Friday, May 29, 2009
But before we get started I'm gonna tell you a story. (See, I can be nice, too.) Many moons ago I was a gym rat, working out 5 days a week, powerlifting and for the simple pleasure of it. One of the things the regulars always enjoyed was the response of most new guys coming in and being given a rudimentary workout. Usually, after a half hour or forty-five minutes they were exhausted and kind of proud of themselves for enduring such a brutal workout. It was with great satisfaction that we then got to tell them that for at least the first three months their workouts were designed to prepare them for real workouts.
There are two points to that story. One, chances are you ain't nearly as good as you think you are because you have a largely untrained conception of what "good" is. And, Two, learning the fundamentals is what prepares you to become a player, not what makes you a player.
Did you notice anything odd about the title of this post? That isn't a mistake. If you are not proficient at the gunning part of running & gunning you might as well be a soccer player. This week's How-To focuses on the basics of learning to Gun & Run.
Functionally you need to be able to run laterally (side to side) and upfield (end to end) in both directions. This means you also need to be able to run & shoot with either hand and also be proficient at switching hands while running.
The basis for all those elements is the shooting platform; how you hold your gun. The fundamental doesn't change just because you are moving (and your gun may swing through a wider range than normal.) Many of the how-to videos cover this (and generally do so with reasonable precision) so all I will say at this point is that the two keys are a fixed base and a dominant guide hand. A fixed base is a firmly planted tank approx. in the area where the collar bone meets the shoulder. And a dominant guide hand should be the hand on the grip frame (or thereabouts.) So it isn't enough to be able to pull a trigger with either hand.
The next step is beginning to develop accuracy while moving. (This is where gun & run comes into effect.) It does no good to be lightning quick if you can't hit what you are shooting at. There are a couple of tricks that should prove helpful. Slow and steady. Always make sure your paint is on target as you attempt to move faster and faster. As soon as you lose accuracy, slow down. Only go as fast as you can accurately shoot. The speed will come in time. You can also try the heel and toe technique. Short steps planting the heel first--but softly--and let the lead foot plant gently. It is standard combat shooter technique which may prove useful for some players as they gain running & gunning proficiency.
Running & Gunning can also be further broken down in OTB, in game movement and making a bunkering run.
Ponder that awhile, Sunshine, and next time we'll go over a few of the drills that will help you at least look like you know what you're doing.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
There are no minimum roster appearances in effect in semi-pro. For example, appear on ONE pro roster this season and you are ranked pro. Appear more than once on any divisional roster and you are that rank automatically. But not in semi-pro so there is some room to maneuver. It would seem that the classification rule in effect is the one for playing above your current rank the one time you may do so without automatically changing ranks. Two divisions up and it's an automatic 100 point score. One division up and it's a minimum 50 plus your team score with a max of 100.
I bring this up (again) because players seldom pay much attention to this sort of thing. I have no idea if this is intended to perhaps go somewhere or if it's supposed to be a one-time fun thing for the local players and fans but whatever it is keep in mind there are classification consequences depending on the incoming rank of the chosen players.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Info is hard to come by as I couldn't find any mention of demonstration sports or paintball on the World Games website--but you might have better luck or be more patient than I was. And I couldn't find anything on APIT other than some mentions about last year's event and bit of YouTube footage. VFTD's Malaysian correspondent only knows the Malaysian teams that will be participating in the games demo and APIT event. It all seems rather odd that so little information is available about what might be a significant step toward legitimizing competitive paintball within the sports world. (And, frankly, if you take a look at some of the "real" sports that are already part of the World Games you gotta wonder what paintball has being doing wrong.) Even odder in that DYE Asia is supposed to be heavily involved.
UPDATE: Couple of things I forgot. The Kaohsiung Paintball Association is supposed to be the organizer but far as Google can tell they don't have a website either. For the latest check out Villian Paintball--in the paintblog list on the sidebar.
UP UPDATED: Er, the Kaohsiung Paintball Association does (sorta) have a website at rocpaintball.org which looks mostly like a field site and all the links seem to go to their forum which Google will translate into English but still isn't very informative.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Keep an eye on the numbers as both Phoenix and MAO looked a little thin until the final week so I expect Chicago will pull it together too.
Registration for the USPL's West Coast Open is at 51 (including the 16 pro teams.) FYI--I make a distinction for the pro teams because they are all pre-confirmed and pre-paid as joint owners of the league and consequently shouldn't be counted the same as every other team signing up to play. That puts registration at 35 teams 3 paid. The May discount is available for a few more days and it will interesting to see how many teams take advantage of it. June payment will also offer a discount but not nearly as much. The event is scheduled for mid-July.
Registration in the unlocked divisions for this week's Millennium Series Bitburg event really did swell--perhaps on the good news regarding the German paintball ban (it ain't happening after all)--to 23 teams in M5 and 22 teams in D2 which nearly doubled each division over last week. Those may not be the kind of numbers the MS was hoping for but in light of all the recent troubles it doesn't look too bad.
Registration for next month's Eastern Conference Grand Tour event in Lviv, Ukraine, is at 30 teams. The recent Warsaw event saw 40 teams participate. VFTD recently was offered another explanation (besides poor promotion) for the fall off in competing teams. It was suggested by our regular correspondent that currency exchange rates had also caused, in effect, a steep price increase and that could very easily be putting teams off. I think there was more to it but I must have dozed off.
Lastly, I have made noises before about expanding the coverage of the weekly update and y'all have responded like the lazy slackers you are. But I now have something a little more specific to suggest so maybe it will help motivate a slacker or three. I would like to add regional series in the U.S. like the CFOA and AXBL (and I'm open to their suggestions). I would also like to add series from around the world that draw teams from multiple countries or are currently the largest series of events in their region or country. But saying that there's no way I can go hunting for all the info myself so here's the deal. If you want your league in the weekly update you need to send me relevant info about what's happening and websites where peeps can follow-up on the goings on of the various leagues around the world. Btw, I'm not holding my breath but do have my fingers crossed.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Played the Chicago layout some this past weekend and it's everything I expected. Unfortunately.
The new post over at Baca's Blog on the Big Bullet this week is called, 'The Accidental Collector.' Drop by and take a look.
Today's Monday Poll replaces the website poll with a more uplifting, upbeat poll on the Millennium Series. Today's poll question is, 'What is the best feature of the Millennium Series?' The poll will remain open until next Saturday at noon. And don't forget, the MS Bitburg event starts this coming Friday. The MS has decided to seed the CPL & SPL for Bitburg based on the two matches each team completed in Malaga. And it only took them until the week of the event to figure it out and make the announcement.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
No, this piece isn't about some new manga fad or a fantasy combat game posted here by accident. It's also not about some new scenario game or the latest spec ops gear intended for the mil-sim crowd. It's about tournament paintball, sort of. But maybe it has applications that are bigger than just tourney ball. So you can either surf over to the next page or site or kill a couple of minutes and keep reading. What could it hurt? (Don't answer, that was a rhetorical question.)
Some of the big players in industry and tournament promotion have become concerned that the base for future tourney players has been shrinking and high ROF guns have received the lion's share of the blame. One of the "answers," though not aimed at tourney play, is Billy Ball which revolves around using a gun with very limited ROF capability. I'm not altogether convinced that high ROF is hurting paintball but I am convinced a failure to properly control high ROF is a significant danger to paintball.
Lately, the tourney world has seen a growing, if still relatively modest, interest in pump events. The PSP, which promotes a national series and hosts the World Cup, has resorted to incremental limits on ROF at their competitions in an effort to make introductory play less intimidating. The league is also hopeful that their changes will trickle down to regional and local events and encourage regular recreational players to be satisfied with something less than the ultimate performance of the modern electronic markers. Will it work? If ROF is the core issue maybe it will. Some have suggested bringing tourney play back to the woods as an alternative solution and that's just what SPPL and the new UWL (Ultimate Woodsball League) are doing. The UWL has gone so far as to offer a separate division of play based on limiting the number of electronic markers used. So how about a mechanical marker only tournament? If tourneys can go back into the woods and be played by pumps again, why not? If the biggest, most competitive league in the world is restricting the ROF of the almighty electros, why not?
This is hardly an original idea. I read a comment somewhere a week or two ago talking about using mechanical markers and I liked the idea but dismissed it almost immediately. Players buy and shoot what they want and even with the recent resurgence of pump and the Old Skool interest in some of the classic markers the mech guns aren't going to supplant the electros in the foreseeable future. And organizing a whole event around the hope that enough tourney-oriented players who want to play with mech guns would support it sounds like pie in the sky to me. But there is one way it might work in the current environment. As a separate division of play. A few years ago the PSP was talked into adding the Masters Division of play at World Cup. (Their only error was insisting it be xball instead of 5-man but even so it has continued every year since its introduction.) What if the PSP offered divisions of play with the only restriction being the use of mechanical markers? Say an Open division and an Amateur division. If available in conjunction with a massive event like World Cup if nobody wants to play mech warrior there's no harm done. Even the current PSP rulebook addresses the use of mechanical markers so that wouldn't be an issue. And who knows, it might get a new group and an old group back into the tourney game.
Could a move to encourage mechanical marker play in competition then spread to other parts of paintball?
Friday, May 22, 2009
Video editions of MAO matches are now up at the PSP, soon to be VFTD's official major league website that blows the most. Even if you saw them live I would recommend you watch them again, this time focusing on learning something along the way. It's not only entertainment a potentially valuable tool as well.
I'm enjoying the website challenge poll so much I'm gonna start doing one every week on Mondays. Next week's topic will be the Millennium.
Speaking of the Millennium there's a couple fresh news items up on their website from boss Barry Fuggle and the website representing the combined might of the pro-paintball forces in Germany. Both are encouraging participation in the Bitburg event to show the politicians and media what paintball is really all about. And it seems to be working as registrations in the open divisions jumped this week from near single digits to numbers that could, with a few more days of registration available, match Malaga. Hopefully that's all that will match Malaga and no one will ask for too many explanations as make-up matches are made-up along with the Bitburg schedule. Otherwise the professional presentation of elite competitive paintball might not be overly impressive. Just saying.
Oh, and it's nothing to do with anything really but what's with the odd spelling of Bitburg in both posted items? Kind regards
The PSP is also trying out a couple new divisions in Chicago and try as I might, I couldn't help but wonder how they fit in the context of the UCP, the Universal Classification Program. The mere mention of the UCP should be more than enough to make the regulars here cringe but if you are out of that loop and want to suffer along with everybody else look here, here and here. (Don't blame me, you were warned.) (And besides, there's lots more where that came from.)
Anyway, I can see the "new" D4 being a variation on D3 Intro so that's not a huge deal although, it seems to me, there was a reason it was originally called D3 Intro. As for D2 Race2-2 it's really mostly a kind of catch-all to scoop up a few more teams, isn't it? One D1 player allowed but for general classification purposes it counts as D3? Which is fine by me but like I said, raises a few UCP questions in my mind.
Was the original division D3 Intro specifically intended to NOT fall below the "national level" threshold and infringe on local and regional events? This is potentially a reflection of a larger issue with the UCP; a tension between it's core function and what the PSP would like it to do--help build the PSP. There isn't a necessary conflict there, only some UCP functions at cross purposes. And, why, if a team plays D3 once without a classification "penalty" (cus that's how a lot of them look at it) play D4 at all if it's mostly a try out division? Same price, no prizes. If it might end up a permanent division it will definitely put the PSP national events at odds with local and regional competition. See previously mentioned UCP conflict.
Lastly, Friday is for recognizing new enlistees to the DPA. However, this is the third week in a row without any. Your failure to enlist is thwarting VFTD's plan for World Paintball Domination. Don't ask how it's supposed to work; it's really complicated. Since when did you care? Just join. It's the new agg.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Disclaimer: actual position of bunkers extremely important and your results may vary--if the field is poorly set-up. And while I claim to almost always be right there is a statistically negligible margin of error involved in any claim.
Recommendation: check out Warpig's virtual fieldwalk as it can be helpful in visualizing the angles and lanes. If you haven't seen it before you've been missing out.
The Bitburg layout has fairly limited breakout options so with a little creative guns up play it should be possible to both keep the opponent guessing while giving yourself a little extra laning help. Looking at the field diagram there are 6 shooting positions. Beginning with 3 & 4, the home shooters, each side has two predominant shooting lanes. Snake-side they are inside and outside the line of pins. D-side they are inside and outside the MT. The snake-side outside lane is a pick'em lane in that a runner can be going either corner or snake and the distance between them forces the shooter to pick a primary target. The same is true of the D-side inside lane in that a runner moving thru that lane is either going corner or D1. The most difficult of the 4 "home" lanes is the inside snake-side lane where the shooter must be fast and accurate. For anyone who can get it consistently they can deny an OTB move into the pins and potentially catch sloppy runners going either corner or snake. (I say sloppy because running well defined lanes ought to force the shooter into the pick'em dilemma.)
Positions 2, 5 & 6 are dead zone spots. A dead zone is an area seemingly out in the open but largely "invisible" (or only exposed from very limited points). Playing a dead zone isn't a free pass however as players are in motion across the whole field. Most of the time it's a matter maintaining a lane but still knowing when to move. (It's also important to sometimes have an assist from a teammate to make a dead zone lane a safer option.) For example, position 5 laning crossfield (snake-side) ought to be matched with a D-side home shooter laning the inside the MT lane. It's important to keep in mind dead zone shooting isn't a stationary option. And a very useful skill is the ability to shoot one lane and be aware of incoming paint from another angle.
Position 1 simply shows one option for using position 2 as it leads naturally into 1 while allowing the shooter to maintain a dominant lane.
The only caveat is to precisely check what the M blocks. It may in fact take some options away and allow for others but in any case needs to be examined with respect to the dead zone positions.
Anyone who plays this layout is encouraged to comment.
What is a roller? (Hint: within the paintball industry.)
What could it mean if a number of paint manufacturers all bought enough new rollers to service all their paint-making machines? (My apologies for the technical lingo.)
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
UPDATE: It appears on the stinking sidebar is what it does. Oh, well.
The PSP's Chicago Open registration is now (almost) open. The notices have been sent and the website updated but at this writing APPA doesn't have a Chicago Open option available yet. Won't be long, I'm sure. This event will be a big hurdle as the expectations are that much higher for a Chicago event. Last year's event topped 230.
This just in: The PSP's new website still sucks.
Over at the USPL there are 43 teams signed up (including the 16 pro teams) for the end of July West Coast Open. I'm assuming--a danger to you and me, I know, but what can I say? I'm a thrill seeker. I'm assuming the very early registrations are because of the offered discount for payments made in May. (12 days and counting so we'll soon see.) Either way it's decent numbers and if it encourages more teams to sign up could result in a very positive event for the league.
Across the pond the Millennium is gearing up for their Bitburg event in the wake of the Malaga mess. For whatever reason (fears of the German paintball ban) (repercussions from Malaga) open registration for Bitburg in D2 & M5 are lagging with 13 teams currently in each division. A smaller than expected (hoped for) (wanted) turnout in the open divisions will perhaps make scheduling easier as there is still no official word from the MS on how the Bitburg event will be scheduled in the absence of Malaga results in the locked divisions. Or how the make-up matches will be made up other than on Friday--and/or Thursday if you can make it.
In Warsaw last weekend there was a Grand Tour Central Conference event. With only 39 teams competing the event was held on 2 fields. Results are posted in the Masters and Amateur division but no Pro results are given. This appears to be a disappointing turnout. In other disappointing news the Southern Conference has been merged with the Central Conference when scheduled events in Turkey were dropped for "technical reasons." Given past turnouts for the EPL and Centurio I'm left wondering if the economic situation is to blame although others, closer at hand, point out the limited to poor promotion of events by the operators. Regardless, the Grand Tour is a little less grand with two conferences but hopefully consolidation will help future event turnouts.
Now to the good stuff. Rating the major league websites. I debated (with myself in an, at times, very heated discussion) the merits of offering opinions that might sway the vote and I finally decided I didn't care. Even so I am going to refrain and only suggest the various criteria you might use in considering your vote. Keep in mind these sites are the internet faces of world class competitive paintball. So appearance is important. How informative is the site? How easy is it to navigate to the information you want? How much cool stuff do they have, or, how effectively do they make competitive paintball look awesome? Just a few of the things to keep in mind as you consider--
Which major league website blows the most?
Sure, it sounds kinda negative but VFTD believes a good beatdown builds character and besides, there's always room for improvement. It also seems like a lot more fun than which major league website is the best. Boring.
Now get to clicking. Exercise your right to vote. I swear it will be as meaningful and relevant as any determination of public opinion overseen by the FEC or a U.N. Commission headed by Jimmy Carter. The poll will close Saturday at noon.
Monday, May 18, 2009
On the subject of blatant teases there's the current pretend-it's-not-really-a-promotion promotion for the new Impulse from SP. It's a promo piece for Eurodealers that was accidentally released. Sure. And I'm Mary Poppins. A restricted piece for promotion to Eurodealers that doesn't show the new marker or offer any details at all. Nada. Zip. Nothing. How very informative. Seriously, does anyone believe this kind of thing anymore? Apparently so. And no denying that it works. It costs almost nothing and it gets all the gearheads and gun whores happily discussing the possibilities and waiting anxiously for the next tid-bit of non-info while the real product just happens to have an introductory date within the next three weeks.
Regarding the post, 'The Ultimate Paintball Conspiracy,' I have received some queries wondering what sort of backlash might be forthcoming as a result of the post. There won't be any, in part, because I didn't name any names thereby forcing peeps into the position of having to deny something and because I've actually done the new paintball crowd a favor. The talk has existed for years so I do not find it coincidental that vague talk about a new paintball has leaked quietly in a number of places recently. Part of the process is to put the idea out there and gauge public response. My post, regardless of the slant, advances that process.
That does not mean I expect to see a new paintball any time soon. Or ever, necessarily. As I stated in the post I think it unlikely and I'm certainly not advocating it. The idea of a new paintball however isn't the same thing as my opinion of the idea. If my opinions had any bearing on reality there would, for example, have been no TARP, bailouts or the insanity of printing money round the clock. Alas, my opinion is irrelevant.
Tomorrow, along with the usual MLP Weekly Update (which is frequently not very uplifting) I've decided to have some fun and do a Battle of ML Websites--and, who knows, there might even be a poll allowing you lazy slackers an opportunity to not vote. Isn't America great?
Friday, May 15, 2009
Some of you will object to the term, conspiracy. After all, corporations in other fields aren't in the habit of doing business in the public square either. Just so, but if the course under discussion is adopted it will demand a nearly unified front and prearranged agreements. At a minimum that could be called collusion and when you discover the target of this plan I suspect most of you will agree that "conspiracy" just scratches the surface. Do I have your attention yet? Funny thing is the word has already leaked onto the paintball internet (and beyond) but the few who have commented don't seem to understand all the ramifications.
One simple move, if accepted industry-wide, could lay the groundwork overnight for an enormous change that could reinvigorate a massive chunk of the industry. (Of course, somebody will have to pay a price.)
Let's call the plan the .50 Caliber Solution.
That's it. That's all there is to it. A brand, spanking new paintball as the accepted industry-wide standard. (It may not actually be .50 caliber but that is number bandied about most of the time.) Doesn't sound like much at first, does it?
Focus first on the necessities if there were a new paintball and then on the possibilities.
No, VFTD has not morphed into a fringe whacko black helicopter NWO site. (I do that one over at Bombthrowinganarchist.com) And it may be the idea doesn't get any further than some quiet conversation or a trial balloon or two before it disappears. Who knows? But Dale over at The Ford Report references the rumor along with a not-exactly-a-denial denial "...There's another rumor flying about that ProCaps is leading the charge to force a changeover to .50 caliber paintballs. Romanian Terminator Sorin Voinea of ProCaps thinks this is hysterical ..." in yesterday's latest edition of The Ford Report. Hey, he said it, not me.
Let's What If? starting with paint. A smaller paintball is materially cheaper to produce, package, and most importantly, to ship. The margins that are killing paint manufacturers saddled with debt suddenly provide more profit at the same prices. In a market with a flat player base and glutted with perfectly good used guns capable of new gun performance how do you turn sales around? A .68 caliber breach and bore gun and barrel won't be much use shooting a dramatically different sized paintball, will it? Perhaps hoppers wouldn't need to be changed but who can doubt retrofit internals to maximize performance wouldn't be a part of the change over? Would every pair of goggles need a new lense manufactured to a different standard because of the decreased impact area? I don't know but I can easily see it happening. How's that for a start? New paint, new guns, new barrels--lots of new stuff. Beginning to see the brave new paintball world that features a new universal paintball standard?
Sure, there are obstacles but desperate times call for desperate measures and if you do not believe these are desperate times for some of the manufacturers you're head has been buried in the sand. Most of the complication--assuming all the major players end up in agreement--is in how to work the transition period and how to sell it to you, Joe Paintballer. My guess is cheaper and safer with a 'for the good of the game' thrown in for good measure.
Impossible? Overblown? Just plain crazy? Probably, but the talk inside the industry is for real. At this point I guess the next big question is--will they actually pull the trigger on the .50 caliber solution?
Thursday, May 14, 2009
That's not the tsunami though. Not by a long shot. Take a minute to think about the ramifications of a German ban on paintball. (Purely the practical apart from a future trend politically.) What does Paintball lose immediately? A lot of players, teams and a still developing market. But the German market isn't just the German market. How big a hit do the MS and Grand Tour take if German teams disappear or are drastically reduced? Two of Europe's largest distributors are based in Germany. I'm told one of the smaller paint makers ships hundreds of skids of paint annually to Germany. And that Germany, when considered separately from Europe as a whole, is a top five market worldwide all on its own. Are you beginning to see the tsunami yet? In a time of general economic weakness within PBIndustry the loss of the German market could easily be the straw that broke more than a few camels' backs. It will, if it happens, cause a significant contraction in the European branches of the big U.S. players they can't afford right now. The potential ramifications really do reach every corner of the globe.
So, if you were thinking that's really tough for the Germans but it won't affect me--we all might need to reevaluate.
Which leads me to the biggest VFTD tease ever. You will not want to miss tomorrow's post; The Ultimate Paintball Conspiracy. I confess to being a conspiracy buff but that doesn't mean they don't exist. And a German ban could push the conspirators further down the path they are already considering. Fortunately nobody in Paintball can keep a secret and the word has gotten out. It could be the biggest story of the last decade.
UPDATE: sources in Euroland called to tell me to get it right so here I am, getting it right. My only excuse is that thing's been changin' mighty fast over there lately as this latest information has developed in the last 48 hours. Seems paintball folks have organized and using the services of a PR firm may have made some inroads in the last day with the help of a lot of players rousing public opinion. No deal is done and the ban could still pass but what seemed two days ago to be a lost cause might yet carry the day.
FOLLOW-UP: Please check out the comments as Missy (who knows her stuff) disputes the scale of the German market's importance and consequently the scale of the impact should a German ban ultimately happen. While I aim to have fun here at VFTD it is never my intention to steer you wrong so I appreciate Missy taking the time to correct a possible error. The latest news looks more positive so hopefully we won't have to find out what the real impact of a paintball ban in Germany might be.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
First I want to comment on the potential positives--and then it's gonna get kinda technical. I will not be discussing how to play this layout. (You never know when you might catch an opponent by surprise.) On the plus side the snake is okay. And I'm fine with the SD in back center although that will be a serious handicap (and hardship) for a lot of teams. Well, that was easy. So much for the positives. Oh, and depending on how you look at it this field will reward gun skills largely because field position is very neutral.
My concerns with this layout are that lanes of movement are limited and predictable. That aggressive movement isn't rewarded in giving up killer shots. (Who does the 50 Dorita kill?) The design pushes the play into halves of the field unless teams keep players back in which circumstance points will slow. (The exception to this is the D-side Aztec [Temple] which is also the primary avenue to the 50--and brings me to my last concern.) The field has easily identifiable essential bunkers--positions that almost have to be played, particularly early in a point, which will lead to repetitious, and quite likely defensive, play especially in the lower divisions.
To keep things relatively simple I'm going to discuss aspects of three bunkers that should go at least part of the way towards explaining my previously stated concerns. The Cake in the D-side corner and the snake side MD & MT. There is nothing wrong with the Cake and it is legitimately playable but what does it do? In and of itself, almost nothing, though it's another place a player can use as a launch point in moving to the Aztec. The wire lane is nearly pointless as movement up the D-side of the field is accomplished inside the wire. And the Cake's natural shots are limited and inconsequential although the Cake is sufficiently "protected" that it can be played more aggressively by a player simply staying in the vicinity of the Cake and even conceivably standing up at times.
*I'm going to take a moment and discuss "elevation" and by that I mean is the level the player plays a position at because the player's field of vision and shot opportunity is directly impacted by their elevation. Crawling in the snake, tucked into a Cake, on a knee in an Aztec, standing in a Can. In the case of this Cake the placement in the deep corner along with the other surrounding bunkers contributes to the Cake's lack of playable options.*
The snake side MD offers three principle options; movement snake side, snake side shots and D-side lanes and shots. I expect the majority of the time it will be used to try and lock down the D-side of the field because A) it has the best lanes for doing so, and, B) it positions the "odd" player where they can swing snake side as needed. My concern isn't the placement of MD itself but the angles and lanes created by its spacial relationship to the D-side bunkers. It offers so much more than most of the other bunkers that it almost has to be played.
The snake side MT is an interesting bunker because of the elevation advantage it confers. This is partially neutralized by the placement of the Can inside the snake but I am curious to see how the relationship between the MT and the opposite diagonal beam plays. Otherwise it is the dominant position on the snake side of the field as I suspect the snake itself will be very difficult to play for effect.
That was the Cliff Notes version (for you, Mick) but if anyone has any questions post them up in comments and I'll probably answer to much greater length than you ever wanted to read. Consider yourself warned. Additionally, for our Euro friends I'll do the Bitburg MS layout (next week) and I will discuss how to play that one.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Episode 2--Shooting with Either Hand
Coming soon. Episode 3--The Gear Bag
UPDATE: This is terrific. Some diversity of opinions amongst the clickers out there. But it leaves me curiously unsatisfied. How about a comment or two? I can't decide if peeps are objecting to the characterization of some pros or Coach's unvarnished assessment of Lil Baller's deficiencies. Or are you just whining because the voices sound goofy?
Meanwhile we's seven or so weeks out and registration for Chitown is -- not yet open. And in late breaking news the new PSP website still sucks.
The freshly restructured USPL (but we could be the NPPL if you'd like that better) is now counting on the West Coast Open in July to set their course for success. It's too early to look at numbers though there are 20-something teams signed up which (fingers crossed) I take as a positive sign. The league is also offering some serious discounts for early payment--pay in May. As always it will come down to who pays and in the next two months both the WCPPL and RPL will have run events that could cut into USPL turnout. At this point it's a waiting game.
Apparently the MS is telling the Eurokids don't worry, be happy as the pending German legislation to ban paintball will not affect the Bitburg (Germany) event come the end of May. And while you're at it come out in great numbers to show the politicians what a swell sport paintball really is--'cus right now nobody who doesn't have to be in Germany is signing up for our event. The MS website currently lists 7 registered teams in D2 & M5, the only unlocked divisions in Series play.
No word on whether the spectator unfriendly new inflatable field enclosure will be used at Bitburg. There is finally word though on how the unplayed matches and results from Malaga will be made up. Some of the missed matches will be played at Bitburg (come on down early, like Thursday, if you're in the neighborhood) and the rest, including the finals, will be played in Paris at the next event. This means, among other things, that roster restrictions will apparently be loosened and that scheduling will be based on the reading of tea leaves or tarot cards depending on your team's preference. (I made up that last bit. The important part is that schedules won't be based on results 'cus there are no results.) For a look at the latest statement issued to the teams by the MS go here.
Our weekly tour now concludes with the Grand Tour central conference event in Poland scheduled for this weekend. Looks like the event will have 40 teams. I don't know if this is good or bad but past events have apparently done considerably better. It also appears the current lack of interest from lower division teams in playing Bitburg didn't translate into extra numbers for Warsaw. Funny (ironic) how most of the concern going into this season was how U.S. top tourney ball would be affected but so far it seems to be Euroball taking the biggest hits.
UPDATE: Big stuff coming on Friday, slackers. The Ultimate Paintball Conspiracy. The plan to revive the industry.
Monday, May 11, 2009
This time around I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for the best (contrary to prior experience) and increasing the level of complexity while narrowing the margin for error. Scared, Sunshine? You're gonna need a high tolerance for frustration because it isn't going to get easier, it's getting harder. Listen up, Sunshine--no gun throwing, no heaving your goggles and definitely no crying so be ready to tell your teammates it's just sweat, maybe even a little blood, but not tears. (That goes for you too, girls.)
This time we're going to take a more in depth look at player positioning otb, stationary laning and living and lastly, maintaining an effective lane on the move. But first I want to take a moment to explain why these are the follow-up elements you should focus on. Part One focused primarily on the individual techniques involved and began touching on how that is incorporated in a team scheme. Part Two picks up where One left off and focuses on how to implement those techniques--and additional skills--within the first 5 seconds (or so) of the breakout. (A) Player positioning goes into more depth on how to set-up and take covered positions while laning otb. (B) Stationary laning is kind of a misnomer as what I mean is an extension of player positioning; the act of laning while moving into a covered position, typically the home bunker. And (C) maintaining an effective lane on the move refers to either a step out shooter, an edger or the first few steps for a player intent on actively running & shooting to their primary.
A. With a single home shooter this isn't usually an issue (though a quick look at the PSP Chicago layout might make you think twice.) With two shooters it is important that each laner knows the assignment and has planned in advance for how each will take up their position. As it is difficult to shoot effectively and retain as much cover as possible with two players in the same bunker the most common alternative is the stack. One player is low and tight, tucked up in the bunker while the second player is behind the first and centered so that the bunker provides the maximum angles of protection. The second player also tends to stand or crouch so there is an elevation difference as well between the two.
B. There are two issues here; shooting an effective lane and not interfering with the rest of the breakout. No planning or poor planning results in interrupted lanes, peeps running into each other, players shooting their teammates and so on. While that degree of chaos may not be the norm even something as seemingly minor as forcing the lane shooter to hesitate a second before aiming down the assigned lane almost always means no OTB kills that point. So there's two things at work here; getting on the lane as quickly as possible and sustaining that lane as the player takes cover (which frequently requires the player to move 10 - 15 feet or so.)
C. This is a variant of laning OTB for more advanced levels of play. (Realistically most teams are shooting most of their guns OTB but there is a huge gulf between simply shooting your marker and shooting to effect.) A step out shooter is shooting the same lane options (mostly) that the home shooter is. The object is to add a second gun OTB and delay the move of the step out shooter to the primary. The edger--using the base of the X to hide his intention--is focused on laning a home shooter who is expected to be focused on a wider lane. The player running & shooting isn't really a laner. In fact, he is the opposite, but the same skill set applies with respect to the speed and accuracy of acquiring the initial shooting lane.
A. The best way is to go through the motions. Over and over. First, all players who will be home shooters laning off the break need to discuss how they will set-up in the home bunker. All the configurations to be used must be accounted for. Once the players know how they wish to set-up it's time to do it by repeatedly acting out coming off the board simulating the beginning of a point. Once you are satisfied the routine is set it's time to do some shooting. To keep paint usage low have teammates spot your lanes and go through the breakout motions shooting just the initial stream of paint. A dozen paintballs shot is plenty. (Adjust poor lane accuracy the same way you practice First Shot.)
B. As soon as the shooter combos are settled it's time to act out full team breaks off the board to assure that regardless of each player's action it all happens seamlessly. And, listen carefully, Sunshine, one successful simulated breakout isn't enough. Do it often enough so that y'all can do it in your sleep.
C. Now it's time for a little fun. You get to shoot paint. This drill can be done with 2 players, 4 players, 8 players or 10 players. The basic drill is one home shooter and one player running & shooting laterally. Again, it simulates the breakout. The shooter comes off the board shooting a lane. The runner comes off the opposite board running to a corner while shooting back at home to suppress the laner. With 8 players it's 4 on each end of the field; a runner to each corner and a home shooter both ways, snake and D-side. Players move thru the multi-player drill moving left to right so that everyone takes a turn at every phase of the drill. The 10-player variant adds two players at one end of the field to act as edgers making it that much more difficult to shoot an effective lane. This is an essential drill so learn to love it.
Lastly is the issue of commitment. Most laning fails because it isn't on target quickly enough. Add in the fact many players are more interested in staying alive than shooting an effective lane--mixed with poor or no preparation--and the commonplace result is players bailing out on their lanes almost before they've begun shooting them. End of the day all your skill and practice won't get the job done right if you will not commit to doing it right.
Next time (in a couple of weeks) I'll finish up on laning OTB by discussing how to find the lanes you want to shoot and how those lanes can change based on your breakouts (or making adjustments) when the opponent is having success.
Later this evening I'll be posting Xball: Laning OTB 2. According to my schedule it should have been posted Saturday latest but we both know what my blogging schedule is worth. Instead of being timely I'm contrite. Sort of.
Tomorrow, along with the MLP weekly update I'll also be posting episode 2 of Ask the Coach. I know you've been waiting anxiously for this latest installment. (Yep, that was sarcasm again. Get used to it.)
Wednesday will be Chicago field layout day. I've spent some time analyzing how this will play so we'll talk about it. It's not dreadful. It will play and my issues with it have nothing to do with the snake at all. More on Wednesday.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Interestingly much of what most paintballers know about the pro teams and their paintball heroes they get second hand. Players and teams are featured in ads, catalogues and promotional videos produced and disseminated by their sponsors. Bigger, more powerful sponsors generally means higher profile and more promotion. The magazines did (or probably still do) make an effort to feature photos of sponsored teams for their advertisers. They also feature popular players as guest (or regular) writers and the subjects of interviews and other kinds of features like How-To's. The players promote their teammates and friends and it quickly becomes a reinforcing cycle for those who get an inside track. Toss in the stars of assorted paintball videos and event DVDs etc. and pretty soon a player can be famous for a particular 5 seconds of action seen thousands of times by fans who know virtually nothing else about the player. Until a magazine does a feature based on the video's popularity and round and round it goes.
The next obvious question is: is it a chicken and the egg thing? Is the media Cali-centric because that's where the best-of-the-best are or does the paintball world believe that's the truth because most of the media is/was Cali-based or grew out of relationships where people talked about, supported and promoted their friends and teammates? Or another way of putting it is this: does the media make paintball stars or do the stars attract the media? Clearly, to my mind, it isn't an either/or kind of proposition as, I think, there is some truth to both sides of that particular coin.
I can tell I'm losing some of you. It seems a self-evidently weak case and besides, if you follow the logic, I'm sorta suggesting that all the fanboys and general paintball fanatics are having their opinions formed for them and it's a much more comfortable thought to think one's opinions are correct and that's why your heroes get the lion's share of attention. (Hate those unintended consequences.)Case in point; the PSP All-Star contests. What better measure can be offered up for the relative equality of the top players? To date there have been 3 All-Star match-ups where the East played the West 3 matches for bragging rights. The first two years the East won the first two matches at each All-Star event with the West maintaining their dignity by winning the third. Last year the two sides split the first two matches and the third went to overtime with the East being victorious once again. And even if you discount the first All-Star event because some of the West players were at less than their best the overall results speak for themselves. Have those results changed anything? Not really.
However it all shakes out, whether it's really and East coast, West coast thing or just the way things worked out without anybody giving it much thought along the way I find it pretty nearly undeniable that the Left Coast Bias exists.
First, I'd like to thank Pat for hanging around and putting up with us (and by us, I mean me.) It is more than annoying to be told how to go about your business. I know that. And when peeps do it to me I may remain serene on the outside but inside I want them dead and buried in unhallowed ground with every sign of their existence destroyed and churned into the earth. (Okay, so maybe I overreact sometimes.)
That said I'm gonna do it anyway because, well, it's my blog and you can't stop me. It's not a great reason but it's an undeniable one.
Keeping Don's suggestions and the 180 rule in mind here goes: 1) remove the cameras from the pits. They aren't used much and without sound their descriptive power is--wait for it--muted, at best. What could help convey the intensity and emotion of the game is, without sound, mostly time filler. 2) Take those cameras and place them on the penalty box in a protected bracket and aim them to show a portion of the D-side of the field. (It might be seen as a minor violation of the 180 rule but not by much and should visually assimilate easily in the context of the field and the players' uniforms.)
The result is no additional equipment expense and at least partial coverage of the D-wire from both ends of the field. My only question is the quality of those cameras relative to the camera set-ups on the snake side. If the disparity is too great obviously that would be less than ideal.
Eventually (assuming this whole competitive paintball thing actually survives a week or two) as the webcast expands, the game grows and its reach broadens more improvements will be made and among them will be the issue of displaying more of the action on the D-side of the field. It will happen so why not address it? No harm, no foul, just an annoying know-it-all insisting on offering up an idea or two, wanted or unwanted.
Oh, and if it occurred to you that there is a measure of irony in this post given my admonition in 'The X-Factor' post below--it occurred to me, too.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
The new PSP website. The old site wasn't flashy or exciting but it worked fine and was simple to navigate. The new one is a mess. It looks like a bad high school media class project. Seriously.
The Chicago layout that first appeared on Pro Paintball and over on PBN in the PSP forum (from the Canes forum) is now up at PSP Events. I was hoping it was a fake (because I didn't get my copy Wednesday) and because it's frankly just plain poor. Obviously we'll play it like everyone else if it comes to that but it's a mediocre design that looks mostly like they were trying too hard to be different. I'll break it down next week.
As brilliant as the webcast has been, and it has, I'm wondering when we're going to get to see more of the D-side action. Pat? Matty? Anybody? (I've heard the concern is the angle changes on the D-side will be confusing compared to the snake side but I'm not getting it.)
The Dynabrats (at least Alex and Johnny) have channeled Shepard Fairey and come up with a scheme to sell Red stickers to finance Red's plane fare to Chicago. (Was I the only one surprised when Red didn't appear at MAO after the PSP used him in their promo?) I think it's only fair the kids work the street art angle made ubiquitous by Fairey seeing as he jacked most of his images and ideas from uncredited sources. (Okay, that last bit wasn't very paintball but here at VFTD I take seriously my obligation to expose you lazy slackers to a little culture once in a while. And in Fairey's case it's damn little. *bada bing*)
UPDATE: Added the links I forgot to include last night.
Will they (the politicians) or won't they? And will it have any impact on Bitburg? Heck, does all the legal hoop jumping to even bring a marker to Germany to play for a weekend impact the turnout? I'd be inclined to think twice but then I'm lazy and that all sounds like work.
UPDATE: It was late and I forgot to add any links last night but anonachris had your back and posted this one in comments. It's an English translation of a German story from Der Spiegel.
The reasons for this are straightforward; the fundamentals of a successful team are skills, leadership, chemistry, consistency and heart, not necessarily in that order. Beyond that all competitive teams are like sharks, they need to be moving all the time, in fact, they are moving all the time and if it isn't moving forward it is going backwards whether anyone is aware of it or not in that moment. It is the unavoidable fact of competitive life; there is no standing still.
A failure or breakdown in any one area can frequently be overcome or made up for but as soon as two or more areas are in flux it is almost always a problem, and often a big problem. And in competitive paintball it is hard to sustain a team under any circumstances, even a good team and in the current environment there are a number of factors conspiring to make it more difficult that usual. If you've played tourney ball for any length of time it's easy to tick off the names of teams that have come and gone. The list of teams that have come and stayed is a very short one.
Right now one of the bigger issues impacting the pro game is practice--or the lack thereof because of reduced resources. Less paint, less practice. No paint, no practice. No practice and the edges start to dull. The commitment required doesn't have a direction. The desire and motivation to keep grinding and grinding with a purpose is frustrated. And before long the team, any team, begins to break down.
Even in the best of times things happen; players get jobs, go to school, lose motivation after they succeed. Team relationships and dynamics change and the reality is the difference between success and failure is often hard to impossible to define in the first place much less diagnose with the intention to try and fix. Most of the time the best anyone can do is focus on the essentials and hope the pieces fall into place. And when they do, take every advantage because chances are it won't last all that long.
Today some people see teams like X-Factor and Impact uncharacteristically struggling compared to where they were before and they are ready to write them off or diminish real past accomplishments in light of current difficulties and that's just plain stupid. Btw, I'm not suggesting everyone who runs down a pro team or player (or a rival team or player) should maybe have a little more respect or think before they yap. There are, after all, limits to what even VFTD can accomplish but I am suggesting there is a lot of sense in the old adage that it's better to remain silent and be taken for a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Btw, if anyone takes any pictures of the event VFTD would like to see them.
Staying in Euroland the only official word from the MS so far seems to be Mr. Barry Fuggle's statement brushing off any league culpability for the Fiasco in Malaga while assuring one and all that the new inflatable fields were the greatest things since the Euro. (Okay, maybe not better than the Euro, but close for sure.) (If your sarcasm alert went off it is in perfect working order. If not you might want to have it checked.) No telling how Malaga will impact future events but the Bitburg event is scheduled for the weekend of May 29-31 which is less than a month away. The locked division team numbers are set (although D1 is down one to 27) and so far D2 & M5 (D3) each have 4 teams registered. If registration lags (Is Bitburg usually the least will attended anyway?) will it be because of Malaga?
Rumors of a national 7-man league in the U.S. were apparently exaggerated. (That was more irony, I think, than sarcasm.) The USPL wisely put off the DC Challenge but in the process have put themselves in a virtual make or break situation when it comes to the upcoming but unofficially unannounced as of yet San Jose or Bay City Open. (And if you are wondering how it's possible to name an unannounced event, it's not easy, but here at VFTD the impossible just takes a little longer.) With a revised schedule of 4 national events and the new 2nd event of the season in Cali this event will need to be both a paintball and financial success. So far the league's website offers no additional information about the proposed venue or date. (But it's gotta be June, doesn't it? And doesn't that cause pro teams in both leagues some concerns? It does me. Fortunately, I'm not running a national league.) (For those scoring at home that was flippant.)
UPDATE: USPL announces second event date of July 24-26 at SC Village in Corona Cali. Apparently, it didn't have to be in June but I confess I'm now scratching my head over when the third event will be now--the rescheduled DC Challenge.
The USPL is also starting to toss around the old NPPL brand name perhaps to see if it still has any traction with the tourney community. It looks more like a lodestone to me but you could reasonably (not really) see things differently.
Meanwhile, the PSP just completed what must be considered a successful event at the MAO despite the fact total team numbers were down over last year and the vendor presence continues to be thin--though that is likely to be the case for the foreseeable future. MAO '09 numbers were a match for Phoenix '09 numbers. Overall Phoenix was up over '08, MAO was down but only by about 10%. The last couple of Chitown events have been 230+ teams. So far only the PSP appears to be on track although there have been rumors swirling around about the lack of a date and location for World Cup which has, in recent years, been a Disney and central Florida autumn staple. Regardless the PSP stands today as the only solid international league. Putting the PSP head and shoulders above the rest is the amazing quality and professionalism of the webcast project. (The Eurokids might object and claim their TV show is superior because of its reach and that's a fair point. The question is though will the webcast or the show eventually prove the more effective vehicle for promoting and mainstreaming paintball.)
Being a glass half empty kind of guy I'm not seeing the major league season as being a rousing success just yet. In fact, it's staggering like a Brit kicked out of the last bar of the night too drunk to fall into the curb. Okay, maybe not quite that bad but come on, you can't say things are going swimmingly. Still, they're going and that's something. Right?
Monday, May 4, 2009
Tomorrow's MLP Held Hostage will be the last three events in review as well as the latest from Warsaw.
Also, along with the promised posts from last week that I haven't posted yet there will be the next Xball: Play of the Game post on laning later this week along with another Ask the Coach; Episode 2--Shooting with Either Hand. And adding to the queue will be posts entitled, The X-Factor (about the lifecycle of a pro team) and, Left Coast Bias (which I hope to post shortly.)
Housekeeping. No new recruits enlisted into the DPA last week so no enlistments post. *hint, hint*
Also, if anyone has any questions about the MAO I'd be willing to take a shot at answering so post them in comments. Otherwise, my final remarks will appear in tomorrow's MLP post.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Did today's webcast live up to the hype? Damn right it did--and I only saw the Legion / Philly match back at the hotel.
While they didn't make to Sunday it was a treat to see the Trauma kids playing paintball again and even better to see them all together just hanging out. Too often it's easy to forget how transitory this life usually is and too often we take too much of it for granted.
If there were any justice in paintball (or common sense) somebody would make Lu (Lucian Blackburn) Paintball's poster child. I'm just saying.
No photos. That's it. I didn't take any but there are probably millions of them soon to be posted online anyway. It's been a long event all ready and fortunately we ain't done yet. I've still got work to do tonight so I's gonna cut this short. Besides, if you're not watching you don't really care so why should I bother?
Gotta love Sunday. Sunday means winning is within reach. Sunday is what most teams play for. Sunday is when the tournament really starts.