Wednesday, February 25, 2009

PSP Phoenix Open cont.

The Vibe. I'm glad Don Saavedra brought this up in his post about the webcast experience because after I mentioned my first impression last Thursday I thought I probably should have kept it to myself. All the stuff that goes on at an event that is not directly part of the competition is stuff I usually ignore anyway so I'm already a poor judge of how most people are likely to experience a tournament. Even so, whatever Don was feeling, I was feeling it too.

The Changes. Let's begin with ROF. Given there were apparently lots of games in the Race 2-4 or 5 that went to time with modest scores being posted it's been suggested the game time is too short. While I won't argue that except to remind you of Baca's Hard Truth of Life #8, it is what it is and you get what you get--the stunted games tell me a different story. There are lower division teams that didn't know how to take advantage of the lower ROF. Breakouts became more 5 on 5's and without the added "skill" of firepower players and teams hunkered down to avoid giving up the game-changing plays so they ended up playing the same way they did before with some percentage less likelihood of actually shooting anybody. This isn't a great surprise. One can only hope most of these teams have someone who can help them move forward. Otherwise the ROF changes weren't a monumental deal but you did see its impact, in part, on the pro field with fewer off the break elims and flashes of hyper aggressive play.
Paint usage. According to anecdotal evidence some teams used more and some used less. And I have no reason to doubt either one as I am confident that style of play was the predominate contributing factor.
All the other changes seemed to have been adapted to reasonably well. The penalty changes appeared to work okay. Nobody is thrilled with length of game changes except perhaps Raehl who is determined to snip every inefficiency away from the game--we don't want to score too many pointless points now do we? Overall, I thought the PSP plugged in the changes fairly seamlessly and the teams and players adjusted with a minimum of bother for the most part and PSP-style tournament life goes on.

The Venue. A terrific venue, even in February. Easy to get to despite the wretched rental shuttles from the airport to the rental hub in Outer Mongolia. Lots of everything near-by. So how 'bout Tucson next year?

The Refs. This will always be an issue. So instead of nit-picking this and that I'm gonna make a couple of suggestions. There were refs working fields in Phoenix who shouldn't have been. I assume it was unavoidable because I know Tim prides himself and his crew on putting the best effort possible forward. There's two problems with refs who aren't really equipped, either by temperament or knowledge, to be officiating. One, they drag whole crews down and Two, veteran players can spot them in a heartbeat. Players do not disrespect a referee's authority so much as they are far more likely to disrespect a lack of authority. The second thing is a personal preference: I hate the spray of paint but it left no mark elimination. Does it legitimately happen? Yes. But it leaves the ref's judgment and integrity in question. I'm sorry but it does. It just does. This has always been a game about being marked, not hit, and it ought to stay that way.

The Pros. Let's start with the new kids on the block; the Hurricanes and the Bushwackers. Both had some uphill trials over the weekend but I think the Bushwackers came out ahead of the Canes in lessons learned. At least it was more apparent from on the field play. Ron and the Wackers actually did a remarkable job adjusting after taking a couple trips to the woodshed early in the event. They responded and responded well. The Canes have always been an enigmatic team--they have an excellent roster, a committed owner and coaches and yet can't quite get over the hump. Phoenix was just getting reacquainted with xball. They will be much improved by MAO.
The rest of the pro teams, all veterans of NXL seasons past, offered up a few surprises like Shocks strong but ultimately inconsistent showing and Infamous's struggle--though to be fair they've undergone a serious roster shake-up. By and large I'm inclined to attribute the inconsistencies to either adjusting to changed rosters and/or limited practice sessions. Though how to account for the Legion's Sunday collapse?
All the pro teams are competitive--which is a good thing and the Race2-7 has a brutal internal tension that may not translate to the stands but all the participants feel it. You want, you need, hard, fast and aggressive points but at the same time, from the sound of the first horn you can't afford to give away cheap or easy points and frequently the very things you need to do once you're down are the higher risk options you don't want to pull the trigger on and yet--if you want to win ... And when you're ahead you can't comfortably sit back because all it takes is one mistake and it's a game again. I've seen a few comments on point spreads for some of the pro matches but the score alone doesn't really tell you anything about what a given match was like. Sure, there were a couple of blowouts but there were a few wild point swing comeback matches too and plenty of others where the final margin of victory was gained late in an otherwise see-saw match. I'm almost beginning to like it--or at least learn to live with it. For now.
Btw, anybody know a good ulcer remedy?

Rosters & Injured Reserve. Or something quite like it. (This is for those of you who like a scoop.) In Saturday's final prelim match Tampa had two players injured. There had been some concern initially that the pro rosters were too abbreviated--it was certainly a concern of mine--and the PSP took up the issue on site at the event and the upshot is there will be some changes made that will allow teams some flexibility in dealing with injuries. The formula isn't final but an adjustment will be made for MAO and beyond. (Thanks, Rob.)

Prediction: NO significant changes that will affect many or most of the teams between Phoenix and MAO.


Lawrence said...

prediction might be wrong?:

interesting no?

Baca Loco said...

Nope. Prediction referred to rules or precedural changes,like length of races, etc. not to misguided field designs--and if this one were a French schoolgirl she would be so very naughty as to deserve a good paddling on her ... (Sorry, I was just reading the Paint Club presser.)