WFTDA Championship: Gotham Does It Again, 199-173

WFTDA Championship: Gotham Does It Again, 199-173 Photo: Danforth Johnson.

MILWAUKEE, WI — After the intense and much closer than expected 174-125 semifinal between Bay Area and Gotham on Saturday night, many expected the Texas / Gotham championship matchup to be an anticlimax — when the teams met in June, Gotham had smoked Texas 313-66. This time, though, Texas was up to the challenge … almost. The Austin crew was within striking distance for the entirety of the bout, held a few short-lived leads and still had a fighting chance going into the last jam, but in the end Gotham was just too good, again. Gotham claimed their 4th WFTDA title and 3rd in a row, triumphing 199-173.

Gotham’s Bonnie Thunders led her team with 101 points — but more critically, a +72 JPD and zero penalties, leaving her the only Gotham jammer in positive point differential. Suzy Hotrod picked up 66 points and a -5 JPD, Vicious Van Go Go took 14 points and a -5 JPD, and Claire D. Way had 18 points and a -36 JPD.

On the Texas jammer side, it was a double-barreled attack from tournament MVP Bloody Mary (76 points, +34 JPD) and Hauss the Boss (65 points, +47 JPD) that kept their team threatening for the win. Gotham had Olivia Shootin John’s number in the contest, though — she came away with 27 points and a -78 JPD. Double-threat Sarah Hipel took the star three times for 5 points and a -29 JPD.

The penalty situation notably favored Texas overall — Gotham had 39 total minutes against just 26 for Texas — but Texas had 7 jammer penalty minutes against 6 for Gotham.

Bout stats via Rinxter.

Gotham got on the board first with a 5-0 to Bonnie Thunders as the Gotham defense effectively bottled up Olivia Shootin’ John and narrowly held that lead for a couple of frames before a big natural jam from Hauss the Boss flipped the lead. Smarty Pants, Shortcut and Fifi Nomenon had a handle on Bonnie Thunders, and the new score was 23-11 Texas about five minutes into the game.

However, that lead lasted only a minute. The momentum swung fully back to Gotham on the next jam as Texas sent four skaters – including jammer Sarah Hipel – to the box in the same jam. Suzy Hotrod didn’t have too much trouble taking 19 points on that one, and Claire D. Way used the remainder of the lopsided power jam to add another 13. Texas called their first timeout at a score of 45-23 Gotham with 21:26 left in the first half.

After a 4-0 to Bonnie Thunders, both teams lost their jammers to the penalty box; Texas’ Bloody Mary got the better of the situation, though, as she ended the frame in the box but Suzy Hotrod low-blocked her way to the box on the subsequent jam. Those full-length jams went 19-9 Texas and 10-5 Texas, making it a 11 point game at 63-52 Gotham with 15 minutes left in the first half and inspiring Gotham to call their first timeout.

Hauss the Boss got Texas a little bit closer on the end of Suzy’s penalty with 8 unanswered points, making it 63-60 Gotham. Two jams later, it was tied up at 67-67, and with ten minutes left in the half, the crowd exploded as Smarty Pants, Fifi Nomenon, Polly Gone and Barbara Ambush absolutely stuffed Claire D. Way for a full two minutes while Bloody Mary put Texas in front with a 10-0, 77-67.

Unfazed by the reaction of the crowd, Gotham got right back to work after that one. Bonnie Thunders and Suzy Hotrod combined for 4-0 and 3-0 to narrow the Texas lead to 77-74 with 6:30 in the half, and a back block call against Texas’ Olivia Shootin’ John allowed Bonnie Thunders to come back for a crowd-quieting 23-3. Texas stopped the clock on an unsuccessful official review with 4:22 left in the half and Gotham back up 97-80.

Texas didn’t get much good news for the rest of the half, as Gotham allowed only two points while pushing the score to 108-82 to hold a precarious 26-point lead at the break.

Texas caught a tough break three jams deep into the half when Olivia Shootin John was called lead while still stuck in the pack but didn’t realize she had the ability to call it off until Bonnie Thunders had already picked up a full 5-point lap. That moved the score to 117-83; another 5-0, this one to Suzy Hotrod, put Gotham up 122-83 after five minutes.

Bloody Mary took a successful gamble next, though, choosing to trust her blockers as she approached the pack with Claire D Way right on her tail — not only did her blockers stuff Claire, they also forced her to the penalty box and the jam went 19-4 Texas. On the other side of Claire’s penalty, Hauss the Boss repeatedly spun her way past Ana Bollocks and Donna Matrix and Claire had no luck out of the box, resulting in a crowd-pumping 25-0 that gave Texas the narrowest of leads, 127-126, with 21 minutes to play. Gotham called their second timeout there and would go to a 1-2 combination of Bonnie Thunders and Suzy Hotrod for the reminder of the bout.

Once again, Gotham took the lead right back on a 4-0 to Bonnie Thunders, but this time Gotham wasn’t able to get too much daylight. After four more very low-scoring frames, Gotham led by just six points, 135-129.

A multiplayer block call on Gotham jammer Suzy Hotrod, though, opened the door for Bloody Mary to take 5 points — making it a 1 point game — and hand the rest of the power jam to Hauss the Boss, who put Texas back in front with a 9-0. With 13 minutes left in the championship game, Texas led 143-135.

However, Texas got about the worst possible break on the next jam, as jammer Olivia Shootin John got rocked by a huge hit from Sexy Slaydie, got an track cut major right afterwards, and then received a second minute for insubordination. That left Gotham ace Bonnie Thunders alone for an extended power jam, and she collected 24 points before a controversial collision at the end of the jam that left both the crowd and the Texas bench asking for a low block call on Bonnie. The official review was unsuccessful, though, and Gotham led 159-143.

It looked like Suzy Hotrod would put Texas in a deeper hole on the other side of the two-minute penalty, but when Hotrod went to the box on a forearm, OSJ redeemed herself with a 20-8 run, bringing Texas to within 4 points at 167-163 with 8 minutes to play.

Gotham scraped out two narrow wins to make it a 10 point game at 174-164 favoring Gotham with 5:20 to play, and then Gotham’s vaunted defense stepped up in a big way, with Sexy Slaydie, Donna Matrix and Ana Bollocks stuffing OSJ while Bonnie Thunders racked 13-0 and managed to get in the defensive action herself by recycling OSJ into the pack when she finally escaped.

That put the score at 187-164 Gotham with about three minutes to play, and the next jam was the nail in the coffin as Bloody Mary got lead for Texas but was forced into a track cut by Slaydie. Suzy Hotrod ran a conservative two minutes again tough Texas defense from Fifi Nonemon, Sarah Hipel and Polly Gone, but the 10-5 score was less important than the amount of time it ate off the clock.

Texas called their second timeout with just 1:05 left in the game and the score 197-169; Hauss the Boss took lead and 4 points, but decided to call it off instead of attempting to lap a stuck Bonnie Thunders. Thunders picked off 2 points before the call-off and Texas called their final timeout with 15 seconds on the game clock. Gotham added a little more time to the delay by asking for an official review on a multiplayer block that saw Sexy Slaydie foul out on the jam, but weren’t able to get satisfaction.

That set up a final jam with Gotham leading by 26, 199-173, Bloody Mary up against Bonnie Thunders, and Texas needing practically everything to go right in the last frame. It was not to be, though; when Bonnie Thunders took the lead jammer call, it was only a matter of seconds before she was able to call off the jam with no time left on the period clock. The jam went 0-0 and Gotham claimed their 3rd straight — and hardest-fought — WFTDA championship, 199-173.