Monday, December 8, 2008

New Look Pro

At last--it's New Look Pro. (About time too.) While the focus will be the on field playing of the game it's nearly impossible to completely separate from the business & politics of the game.
I'm writing this based on a couple of assumptions. That the PSP has an interest in maintaining a pro division that serves as the pinnacle of competition paintball. And, that the ultimate goal remains the mainstreaming of competition paintball. (Or, as I prefer, the "selling" of paintball.) Even if there is now a willingness to take a more incremental approach than in the past. You know, actually build the game.
It will be interesting--to me anyway--to see what comes out of the Vegas meeting (apparently not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas) with respect to the pro game and the rumored semi-pro or open division. The news could also be exciting or disappointing or horrifying.
Four issues strike me as being most significant. One (1), changes to the actual on field competition. Two (2), changes to the rules (ROF & penalties for example) and/or practices of the PSP. Three (3), the 'lost' generation of players who may be too good to play. Four (4), the relationship, if any, that the league fosters with the pro teams.
Regarding point 3 there already exists a lost generation of players. Back in July I discussed the issue as it related to D1 here, here and here. And with the prospect of a single national league and a limited (locked?) pro division there exists the potential for a glut of pro ranked players looking for a place to play. I expect this to be addressed by either adding a new division or turning D1 back to an Open division. The core problem is that if the issue isn't handled well the league may end up squandering the skills and motivation to compete of a lot of players [who also have the potential to make a valuable contribution to the game]--and unintentionally send a counterproductive message to all the lower division teams--your motivation and desire to be the best you can be will drive you out of our league.
Point 4 is the critical issue. How it is addressed, or if it is addressed, will be reflected in the choices made related to points one and two. Last year's changes proved less than effective for a couple of reasons. One reason was a miscalculation of what would make a real difference and the second was because no decision made last off season altered in any significant way the relationship of the pro teams to the league--it remained fundamentally adversarial. (That's a 'loaded' term but I don't mean to attach any negative connotation.) In my view that miscalculation was a direct result of the nature of the relationship. It is also my view that until the relationship is altered many of the changes that will be made (or have been made) will not serve their intended purpose.
Regarding point 1 the relevant aspect here is do choices made now lock the league (and the teams and the players) into a version of not-gonna-call-it-xball-anymore that is less than optimum? And is less a showcase of the sport and just generally less. Less may be unavoidable for the time being but my concern is that these choices will be put forward as beneficial to the teams but will only result in compromising the potential of the game.
Point 2 is mostly a subset of 1 but is also intended to cover stuff like the release of field layouts, etc. The pertinent question with any changes made in this category is do they benefit only the league or only the teams or some combination. Another area of concern is that the league sees a need to economize and in that process simply shifts some additional burden to the teams either unintentionally or in the guise of helping them. For example the changes made last year reduced field time for most lower div teams with no changes or increases in cost. Or the NXL maintaining their operational decisions on the backs of the competing teams even with a substantially altered game.
As to how this plays out on the field an xball lite variant at the pro level will result in lost strategic and tactical options. [I'll explain how another time.] It will almost certainly also result in more cautious, less exciting play and increase the potential for poor officiating to impact the outcome of matches.

Once the official announcements are made the VFTD will break them down in detail but until then it's difficult to be more specific.


Martin said...


I think a Pro division is a foregone conclusion - the question remains if it will be locked or not (I suppose).

The question I'd have to ask, however, is what can/will the league do to address the cost of the game for the 'pinnacle' teams?

With the industry trends (if what I read around the traps and looking at SGMA figures, etc) in paintball at the moment, the amount of sponsorship dollars will be reduced even more this coming year ... and most teams are struggling now.

Baca Loco said...

Which was precisely the point of my earlier posts regarding paint at events for example. Of course they want a pro division but they also continue to want it exclusively on their terms. And as long as they think they have a pool to draw from they will continue to make changes that work for them whilst telling us what a grand favor they've done us in the process.

Anonymous said...

can you give us a better clue?

Martin said...

Albeit they will (most likely) be the only national game in town ... is it time for the players body (such as what the NPPL was ORGINIALLY founded for, prior to crass commercialisation & hijacking) to chip in with what they want to see as well?

Martin said...

Sorry - instead of THE players body above, please read A players body ...

Baca Loco said...

Realistically the impetus for that has to come from the league--especially if there is only one acknowledged major league. And if you return to the 'Being the PSP' if my assessment is correct you might guess what the likelihood of that happening is.

I'm trying--for the moment--to focus on causes and not specifics. I expect when the announcements are made they won't impact the lower divisions too much--tho there will likely be some rule changes--and quite possibly some new divisions. The most drastic changes will likely occur at pro and leave the division looking a lot like the CPL. Frankly I'd rather play real Xball with autocockers and automags than the watered down gruel of game called Xball Lite.