Chicago Invitational Pro Roller Derby Challenge 2011

And, as if the Championships wasn’t enough excitement for one month, just one week later New York’s Gotham Girls, joined the banked-track LA Derby Dolls and WFTDA’s Rocky Mountain and Windy City in a very different kind of tournament. In a first for modern roller derby, new production team Catalyst teamed up with Kitten Traxx to organise the first Pro Roller Derby Challenge: Chicago Invitational with $10,000 prize up for grabs.

In addition to being the first tournament in the current roller derby revival involving prize money, it was also first times that WFTDA teams faced each other on a banked track. Rocky Mountain were the favourites to win because they already had another banked track win against San Diego 125-100 but Windy City and Gotham have only played the one game on the bank before.

On Friday, Gotham played Rocky Mountain, followed by Windy City facing LA. on Saturday, then the losers of Friday’s action played for a $1,000 prize while the winners played for $10,000 — with second place getting $3,000.

Contrary to expectation, the LA Derby Dolls took home the first prize, with Rocky Mountain coming in second, followed by Gotham in third place and Windy City finishing fourth. The MVPs for the tournament were Cris Affliction for the LA Derby Dolls, Wreck N Shrew from Windy City, Fiona Grapple from Rocky Mountain, and OMG WTF for Gotham.

The final between Rocky Mountain and LA was a nail bitingly close bout with 9 lead changes and 3 ties. Rocky Mountain started off in the lead but in the end the tables turned with Rocky cutting it close going into the last jam of the game with a tied score of 108-108 with their jammer in the box. It was all over when LA’s Chargin’ Tina broke the tie to give LA the win with a final score of 113-108.

What does this mean for roller derby? It’s not the only sign that derby might be heading towards becoming a professional sport. Its popularity is still growing at a rate of knots so we’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds. In the mean time, there is plenty more exciting  roller derby coming up in the sport’s very first World Cup starting on the 1st December.

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