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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.


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    Go Harm City!


    I know it's so 2005 to care about derby names, but Hurt Vonnegut #Slaughterhouse5​. Love it.

    He's the second one.

    There was a Hurt Vonnegut on Pioneer Valley Roller Derby's Western Mass Destruction team back in 2007. Her number was #ICE-9.

    "all the free food they can

    "all the free food they can eat (the event organizers are catering)"

    For a $500 buy-in to the tournament, they had better be!

    Free food. ha.

    Too bad that didn't happen. It was a rude surprise to find out at lunch on Saturday that there would be no lunch. I believe most of us drove to Subway most days because it was one of the few options around. Unless we wanted to fuel tournament play on hot dogs and nachos.


    fifinomenon wrote:

    Too bad that didn't happen. It was a rude surprise to find out at lunch on Saturday that there would be no lunch. I believe most of us drove to Subway most days because it was one of the few options around. Unless we wanted to fuel tournament play on hot dogs and nachos.

    Was that stipulated in the contract? If I were you, I'd gather my team's receipts from the lunch they had to purchase and send them to the company running the tournament, demanding reimbursement.

    I don't recall, but

    I do remember thinking, "Wow. It's really cool that we are getting fed at this event," as I was handed a couple of meal tickets. Now us derby folk are a resourceful bunch, and had we not been given this expectation, many of us would have just done the pre-game grocery store run (and many of us did anyway).


    One of the things I like the least about this rulesset is this stuff here:

    "Legal Contact and Maneuvers
    Legal Body Parts Used When Blocking:
    The upper arms, from the shoulder down to, but not including, the elbows; the upper back, from the shoulder through the shoulder blade; and the hips, pelvis and buttocks."

    So no skating backwards and counterclockwise and using your chest to impede someone. One of the most fun, aggressive and skilled parts of "fu get past me" derby. Of course, there is this:

    "Skaters may engage another player while skating backwards, provided they are moving in the same direction as the Pack."

    But blocking backwards without being able to use your chest is... uh...

    "Legal Body Parts to Administer Blocks Against:
    The arms, chest, abdomen, upper back (from the shoulder through the shoulder blade), hips, pelvis, thigh and buttocks."

    And it's legal to hit someone from behind as long as you hit them in the butt. *sigh* I would be aiming to bend over and ram my shoulder as hard as I could into a butt. You could do some serious damage that way.

    I have the same feelings. I

    I have the same feelings. I feel like MADE rules leave too many unanswered questions as well. I find myself asking "Why?" most often.

    Derby Ink shout out.

    To Deevious, Holly, Kangaroo, and Bully: UNLEASH HELL! I will be watching from the safety of my couch.


    Hmm...so I just dropped $10 to watch Team Bionic and the video looks to be about one frame per second (i.e unwatchable). Anyone else seeing this?


    The WFTDA pay feed probably spoiled me but I am very disappointed with the quality of this. Not only is the framerate poor, but the resolution looks like a dot matrix printer. (This is on a dedicated modern PC hooked up straight to the TV, gigabit ethernet cabling all down the line, so it can't be blamed on wireless.)

    One static cam between turns 1 and 2, and someone over at turn 4 who's sticking their head in whenever it's safe. Plus the static camera has some flashing red icon in the upper left. If only the resolution was good enough I could identify the icon.

    There also doesn't seem to be any coordination between the on-screen scoreboard and the actual one. Right now I'm listening to the announcer call to the officials, "was there any score there?"

    Thinking about asking for a refund but I doubt they'll give me one. The tournament started at 12 but the feed didn't start until 4, and my emails to them sent at 1 remain unanswered.

    Well, I'm relieved!

    This means no-one will complain about the feed or announcing at the WFTDA tournaments this year!

    Don't count on it

    I don't need a feed to know that there are still announcers using the phrase "Five Point Grand Slam" :P

    Better not

    I think I'm spoiled with WFTDA, DNN, and our home team livestreams.

    Score check on Bionic vs. PJ?

    I just got back home and caught the last minutes of Team Bionic vs. Penn Jersey. I wish they left the score on screen longer, but I believe Bionic beat PJ 172 to 9, correct? Can someone try to track down an official score for this?

    Video feed has more camera angles but isn't that much better than yesterday.

    No blowouts!

    It was 173-9. Definitely not a blowout. And neither was the 194-4 Love City / Team Rogue bout.

    I tell you what though

    Lex Talionis wrote:

    It was 173-9. Definitely not a blowout. And neither was the 194-4 Love City / Team Rogue bout.

    These games were hella fun to watch. No sausages!

    I love derby, but...

    "These games were hella fun to watch. No sausages!" Saying that watching one team not be able to stay on the track generally, or keep up or break their jammers *or* pivots out is not any more fun than watching sausages, sorry. I would say the same if these superteams were playing any new WFTDA leagues that they were outclassing. The thing that is fun to watch is the skill of these all-stars. The difference in the rules in this blowout is irrelevant, though you sure like to harp on it. The ladies teams stayed super super classy and clean in bouts in which they were simply outskated, but watching competitive teams + sausage (see: rose city's home bouts last night) is way more "hella fun" to watch than a blowout under any rules.

    Really? Because...

    muffin wrote:

    The ladies teams stayed super super classy and clean in bouts in which they were simply outskated, but watching competitive teams + sausage (see: rose city's home bouts last night) is way more "hella fun" to watch than a blowout under any rules.

    You say that, but I've seen the crowd react to a sausage-filled competitive game myself (see: Rat/Rocky Westerns 2012) and a crowd react to the blowouts happening here. The crowd is way more into it here.

    Also: If you think the close games with sausages are good, wait until you see—in person—a close game without them.

    One Issue Pony

    I have a feeling that a lot of the MRDA/WFTDA skaters aren't going to be scrambling to cross over to the MADE ruleset any time soon, based on this tournament. So it's likely the most skilled teams will continue to play MRDA/WFTDA and the more competitive, fun games will stay within that ruleset.

    There's a crowd there?

    There's a crowd there?


    I'm confused. I always thought people were referring to the "passive offense" on power jams when they referred to the "sausage". The Rat/Rocky game wasn't booed because of that strategy. That game was booed because the teams stood around between the jammer and pivot lines for entire jams doing nothing (jammers never left the line or sometimes left with only 30 seconds left in the jam).

    THAT problem went away with single-whistle starts.

    You're not confused.

    That's right. That wasn't a sausage link; it was a greasy patty.

    ...single whistle starts

    Which Hurt Reynolds immediately started agitating for before that game was even over.

    How about a compromise?

    Top WFTDA teams playing WFTDA rules, but forget about the damn sausage? Skate fast, hit hard.

    Richard Blackwell

    Windyman, the Richard Blackwell of derby.

    are more camera angles necessarily better?

    "Video feed has more camera angles but isn't that much better than yesterday."

    I've been contemplating this for a while, since I do some low budget single-camera DNN broadcasts from time to time. Do more cameras necessarily mean a better broadcast to most people? Would you rather see a broadcast from one camera that was smooth and clear and moved well with the action, or three cameras that were jerky or zoomed too out (or in) or fixed in place?

    No, more cameras do not

    No, more cameras do not *necessarily* mean a better broadcast. But when they aren't moving the one camera they have at all, then more cameras are better. One camera in the hands of someone who knows how to follow the game is better than a bunch of jerky shots, clearly. One camera high above the track if you can only have one.

    Wolfpack vs. Rogue?!

    Why did we not see this matchup? A few reasons I guess....for one the structure of a partial round robin with arbituary seedings (first come first serve?) . Rogue refusing to play Bionic or Wolfpack in a seeding meeting to determine semifinals pairings to the point that they threatened to pull out of the tournament. A promoter/tournament director without the savvy or sand to prevent a rematch from occuring earlier than necessary. I have the feeling that Rogue is not going to be as good of a matchup as wolfpack was in both of their games. If I'm wrong....well, sorry to all I've offended! If I end up being right then it's a shame that 2000 dollars may have not went to the second best team in the tournament.


    Rogue never refused to play anyone. We simply refused to changing the original terms of the semi-final seeding where 1 plays 4. The semi-finals pairings were already determined by those terms. Because of the original seeding, we ended up with the qualifying games that we did and landed in the 1 spot because of our point differential. We can all agree that we were the third best team there, but based on those terms, we earned that spot fair and square. The structure was not our fault. If anyone had a problem with that, it should have been addressed before the start of the tournament. We were thrilled to play Bionic in the final game and I know that if we had to face them or Wolfpack before that point, we would have been equally as thrilled!

    So let's make it happen.

    You know, I was at the meeting where the structure was being decided after the fact. It does no good to point out the inaccuracies in your post (say the fact that there was "original seedings" because the schedule was made in the order teams signed up, for example), because, well what happened, happened and teams played who they played.

    But, we all love a good roller derby game. So...Team Rogue vs. Team Wolfpack at ECDX? Bet we could make that happen.

    By "original seedings", I

    By "original seedings", I mean the match-ups for the qualifying games. It is apparent that different people have different versions of what happened at this meeting. I'm not really here to argue about that - my bottom line is that there is no way that Rogue should be taking heat for the final game not being Wolfpack vs Bionic. I could care less about drama, but I can't sit here and read that false crap about my team refusing to play. We came to skate hard and have a good time and that's exactly what we did. :) Huge thanks to all the MADE folks that let us into their world for the weekend to make it happen!

    As far as ECDX goes, I can't speak for the team. I personally have sanctioned games to worry about that weekend!

    Enough already

    Wolfpack knew they would be playing Bionic day 1 of the tournament and then had not one, but 2 opportunities to beat them. The format was no surprise to anyone. The meeting was merely everyone listening to a few members of teams yell for a half hour, but no changes or exceptions were made.

    And as far as blowouts are concerned. That comes with allowing super teams and the reason many tournaments (WFTDA as well) do not allow them anymore.