Tuesday, June 30, 2009

PSP Chicago Open Recap

Really just some more mostly random thoughts. If anyone has a particular question feel free to post it in comments. I'll answer any I can but the truth is at events I tend to be a bit monomaniacal and don't pay a lot of attention to most of the stuff going on that doesn't directly involve me.
First things first, congrats to the Legion, they earned it by playing some terrific and consistent paintball. Same goes to Mike and Dan and the kids from Aftermath. (That, btw, is about the limit of my good sportsmanship as I still have a sour lump in the pit of my stomach--and, no, it wasn't the cheap booze Saturday night. That was all top shelf.) (Truth is I can deal with losing but I hate underperforming particularly when the buck stops with me.)
Okay, time to drop a few names. Trev (Trevor Pearson, the stat man's stat man) I'm thinking a mullet and a bit of scruff are the real you. Pick up some Griz and you can give up that effeminate smoking habit and learn to enjoy tobacco like a real man, between your cheek and gum. It was a real pleasure to see Lucian Blackburn working with the webcast kids and I hope they bring him back for Cup. Lu is and will always be one of my favorite people in paintball. (Sorry about Saturday, Lu, but I wasn't good company.) Also good to see Big Dave Fason. And the other Big Dave (Baines). Next time, Dave, bring a tape measure. Frankly I think it's a miracle that those spindly stalks you call legs actually hold you up.
And then there's Geoff Waterman. Or I suppose I ought to say Geoff Cutlass. I hear Geoff may soon fall victim to the siren call of the San Fernando valley's major industry. Geoff has grown a mustache and lip beard (not quite big enough to be a soul patch) that would have made Freddie Mercury green with envy and would serve him quite admirably in the porn version of 'Pirates of the Caribbean.' Last time I saw him he was mumbling (over and over) "Come here, wench, my sword needs sharpening."
I never did get the scoop on the Doritos logo on the bunkers on the Pro field but I have a feeling that was done as a promotional gimmick. Which seems crazy to me given that half the paintball companies (or so it seems) are currently being sued for trademark infringements but I'm going with my gut on this one. Either that or the PSP got permission to do it--which makes a world of sense--so why do I think they didn't?
I'm also a little curious about the scheduling what with a few divisions starting on Wednesday. It seems to have been necessary to keep all the pro and semi-pro matches on the pro field but on Wednesday the semi-pro teams didn't have the pro refs. (So I'm not real sure how playing a match or two on a different field would have been a hardship much different from having to spend an extra day at the event and playing matches with a different reffing crew.) And as there were, if I recall correctly, six fields last year and fewer teams this year I wonder why the other divisions that were started early were started early. No big conspiracy theory though I'm sure I could come up with something if you'd like one. No doubt Faction will have an explanation.
And now for something completely silly. For some time now there have been very precise rules about pro jerseys and lettering and numbers. The point (and a legit one at that) is to make individuals easily identifiable to the stat crews. Chicago was supposed to be the deadline with threats and ultimatums tossed hither and yon. No doubt you can guess the result--even if you didn't see any Pro games. Most of the teams failed to comply so by golly they really better do it by Cup or else they will have some s'plaining to do.
In closing I don't really know what to say about the webcast that wasn't. I don't know what the problems were but I'm sure everyone involved in the effort did everything in their power to make it work and it's just very unfortunate that it didn't. I'm still gonna check out a number of the matches once they become available.

Major League Paintball Held Hostage: Weekly Update

The PSP's Chicago Open concluded over the past weekend and World Cup registration hasn't opened yet. (Which isn't a great surprise given the event is 3 plus months away.) However, the WC venue and dates have been announced. The location will be Fantasy of Flight in (or near) Polk City, Florida, from Oct. 7 - 11. Does anyone else find the name of the venue ironic given the efforts in past years to "launch" tournament paintball? (Okay, maybe it's just me.) I also find some of the internet squealing about the loss of Disney rather amusing as well as if the WC had always been at Disney. Hey kids, how would you feel about parking two miles away and being shuttle bussed to the Wide World of Sports site every day with your gear? (That was going to be a condition of going back this year.) And on the plus side Kissimmee isn't all that far off. Anyone who wants to hang out in the old haunts needn't be more than a half hour ride away. Even better, Polk County puts the "Cracker" into traditional Florida Cracker culture. (If you're wondering if VFTD has slipped into crude racial commentary, it ain't so. It's part of Florida's unique heritage, not unlike West Virginia genealogies that have no branches.)

News out of the USPL remains much the same but we're now into the final week(s) countdown to the West Coast Open. Now is the time hop on board to get your 7-man on. There's some serious local promotion going on as Giovanni pulls out all the stops and in case you missed it, you can bring your own paint or purchase from KEE on site. Not sure how you can go wrong on that count. And Camille dropped me a note hinting at some big news for the league hopefully coming soon. As I've said before, if 7-man is your deal (or if you haven't tried it but aren't excited by xball) now is the time to check it out. West Coast Open is in July and the DC Challenge will be held in August. Heck, even if you're a regular xball player there's nothing for you until World Cup so why not come out and play some 7-man?

Over in Euroland the MS is mere hours from the beginning of the Paris Open event. What I presume are final numbers (or mighty close to it) puts the D2 contingent at 16 teams which means the MS came up 9 teams short of filling all the spots for the Millennium Cup. In the separate M5 event there are 36 D3 teams registered which is better than Bitberg but fewer than Malaga. I imagine the numbers have to be a little disappointing and I wonder if this be the end of the "open" event experiment.
In the better late than never category the MS has finally announced the finals schedule for the Malaga event in the locked divisions. The games will be played Friday morning in Paris. Way to build suspense, Millennium.
For those interested in a preview of the upcoming CPL action one of VFTD's Eurofriends sent this link along the other day. Seems a number of the CPL teams will be getting in some last minute practice on the July 1 & 2. And if your Francaise isn't so good try looking here. (You will need to be a registered Facebook user though to access the page.)

Next on the Grand Tour schedule is the Graz, Austria event which looks like it may get the largest turnout of the season so far with 39 teams already registered. The event will take place toward the end of July.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Monday Poll

Aight, last week's poll wasn't all that popular and it was, I confess, maybe not my best work but it ain't like you slackers are doing much to help a poor solitary blogger out, you know.
On to bigger and better er, polls. This week's Monday Poll asks the question: What puts the major in major league tournament series paintball? It's not a trick question and if you take a moment (or two) to think it over you might be surprised at what you decide.
Oh, and I'm giving you one last chance at the 'other' option with the request you explain what you mean if you vote other. Last time a couple of very clever slackers picked 'other' and no doubt thought it was hi-larious. Why, I'm laughing about it all over again it was so funny. Participate, it's your moral obligation.

Monday Poll Review
What kind of result did I expect when I ask an audience of mostly competition-oriented paintballers what kind of paintball they prefer or support? D'oh! It made a little more sense to me at the time and when I finally get around to the 'Paintball Diversity' post you may see where I was coming from. But seriously, no excuses, it was mediocre and I appreciate the effort some of y'all made to play along and vote. Like I always say (at least part of the time) your vote at VFTD is as important as your vote as a citizen of [fill in the blank.] If you think about it that's a sad commentary so I suggest you don't think about it.
Over 51% chose tournament and another 40% (18% & 22%) chose one form of rec ball and 6% chose scenario with the mil-sim crowd getting a big fat nada. Another actually curious thing I've noticed with these polls is the numbers seldom add up. The percentages equal 97% but that includes 100% of the actual votes. So somewhere in there the poll lost 3% to what were probably rounding errors--or at least, inconsistencies. Not unlike paintball officiating.

This Week at VFTD

Is gonna be potluck. Hey, I'm just trying to keep it real. I will get to some of the long overdue posts and I will do some sort of event recap along with the OTB options for the Chicago field. (A more comprehensive version than I've done before.) I'm putting out a schedule but it's likely to be less meaningful than usual. I'm a little under the weather and let's say paintball is not currently my favorite thing at the moment. (But it could be worse because paintball has never been my favorite thing. I'm just hating on it a little more than normal.)

Monday--This Week at VFTD, The Monday Poll
Tuesday--MLP Held Hostage, PSP Chitown Recap (the Geoff Waterman saga begins)
Wednesday--Paintball By The Numbers
Thursday--Chicago Open OTB lanes
Friday--could be Paintball Diversity or, you know, something else
Saturday--maybe something from the Dead Tree archive

Thursday, June 25, 2009

More Notes On The 50 Caliber Solution

My Paint Guy, who has yet to be mistaken, has an interesting take on the 50 cal rollout that I figured I’d pass along, not because I’m buying it 100% but because he has yet to take a wrong step. Hard to argue with getting it right.

Anyway, he’s all for the 50 cal small ball because he is convinced it will work with the current level of technology and that all the potential pitfalls can (or have been) overcome. And the resulting cost reductions at the manufacturing end will make paintball much more affordable across the board. This, it seems to me, remains an open question but we’ll see.
Of more interest (to me) he also thinks the Pro teams will be outfitted to compete using the small ball next season as a high profile way of introducing the new gear and paintball to the tourney marketplace. It makes enough sense that it could happen and given that the latest rumors keep projecting a small ball introduction at World Cup it fits the logistics as well. Again, we’ll see.

I still have a few questions about small ball, mostly related to performance; marking consistency, breaking consistency and, in particular, velocity. I don’t doubt the first two can be accomplished but I’m reserving judgment until I see the small ball in action. Velocity is another issue entirely however. In the background there has been speculation about some of the performance claims (more accurate, longer range, etc.) and just how that can be accomplished–or even if it can. The keys seem to be the weight of the small ball and velocity. If the small ball requires greater velocity in order for its dynamic characteristics to match the 68 cal ball or to exceed the 68 cal ball that could have a significant effect on the tourney game. Right now we are competing on a field where the dimensions, bunkers and equipment create a balance between the valued core elements of the game. A velocity change could (and if sufficiently different, would) alter the current game dynamics. Think movement and what will happen if the paintball is moving, say, 350 fps instead of 295 fps. (This isn’t a game breaker of course but if the potential impact of things like higher velocity aren’t considered in advance and accounted for the result could be unintended harm just when everything looked to be turning around.)

I also have some questions about how the ‘09 off season is going to change the Pro landscape, again, and small ball could have a big impact on that, too. Last off season saw another reduction in paint sponsorships and a scramble amongst the teams for the limited resources. Until the small ball rumor hit there was every reason to expect more of the same but a move to small ball might keep more teams in the game. (If there is a commensurate retail price reduction resulting from the projected manufacturing savings.) Or maybe not. More on this angle in the future.

PSP Chicago: Thoughts & Observations

Wednesday: Gots to get you one of them Pro Paintball T-shirts. Enter a contest. Beg if you have to. They are hot and very cool. I’m just saying and it isn’t because I’ve got mine. Thanks, Guys. It was hotter than Hades’ greenhouse today. The cooler temperatures promised for later in the week will bring us closer to Death Valley-like days. (Okay, maybe not quite that bad but ballpark.) When the crew arrived last Tuesday the venue had a small lake where the Pro field used to be. So that was at least partly responsible for the venue this year. It’s 2 rows of three fields with access to the fields from the middle of the Pro row. The Pro field is the center field and everyone who parks across the street passes the vendors to get to the fields access point or to the Pro field bleachers. Beyond that are few more vendors and registration and refreshments. No final word on the Doritos logo dealio yet. So far most of the games I saw today were marked by the lack of discipline on display. Which was matched, fortunately, by a decent level of aggression. The result was often entertaining if not first rate paintball.

Thursday: the promised relief from the sweltering heat failed to appear today. Maybe tomorrow. As a consequence--at least on the Pro field--Commissioner Mineo is giving the refs extra breaks which has extended the schedule a bit. If the weather remains this brutal I would expect him to continue spelling the refs with extra rest even on webcast Saturday. The Pro teams began play today and the scores were more consistently lop-sided than I’ve ever seen before. At a guess I suspect it’s a result largely of limited practice for some of the teams mixed with the peculiarities of this design--and a continuation (for some) of yesterday’s lack of discipline. [I’ll talk about that more next week when VFTD recaps the event.]
There’s more on the webcast front, too. You may remember VFTD suggested one way of getting more of the D-wire action might be to put cameras in protected brackets on the penalty boxes to give mid-field and D-wire shots. (I was mostly just throwing it out there while trying to abide by the 180 degree rule. [It’s a film maker’s thing.]) Turns out the webcast will have those shots and more. (And bigger and better besides.) Patrick "Monkey With a Gun" Spohrer--and webcast mastermind--was kind enough to credit VFTD with the idea but the truth is the crane mounted remote control cameras at each end of the field are way beyond our idea and should provide tremendous shots of the game play. (And be the kind of shots that will let viewers see the points unfold and allow you to follow the hows and whys along with the action.) The only question I have now is can I Tivo the webcast so I get to watch, too?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Major League Paintball Held Hostage: Weekly Update

PSP staff were putting the finishing touches on field setup and the like today. Despite the brutal heat back home Chicagoland isn't a pleasant alternative. In fact, it's unpleasantly familiar--but that's too close to whining for comfort so I'll knock it off. They have moved things around quite a bit this year--or so it seemed in wandering around looking for our field. None of the area close to the houses at the back of the property is in use this year (I've heard it's been raining a lot lately and that it's kinda swampy over there but I didn't check.) Anyway, for regular reports and probably some pics check with our friends over at ProPaintball for the daily gossip and on scene info.
Final team totals for the Chicago Open are 195 paid (not including the Young Guns) so the numbers are actually down slightly over what it looked like last week. Must have been a few dropouts because I know there were also a few late registrations and payments.. Those numbers put the drop from last year at something above 15%.
On second thought I may take a closer look around the venue for signs of economizing. Also, there will be some new camera angles on the webcast as they were setting up to be able to shoot some closer action shots that should provide visible streams of paint and sight lines between opposing players, particularly on the snake side. (That isn't the word from Pat or Matty, just my interpretation of what will be in some of the shots given the new camera positions.) One other thing you'll see is the Doritos logo and trademark on the dorito bunkers on the Pro field. I don't know if we're seeing the first sign of an outside industry sponsor or if the league is using the Doritos tie-in to help sell the concept. I'll ask and let y'all know.

Over in the USPL (soon to be the NPPL) numbers for the West Coast Open remain sluggish with total registrations at 67 teams and just above half paid and ready to play. Even though I couldn't access DC Challenge registration thru the USPL website you can check it out (or register) thru APPA directly. DC has 70 teams registered for the end of August event. I know Camille and the gang are working hard but the USPL (NPPL) seems to still be in the same wait and see with fingers crossed position we've seen for a while now.

The Millennium Kids recently announced on their website that rosters for the open event in Paris would be unrestricted so I'm assuming anybody and everybody can beef up their team if they'd like to compete for the Cup without it impacting the regular series rosters or event results. By my count the MS still has 13 slots available in the open but they say it's only 11. That means at least 12 and perhaps 14 D2 teams have registered (though only 12 are listed on the website.) D3 (M5) registration is up to 27 and the MS announced they will playing Race 2-2 (if I read it correctly.)

If you Google 'Grand Tour' without including the modifier "paintball" you will get pages and pages of Grand Tours that aren't THE Grand Tour. That's probably unfair but I think I'd have a hard time justifying including the Grand Tour in the weekly update if they didn't have a Pro division. In fact I'm sure I wouldn't give it a second thought. The Lviv event took place last weekend and if you go to their site there are links to pictures. But no link to pblivescores even though that's where the scores and results can be seen.

Lastly I'd like to take a moment to recommend you check out the comments to the post, There Was No Paintball Bust, and read Houdini's second comment in particular. The whole major league paintball held hostage angle is (usually) at least partly tongue-in-cheek [meaning kinda unserious] but Houdini has a take from personal experience that I think is interesting, valid and worth paying heed to. So check it out.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Monday Poll

This week's Monday Poll is predicated on the idea that paintball must consolidate to survive, no more paintball diversity. (I'm not advocating any such thing except for purposes of the poll--just in case you were wondering.) So the question is: If there can only be one version of paintball, which one would you choose? It doesn't matter what criteria you use either. Pick the one you'd most like to play or the one you think would be best for the game or whatever. Given that VFTD is a blog about competitive paintball I'm assuming a built in bias towards competitive but it should still be interesting to see how the numbers turn out. Get to picking & clicking.

The Monday Poll Review
Last week's Monday Poll was on the likely impact of the 50 caliber paintball. The results were largely mixed and/or negative with around 25% thinking it could be a positive in part of the paintball marketplace while at the same time nearly 65% thought it would either come and go or cost the average baller money with a minority percentage in that group (11%) concerned it would ruin paintball altogether. And the most positive option; save paintball, only received 7% of the votes.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

This Week at VFTD: Sunday Special

Stuff is starting to pile up. 'Paintball Diversity' is mostly done. As is another post called, 'Paintball by the Numbers.' Thing is I've been a little busy and what with the Chicago Open this week that ain't gonna change for a few days at least. Do you see where this is going?

Monday--I will manage to post The Monday Poll & The Poll Review.
Tuesday--assuming our hotel has wifi I'll even get this week's edition of Major League Paintball Held Hostage posted.
Rest O' The Week--is strictly up in the air. I'd like to begin to catch up but realistically it's gonna be catch as catch can. I'll probably post something on the event, too. And after the event I thought I might post up a diagram of all our OTB lanes.

There you have it. Less than perfect but, hey, better than nothing. Most of time. And a real bargain at the price.

Oh, and if you're in Chi-town don't hesitate to say hey. "Hey."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Burning Question

Did the PSP cancel All-Star Sunday on account of paint? Or maybe a better question would be--Why did the PSP cancel the All-Star activities without bothering to tell anyone?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Enlistment for the Week

The latest numbers tell me there are lots of new visitors to our happy little blog --VFTD broke the 60+ country barrier last week--and it's been a while since we had a new recruit so I'd like to take a moment to explain the Deadbox Puppet Army for the uninitiated. The DPA is intended--given my warped sense of humor--to be an ironic poke at paintball's penchant for generating lookalike armies and the impulse for everybody to be individuals in large groups. (Can you say, agg?) If you were hoping to park your brain at the door and march in lockstep with your fellow puppets I'm afraid you will be disappointed. There won't be any of that here. We are all just simple victims of paintball, friends with a shared insanity--no strings attached.

Of course there is also the double super secret VFTD plan to conquer the paintball world relying on fifth columnist DPA members to soften up the enemy--and sell T-shirts. So join today. (I'm sure I'll get around to those T-shirts in no time at all. Oh, and I'm working on a secret handshake too. Hey, nobody ever said world domination was easy.)

A special VFTD thanks and welcome to our latest member, Demented Demon, for joining this week and proving beyond a shadow of doubt that the "follower" gadget still works. I was beginning to wonder. And for giving me an excuse to post all this DPA stuff. Again.

Stay thirsty, my friends

Thursday, June 18, 2009

There Was No Paintball Bust

Okay, that's not completely correct if you wish to say that the fall off in sales (& apparently participation) from the boom years constitutes a bust. What this is really about is offering an alternative theory for the present state of paintball generally. And it's not going to be a paintball based theory, it's going to be an economics based theory. I intend to keep things simple. (So don't hesitate to ask questions, disagree or whatever.)

By the way, this isn't the scheduled post. That post, Paintball Diversity, will be up tomorrow and will bump 'Return of the Pro Loser' to Saturday or into next week (again). (For you newer readers you're beginning to see how this scheduling business works out, aren't you? Trust me, this is as good as it's gonna get so consider the schedule one for likely posts. (The intersection of the best of intentions and reality.)

Conventional wisdom has been that the "bust" following the paintball boom was caused by paintball-related forces that can be corrected. Unstated is the presumption (hope) that fixing the causes of the bust will restore the boom. Hence we're now talking about the price of paintballs and blaming the ROF for all our ills. (It's not often you get to use "hence" in a sentence and I couldn't resist.) What if we've been focused on the wrong part of the boom bust cycle? What if the boom was "unnatural" and the bust is actually a return to something more like normal or at least predictive? After all, the bust mentality is mostly an industry perspective that has trickled down into the tourney world because of reduced sponsorship allotments. (I'm not suggesting some industry types aren't struggling. Only that their struggles are not the direct result of fewer players playing paintball.)

My working theory is this: The whole period of significant paintball expansion (rec, scenario & tournament) roughly corresponded to an economic period of artificial economies inflated with cheap dollars and cheap debt which, in essence, created an unintended bubble in the paintball industry and as the big bubbles burst and impacted the wider economy the same happened to paintball. If so, we can't rationally expect to predict any future result based on past outcomes because they were the product of a distorted market. [And the potential discrepancy between tourney and rec participation against scenario type participation in this environment is likely explained by the relative infrequency of scenario events and the known quantity factor of most of the participants. (They know what a big game is like and they already are motivated to play paintball within that context.) Whereas the tourney and team costs outstrip the others by a wide margin and rec play (and first time play) has a high initial cost against uncertain motivation. It's easier for ballers to justify the occasional discretionary expense of scenario play than it is to commit to the longer term cost of being on a team and training and competing. Or against a rec player's ambivalence measured against a traditionally steeper per time of participation cost. At any rate that's not really the point. Just an alternative explanation that fits the alternative theory.]

Here's how it played out: The bubbles, first in tech, then in real estate mitigated the impact of two minor recessionary cycles thru the late 90's and into the early 00's but in doing so monetary policy flooded the marketplace with cheap dollars and cheap dollars encourage immediate consumption (instead of savings) and that wave was followed by (and overlapped) a wave of cheap debt which also encourages consumption. So paintballers did what everyone else was doing, they consumed.
What you ended up with isn't an artificial rise in the popularity of paintball but an artificial rise in the accessibility of paintball. More peeps who wanted to were able to or chose to finance that desire (at least in part) on cheap available debt. And that artificial rise in accessibility caused an unrealistic (and unsustainable) level of expectation in the industry that made the bust worse in terms of overproduction in the short term and unsupportable production capacity and unresolved inefficiencies. The result has been dangerous debt loads for some, cut backs in employees, consolidations, scaling back and assorted other measures designed to realign with the current market realities.

Curiously enough, if that happens to be true, largely true, substantially true or even partly true a workable small ball (the 50 caliber solution) might, in fact, actually do (largely, substantially, partly) what its prospective makers claim it will do in terms of transforming the marketplace. Who'da thunk it?

Mr. Curious

After his last appearance at VFTD Mr. Curious submerged himself in the effort to translate Pushkin into Hindi (I don't think that's working out too well) but in taking a recent break he finds himself, once again, curious about competitive paintball.

Mostly he's wondering wassup with some USPL teams flirting with Xball? Mutiny playing Chicago. Arsenal in the AXBL. Explicit practicing xball. Just something to do or something else?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Xball: Gunning & Running Drills 1

Listen up, Buttercup. I've decided to break the drills into two groups; individual and/or pair and team. This week is the individual drills. It's best to work with a friend (I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here) so there's somebody around to motivate you and keep you honest because we both know you're a slacker.
Here’s the deal. There is no magic formula. These drills will get you started but you only get out of ‘em what you put into ‘em. The focus this time is on bunker runs, suppression fire OTB and using edge control to initiate movement.

1) Let’s start with a simple warm-up. You’re gonna need some simple targets–a few empty plastic gallon (or however many liters you Eurokids use) jugs and assorted length 1-inch PVC pipes will work. Easy version first. Put one of your targets behind a bunker. Any bunker. Put yourself behind another bunker and on a go command make a bunker run. Don’t run wide. Run at the bunker, moron!
Did you miss? ‘Fess up. You missed. Do it again. You stumbled. Again. Don’t slow down. Again. You run like a drunken hippopotamus. That big old jug ain’t so big after all, is it? Do it from the right. Do it from the left. Do it over and over. Tuck in your elbow. Now do it some more. Keep your barrel tip up. Run at the target bunker and have your drill partner tell you which side to run past at the last moment in order to force you to switch hands sometimes. Hate it yet? You’re just getting started.

2) Time to add a bit of difficulty. Place at least three targets behind bunkers at different elevations arranged so that you can run a path between them. That’s right, make your run at multiple targets and switch hands as you go. Boy, do you look like a dork. Try it again. Think you’re getting the hang of it?
Have your workout partner set up the targets for you so that you don’t know exactly where they are behind the chosen bunkers. Seem too simple? Then you’re gonna feel pretty inept when you either miss ‘em or have to stop running in order to hit them, aren’t you? Are you deaf or just stupid? You don’t get to quit until you get it right. Better try Reball next time cause you’re gonna go broke using paint at this rate.
(And for you slow learners it’s acceptable to go slow at first if you need to in order to be accurate. You could be as fast as the Flash but if you can’t hit squat you’re still a loser. Go as fast as you can without sacrificing accuracy.)

3) Now that you’ve warmed up a bit and got the blood circulating let’s pick up the pace. Take your targets and place them behind bunkers at the opposite end of the field. At breakout distances. On the go call break out and run and gun yourself into your chosen primary. Pick different primaries that require different routes as you repeat the drill. And pick different target lanes. Keep mixing it up. Are you starting with your gun down and back? Why not? Are the refs gonna let you do it differently from everybody else? Is that it? No? Then make sure you go thru the correct motions in every detail as you repeat the drill.
I’m getting tired of repeating myself. From the left. From the right. If you aren’t hitting the targets or at least putting your paint on the right lane you are wasting my time and yours. Is the player looking to lane your ass into the deadbox gonna come off his edge if your paint isn’t on target? So do it again. I said run and gun. Not walk and shoot. Pick up the pace. Which one is your off hand? Run the drill from your off hand side 3 times for every 2 times you run it from your dominant hand side. No more excuses. Run it again.

4) I’m gonna cut you a bit of slack. You and your training partner begin in the starting boxes at opposite ends of the field. On the go call one of you will be the sweet-spotter and the other will run and gun. (If you've been paying attention you've seen a version of this before. That's because I love this drill. And you will do it until you love it too.) Take turns. The object is to suppress the sweet-spotter in order to make your primary. Run left. Run right. Again. Again. I know you’re getting fatigued. Focus. These are the situations where you begin to make real, enduring progress. If you can perform when you’re mentally and physically tired you just might make a real baller after all.

If you don’t have a whole or complete field available, improvise. Make adjustments. Do I have to tie your shoelaces and wipe your nose for you, too?

5) Okay, almost finished. For this one you and your training partner choose mirror bunkers that are insert bunkers that lead to other, wider field positions. Begin blind behind your bunker and on the go call the object is to gain edge control over your opponent and run and gun yourself into your next bunker as you rotate out to a wire. By now you should know the drill. (Yes, that’s a joke. Feel free to take a second to laugh.) Do it from the left and the right. Start in a standing position. Begin from a kneeling posture. With this one you either get the job done or you don’t. There is no "I tried." Either you succeed or you fail. Regardless you’re getting a taste of what is required when the paint is flying for real.

Now hit the showers. You stink.

The UK Experiment

One of the claims for the 50 cal paintball is that the availability of lower priced paint will help reinvigorate paintball. Another claim, unrelated to the small ball, is that the problem with paintball is too much paint in the air propelled by guns with ridiculous rates of fire. Can both of those things be true? And if they aren't both correct, then what? Does small ball actually make things worse? Or is all that ROF hand-wringing nonsense?

There is little doubt that cheaper to the consumer paint would be great for the existing competitive paintball crowd. But then the question arises–again–of why has there been a recent drop off in new tournament-oriented players entering the game? If this is a real phenomenon has it occurred because paint cost too much or for some other reason? Clearly there is a line of thinking that associates high ROF and volume of paint with a decline in participation but is it the cost or the resulting sort of game you get with high ROF that's the problem? Or, is something else at the root of this problem?

Over in the UK there is a fairly strict dividing line separating the kind(s) of paintball available by site. The largest face of paintball is recreational rental play with most of the players being first timers and the once or twice a year sort. Many of the fields that cater to that customer do not want even regular rec players. At one time it was widely accepted (among the tourney types) that such practices were severely inhibiting the development of the tourney scene by having a huge disconnect between entry level paintball and tournament style paintball. If the majority of the occasional players don't even know tourney ball existed they weren't likely to seek it out, much less play. In the U.S. there appears, at least on a regional basis, to be a lot more interaction between the levels and types of players as lots of fields offer both woods and airball and welcome the regular repeat customer. And yet, if the claims of decline are correct (and they seem to be) we're both experiencing similar results. (Of related interest is the fact that many of the UK sites targeting new and very occasional players have consistently done very good business so there was little or no reason for them to change. Draw your own conclusion. Everybody's doing it.)

Maybe it is both high ROF and cost with each "cause" affecting a different part of the market. And both discouraging some percentage of potential tourney players from getting more involved. I don't know but it doesn't seem unreasonable. Of course, if true, does the small ball help more than it hurts? (Pun intended.) Right now there are a lot more questions than there are answers and that isn't going to change anytime soon. (It's hard to come up with definitive answers when everyone is mostly guessing at both the problems and the causes. The tourney concerns are partly raw numbers and partly anecdotal and the declining playership claim is based almost exclusively on product sales figures which do not necessarily equate to player numbers.) It would seem that we're going to get small ball regardless. (Unless all the claims being made for it turn out to be bogus.) Small ball probably isn't the answer but it could be an answer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Baca's Blog

Okay, I finally got the regular Monday post up at the Big Bullet. Yes, it's late. Yes, I'm a lazy slacker--just like you. This week's post is called, 'Bowling League Paintball.' Check it out. It's probably a crazy idea but, hey, what could it hurt?

This will also be the last weekly Baca's Blog posting. From now on, for the foreseeable future, Baca's Blog will be going bi-monthly. Mostly because I'm having a hard time keeping up.

Major League Paintball Held Hostage: Weekly Update

We have some interesting numbers this week though, as always, I'll leave it up to you to decide what they may mean. (Well, that's a bald-faced lie, isn't it? I don't always leave it up to you at all. But it sounded good.)

With PSP's Chicago Open about 10 days away official registration closed yesterday. Final registration numbers including the Young Guns (Play-for-free) totalled 230 teams. A solid number. Paid teams total 213 although it's probably a more accurate assessment to drop the Young Guns off both for a 216 - 199 comparison since the Young Guns are only paying for their PSP IDs. I expect a few more teams to end up on the final tally sheet so will guess actual paid participation will be around 205 - 210 which will amount to about a 15% drop from last year. If you look at the raw numbers the big drops seem to be in D2X & D3X but interestingly if you total participation from Pro thru D2 last year and this year the total difference is only 3 teams. (Which may or may not say something about how the classification rules have been working but puts the real problem area on a steep decline in D3X participation.
On the plus side the PSP's website remains the VFTD official major league website that blows the most!

USPL numbers continue to slowly tick up for the mid-July West Coast Open with total registration currently at 65 teams including the Pros and total paid registrations at 20 not including the Pros. Realistically, without a bunch of registrations coming after the Chicago event it looks like the USPL is in a battle for 7-man supremacy within the regional context of Cali and the left coast more than it is struggling to establish a national presence. Though perhaps one thing at a time.
It seems there's some rumor out there about Chuck H. being on the outs with the USPL. This may simply be a misunderstanding of his changed status with Kingman but in any case it isn't true. Chuck continues to work diligently on behalf of the USPL.

Over in Euroland the MS is gearing up for the Paris Open which will, in fact, be an Open with all the teams from the CPL thru D2 competing for the same tier of unique titles. I wonder if this, rather than the close proximity to Bitberg, is influencing the D2 teams. So far only 5 are registered and it may be they have concerns competing with 3 divisions of more accomplished teams. It would be interesting to poll the D2 teams that have played this year so far and see what they see. (If you're a member of a D2 team please comment on why or why not your team is or isn't playing Paris. Feel free to do so anonymously if you like.) D3 (M5) currently has 17 teams registered for the event which will take place the weekend of July 4.

This coming weekend will see the Lviv Ukraine stop on the Grand Tour and it appears final participation numbers are down over last week's registered team list as the 4 5-man teams registered apparently will not be playing. That leaves 31 teams competing in 3 divisions.

Monday, June 15, 2009

This Week at VFTD

Looks like it's shaping up to be a busy week of posting as I've already got a couple of items not listed that are begging to be included. We'll see how it goes. Anyway, here's the official schedule--for what it's worth. (But, hey, I did pretty good last week.)

Monday--This Week at VFTD (d'oh!) Poll Review (of last week's poll), The Monday Poll (Predicting the future of 50 cal paintball), and the usual hype of the latest post at Baca's Blog over at the Big Bullet.
Tuesday--MLP Weekly Update, The UK Experiment (continuing the 50 cal dialogue)
Wednesday--Xball: Playing the Game (more gunning & running)
Thursday--Paintball Diversity
Friday--Return of the Pro Loser
Saturday--a mystery post

The Monday Poll

Dust off your crystal ball and tell us the future in this week's Monday Poll. Everybody is talking about the coming of small ball, the 50 caliber solution but nobody has even seen it in action yet. Here's your opportunity to predict how it will turn out. But remember, a month ago you didn't even believe it existed.

If you're not sure what answer 3 means the idea is this: If small ball was introduced to the mil-sim market and then to tourney paintball it would create a natural dividing line between competitive paintball and rec paintball perhaps justifying price differences and encouraging local fields to treat the different kinds of players differently.

If you want to add anything to your vote post it up in comments or if you'd like to offer another "answer" comments will work for that, too.

Poll Review: 7-man

A sincere VFTD thanks to all you slackers who went out of your way and above and beyond the call of duty [insert your own cliche here] and took (on average) 3 seconds to vote in the 7-man poll. You might as well just accept it's now part of your day when you drop by VFTD. Voting, a responsibility & a privilege. You don't think I'd let just any loser participate, do you?

While the results are totally unscientific or even representative of likely participants I can't help but think the result reflects what has become the "conventional wisdom" on this subject which doesn't bode well for the USPL. 41% voted that no change would help as the format is dying. The next three top vote getters equaled 40% combined; cheaper entry, change name back to NPPL and try a format modification. No other choice reached double digits including bigger prizes.

Make of the poll what you will but I'd like to believe there is still a place for the kind of competitive paintball 7-man demands of the player.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The .50 Caliber Solution?

If you were expecting (and are disappointed not to see) 'Return of the Pro Loser' posted today as per the schedule you haven't been hanging around VFTD for very long, have you? Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. (And, no, that isn't a dungeons & dragons reference.) I make schedules meaning to keep to them but stuff happens and this is just a wee bit more topical at the moment. 'Return of the Pro Loser' will just get bumped to next week's schedule so you can breath a sigh of relief as you now have something to look forward to. Some more. Again.

Since the first "official" announcement about the coming .50 caliber solution was posted at P8ntballer--see, ' The Revolution Begins' below for the link--much of the dialogue has focused on the paintballs themselves and the unsubstantiated performance claims sorta being made. While all that is vaguely interesting (if you're a physics geek) I think it misses the point completely. I don't think it matters a whit if the small ball does exactly as claimed or not. (What matters is whether it's profitable for the manufacturers.)

Of late the biggest concern to both the industry and competitive leagues is a stagnant and/or declining player base from the heyday of a few short years ago. The blame has generally been assigned to cost (paintball is expensive and competitive paintball is even more expensive) and out-of-control rates of fire turning the basic game's fun factor into a fear factor. (Does the decline compare to the appearance of low-priced, high-performance markers?) Part of the latest response has been to cap ROF and steadily reduce that cap in order to encourage the use of lower limits across the board.

The GIMILSIM press release states, "The new era of 50 calibre paintball means cheaper paint for the paintballer, it means hundreds more paintballs in the loader, it means thousands more balls in your pots, it means a more accurate flight path, it means it shoots further and all this with the same marking characteristics as the original 68 caliber balls." Earlier in the press release the cost of participation is mentioned as an impediment to building the player base and seeing a healthy tourney environment restored. The idea being cheaper paint necessarily makes for cheaper paintball and more affordable paintball widens the potential player pool.

Here is where my interest--and questions--begin. Isn't cheaper paint in some respects counterproductive to the whole ROF limitation idea? (I suspect the answer to that is cheaper needn't encourage the use of more paint but that's really just a dodge, isn't it? Even if it's true to some extent it's like putting a limit on ice cream sundaes and then announcing the price of ice cream is going down.)

But more than that is the claim of cheaper paint to the end user, the customer, you, the player. It doesn't necessarily follow even if production costs are reduced. Here's the dealio as it currently stands: big paint companies are struggling to make a profit in today's market. Keeping it simple there are 4 factors involved; cost (to produce & sell), price (to retailer), volume (of sales) and margin (profit per unit sold). What the manufacturers need is a margin in sufficient volume to make their current woes go away. Reduced cost would be a good start but it doesn't follow that all costs (or prices) throughout the system drop as well. Part of the answer to that would be in pinpointing where the real problem is for the manufacturers. Odds are it's a combination of the 4 factors complicated by the debt load a couple of them are carrying. What margin would be sufficiently profitable given the current volume of sales? Will the small ball provide that or more? The point is simply this: Cheaper to manufacture doesn't automatically translate into cheaper for you and I to buy.

Admittedly there is lots we don't yet know and there is no reason to pass premature judgment on the 50 cal small ball just yet but at the same time it's no time to swallow the hype either. Even if it proves to be a better paintball will Paintball's problems suddenly disappear? I doubt it.

And to close (for now) here's some additional almost-on-topic food for thought. A) Paint is as cheap as it's ever been for the average customer. B) The advent of Xball saw the volume use of paint go through the roof in competition. C) the average age of the typical Xball player is younger than ever. D) Older players have more disposable income. E) If the ROF restrictionists are correct does it really make sense to make greater volumes of paint available for less than is the current standard? (Assuming the small ball will actually be cheaper.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Chicago '09 layout: Command & Control

In my last post on the Chicago layout I commented briefly on the s-side (snake side) MD. This post will expand on those thoughts and demonstrate the ways this critical bunker can (and will) be played. (I call it a critical bunker because my expectation is most teams at all levels will play this position most points.) I am limiting the post to the competing ways of making the bunker as a primary and the ways to try denying movement to the bunker.

FYI, I'm doing this for two reasons after more or less saying I wouldn't; 1) the Eurokids seemed to appreciate a similar effort and fair's fair and 2) I am not concerned that this post will assist any team we may play. (Click on the diagram for a larger version.)

Making the Bunker
There are 4 numbered routes on the diagram.
1 protects the runner from a home shooter as the runner uses the X as a blocker and dives in tight on the MD. It also allows the runner to play gun up and see anyone edging out into a wider zone. The limitation to this route is it also blocks (restricts) (inhibits) (delays) a teammate's lane as the home shooter.
2 is the speed rush variant where the runner comes off the board low and runs and dives into the bunker relying a burst of speed and limited profile to make the bunker as quickly as possible.
3 is a run & gun variation that uses the bunker to block any inside out lane while allowing the player to shoot the zone behind the opponent's MD and pillars. The player also has the option to delay or alter his/her run on this route for whatever reason.
4 is an intentional delay and misdirection route. The object is to bring another lane of fire to bear and read the opponent's breakout in order to pick and choose from some optional primaries. Otherwise it is the same as 3.

Denying the Bunker
Position A represents a d-side runner going corner or MT. Position A is running & gunning with the expectation there will be an opponent attempting to make the s-side MD. Position A initially shoots at a home shooter and as the player gets wider swings the lane into the MD.
Position B turns off the board and immediately lanes the V-shaped gap created by the visual overlap of the X and the target MD. A fast well-placed low lane has the potential to clip a runner on route 1 or 2.
Position C is intending to use his/her MD to block the opponent's home shooter while covering routes 3, 4 and possibly even 2 depending on the relative quickness of the players.
Position D is a point of opportunity where the laner initially looks for a wider runner but has the option to swing his/her gun inside to bear on a delay or an opponent's MD route runner.
Position E is a corner runner shooting outside in into the zone behind the MD as the runner swings the arc of his lane back inside.
Note that options B, C & D can also be elements in a player running route 3 or 4 as well as independent shooters hesitating at those spots trying to catch the opposition runner.

Regardless of your strategy make sure to pay attention to what your opponent is doing with respect to playing the s-side MD. Winning this little contest more often than not could very well be your key to winning the match.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Paris Open layout OTB

Aight, here we go kids. But first, the standard disclaimers. It is critically important to check the position of the props on the actual field for any changes that will alter lanes or cover prior to actual competition. And adjust accordingly.(What that amounts to is you are expected to use your own brain–dust off those cobwebs–and your experience and not simply follow these suggestions by rote.) Also keep in mind that your OTB lanes should be part of a larger game plan for playing the field in order to maximize the potential of any particular lane in a given point. The diagram does not offer all the possible lanes but does offer enough to lay a solid foundation. Don't let the clutter put you off. I left a few lanes out and everything is marked. (Clicking on the diagram will display a full sized version that can be printed out.) Finally, for those who haven't spent much (or any) field time as yet on this layout Warpig has their virtual field available to assist with your visualization.

Beginning with position C if you look at the identified lanes at the top of the page you will note that position C can lane to either side of the field (C1 & C2), and also has an unmarked lane on the d-side inside of the MT. This is your basic lane shooter as he comes off the board and moves up to position D. Without direct pressure D can play over the top and/or check off lanes between the columns of the M for opponents in similar positions. Otherwise D is working the lanes between the d-side doritos or simply delaying in order to fill.

Position B steps off the corner of the starting board and has a quick lane (B1) between the d-side temples (T & MT). B also offers quick lanes to counter opponents delay positions (B2 & B3) but it is important to be aware that wrap on the d-side T is a serious risk. B also has unmarked narrow s-side lanes but there are more than anything else a last resort or an unexpected haven't-shot-that-lane-before option. The value of B is that it is also a launch point where a laner can hesitate, shoot the lane, and move to a number of primaries both upfield and wide.

Position A is a good counter for a consistent snake attack. The action OTB is gun up laning back into the opponent's home cake area to defend the move into the T. Then turning the lane across field into the gap feeding snake one. The initial home edge is abandoned as fast as possible in order to get up on the snake lane. (And the movement to the T can be varied from direct line to the L-shaped baseline and up.)

Position F–G offers a variant to the (likely to be) stock move to the s-side MT in which F offers a narrow lane on snake runner. Otherwise the move to position G primarily offers lanes up the center of the field and across to the d-side. And position G is the principle d-side contain position with a clean lane on the d-side corner and the gaps feeding the MDs. (This poses other problems however as any point plays out if the attack is snake side.)

Position E can be taken OTB or as a delay from C or F. Position E offers some unusual lanes across both sides of the field while allowing the player to move into the center of the field or shading toward the d-side or s-side.

Position H is a spot lane for a snake side runner to pull up and either edge an unsuspecting player at the T looking wide or shoot the snake one gap because the players sees a runner. (The position H needs to be played in a crouch and may need to be slightly deeper (closer to the back-line) than the position given on the diagram.

There you have it kids. Post up any questions in comments and good hunting.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Major League Paintball Held Hostage: Weekly Update

With the "official" paid by deadline a week away--Monday the 15th--for the PSP's Chicago Open registration stands at 206 with 121 paid, not counting any of the Young Guns teams. There will be some last minute additions and a few teams pushing the limits on the deadline that will end up putting final registration numbers in the neighborhood of 220 but that ain't the same thing as paid and playing. While 121 teams paid looks pretty good in comparison to the prior two events if Chicago sees more than a 10%-12% decline it may put the PSP in a real spot. Every year World Cup is expected to cover for weaker events and make up for any earlier in the season losses but the added costs of the webcast plus low vendor turnout are reducing the already slim margins for maintaining some profitability. No prediction, no doom and gloom but realistically the numbers need to be there--and so far it's looking iffy. (I know I was more upbeat last week but this deadline has kinda crept up on me and the window is closing faster than it seemed just a week ago.)
We could also be close to the release of a WC location and date. No confirmation yet but indications favor a central Florida location at this time. Again, don't buy your tickets just yet. Just what I'm hearing from the voices in my head.

Over in USPL land the window remains wide open as the next event, the West Coast Open, isn't until late July but the predicament is similar. The numbers need to be there and so far things are going slowly. After postponing one event, tightening the season schedule and moving back to the left coast where it is believed 7-man is strongest the new league needs a success. (And by success I mean an event that makes a few bucks, not one everybody thought was swell but didn't attend.) Registration stands at 64 (including the 16 Pro teams) with only 17 non-Pro teams having paid their entry to date.
If you missed it check out the Monday Poll over on the sidebar as it addresses some of the concerns surrounding the 7-man format. And vote, you lazy slacker.

The Grand Tour's next stop in Lviv, Ukraine, is less than two weeks away with (paid?) registration standing at 35 total teams. This is down slightly on the recent Warsaw event and continues the trend of reduced turnout over past seasons when the Grand Tour was the Centurio and the ECS.

The MS announced some of the details for the Millennium Cup Pro and Am Open that will be the Paris event along with a D3 exclusive Millennium Trophy challenge. Having now seen the details I'm more frustrated than ever over the scheduling of this event. I'm not convinced a lot of U.S. Pro teams (or semi-pros) would have entered with friendlier scheduling but some surely would have. (Of course it could be that's not something the MS wanted. I don't know.) The main competition will have three tiers to success (the Millennium Cup, Plate & Shield) giving everybody who competes, regardless of division, a chance to win something.
Apparently the MS was unconcerned about carrying the semis & finals of Malaga over to Paris as they informed the teams in the locked divisions that they were always expected to compete in Paris regardless so no big deal really. (Hey, I'm just reading their own press release.)
With the event scheduled for the first weekend in July--less than one full month away--there are 2 D2 teams registered and 10 D3 (M5) teams registered for the event.
The open portion of the event will be limited to 96 teams with the three locked divisions comprising 71 (68) of those teams (don't know if 3 D1 teams are also expected to "volunteer" to ref) which leaves 25 (28) slots for D2 teams to fill. This layout doesn't do any of the lower division teams any favors (or those teams that are typically counterpunchers for that matter) as it will reward aggressive, effective guns up play and offers little in the way of initial shooting lanes or defensively-oriented control positions. (Post and diagram tomorrow on the Paris layout.)
Heard a rumor about the current but unconfirmed location for the final MS event. The word is the league continues to consider alternatives out of fear of player/team reaction. You gotta think though at some point if it takes too long nobody will be happy regardless. (Of course, tournament promoters are used to that.)

The Revolution Begins

If there were any doubters left this should serve to dispell those doubts. Pete, under the name GIMILSIM, has posted the opening salvo. Read it and weep or read it and rejoice. Either way, it's coming.
(I told you so.)
(Couldn't resist.)

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Monday Poll

Last week's poll on paintball and the World Games--I'm no longer even willing to suspend disbelief enough to acknowledge the claim it's a "demonstration" sport or has any actual connection to the World Games--pretty much mirrors a similar point of view with the overwhelming numbers of votes (86%) assigning no Big Picture paintball importance to the event. That, of course, doesn't mean the event can't or won't have a positive impact on competitive paintball in Asia. Hopefully it will.

This week's Monday Poll is on 7-man as a viable format for the future. The poll is in no way scientific and the future of 7-man probably doesn't rest on the outcome so relax and take a minute to express your opinion. If you happen to choose 'Other' it would be helpful if you also commented on what you have in mind. (No pressure, I'm just saying.) In addition to expending the effort to click an option I've got a secondary poll question that requires a little more thought and effort.
Would a format modification make you more or less likely to play 7-man? And if so, what sort of modification do you have in mind? (Post 'em up in comments.)
In the past there was some consideration given to altering the format to play kinda like Race2-2 does now in the PSP. Fewer opponents, best of 3 outcomes. Are you thinking of something like that or something completely different?

This Week at VFTD

Listed below is the likely schedule for this week's posts. Other stuff could come up but at a minimum these posts will be posted sometime on those days--even if I have to back date them--and, yes, I can do that. (I've done it before. It's the blogging equivalent of playing the grey.) (In fact I did it with this post--by about 45 minutes to keep 'The Monday Poll' on the top of the page.)

There is also the regular Monday post over at Baca's Blog on the Big Bullet. This week's post is about the latest batch of lawsuits to hit the industry.
UPDATE: It's been posted (finally) and it's called, 'Looking Down the Barrel.'

Monday– The Monday Poll
Tues– MLP Weekly Update
Wed– Paris field breakouts (or something quite like it)
Thurs– PSP Chicago layout: taking control, an option
Fri– Return of the Pro Loser
Sat & Sun are currently open--and I usually skip posting on Sundays. (To, eh, give y'all a chance to catch up if you missed a day or two. Yeah, that's the ticket.) (It's also so I can do Baca's Blog on Sundays but you already know it doesn't usually work out that way, don't you?)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday Special: Paintball & the Law

As posted on the Nation and over at ProPaintball information has gone public on various lawsuits filed by Heckler & Koch (a manufacturer of real firearms) for an assortment of mostly trademark infringements against a number of Airsoft and paintball companies. In addition H&K has filed suits against two other arms manufacturers, Professional Arms and Cotarie Arms. All the suits I've seen so far date from December '08 thru June '09.

The really interesting bit--from a paintball perspective (okay, my paintball perspective) is that on May 18 Kee Action Sports filed a similar trademark infringement suit against Heckler & Koch. Did Kee file preemptively expecting a similar filing from H&K? Who knows?

Anyway, more thoughts on this latest spate of legal wranglings involving paintball tomorrow on Baca's Blog over at the Big Bullet.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Ask the Coach

Episode 3--The Gear Bag

If you've got any ideas for future episodes post them up in comments, you lazy slackers.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

That Was Quick

This is a short follow-up on The .50 Caliber Solution put forward in the post, The Ultimate Paintball Conspiracy. (If you missed it, you know what to do.) So far there have been a couple of interesting results. First, there weren't any serious denials. Just an unserious denial or two. And those didn't last any time at all. Second, everybody who initially rejected it either backed off, fell silent or quietly changed their tune. Third, and most importantly, there has been no consistent hue & cry opposing the idea. There are reasons for this too but it's interesting nonetheless. (As is the word nonetheless. But I digress ... ) While the internet is ubiquitous the information available on it isn't. There is so much stuff that it's impossible to keep up and VFTD isn't a giant among paintball sites--yet. So even if you and I are not totally out of the loop there's a whole wide world of ballers out there who probably haven't heard about the smaller paintball possibility. Of those that have all indications are that a majority simply don't believe it will ever happen, or could happen. (See the propaintball poll, for example.) Others don't find it as interesting as the latest gat to almost hit the market or the most recent video telling them what to think of an assortment of aftermarket regulators. Which is fine but just goes to show (as has been demonstrated repeatedly in the past) that for a large segment of ballers their parochial paintball interests are what matter and they won't be overly bothered by much else. (No, internet whining doesn't count.) And if that is an accurate assessment of the general situation that's one big hurdle overcome before this thing even gets started.
Of course things could change when some official word is announced. (But I doubt it.) Or one or more of the major players gets spooked by the economy and backs out. Or the PSTA steps up to support the field owners--oh, hang on, it's mostly gonna be the PSTA guys trying to sell new stuff to the field owners, isn't it? So maybe not that one but there's a field owners association, right? A players union perhaps? Piecemeal resistance isn't resistance at all, it's an obstacle to be overcome and not much of one in all likelihood.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Burning Question

Would a return to the NPPL brand help the USPL and encourage more teams to play 7-man?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Major League Paintball Held Hostage: Weekly Update

It's that time again. Where I bore you senseless (not always that long a trip) with the numbers as VFTD attempts to track the vitality of big league tourney competition.

But before I get started mark your calendars because I have a prediction for you. This is one you will not want to remember but will hope to be able to throw back in my face at a future date. Conflicted? It gets better. Or worse, depending. Warning: Do NOT read this prediction if you suffer from depression, occasional thoughts of suicide, drug-induced paranoia or if you listen to emo music.

Prediction: Next season, 2010, MLP will be at greater risk than it is/was this year, and I'm not convinced that surviving 2010 will get us over the hump either.

This week over at the PSP Chicago registration is up to 187 with 77 teams paid. That is a solid improvement over last week and, I think, a positive sign. The league continues to work the phones hard trying to drum up vendor participation but it remains an uphill struggle.
On the WC front it would appear that an Orlando venue may be close to being a done deal. This is just speculation on my part but I do know a couple of things that most of you probably don't. (I wonder if I'll get an irate phone call later today.) Do not, in any case, buy your plane tickets just yet.

The May deadline came and went for registration and early payment for the USPL's West Coast Open. Registered teams is up to 59 with 16 paid (not including the pro teams.) That means only a few teams took advantage of the largest possible discounts on their entry fees but lesser discounts remain available and it's hard to quantify where the savings versus the very early payment balances out given that the event isn't scheduled until mid-July. There is still plenty of time to get signed up but it's hard not to look at this as something of a referendum on the viability of 7-man as a major league format going into the future. Next week's Monday Poll will be about the 7-man format.

The Millennium Series staged their second event of the season at Bitburg, Germany last weekend with a total of 116 teams participating compared to the 151 teams at Malaga. Final results for Malaga in the locked upper divisions will not be complete until the Paris event in July. In the open divisions the numbers were down in Germany by 32 teams; 80 D2 & M5 combined in Malaga with only 48 combined in Bitburg. Curiously, there are 27 registered teams in D1 but in both Malaga and Bitburg only 24 D1 teams played. Does that mean, like last year, there are 3 teams each event reffing instead of playing? And how are they chosen? Do they still pay a licensing fee to get a D1 spot so they can ref?

The next Grand Tour event in the Central Conference is scheduled for the end of June in Lviv and there are currently 32 teams registered. That's up 2 over last week.

Rule of the Game

Baca's Rule of the Game #17: 'Speedball' refers to any non-woods variant of paintball in which the participants imagine they are playing competitive paintball.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Monday Poll & Paintball Stuff

This week's poll is on the upcoming World Games in Taiwan in July and the 16 team invitational paintball event that will serve as a demonstration sport. Rock the vote.

I botched last week's poll. It was written poorly. You see, the whole thing, being an experiment in a "positive" poll, wasn't intended to be positive at all. (Yeah, I was doing the sarcastic thing again.) Having a virtual monopoly means the MS doesn't have to be proactive or responsive to its customers (the league's communications are notoriously limited, self-serving and non-communicative) and, of course, there is no up-to-date rulebook. Locked divisions in the MS are just an excuse to charge teams an extra fee and how many made-for-TV paintball shows do we need? Or, why is this one gonna be any different than all the others? Anyway, let that be a lesson to you. This blogging biz is harder than it looks. (The new poll however is primo.)

Predictions for PSP Chicago. No, not those kind of predictions. After another weekend working the layout I predict a lot of teams are in for a big surprise. I also predict most of y'all will miss a lot (let me repeat–a lot) of opportunities on this layout. (Doesn't mean I like it any better than I did before either.) Finally I predict the refs will not like reffing this field and the snake will prove particularly annoying. (Guess the reason why and win a coveted VFTD e-no prize.)

There are some new links under Paintball on the Web down on the sidebar. Despite all the regular talk about the major leagues, including the USPL, MS & Grand Tour, I didn't have links up for them. Or some of the other bigger leagues. I's gonna rectify that. Soon. Also, there is now a link for PBGuide.com which is a paintball site dedicated to collecting active and interesting paintball-related links. (Which was all news to me but it's pretty cool, right?) Anyway, next time you can't find what you're looking for try PBGuide.

Posting soon over at the Big Bullet will be this week's post at Baca's Blog. In keeping with this week's Monday Poll the post is about paintball at the World Games. Check it out. Post a comment. Go crazy.