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Brand X: The Sport of Rollerball (Norman Jewison, 1975)

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2018 World Championship final commentary. Houston Vs. New York

And as you join us at Madison Square Garden here in New York City for tonight’s World Rollerball Championship final, it’s shaping up to be the most intense battle we have ever seen in the history of the game. Hosts New York meet powerful Houston in a match that was already looking like a classic after the formidable performances of both teams this season but which will now re-write Rollerball history thanks to those extraordinary, unprecedented rule changes announced last month.

With a crowd that reached capacity hours ago and full Multivision coverage courtesy of the Communications Corporation, this will be a night no-one will forget. We’ll be heading trackside shortly, but first let’s look at the story so far.

Taking their intimidating playing style forward as only they can, Houston has dominated the arena this year. With their punchy combination of controlled aggression and fluid teamwork, this incredible team has driven itself to new heights. Early victories against Paris and Rome showed the way, as seen on this week’s Multivision Special, and they crushed divisional champions Madrid in a thrilling quarter-final that alone justified their presence here tonight.

Just weeks later, in a brutal semi-final, Houston destroyed Tokyo in Japan, albeit at grievous cost. The tragic loss of fan favourite Moonpie must have hit the team hard, but just how hard is unknown since little has leaked out even as tonight’s final approached. It’s a mark of just how tightly these players are bound together.

And of course despite rumours to the contrary, their captain Jonathan E remains, standing tall as the most successful Rollerballer of all time. You know the stats, I don’t need to repeat them; this man is a singular stand-out in a game that knocks you down pretty flat, pretty fast.

As for New York, their path to the final saw a bruising encounter with Shanghai here at the Garden and a knife-edge game against Berlin, where the sacrificial style of New York’s playing was fiercely challenged by a team that gave no quarter themselves – their own quarter-final was the highest-scoring game ever played below the Equator, as Brazil pushed hard to equalize. After that kind of action, it’s no wonder that gutsy London couldn’t hold out against New York in the semi-final.

But all of what we’ve seen so far will be as nothing tonight against the backdrop of those rule changes: no penalties, no substitutions and no time limit. No-one saw that coming, even after the semi-final tweaks. Some fans think it’s about time; others are more cautious in their reaction. There are more rumours and more speculation even than those surrounding any game of Rollerball, but one thing’s for sure; it’s ready to turn an already incendiary pairing into a blazing clash, and you can be sure that Multivision will be right there with you, to capture every second of every play.

So sit back, settle in and let’s get ready to join our trackside team for ball-by-ball commentary on the World Rollerball Championship final between Houston and New York here at Madison Square Garden, right after our corporate anthem…

By Chris Rogers

Chris Rogers writes on architecture and visual culture, including film, television and design. His first book, The Power of Process – the architecture of Michael Pearson, was published in 2010 and he recently wrote the information pack for a new school under construction in the London 2012 Olympic Park for its architects. Chris has contributed to The Architects' Journal and files reviews for Art of England magazine. Chris is trying to find time to start his second book so in the meantime his work, including pieces on John McTiernan, Michael Mann and Joe Ahearne, can be found on his website.

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