The primary travel team of St. Louis-based Arch Rival Roller Derby is headed to a highly-anticipated tournament this weekend, featuring upper-echelon leagues that compete globally within the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA).
The Arch Rival All-Stars trek to Portland, Oregon for “Hometown Throwdown 2023” that launches Friday afternoon at The Hangar at Oaks Amusement Park.
The eight-team bracketed tournament finds second-seeded ARCH, currently ranked first in the WFTDA North America Northeast region, meeting the Rose City Rollers’ B-team, the seventh-seeded Axles of Annihilation, in a quarterfinal match-up that takes place at 2:30 pm Central.
Other leagues within the octet participating at the event’s seventh cycle include current defending WFTDA Hydra Cup champions, Rose City Rollers’ Wheels of Justice, as well as primary travel teams from Denver Roller Derby, Australia’s Victorian Roller Derby League, Angel City Derby, Montreal Roller Derby and Black Diaspora Roller Derby.
This weekend’s complexion contains some of the most-competitive collectives in the world. Three teams currently top their respective WFTDA geographical regions, while one is ranked second, one ranked third, one ranked fourth and the final entrant is a highly-talented exhibition team.
Stakes are high overall and Arch Rival, currently 6-1 in WFTDA-sanctioned play this year, knows that they have to perform at optimal levels throughout the flat-track frenzy.
“We are excited to be invited back to ‘Hometown’ and anticipate very competitive game play from our opponents,” said ARCH All-Stars co-captain Vicious van GoGo. “These teams have been respectively working hard all season long so it’s nice to have a tournament to cap off the end of the season. It will be a litmus test of where we are and what to work on going into the 2024 WFTDA Champs year.”
ARCH pushed their current winning streak to six straight after collecting a three-game sweep at September’s Lobstah Roll Invitational in Boston. The locals claimed victories over Montreal (262-49), Ann Arbor (304-24) and Boston (298-44) to net the trifecta.
You read those scores right. Arch Rival collectively outscored their opponents, 864-117, which continued their dominant winning ways this season and maintained their top spot in the Northeast region.
“Our defense during the weekend of Lobstah Roll was on point,” reflected van GoGo. “Each pack seemed locked in, from solid two walls to drawing the jammer back, the packs were super focused in on each other. It was amazing to see the work we put in at practice pay off at game time.”
ARCH’s roster skating this weekend contains numerous athletes that have tons of experience competing at prior WFTDA International championships.
Alongside van GoGo and co-captain Shear-Ra Powers, blocking is paced by Cloak N’ Drag-Her, LuxFurious, Bolt Action, K. Woodward, Splatter, dad bod, Eirinn Go Brawl, Pork Tchoup Slamwich, soup beans, WyldeSyde, Pegasass, SheKill O’Neal and Cruella Belleville.
Meanwhile, the jammer rotation returns to full strength after a pair of tenures were unable to compete at Lobstah Roll. Both Bricktator and Jedi Knight-N-Gale rejoins Annie Swanson, Hart and Skeevie Nicks for the five-skater attack that dons stars on their helmets.
ARCH’s Friday quarterfinal foes, the 5-1 Axles of Annihilation, are currently ranked fourth in the WFTDA North America West region and is currently acknowledged by many as the top-ranked b-team internationally.
ARCH is fully aware that the AoA with have their home crowd cheering them on this weekend and expect a tough battle.
“Last year at Hometown was our first match up with them,” recalls Van GoGo. “They are a very talented and fun team to play. I remember there being good comradery after each jam. We expect an action-packed game with similar game style as the WoJ.”
Early bracketology has Arch Rival potentially meeting the aforementioned Wheels of Justice Sunday evening at the “Throwdown” finale.
The pair squared off against each other at June’s Sibling Rivalry invitational held at Queeny Park’s Midwest Sport Hockey. At the clash, ARCH suffered a 185-110 setback, but if St. Louis can push their way into the ultimate round, they savor scoring an upset over the quad-wheeled squad that has won four of the last five WFTDA Hydra Cup finales.
And if that doesn’t happen, the St. Louis rollers still plan on using this multi-league tussle to prepare for 2024.
“No matter the outcome at the end of the weekend, win or not, we will take that as fuel to continue to build toward our ultimate goal, to win the Hydra next year,” said Van GoGo.
Friday’s quarterfinal round funnels into Saturday’s semifinals and consolation bracket games.
Contests that determine team finishes are set for Sunday. Throwdown’s third place game takes place at 5 pm Central while the championship game is slotted for 7:30 pm Central.
Arch City Media will have a recap of the locals’ results posted Monday morning.
The entire tournament will be streamed live for free on the Rose City Rollers’ You Tube channel. Click on the following links in red for daily coverage:
Here is a look at the other teams competing at “Hometown Throwdown” (in order of seed):
#1 SEED: ROSE CITY ROLLERS WHEELS OF JUSTICE
Record: 6-0. Current WFTDA Rank: #1 North America West
Claiming gold at four of the last five WFTDA International Championships, and currently possessing a 19-game winning streak in sanctioned play, the Wheels of Justice contains all the attributes of a dominant, trophy-hoisting franchise.
Rose collected a three-game sweep at the recently held Cosmo Chaos in California where they collectively outscored their opponents 1120-139. Yikes! In two separate games, they posted over 400 points while the defense held the foe to under 30 points.
Their quarterfinal match-up against eighth-seeded Black Diaspora, an exhibition team, will probably be decided very early in their favor. The semifinal round should play out similarly.
Although Sunday’s finale will be competitive, a three-game Throwdown sweep by the Wheels of Justice is projected, which will no doubt please their home base attending. What will be intriguing will be their point differentials within the semifinals and beyond.
#3 SEED: VICTORIAN ROLLER DERBY LEAGUE LIGHTNING
RecordL 4-0. Current WFTDA Rank: #1 Oceania
The winners of the 2017 WFTDA Hydra Cup, the Aussies have not traveled outside their home continent since derby returned to full-time play.
The Melbourne-based Lightning resumed sanctioned action in September and easily snared a pair of lopsided wins over flat-track mates Adelaide.
That momentum continued with two, same-day dukes over Queensland’s Sun State on October 14. Through four games, VRDL collectively outscored the opposition, 1052-173. Impressive, but not surprising given the strength of their squad. But now the Thunder are traveling to North America to face competition that is significantly stronger in overall skill level.
Many key skaters returned this year from the squad that claimed bronze medals at the last WFTDA International Championship tourney held in 2019.
Friday’s quarterfinal draw against Angel City, who has many more games in hand, will be interesting as one cannot realistically pre-evaluate Victorian with minimal knowledge.
The strength of this franchise has been perpetually solid in international play since 2014, which marked their first trip to WFTDA Champs. Their upcoming Throwdown performance could potentially be the eye-opener that lets the derby universe know that thunder from Down Under is still on the radar.
#4 SEED: DENVER ROLLER DERBY MILE HIGH CLUB
Record: 4-1. Current WFTDA Rank: #2 North America West
Denver has always been considered a top-quality league, as they have been a fixture of WFTDA International Championship mix since 2014. This year, their lone blemish in the record books was a 248-83 setback to Rose City at Cosmo Chaos. Everything else has been victories that averaged around 200 points.
Their Throwdown quarterfinal draw against fifth-seeded Montreal won’t be easy, but they should prevail. Denver topped the New Skids by triple-digits in their last meeting in 2019 and while the differential might not be as wide this time around, victory is still projected.
If they advance Friday, they face top-seeded Rose City in Saturday’s semifinals. The Mile High Club lost by 165 points to them last month. A win doesn’t look likely, but the goal is to shore the score this time around.
Incorporating bracketology, entry in the third-place game this weekend is the realistic accomplishment for the Mile High Club. If they snare the duke on Sunday, that’s a big feather in their cap.
#5 SEED: MONTREAL ROLLER DERBY NEW SKIDS ON THE BLOCK
Record: 6-4. Current WFTDA Rank: #2 North America Northeast
The lone Canadian Throwdown entrant has certainly been active this year with ten sanctioned games already played.
Their current 6-4 record includes last month’s 2-1 finish at their hosted Haunting on Mont Royal Hill invitational that was highlighted with an impressive 319-31 win over country counterpart Tri-City as well as a 126-82 duke over Gotham, which marked the team’s first-ever triumph against the former five-time WFTDA champions.
Friday’s Throwdown quarterfinal has the Skids against fourth-seeded Denver and their goal is to break brackets. If they upset the Mile High Club, then that immediately sets the tone, although winning third place at conclusion is going to be a tough task.
#6 SEED: ANGEL CITY ROLLER DERBY HOLLYWOOD SCARLETS
Record: 7-0. Current WFTDA Rank: #3 North America West
The Los Angeles-based faction is a sleeper pick this weekend, thanks to their current undefeated streak.
The Hollywood Scarlets notched collective sweeps at July’s Cactus Cup and September’s Golden Bowl that pushed their record to 7-0.
They have a quarterfinal draw against third-seeded Victorian Friday and on the surface, it’s a pretty mighty task to gain a victory. However, Angel City has always been traditionally known as a pretty-solid. defensive-oriented team. Also, one must wonder how many Victorian skaters will make the trek to Portland for the tournament.
If things don’t quite play out in the quarterfinals and they suffer a loss, a fifth place finish on Sunday is not impossible. Finishing one place higher out of the seed is the goal, but if it’s higher than that, then no complaints.
#7 SEED: ROSE CITY ROLLERS AXLES OF ANNIHILATION
Record: 6-1. Current WFTDA Rank: #4 North America West
As the lone B-team representative this weekend, they currently sport a six-game sanctioned winning-streak during their first year of WFTDA eligible rank with their 197-61 triumph last month over Rat City, currently positioned sixth in the North America West Region.
Alongside that, the AoA have pushed their status to fourth within the region with very impressive wins over smaller West Coast A-teams.
Their Friday quarterfinal draw against Arch Rival will be a mighty challenge, but this is a squad that can wreak havoc in the consolation bracket this weekend and a fifth-place game entry is not far reach due to the host league’s wealth of depth.
#8 SEED: BLACK DIASPORA ROLLER DERBY
Record: N/A. Currently WFTDA Unaffiliated
As an unaffiliated WFTDA exhibition team, this hard-charging squad finds themselves engaged this weekend in some of their most-challenging games to date. Founded as the first All-Black roller derby franchise earlier this year, the group fields a talented group of skaters with worldwide experience that will win the hearts of many this weekend.
The team took home gold medals at the Y’Allstars Southern Skate Showdown in February and competed at March’s Clover Cup Invitational in Dallas as well as the Rollercon Convention in Las Vegas.
Their most-imposing opponent yet to date, the top-seeded Wheels of Justice, is their quarterfinal draw. But as we have seen throughout their breakthrough season, Black Diaspora has accepted all challenges and always put on competitive contests. Projected to be in the consolation bracket Saturday due to being the low seed, the team will use the final two days to raise their stock…and they should.
HOMETOWN THROWDOWN SCHEDULE (All times Central)
2:30 PM – (2) ARCH RIVAL VS. (7) ROSE CITY AXLES OF ANNIHILATION
4:30 PM – (3) VICTORIAN VS. (6) ANGEL CITY
7 PM – (4) DENVER VS. (5) MONTREAL
9:30 PM – (1) ROSE CITY WHEELS OF JUSTICE VS. (8) BLACK DIASPORA
2:30 PM – ARCH RIVAL/ROSE CITY AOA LOSER VS. VICTORIAN/ANGEL CITY LOSER
4:30 PM – ROSE CIITY WOJ/BLACK DIASPORA LOSER VS. DENVER/MONTREAL LOSER
7 PM – ARCH RIVAL/ROSE CITY AOA WINNER VS. VICTORIAN/ANGEL CITY WINNER
9:30 PM – ROSE CITY WOJ/BLACK DIASPORA WINNER VS. DENVER/MONTREAL WINNER
1 PM – SEVENTH PLACE GAME – CONSOLATION BRACKET LOSERS
3 PM – FIFTH PLACE GAME – CONSOLATION BRACKET WINNERS
5 PM – THIRD PLACE GAME – SEMIFINAL BRACKET LOSERS
7:30 PM – CHAMPIONSHIP GAME – SEMIFINAL BRACKET WINNERS
By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is a writer for Arch City Media, dating back to February 2014. Emphasis is on featuring and promoting local women's sports, but will cover anything that is not reported by traditional media outlets. Also a contributor to local concert reviews.