller Derby Association championship tournament, they were only separated by a single vote. NYSE stayed just a few passes ahead of Puget Sound for the majority of their final bout and re-established their long-held claim to being the best in the sport; with the win over Puget Sound, they extended their all-time record in public bouts to 29-1.

Most Underrated Player (Men’s)

Winner: Gnat King Kill, St. Louis GateKeepers (22 votes)

2. Radillac, Puget Sound Derby Outcasts (9 votes)
3. T-Stop Tornado, New York Shock Exchange (8 votes)
4. Just the Tip, Magic City Misfits (7 votes)
5. Zambone, Magic City Misfits / Filthy McNasty, New York Shock Exchange (6 votes)

Though new St. Louis jammer Gnat King Kill might have been underestimated the first time St. Louis’ opponents took the floor against them this year, that generally changed by the end of any St. Louis game, as the extremely spry GKK often leaves blockers crossed up with his footwork and jukes. He joined a very solid STL jammer crew in 2011 and was a key part of bringing St. Louis within a few points of reaching this year’s MRDA championship game.

Most Valuable Blocker (Men’s)

Winner: Percy Controll, St. Louis GateKeepers (131 votes, 14%)

2. Ace of Skates, New York Shock Exchange (128 votes, 13%)
3. Rhino, Dallas Deception, (111 votes, 11%)
4. Vader, New York Shock Exchange, (109 votes, 11%)
5. Abe Drinkin, New York Shock Exchange, (107 votes, 11%)

Although St. Louis ended their MRDA season in 4th place, their play through the year gave them the top seed going into the championship tournament, and a key part of that play was a very effective crew of agile blockers. Steady and effective blocker Percy Controll exemplified that play, living up to his moniker and earning respect though his consistent frustration of opposing jammers and blockers alike.

Best Double Threat (Men’s)

Winner: Quadzilla, Puget Sound Derby Outcasts (387 votes, 36%)

2. Magnum P.I.M.P., St. Louis GateKeepers (152 votes, 14%)
3. Jonathan R, New York Shock Exchange (134 votes, 13%)
4. Streak, Magic City Misfits (100 votes, 9%)
5. Dr. Spankenstein, Pioneer Valley Roller Derby, (61 votes, 6%)

One of the very few current derby skaters whose derby resume predates the women’s resurge of the early 2000s (he first played on TNN’s infamous Rollerjam series), Quadzilla’s mix of strength and balance make him nearly impossible to knock down or out of position, making him an extremely tough opponent to break past or hold back. On top of that, his lengthy jam- and stunt-skating background gives him even more in his arensal — to the point that the question is usually not if he will break out, but which inventive way he’s going to choose.

Most Valuable Jammer (Men’s)

Winner: Ladies Knight, New York Shock Exchange (257 votes, 26%)

2. Jurasskick Park, Pioneer Valley Roller Derby (187 votes, 19%)
3. Bat Wing, St. Louis GateKeepers, (143 votes, 14%)
4. Scott Slamilton, Puget Sound Derby Outcasts, (135 votes, 14%)
5. Matomic, Dallas Deception, (118 votes, 12%)

Although his teammate Jonathan R (3rd place in the Double Threat category this year) might be the most recognizable NYSE jammer, the tirelessly effective play of Ladies Knight was a major part of the reason that the Shock Exchange was able to survive their tough season-ending battles at MRDA championships (see “Bout of the Year – Men’s”). Consistently at or near the top of the point totals in New York games this year, Knight can rely on both strength and speed to work his way through, giving NYSE another dimension to an already extremely potent offense.

Rookie of the Year

Winner: Scald Eagle, Rose City (396 votes, 24%)

2. Smarty Pants, Texas (296 votes, 18%)
3. Stella Italiana, Oly / Des Moines (221 votes, 13%)
4. Bob Loblaw, Rocky Mountain (183 votes, 11%)
5. Bork Bork Bork, Windy City (171 votes, 10%)

Scald Eagle was a “natural” rookie in 2011, playing her first derby bouts this year and immediately becoming a fan favorite in Portland with her signature lanky stride and spectacular spins to retain balance through big hits. On many levels, it’s likely no coincidence that the addition of Scald Eagle came the same year that Rose City finally snapped their long string of underperformance in their regional playoffs and advanced to their first-ever appearance in the WFTDA championship tournament.

Most Underrated Player (Women’s)

Winner: Smack Daddy, Montreal (18 votes)

2. Kamikaze Kitten, London / Lil’ Mama, Montreal (17 votes)
3. Vicious Van Go Go, Texas (15 votes)
4. Yvette Yourmaker, Windy City / Medusa, Minnesota / OMG WTF, Gotham (14 votes)
5. Soulfearic Acid, Rose City (13 votes)

Once again, we find that most voters skip the write-in only Most Underrated category; though there were 1874 votes cast overall, only about 30 percent of you (576) placed a vote in this one. Of those, you could say the vote was somewhat split – 226 different skaters got at least one vote! The winner by a 3 percent plurality, though, is double-threat Smack Daddy from Montreal, who made her presence known from Seattle to London and many points in between during another very busy year for the Montreal crew. She capped off it by taking the MVP award as a Team Canada player during their second-place finish at the World Cup.

Most Valuable Blocker (Women’s)

Winner: Psycho Babble, Rocky Mountain (529 votes, 32%)

2. Amanda Jamitinya, Rocky Mountain (185 votes, 11%)
3. Dolly Rocket, Charm City (173 votes, 11%)
4. Sassy, Oly (171 votes, 10%)
5. Hockey Honey, Oly (160 votes, 10%)

RMRG firebrand Psycho dominated this category this time for the second year in a row, pulling exactly as many votes as the next three nominees combined. The younger half of the Hayden sisters was a huge force on both the flat and banked track this year, at the center of the championship bouts of the WFTDA West Region Playoffs, the Battle on the Bank and the Chicago Invitational, and her departure with older sister DeRanged for newly formed banked superteam Team Bionic looks likely to significantly shake up the power structure in 2012.

Best Double Threat (Women’s)

Winner: Suzy Hotrod, Gotham (475 votes, 27%)

2. Stefanie Mainey, London (237 votes, 13%)
3. Joy Collision, Charm City (212 votes, 12%)
4. Urrk’n Jerk’n as Booty Blockya, Rocky Mountain (159 votes, 9%)
5. Juke Boxx, Minnesota (142 votes, 8%)

Now a 7 year veteran of the flat-track game, Suzy Hotrod continued to become the iconic derby skater, building on last year’s appearance in the first modern derby video game by hitting ESPN Magazine in a much-buzzed about photo shoot. For those who have seen her on the track, though, it’s her ability to play a complete game that’s earned her the Best Double Threat accolade for the second year running, as the same speed, agility and track awareness that made her name as a jammer are what makes her yet another deadly effective pack element in a Gotham defense that put up its second undefeated WFTDA season in the last 4 years.

Most Valuable Jammer (Women’s)

Winner: Bonnie Thunders, Gotham (650 votes, 37%)

2. Kelley Young, Kansas City (252 votes, 14%)
3. DeRanged, Rocky Mountain (183 votes, 10%)
4. Atomatrix, Oly (150 votes, 9%)
5. Iron Wench, Montreal (136 votes, 8%)

For the second year in a row, Gotham’s ace takes Most Valuable Jammer — and it’s arguable that it’s even more deserved this year, as Bonnie’s style was essentially the perfect complement to Gotham’s infamous scrum start strategy that stymied all comers all year long. There remains nobody better at forcing blockers into a reactive state, and her relentless forward motion regardless of the situation in front of her led to many the collapse of a solid-looking wall — and many the collapse of a solid-looking team.