After a three-year absence from international play, the travels teams of St. Louis-based Arch Rival Roller Derby return to their local flat-track this weekend in a twin bill against their Minneapolis quad-skate adversaries.
ARCH hosts Minnesota Roller Derby at Midwest Sport Hockey at Queeny Park (570 Weidman Rd. – Ballwin, MO). The double-header begins at 6 pm.
In the opener featuring b-team squads, the Arch Rival Nemesis tangles with Minnesota Nice. That 60-minute battle is followed by a showdown between the Arch Rival All-Stars and the Minnesota All-Stars.
The main event featuring the ARCH All-Stars, currently ranked fifth internationally by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), will see the team competing in their first game since November 2019 and their first local appearance since 2017.
The squad has been working at a fever pitch in anticipation of their re-debut after being sidelined due roller derby’s stoppage during the pandemic. Consider Saturday a homecoming of sorts and an opportunity to send a message to the derby community.
“We’ve put in the work during the off time and we’re ready to show up and it’s incredibly important to show that we are still a Top 5 team,” said All-Stars co-captain Vicious van GoGo of the return. ”We’re so excited to play together. It really doesn’t feel like we’ve missed a beat.”
That final thought is a direct effect of the team competing against each other in local team play this summer. It gave skaters a chance to shake the rust off and get back to competitive levels.
“We played competitive but had a good time,” GoGo said. “It helped us ease back into it rather than coming in cold turkey. It’s been really nice for everyone in the league.”
The ARCH All-Stars have competed at the last five WFTDA International Championships and field a roster with plenty of post-season experience.
Jamming will be primarily paced by returning veterans Annie Swanson, Bricktator and Jedi Knight-N-Gale and assisted by newcomer Hart, a recent transfer with plenty of derby seasons in the portfolio.
Alongside GoGo, blocking Saturday will be paced by KWoo!, Cloak N’ Drag-her, Shear-Ra Powers, LuxFurious, Pegasass, Eirinn Go Brawl, Cruella Belle-ville and Splatter with assistance by WyldeSyde and Birdsong.
The team had its highest result in championship play during their last campaign in 2019, finishing fourth in the global tournament.
Saturday’s opponent is a legacy franchise that has also had a busy schedule over the past few months.
The Minnesota Roller Derby All-Stars are currently ranked in the WFTDA Top 40 and their members also competed in their own local team campaign in order to build up traction. The team has four prior WFTDA Championship appearances and made their early entry back into the interleague fold in a game against Madison Roller Derby in May.
Historically, ARCH holds a 4-2 edge in head-to-head meetings but are fully aware that the visitors are ready to play spoiler this weekend.
“I never count out an opponent and I never count out a Midwestern team,” said GoGo of Minnesota. “They’re an incredible league and they have a strong foundation. I have no doubt that whatever they’re bringing to the table that they are going to bring everything into it.”
Meanwhile, the opener that contains plenty of intrigue features both leagues’ developmental squads. ARCH’s Nemesis finished eighth at the B-Team Championships in October 2019.
Minnesota Nice has competed since 2011 and when the duo last competed against each other at the 2017 B-team championships, the Nemesis scratched out a three-point win. Given the complexion of the line-ups, victory is anyone’s for the taking.
GoGo is hoping for a strong show of support Saturday at Midwest Sport Hockey that will propel the local teams to victory.
“We’ve been so fortunate to have such amazing fans this local season,” she said. “It kept us pumped up and excited. I’d just like to say to them to take that fun on the local level and upping the intensity of play. That’s what you’re going to get this weekend.”
Saturday’s games are a part of the league’s “Midwest Derby Ope’n,” a multi-day invitational that also features Windy City Roller Derby of Chicago.
Tickets at the door for Saturday night’s session at Queeny Park are $15 while children 10 and under get in free. Discounted online tickets are available at THIS LINK.
By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is an announcer and digital content producer for St. Louis-based Arch Rival Roller Derby. Also a webcast announcer for post-season roller derby tournaments on wftda.tv. Yep, this Illinoisan primarily writes about derby, covering Arch Rival, the St. Chux Derby Chix and the STL GateKeepers men's league. He also writes about St. Louis SLAM Women's Football, St. Louis Lions women's soccer and other sports topics.