Preview: The Derby Ink Invitational

Modern roller derby history is happening this weekend in Harrisburg, PA. Starting Friday, the Modern Athletic Derby Endeavor (MADE), Love City Roller Derby, and the South Jersey Derby Girls are hosting the Derby Ink Invitational banked track roller derby tournament.

One of three parts of a larger tattoo/music/derby convention, Derby Ink is a three-day test featuring some of the most experienced men’s and women’s roller derby players, including many skaters that normally play in the WFTDA and MRDA. The inclusion of the men’s competition earns the Derby Ink the distinction of being the first major banked track open tournament featuring men, which will run in parallel with the women’s tournament.

The Derby Ink Invitational will also make history by featuring the largest overall cash purse for the winners. A total of $20,000 will be distributed to the four teams making finals. (This beats the $15,000 purse by the Pro Roller Derby Chicago Invitational in November 2011.) The winning men’s and women’s teams will each take home $8,000.

The event will also mark a milestone for MADE, as Derby Ink is the first banked track tournament they will be sanctioning in their history.

If you’re not familiar with MADE roller derby, here’s a quick history lesson: In 2006, not long after modern roller derby began to organize, players from the WFTDA and those playing old-school (OSDA) flat-track derby began to hook up, finding the more traditional way of playing the game to be a fun alternative. For the next few years, their numbers grew, and more scrimmages, mixers, and flat-track tournaments took place. In 2009, the group came together and formally created the Modern Athletic Derby Endeavor.

Being a MADE-sanctioned tournament, the Derby Ink Invitational will be played using MADE banked track rules. Weighing in at an astonishingly light five pages long, MADE rules describe gameplay that mirrors the style of roller derby played in the 1960s and 1970s, updated for modern play and aiming to highlight athleticism. (Hence the ‘Modern’ and ‘Athletic’ parts of the moniker.)

Here are some of the major points of MADE roller derby rules:

  • 90 second jams
  • One start line for all players, with pivots/blockers on the line and jammers behind all blockers
  • Counterclockwise skating mandatory; stopping while blocking is prohibited
  • Pivots eligible to break and score only after the opposing jammer earns lead status (no helmet cover transfer required)
  • Pack definition: 3 players of one team and 2 players of the other team, including jammers
  • Pack proximity: 20 feet fixed, with no bridging (engagement zones are still 20 feet)
    Jammers blocked out of bounds on the initial pass must recycle behind the pack to legally resume the pass
  • Lead jammer is the jammer (or pivot) physically in the lead on the track
  • Jammers must be in-bounds and on-skates to successfully call off a jam
  • If the lead jammer touches the infield while on a scoring pass, the jam is immediately whistled dead
  • Both teams must field a jammer to start every jam; carry-over jammer penalties reduce number of blockers in the pack on the next jam only
  • One minute minor (normal) penalties, two minute major penalties; ejection after the 5th penalty minute
  • The format of the tournament will be two days of qualifying pool play, with each team playing in two 40-minute games. The four men’s and women’s teams with the best records will move on to the semis and finals on Sunday, where games will be the full 60 minutes.

    Derby Ink organizers had initially announced that the finals of the tournament would be televised on Pay-Per-View, but those plans fell through. Instead, the entire tournament will be pay-streamed through Roller Derby Nation. A one-day streaming pass will be made available for $10, and the full three-day 17-game tournament can be accessed for $25. Friday games start at 12 PM EDT, weekend games at 11 AM EDT, with the final games starting at 5:15 PM EDT on Sunday.

    Five men’s teams and six women’s teams have entered the Derby Ink Invitational. The participants are a mix of the most experienced and established MADE/OSDA leagues in the east, and a very impressive list of WFTDA and MRDA mixer teams—including Harm City, a Quadzilla-led MRDA all-star team, and everyone’s favorite banked track superteam, Team Bionic.

    Women’s Teams

    Team Bionic

    When we last heard from Team Bionic, they were skating through the midwest late last year. In August, they defeated all-star mashup Team MASTR 140-88, and in early September they took out Oklahoma City’s banked track team, the OKC Outlaws, 286-70. However, those games used RDCL rules, which call for a very different style of play than that found in MADE.

    The MADE rules environment will be brand-new to just about all of the players on the Bionic roster, who have not gotten the same level of pre-game training as the other participating teams. However, Hockey Honey, Atomatrix, and Psycho Babble have previous experience with the active pivot game from last year’s USARS roller derby tournament season, a game played in style a somewhat similar to that seen in MADE.

    This time around, it looks like Team Bionic is taking no chances in sizing up the competition with its ever-changing roster, loading it with just about the best talent they could come up with. At one point, their pre-event lineup also included the likes of Suzy Hotrod and Amanda Jamitinya, but they had to drop out—but Bionic being Bionic, they subbed in Tracy Akers and Fifi Nomenon. (Well played, Team Bionic.)

    Team Bionic Schedule:

    1st Game – Friday vs. Team Wolfpack, 1:35 PM

    2nd Game – Saturday vs. Penn Jersey, 11 AM

    Team Bionic Roster:

    Atomatrix?? #03 // Bonnie Thunders? #340 // Christy More Cowbell? #2ND // Rangeon #24 // Akers #99? // Fifi Nomenon #108? // Hockey Honey? #7 // Ised L’N0 #LN0? // Nina Brava? #25 // OMG WTF #753 // Psycho Babble? #21 // Sexy Slaydie #’68C // Stella Italiana? #30 // Tyra Shanks #95

    MADE All-Stars

    The official top step of MADE’s skater classification system is Class I, which is reserved for skaters that pass the last and highest level of its skill assessment. But past that lies the unofficial “All-Star” level, a limited roster which features the very best players the Endeavor has to offer, and the MADE All-Stars have many players who have reached that plateau. Players on the all-star team have upwards of eight years of experience, a majority of which gained in the MADE system.

    The MADE All-Stars also represent the organization on the international level. Last October, they travelled to Puerto Rico to play Boriken Roller Derby in a MADE-rules flat track game, winning 166-101. Later this year they are scheduled to fly south to Argentina and bout against a MADE league that recently got started there.

    However, the All-Stars will not quite be at 100% for the Derby Ink Invitational, since a few players on the team have elected to skate for their home leagues at the tournament instead. Still, with the skating experience and the intimate knowledge they have with MADE game, they’re sure to be a top contender for the title.

    MADE All-Stars Schedule:

    1st Game – Friday vs. Team Rogue, 4:45 PM

    2nd Game – Saturday vs. Team Wolfpack, 6:50 PM

    MADE All-Stars Roster:

    Billie Rae Siren #1HitWonder // Deevious von Doom #4? // Holly Screwya #57?? // McMenace #3vil // Megalomaniac? // Midgenight Monster #MST3K // Misfortune Cookie? #1798 // Mos Deathly #16 // Steph Threat #H8edN’Pr0ud // Therese Hell #666? // Tienty Deville #17

    Team Wolfpack

    Team Wolfpack won’t be wearing wearing black and neon green, but they if did they could be confused for a Bionic-esque superteam.

    A lot of the players on the Wolfpack roster have stopped by Love City Roller Derby and received training and rules guidance from the MADE folks; Philly’s Shenita Stretcher even dropped in to play a special five-a-side MADE-rules mixer earlier this year. It will be interesting to see how well this team can come together can apply the knowledge they picked up in their first game of the tournament against—who else?—Team Bionic.

    Team Wolfpack Schedule:

    1st Game: Friday vs. Team Bionic, 1:35 PM

    2nd Game: Saturday vs. MADE All-Stars, 6:50 PM

    Team Wolfpack Roster:

    Anne Frankenstein #c.1818 // Athena #7 // Brazilian Nut #16 // Georgia W Tush #40 // Holden Grüdges #63 // Holly Go Hardly #415 // Hurricane Heather #Category5 // Lady Quebeaum #34 // Mick Swagger #53 // Shenita Stretcher #306 // Smarty Pants #5.0 // ‘Snot Rocket Science #6 // V-Diva #1818 // Violent Knockout

    Love City Roller Derby

    A new co-ed league based in Philadelphia, tournament co-host Love City Roller Derby was created late last year after taking ownership of the banked track formerly housed across the Delaware River with the South Jersey Derby Girls. Love City has wasted no time putting their track to use, having so far played public games in their new home just about every other week in 2013.

    Their warehouse may be new, but many players on Love City are veterans with years of skating experience, both on the banked track (with SJRD, before transferring over with the track) and in general. In fact, LCRD and SJDG consider themselves bi-traxual sister leagues, with players from both regularly playing MADE banked track games in Philly, and MADE flat track games in Jersey.

    The team representing Philly’s new banked track is made up of this partnership’s best players, as well as a few others from area leagues such as New York’s Man’s Ruin Roller Derby—and one very much not from the area, Rob’n Ur Dignity, coming all the way from Washington state’s MADE league, Northern Exposure Roller Derby.

    Love City Schedule:

    1st Game: Saturday vs. Team Rogue, 12:35 PM

    2nd Game: Saturday vs. Penn Jersey, 5:15 PM

    Love City Roster:

    1/2 Pint Hellian? #10-13 // A-Lo #36-24-36 // Anita Bodybag #99 // Bronx Bomber #10-21 // Dani Longlegger #080 // Gingershred #spf350 // Killer Kangaroo #700 // MC Slamher #789 // MaHOTMa Blondhi #1932? // Marilyn McCrusher #93 // Orville WreckNBlockHer #1620 // Penny Fastlane #55 // Rob’n Ur Dignity #11 // Spank U Scarlett #0’9Tails

    Penn Jersey Roller Derby

    One of the east coast’s original roller derby leagues, Penn Jersey has an interesting place in the modern era. Founded in 2005 as an all-ladies league, it only took them a year to go co-ed, one of the first leagues to do so. In 2007, PJRD became the anchor of the newly-formed Old School Derby Association, which used rules derived from old-school roller derby. PJRD went banked in 2010, and today they share tilty-track bragging rights with their Philadelphia neighbors, Love City.

    PJRD could be seen as something of a link between the derby of today and the derby of The Old Times. Their players have been trained by skating greats of the classic era, and their organization hosts events in conjunction with the National Roller Derby Hall of Fame. In fact, last year’s Hall of Fame game was a banked track doubleheader featuring a scripted old-school game with derby legends followed by a contemporary legit-rules game with modern-era players.

    Though officially an OSDA league, Penn Jersey has no problem playing the MADE way, banked and flat, in interleague games against Love City. (The two rule sets are effectively interchangeable, with OSDA rules effectively having evolved into MADE rules.) Come this June, they’ll also have no problem playing Love City the RDCL way, as both teams will be heading to Los Angeles to participate in Battle on the Bank VI. But first things first—Team Bionic will be in their way in their first game of the Derby Ink Invitational on Saturday.

    Penn Jersey Schedule:

    1st Game: Saturday vs. Team Bionic, 11 AM

    2nd Game: Saturday vs. Love City, 5:15 PM

    Penn Jersey Roster:

    Bexi Wexi // Classy Chassis #53 // Clobberella #9 // Crash Anne Burn // Dental Damage // Glitz And Slam // Kelly Kapowski // Maulin Munster // Mercury // Nique Havoc #4 // Sloppy Jo #MMM // Victorian Vendetta // Vienna Prime

    Team Rogue

    Though the Derby Ink Invitational is a MADE-sanctioned tournament, an awful lot of WFTDA players seem to have found out about it. Team Rogue is another mashup team jumping from the WFTDA’s second dimension to MADE’s 3D banked track. But unlike the star power on Team Bionic or Team Wolfpack, who have nothing but recognizable names, Rogue may have nothing but unrecognizable names, describing themselves as “a bunch of flat trackers you may never have heard of.”

    A harsh autobiography if there ever was one. But perhaps, not inaccurate considering that some of the players hail from leagues you actually may have never heard of. Leagues having representation on Rogue include the Rocktown Rollers (VA, WFTDA rank #137), the Salisbury Roller Girls (MD, WFTDA Apprentice), and New Jersey Roller Derby (unaffiliated).

    To be fair to Team Rogue, they’ve also got players from more established WFTDA leagues, such as Maine, Philly, Steel City; and particularly from leagues local to Derby Ink, H.A.R.D. and Dutchland. That’s a big advantage to them: According to the team, they’ve been spending “months spinning off blockers and running along the rail with smiles on their faces.” With that kind of prep time, maybe we’ll be hearing more about these girls this weekend, yeah?

    Team Rogue Schedule:

    1st Game: Friday vs. MADE All-Stars, 4:45 PM

    2nd Game: Saturday vs. Love City, 12:35 PM

    Team Rogue Roster:

    Ally McKill #25 // Bam Bam Brawler #37 // Buster Skull #00 // Damage Dahl #X0X0 // Grim D Mise #305 // Jocelyn Bassler #18 // Merry Khaos #1918 // Nash Villain #6021 // Neve Cannibal #5 // Rainbow’s Revenge #24 // Raven Darkhold #17 // Russian Bayou #99 // Spry Icicle #273 // Treasure Chest #777

    Men’s Teams

    Derby Mercs

    Just for a moment, pretend you are Quadzilla. Pretty awesome, right? Now, pretend you are Quadzilla, you have caught wind of a banked track tournament that pays $8,000 to the winners, and you want to get a team men’s team together to try and win it. You put out the Bat-signal (Antik-signal?) and in mere moments, you have a team loaded with some of the best male skating talent in the country.

    Okay, so maybe it didn’t go down exactly like that. But it might as well have, because end result is the same: The Derby Mercs are bringing some serious firepower to the Derby Ink Invitational. The team is loaded: Quadzilla, Radillac, and Speed Dealer from Puget Sound; Magnum P.I.M.P. and Percy Controll from the St. Louis Gatekeepers; Peter Pan, Frank Not Sohotra, and Seahorses Forever from the 2012 MRDA Champions, Your Mom Men’s Roller Derby. And that’s not even the full roster.

    Even if many of the players heading to Harrisburg have scant experience with the MADE version of roller derby, the Derby Mercs have a pretty fearsome roster lined up to try it on for size. Needless to say, no matter how well these mercenaries work together or how well they do against the more MADE-experienced men’s teams in the field, putting this much talent on a banked track in a rule set designed to be fast will almost certainly produce some explosive moments.

    Derby Mercs Schedule:

    1st Game: Friday vs. Hooligans, 3:10 PM

    2nd Game: Saturday vs. Vice Squad, 2:10 PM

    Derby Mercs Roster:

    B.Stang #3158 // Dirty Larry #1369 // Frank Not Sohotra #9 // Magnum P.I.M.P. #L7 // Percy Controll #82 // Peter Pan #3 // Quadzilla #23 // Radillac #35 // Rhino // Seahorses Forever #7 // Shortbus #1080p // Speed Dealer #53

    Shove City Roller Derby

    Much like their co-ed sisters-in-arms at Love City, Shove City may be new to their warehouse space but aren’t strangers to the banked track. They previously existed in life as the South Jersey Derby Deviants, who have been skating as a bi-traxual team since 2007. When SJRD’s track came to Philadelphia, so too did the men’s team as an expansion to Love City.

    Shove City gets plenty of co-ed practice with Love City, as well as against their crosstown co-ed rivals at Penn Jersey Roller Derby. Shove City and the Penn Jersey Hooligans, the PJRD men’s team, are regular opponents with each other, but in their last banked track bout, the Hooligans won by a comfortable (for MADE) margin, 85-70.

    Shove City is only bringing a roster of nine to the Derby Ink this weekend. The current rarity of men’s banked track derby means the available pool of men’s players to draw from is pretty thin to begin with, but Shove City is used to it; last October, they played a full game with only six players on their roster.

    1st Game: Friday vs. Harm City, 12 PM

    2nd Game: Saturday vs. Hooligans, 3:45 PM

    Shove City Roster:

    Bruise Springsteen #8055 // Ed McMayhem #86 // Firecrotch #4nication // Hurt Vonnegut #Slaughterhouse5? // Lt Bully #101st // Slam Syndrome #Rx? // The Hammer Jammer #007 // Rollomite #10 // Walt Hitman #I-76

    Penn Jersey Hooligans

    The Hooligans were officially formed as a team back in 2007, around a year after they integrated with Penn Jersey and turned them into a co-ed league. While just about all men’s teams go back that far in modern derby history, the Hooligans became the first full-time men’s banked track men’s team of the modern era when Penn Jersey went banked in 2010.

    With a great deal of experience playing both MADE and OSDA rules and an OSDA championship trophy to their name, the Hooligans are extremely comfortable playing the faster, more punishing style of game that will be featured at the Derby Ink Invitational. They also look like they’re having a ton of fun playing it, as this highlight reel from last month’s Shove City/Hooligans game demonstrates.

    Hooligans Schedule:

    1st Game: Friday vs. Derby Mercs, 3:10 PM

    2nd Game: Saturday vs. Shove City, 3:45 PM

    Hooligans Roster:

    Bunsen Bruiser??? #?T // BZZARRO // Dudley Do Wrong #XX // General Ledger? #0 // General Tso Fine $8.99 // Highwayman #5.56 // I Don’t Care-Bear? #1983 // Nurse Ratchet #210/90 // Sik Boy #N/A // Skidmark // Wags #22 // Yosemite Slam #8

    Harm City Men’s Derby

    Unlike the other WFTDA-rules players coming to the banked track, Harm City was able to stick together as a team and fully represent Baltimore’s male flat track roller derby league in MADE’s co-ed banked track roller derby tournament.

    Finishing the 2012 MRDA season with a 6-5 record and a #12 ranking, there’s still a lot of room for them to improve this year. Perhaps a change of track, a change of rules, all the free food they can eat (the event organizers are catering) and the promise of a nice cash payout is exactly what Harm City needs to jump-start their 2013 campaign.

    To fill out their 14-man roster, they’ve enlisted the help of players outside Baltimore, such as Tink of the Cincinnati Battering Rams and Justice Feelgood Marshall—you might have heard of him—returning to the team he founded from his current home league, the Chicago Bruise Brothers.

    Harm City Schedule:

    1st Game: Friday vs. Vice Squad, 12 PM

    2nd Game: Friday vs. Shove City, 6:15 PM

    Harm City Roster:

    Abe Froman #010 // Crash Kalwa #7 // Gearhead #SOHC427? // He Bruise #613 // Justice Feelgood Marshall #1954 // Locke Ness Tomster #24 // Ogden Smash #64 // Rambo Sprinkles #3 // Sin Diesel #1* // Tink #37 // Trouble Penetration #11? // Truth Hurtz #14 // Warren T Voider #907 // WhipTease #714

    Vice Squad

    Just a few Man’s Ruin female skaters have entered the tournament on the ladies’ side (with Love City), but the co-ed league has sent the full roster of their men’s team, the Vice Squad, to play for the giant novelty that the winners will receive for reaching the finals.

    The players on Vice Squad have a lot of skating experience, with many of its members in MADE Class I or at the All-Star level. (MADE is trying to put together the male version of its travelling All-Star team this year.) The men’s team has even made it to the OSDA championship final in previous years.

    However, the one disadvantage Man’s Ruin may have going into the Derby Ink Invitational is that they are primarily a flat track league, only getting to skate on the banked track every-so-often when they drop down to Philadelphia for interleague games. Normally, it would be a bit of a disadvantage having to make the transition from flat to banked. But since flat and banked rules and strategies are exactly the same in MADE, the Vice Squad will only need to make an adjustment to avoid ruining their weekend

    Vice Squad Schedule:

    1st Game: Friday vs. Harm City, 12 PM

    2nd Game: Saturday vs. Derby Mercs, 2:10 PM

    Vice Squad Roster:

    Abs of Flab #12oz // Busta Move #82 // Cranky Shaft #311 // High Jinx #13,500 // Invincibill #AC-47 // Jacob Splatter #p0w // Jack the Tripper #1888 // Kevlar #10-39 // Legion #L8:30 // Numb Chuck #11 // Rocks Harder #777 // Starsky