Saturday, January 31, 2009

Major League Paintball Held Hostage, Day 30

There's a thread in the PSP forum over at the Nation dealing with D1 players looking for places to play. Since that is a red flag issue for me I was gonna jump in with both feet--but decided not to. Not because I've changed my mind about the PSP classification rules or because somebody came up with a great argument I hadn't thought of. What held me back was some confusing if very incomplete data. It looks, on first blush, as if last year's D2 as a whole has largely disappeared. Of course some or even many of last year's teams may simply not be playing Phoenix but I limited my comparison list to teams that played at least 3 events last year and so far you can count them on one hand. What I mean is I was looking for D2 teams that stayed D2 and are registered for Phoenix. (I'll go back a few years and see what the numbers suggest about an expected rate of continuity sometime soon. Anecdotally it seems like more teams have carried over one year to the next in much greater numbers than early data for '09 projects. Not a good thing.)
Anyway, the case I was going to make was twofold; 11 (or 12) teams had rosters reclassed D1 by this year's classification rules and so far 4 of them have made the move to D1 with some TPA players moving to Status. That leaves 6 (or 7) rosters of D1 players on the outs. The second point is that a team like Zero Tolerance (the former team of some of the players in the thread) played all 5 events last year and finished: 8th, 11th, 10th, 11th and 11th and fit the classification criteria to be moved to D1 on those results. No disrespect to that team or those players but in no rational merit-based competitive environment is that a D1 team and those players D1 players (except in the PSP where they are attempting to repopulate the divisions with lower skill levels.)

What I can't say (for now) is that any of these players would have continued playing if they'd been left in D2 where they belong but if the player base is trending toward greater and faster turnover that is another reason for the league to focus on stability and continuity instead of the current restructuring scheme. Anyway, same old, same old.

I'll sign off with a question for you to ponder: Who (or what) is the future of competitive paintball if we're putting kids on a 2 - 4 year cycle from start to finish? And where did the team captains, leaders and organizers of today come from? Hint: these are, to my mind anyway, related questions. (And ones I'll be dealing with sometime soon.)

Update: Countdown is C minus 2 and counting.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ex-TPA players barely found a way to play D1. From what I was told, 3 of them were going to play for Status originally when they were going for D2 (One of them was still ranked D2). 2 others were considering Unlimited D2. That's a 5 hr drive just to find a team so that they could play.

In the end, the PSP screwed the classifications up, making that 1 D2 player D1. So Status decided to play D1 and brought all of the ex-TPA guys together. They all have to drive 3+ hours every weekend to play, for the only team they can, that is in another state. Tell me there is not something wrong with that...

Joe Rieger said...

I fail to see why the driving distance you have to travel to play is an issue. It's not like they would be the first upper-tiered team that has to travel to practice. Hell, pro teams do it all the time. Drive down to Todd's field to scrim, etc etc etc.

Truth here is when you do have a solid group of players in one area, they filter into their relative teams. The best guys will end up on a D1 squad, the middle guys D2, and the lower tiered D3. So, of course, in one area you will have filtered the talent into their respected teams. With paintball being what it is, these 'regions' are sparse. It's not like baseball where there's a lot to play in every suburb across America, you may have to travel quite a bit to play. I know in Michigan, when guys want to travel to play other teams (I'll use Grind and Motor City Madmen) it's still a one+ hour drive. If they want to practice with TCP (they played NPPL 7 man) that's a 3 hour cross-state drive. Many more guys will opt to drive down to Chicago (2-6 hours depending on your side of the state).

Now, as they play, they will do one of two things: move up as they SHOULD be getting better, or drop out because they can't get better. This is something that does happen in other traditional sports. You don't get to play peewee hockey for a long time because you only play every once in a while, you have to stop playing peewee and move into your relative age group.

So, if we're seeing kids drop out of rankings because they're being moved up in classification based on their event experience, then they don't, in my mind, have the drive to continue to compete at their level, they were just playing to have some fun.

I won't say outright I don't like or agree with the current classification system, because I do think that it works for the majority of players in it. However, with the push for the universal classification, I think the # of events and seed points may be more effective if they're spread out between D2 and D1. Possibly even forget about the # of events you've played and just look at the ranking points you've earned. That would eliminate the arbitrary movement based on time played and base your ranking on actual results.

Baca Loco said...

Hard is okay. Almost everybody who has achieved any success in this silly game has had it hard in one way or another. What isn't okay is classifying kids like the ZT kids D1 players because they have conclusively demonstrated they aren't there yet. It is also bad for the PSP--even though they disagree so far--because the system won't achieve what they want and instead of providing general equality and stability it is presently turning the players into cogs in a machine and using them up unnecessarily.
As a proposition classification and ranking are a good thing--just not this one (for reasons outlined ad naseum in the Logan's Run series of posts.)

Anonymous said...

Conversely, I remember playing "amateur" and getting slaughtered by guys that played "am" for 5-6 years...

Now you just get a fair chance at playing against tools with your own skill level before you get to be the tool being beat up on by someone else.

Better than how it used to be at least. And to put it midly, pretty much everyone is a loser if you want to count the podium.

If you want to focus on playing and having a good time on the other hand...

raehl said...

Baca,

Why is it so hard for you to understand that D1 in 2008 IS NOT THE SAME THING as D1 in 2009?

2009 D1 players are absolutely not as good as 2008 D1 players. The lines moved. The top of D1 became semi-pro. The bottom of D1 stayed D1 and merged with the top of D2.

It's no different than when we split D2 into D1 and D2 back in 05 or whenever it was. You know who got moved up to D1 then? Half of the division!

Baca Loco said...

Sure, Anon.

And who forced you to move up and play those "ams" but left those ams where they were? Yeah, that's right.

You can still play against players of your level if the league would only leave them (and you) where they belong.

Better effort though this time, Anon.

Baca Loco said...

Chris
I'm fully aware of what the league is doing and who is ending up playing D1 in '09. What's your excuse for last year or the year before that?
The fact the rules keep changing is an argument in your favor.
You could start by telling me how having D2 level talent being the "new" D1 serves anybody's interest. I can hardly wait. After that you can explain what the ramifications will be in the near future and how those changes benefit the game, the teams, the players and the league.

Baca Loco said...

First sentence of the second para should read--"changing is NOT an argument in your favor."

Lousy comment function.

Anonymous said...

Baca,

Uh... no one forced me to "Step up". I suppose I'm getting old, but I didn't say when I played Am.

As in, I enlisted to play in a tournament and if I didn't sign up as Pro, I signed up as Am. There was no other option.

So I guess this was the pre Am B days now that I think about it.

I'm not sure what I was trying though, per your reply. My main point was, the situation has always sucked to some degree, in as much as you will almost always be playing someone who can wipe the floor with you, unless you are a top tier team, which only a few % of people are. Or rather that is the way it was.

I think now you at least have a shot for a couple years with the current structure. Once you have your shot, you either need to move up and get beat on (or improve and do some beating) or go home.

I'm not saying I like that incentive structure.

I think it would be nice if we could set up a classification system that ultimately allowed the team that pretty much sucks to put it bluntly to continue playing other sucky teams and occasionally win some points, maybe make it to Sunday 2-3 times in a year, but never win, and usually fall flat on their face once they are out of the prelims. That kind of team should not move up for a few years. And chances are they won't stick around longer than that anyway.

But my main point is, it has never been easier in the history of paintball to enter a tournament, and play people with the same skill level as yours for 1-2 years. This is all thanks to the PSP or the APPA...

When you want to play longer, you have to take your lumps. Maybe the PSP needs to work on relabling the classification concept though. I can see Raehls' point about D1 this year being easier than D1 last year, but does the average consumer realize that? Nope. They just think, "we barely lived in D2 and now we have to play D1?!?"

Maybe your classification sticks with you. I'm an O9 player, you're an 08 player, he's an 05 player etc.

Dunno if that works and there are a lot of holes. But a floating adjustment system that is not fixed might work.

Baca Loco said...

I will grant that it has never been easier to start playing national level events. So what? At issue here is what serves the long term interests of the game, the league the teams and players.

Raehl's point is on the top of his head.

I have, in past posts, given the PSP a variety of options to consider for ways to make the classification & ranking process both functional and more responsive to individual players.

Yes, a more flexible system is a good place to start. However, simply showing up and playing isn't relevant experience if you (and your team) don't do something positive with it. It is frequently simply an indicator that you aren't very good.