Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Major League Paintball Held Hostage: Weekly Update

Let's begin with NPPL 3.0 and the DC Challenge coming up this weekend. APPA's (official?) numbers are 57 teams total, registered and paid. Given there were at least 90 teams registered with a couple of weeks left earlier in the month this is a disappointing outcome. Particularly as Chuck, Camille and the crew made a big push to offer added value and lots of extras. None of the modest turnouts is the result of poor planning or a failure to put in the time and effort. The Cali kids are working their butts off. Inevitably, or so it seems to me, the lack of greater success has to be the format. The ranks of loyal 7-man adherents just isn't there anymore. What other sensible conclusion is there?
If you're in the neighborhood come on out to Pev's place this weekend and check it out. You'll get a free pass to come back and play another and a paintball weekend is always a good weekend.
(Btw, there was a rumor going around a couple of weeks ago that at least one NPPL 3.0 owner had spent well into 6 figures this year. Just where all that supposed cash had gone was just part of the speculation largely because the number was so large it seemed inconceivable it was spent exclusively on his team. Anyway, I've no idea if there's any credence to the rumor--I hit the vaca trail right after hearing about it--but it's interesting nonetheless 'cus it leads to questions like is the league being propped up with cash infusions and if so, what does that mean for the owners group? How long can it last?
It reminds me of that old joke--How do you make a small fortune in paintball? Start with a big one.)

By my count PSP World Cup registration sits at 304 with 11 of the Pro teams not included and I can imagine a little nail biting going on. While there's still time for additional registrations (and there will likely be some) we're close to the point where it becomes a question of what percentage of registrants pay their entries. I've no idea what the norm is as that's a number I've never looked into but it needs to be high. If 75% of registrants paid it would mean a turnout around 225. 90% gets you 270 teams. So, realistically WC isn't out of the woods just yet and we haven't touched on vendor turnout at all. (Tomorrow's post will be PB Extravaganza vs. World Cup.) Of course the bottom line here is the bottom line and I'm not overly concerned about WC as a stand alone event. The issue is how much red ink does WC have to account for from prior events this season and is the webcast on the PSP books or is it being handled separately? Hey, we could ask Lane!
Regarding the foreign team count and where they are playing I think perhaps I jumped the gun a bit on our Euro friends. One, there aren't as many currently signed up as I first thought and Two, most of them aren't taking grossly unfair advantage. Interestingly in my cursory examination I found around two dozen non-North American teams registered and nearly half of them are from Central and South America. I do think Icon and Tontons ought to be playing semi-pro and not D1. (And that about half the currently registered semi-pro ought to be given the boot but ...) I don't really have a problem with any of the others playing out of division beyond the dissonance created between the supposed future goal and the current reality.

Over in Euroland the MS's Campaign Cup is less than a month away and in the unlocked divisions, D2 & D3, there are 7 and 19 teams registered, respectively. Not exactly storming the barricades to get a chance to play Millennium ball are they? In recent years it seems there's always post-Campaign talk about moving the event because the UK teams don't turn out in big numbers to compete and support the series. If anything like these numbers hold it's more than that this time around. Could it be peeps are finally voting with their checkbooks? Or is it perhaps a combination of the usual UK torpor mixed with continuing economic hardship that is keeping the more recreationally oriented players an teams away?

Further east the Grand Tour has 36 teams signed up for the Budapest event. Or is that the Buda or the Pest event? The event is less than two weeks out and will include a one-on-one challenge as well for those who wish to sign up.


BeSmart said...

Baca when you strip it to bare bone numbers, its really bad. Because when you take pump, 5man and the 16 pro teams who paid before the season (16 did in theory) your left with 30 divisional 7-man teams are playing this event. The Open division for instance has 5 teams!

I applaud the hard work by everyone at the USPL for trying to make a go of it. Ive been involved with NPPL Pro and NXL/PSP Pro teams. So i have no agenda against them. However, what we saw a forehand was what is happening now. The numbers are not there. They were not their in January, their not here now, and they wont be there next season.

I think your spot on about the format. Its antiquated. (You see the big boys in big sports adjust rules to keep their sport fresh and current, always looking to find that perfect balance). This goes beyond a few, albeit needed rule changes however in 7-man. It lacks excitement and puts way to much power to control the outcome of a game into the referees hands. The most important question is: what is best for tournament paintball to be healthy and grow? I don’t know that there are many people involved who are not biased (either due to financial ties or sponsor /
/owner /team loyalties). There seems to be little objectivity. If there can’t be a meeting of the minds, then moves should be made to facilitate what in my opinion is very obvious.

With that said, when a new format comes along that’s more exciting for the kids to play, then X-ball (Race to. . ) will drift off into obscurity no doubt. But in the here and now .. It is THE best show in town. Lane and the PSP would do well to maneuver key regional leagues into cooperate agreements as feeder for the PSP and that would expedite this whole matter.

Here is an example of what forcing a second ‘national’ league has done. The Bushwackers had to drop out due to financial concerns and in all likelihood are done in the PSP. They have lost key players across the board as a result. Had they played one league, this would not be an issue. But there again your loyalties and egos. Without naming names, there is another USPL Pro rumored to be about out of gas.

I will close with this. We need to get our house in order here in the U.S. first. I like your input and observations on the overseas scene, but if we can’t pull it together here and show a good model, the chances of unifying formats, classification, and rules are nil. Good job as always Baca!

Baca Loco said...

Sadly I'm with you on the USPL thing, Be. I say sadly 'cus I like 7-man and I am and always will be an advocate of team ownership but this outcome was virtually a foregone conclusion before it started. The event turnouts the USPL was projecting prior to the season were wildly unrealistic although even I wouldn't have believed the numbers would fall as low as they have.
What I'm becoming concerned about at this point is how the surviving Pro teams ultimately choose to divide their loyalties in the off season. Will a struggling league of team owners force some borderline situations to once again pick one or the other league and what will be the result?

There has been some talk a few years ago about modifiying the format or creating some sort of hybrid. I'm not sure exactly what you could do to recapture lost players or inspire new ones at this point.

Regarding the PSP consolidating their position etc. vis-a-vis regional relationships and so on you can be sure lots of those sorts of discussions have occurred.

Anonymous said...

xball will go the wayside? On the contrary, whoever came up with x-ball, needs to be given a big pat on the pat, because its the most amazing and exciting format to have ever come onto the market; this from a guy whose only seen it played at one event (chicago) and never *REALLY* played it.

What is there POSSIBLY wrong with x-ball? Roster limitations? You could play with 5 hypothetically**. Referee's less game changing decisions.

Coaching/ Ramping? Not really an integral part of x-ball. That is to say, non coaching x-ball and non ramping x-ball is still x-ball.

The only possible change/complaints I could see are flag pulls not worth anything, but I would STILL call that x-ball, and doubt we'd ever see that change. I wonder how that'd work in the scope of an actual game? 1 point for a pull, two for a hang. Race to 10 anyone?

Obviously paint consumption is the #1 thing holding our sport back, but maybe a real semi-auto will be mandated and we can have that back within reason too. (AKA readable boards).


Anonymous said...

PS. team ownership FTWMFW. Relegation as well/in combination. That would get rid of all these Divisional/ranking debates we've been having, but I understand that the investors in the have done a better job then any team investors have, TO DATE.

The only major problem i have with the PSP this season is the way they handle roster limitations and injured players. Not really well thought out, or up to lane/chris's measure of pragmatic standards.


Mark790.06 said...

I had a guy on my team who, no matter the spirit or purpose of a specific paintball drill, would always find a way to play it in such a way as to cheat the intended purpose of that drill. When we would call him on it, he'd explain, "You didn't say I couldn't do that!"

Watching a practice game at my field recently I saw a kid playing the 50 dorito with nothing preventing him from blowing the tape, nothing that is except no one (who ever was coaching) told him he could. When I reminded him that his mirror was sweet spotted (he knew this cause he shot him as he stood), he went on to shoot both the near corner and back center, "Who needs to tell you jack ****?!?!" This kid was no choad either, in fact he was instrumental in his team winning world cup last year, AND he is desperate to make the team he was practicing with.

Fundamentals cannot be taught, they must be learned from experience, but 7-man is perhaps too much paintball for the market to bare. I'll light an e-candle is she dies.

Joe R said...

Re: Anonymike and the injured players:

Only one pro team this year (to my direct recollection and knowledge) has invoked the injured reserve player, and that happened once in MAO. Additionally, looking through APPA records, only one team in Chicago even designated a reserve player, indicating it to not be a significant issue to pro teams. Nor have I heard of any divisional team injuring enough players that they could not take 5 players out onto the field.

The roster limitations IMHO are also well thought out relative to the switch to the RaceTo format. Divisionally speaking anyway, you still have enough roster spots open to roster two full lines. On the pro side, and Baca can better elaborate on this than I could, many pro teams would frequently have their better guys (yes, pro teams have their best and some less than best players) stay out for two points when necessary, and this was back last year when you could roster two full lines in the pro division. So I don't think, except for maybe having a little bit more depth, it dramatically affects the pro teams either.

Anonymous said...

Eh; You may misunderstand my criticism. I'm not complaining about a <10 roster; in fact, I am all for it. I dont know what the "company line" was from the PSP, but it was done for one reason; to make more paintball teams. It had a good second effect as well; it made paintballers work a little harder. I would like to see everyone be at <=10.

My problem is that pros wont have a injured reserve play because of what that entails. I am not sure on the millenium's EXACT rules, but I believe its 7 active and 3 in the pits, or at least it was. PSP should

A. Allow teams to alternate who is on "the bench" between games.
B. Once a player "on the bench" has come in, like a reliever in baseball, he cant come back in.

I dont really see what the disadvatage with this type of approach is. You can alternate lines between points occasionally, as well as between matchs. If a guy is vomiting; take him out of the match and he can play the next one. As it stands, (correct me cuz I very well may be wrong) if you take him out, hes done for the event.

Anonymous said...

The second good thing is that you are playing less $$/point, even if you are playing more $$/tournament.

Sure it could be up to a team to decide, but then they are losing the ability to take a break in between points.

BeSmart said...


On the roster limit for Pros, I have had two answers, neither were from Lane... although, Rob expounded on it a little in Phoenix. Perhaps it would be a good interview question?

Also, one team for sure designated a reserve player at each event this year. In fact they used a reserve player from a Pro team on their Semi Pro team.

Baca Loco said...

Yes, I like the Mil Series roster rules which would also allow a team to tailor its roster to its competition as well.

Personally I prefer the old roster rules because I played 10 guys. I liked having consistent lines and players who drilled and practiced with the same line mates. I'm not a huge fan of the new rules but I'm not tearing my hair out either. (Not anymore anyway.)

Under current PSP pro rules replacing a player with your reserve player means the player is out for the remainder of the event.

There is no problem with allowing your reserve player or a player you designate your reserve player to play on another team but once you activate them they are on your roster and your roster only for the remainder of the event.
The basis of the roster limit this year in pro is to reduce team expenses--don't get me started--and because it is seen as somehow more athletic and "professional".
And trust me, I've round and round on that a couple of times.