Friday, July 31, 2009

Campaign Cup '09 OTB

Assume the usual disclaimer and also assume that any lane suggested may, if appropriate, be more accurately observed as a zone and shouldn't be viewed as limited to the simple line used to demonstrate approximate location.

A--lanes represent a snake side home shooter and offer three distinct options though the widest, A, is most easily accomplished tight up on the home bunker. A1 is the most utilitarian of the options and should be considered the primary snake side lane. Any set of clearly defined lanes however offer the possibility of a shooter putting up two clean lanes of fire. (DO NOT try two lane shooting unless you are already a very good laner to begin with. Even then it must be practiced and evaluated honestly. I only mention it because it is possible to shoot two lanes to effect but it is a rare skill I do not often recommend. More on this with the B lanes.)

B--D-side home shooter also has 3 clearly defined lanes available and the spacing of those lanes is far more conducive to two lane shooting otb. Here's how it works (if you were to try it.) On the horn sweep the gun up into lane B just long enough to see a handful of paintballs on your lane--at about this time the first runner will be moving thru that lane or just past it--at which time you sweep your gun into the next lane. You will often choose this next lane by the position of the first runner; deep or tight. Deep is a likely corner runner while closer to the bunkers suggests a more upfield primary. The obstacles in two lane shooting is you have to put up two effective lanes of paint in very short order. Too little time committed to the first one and it's pointless but too much time committed means no chance of getting multiple balls through the wide lane in advance of the runner. If you can do it it will be particularly useful on the D-side of this field.

All the remaining positions expose the shooter to some additional risk except G. And all the remaining positions can be accomplished running & gunning. That stated, each position can, on average, be more effectively shot as a hesitation or dead zone lane.

C--is "hiding" from a home shooter and actual position will depend on physical placement of the actual bunkers as the degree of cover is minimal. The wide lane offers only marginal help in controlling the snake as it will only be available in the seconds immediately preceding the breakout. The inner lane, C1, offers some unique options however. It may be used as a change-up from a wide runner or as a trailing gun or even off the delay. The object is lane paint into the pin zone and then hesitate using your pin to block the opponent's home. You can now edge home off his lane (A1). Keep in mind an uncontested corner runner will be able to quickly wrap.

D--like C there is some risk from the home shooter if you aren't careful. The virtue of D is that it offers an excellent crossfield shot along with an equally excellent lane inside the the D-side doritos that can be used after showing the opposition a wide runner stance prior to the breakout.

E--is a variant on D that assumes the opponent will stop at the can (or MT) shooting wide. The object here is to be able to turn in on the opponent's edge and catch the player off guard.

F--is either an R&G or a delay as it is otherwise too exposed. As a delay (assuming a corner opponent) it offers the option of edging the home shooter using the MT. The only alternative is if a player were R&G'ing the corner but held up due to an obvious wide lane being shot from home. In this case the player must first lane the outer edges of the can and MT and then quickly try and edge home of the lane or reverse direction.

G--offers a terrific crossfield lane on a snake runner but also offers a reasonably solid position from which to contain snake movement and activity given that the pin placement allows the player some freedom of movement.

As always if there is a specific question about any of this don't hesitate to post it up in comments. Otherwise I'll be following this post up with another on the Campaign layout discussing tactical options and the field imbalances you might be able to take advantage of.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sorry Kids

Came home from WCO to a major computer meltdown on Monday and I'm just digging out from under today and should be up to speed by tomorrow. (And, yes, it's taken me this long to save my data and fix the damn thing but when it crashed on Monday I couldn't even access any start-up mode to begin to figure out what happened. That, and I'm mostly computer illiterate.) Hopefully I'll have the Campaign OTB posted tonight some time followed by a more in-depth field analysis tomorrow or Friday.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Major League Paintball Held Hostage: Weekly Update

Today we begin with the USPL. First and foremost congrats to Arsenal for another solid victory. There seems little doubt they are the world's best 7-man team at the moment. Next up is home turf for the Arsenalisti with the DC Challenge coming the end of August. Registrations are running about the same as before, 86 teams, with paid totalling (including the pros) 22 teams. Now is the time for those registrations to begin shifting into the paid column as there is approx. a 3 week window left before registration closes.
According to the website last week there was supposed to be an announcement last Saturday at the WCO--which apparently, didn't happen. I'm guessing it was about the fourth event which is rumored to be headed for Vegas though there have been concerns about date availability and proximity to World Cup.
And finally a quick word about the vendors at WCO--there were a lot more there than the team numbers justified, even if they were all Cali-based (and I think they were) and I hope they did a decent business and might have gotten a spike from some of the rec players, if they knew the vendors were there.

The Grand Tour's next event stop is slated to be Moscow the weekend of August 8,9. Pro will be an Open division in Moscow with cash prizes for the top three finishers. While the other Grand Tour events have seen a consistent group of 9 teams competing in the pro bracket Moscow is presently at 0 registrants for the Open bracket. And total registration is a meager 11 teams. Is this what would have happened to the MS in Paris without locked divisions and compulsory play?

The MS Campaign Cup is coming to Engerland in September. (I'll have an OTB edition of the field layout up sometime this week.) Nobody seems to be in a hurry to register--at least among those who have that choice--as D2 only has 1 team listed while M5 has 5 teams listed. Home grown team registrations have been weak-ish in recent years for Campaign. It will be interesting to see if that continues or if there is a bit of a turnaround this time. Rumors about an unofficial boycott of Turkey are making the rounds but I doubt there's any traction there.

In the PSP registration for WC stands at 198 (from around noon EST) with the first payment deadline still weeks away. While an impressive number I'm wondering if that is a soft 198. There will be teams that jump on last minute--as there always are--but for an event that has frequently topped the 300 team mark in recent years I'm a little concerned. If registration reaches 250 prior to the first deadline the final total will probably fall within the projected range. On a related subject there is also some speculation that Paintball Extravaganza in September is gonna pull away some percentage of the vendors who would normally go to World Cup. Nobody seems to know for sure but the grapevine hints that for those who would be in an either one or the other but not both situation that Extravaganza may have the edge.

It's a waiting game now.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Monday Poll

Okay, picking up on last week's poll I'm interested in what y'all think qualifies as "pro" when we's talking about paintball teams. Let me repeat that--paintball teams, not individual players. The list of options once again includes the scandalously non-specific "other" and once again if you could include in the comments what "other" you had in mind that would be most excellent. Back in the day a pro team could build a reputation mostly thumping non-pros in mixed division prelims. These days pro teams only play pro teams and somebody's got to lose. If a team loses more than they win does that mean they aren't really a pro team or just not as competitive as some of the other pro teams? I'm looking forward to this one so get to voting.

Monday Poll in Review
Last week VFTD wanted to know how many pro teams you expect to be around at the beginning of next season. 66% of the votes were in the range of 12 - 16 teams. 22% thought there would be 10 or fewer teams while 11% voted for 18 or more teams to start next season. To put those numbers into some perspective there were 23 pro teams at the start of the '09 season. With the hiatus of Miami Rage there are currently 22 pro teams with 7 teams (including XSV) competing in both major leagues.

Friday, July 24, 2009

It's Official

I'm a hypocrite. For years I've been saying venues don't matter, competitive paintball matters. And I still believe that but--but-- SC Village may be a famous paintball site. (It is.) It may have hosted historic events (it has) but seriously, the place is a godforsaken dump in the middle of freaking nowhere. It's piles of dirt on top of more dirt and the parking lot may have been an open pit mine at one time.

Like it or not the venue matters in a couple of ways. There aren't too many 4 star restaurants at truck stops. And I'm now unsure whether or not there can really be a major league event at a place like SC Village--which is otherwise a perfectly acceptable rec field--except, again, for being out in the middle of freaking nowhere. Did I mention it was out in the middle of freaking nowhere?

Granted I'm used to lots of green grass and big leafy trees but that really isn't the problem. Back when NPPL v.2 was touring NFL parking lots I didn't think that was a good idea either. So obviously I'm just impossible to please. The thing with the stadiums was they were supposed to attract spectators and supply competitive paintball with some cache. (There should be an accent over the e but I don't know how to do that in Blogger.) What it did was cost too much and distract from more important concerns--at least from my point of view. It wasn't that they were bad venues--sometimes they were very cool venues--but if the venue was a higher priority than say, the officiating, that's a problem.

So maybe the thing about a venue is that it does have a place in the overall scheme of things competitive paintball related. And maybe after every place paintball has been in the last decade an SC Village simply doesn't cut it anymore. Or maybe it does and I'm just being difficult. At the same time from what I've seen of the location for the DC Challenge it looks pretty damn good.
What's the answer? I'm not sure. Maybe this ought'a be the next Monday Poll. If venue matters, how much? Does a major league event have to have a major league venue? And just what qualifies as a major league venue?
Is the PSP's MAO a major league venue? Or the Phoenix Open on the soccer fields outside the Arizona Cardinals' stadium?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Posting for the rest of the week and thru the weekend will be whatever, whenever. I'm off to the West Coast Open tomorrow. I'll do what I can but it probably would be a good idea if you lowered your expectations.

Measuring Up

In 'A Measuring Stick' I left off at standards. In order for standards to exist, in a meaningful sense, they need to be clearly defined and consistently maintained. In the context of competitive paintball the next question is; how?

Traditionally teams self-selected and it seldom created gaping disparities because serious teams wanted to move up and the occasional teams frequently fell comfortably into the middle of their regular division. Teams determined their fitness to move up by having some degree of consistent success and with little reward at stake teams played for pride and recognition. (Which could eventually lead to the real reward; sponsorship.) [That state was not universal but it was sufficiently the norm that things worked fine for years.]
(Btw, my context is national series events, not local, where so-called sandbagging is a major bugaboo. And a red herring. And ultimately was caused by the general response to the national series largely unintentional rape & pillage of local / regional tourney scenes. But that's a different topic.)

Between then and the introduction of the UCP concept more divisions were introduced, larger prize packages were assigned to those divisions and new rules were implemented to "fix" the problems created by–you guessed it–the new divisions, the prizes and some of those rules.
Conceptually, the UCP is a very good idea in that it seeks to integrate every level of play from the local to the national under a consistent and progressive standard. In practice there are two significant issues; the progression from local to national that looks so good on paper retains, in the overlapping of divisions, the same tensions that had the locals in competition with the national for teams and the current UCP classification rules do not measure up. For the moment it's the classification rules that are important. The league has decided it has an interest in trying to engineer the content of divisions beyond the boundary of competition. (One of the consequences of that has been to drive players up the ranks artificially with the result it has driven some number out of the game, probably prematurely.) The other consequences are the current fuzzy dividing lines between divisions and a programmatic dumbing down of the competition itself across multiple divisions that will, at some point, affect all the levels of competition. In moving too many players (teams) up the rules undermine the core of each division, particularly the lower divisions, so that new teams moving up are competing against a fluctuating standard year by year. And just like teams and players improve by playing better players and teams in practice divisions should provide a consistent standard of play. When they don't the new D3 teams, for example, are competing against a standard that the year before was maybe a top 20 team. Do that year after year and you are doing the opposite of encouraging excellence, you're assuring mediocrity is seen as improvement. And then you move it up the ranks when you pack D2 teams into a floundering D1 division year after year. Does anybody really think the end result is superior play?

Adding further contradictions is a league policy that ignores the idea of merit in that any team at any time is allowed to enter any division they want--with the possible exception of the Pro division. Along similar lines is the pricing policy of entry fees in some circumstances. (Mentioned in this week's MLP Held Hostage Weekly Update.) Is the idea to push teams to favor one bracket over another or participation on one day over another? Or both? Or does D3 pay more simply because the expectation is there's more D3 teams than anything else? Regardless it demonstrates that there is more going on than simply organizing an event, series or system to promote excellence in competitive paintball.

So what to do about it?

Find out next time as short attention span blogging presents; 'Measure of the Game.' (Seeing a pattern yet?)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Major League Paintball Held Hostage: Weekly Update

In order to spice things up a bit here's a link to the Erin Andrew's peephole video. What, it's not working? What do you mean there is no link? Wow! Those Google guys are fast.

Okay, how 'bout we do things in reverse order instead? That should be pretty exciting, right?

The Grand Tour held their Graz Austria event last weekend and were rewarded with a torrential downpour on Saturday for their trouble. The rains left standing water inches deep everywhere. The organizers are claiming victory over the weather--unlike the MS in Malaga--but no scores are posted so I don't know if they managed to complete the event or not. I was told the organizers responded quickly and made alternative arrangements and seemingly did everything they possibly could. But forget the tournament, did the rains wash out the beach party?
I'm reminded of the typical German tourist in Florida. You can spot one a mile away. Close-cropped haircut, sunburned ears, expensive jewelry including big watches worn to the beach, skin tight T-shirts, short shorts (by American standards) and dress socks with sandals. Not that I'm passing judgment. It's just amusing.

Things are quiet in Millennium land as there is no event until the end of September and there is very nearly no registrations yet in the unlocked divisions. There is a team-based effort underway to push the MS to find a fair alternative to their having given reffing points to D1 teams for an open event that nobody else in the division could "score" series points in. Good luck to them but I'm not holding my breath. The largest reason the MS can operate so cavalierly at times is because there is a history of teams and players refusing to stand up for themselves.

The USPL's West Coast Open will be held this weekend. This is the league's second event of the season. The numbers and turnout have to be considered disappointing after such a long lead-in period and a Cali venue but depending on the number of vendors present and the deal the league made with SC Village it is conceivable they may come out of it a modest net plus. That is the happiest face I can put on it using speculative numbers. It also appears, looking at registrations, that the "success" of the WCO is holding the DC Challenge hostage as well. there are a decent number of teams signed up but few have paid and it looks like everyone is waiting to see what happens.

The PSP is gearing up for World Cup and making a big effort to make the transition from Disney to Fantasy of Flight as seamless and easy as possible for the few (if our VFTD poll was representative) who were put out by the change. So far there are 177 teams registered with nearly a month to go before the first entry fee deadline.
Fields that rely on tourney players practice are already anxious to see the WC layout released as most of the teams won't come out until they have the field available to them.
In checking the registrations earlier I noticed the entry fee disparity between pro and semi-pro. (How I missed it before I don't know. Maybe it's the new bifocals.) There's a fat G's difference between the two divisions which seems to me pretty substantial considering semi-pro gets the same number of games and also plays Race2-7 on the same fields with the same refs (except Wednesday in Chicago) and also gets some webcast love. The obvious answer to this will be the prize packages. However the pro package continues to shrink and as a percentage of entries it isn't even close with S-P getting back over 50%. Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating some equivalent formula. What I am suggesting is falling back on the prize package is just an excuse and not a very good one. You see, in the past the league always justified the entry fees the pros paid on all the added expenses of running a special field with more refs and a fancy scoreboard and so on. As if we were demanding all that stuff.
The other thing I found curious was the entry disparity in 5-man (Race2-2). D3 pays more (than the other divisions) no matter which days you play and D4 pays more to play their prelims on Saturday compared to playing them on Friday. At first glance this looks like a move to engineer registrations. I'll be addressing this in another way in tomorrow's follow-up post to 'A Measuring Stick.'

It's A Small World After All

How many times are you people gonna jump at The Next Big Thing only to be disillusioned (again) before you decide to look before you leap? How many times are you gonna hop into the back seat of the nice man's car when he offers you a free ride and a bag of gummi bears? How many times are you gonna park your brain in neutral at the sound of a positive word? (Have you been giving money to televangelists again?)

This is a few final (very final) thoughts on the recent World Games hoopla blazing across Paintball's corner of the internet like a grass fire. But first I'm gonna say something nice(-ish). I think it's swell a German team won and that representative teams from a number of other countries showed up, were invited, whatever. I'm glad they went. Glad they had a good time and shared in the brotherhood of sport blah blah blah. I couldn't care less that there was no U.S. team present. And you can count on me to be front and center cheering paintball on. Just not with my brain turned off.

I'm gonna try and put this World Games business into perspective, give it some context. After that if you want to run around in the street hollering and waving flags be my guest. It won't do any real harm except you'll forget all about it in five minutes until the next time. And maybe that is a problem but it isn't one I'm gonna change with a post.

"At quadrennial intervals, in the years following the Games of the Olympiad" means there is a World Games every four years, not every year or every other year. Next one is 2013.

"The host may also endorse a limited number of additional sports, which are not governed by the IWGA Member Federations, to feature on the Invitational Sports Program." Paintball is not an IWGA member and paintball was not one of the additional sports featured on the Invitational Sports Program. Those were Beach Handball, Dragonboats, Softball, Tchaukball and Wushu. In fact, Paintball was not listed in the program of events. It wasn't listed on the Games' schedule. It wasn't listed among pre-events competitions. But I did eventually find it. Via a separate link for the Sports Activity Park where it was listed along with slow pitch softball, gateball, tai chi chuan, yuan ji dance and sepaktakraw. So, yes, paintball did receive some sort of recognition from the '09 World Games but what that really amounts to is hardly clear.

"Since its founding meeting in Seoul, Korea (in 1981), IWGA membership increased from 12 to 32 International Sports Federations. For an International Federation to become a Member of the IWGA, its recognition by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and/or its membership with the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) are prerequisite." Even if Paintball achieved recognition as a demo sport in '09 further participation requires IWGA membership which requires a) an international sports federation and b) either recognition by the IOC or membership in the GAISF.

Was this a step forward? Maybe, but it wasn't Paintball came, saw and conquered. It wasn't all you have to do is show up. And even if it was a step forward it was a far cry from a World Games Paintball Champiohsip. If it is to amount to anything there's a lot of real work to be done to get from here to there and another round of being ignorantly happy for five minutes while patting ourselves on the back isn't going to get the job done. So sure, be happy, but realize this was a toe in the door, not mission accomplished.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Monday Poll

This week's poll gives you an opportunity to predict how many pro teams will begin next season. The qualifications are simple: The poll is only addressing teams competing in events in North America--and for those of you who are geographically-challenged that means we's not counting the CPL teams in the MS. That leaves you with two basic calculations to consider; how many leagues will there be next season and how many of the existing pro teams, regardless of league(s), will carry over.

Monday Poll in Review
A sincere VFTD thank you to all you quasi-slackers who took a moment to vote in last week's poll about VFTD. It is appreciated and, even better, the results give me an excuse to limit (or excise) the How-To posts. (The less actual work involved while maintaining the appearance of actual work the better.) Same goes for rehashing the minutiae of the poll results.
But I do have one further request of y'all. If there's anything you'd like more of post it up in comments. (Not that I expect any replies but this way I can tell myself I'm doing everything possible and that y'all really, really like VFTD just the way it is, which is, you know, very gratifying on a personal level. See how I turned your lack of interest and unwillingness to communicate into warm, fuzzy feelings and a net positive?)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It's Those Pesky World Games Again

It seems after falling off the radar over here some invites were sent out to a few countries outside Asia and low and behold some of those teams showed up for what was purportedly an event serving, in part, as a demonstration sport to the World Games in Taiwan recently. (Think of the World Games as the Olympics ugly step-sister.)

The first time around I tried to get excited but the more I looked the less I saw. To this day I can't find anything about paintball or demonstration sports etc. on the official World Games website and without contacts from friends of VFTD around the world I doubt anyone over here would have ever heard about it--until after the fact. All of which makes it hard for me to take any of it overly seriously. Maybe that makes me the Ugly American but even the peeps running the show apparently couldn't be bothered to try and promote it so what else am I supposed to think?

Anyway, last week the kids at pbhub in Germany reported a German team was gonna represent and as it turned out they won. And one of the hub kids (guessing here) --UPDATE: Florian of PBHub and Instinct would like y'all to know he isn't a kid--posted the good news with some photos over at the Nation. He also reported that the Ironmen and Damage were invited to rep the U.S. --UPDATE: that's now been edited--which I imagine somebody told somebody but at least in the case of Damage it isn't correct. Beyond that I remain skeptical but otherwise maybe the World Games is where we belong.

On the plus side, who knows, in four years paintball might be up to speed and a match for the Frisbee which already has an international sanctioning body; the World Flying Disc Federation. The truth is out there.

UPDATE: Here's the link to the original post and comments on this World Games "demonstration sport" gimmick. If you are interested in knowing a little more check it out.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Enlistment for the Week

Almost snuck one past me--and this is a day late. I'd like to say it's still Friday somewhere in the world but I know y'all ain't that gullible. My apologies to VFTD's latest recruit to the DPA, J Christopher Urbanczyk. If I recall correctly JCU joins us from the future capitol of the Caribbean, Miami. (And if I'm mistaken I blame Blogger.) Welcome aboard.

Besides JCU there may have been another recruit who did slip past me. (I have an idea who it might be after looking at the list.) Blogger, for reasons known only deep within the cavernous recesses of Googledom, changed some characteristics of the "follower" gadget so I can no longer tell when a person joined. (As pleased as I am to get new recruits I confess I don't keep track on a daily basis.) If I did miss somebody don't hesitate to take me to task and I will rectify the error immediately, if not sooner.

World domination: Not as easy as it looks

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Premath: West Coast Open

I figured if you could have an aftermath (the result or consequence of an event) why not have a premath (setting the table, as it were, for the coming event and eventual aftermath)? In the premath leading up to the USPL West Coast Open you may recall the kids at ProPaintball dropping the knowledge that Miami Rage was out (at least for this event and perhaps the season) and shortly thereafter that Aftermath would, with Art's blessing, fill the spot. Well, apparently that was one of those not so fast dealios until the owners group decided last night to go ahead as originally scheduled and allow Aftermath to play in the Miami spot without carrying over Miami's seed points. That will put Aftermath in the Saturday prelim section and keep the Pro total at 16 teams. The only remaining related issue is what the team will be called. Seems to me if they want to maintain continuity and call them Miami Rage they should leave the seed points in place because in essence what's happening is a wholesale roster change is being allowed. If they are to be acknowledged as Aftermath removing Miami's seed points is reasonable. Either way I'm not sure it's a huge deal but I'm glad the divisions remain intact.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

West Coast Open: OTB Options

The list of OTB optional lanes given is not exhaustive but it should be sufficient to give y'all an idea of the possibilities or perhaps pick up on something overlooked. Oh, and the fact I'm posting this prior to the event doesn't mean I've changed my mind about covering layouts we'll be playing in advance. Consider this an aberration. The lane options are numbered and as always you can click on the image to see a full scale version suitable for printing if you're so inclined.

Also as usual the OTB options listed do not include R&G lanes even though 6, 7 and 8 can be accomplished that way. I categorize them as hesitations in which a runner more or less stops to shoot a lane and then continues on to a designated primary.

1. Is a crossfield lane that may be used to deny the corner, the brick or the snake. Initially it uses the upfield rocket and d-side arm of the U for cover but is susceptible to a wrap of the d-side stubby. Variations of 1 include moving up to the stubby or into the space to the right of the stubby (on the grid) and behind the brick. The angles change incrementally so it's important to keep in mind the priority lane you wish to shoot.

2. Is the d-side version of 1 where the lane focus is on the d-side of the field. It's principle utility is in trying to deny the corner and/or the dorito. It has the same variants as 1 along with the option of completing a rotation out to the d-corner.

3. Is either a containment lane that either attempts to catch a long early run or contain movement into the carwash on the d-wire in the early phases of the game.

4. Is an inside the snake side stubby lane that must be taken immediately (and accurately) upon coming off the board for any real chance of success (although if there are enough players breaking one direction they can either get bunched up sometimes or strung out which increases the chances for an elimination here.)

5. Is both an extension of position 4 and a likely snake control primary position. The lane is outside the snake side stubby so it follows nicely from 4 as it sweeps a lane across the stubby and lets a shooter in position 5 swing the lane to the outside of the corner can and/or the outside edge of the brick as well as the snake.

6. On the diagram is a crossfield option but could just as easily be an inside the snake stubby lane as well though that lane is lost the closer one gets to the upfield 30 rocket. I'm uncertain as to how effective a lane a player running upfield on this line will have but shoot it if you got. (It should be safe unless everybody is doing it in which case teams will make a specific effort to "find" that runner.) Otherwise the way that runner shoots is probably dictated by which way the player plays upon reaching a primary.

7. Is a good delay position and offers more potential snake side lanes than the one diagrammed which is a lane in the gap where the SD and beam overlap. It should make any attempt to take the snake OTB very difficult.

8. More than anything this lane is a counter to 1 & 2 or any situation where shooters are floating and otherwise hard to find with an effective lane.

9. Should really be positioned closer to 8 and is either a R&G lane (zone) or a delay. As a delay its effectiveness is a question of getting into position quickly enough. Ideally the shooter is positioned more or less along the grid line that passes through the stubby. If the player's primary is the stubby it's a natural for moving up into position while shooting a wide lane or it can be used as diagrammed, a delay into the corner.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Measuring Stick

I spent some time this past weekend with the Rangers, a paintball team from Guatemala. They came up to the States for some trigger time against my guys on Saturday and ended up competing in the largest of our statewide tournament series on Sunday. (A good bunch of guys, btw.) I suspect they are representative of many new teams in the developing paintball world; energetic, eager and perhaps not so overtly competitive as American ballers tend to be. (Or at least they make an effort to be friendly too and certainly minus the obnoxious punk posturing.)

The point of their excursion north was to learn and improve. And they looked to do so in the traditional paintball way; by scrimmaging better players and competing against better teams. Makes perfectly good sense, doesn't it? Pretty much the way you and I did it, too. (And/or the way you're still doing it.)

This was particularly useful for the Rangers because those basic training methods don't really exist in Central America. In part because competitive paintball is so young there, there is only other up-and-coming to butt heads against. They simply don't have available the crucial components of experienced players and established teams. As a consequence I think their weekend up here was (hopefully) very instructive and a bit of an eye-opener as their experience acted as a measuring stick. A way of judging just where they are and an indicator of how much better they need to get in order to measure up to a world standard. (Of course that still leaves them, and teams like them, with the task of finding ways to make-up for the opportunities that still don't exist.)

All that was a rather oblique approach to a (sorta) related topic; competitiveness and the maintenance of a competitive standard. Which brings me back in a very roundabout way to how the PSP is using its classification system. (Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!) Yeah, sorry about this (unless you're too new to be aware of all the other classification-related posts I've written) but at least this is a different argument.

Brief recap: my objection to the UCP, and its application in the PSP, is that it runs players up the ranks unnecessarily and frequently the result is to push many of those players out of competitive paintball. [And the move to add a semi-pro division acknowledges the issue if not the cause.] Most of my arguments have been tied to the effect on players. The system also blurs and/or breaks down the barriers between divisions to the detriment of the overall competition and the idea of excellence.

Here's how. Divisions exist in recognition of different levels of skill and ability that are sufficiently distinct to warrant those separate divisions of competition. And, realistically, to encourage teams of diverse ability to compete. For purposes of competition the divisions represent incremental steps rising to the top level of competition, currently call Pro. Conceptually we're on solid, easily understood ground. The questions I have is how do you maintain a clear distinction between the divisions created and how does that divisional process actually lead to excellence in the game? The answer to both those questions starts with a standard. Teams like the Rangers struggle to find their place in part because there is no consistent standard in their environment, no well defined target to aim for, at least in a practical sense that they can measure themselves against periodically.

I'll finish this in a day or two.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ask the Coach

After technical difficulties and a fight with the studio over budget overruns VFTD is proud to present for the first time anywhere, Episode #4: The Excuse.

UPDATE: No excuses (Haha. Get it?) Current problems are from the production end. It should be resolved shortly.

Major League Paintball Held Hostage: Weekly Update

Just a few odds and ends this week, kids.
Over in PSPland early registration is already at 129 teams and the first payment deadline is still more than a month away. That looks pretty good but if WC drops off as much as Chicago did (approximately) the total needs to be around 275 - 290 total teams. (I'm projecting a decline from last year based on the economic situation and turnout so far on the season. World Cup is however both the season ender and a unique event so who knows, it may show more resilience than expected.)
I wonder how many semi-pro teams the PSP could accommodate in a pinch? No reason, just curious.
Also, a bleg repeat--if you've played a divisional xball event this year or reffed one how refs per field this season? Anybody?

Registration officially closes for the USPL's West Coast Open tomorrow but if you suddenly decided you needed to play I expect Camille could make it happen. It's Old Skool (SC Village), it's New Skool (no, not Nicky Cuba, fresh, flat turf surface). What could be better? Some mid-summer paintball at a venue with legit paintball history.

The MS is doing its usual dumb and mum routine after the ban of Notorious announcement last week and I suspect they are simply hoping that and the D1 ref points problem will simply blow over as the Euro teams are too disorganized or spineless to insist the league operate like it believes in its own sporting pretensions and rules.
Otherwise there's a bit of a breather before the next event which is London despite the fact most of the current talk is about the late announcement of a Turkish venue season finale. London is scheduled for late September with the Turkey event following in late October. So far 4 non-locked teams have registered for London. Even though most of the recent issues in the MS relate primarily to the locked divisions it will be interesting to see if there continues to be weakness in D2 and M% registrations. Paris registrations suggest it may be trending that way but the event's Open status means we really need to see London before drawing a conclusions. Still ...

Fun, fun, fun over on The Grand Tour with the Graz beach party! Seems as a late attempt to entice a few more teams in The Grand Tour will have a lakeside party with DJs after tournament play has concluded Saturday. (That would be this Saturday as the event will be held this weekend.) In a curious turnaround registration numbers are down over last week from 46 to 40 (which may have inspired the beach party but it's probably too late for that to matter much.) I would love to know what the DJs are gonna be spinning and I'm guessing whatever it will be it would make my ears bleed. (What can I say? I have sensitive ears.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Monday Poll

This week's poll isn't so much about paintball as it is about satisfying my curiosity. The subject is VFTD and the stuff posted. I'm curious about which features or sorts of subjects are of the most interest to you lazy slackers out there. Honestly the results are unlikely to make a big difference as I post about what I'm interested in--what else am I gonna do?--try to pander to the whims of you lot?--I don't think so. The place where the results might matter is in frequency of certain kinds of posts or even dropping a feature or two depending on how much I like doing it. If I'm having a good time with something then you can skip a day every once in a while and it won't hurt my feelings. The options run from the general to the specific and once again include the (dreaded) "Other." And (once again) if you pick other please take a minute to comment on what you had in mind in the comments section. (I know, it's probably a futile request, and some comedian will click on other 'cus it's so damned funny, but I am the eternal optimist. Yeah, right.) Anyway, for all those times you didn't bother to click on a reax option and didn't post a comment when you were thinking about it take a second (or two) and cast a vote.

The Monday Poll in Review
I need to come up with a poll topic that will prove divisive and get you lot voting. It seems that once again the early trend was united and consistent. 2 of every 3 votes didn't think the change of venue would have any real effect on World Cup and the bulk of the votes that thought it would be a matter of perception more than reality for the crowd who have never been to a non-Disney WC. Otherwise a remarkably small group expressed any concern over the change with 8% claiming they would be willing to pay more in order to keep Cup at Disney. I'm not sure how much stock to put in those votes as it isn't going to happen or be a real option but it was interesting that most of the will pay more votes were for the larger amount. Even so, I think it's informative that so few chose any of the "yes" options when it would have been an easy way to express real displeasure at the venue change. At least from the not-quite-so-lazy-a-slacker voting group at VFTD the PSP doesn't have anything to worry about.
I also think this requires a follow-up poll after the fact to see what peeps thought of the actual change of venue. Hmm.

This Week at VFTD

Who am I kidding? I thought (hoped) posting a weekly schedule would give some order to this whole blogging process but it hasn't. A couple of things are working against my inclination for regularity. (Thanks, Metamucil!) Stuff comes up in the course of a week that grabs my attention and some of the posts actually require a bit of work and I don't always have the time to put into them that I'd like so it looks like we will all have to be satisfied with whatever I can manage. (Okay, you don't have to be satisfied, you can come and go as you please.) This was mostly a long-winded way of saying I'ma discontinuing the weekly schedule for those who find the lack of adherence more annoying than they do humorous. Otherwise all the regulars will be posted (more or less) when they are supposed to be. MLP Updates on Tuesdays and so on. Contingent on this week's Monday Poll, of course.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

More on GI Milsim

Aight, it's time to give all you lazy slackers the answer(s) to the last Cynical VFTD Game, which, to the best of my knowledge, is where the rumor went public. Our friends over at ProPaintball have revived the Richmond Italia buys into Smart Parts rumor (first referenced here in the comments) so I figured I'd let y'all in on what VFTD has. (The demand to know has been deafening. Yeah, right.)

GI Milsim is a trademark of .50 caliber Inc. A company (apparently) located in St. Laurent and registered in Canada.

Gardner Italia Milsim is a trademark of GI Paintball, Inc. This is a separate company also registered in Canada and based in Quebec.

There was no confirmation in the info discovered that identified ownership but if Richmond and the Gardners are partners in these two companies, which appear to have been setup to do GI Milsim business, I remain unconvinced that the relationship extends into ownership of SP. But hey, who knows?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Enlistment for the Week

VFTD would like to announce the formal enlistment of recruit Joran to the DPA. Welcome aboard, Joran. Joran joins us from Singapore and is just the sort of young, avid baller we can disillusion in no time. Live long and prosper, Joran.

As for the rest of you slackers the world isn't conquering itself and VFTD needs recruits. Did I mention the secret handshake and monthly email blasts revealing the secrets of paintball just for members?

UPDATE: BMason takes the plunge! Thanks, Brandon. Keep up the great work. It was the secret handshake that made all the difference, wasn't it? Hey, front and center, recruit.

Technical Difficulties

Have delayed the release of, Ask the Coach; episode 4: The Excuse, but it is in post-production this very minute. So what if I'm over budget? It's art I tell you, art, dammit!

So Last Millennium

On days when you are frustrated with the tournament series you play be grateful it isn't the Millennium Series. Unless, you know, it is--the Millennium Series, in which case, I feel your pain. The Mil kids are working on twofer right now and since they say bad luck comes in threes I'm waiting for another shoe to drop. (How's that for some brutally mixed metaphors? Trust me, it takes a rare talent.)
The MS recently announced the location of the final leg of this year's series (in July for those keeping score at home and, I must say, not unlike a couple of U.S. leagues.) It will be held in a resort area of Turkey. Rumor has it the league is getting a "good deal" for bringing a series event in. One problem is it will apparently be considerably more expensive for some percentage of the players and teams than a typical-from-past-experience Euro location. For some others it won't. Adding to this complication is the locked division issue which obligates the CPL, SPL and D1 teams to show up. Of course they signed on to that deal without knowing the details in advance. But, what choice did they have if they wanted to compete this season? (A circumstance the league regularly takes advantage of--and the teams and players continue to take.) At a minimum the Turkey decision is proving "controversial" but the MS is used to riding out these sorts of storms.
The Paris Open has also produced some interesting fallout. Apparently the original contracts signed by the locked division teams identified the Paris event as an "open" meaning non-mandatory event. That was later amended to being an open format event that was mandatory even though the results wouldn't count toward series points. Got that? Unless you happened to ref it, as it turns out. It seems the D1 teams that reffed Paris have had their lowest event scores replaced with 100 reffing points which has altered the season standings in D1 and put all the non-reffing teams at a disadvantage. (The MS still uses D1 teams to fill their reffing staffs which both reduces the league's expenses and adds to the coffers because 3 "extra" teams pay for a D1 slot.) The upshot is that a mandatory open event where the actual scores don't count has given max points to the reffing teams to be counted toward the final series points standings. And--and, this just gets better and better--the one locked division team that didn't show up got banned for the rest of the season for trashing their hotel room at the prior event. Except they cleaned up the room and paid for the carpet cleaning and the ban wasn't announced until after they didn't show up for the Paris event.
And you were upset 'cus the pit you had to play in was muddy last event? Count your blessings.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Taking a Silly Day

I've decided to take a silly day. There will be no serious posting today. No deep discussions of the problems currently facing Paintball. No Chicken Little Apochalypso--unless we can come up with a catchy tune and turn it into a dance routine. But fear not, it won't be a totally lost posting opportunity. I will be posting the July episode of 'Ask the Coach' sometime today. It's episode #4, The Excuse.
Besides that I want to tell you a silly story today and encourage you to post up silly stories of your own. It's foolish, it's pointless, and with any luck it may even be childish and immature. So relax. Paintball isn't going anywhere (today) and it's time for a bit of fun.

Banned By PBN
(I originally posted this item on P8ntballer (years ago) and happened to run across it again today and found it--and the upshot--hilarious all over again. Though it probably won't endear VFTD to our pals at the Nation, that's okay. Humor impairment is never pretty so try not to stare.)

I thought some of you might find this story amusing and a left-handed blow for justice so--We have a team forum at PBN. It was thought to be a good way to have regular contact with fans, etc. As it has turned out only about three of us post(ed) with any regularity. One of our guys routinely posts "advice" and the swear filter does double duty on occasion. One might have thought that was the filter's purpose yet the poster was warned by a Mod to quit trying to get around the filter. Well, looking at the posts it's plain our guy wasn't trying to get around the filter so much as he was trying to be his own filter. Anyway--in the process--the Mod in question posts a list of all the words PBN filters but the Mod wrote them out in such a way the filter didn't filter them and they were all perfectly legible. At this point I quoted the Mod's list (using the quote function) and noted the irony of threatening our guy about abusing the filter while at the same time doing exactly what our guy was being warned about but wasn't doing intentionally. (It should be noted that at no time did my posts require the filter nor did I post anything attempting to bypass the filter--I only quoted the Mod's list as he wrote it. Oh, and I gave the Mod a bit of a hard time for, A) doing exactly what he warned our guy not to do, and B) for otherwise having such poor judgment as to post elsewhere in the forums the intimate details of a sexual encounter--which apparently isn't against the rules at PBN, and finally, C) for then currying favor with the player he was threatening to ban.) The thread should still be there [it's long gone to the Evidence Archives--which is pretty funny all on its own] to see unless it was deleted but at the moment I don't know, you see, I've been banned. The reason given: purposefully attempting to bypass the filter.
So for all of you who would have liked to get even with the Mods one time or another I thought you'd like to know I've gotten a dose of what you must deal with daily.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. This is where it gets good. After a number of failed attempts to reason with the PBN mods the team took another tack. Instead of taking our punishment like good little boys and promising not to do it ever again our fearless leader refused to knuckle under. (You know how those pro guys are, they're complete jerks.)

He started a thread by laying out a hypothetical situation where it might be possible to unleash all manner of chaos and mayhem on the forums without using any bannable language whatsoever. He then, thinking out loud, offered up how that might work. If, for example, someone had influence over a significant number of members and encouraged them to prepare to violate as many forum rules as possible in obscure places throughout the forums but only upon receiving the "secret" command to do so. The sample command he used was Project Mayhem. He then proceeded to post up innocuous posts using either the word "project" or "mayhem" but never both at the same time. This resulted in a whole new wave of bannings and threats and thread removals. Which we greeted by rolling around on the floor laughing hysterically at the general hysteria on display from the PBN poohbahs.

There was also a semi-serious element to it as well. We felt it was unfair from the beginning and when called on it the mods simply made bigger jackasses of themselves (than they already appeared) and became more heavy-handed in their responses (when they weren't disavowing any responsibility whatsoever.) Which didn't sit particularly well.

And, of course, simply putting the idea of project mayhem out there served to inspire quite a few diligent fans to begin implementing it. That had the mods searching every nook and cranny of the forums looking for artifacts of Project Mayhem and handing out dozens of more bannings, mostly to new accounts set up to carry out Project Mayhem. For a while the mods were all doing double duty and so paranoid they were banning accounts and threads as fast as they could be generated out of fear of another round of Project Mayhem. The whole thing ran its course in just a few days and, of course, we "lost" but it was by far the most entertaining defeat we ever suffered.

All that remains--that I could find still available to public search--are the links below which give an outline to the events recounted above. (Just in case you want to delve a little deeper.)
Stop Closing Hollidays Threads
Words One Cannot Say on PBN

Well, that was fun, kids. First time in years I've thought about any of that. What a hoot.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Baca's Blog

Hey, better late than never. Today's effort is called, Paintball Diversity, and yes, it's a post I originally intended to post here at VFTD. It's undergone a change or two but remains the basic concept it started out as. I finally decided to put it in Baca's Blog--in case you've forgotten already that's over at the Big Bullet--because the competitive element is really incidental to the subject. Even so some of you might find it interesting. Hit the link(s) and check it out.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

On Stein's View of Pro Teams & Franchises

I'd like to comment on Jeff Stein's post over at ProPaintball yesterday. (If you haven't read it, check it out first. It's about pro teams from the owner's perspective.) I find nothing objectionable in it but I'd like to piggyback off Jeff's comments. It's less a disagreement and more just a slightly different perspective on what is and will continue to be an issue in competitive paintball. And commenting here let's me ignore the bulk of the comments which were not particularly relevant. (Btw, Faction, if you wish to put your nickel's worth in here please include a link or links to your sources of info on pro sports and teams.)

Jeff focuses on the "value" side of the pro ownership equation and does a good job of laying it all out. The only things I'd add is that the original NXL franchise buy-ins weren't really about the teams. It was an investment in the mainstreamed future of the game. And in that respect it was a more expensive variation on the same 'promise' the NPPL tried trading in. What all of it amounted to was promoting a shared expectation of future value based not on paintball itself but on the ability to sell the game.

While I can (and do) take Jeff's conclusions at face value and understand the sentiment (and frustration) behind the post I don't see a future for his "solution" any more than I see a secure future from the status quo. (I don't actually believe Jeff considers his conclusion a solution either but that's just my opinion.) As long as there has been serious competitive paintball there have been those willing to make what many might reasonably conclude are irrational sacrifices to compete but there is a limit.

A dozen years ago Lockout was able to compete at the pro level on the budget of a broke ass hardcore D2 team frequently driving to national events and stuffing hotel rooms like they were illegal sweat shops. 5 years later some elite pro teams were competing in two or even three international series and operating on six figure budgets. From then until now the sponsor dollars have dried up but the demands placed on a pro level team to be competitive have only increased. (With the modest exception of the PSP roster mandate and the reduction of competition options. It's much cheaper to play pro ball when you're not actually playing. Go figure.) In many respects you can't succeed with just a team anymore, you must have an organization and you must at least come close to matching the time and resources of the richest teams in terms of effective preparation. It's not like riding a bicycle.

A couple of points. The measurable cost of that irrational sacrifice has, over the years, increased so much that what was possible a few years ago isn't possible any more. And the more it costs (forget value, forget return) the fewer owners there will be willing (or able) to pay the price. [If a prospective owner could count on 10K out of pocket every year there would be a lot more willing to pay the price than when the cost is 50K.]
That leaves us with one other group. Those who do receive some return on their investment. Who perceive some value in operating a pro team or teams. That would be PBIndustry and the league(s) running a pro division. Yes, assessing that value is problematic. The factory teams have a commercial as well as a competitive purpose. All sponsors are constantly evaluating and reevaluating the "value" of their sponsorship but they, and the league(s) will need to keep in mind that their teams do not operate in a vacuum. Are the Ironmen the Ironmen if they have no premier league to compete in? And will any national league survive if it's Pro division disappears? The assumption has always been that someone else will always step up to fill a void but if we haven't reached the point where that won't happen we're getting very close to it.

Major League Paintball Held Hostage: Weekly Update

Here it is July and I doubt anybody has much of an idea what comes next--except, hopefully, the rest of this season. For many that includes a hole the size of the PSP's regular fourth event. (I smell another Monday Poll question in there somewhere.) The PSP has leaped the third hurdle without too much seeming amiss. The USPL has yet to put on their second event. The MS has just completed their Open experiment and the Grand Tour may be about to have their biggest event of the season in the middle of July. On the surface the raw numbers seem to tell a tale of slow decline but it's impossible to say with any certainty what comes next. And who knows what, if anything, is going on behind the scenes to respond to the challenges of the future. Something surely, right?

The PSP will probably be fairly quiet for a while though one hopes we'll see the "missing" webcast matches at some point. I wonder if the failures in Chicago will set the whole effort back and I'm beginning to wonder if the new venue can be equipped to make sure WC doesn't repeat the Chicago problems.

The USPL situation just makes me scratch my head. From the beginning I didn't believe that the level of participation the league was projecting would prove accurate (or even plausible) but I wouldn't have predicted such a precipitous drop off either. I was (and am) convinced that xball captured the grassroots throughout most of the country but I didn't expect the apparent collapse of 7-man interest we're seeing. The WCPPL has probably siphoned off some teams but it wasn't that long ago (was it?) when the XPSL and NPPL peacefully and prosperously coexisted with plenty of teams to go around. Is it just a format failure or does it portend something bigger?

I don't know if the MS Paris Open can be considered a success or not. (Comments on this topic most welcome.) It was not a capacity turnout. Did the open format hurt? Will we see a decline in Campaign Cup? I'm wondering if attrition is a concern and if the locked divisions licensing fees have helped stave off possibly greater attrition. (I expect we'll see in the coming off season and/or in D2 and D3 where the option exists to not play. I would, btw, ascribe most losses to the economy.) On a more positive note everything about the event seems to have gone off neatly and the level of play appears to be quite high. Is the core of Euro competitive ballers closing the performance gap?
Let's talk Turkey. (Very lame. I should be ashamed.) The final event location has finally been formally announced but it wasn't exactly a deep dark secret. All indications are it's a prime location with the only questions marked related to the cost to the player.

Over on the Grand Tour the numbers for the Graz event (up to 46) could make it the biggest event of the season for the central European league.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Monday Poll

This week's Monday Poll is on the controversial (to some) change in venue for this year's World Cup and how you, the readers of VFTD, view that change. As usual please feel free to add some depth to your vote by including comments or suggestions or whatever. This should be an interesting topic for discussion as I doubt there is anybody who doesn't have an opinion on this one. Vote early, vote often. (Okay, you can't and that was a joke. Except for our friends in the Chicago area where it's common practice.)

The Poll In Review
Last week's question: What puts the major in major league tournament series paintball? was, I thought, a very interesting question. Most of you apparently didn't agree or took a look at the results trend and figured it was going the way you expected it to and didn't bother to vote. Regardless, the more votes the better.
Three answers dominated the vote. Industry types opted for the support of industry answer to the tune of approx. 25%. Another 25% thought the scale of participation made for a major league event while 50% thought the participation of Pro teams was the defining factor. In the comments a couple of our industry-related friends also abandoned the "tournament" caveat in the original question by suggesting that strong industry support of any sufficiently large scale event counted. As a competitive paintball guy I'm not so much interested in redefining the poll that way though it might have been useful if I'd also included a 'Draws participants from a national base,' answer option as well.
With the industry answer I'm left wondering at the cause and effect. Is the presence of industry what makes it major league or is the size or opportunity for promotion what draws industry? I'm inclined to think the later. I think the additional option suggested above might have split or even supplanted the scale of participation answer. It would be interesting though to see where peeps who voted that way draw the line. Above 100 teams? 150? 75? Finally the majority of the vote went to Pro participation which seems fairly straightforward to me. And, I think, for the time-being perhaps the best way to make the major, non-major distinction but let me pose a closing question to you. What if the PSP existed as it does today or was even bigger but the Pro game was separate from those events? Would that work?

This Week at VFTD

This week the deck may get reshuffled. If you're not sure what that means, join the club. I'm stalling. Carried over from last week is Another Cynical VFTD Game and I may (or may not) answer the questions posed this week. We'll see what else comes up. The post, Paintball Diversity, will be posted in Baca's Blog later today instead of here at VFTD. I'm also working on some things to do with officiating and I'll be revisiting Classification again soon. It's also time for another episode of Ask the Coach. Anyway, the following schedule is purely hypothetical (and I wouldn't blame you for thinking, like always) so I guess we'll find out together how accurate it proves to be.

Monday: This Week at VFTD, The Monday Poll (The Poll Review), Link to Baca's Blog
Tuesday: MLP Held Hostage Weekly Update
Wednesday: A reffing post?
Thursday: A classification post?
Friday: Enlistment(s) for the Week, No doubt something else terrific

Saturday, July 4, 2009

PSP Chicago OTB

Here it is, mostly. I left a couple of minor options out just for the sake of clarity. All the lanes given in blue represent the possibility of a running & gunning (or moving) lane though they needn't be in every situation. The red lanes are essentially fixed position lanes that are shoot, then move.
Starting with the blue and A I'll take the lanes in alphabetical order.

A: Is a step off the board using the pins to block in order to get a quick lane up for a snake runner (or the snake wire temple.)

B: Can be (and often is) the follow-up position for the A lane shooter. Alternatively OTB a deep position can be taken up that allows the shooter to lane the snake side gap while stepping into the B position.

C: Is an alternate cross field contain lane option that does a couple of things. It lets the B position player play wide on the D-side while setting the C (pin) player up to wrap on a home shooter and rotate into the 40 D-side dorito or the X. Additionally, A can shoot the lane and move to C while B shoots wide then switches for cross field lane control.

D: Is a step off the board cross field lane on the D-side break. It's an option that mixes up the angles and shooters and allows for a snake side heavy break while protecting against a strong OTB push D-side. D is also the first step in the progression D, E & F. In that capacity the D shooter can lane inside/outside the snake dorito, into the fingers or wider.

E: Is a gun up holding spot that allows for an extra lane but also allows the shooter to delay, evaluate the opposition's break, and then respond accordingly with the option to feed wide or upfield.

F: Both snake side pins are playable and playing them up tight is a variation on E. If a player can get small the wide pin is well protected from most shooters with the best out of line-of-sight lane being to bounce paint off the inner pin. Otherwise E offers many of the same lanes and if/when heavy pressure holds up movement playing in tight is a very playable option.

G: Is the primary option on effectively laning inside the D-can. This can be a simple sweep the gun up on the horn and/or step up into home while holding the lane. G also gives very quick shots to multiple lanes on both sides of the field but carries the downside of an exposed shooter to any edging gun.

H: Similar to D in terms of the available lanes except H offers a solid lane inside the snake dorito. H is also primarily a hold, shoot (delay) then cut out to a primary option. A good choice for a delayed corner runner or even a delayed snake runner.

I & J: standard home shooting positions and the available lanes.

These OTB lanes leave out straight Run & Gun options but otherwise reflects 90% of all the lanes we used in Chicago and should (hopefully) offer some more ideas for the developing Xball player. (Or else it will show you how clever you already are. And what could be better than that?)

Calling Matty Marshall

Matty, you gotta help me out. As the undisputed Voice of Paintball you have a responsibility. It's a lexical responsibility. I didn't realize it until this morning so please don't take this as criticism. More like begging. When I heard some French guy going on and on doing commentary on the Paris Open and the only English involved was "feast" and "feasting" I knew there was a problem. A feast here, a feast there. It's all good. And I can appreciate the difficulty in trying to keep the commentary fresh but every expression you use is gonna get repeated a thousand fold. Kinda like the agg epidemic. Harmless enough at first until it hits some unexpected critical mass and --boom--we're screwed and there's little agglets overrunning fields around the country like rabbits. All I'm asking, Matty, is that you expand the paintball lingo lexicon. Make it up on the fly. Try different stuff out. Just go for it. Thanks.

Friday, July 3, 2009

World Domination On Hold

Another Friday with no enlistments to the Deadbox Puppet Army. Now I know how the Brain feels with you lot as my collective Pinky. It's a hard row.

Instead I have a few items to share with y'all. A reminder that ProPaintball put the word out that Billy B. has a blog now. I'm following up because, God help me, I like Billy and from the sample posted he can almost spell. That and I got a real kick out of going to his site.

If you truly are a no lifer you can catch the Millennium Paris action on Keep in mind they're five hours ahead of EST and schedule your day (or night) accordingly.

Here's a promotional gimmick for the PSP and this year's World Cup. (You got three months to work on this.) The Florida Sportsman Challenge to benefit the Childhood Leukemia Foundation. (I know, that sounds kinda cynical and maybe it is but hear me out.) Round up 3-man teams from Florida-based pro sports teams ( the Rays and Marlins) and major universities to play some paintball for charity. You want mainstream media coverage and an opportunity to do a good thing all while promoting paintball as sport? A positive spin and name athletes from established sports portray paintball in a whole new light. Just saying.

Bleg: How many refs are working PSP divisional fields this season and is it the same number as last year? I'm just curious. (No dark, evil ulterior motives--that I'll admit to.)

UPDATE: I'm going to thin out the herd of sidebar references to paintblogs and perhaps sites to reflect those that are reasonably active. If you know of any sites that ought to be added drop me a line or if you update your current site shortly it may keep it on the list. (I'm not a neat freak but it's time for a little housekeeping.)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Paintball By The Numbers

Why is tournament paintball in decline? Is it really in decline? Is rec play down? In raw numbers? Dollars spent? Or both? Is the impact uniform across the country or does it have any regional variations? Are scenarios and Big Games as strong as ever? If so, why? Are they playing with restricted ROF or paint limitations? Is tourney ball seeing a decline because the game is too expensive? Or because fewer new players are entering paintball of any sort? (Meaning we're losing the raw material of future tourney ballers.) Or because high volumes of paint are scaring away those same new players and perhaps keeping some number of would be players away as well?

There sure are a lot of questions. And not a lot of answers. Or so it seems. Wouldn't it be nice to know what's really going on? Other than the fact tournament paintball is at the mercy of an industry that seems incapable of finding its backside with both hands. What the hell is industry doing other than trying to find more efficient ways for the haves to sell to the remaining retail outlets while trying to marginalize the have nots? Here's an idea. How about a model field program that all the Big Boys participate in. If you want to know what's happening at the grass roots try getting down there and see. The basic idea is to operate say, three, fields in diverse markets and see what's working and/or experiment with different ideas and try to find ways to make things work better--for everybody. (I know, I know.) Find answers to some of the questions currently plaguing the game. If everyone in industry participates nobody gets an advantage and everyone gets the benefits of any advances while sharing the cost of making the effort. Make it a PSTA project. If the PSTA could develop a package based on real life experience with proven methods to help make the local field(s) a success it would have actually accomplished something.

Not too keen on that idea? I didn't think so.

Fortuitously Jeff Perlmutter of PMI fame is looking into a variation of the concept. He wants to acquire and then operate as model parks a number of local paintball fields around the country. (See the interview over at the Big Bullet.) His idea is to find a system that produces a positive paintball experience and reproduce it at all his parks. (And perhaps spin if off as a franchise or something similar?) Jeff and his folks could do the work for the industry. Who knows, a little industry support now might reap real dividends in relatively short order.

Still not too keen on the idea? Here's a simpler version that might be worthwhile.

A field owners questionnaire aimed at discovering what's working in different places around the country (or even the world.) I hesitate to even suggest this on the basis that somebody must already be doing something similar, mustn't they? If for no other reason than marketing and sales need some sense of what's happening on the retail front in order to do their job effectively. Right? (For those of you who are field owners [Reiner, Mick] have any of your suppliers ever done anything similar?) Combine the answers from the questionnaire with a sales history and there may be enough data there, when combined with potentially hundreds of others, to begin to understand some of the the things happening in the paintball market, and why.

Of course it isn't as easy as suggesting it ought to be done--even generating a truly effective questionnaire would be a challenge--but maybe it's a place to start thinking about the challenges in a different way. Or not.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Another Cynical VFTD Game

Today's game is company, company, whose got the company? If you missed it in the comments from a few days ago it seems there is a rumor making the rounds that Richmond Italia has bought into Smart Parts. I found this interesting and did a little digging around but being a lazy slacker--much like yourself--I didn't find any confirmation and moved on to other things. But while I was at it I also started looking for GI Milsim and while I didn't find it, one of VFTD's most enterprising correspondents did. (Though I found something else later that makes me question the validity of the Italia buys into SP rumor.)

What is GI Milsim? And who holds the rights to it? And for extra credit try and find DLX Technology.

I'll give you a hint or two to get started. SP and SP Europe are both registered companies with the State of Pennsylvania. The others aren't.

(Because you and I know you're a lazy slacker I will tell you the answers at some point so you needn't play along unless you really, really want to know.)