DNN Best of 2012 Poll: Results

DNN Best of 2012 Poll: Results Denver vs Texas: Your women's bout of the year. Photo: Donalee Eiri.

Bout of the Year (Women’s)

Winner: WFTDA Championships 3rd Place Bout: Denver 210, Texas 199 (435 votes, 18%)

2. Windy City 155, Minnesota 155 (385 votes, 16%)
3. WFTDA East Regionals 3rd Place Bout: Charm City 183, London 159 (369 votes, 15%)

For the second year in a row, a WFTDA tournament season consolation bout takes the prize for best women’s bout of the year.

The Texecutioners came into Championships unfancied after a lukewarm season but, over the course of three games, showed they are still a force to be reckoned with. Their quarterfinal win over Bay Area was sweet revenge for their 159-88 home-turf loss back in July at the hands of the Golden Girls, and it looked for all the world like they were going to take third place at championships until a 44-point jam from Sandrine Rangeon turned the bout on its head.

Was it the improbability of a Texas team that had looked so frail dominating a Denver team that had looked so strong that made this game so compelling? Was it the physicality of the packs, led by some of the hardest hitters around, that kept derby fans around the world glued to their screens and everyone in the arena on the edge of their seats? Maybe it was the spectacle of one of derby’s most established stars, Olivia Shootin’ John, going point-for-point with rising breakout star Sandrine Rangeon, or perhaps it was waiting for the big jam that never came from the misfiring Juska.

Whatever it was, it was enough to just edge past the only tie in WFTDA history–a momentous game that looked, for much of the year, like it would be a shoo-in for this award.

Bout of the Year (Men’s)

Winner: MRDA Championship Bout: Your Mom 136, St Louis 135 (433 votes, 28%)

2. Men’s European Roller Derby Championship Bout: Southern Discomfort 256, Toulouse Quad Guards 254 (263 votes, 17%)
3. MRDA Championships 3rd Place Bout: NYSE 199, Magic City 157 (235 votes, 15%)

For anyone who watched it, this result should come as no shocker. For the second year in a row, the MRDA Championship bout is the Bout of the Year. It looked like tournament-host St. Louis GateKeepers had the game in the bag with five minutes left and a 20-point lead–and when Your Mom jammer Peter Pan burned two minutes off the clock in a 2-0 penalty-time-killing jam, the GateKeepers’ win looked even more imminent.

But, the heroics of Your Mom’s Frank Notsohotra and penalty trouble for St. Louis’s jammers contributed to the unlikely outcome. On the penultimate jam, Notsohotra tallied a 14-0 power jam. Down by four and with time at a premium, Notsohotra kept the star for the final jam as well and added five points with GateKeepers’ jammer Magnum P.I.M.P. in the box to give Your Mom the highest honor in men’s roller derby, 136-135.

The runner-up wasn’t quite as close–but nearly! This was a championship bout from the other side of the Atlantic decided by a whole two points. London’s Southern Discomfort Roller Derby beat Toulouse Quad Guards with a sky-high score of 256-254, taking the inaugural Men’s European Roller Derby Championship in a bout that really showed off European men’s derby at its very best.

Best Rivalry

Winner: Everyone / Oly (811 votes, 34%)

2. Windy City / Minnesota (516 votes, 22%)
3 Bay Area / Rose City (281 votes, 12%)

Once you nominated this rivalry, there was only ever going to be one winner. For the third straight year the Oly Rollers found themselves as one half of this category–but rather than splitting it with one other team, this time they have to share it with the world.

In a year where the talk about Oly was dominated as much by controversies off the track as by their skaters’ indubitable skill on it, their victory in this category was inevitable. Oly were roundly booed during tournament season and took on the haters by skating out in their now-famous ‘Sold Out’ shirts.

Will Oly vs The World still be such a thing next year, or will personnel changes, fading memories and action on the track mean the hard feelings will fade in 2013? Only time will tell.

Best Announcer

Winner: Dumptruck (659 votes, 28%)

2. Val Capone (405 votes, 17%)
3. Plastik Patrik (320 votes, 14%)

Oh, Dumpie. The gravel-throated master of ceremonies might have been absent from WFTDA tournaments this year, but that didn’t stop his winning this category with ease.

He takes the Best Announcer category for a third straight year with Val Capone–the only other announcer to have taken home this award–in second place.

Best Venue

Winner: Arena Berlin – Berlin, Germany (427 votes, 22%)

2. Roy Wilkins Auditorium – St Paul, MN (402 votes, 21%)
3. Craneway Pavillion – Richmond, CA (394 votes, 20%)

The first European winner of the night is the Arena Berlin, the graffiti-covered warehouse where Bear City’s Berlin Bombshells occasionally ply their trade. This year it was most notable for hosting Track Queens: Battle Royal, which gave everyone a pretty good look at what European Regionals might have looked like if they had ever come to pass.

The atmosphere inside the dark, noisy and industrial venue was phenomenal–the passion and sound of the raucous crowds ricocheting off the brickwork combined with the atmospheric location to make for a truly memorable derby-watching experience.

Best Regular Season Event

Winner: East Coast Derby Extravaganza – Feasterville, PA (816 votes, 35%)

2. Rollercon – Las Vegas, NV (442 votes, 19%)
3. Midwest Brewhaha – Milwaukee, WI (266 votes, 11%)

Despite competition from all corners of the globe, ECDX once again stormed to victory in this category that celebrates the best of derby outside of playoffs and championship events.

Given the second-place finish of RollerCon, we reckon anyone looking to organise an event to challenge in this category next year had better include a swimming pool in their plans.

Most Valuable Jammer (Men’s)

Winner: Jonathan R, NYSE (429 votes, 25%)

2. Mr Furieux, Toulouse (406 votes, 24%)
3. Speed Dealer, Puget Sound (264 votes, 16%)

If you’ve seen This Is How I Roll, the recent documentary on the history of men’s flat-track roller derby, you know how much Jonathan R means to the sport. A figure skater growing up, Jonathan R quickly took to the modern incarnation of roller derby: reffing, coaching, and eventually founding the New York Shock Exchange. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Sanctioning and Games for the MRDA.

As for game play, Jonathan R has an unexpected elusiveness about him. His strides look labored, but he’s tireless and can whip out any combination of spins and twists needed to get by blockers. One of the most memorable Jonathan R moments of 2012 was against the Magic City Misfits in the Third Place game at the MRDA Championships. He posted jams of 24-0, 22-0, and 15-0 as the Shock Exchange overcame a 66-point deficit to finish the season in the third slot.

We could say a lot of things about our runner-up, Mr. Furieux of Toulouse Quad Guards, but perhaps it’s better if you just watch.

Most Valuable Blocker (Men’s)

Winner: Abe Drinkin’, NYSE (456 votes, 30%)

2. Seahorses Forever, Your Mom (356 votes, 23%)
3. Percy Controll, St Louis (290 votes, 19%)

Like teammate Jonathan R, Abe Drinkin’ was featured prominently in This Is How I Roll. He serves as a great ambassador for the sport of roller derby, making trips to Europe for the Men’s European Roller Derby Championships and again, as a player, when the Shock Exchange jumped the pond in November.

On the track, Abe is a force that you probably shouldn’t reckon with. His track and pack awareness is supernatural, which is perhaps to be expected given his history coaching and managing the Gotham Girls. Abe Drinkin’ can also pop on the jammer star if need be, as demonstrated at this year’s MRDA Championships in which the Shock Exchange finished third.

Runner-up for best blocker is one of two Rollerjam alums featured in this year’s poll: Seahorses Forever was unstoppable as his team, Your Mom Men’s Derby, won the MRDA Championship this year.

Best Double Threat (Men’s)

Winner: Quadzilla, Puget Sound (647 votes, 39%)

2. Magnum P.I.M.P, St Louis (318 votes, 19%)
3. Twinkle Toes, Your Mom (198 votes, 12%)

If you’ve heard of roller derby, you’ve heard of Quadzilla, the Puget Sound Outcasts skater who travels the world training roller derby leagues and jumping over people. Here he doubles up on the Double Threat category, getting the nod from you for the second consecutive year. Another former Rollerjam skater, Quadzilla blasts through opposing walls like a tsunami when wearing the star and devastates small coastal villages when blocking.

After taking second at the 2011 MRDA Championships, 2012 proved a bit of a disappointing year for Puget Sound, who finished fifth in a much stronger MRDA Championships. One of the most memorable moments of the tournament was Quadzilla dominating in every position in the Fifth Place game against the Mass Maelstrom.

Runner-up for the second year in a row is the St. Louis GateKeepers’ Magnum P.I.M.P. Magnum was instrumental in the GateKeepers’ MRDA Championships success.

James Brains provided the background for the winners of the men’s categories.

Most Improved Team (Women’s)

Winner: London (549 votes, 22%)

2. Atlanta (506 votes, 21%)
3. Wasatch (317 votes, 13%)

London’s rise wasn’t as meteoric as last year–when they also took Most Improved–in terms of positions, but going from a nail-bitingly close fifth-place game last year to within a jam of championships twice at regionals was enough to convince you they deserved the nod again…just.

While London ran away with more than twice as many votes as their nearest rival last year, this year Atlanta came a very close second. The Dirty South very nearly upset Texas at South Central regionals after dismissing a rebuilding Kansas City team in the semifinal, but it clearly wasn’t quite enough to win you over.

Breakout Player of the Year (Women’s)

Winner: Smarty Pants, Texas (557 votes, 24%)

2. Shenita Stretcher, Philly (365 votes, 16%)
3. Rogue Runner, London (248 votes, 11%)

After the first day of voting, it was clear there was only really one skater in the running for this award: Smarty Pants. She finished almost 200 votes ahead of Philly’s Shenita Stretcher and 300 ahead of London’s Rogue Runner who found themselves in second and third place.

Smarty Pants has been a force in the game for a while, and has always been highly regarded–but it was 2012 when she really brought it on the flat track. She was a key member of the Texecutioners all season, looking good even when the team was in the doldrums midyear. When the rest of the team finally hit top gear in Atlanta, it was Smarty leading the charge, both as a lynchpin in the pack and an emergency jammer when the need arose. For that, she takes home the prize as our very first Breakout Player of the Year.

Rookie of the Year (Women’s)

Winner: Onda Sligh, Oly (522 votes, 21%)

2. Fifi Nomenon, Angel City (331 votes, 13.5%)
3. Flamin’ Aggro, London (326 votes, 13.3%)

Onda Sligh has been around roller derby for some time now, but it was her move from Slaughter County to Oly that really brought her to the attention of the masses.

She turned heads all year with her agility, her lateral movement, and her tendency to leap higher, further and more frequently than anyone else in the sport. Atomatrix may still outscore her when she plays, but this year it was definitely Onda Sligh who made derby fans sit up and take notice right from the get-go.

While Sligh was leading in this category from the get go and never really looked like being caught, the fight for second place in this category was exceptionally tight. Angel City’s Fifi Nomenon (now of Texas) edged past London’s Flamin’ Aggro in the last hour of voting.

Most Valuable Blocker (Women’s)

Winner: Demanda Riot, Bay Area (418 votes, 16.9%)

2. Sexy Slaydie, Gotham (405 votes, 16.4%)
3. Wild Cherri, Atlanta (244 votes, 10%)

The top two skaters here were neck-and-neck from the very beginning, and were separated by as few as two votes in the closing hours of the poll–but in the end, it was the unmistakable Demanda Riot who beat off competition from Gotham’s woman-mountain Sexy Slaydie to take the prize by the narrowest margin in the competition this year.

Perhaps the key difference to her game this year has been penalties. She’s always caused the opposition problems, but this year, Demanda has managed to do it legally. It is perhaps fitting that in a year dominated by complaints about passive offence it is one of the game’s truly great offensive blockers who takes this award. Anyone who has seen Demanda Riot punch holes through a pack for any of the Bay Area jammers this year, or been part of a pack she’s ripped apart knows as well as any jammer she’s knocked to the floor how strong a player she is.

Best Double Threat (Women’s)

Winner: Suzy Hotrod, Gotham (556 votes, 22%)

2. Juke Boxx, Minnesota (474 votes, 19%)
3. Stefanie Mainey, London (317 votes, 13%)

For the third year in a row the double threat award is won by possibly the most recognisable face the sport has. Suzy Hotrod had to come from behind to win the category this year, and did so by a relatively narrow margin, but win she did.

2012 seemed like something of an understated year for Suzy Hotrod, having slipped slightly statistically from 2011–but any skater who gets you lead two out of three times she dons the star, scores over 1000 points, and generates an even better points differential blocking than jamming in one season is one you’re always going to want on your side.

Most Valuable Jammer (Women’s)

Winner: Bonnie Thunders, Gotham (1,139 votes, 44%)

2. Sandrine Rangeon, Denver (475 votes, 19%)
3. Kamikaze Kitten, London (210 votes, 8%)

This is the third time Most Valuable Jammer has been awarded as part of the reader poll, and it’s the third time it has gone to Bonnie Thunders–and never has she deserved it more.

Even for a skater who has only ever been described with superlatives, 2012 was an astonishing year. Out of many, one statistic stands out above them all: at WFTDA Championships, Bonnie Thunders scored more points than every team she came up against. Even if none of Gotham’s other jammers had scored a single point, the New Yorkers would still have come out on top.

Every single time she went out to jam, she averaged more than one scoring pass, scoring 7.6 points each time she donned the star over the course of the year for the Gotham Girls All-Stars. She took lead more than three out of every four times she jammed and scored 1594 more points than those jamming against her.

We said last year she somehow deserved the award more than the previous year; while we can’t currently think of a way next year could be any better for Thunders, we certainly wouldn’t bet against her finding a way.