Welcome to our second update on the Northern Tiers of British Champs. We're aiming to do approximately monthly updates on the Tier 1, Tier 2 North, Tier 3 North and Tier 4 North, partly through the lens of specific teams in each. Since the last update, the Tier 1 saw our advertised bout between Leeds Roller Derby and Tiger Bay Brawlers end in an impressive win for the Cardiff team (294:44). Performance stats show that at least some of this seems to have been "first game" syndrome for LeedsRD, who significantly improved their performance in the second period (scoring 70% of their points in period 2, as well as taking less penalties). If they perform at their period 2 level, or continue to improve, they'll be a significant force in the Tier in future games. Tier 2 North has seen another round of bouts, with our tracked team, Newcastle Roller Girls' Whippin Hinnies facing the formidable Rainy City Tender Hooligans, with the Hooligans taking the win, 348:62. This is a approaching half the score ratio than Rainy B managed against Wirral, which looks promising for the Hinnies' next bout in the tier. Looking at the stats (not published yet), this was a tough game for the Hinnie's jammers, with only Ania Marx achieving lead jammer status against Rainy's exceptional blocking. Hosts Wirral also played, losing to Manchester Roller Derby with the score 101:248. The Tier 3 North saw our tracked team Granite City Roller Derby win a pretty closely contended game against Halifax Bruising Banditas - finishing 130:117. The stats show particularly strong jamming performances by GCRD's Lizzie Rascal (75% Lead Jams!), Team Scotland's Udder Mayhem, and Kami-Tazzy; blocking-wise, high VTARs are with Crimson Chaos, Team Scotland's Rock'N Riot, and Pert Hits. North Wales convincingly defeated hosts Furness Firecrackers in the other bout. The first Tier 4 North bouts saw tier-champions favourites Mansfield crush Durham City Rolling Angels 398:38, and the second Durham team, Durham Roller Derby, lose to Grimsby Grim Reavers 198:110. Tier 4 North is coming around again for another set of bouts this weekend, and features the York Minxters' first ever bout in British Champs (as well as hosts Mansfield versus Durham). In honour of the occasion, we caught up with their Captain, Gem O'Cide to see how they're feeling: So, let's start by talking about last year, which was a big year for the Minxters. After several years of just playing a few bouts, 2016 saw the team play 7 over the season, with some pretty challenging opponents. What lead to this surge in activity, and has it been a good thing for the team? 2016 was a year of practice, practice and more practice. We had a lot of changes in the team and a lot of up and coming skaters joining the rostered team- this meant our dynamics changed and we needed to learn how to play together. We very much wanted to take the "Win or Learn" approach and felt some real time game play - working as we would on game day- would be best to learn this. Everyone loves scrimming and it helped us grow confidence and learn how each other work, where our strengths lie and what we needed to improve on. After missing the first two years of British Champs, you're entering this year for the first time. Why now? We want to get started on the Champs journey! We've had a massive new skater intake and great retention and it would be awesome to get the ball rolling and have something yearly to aim for! Something to show everyone what we are working towards... You're entering into the tournament in Tier 4 North. Flat Track Stats and us agree that you're pretty much in the middle of the Tier in terms of expected performance - but there's a lot of unknowns, as you've only played one of your competitors before (Grimsby's Grim Reavers). How are you preparing for the tournament? First off shout out to Reavers. We love those guys! We are playing and training to our strengths. We've had some great input from Rule 56, as well as other guest coaches who have analysed our play. This had helped massively in preparing by knowing what we focus on from A-team players and what direction to take our training in. This has given us concrete goals and really solidified our skills and tactics. Your first bout in Champs looks like being a tough one - Wakey Wheeled Cats are one of the strongest teams in this Tier! What are your aims for this particular game? For the Wakey game, we are going into a tough one! But this is a great challenge to practice what we have learnt, and are continuing to learn, in training. For me as Captain, all I ever want to see for my team is that they are working hard as a team and putting our training into practice. We go into and leave this as a team who wins or learns! As well as British Champs itself, what other plans and events do York Minxters have in store for 2017? We have lots of fun things planned for our newer skaters after Champs - they have helped out with NSO roles and August will be and time of fun and folly for everyone! After Champs we will be having a bit of fun for the team, then looking at some more challenges to prepare for 2018!