Thursday, December 3, 2009

2009 Major League Paintball (MLP): Year In Review

This is a rather daunting project as it requires I remember what happened, mostly, during the '09 season and while I can recount--in minute (positively excruciating) detail--dozens and dozens of games played over the years there are (I'm sure) innumerable things that occur at events of which I'm blissfully unaware. Mostly 'cus I couldn't care less. For example I know I walked through a vendor village or three this past season--because the layout forced me to--but I can't, from clear memory, recount who was or wasn't present at any particular event because I don't pay any attention. It's not that vendor presence is unimportant in the grand scheme of things, just that it's unimportant to me in the moment. All that means is that the VFTD Year in Review will tend to be rather eclectic and necessarily incomplete. Otherwise I have no idea how this is gonna work out.

The review begins with the '08 off season and the moves made by the MLP leagues in preparation for the '09 season. Last December I knew enough (or thought I did) to begin speculating on how the '09 season would unfold. The month began with the New World Order and closed out with Dreamworld which nicely bookended the PSP/MS and the emerging USPL. VFTD introduced Major League Paintball Held Hostage Day 1 on January 2 to illustrate the plight of the tourney baller and competitive paintball generally. VFTD graded the initial announced changes to the PSP in PSP Under Fire and followed up throughout the month as info became available. As you might recall the big changes were ROF, revised penalties in the lower divisions and Race 2 and match time changes as well as some Classification changes and the introduction of the UCP. VFTD went on an extended, multi-post rant about the Classification system and was generally uneasy about the appearance of the PSP moving to a standard that more closely resembled the MS. (A concern retained to this day as the Eurotrash continue to promote the idea and the PSP, for whatever reasons, continues to move in that direction.) VFTD closed out the month with some more piling on of the Classification system. The big news was a growing certainty that the USPL would actually begin operations in '09 and begin their season with a Huntington Beach event. The other big news--besides the PSP's myriad of wholesale changes both big and small in the move to Race 2--was the MS touting a TV deal with Eurosport and introducing some restrictive sponsorship regs they claimed "protected" sponsors but did so after a fashion easily recognized by a Sicilian enforcer. Whereupon the PSP introduced a similar measure which failed miserably and was rescinded at World Cup.

2009 began with the MS trying to enforce use restrictions on non-sponsored products among players--in the upper divisions--(which could extend to the lower divisions this year?) even as they charged licensing fees for locked divisions teams (whose total numbers were reduced from 2007) using their TV deal as justification. The PSP made extensive rules and other game changes on the basis of economic necessity (teams & league) but also introduced the prior year's state-of-the-art WC webcast as a regular event feature. The USPL revived the 7-man national series (sorta) with the original 16 pro teams as equal share owners and proceeded to buy up some equipment and rights to the NPPL name & logos and announced a split schedule of national and regional events beginning at HB.

That's the set-up for everything that happened later. (For the six of you who noticed, yes, sadly I've left the The Grand Tour out the review because I don't know a lot of details and because, in the end, it wasn't so grand after all.) The continuing Review will be much more of a hodge-podge I suspect as VFTD begins breaking the leagues and events down--probably tomorrow--as I rate the venues.

Hey, if I left anything good (important) out feel free to give me grief in the comments.

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