The 2013 roller derby season has officially begun, and as always, we here at KC Derby Digest are simply thrilled about it. The off season was entirely too long. 2013 has promised a great many things to look forward to, and while this isn’t the only league promising big things this season, Love Hurts: To Hale With It meant that the stage belonged to Dead Girl Derby. And now that the Dead Girls’ home opener is in the history books, there’s a lot to talk about.
In true Dead Girl fashion, they didn’t come close to disappointing. Here now are the five most important things these amazing ladies showed us as they began a brand new season in a brand new home.
5. Dead Girl Derby is all grown up.
Love Hurts brought in just a shade over 1,300 fans and shattered Dead Girl Derby‘s attendance record to pieces. This probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone familiar with the league or with things like event planning, but it’s safe to say that the Dead Girls’ new home at Hale Arena no doubt played a large role in this jump in ticket sales and the attending interest that comes with it. However, let’s not forget how amazing this league is to begin with.
Nobody would buy any tickets if it wasn’t for the quality of the event the Dead Girls put on. They’re now showcasing three games per night (more on that in a minute); the band Seventh Day put on one of the strongest game day performances I’ve personally seen (we’ll get to them too); and the competition among the four teams looks stronger than it ever has. Hale Arena will make it possible for this phenomenal league to sustain the outstanding additions they’re offering this year, and it will give the fans the elbow room they need to settle in and get comfortable for the derby awesomeness that’s about to ensue. It frankly reminds me a little bit of the St. Joseph Civic Arena, the cavernous facility used by the Blacksnake Rollergirls in St. Joe. Big, big kudos to Dead Girl Derby for making the seamless transition to an awesome new venue.
4. Seventh Day. Nuff said.
What’s that you say? Bands sometimes tend to be little more than noise at halftime when you’re trying to talk to people? Then you didn’t see Seventh Day perform at Hale Arena.
First off, they’re a damn fine band and they rocked the joint. That might be a matter of opinion, but this isn’t: you know how frustrating it is when you’re trying to mingle at breaks, talk about the game, what have you, and you’ve got a band bearing down on you at full blast? It’s not a very accommodating environment. Well, Seventh Day didn’t do that. The full band played the pre-game, and then they were smart enough to play acoustic at the breaks, which meant that everyone who wanted to hear the band could do so, and people who wanted to mill around and gab could do that. When was the last time anybody let you have it both ways?
KC Derby Digest‘s official position is that Seventh Day is a band worth keeping around, and if Dead Girl Derby wants to have a band at the games, this is a good one to stick with.
3. Throwback games = AMAZING.
Way back when, before the birth of KC Derby Digest, and before Dead Girl Derby took its current form, there were only two teams in the league: Black Plague and Gang Green. What’s interesting about this setup is that the teams consisted of different players each month; names were essentially drawn out of a hat and assigned a color, so the ladies might be playing with/against a whole different set of skaters from one month to the next. Seems like it’d be difficult to build a fan base without a consistent roster, but three years later, here we are.
This season, someone in the organization came up with the best idea since the transition to Hale Arena — let’s take the skaters who aren’t rostered for that month’s games and assign them a color, old school style, put them in the old Black and Green uniforms, and bill that as the undercard for that night’s event. We’ll call it our Throwback game, and the fans will eat it up.
Well, guess what — they were exactly right. It turned out to be the perfect way to kick off the evening’s events, and it benefits the players too because it helps them see some action and build some experience on the track that they might not have otherwise gotten that night. There have been some rumblings since Love Hurts about possibly changing the order of the games for future events, but that’s not been finalized, and we predict the Throwback games will resonate with fans no matter where they’re placed.
2. The rookies could make all the difference in 2013.
One of the first things we noticed when the games began Saturday night was the plethora of new faces out on the track. It’s part of the natural cycle of things in flat track roller derby, and it takes a little bit to get to know the new skaters. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t make one hell of an impression.
Self DestrucTiff of the Royal Pains was perhaps the most impressive rookie we saw that night, her astonishing speed and dangerous agility eclipsed only by her talent for leaving the start line like someone dropped a spider in her tights. Lady Killshot, also of the Pains, showed an accomplished technique of her own that perhaps betrays a level of experience we aren’t yet aware of.
Texas Outlaw of the Lovely Lethals took quite a few lumps during the Throwback game and kept roaring back, as Lethals tend to do. And Gnarly Quinn, the diminutive, babyfaced rookie for the Deadly Sirens, was clearly afraid of two things Saturday night: jack and shit.
Obviously, the veterans/returning skaters are the foundation upon which solid teams are built, but the rookies are often the wild cards that can potentially shift the momentum enough to nudge a team into (or out of) the championship. From the looks of this year’s draftees, I’m going with the former.
1. The Lovely Lethals could take the whole thing.
Yes, they certainly could.
It won’t be easy: the Shotgun Sheilas looked absolutely fantastic Saturday night, and they certainly look like the team to beat in 2013. They took down the powerful Lethals 113-67 in Game 1 after holding them to only 27 points in the first half, and at no point in the game did they relinquish the lead.
Game 1s are notoriously unreliable predictors of how the season will arc overall. See also: the 2011 Fearleaders and the 2012 Royal Pains, among others. And we saw a fire in the Lethals’ game Saturday night that is the hallmark of a team hungry to reclaim the title. If you’re a fan (or an opposing skater), I am going to take this opportunity to serve notice, just in case anyone has forgotten: the Lovely Lethals are probably the most consistently formidable team in Dead Girl Derby history. If you take your eyes off the Pink for very long, they will snatch the game off your plate and eat it in front of you.
Because sportsmanship is a thing in this league, the Shotgun Sheilas will be happy to tell you that no team is unstoppable — not them, not the Victory Vixens, not Gotham, no one. The Sheilas’ 46-point win was a pretty solid one, but I’ve seen 70-point leads evaporate in ten minutes in this sport, it’s just the nature of the game (although admittedly, that was on the WFTDA side, not MADE, where smaller point spreads are much bigger obstacles than they are elsewhere). And I’ll reiterate: getting past the Sheilas will be a tall order for any team this season, but if anyone can do it, it’s the 2013 Lovely Lethals.
Between retaining scary-talented stars like Cuppa Crazy, Fire Wyer, Anya Neezenbeg, Slim Karsmashian, et al, the addition of very promising rookies like Micro Psycho and Texas Outlaw, and the acquisition of 2011’s top-scoring jammer Poison Evie, the Lovely Lethals are poised to make life very, very difficult for any team they come up against in 2013. When the dust has settled and the Dead Girls have left behind the remains of Kemper Arena after the championship game this September, don’t be surprised if the Ladies in Pink are once again hoisting the trophy over their very talented heads.