Here Are The Roller Derby Tips You Need to Win Roller Champions
A few weeks ago at E3 2019, between a series of Tom Clancy related first-person shooters, Ubisoft revealed Roller Champions, an online multiplayer sports game loosely based on the real world sport of roller derby.
Roller derby is a fast-paced contact sport played on roller skates, mostly by women. It’s very welcoming to queer skaters, and it’s all about getting around the track fast, without too many people knocking you around along the way.
As an active roller derby player, I was ecstatic to see the sport I love finally used as the basis for a video game. Sure, it’s not a 1:1 recreation, but it gets the most important things right. Thanks to its core similarities, there’s a lot you can learn about being better at Roller Champions by studying how pros play roller derby.
The major difference between roller derby and Roller Champions is the way points are scored. In derby, a point scoring player called a jammer has to get past the opposing team, do a complete lap of the track, then get past the opposing team again, scoring points for each successful pass they manage to make. If the jammer doesn’t want to risk losing their point lead, they can call off the jam early, stopping play to cash in their points.
In Roller Champions, players complete uninterrupted laps of the track in possession of a ball, before throwing that ball through a hoop to score.
While the mechanics are different, a lot of the strategy around them is the same, because ultimately both fulfill the same purpose. When you hold the ball, you’re essentially the jammer, and your role on the team is to rack up as many laps as you can, weighing up risk and deciding when to call off the jam to cash in your points.
As the jammer, it’s hard to build up momentum, so if you’ve got it it’s best to keep it at all costs. If you’re right up at the front of the pack, you’ll never outrun the person behind you, as they can dash, and get a speed boost by sticking in your slipstream. This is why Roller Champions needs to be played as a team sport.
In roller derby, the jammer can pass the ability to score points to one other player on their team, the pivot. They have to physically pass their helmet cover, roughly equivalent to throwing the ball between team members in Roller Champions.
If you have the ball, and there is someone on your tail, don’t be afraid to pass the ball to someone else in a safer position. I know you want the glory of scoring those points yourself, but it’s far more important that your team keep possession and momentum.
If your teammate has the ball, don’t spend the whole game spamming the “pass to me” button, wanting your turn at the glory. There are cases where being up front to receive the ball on a straight helps, but most of the time you should be more focused on sticking together as a pack, offering your point scorer offense, defense, and enabling them to do their job properly.
Get behind the jammer slightly and become a body in the way which has to be tackled to reach the jammer, or hang back, watching out for players coming in to attack your jammer, tackling them before they can steal the ball.
Roller Champions rewards you more for team victories than it does individual ones, and that’s with good reason. Roller derby is a team sport, and you win or lose based on how well supported your point scorer is. Doing the not so glamorous jobs is what wins teams games.
If your team doesn’t have possession and is focused on regaining the ball, the biggest mistake I see Roller Champions players make is trying to instigate a head-on collision.
Instigating a head-on collision isn’t permitted in roller derby for a few reasons. While the main reason is that you’d probably do a lot of permanent damage to both skaters, there’s also the fact that it just doesn’t really work. If the other team’s skaters can easily see you coming, it’s far easier for them to dodge you. Your window to hit them is so slight, you’ll rarely pull it off.
Remember, you’re faster than the jammer them if you stay in their slipstream. Failing that, you can skate clockwise, pause ahead of the jammer, and start skating anticlockwise as they approach to end up just behind them.
If you have the option, play Roller Champions with people who you know and can voice chat with. I played a lot of the Roller Champions demo with strangers, but when you play as a team it’s a totally different game. High-level play relies on proper communication and delegation of roles within the team. You need to communicate where other skaters are on track, each player’s current objective, and who is free to take the ball if needed. By sharing info, less time is spent checking, and everyone is better informed.
If all else fails, make sure the ball is in your team’s possession when time runs out. If you’re losing, but have the ball, you’re given up to three minutes of extra time. So long as you don’t lose possession, you’ve got a chance to pull out a clutch final goal.
As a roller derby player, I do have a few parts of the sport I would love to see implemented into Roller Champions. In roller derby, players who are not currently trying to score can link arms, forming a wall and allowing them greater sideways movement ability, making them harder to hit, and creating a larger target to pass. Additionally, I would love to see the ability for players to brace for a hit, timing a button press correctly to avoid being knocked down by a collision.
After playing countless hours of Roller Champions during its brief E3 demo, I am hugely excited for the game to fully release. Features like skater customisation feel really in keeping with the spirit of the source sport, and while some of the rules and mechanics are different, at its heart this is still played just like roller derby, which is enough to keep me raring for the next match to begin.