Saturday, February 28, 2009
The original enquiry. Identified two core issues for the PSP; the uncertain draw at any given event and the continuing struggle to fill the upper non-pro division(s). Neither of these are issues for the AXBL which maintains a consistent tiered league from a regional base with lower level teams playing expressly with the goal of moving up. The question became, Is there anything to be learned here? Why does the one struggle in these areas when the other doesn't?
Raehl's first reply. (I'm leaving out the stuff that isn't, to my mind, responsive to the original post but if Chris or anyone else wishes to drag it back in, in the comments, that's fine.) Raehl suggests any differences that might be viewed as advantage AXBL accrue from proximity--being a regional series it is cheaper and easier to be the AXBL. He further suggests that my allegation that the "team ownership" structure could play a role is silly as he reiterates his proximity is all argument.
Unfortunately for Raehl I had already dealt with his proximity argument before he made it by introducing the CFOA into the original post. If the CFOA can act as a stand-in for the PSP then the regional versus national argument fails immediately because the CFOA struggles with exactly the same issues as the PSP with respect to the topic of the post.
And where I think Raehl may be missing the boat in "team ownership" is his determination to make it solely about the interaction between the league and the team. It is clear that while that basic relationship may be similar it's not the relevant aspect if, in fact, team ownership possesses any relevance.
Raehl's second reply. Raehl adds to his explanation by suggesting it is proximity and a league that requires advance payment in order to participate. And, uh, the format is different. He closes his comment with these statements:
PSP can be every bit as stable as AXBL, as long as they cut their events down to three fields, two days, and don't let anyone play unless they pay for the full season up front.
You're right, dissecting an argument is what I always do, because if your argument is crap, you don't have a point, you have a fantasy. You start with information that isn't true, apply logic that is bunk, and reach a conclusion that is, obviously, disconnected from reality. And before you try and bust out that ad-hominem "psp shill" retort in defense of your non-point again, remember that the NCPA has pretty much exactly the same league structure as AXBL, and had it first, so I'm obviously a fan. I don't think I said anything bad about AXBL; I said that your conclusion as to why AXBL was more consistent was mistaken.
I included that last para just for fun and that's the one I want to start with. It's not really pertinent but so what? But it would be helpful if Raehl could read with comprehension, for a start. I did not call him a PSP shill nor did I accuse him of denigrating the AXBL. I did say he left himself open to that accusation--which has been made before but not by me--when his knee-jerk response is to always defend the PSP even when nobody is on the offensive. It also makes for shoddy thinking as these exchanges ought to demonstrate. Let's list the ways. I did not offer any conclusions about anything. I didn't construct an argument, logically or otherwise. I did provide some salient information which is unequivocally true and correct. And the only place Raehl attacked the information was with respect to "team ownership" but I also provided a definition in the original post--which was conveniently ignored. (Unstated elements of my interest in "team owners" are the commitment required and the numbers of such teams drawn from a relatively small area vis-a-vis the PSP's nationwide draw.)
What I did do was juxtapose what I called AXBL strengths against PSP weaknesses and posed a question or two intended to encourage peeps to think a little bit.
As to the substance of Raehl's second reply there is something to both proximity and the upfront commitment but the example of the CFOA already limits, at the very least, the impact of proximity as the decisive factor. Though using proximity as a filter for cost and time commitment might be productive but again there is the CFOA counter-example. And to suggest the PSP could be as stable as the AXBL if the PSP were to become like the AXBL (a regional closed league) is actually more telling than Raehl seems to realize. Perhaps the question ought to be is AXBL-type stability possible short of becoming like the AXBL?
Meanwhile, the questions remain open. There were some good comments the first time around and I hope a few more of you take a little time to reconsider the original post this time around. The object here isn't (and wasn't) about picking winners and losers. If I have piqued your interest look at the original post one more time. Major league paintball is on rocky ground and needs answers or at the very least some new ideas generated (perhaps) by confronting the old problems in new and different ways.
UPDATE: It has been suggested that the above isn't really an advancement on the original. That is a view I won't debate. Instead I will, at the proverbial later date, offer some expanded thoughts on the topic. How could I resist dredging another post out of the topic?
Friday, February 27, 2009
In USPL news Chuck and the kids scored at the recent auction of the bankrupt Pacific Paintball's NPPL holdings scooping up netting, poles and turf as well as loads of the assorted miscellany required to put on an event--all well under budget. The haul also included a host of NPPL-related logos, URLs and the like but did not include the player database as its ownership is apparently being disputed. The news fostered rumors of bringing back the NPPL but any such talk is premature and purely speculative at this time.
A whirlwind of work continues apace as there are something like 5 weeks left before the Surf City Open hits the beach at HB. (If you have never experienced an HB event next to the pier you haven't experienced an HB event.) Registration last night was approx. 72 teams registered with around 20 paid. Look for periods of activity to spike around the entry increase dates. At this point it's impossible to judge what the numbers mean but the league is confident everything is on schedule. The other critical pre-event date will likely be somewhere in the middle of March as that is when the league will have to assign a cutoff date for event sponsors.
The clock is ticking. And I'm not sure we can even define--yet--what constitutes success or failure in this uncertain major league season.
Houdini joins us from Singapore where he and a group of friends are suffering a severe case of the paintball addiction.
Don was recently in Phoenix working the webcast and if you'd like to hear more from Don check out his Paintball Live! series.
Welcome and thanks.
Before signing off I'd like to take a moment and encourage the rest of y'all to consider joining our happy little band. I cheerfully admit it's a purely selfish request. I enjoy seeing where y'all are coming from and what paintball has done to you. And if you don't join why should the next guy? If that doesn't convince you do it to spare me idle moments of boredom. Oh, by the way, if you didn't realize it before, I'm utterly shameless.
Until next time.
UPDATE: Turns out Don is no longer involved in the Paintball Live! venture. My apologies for including out-of-date info above. Appreciate the heads-up, Don.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Blogger has seen fit, without notice or recourse (so far) to change the public face of the Deadbox Puppet Army on the sidebar and I apologise for the fact it's become an eye sore for the moment. If I can change it, I will.
New to the Paintblog Roll is BigPumpin, a paintblog dedicated to the pump player who asks the question: What can you do with one hand?
To the topic at hand: The PSP has released the layout for the MAO. After a series of solid and interesting and more diversely playable fields over the last year or so this one comes at the wrong time. Short of killing one or two peeps per breakout and sweeping the field from the D.wire through the center this layout is going to play slower than molasses in Antarctica. And it will exacerbate the concerns some had with the lower division games not even reaching the lowered race thresholds because I can easily envision good teams bogging down on this rather disappointing choice. Either you kill peeps off the top or die of boredom. (I smell another installment of Field Design coming in order to do a more comprehensive job breaking this one down.)
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
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 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?
Prediction: NO significant changes that will affect many or most of the teams between Phoenix and MAO.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Karnak holds up a sealed envelope (Johnny Carson): How can you tell when a paintball company is in financial trouble?
Ed McMahon, taking envelope, opens it: I don't know. Tell us, Oh Magnificent Karnak, how can you tell when a paintball company is in financial trouble?
Karnak: They return your phone calls.
Remember, comedy is never pretty. If you would like to try your hand at PB Stand-Up feel free to post your jokes in comments or send them directly to me and if I like them I'll post them on the blog with appropriate credit.
For best results read in the voice of Andrew Dice Clay or, better yet, get Andy to read it to you.
/end moratorium on Frank jokes
"What is the difference between Frank the Tank and any paintball player picked at random?"
"About four stages of evolution. Ooohhhhhh!!"
/restore moratorium on Frank jokes
Did you catch the new Race 2 ref jerseys? Pretty snazzy, right? (Snazzy is too a word. My Dad used to use it regularly.) I'm not exactly mocking the new jerseys because they look fine. Hard to go wrong with your basic black and white stripe ensemble. But I do have a couple of thoughts: The new austerity sure seems to have carried over some of the old excess with it. Not unlike the Obama Justice Department. Anyway, I get the whole unified game theory and while my inner anarchist cringes I'm less concerned about the "unified" part than the "game" part. Cutbacks are hitting everybody--Race 2-less, less Race 2-time and so on but apparently this was as good a time as any to job out the design and production of new officials jerseys. Maybe it's just me. And no, it's not a big thing. Still.
The other observation is for all you divisional types who would like to see a more progressive--when I say progressive, you mean more--Race 2 structure the jerseys are on your side already. The little paintballs? that expand across the bottom of the Race 2 design have numbers in them; 2 - 7 including 3 and 6. So it wouldn't be like, no, sorry, we can't extend your race 'cus we'd, like, you know, have to have all new ref jerseys made. Au contraire.
The Legend of Frank the Tank [insert punchline here] continues to reach new heights. I am less interested (this time) in the incident than in how it was handled. If you haven't heard Frank was upset during a match and there was some physical contact with one of his own players. Within the rules he was penalized but the full brunt of the penalty was borne by the team. I understand a ref being more concerned in the moment for the safety of any player and taking action in accordance with the rules. But for future reference shouldn't there be a better way? In essence Frank loses his cool, grabs one of his kids and as a result the teams is assessed major penalties and has to start down two bodies for two points in a critical post-prelim match. That's adding injury to insult.
The webcast continues to surpass expectations--or at least it ought to--though it seemed to be dropping out quite a bit on Saturday. (As was I so maybe you had better results on that score.) I did not break down Matty's door to get on the webcast but since they allowed Trevor Pearson on I'm confident they'll put just about anybody on--so maybe next time. (Love you, Trev. Get a haircut. That may pass as hetero in the androgynous and sexually confused state of Minnesota but not in the Carolinas.)
The graphic bar was lean, mean and informative while carrying a subtle PSP styling cue or two. Its only weakness was font scaling which left a few teams abbreviated like a Wheel of Fortune puzzle. Although, that was probably a conscience decision in preference of uniformity.
The complete presentation continues to improve from an already high standard and I have no doubt that with another event or two under their belts we will have a hard time differentiating the quality from broadcast.
More in a while.
I'll be posting shortly on the pro prelims as promised and will add thoughts on the impact of the off season changes, the webcast and assorted odds and ends.
I will also be putting off the Enlistment announcement until this coming Friday but would like to thank Don S. and houdini as the most recent enlistees. houdini, now that you're into paintball I'm sure you will find there is no escape. And Don worked the webcast at Phoenix and has a nice piece about it over at paintballagenda. Check it out.
And, finally, I'll be attending to post comments as well. So, if I missed your latest comment I could be posting up a reply anytime. And if I don't, um--er, your comment was so terrific no further comment was necessary.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
There's 6 fields this year and everyone has to pass all the vendors to reach the venue entry point so there is repeated and compulsory foot traffic for whatever good it will do. It will be interesting to see how it turns out. So far, despite the larger team turnout today felt oddly like there was less going on than last year. That may in part be due to it being a Thursday, which means the 5-man teams weren't playing, and the venue isn't new this time around. We'll see. I'll pick up on this as we finish the event.
In the Paintblog list on the sidebar hit the paintball agenda link and go check out Brandon Lambertson's terrific tribute to his friend and teammate, Gator Glaze. You don't need to know anything about Gator or Brandon or Infamous to appreciate it. But you may see in it reflections of your own experiences with paintball--if you've been lucky.
Oh, yeah. It's cold in the morning and at night but it's beautiful during the day.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The point of the previous post isn't to pick sides and try to find ways to knock down the other guys--it's to seriously consider why things work the way they do and what changes might be made in order to perhaps build a better league(s) for everyone. In that spirit I look forward to seeing lots of comments on the AXBL vs. PSP thread.
There was no Enlistment post last week because for the first time there were no new additions to the DPA last week. I did, however, finally get Feedburner connected properly, dispelling once and for all, the unkind rumor I'm all thumbs. (And, uh, nope--that didn't make any sense at all. Even to me.)
If you can't make it to Phoenix please take some time to check out the webcast on Saturday and/or Sunday. I will be very interested in hearing how this latest version has turned out and, who knows, I might force my way into Matty's booth and demand some face time. Could happen.
No, no. No! Hang on. Wait a second. Let's have none of that! Forget that boredom talk, it's defeatist rubbish. (Sorry about that. A bit of left over negativity from The Pro Team Crack-Up, I suppose.)
This post is a voyage of discovery. Yeah, that's the ticket. An opportunity to examine the PSP from a different point of view and perhaps draw new conclusions. To glean fresh insights. Or deepen long held prejudices. Be inspired. Cry havoc. And loose the dogs of war! (Okay, I got a little carried away. Again. And, no, I'm not a manic depressive–most of my doctors agree--but I appreciate your concern.)
Let's begin with some factoids about the AXBL (which, for purposes of this post, includes the MXL). Each is a closed league comprised of 3 conferences/divisions of 7 teams (for '09) that totals 42 teams between the two leagues. There is a licensing (franchise) fee to acquire a team slot and entry fee/per player fees. One league is FPO and one isn't. The season was comprised of playing the other teams within your conference once (but will apparently be altered for '09) plus a league championship. (The AXBL has played original xball matches comprised of 2 - 25 minute halves while the MXL played 20 minute halves.) The teams are drawn primarily from New England, New York and Pennsylvania along with a few outliers. The leagues' sanctioned events are played over two-day weekends at pre-existing paintball field venues. Overall, the total cost to compete (including travel and related expenses) is significantly less for the majority of the teams than it would be to compete at say, D2, in the PSP.
This is just enough information to cause trouble as it allows for lots of possible arguments for or against without being able to settle any of them–and that's not the point. Suffice to say that each league has certain drawbacks and certain benefits and different teams and players can and will have a variety of reasons to choose one over the other. For example, AXBL offers potentially more on-field minutes played versus the PSP providing greater diversity of competition. Or AXBL cost versus PSP prestige.
What interests me is what appear to be AXBL strengths are, in one measure or another, PSP weaknesses. And if that's correct, what are the lessons to be drawn? I hasten to add there is no hard data here. There is little more than appearances and the inferences that might be reasonably drawn with an open mind. There are also some similarities. The AXBL has reduced each league by three spots this season. Some prices have gone up at the same time there will be less on-field paintball in the coming season. The AXBL went to a 4 event season over last year's 5. Issues of communication and refereeing cause friction between the league and the team owners. (Just like everywhere else.)
Here then is the critical item: Despite drawing a preponderance of its teams from a much smaller geographical area the AXBL has consistently maintained a full league. This year it will be 42 teams and in previous years it was 48. The AXBL has a stability the PSP doesn't and it has a structure that produces team owners. By broad definition here team owners are individuals or groups willing and able to take on the responsibilities of organizing and operating a paintball team.
Here's where you say, sure, okay but the PSP isn't exactly chopped liver and it's routinely dealing with much larger team numbers so what's the big deal?
Where the AXBL always knows who is competing the PSP is always guessing and has come to rely on part time team commitment. (A fact that plays havoc with the Iron Laws of Tournament Logistics.) Isn't that purely a property of running a more expensive national series? Maybe so but then tell me why the CFOA looks more like the PSP and shares many of the same concerns when they are a regional series. It's not because they are an expensive national series. Is it?
And what conclusions might we draw about the PSP's struggle over years to populate various upper level divisions, regardless of title; D1, Open, Semi-Pro where in the MXL the object of team owners is to advance to the AXBL? Where the PSP struggles the AXBL is organized, orderly and upwardly mobile by the consent and desire of the competing teams.
There have to be reasons for these stark differences, don't there?
The game has two parts; pick the total number of teams to register and the total number of teams to pay. The earliest correct answer(s) will be the winner. The game will remain open until March 18th. Since there is no chance of a tie VFTD the following tie-breaker is just for fun.
Tie-breaker: Is the reduction from 140 teams to 130 teams the result of new scheduling considerations or concern over the perception of "filling" the event? Show your work.
The winner will receive a Cynical VFTD Game Winner T-shirt. Who knows, it may even have a wolf on it.
Guess early, guess often. Just keep in mind that the vitality of the teams base is only part of the equation.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Bonus question: If there are unclaimed slots because nobody will pay for them what are the other slots worth?
Monday, February 16, 2009
Let's start with a short, and I mean really short, history primer. (For those of you who already know all this stuff feel free to skip ahead to the next part.) It used to be the window for arranging sponsorships for the upcoming season mostly occurred between the end of Cup and something around six to eight weeks later. In recent years the changing face of the industry as well as more turnover among the teams changed the nature and duration of many sponsorship negotiations. The last year or two has seen the process drag out and the process less cordial and the deals just plain less of most everything. This off season most deals were finalized well into the new year with plenty of teams shocked at the offers that were forthcoming and others shocked when nothing was forthcoming.
Is it possible the worst is now behind us? Honestly it would be fantastic if a year from now y'all took turns mocking me for being the Chicken Little of Paintball. It would be well worth it (particularly as your opinion of me doesn't keep me up at night.) And I am ambivalent about taking such a pessimistic and negative position. The problem is anything else (from me) would be the glad-handing, superficial smile and wheelbarrow of horse-puckey everybody else is used to shoveling (and receiving). This way, it may suck but at least it won't be a huge surprise.
Bottom line is simple. You've heard the talk about paint (or the lack thereof) being the bright yellow line between the haves and the have nots this year. And it's true. But it's worse than that, too. Last year by mid-season there were pro teams running out of sponsored paint. This year almost everybody got even less, and in a few cases, nothing at all. More than a few teams were so frightened at the prospects they played ostrich and stuck their collective heads in the sand hoping that somehow everything would turn out okay. As a result, combined with sponsor delays, some final deals went wanting into February.
What we are left looking at today is a majority of teams doing the calculations over and over and still uncertain if they can last out the year or not. Not only is paint down, way down in many cases but so--for the most part--are all the other components of sponsoring a pro team. There isn't "extra" plugged in somewhere else to help make up the short fall. Add to that new restrictive event sponsor rules and there will be teams put at odds with sponsors and the only leagues available to compete in. Despite virtually everyone in PBIndustry decrying the waste and unsustainable nature of two competing leagues in recent years there remains no unity of vision or commonality of purpose. Just new versions of the same in-fighting and market manipulations that have been the hallmark of PBIndustry's past intransigence and weakness.
There are teams today committed to play that do not know how they are going to manage even an event reduced whole season. (Although how a team commits to the season without actually paying their entries I have yet to figure out. And, yes, I am implying that there are teams who have spots but have not yet ponied up. Nobody whispered that in my ear and I can't prove it--today--but I believe it's true.) They are hoping to cross that bridge when they come to it. The status quo cannot be maintained. As teams continue to bite the bullet and economize wherever and however they can manage so too players will have to expect less and/or contribute more if they expect to have continuing opportunities to play.
The worst isn't here yet. More pro teams will implode and go the way of the dodo. How many will crash and burn? I don't know but at a guess I'd say around 50% between the day pro teams step on the field at HB and this time next year. I don't see any way to avoid it. It has been suggested that culling the herd is an essential element for future recovery and maybe it is. It is certainly a better bet that those who make it to next year will have to share the shrinking sponsorships with fewer competing teams but it might also be constructive to take a look at paintball media. Dead tree media is withering away everywhere right now, not just in paintball. Paintball ad revenues will not revive a dying industry. Across the board PBIndustry doesn't really know what to do. As soon as somebody gets the nerve up to try something most everybody else breathes a sigh of relief and jumps on the latest bandwagon. We are at present getting a first look at what happens when industry chooses to pass on competitive paintball. Or in this case is unable to prop it up like it once did.
Longer term the question isn't how many pro teams will there be but will Competitive Paintball be able to sustain even a remnant if PBIndustry largely passes competitive paintball by?
What makes one player "playing down" a superstar of the Retard Crowd and others "playing down" objects of derision? Particularly when the RCS (retard crowd superstar) is obviously the one NOT playing for the love of the game.
I only find any of this interesting because it's plainly a phenomenon of the classification system and by extension, the whole evils of sandbagging mentality. That and as I've been doing my little bit of rabble rousing on behalf of players I think have been either unfortunately or unfairly caught up in the cogs of this machinery I occasionally wonder, why bother? It seems that the majority prefer the current heavy-handed approach that "protects" them right up until the day they become the ones being "protected" against. And some days I think they deserve what they get. The PSP is, after a fashion, trapped by a dual nature; it's both a business with a need to be responsive to its customers and a self-styled sports authority with obligations to the game. (As is every other tournament series operation to one degree or another.) And it is frequently the choices made on the business side that create problems for the sport side.
Just a few jumbled thoughts for a Monday. Nothing special. And in the for-what-it's-worth-column it is VFTD policy to avoid naming names most of the time. Even the names of worthless douche bags simply because as a general rule it isn't constructive.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Brass tacks, it's control. Not control for the sake of being in charge or in order to run paintball or even just some corner of it to call their own. (Okay, it kinda is to some degree.) It's about self-determination. It's also about survival but I'm not sure everyone playing the game realizes the stakes. Without dredging into ancient history one thing more than anything else changed the landscape at the top of competitive paintball; the quest for TV.
The quest for TV made everybody involved reevaluate everything. It was like a carrot dangled on a stick to the teams, it kept them striving and it kept their attention. TV promised fame and fortune (and that's what many focused on) but it also offered an alternative to riding the pro paintball merry-go-round until your turn ended. Suddenly there was another level to aim for, another goal to be achieved, an opportunity to build something that could last. When the quest faltered it left the landscape altered and finally drove home just what real status the teams have (and had) all along. They were, temporarily, necessary pieces of the puzzle but still interchangeable cogs. Maybe so but the new landscape also offers a broader horizon. The old promise may be empty (at least for the time-being) but the possibilities remain.
Things change. The PSP, to their credit, has been working hard to survive the present and build for the future. Does a national tournament series "work" without the ultimate level to aspire to? Maybe, maybe not. The old assumption was, not. There may be a new assumption at work though that thinks if the foundation is secure and there is a different sort of legitimacy conferred, an honest to goodness national championship at stake to be competed for independently, for example, that the result is more secure, durable and long-lasting. (It could be, but it won't be and, alas, that's another post.) None of that means the PSP doesn't care about the pro game, they do, but it remains, not surprisingly, on their terms. In any event it continues to leave the pro teams in the precarious position of competing on somebody else's terms and dependent on somebody else's whim. But the possibilities remain.
The USPL is more than a 7-man league. It is the hope and potential fulfillment of the new possibilities. It is control of your own destiny. It is a chance to build something that lasts beyond a player's career. For those taking the risk, that is the reward.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
UPDATE: If anyone assumed I was suggesting that Dynasty are somehow at fault for switching sponsors because I called them 'The Rats'--that was not my intention. I've been calling them various names for years; like Dynarats or Dynabrats and others. No judgments, just for fun. (Last thing I want is Alex all up in my grill in Phoenix.)
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Speaking of registration it's due to open next Monday for the USPL's inaugural event at HB in April. Could be there will also be a positive surprise come Monday. It's not a done deal but hopefully it will work out 'cus it will be good for competitive paintball.
Has the Millennium crew fallen and they can't get up? Are they in hiding while trying to produce a new, PSP-compatible rule book or are they concerned about the upper division spots for sale that continue to go wanting?
And I managed to squeeze one bit of info out of Mr. Curious about the whole PALM thing. Apparently part of the agenda will be meetings planned to move the UPBF to the next level.
Tomorrow--The Pro Team Crack-Up
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Announcement: This will be the last daily update on MLP held hostage. Doing it as a daily has taken up time that could be put to more productive blog use–I have a queue of posts waiting to be finished I simply haven't had time for. Like Enlistments, I will do a weekly update on MLP held hostage unless or until a subject or event warrants giving it more attention. (So you can all breath a sigh of relief.)
The posts awaiting completion are: The Pro Team Crack-Up; The Flipside of Classification; The Iron Law of Tournament Logistics and PSP vs. AXBL. I will get to them as I'm able.
Before I get started though I've got a funny story for you. Okay, maybe not funny ha-ha but funny ironic. You see, I have been put forward by my team to be our liaison with the USPL. I even volunteered and I will do whatever I can to help. For real. (I would honestly be thrilled to be wrong about this.) However, since I haven't drunk the Kool-Aid I have a feeling that I may not be all that welcome. At this writing I haven't heard from anyone. Yet. [*sniff* *sniff* I smell another cynical VFTD game coming soon.]
(For the extra inquisitive, no, none of my personal money is involved and, no, I was not directly involved in the team's decision-making process though my views were known and, yes, I think my team will be losing its investment at some point. It was deemed an acceptable risk for reasons I do not disagree with.)
Here's the thing. There are a number of smart people fronting this effort but they are not approaching it the way smart business people would do. (Which is another irony all its own.) For starters they picked a very bad time to begin and further complicated things by giving themselves almost no time to get everything more or less settled and ready to launch. Between them, despite what some might think, they do not have the depth of expertise necessary to pull this off within a narrow window and without significant resources. Speaking of resources I have heard that Kingman/Spyder is not prepared to just dump money into the USPL--which is, at this point in time, almost a prerequisite to any hope of success. In addition, there are some major sponsors who are rumored to be actively trying to discourage their sponsored teams from participating. If true that is a significant strike against.
A rudimentary feature of prudently planning for a new business is to project a window of results from if-everything-goes-as-planned to worst case what's-the-bare-minimum-we-can continue-on. This is where hard-headed concrete numbers apply and where greater or lesser margins of error are calculated into prospective budgets as percentages or real dollars given either insufficient expertise or uncertain data. (Or in this case, both.) This is where the Iron Law of Tournament Logistics kicks your ass if you aren't careful (or sometimes even if you are.) [More on that in the upcoming Iron Law post.] Everything I have heard so far suggests assumptions are being made without full awareness of, or consideration given to, the potential pitfalls and the numbers being inked in leave little margin for error or deviation from expectations. And that is a recipe for catastrophic failure. Particularly in the midst of an economic dep-, er, recession. Here are a few real world examples: What happens when the tenting you rented becomes your property because it is stained with paint and the rental agency not only won't take it back but hands you a bill to cover the replacement costs? That's thousands of dollars difference right there. What happens at HB, by the pier, when some kiosk operator or some passersby get painted and sue? Is the city of HB going to indemnify the USPL of liability? Or a USPL agent driving a company truck hits a car or runs over somebody's dog? What's in the current budget for cleaning up the beach post-event? (The first year that was a big overrun item.) What happens when the number of teams projected doesn't show? The reality is there are literally hundreds of questions like these to be answered and prepared for and budgeted for in ways that protect the business and do everything possible to prepare for the unexpected. That isn't happening now.
Current USPL projections are looking for around 140 teams for the Boston regional. If that number is essential to success you can call it day right now because 140 teams is not going to happen. And anybody with a lick of sense and the ability to make a couple of phone calls while looking at the last few years of event turnout for the NPPL can make that determination in a few minutes.
Is the league planning on committing funds to capital investment or sliding by this year on rentals to try and maintain a positive cash flow and keep the accounting simple? What happens when there are budget short falls? Or the season ends up in the red? Who is on the hook? Has anybody noticed what's happening to the pro teams in the meantime or how bizarre this past off season has been--and why? [More to come on this as well in The Pro Team Crack-up.]
I have yet to hear anything about the nuts & bolts of operating the USPL that seems to rely on sound, practical business procedures or that acknowledges the demands and complications of making this happen. It is all pie in the sky wouldn't it be swell if ... and that can be seductive but it won't pay the bills and they will still come due. The smartest thing the USPL could do today or tomorrow is decide they need more time to get it right and announce they are putting the project on hold in anticipation of launching the Surf City Open in 2010. Meanwhile they encourage and support the regional 7-man events and series that are already in place.
One other thing. If anyone wants to dispute any of this, in part or in whole, please do not hesitate to rebut anything you think is wrong or unfair. I, for one, would be happy to hear it. The only stipulation is that you may have to defend it. After all, ideally, VFTD is interested in dialogue.
Finally, please don't take any of this as an effort to put you off participating. If you want to play the Surf City Open this April, by all means, come on down and I hope you enjoy it.
UPDATE: Now I'm in for it. The always gracious Camille has called my bluff and it looks like I'll have to work for my supper.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Registered teams alone do not tell the whole story however. Sponsorship dollars from the industry are down and at a guess I'd say that the savings benefits of the rules changes is about a wash with the added expense of the webcast.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Nor is it that the current crop of correspondents is in any way deficient. Though to be fair, I know little or nothing about most of their personal habits or hygiene so I might be a tad optimistic in that assessment.
Here's the deal. You tell me what you know--about wherever you happen to be--and whatever competitive paintball you happen to play--and I use your info any way I want and I receive all the credit while becoming rich and famous in the process. What's not to like?
What do you mean what's in it for you? An opportunity to contribute anonymously to VFTD. And if that's not enough I actually talk on the phone occasionally to a correspondent or two. No promises but who knows?
I could use another spy or two who knows the Millennium Series and I'm interested in the AXBL/CXBL as well as the national or most well known or attended series internationally. This is your chance--don't blow it.
If you missed the Mr. Curious query about the Ironmen playing PALM--it was last Thursday or Friday--you won't care much that Mr. Curious's curiosity has been satisfied. Mr. C now has a very good idea of wassup now but as it turns out he ain't gonna spill. Seems he's a little put out that nobody showed any interest. I will, of course, try to change his mind but the petulance and immaturity of these celebrity-in-their-own-mind types is nearly limitless. It would probably be easier to just play along and post a comment or three.
The USPL is pushing the pro player ride-along program with a first paid first pick opportunity for prospective divisional teams. The player spends an hour on Thursday helping "their" divisional team field-walk and then hang out the rest of the weekend on an "as available" basis. I know this sounds cool and it may even motivate a team or two to sign up but does anybody have any concern about the advice some of these pro players may give?
Today's word, boys and girls, is rulebook. Can you use it in a sentence? Here's an example: Where is the freaking rulebook for the PSP '09 season? A brief update on rules changes was a helpful bit of info but doesn't replace an actual rulebook, which has been known to occasionally come in handy. I realize there's plenty of time what with the event still eleven days away ...
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
Yesterday the PSP announced that the Phoenix Open will be webcast live and that it will be free. Yes, free. In addition there will be more cameras in place providing greater coverage that will include the d.wire. Hopefully fans everywhere will take advantage of this opportunity to tune in. (And hopefully the PSP has made every effort to inform their potential audience. I can come up with a number of reasons for making it free but all of them depend, in one way or another, on the size of the viewership.)
Last week Mr. Curious wondered how it was that an apparently no longer in the paintball biz Craig Miller remained a big wig at the PSTA. No thanks to you slackers one of VFTD's ever vigilant correspondents noticed a largely overlooked press release that may go some way towards explaining. It seems Mr. Miller was/is a partner with Milt Call in Brimstone Enterprises, makers of Ultimate AirBall bunkers. It further seems that Miller & Call now hold the U.S. patent rights to airball bunkers and Adrenaline Games was "happy" to sign a licensing agreement with Brimstone the other day. And apparently Brimstone will be back in the bunker biz with a '09 relaunch sometime soon. You can check out the whole thing--an amusing read between the lines--in the News forum at the Nation.
WELT #9 has hit the cyber shelves. If you aren't signed up to get it delivered direct to your email inbox what the hell is the matter with you? Well, what are you waiting for?
Joe R hails from Michigan and is either a college player or he works for APPA or both.
Stu H has blocked his profile--why so shy, Stu?--but VFTD can state that Stu is an adventurous chap who joins us from the UK and is an indifferent speller at best.
Olly also hails from the UK and is a fellow alumnus of PGi magazine. And if you could see underneath his tank you would discover pedals and training wheels.
PoisonofDecember has me stumped. But that's okay. Like the Foreign Legion we don't ask questions. That you are here is good enough.
Welcome and thanks.Until next week.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
What is it with teams that register over and over but never actually play? After registration closes and they aren't playing (again) do they high five each other and go, awesome, we almost went to Phoenix. I don't get it.
Brandon Lambertson, you've ruined my life! When I was the only one sporting a wolf shirt life was good but if everybody has one I'm back to square one. You may force me to bust out my vintage Lone Wolf MacQuade T.
Check out Stuff Paintballers Might Not Hate if you've got a minute or two. Take a look at the ray-gun. I'm thinking the front of that thing is a shower head. Which reminds me. Back in the day one of my former teammates made a working bolt for an automag out of a sprinkler head. Last weekend he showed me his latest creation, FrankenPump, which has a mish-mash of unmatched parts--the pump handle is a gas through from a Piranha--but shoots like a dream.
So why PALM? What's the attraction for the Ironmen? What does the Middle East have besides a high concentration of murderous fruitloops, camels (dromedaries, not the unfiltered kind), a corner on the world veil market, more sheiks than you can shake a stick at, triple digit temperatures and hella lot of sand?
If the answer is an exploding market for paintball gear it's the best kept secret in the world. Pretty sure that's not it. I have an idea but I want to hear yours before I tell you mine. (Wow, that sounded way too junior high, didn't it?)
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
In an encouraging gesture the PSP offered a one time lifting of the classification restrictions for two players from each of the former D1 teams moved to Semi-pro for '09. This means the teams could request that 2 players from their '08 rosters remain classed as D1 players. If, of course, those players then played Semi-pro their classifications would follow the classification and ranking rules for '09. What it amounted to was an option for a handful of players to more easily find places to play this season and in the future.
If you're interested in finding out more about the UPBF on the web check out the latest at Villain Paintball, our friends from Malaysia. Yeah, you read that right, Malaysia. (They are on the sidebar under Paintblogs.)
USPL has sent out sponsor/vendor packages in Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum options. Marquis prices (HB & season ending championship event) are in line with the PSP while regional event prices are halved.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Of the remaining 6 spots in the Pro Division word is there are 7 pro teams looking to fill a spot. Rumor is at least 2 of the 7 are seriously feeling the crunch and may struggle to make the commitment.
After yesterday's almost post about the UWL Tom Cole kindly dropped VFTD a note saying they are looking at the prospect of running real 10-man woodsball tournaments. It will be intriguing to see what level of showing-up-and-paying-your-money interest is really out there. Who knows, I might have to start digging around in the closet for the old tiger stripe camos. As long as there's a too old for this but too stupid to know better division.
The USPL has confirmed uncapped semi-auto as the standard for ROF (with no word yet on penalties for illegal guns or any method of determining illegal guns.)
In the mad rush to blame Walker for the NPPL's failure I wonder if anybody, but more specifically, the new owners of the USPL, made any attempt to analyse why the NPPL went bankrupt. And, why, before that, Pure Promotions sold out when the selling was good. Are any of those folks operating under the misapprehension the NPPL was ever a going, self-sustaining concern? That might have been a good place to start.
And for the more astute, if you are wondering if I'm implying anything about the fate of the NPPL and their laughable gun "rules," I'm not. (I have a different theory for that.) But I do wonder if it played a part.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Today is T minus 10. (Days till close of registration for Phoenix plus one.) The purpose is to give some sense of where major league paintball is right now. Last year Phoenix had 123 teams including the NXL teams. As of 1:30 PM EST there are 84 paid teams not including the pros who are currently not listed. Teams registered is 144 not including the pro teams. This looks like there is a good chance the event will at least match last year.
If anyone has dropped by because they tried to engage me in dialogue over at the Nation (in that classification thread in the PSP forum) but I didn't respond I'll be happy to do so here in comments or via email. I didn't look for any posts except Lane's reply to me so I don't know but it wasn't (and isn't) my intention to ignore anybody. I just didn't see any good coming from it in that environment.
I was gonna post something about the new UWL (Ultimate Woodsball League) but once I got to Special Weapons, paint grenades and air strikes, er, Artillery Barrages I (briefly) lost the will to live. Okay, this is something but still. I wonder if paintball is now destined to see the pendulum swing wildly in the direction of the commando wannabe crowd. Is there any chance somebody will bring back real woodsball tournaments?
Sunday, February 1, 2009
The USPL has a forum over at the Nation now so until the website goes live if you've got questions or are just curious you can find them there. The current front page at the site does allow you to register for email newsletter or contact the league (Camille?) by email or phone if you want to go that route.
The USPL is looking for candidates to fill spots on a Divisional Steering Committee so if you're that guy (or that girl) check it out. I'm sure the USPL is trying to be all egalitarian and believes involving "the teams" in the process is a good thing and in some respects I agree but it's my experience, such as it is, that mostly the peeps who want to be on committees want to be in charge. Not unlike politicians. Representative government is a swell idea, it's the representatives that suck.