The GateKeeper defense are the thing nightmares are made of. Like the 2000 Baltimore Ravens of eggball, the GK have line-ups of monsters that have one objective: Ruin your jammer’s day [and do it as a team].
Another old dog of the MRDA, GK has been growing since Magnum PIMP and Bat Wing decided to form the league in 2009. With over 50 active members, the GateKeepers (and their highly competitive B team the B-Keepers) strive to bring a balance of speed, communication, airtime, and pure pain to the roller derby track.
This season, GK appeared at Spring Roll and RollerCon. From an outside perspective, ti seemed that they approached these two events with one goal: Establish unquestionable dominance over every team they meet. And, for the most part, they did.
If you’ve ever seen GK play than you know that they rely on super strong blockers who are huge AND have amazing lateral motion across the track. Coming up against a wall of Monster Jam, Double Excel, and Neil Death Experience is a terrifying prospect [and I am not even skating this weekend]. Not only does each take up the entire track by themselves, but they know how to seal holes to prevent jammer breakthroughs and their timing is all excellent.
Mixing in blockers like Bane-Ana, Debaucherous Prime, and Gnat King Kill into lines help to keep the GK diamonds fluid and fast. These are the blockers that can dart out of a pack and pick off a stray jammer or destroy an opponent’s brace to give Shane Bower some space to run.
In every article I have talked about teamwork. The GateKeepers exemplify what it means to have teamwork. What it means to understand how your allies on the floor skate, and how to pick apart an opponent as a two or three wall, instead of as an individual. BUT if the time comes where an individual needs to make a quick save, they know who is bridging, who is chasing, who is baiting the pack to speed up, and how to recycle back to that massive concrete wall.
The only time the GateKeepers get in trouble is when they start landing in the box. Yes, obvious statement, but true nonetheless. I don’t have the stats packs to prove my point, but I remember GK getting into some penalty trouble against Shock Exchange, and that’s when NYSE starting getting a little more ahead. When they finally took hold of the NYSE game is when they calmed down, worked as a wolf pack, and ate the NYSE jammers and blockers alive [while NYSE let them at least].
The jammers of GK are not to be forgotten because they are majestic to watch. Remember how I said that they mix in ‘airtime’ to their strategy? These guys eat apexes for breakfast. In fact, if we can have a contest this weekend to have Screecharound from GK and Reaper from Southern Discomfort have a head-to-head ‘jump off’ battle, I’d really appreciate it. (Ironic note: It wasn’t until after I was coming back through and editing that I realized that Screecharound is #66 and Reaper is #666. Obviously there’s a connection.)
While Screecharound and Shane Bower both have the long, beautiful legs that allow them to take flight each bout [without effort]. Both skaters are able to switch up between long, loping strides and the small, controlled edgework to fake out opponents.
Shane Bower has a little more experience under his belt, and you can see it when he comes up against stronger walls. He’s deft at playing offense for himself by simply shifting his weight as he approaches a pack and trying out different spots in a wall until someone over commits and he can easily glide through. He seems to find holes in defenses unperceivable to the human eye on the physical plane.
Then there is GateKeeper founder, Magnum P.I.M.P. Magnum is to be feared with the star. He is strong, he is light on his feet, and he has a head for the game. He understands his blockers, and how they move on the track. His offense understands him and can create the smallest distraction for him to take full advantage of. He is definitely a utility jammer.
In the first round the GateKeepers will be coming up against a relatively green Southern Discomfort. While the men from England are ready to make a statement, they are going to have to pull out all the stops and have a stellar game to make a dent in the GateKeeper strategy. GK’s jamming bench is deep and wide, and their blocker rotation is so versatile that the SD jammers are going to have to continually readjust to the styles thrown at them. Do I think So Disco could come out with a surprise for the GateKeepers? Absolutely.
“But Khaos! The Gatekeepers already beat So Disco by 200 points this year!”
True. However, look at the circumstances: SD played GK the last game of Spring Roll in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The GateKeepers had a 6 hour drive to the venue, and had only played two other games that weekend. Southern Discomfort was 6 hours out of their normal time zone, and had already played six games in the previous 8 days (including games against Mass Maelstrom and Your Mom). So Disco did not come into that bout as they will come into this one: Fresh, studied, and hungry.
However, there is still the fact that they’ll be facing off against the St. Louis GateKeepers who are on a mission for Your Mom.
You can see the GateKeepers work to hold back the British Invasion at 11a PST on WFTDA.tv, if you’re not at the MRDA Championships live. Check out the GK facebook page for updates. Thank you Mr. McWheely for the photos in this article. Visit his page to buy prints! Thank you also to Brangwyn Jones. You should totally go like him on Facebook.