My Paint Guy, who has yet to be mistaken, has an interesting take on the 50 cal rollout that I figured I’d pass along, not because I’m buying it 100% but because he has yet to take a wrong step. Hard to argue with getting it right.
Anyway, he’s all for the 50 cal small ball because he is convinced it will work with the current level of technology and that all the potential pitfalls can (or have been) overcome. And the resulting cost reductions at the manufacturing end will make paintball much more affordable across the board. This, it seems to me, remains an open question but we’ll see.
Of more interest (to me) he also thinks the Pro teams will be outfitted to compete using the small ball next season as a high profile way of introducing the new gear and paintball to the tourney marketplace. It makes enough sense that it could happen and given that the latest rumors keep projecting a small ball introduction at World Cup it fits the logistics as well. Again, we’ll see.
I still have a few questions about small ball, mostly related to performance; marking consistency, breaking consistency and, in particular, velocity. I don’t doubt the first two can be accomplished but I’m reserving judgment until I see the small ball in action. Velocity is another issue entirely however. In the background there has been speculation about some of the performance claims (more accurate, longer range, etc.) and just how that can be accomplished–or even if it can. The keys seem to be the weight of the small ball and velocity. If the small ball requires greater velocity in order for its dynamic characteristics to match the 68 cal ball or to exceed the 68 cal ball that could have a significant effect on the tourney game. Right now we are competing on a field where the dimensions, bunkers and equipment create a balance between the valued core elements of the game. A velocity change could (and if sufficiently different, would) alter the current game dynamics. Think movement and what will happen if the paintball is moving, say, 350 fps instead of 295 fps. (This isn’t a game breaker of course but if the potential impact of things like higher velocity aren’t considered in advance and accounted for the result could be unintended harm just when everything looked to be turning around.)
I also have some questions about how the ‘09 off season is going to change the Pro landscape, again, and small ball could have a big impact on that, too. Last off season saw another reduction in paint sponsorships and a scramble amongst the teams for the limited resources. Until the small ball rumor hit there was every reason to expect more of the same but a move to small ball might keep more teams in the game. (If there is a commensurate retail price reduction resulting from the projected manufacturing savings.) Or maybe not. More on this angle in the future.