Friday, December 31, 2010

Lane's Letter to Whom It May Concern

Regarding the changes to be made in the PSP for 2011. (Btw, title is link to Lane's statement.) I'm not sure there's much more to be said--but when has that ever stopped me before? Regarding Lane's statement I wouldn't have expected anything less. It's a clear, reasonably concise, logically ordered combination of explanation and intent that tells anyone who is willing to listen why Lane has made the decisions he has made. And given that I have the advantage of knowing Lane fairly well I have no doubt at all that his statement is also both sincere and honestly what he believes to be in the best interest of the PSP and the teams and players who want to be able to compete nationally.
Of course I've been convinced of all those things all along. And I hope all the fence sitters will give the changes a try and see what they think after playing with the changes.
Does any of that mean I'm going all wobbly? Not so much. I remain concerned that some of the changes won't achieve their intended goals. That doesn't make me anti-PSP. Just the opposite in fact. Look, however all this shakes out you'll find me at the first event of the season doing what I've been doing since 2003.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday's The Monday Poll

Before you start complaining remember you get what you pay for. And what you get this week is your very own prediction poll. (Next week I'm thinking of doing a resolutions poll. Don't ask how that's going to work, I've no idea.) Anyway, the idea this time around is you get one vote, count 'em, one vote to predict next year's biggest winner. Hey, it could be there will be plenty of winners next year and/or plenty of losers but you only have one chance to identify who will walk away with the largest chunk of glory. Go ahead and whine. It is what it is. And if you don't believe you can go with "nobody."
As always vote early, vote often, encourage your friends to jump on the bandwagon.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday Poll in Review

No worries. There will be a new Monday Poll posted sometime today. So if you're on the verge of hyperventilating grab a paper bag--does anyone still have one of those?--and breath into the bag until you heart rate normalizes. Nice and steady. Thing is I'm traveling today so I split up the new poll and lasts week's review out of the kindness of my heart. Yeah, that right. And because I couldn't wait to comment on last week's poll; How much is paintball a part of your holiday gifting?
Do you remember that I confessed to having unconventional thoughts related to last week's poll topic? (C'mon, it was only a week ago. Jeez!) Well, I did. The tendency has been to rate the "health" of paintball directly to the sales figures of PBIndustry and while I understand the industry seeing things through that lens I don't think it's necessarily a particularly accurate assessment.
Were any of you surprised by the poll results? I wasn't. It was, in fact, almost exactly what I would have predicted--even from a self-selecting paintball active audience. (And if I had to guess I would guess some of you didn't participate because the numbers would have ended up looking even worse. You know, besides the lazy slacker thing.)
The poll from two weeks ago asked you all to self-identify your place within paintball and we pretty much had every facet covered. And yet, for 65% paintball purchases weren't a part of presents given or received. 2 out of every 3 players didn't give or receive a gift related to paintball. 15% bought themselves a paintball-related gift and 9% gave and received paintball related gifts. 5% gave a paintball gift and 5% received a paintball gift. And only 1% gave (or received) a gift valued above $500--right at the bottom range of the mid-priced markers.
So what does this poll suggest? That any minute now nobody will be playing paintball? Or something else?
First thing it suggests is that new product sales is a very important number to industry types but doesn't really tell us a lot about who or how many people are playing paintball right now. And when everyone is bemoaning the imminent collapse of paintball they are likely confusing a few issues. Is the established industry in potential trouble? Yes, but the industry isn't paintball despite the fact they seem to confuse the two regularly.
The something else goes like this; the numbers suggest there isn't a significant influx of new players and it's mighty difficult to guesstimate what the impact of the secondary market is--and whether or not there is a glut of second-hand product out there. And the poll itself might suggest that many players have most of what they need to play and perhaps even much of what they want unless it simply isn't currently affordable. It would be far more interesting and to the point to collect actual participation numbers on the ground from local fields. I don't doubt that overall the trend is down but down from what exactly? Down from the enormous (and unsustainable?) sales numbers of a few years ago? All those numbers really proved was that a lot of stuff was being bought. Was there a Golden Age of paintball or was that just another bubble in an era of easy money?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Season's Greetings

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays you lazy slackers.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Lazy Slacker Re-post of the Week

This week's post was originally posted in November of 2008 and was titled, Pro Ball Blues. (Still is, actually.) It's about the state of paint sponsorship at the pro level and the toll it was taking. I thought it might be of re-newed interest on a couple of counts. Having gotten used to pro team attrition (sorta) I wonder what the numbers and teams look like if you go back to say, 2007 and add it all up. Between then and now who's gone, who is new. What teams have managed to carry on and what is the likelihood of any real continuity among the pro ranks?
Then there's the changed paint manufacturing situation with GI Sportz, Valken & HydroTec in play. Do their arrival on the scene alter anything? GI Sportz is making some moves. Valken is supplied by GI and HydroTec hasn't managed a rollout of product yet despite the hoopla. My prediction is that there may be more paint available this year but if there is it will go to the haves and won't help the have nots at all. (Although it may be GI Sportz relationship with Shock that keeps them a viable team. Just a guess.)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pony Back in Harness

Paintball.com reported recently that Chris Lasoya will be playing for Aftershock in 2011. Looks like the PSP changes are working.

(Sorry, Chris, I couldn't resist. Truth is it will be great to see you on the field again. I'm looking forward to it.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Older, Fatter, Slower, Round 2

The PSP has gotten such a positive response to their off season changes it seems the NPPL has decided to emulate at least one of them by changing their bunker set. (Link is in the title.) The U is gone as are 2 Cakes and 1 Small dorito. In their place two 5 foot cubes and two 8x8x5 foot wings (triangles). Independent of the other changes this may work out fine and the new bunkers may prove popular but I can't help viewing this with a jaundiced eye. (I wasn't always so cynical. Oh, who am I trying to kid, of course, I'm cynical.) Look, here's how the league press release reads, "The goal is to provide larger bunkers on the field making it harder to get eliminations off the break and promote longer games." What that means is hey, we want all those old, fat & slow players to come play NPPL instead of PSP. If they really wanted to make it harder to eliminate players OTB then don't let anybody shoot OTB. Simple. Or have a no laning zone around the start bunker so that no one can shoot until they are outside the no shooting zone. And seriously whose idea was this really? C'mon, the leagues are not driving these bunker changes. The manufacturer is and the leagues go along with it.
What's next? Widen the field 10 feet on each side? Allow pit-side coaching?

UPDATE: I have been taken to task for being somewhat too cynical and all-inclusive in my closing comments. In the interests of accuracy I need to clarify a couple of points. Chuck initiated the NPPL bunker changes this year as the league decided to get rid of the enormous U. The specifics were decided in a dialogue between the league and the manufacturer.
Additionally the argument was made that some modest changes are good in general in that it gives players new shapes to learn how to play and provides fresh creative inspiration. Which I think is a fair argument to make in favor of regular change. Otherwise I will stand by my claim that the prime mover in adding, changing, modifying the bunker sets is the manufacturer and I'll leave it you to decide if that's a good, bad or in-between thing.

Another Take on Sport

"But what do we mean by advancement? I think it’s fair to say we all want more of the following: players playing the game, mainstream media attention, sponsorship/financial support, exposure and better _____ to be played. While all separate goals, they’re all connected and make up overall ‘advancement‘."
Could be talking about paintball, right? He's not, he's discussing the state of this sport. But the similarity is interesting, isn't it? It's informative and sheds some light on issues paintball is dealing with--except they are a lot further down the road than paintball is--so it's a little depressing too.

Joe, who drops me a note now and again, sent this link but he also had a separate point to make. These days he's involved in club rugby and is a wrestling coach with contacts among the amateur wrestling crowd in his area of the Midwest. In American rugby the top league has lost (is losing) 4 teams going into the new year. In Joe's area recruiting new players is becoming a struggle. And this is from a pool of players who played high school and college rugby. A once motivated and active pool of players. They beg poverty but plenty of them routinely spend money in bars and on video games. (Surely the larger economy is playing a role. The question is how much of a role?) And in talking to area coaches recent freshman classes of incoming students don't have the same interest in wrestling they used to. Some schools have even had to disband their wrestling programs. Joe sees the parallels and can't help but wonder if at least part of the problem isn't simply that his generation and the one coming up really are lazy slackers. Nobody is willing to work hard. Somehow they expect things to be handed to them. If it's too demanding and too hard it's not for them. And you know, I can see where he's coming from. Undemanding parents, mediocre schools, everybody wins competitions, short attention spans and few responsibilities. Not a recipe for success.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Monday Poll

This week's poll is a query into paintball's impact on your gift-giving and/or gift-receiving plans for this holiday season.

You see, I've been having thoughts. Some might say foolish thoughts. Certainly unconventional thoughts. And I think this week's poll might help me determine just how unconventional my thoughts have become. At least on this particular topic. (The mystery topic doesn't have anything to do with giving or receiving Christmas presents.) [Or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or even Festivus.]

How much is paintball a part of your holiday gifting?

Monday Poll in Review
I suppose I'm to blame for some of these results. After all I did say all things being equal which a number of you interpreted as completely devoid of any attachement with reality. How else to explain the original xball numbers? (I miss it too but I know if the pros played it now it would be a wildly exciting brutal bloodbath--nothing like the CXBL final at Cup--and we can't have that, can we? We can't because nobody can afford the bloody paint bill anymore.) I did find the 7-man numbers intriguing as apparently more people like the idea than actually participated last year. No surprise at the nostalgia vote for 10-man either although I wonder at the 5 & 10-man woodsball numbers. Here in Florida I doubt 7 out 10 active players even know paintball used to be played in the woods. (Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration but not by much.) The other interesting comparison is run-of-the-mill 5-man versus Race 2-2--which tied for least interesting with Millennium style Race 2 Gay. Does that support my contention that the PSP could draw more (new) players with open 5-man? Naw. But it is kinda surprising, isn't it?

Final results: 5-man woodsball (3%), 10-man woodsball (8%), UWL or SPPL style event (7%), original xball (28%), 10-man (17%), 5-man (13%), Race 2-X (4, 5 & 7) (20%), Race 2-X (5, 7 & 9) (18%), Race 2- 2 (2%), 7-man (21%), Millennium Race 2 (2%), Something completely new (12%) & 7-man Race 2- 2 (Best of 3) (15%).

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Final Thoughts on PSP Changes 2011

No, this won't be another rant. I think I've got most of it out of my system. At this point it rather goes without saying the majority of this debate is being conducted by the clueless, the ignorant and the moronic and that includes both sides of the argument. Here's a hint (and then I'll get down to business) to those who have been converted and are intent on "helping" the PSP. Endlessly regurgitating your belief in the urgency of the need for change is not the same thing as explaining why certain changes are appropriate to the situation. So far most of the debate reminds me of this, although not nearly as amusing.

First a quick recap of the proposed changes.

• Lengthen the field 10 feet per side (Total size will now be 120 x 170 feet)
• Eliminate Pit-side coaching and communication
• Field Layouts will not be released prior to the events
• Adjust position of bunkers to better suit a wider variety of players
• Adjust classification system for D1 – Pro, now that the Semi-Pro division is absent

The lengthening of the field alone isn't a significant issue from a game play perspective. Yes, it will necessarily alter some things. (The change is also likely to be a hardship for some local fields. And it isn't true that the size of a practice field is now irrelevant because layouts won't be known.)
However, in combination with the 'new priorities' for bunker placement [change 4] the impact will be significant--and as predicted. Slower games, slower points. More clock stoppages. (Keep in mind that field design always has an impact on play of the game particularly in the lower divisions. The reason these changes will have predictable results is because the bunker set remains basically the same. It may be possible to restore field neutrality to the new field and abide by the placement priorities but only with a larger bunker set. And I don't mean larger bunkers, I mean a greater total number of bunkers.)
The elimination of pit-side coaching in and of itself is not a big deal--but it isn't the elimination of coaching either--despite the number of numbskulls who seem to think it is. Will it make any difference? Sure, the teams that already play are used to it and the players are actively involved. With the change they will be penalised for doing what has been a part of the game from Day 1. Will it encourage players and teams that object to coaching to play PSP? I can't imagine why but I also find it hard to believe how many people seemingly can't read simple English. (Our foreign friends excluded, of course.)
No release of the event layout is a worthwhile change. It's most important to the higher divisions, particularly pro. It creates an environment where the top teams can save practice money. Lots of it and remain competitive. It also has value to all divisions of play; one, as a potential money-saver and two, as a situation that will compel teams, coaches, captains and players to learn how to play, not learn how to play a specific field.
Now about the classification system. The statement is somewhat ambiguous regarding specific changes. Which is an opportunity. If the PSP is willing to consider reclassifying inactive Pro/Semi-pro & D1 players in order to give most of them an opportunity to get back into the competitive game and provide the kind of experience, skill & leadership that will improve competitive paintball and add numbers from a pool of recently active and committed players.

I know, there was really nothing new there but I did say I wanted to recap first. So I recapped the PSP positions ... and mine.

For any who may remain confused by the mountain of nonsense posted at PBN. New field dimensions--not intended to save teams money. Intended to make game more appealing to larger group of (competitive?) players. (And when I say larger I don't mean older, fatter, slower players--and neither does the PSP. It's hoping to attract players interested in tourney paintball who, for whatever reason, aren't already competing in the PSP.
Eliminate pit-side coaching--not intended to save teams money. Intended to make game more appealing to larger group of (competitive?) players.
No early release of field layout--intended to save teams money, especially the pros thru reduced expenditures of practice paint. (Perhaps) intended to push all teams and players to develop new training and practice habits that will produce better players. [Intended or not, it will.]
"Adjusting" bunkers--not intended to save teams money. Intended to make game more appealing to a larger group of (competitive?) players.
Adjust classification system--not intended to save teams money. Probably, I'm assuming, intended to resolve fact there is no more semi-pro division.

Here's one last idea--although I don't know if this one will work or not. (It's too complicated a calculation to make without hard data but there is no reason, in principle, that it shouldn't be possible.) Okay, more than one idea. Here's the first one. (It's not the complicated one, btw.) Bring back 5-man. Call it Open 5-man and allow up to two D3 ranked players. Keep it simple, keep it as inexpensive as possible. The object is to draw from off the national track--after all, that's the target group of players the PSP hopes to attract, yes? Separated from the Race 2 format it would carry none of the preconceptions of competing in Race 2 and the league would be free to organize it however it chose.
Aight, back to the last idea. In a nutshell put Raehl to work calculating how many matches of which version of the Race 2 format can be played on a single field over the course of a day. (Like he doesn't already know.) Then, crunching operating costs, (on a per field setup basis?) calculate an optimum sized event that will, if full, operate in the black. In order to ensure max participation put limits on each event. Add scarcity to the equation and the league would be in a position to control precisely the scale of each event also allowing them to be more precise in containing their costs as well. (Yes, there are additional complications created by divisions, etc. but they can be overcome.)
Huh? What's the point? The point is part of the problem the PSP faces is a lack of control over revenue. Each event is an unknown number that only comes into focus at the last minute--almost literally. This forces the league to prepare to handle some uncertain max number of participants and this inevitably increases cost throughout their system. To get greater control over costs is the only alternative to increasing revenue but there is no reason not to work on both sides of the profitability calculus.
Is that even possible? I don't know for sure but as a concept it's sound. And I'm sure the league is busy cutting costs as best they are able but maybe, just maybe they didn't think of pushing it to this extreme.

That's it. I'm done. (Cue cheering of relieved throngs.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tis the Season for World Domination

VFTD would like to welcome the most recent recruits to the Deadbox Puppet Army--and encourage you fence sitting lazy slackers to step up to the plate before it's too late. Cade X (right on!) is a long time fan and creator of the Pick 'Em game that lets y'all predict PSP event results. Next is Terrence Bowman. Hey, TJ. Followed by the Milsim Corps (a league promoting scenario style competition.) Welcome aboard, one and all.
As for the rest of you, what's the problem? You don't think we're in the world domination game all alone, do you? The Freemasons have a few hundred years head start. And don't get me started on the Illuminati. Ever hear of the Skull & Bones? That's right. The DPA needs to make a move before the end of the year if we want to see some movement in next year's Janes' Conspiracies of the World. So join now and make a difference. Slacker.

UPDATE: A very special welcome to the DPA's latest recruit, Mr. Lane Wright. Obviously somebody isn't working hard enough if he has time to join the DPA. Have you been sleeping again in your spare time? When's the first event? (Just wanted you to feel at home, Lane.) Thanks!

And last, and most certainly least, I have an new idea for VFTD's Facebook page. I've decided I don't like the LIKE button. What do I care? Did Alexander the Great need the tepid affirmation of strangers? Did Napoleon? Hell, no!
Now fear, there's an emotion that makes a real statement. I want a fear button. (If any of you computer literate cleverpants types know if I can rewrite Facebook's code let me know. Thanks.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Indian Int'l Open 2011

Okay, kids. Seems India has some hardcore ballers looking to get in on all the competitive paintball fun and to kick their party off right they're introducing the world to paintball in India with the Indian International Open. (Link in title.) (Yep, news to me, too.) A request for a review of the layout came over the VFTD transom from the UAE. How could I turn them down? It's the holiday season and I'm no Grinch. Besides, it's an international open, right? So here it is. Btw, click on the layout for a full sized version.

This is a very compact layout that is nearly square. The impact is reduced distances--and even what seems like insignificant distances--condenses the bunker placements which makes for more intense gunfighting and will prove to be, generally, a more difficult layout for less experienced teams. [And given the position of certain key bunkers will encourage a defensive, counter-punching style of play.] The up close factor is mitigated to some degree because there are few open lanes or unobstructed crossfield shots. However, that also means the field can be (and will be) played in halves. [If one side of the field breaks opportunities will exist to press the advantage very quickly and teams or players up to the challenge will be rewarded.]

Laning OTB is a straightforward task on this field. Gaps are fairly narrow and the basic, bread-and-butter lanes are simple. Guns must be up and shooting immediately. If that means practicing moving forward and behind the cover of Home while shooting an effective lane that is a practice priority. The wider D-side lane is the stock lane to shoot. The inside lane is for players delaying or looking to move out and up into the near MD. (There is also an unmarked likely obstructed lane to the inside edge of the TCK which is very likely to be a popular primary.) Shooting the snake-side lanes is equally straightforward and your choice between lanes 1 & 2 (1 being closest to Home) is mostly a matter of how quickly you can achieve a consistent lane. Normally as soon as someone runs through that lane the laner shifts his lane inside or onto the snake gap. Teams that are playing more defensively will require shifting to an inside lane and more aggressive teams or individuals require the shift to the snake gap.

Once again an MS field layout features an SD in the snake corner. (Colored green) It should normally be avoided. It is only marginally effective for snake wire control. It is isolated and under the gun of your opponent's snake-side MT and at a huge disadvantage. It may be necessary on rare occasions to go there to get wide but is a poor risk under any circumstance. The run to the SD and around it may be considered as an alternative snake run for some faster players. The orange marked bunkers (along with the Home cans) are the vision bunkers given that players can routinely play them standing. The D-corner MT controls that half of the field unless there is a mirror and the D-side TCK is a relatively safe primary OTB and has clear lines-of-sight on most of the gaps and lanes on the D-side of the field. Expect them to be played a high percentage of the time and anytime you have the advantage of an uncontested D-corner MT do not let your opponent fill your mirror. The snake-side MT doesn't have the same dominance potential as the D-corner the majority of the snake-side action will revolve the play of this bunker. [Clever use of the bricks can help defeat the MT.] Note the blue lane from the snake-side T to the opposition D-corner. This is an example of the sorts of blind or near blind shots to be on the lookout for. D-corner players are prone to checkoff the inside of the field and if they do it while standing it will be possible for the T to shoot the D-corner who is unlikely to ever see it coming. On a field like this 2 or 3 similar shots can be quiet game winners.

Looking at the green arrows on the top of the diagram snake-side; these represent running lanes and/or running & gunning lanes. Given that you know where the primary OTB lanes will be shot it becomes key to your success to understand the ways in which to avoid being hit. Given the distances involved the laner could easily miss a runner on the baseline going wide if the lane is intended to hit a runner going to the MT, for example. And the running lane that appears to be going wide but cuts back toward the MT offers two primary options. Either the MT (which was hooked past) or the Brick. And when the direct route is run to the MT it is worth diving into the bunker in order to get under the stream of paint and/or force your opponent to shoot even lower next time making a different run more effective. To take this a step further consider making these runs guns up and focus on two alternative actions; getting wider than your opponent so can shoot inside back at them or delaying in spots to add an extra gun shooting. By adding to the number of guns shooting OTB and mixing up your running lanes and delays it is possible to confuse and neutralise much of your opponent's potential effectiveness OTB.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Lazy Slacker Re-post of the Week

This week's re-post is quite timely on a couple of levels. It's from November 2008 and it was the second part of a two part posting called, Robots versus Ninjas. The old (and silly) robots vs. ninjas argument has cropped up again with the PSP's proposed change of no pit-side coaching and the post closes by framing the original debate--such as it was--within the bigger picture. A little something I like to call perspective, which always seems to be in short supply.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Monday Poll

Since this is the season of change, what with the PSP having announced a number of changes and the NPPL having announced at least one change with their move to capped semi-auto. Who knows what could be next? More NPPL changes? The MS unlocks D1? A couple of Saudi princes announce the superpro series to be held in the UAE by invitation only? Okay, probably not that last one. Taking a step back towards reality VFTD wants to know your preferred tournament format. It doesn't matter if you think it won't ever happen. This poll is about what you, in your heart of hearts, really want to play. And to make it more complicated I'ma open it up to multiple answers. Try to limit yourself to your top two (or three) choices and we'll see what happens.

All things being equal I would most like to compete in:

Monday Poll in Review
Nothing of great portent from last week's poll but then there wasn't supposed to be either. More of headcount from paintball's nooks and crannies to see how the readership breaks down, more or less. It was a very solid turnout that proves even lazy slackers can click a mouse when they are sufficiently motivated. The only surprising number (to me) was pro players as I know quite a few and the last time VFTD did this poll there were more then. Or perhaps they were VFTD burnouts or worse, former players this time around. Keep in mind too that each voter was allowed only one vote no matter how many of the options might have applied. At any rate a sincere thanks to all who participated as I found it quite interesting. The numbers broke down as follows; Sales/Occasional walk-ons (0%), Store owner/MLP promoter/Pro player/Gun whore/Event promoter/Scenario player (1%), Coach/Pump player (2%), Team owner/Ex-player/Manufacturer/Series Promoter/Local tourney player (3%), Field owners/Recreational player (5%), Burnout (6%), Works in the industry (8%), Regional tourney player (15%) & National tourney players (26%).

The Future?

It's beginning to come into focus. Still hazy and uncertain but I'm getting glimpses here and there. Some belt-tightening sees the PSP through the year but the hoped for gains in an older, self-sufficient demographic don't pan out in the numbers. Even so the league decides to stay the course. The problem wasn't the changes--the problem of too few players pre-existed (right?) The problem was the changes weren't dramatic enough. Off the mark by being too timid. So the PSP makes more changes. They lengthen and widen the fields this time and struggle with how to offer the most paintball for the money. Until it hits them--teams have rosters of at least 10 players--if all the players could play every game ... wow, it's perfect! How's that for value, dear customer? And since the fields are bigger we can add a few more bunkers ...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

PSP "Rumors" Revisited

A few more thoughts on how the latest batch of changes will affect competitive paintball and those who play the game. First, I wonder if the PSP has locked itself into these changes by confirming the rumors on their official website. Sure, changes to the changes might be viewed as the league "listening" to its customers but at the same time wouldn't it undermine the league's credibility? It seems some percentage of the current discontent is over the fact the PSP can't seem to do anything but change.
It also seems that the average internet whiner is only quasi-literate at best. (I was going to say the average PSP-playing internet whiner but then it occurred to me I have no idea how many of the commenters have actually played a PSP event. That's not a prerequisite to having an opinion but it is a prerequisite to my paying any attention to that opinion.) The inability of so many to simply comprehend the PSP's stated changes is enough to shatter one's faith in our future generations--assuming one was foolish enough to have any in the first place. No more pit side coaching is NOT no more coaching. Adding ten feet to each end of a 150 foot field doesn't make it a 180 foot field. A larger field and restrictive design qualifications have nothing to do with reducing overall costs to teams/players.
Did you miss the previous rumors post? Scroll down the page or look here. The case for saving money by not releasing the field layout in advance is made there in two additional links. If you didn't (or don't) bother to look at it there, I won't bother to go through it again here. Suffice to say every other change the PSP has made to reduce costs has directly altered the game played on the field; fewer points, less clock, etc. Non-release doesn't do that. Nor does it keep teams from practicing how and how often they want. Instead it gives all teams an opportunity to re-think what it really takes to prepare and to focus on the players' strengths and weaknesses instead of paint intensive rote repetition. Non-release may not save the lower divisions all that much even--depending on how they choose to prepare but it will save the upper divisions a lot of money and make it less costly for serious teams to move up the ranks.
As to removing pit side coaching it looks to me like more trouble than it's worth. For non-PSP players who whine about coaching it's only half a job done, right? Will they suddenly change their mind because coaching is limited to the snake side only? And I am convinced that enforcement of the no-coaching will be inconsistent or Draconian and both courses will only serve to anger and frustrate teams/players already committed to the PSP.
The players the PSP hopes to bring back to--or into--the PSP with the change in field design and dimensions aren't interested--and don't belong. Like it or not the PSP has positioned itself as the league that promotes competitive paintball as sport. To undo that now would be counterproductive. And won't bring in the player the PSP is looking for. The player they are looking for and need now is the player they pushed out of the game over the last few years by unnecessarily forcing too many of them into classifications they hadn't earned and couldn't continue to compete in. If you want those guys back drop them a whole rank for each year they haven't played a PSP event with a floor of two ranks max. All current Semi-pro players would drop no lower than D2 while D1's wouldn't drop lower than D3. Get as many of them as possible back into circulation and begin to reverse the dumbing down process of the recent past by leavening the mid-divisions with good, competent players. The player they want to draw with the design and dimensions change is the player who should be the backbone of the next generation of local teams--not a national level competitor in D3 or lower.

As a practical matter neither of the major leagues is in a position to lower entry fees. They simply aren't. With revenue from the industry reduced to a trickle almost all the money to operate on comes from entries and related fees. What the NPPL 3.0 stumbled into may be the lesson the PSP needs to learn. Perhaps the league needs to scale back and potentially restrict the total number of teams that can compete if a combination of entries and calculated operational costs provide greater certainty of profitability from event to event.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Sample 2011 PSP Layout

For anyone interested in what a longer PSP "xball" field might look like in 2011 the sample above is based off the World Cup layout using the bunker set from 2010. The new bunker for 2011 will be something on the order of a mini-A (X) so it will not effect the number of or type of larger bunkers available. I don't know if that is subject to change. I made every effort to interpret the new standards in the best way possible to make a playable field--which this is.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The New Major League Reality

For years the voices of discontent in competitive paintball have wanted to tear down the status quo--because, as we all know, anybody can do it better until they have to, you know, do it. Me included. (But unlike the rest of y'all I'm always right. It's a burden really.) Much of that discontent is (was) predicated on a myth. The myth of by the players, for the players. A hundred years ago (give or take) the pro kids and some of the ams threw over Lively Productions and decided they could run their own events better. Sound familiar? And they like to think they were serious about "by the players, for the players" but it didn't take long before most teams paid to play and a small group of teams/industry types were running the show. Until the falling out at one of the cow pasture on Poinciana Boulevard World Cups over strippers and alcohol. (Sorta. It wasn't as awesome as it sounds though.) Next thing anybody knows there's a second league and we're playing 7-man, 10-man & xball and the two leagues are chasing TV millions. Which ever way you turned industry was inextricably linked to the major leagues.

Anybody remember vending under the bigtop at Paintball World? Most everybody on site as a vendor had table space under one giant tent. Even as the bigger industry players began to set-up individually by they're sponsored field(s) the majority of smaller industry figures continued to share the big tent. As recently as the first couple of years at Disney's WWOS there were big tents with canvas dividers for the smaller vendors. As the scale of the competitions expanded in the explosive growth years so did the vendor displays--from the big guys custom big rigs to the smaller players expanded efforts to differentiate themselves and build their own brand identity. In the same way the top teams were flush with sponsorship dollars so to the major leagues with industry support and participation. And then, all of a sudden, the fat years were done. And as the cost of competition had risen for the pro teams the vendors, large and small, had justified spending more and more money to make money--until, all of a sudden, the fat years were over and the vendors were in a similar predicament to the pro teams--as were (are) the major leagues.

Various incarnations of the NPPL have come and gone. The PSP survived with some extra cash infusions. The one constant the shrinking share of support the league(s) can count on from the paintball industry. What once may have been around 50% of their income has been reduced to a fraction of that today. That is the new major league reality. And with this reality comes opportunity and danger. The opportunity is to get out from under industry influence for one. No money, no influence. To break the old patterns but in order to do that the league(s) must find ways to sustain themselves without the industry's money. The NPPL has discovered that bigger doesn't necessarily mean better or more profitable. The PSP has begun to see the scale of their operation as a very mixed blessing. Success in the new reality offers independence, too. The dangers are there's little to no room for error. It's a high wire act without a net.

For those who want lower entries and bigger prizes and are positive the leagues are flush and greedy--you are so far disconnected from reality I doubt there's anything I can say to convince you otherwise except you're doomed to disappointment. Those things aren't going to happen. For those who just can't wait for the current major leagues to crumble take a moment to consider what replaces them. What replaces them? Seriously. I'm curious. Do you have any concrete ideas or are you just mentally masturbating over how great it will be to get rid of those guys? What the leagues needed all along was independence and wise leadership. Circumstance has delivered their independence. The big question now is are they up to the challenge?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

PSP 2011: Rumor Edition

I had a perfectly good post almost ready to go and then the phone started ringing. Have you seen ProPaintball's latest? It seems the kids at ProPaintball have a scoop or a balloon, of the trial variety. Either way, it's going to raise a ruckus. (First ever appearance of the word, "ruckus", on VFTD.) Seems someone has leaked some proposed details of what the PSP may, or may not, be considering for 2011. I suggest it is very likely a trial balloon (an intentional leak) simply because the circle of people having any say in what the PSP does is a small one. The only other alternative is a legit leak from someone in the know breaking trust or else it's complete rubbish fit only for the smackbox--and since that isn't where it was posted ... A number of the rumored elements have been discussed for a long time and aren't really anything new. So what do the rumors amount to?
Beginning at the beginning rumor 1 & 2 are what I've taken to calling 'The Amodea Solution' as the suggestion was made a few months ago by John Amodea of X3 magazine to enlarge the playing fields and add larger bunkers towards the back of the field in the hopes of reconnecting with an older more affluent group of players. Despite what I know will be the impact on the play of the game I would support such a move if there was any reason to believe it will work. Does any such group of players actually exist today? Playing scenario maybe? The number of competing teams back when the PSP transitioned from 10-man to Xball doesn't hint at it unless they are some very patient ex-10-man players. Even so, it might be worth a trial period to see what happens.
It has been suggested some local fields will be ill-equipped to add twenty feet of length. It could happen but field dimensions have changed numerous times in the last dozen years and I can't recall any previous outcry. What exactly, while I'm at it, is the PSP's responsibility?
What will happen is not hard to predict. Dimension and design changes will tend to make fields more defense-oriented with wider open lanes and less middle of the field play. The result will be slower game play--potentially much slower game play. It would be a real step backwards for the pro division.
Now about that trial period. How about from D3 down? After all, what classification are these wished for older more affluent players likely to have or receive? If the PSP wants to see if there might be some advantage to the Amodea Solution go ahead and give it a try where the bulk of the "new" players would likely play and where the effects of the change will impact the play of the game the least.
Next on the list is the elimination of pit side coaching. Right now in divisional play the pit side coach is the primary coach and can roam along the net to the fifty, or thereabouts. On the pro field we can't move past the end of the pit. I'm assuming here the object is to try an attract all those teams out there deadset against coaching. Except, again, how many of them are there really? Is the NPPL full of them? Is the NPPL full? And what about the snake side coaching? What's the point of trying to turn the pit side into a tennis match when there's still snake side coaching and a noisy crowd supporting the competing teams? Is a half measure really gonna change anything beyond pissing off the regulars? And how is this going to be enforced? Are the referees going to start calling penalties for off the field actions that will penalize on field play? Really? For the six guys on the internet who will never play if there's coaching?
Finally we come to a move that makes sense--one that I've been advocating for years. Don't release the field layout early. Versions of my case in favor of no release are here & here.
Lastly, rumored event locations in Phoenix and Riverside. Cool. If the league can or will improve their bottom line with new locations more consistent with the economic realities I'm on board. Hopefully they will work out. Until we see them it's hard to offer a real opinion.

Larger field: (neutral-ish)
Bigger bunkers oriented toward the back: (poor)
Eliminate pit side coaching: (huh?)
No field release: (excellent)
Cumulative: (a step back)

UPDATE: Seems the PSP via their website and Facebook are confirming the posted rumors on ProPaintball. That has pushed me to re-write some of this post. (I left in my initial speculation so you'd know what I was thinking.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different


After exposure to this can anyone doubt the superiority of competitive paintball? I didn't think so either.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Monday Poll

This week's poll is a repeat. (Settle down and no whining. You never would have remembered it from the first time if I hadn't 'fessed up. And unlike that all-you-can-eat sushi bar that left you feeling queasy and breaking out in a cold sweat this poll will leave you feeling like a proud member of the paintball community. Try it. You'll see.) Periodically, I will continue to repeat this poll as the object this week is to get some idea of where you, the reader (lazy slacker), fits into the big wide world of paintball. Some of you will fit in more than one of the available options but you will only be allowed to pick one. Select the choice that most closely connects with your interest in VFTD.

UPDATE: Whoops! Left a kind of obvious category off the list for this week's poll. Referee. Nothing Freudian about that slip. Nothing at all.

Monday Poll in Review
Was the result of last week's poll a predictable popularity contest? I don't think so. Maybe for the old 'Canes but not these new ones. I'm thinking something closer to name recognition as being the difference maker. The Hurricane name is a well established one even if this Hurricane team isn't. Then again it could be the nearly 200K views for all the episodes of their "Birth of a Storm' documentary--but that would be nearly the same thing as name recognition, wouldn't it? I also got the impression, despite a reasonable number of votes (considering y'all are lazy slackers) that nobody much cared about the result. Or maybe that was just me. The other thing the poll demonstrated was that by and large not only did nobody really care, everybody was nearly equally clueless. Only 3 teams got a double digit percentage with the 'Canes at 30%, LIFT at 17% and French pro team TonTons at 14%. TonTons? Really? All the others except Upton 187 (D2 PSP) were D1 teams in either the PSP or the NPPL. The NPPL reps got the lowest vote totals of all. Best of all, one of the teams listed really is taking a serious look at making the jump to pro.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mailbag: Gunfighting Drills

The question, what to do to improve gunfighting skills, is the first mailbag question to come through Facebook. (Thanks!) Since gunfighting is a core element of the modern competitive game I thought the answers might prove useful to a wider audience.
Before you start to moan about more drills this isn't going to be about drills. At least not like you probably think about drills. Well, maybe the one. The thing is I don't like drills either. Sure, there's a few that are absolutely necessary. The problem with ordinary drills though is that they are too often disconnected from the play of the game. It's like working out in the gym with nothing but isolation movements when what you really need--particularly if you're training to augment athletic performance--is complex movements that train your muscles to work in harmony. The same is true of the best paintball drills.

One last thing before you get started. Many players will naturally attempt to find a way around doing what they are supposed to and/or argue/complain about the goal of any drill. My favorite way of keeping everyone on point is to divide the team into groups that will stay together for all the drills. The reason is that it's important to provide immediate consequences for failure. Failure to complete a drill successfully results in running a half lap or full lap of the field. This creates an incentive and reminds the team that failure in competition also has an immediate consequence.

These are team drills (unless you're on a 3-man squad.) The minimum requirement is 6 players. The drills suggested here are given in the order they should be done in as the progression goes from simple to complex.
Begin with a one on one drill. (Yes, this one is pretty much a drill-type drill.) Ideally on a full size field even though you will only use one half (snake side or D-side) at a time. It's simple; two players begin at Home and on a signal break to a nearby bunker which is mirrored by the other player. The object is to take control of the edge, push your opponent off his edge and make the bump to the next bunker (leading to the wire) alive. (The bump should be accomplished gun up and maintaining edge control.)

Follow the first drill up with a two on two variation. The object remains the same but with two players at each end the task becomes more complicated but at the same time there are also more solutions. On the break beginning the drill one player (at each end) moves to the primary, the other remains at Home. Now the first goal is to get a player to the next bunker but it doesn't have to be the player in the primary. Besides increasing the movement options the drill adds an extra move, too. (On most xball type layouts that next move would be into the snake however the field can be set-up as desired.) The drill doesn't end successfully until two bumps are accomplished by a live player. [After the first bump if a player chooses to make a move to the corner that doesn't count as the second bump but is allowed.]

The last drill in this sequence is a half field 3 on 3 race. On either side of the field it's some version of a race to the fifty depending on the layout. Remember, the object is the race. You can either let the players play or restrict them to making their bumps the same way they did in the earlier drills--or a combination of both. Either way the basics of edge control and coordinated movement are in play and the fact it's a race with a specific goal pushes the action.

If you have the time and resources these should be repeated on the opposite side of the field and have the players switch ends of the field so everyone plays with both hands on both sides of the field. (Or, next time you do this group of drills you make sure it's different for everyone from the last time.)

Finally, one very positive way to let the players have some fun (and improve in the process) is to set-up a compact field approx. 80-100 feet long and 50 feet wide. Play it as a 3-on-3 and if you have enough players or want to share some practice with another team you can play a mini round robin-type tourney. The value in this is the dimensions. As long as it doesn't have too many props it keeps the action fast and very close. It forces players to make fast decisions and develop fast reflexes--or else. At the same time it replicates most gunfighting relationships that come into play in regular competition but is also very unforgiving of poor technique, slow and sloppy play. Want to hone your gun skills razor sharp? This is the one to separate the men from the boys (or girls.)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Paintball Around The Web

I look around the paintball web some days (like today) and think if only you lazy slackers would clue your friends in on the wonder & wisdom that is VFTD it would put a substantial dent in the level of mind-numbing ignorance out there. And then I come to my senses. Like you have any friends. (No, I don't care what your Facebook says.) Besides, most of you are only interested in the pictures. Without you lot what would happen to all the paintball magazines? Oh ...

Today's examples are: Gee, what's happening to all the pro teams? & (in a tie) The PSP doesn't pay a thing for the Phoenix venue/We need the 2011 PSP schedule yesterday. It's a matter of life and death (and if the league really cared they'd get this done on my schedule.)

Anybody remember Bolingbrook? PSP finally stopped returning to Bolingbrook 'cus they kept raising the rental fee. Phoenix is on that same arc and the likelihood of returning to that location is very tiny, practically microscopic. (I don't care what your friend was told by a guy who knows a guy.) Yes, it sucks. The Phoenix venue was swell.
About the schedule; everybody would like to see one as soon as possible, from the players to the regional leagues. But here's the thing. Phoenix, if it's still Phoenix, is likely to be a new location. As will Chicago. And there are almost certainly opportunities to minimize the cost to the league while still getting an acceptable place to play. One that needs to meet a variety of criteria to be suitable. Is that an excuse? No, it's just a fact. The PSP has more work to do to get venues this season and the decisions made now may make things easier and better for years to come. Does that mean the PSP (in this instance) is above criticism? No, of course not. It's just that the dim-witted whining of the uninformed isn't really criticism. Just saying.

Now about those pro teams--hey nimrod, where you been? This is not a new phenomenon. It's not even "new" news. Go back and read the first paragraph of 'CPL meltdown?' D'oh! You know, these things aren't happening in isolation. Frakking retards.

UPDATE: Just letting off a little steam, kids. Allow me explain the pro teams thing in more detail. Last year some time Magued backed off running Joy on a day-to-day basis. Additionally, over the course of the year it was clear they were struggling with a sponsorship gap with Angel unable or unwilling to supply the support they needed. Toss in GI Sportz and a very abbreviated association with small ball and the circumstances weren't improving. Now add an aging roster with little interest in or ability to transition to a new generation of players and the outcome shouldn't surprise anyone. It is, unfortunately, a pattern being repeated over and over.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lazy Slacker Re-post of the Week

I considered calling this new weekly feature, The Lazy Slackers Guide to the Brilliance that is VFTD, but that was a bit long-winded and amongst my other virtues I'm also humble so I decided against it. This feature is intended to run during the off season as a hedge against nothing much happening--and to demonstrate the brilliance that is VFTD. That and because, like you, I am a lazy slacker (with standards) so if I can't avoid some effort by posting other people's stuff I can by re-posting my stuff. It's a win-win, particularly for those of you who haven't been around from the beginning as it will still be new to you.

(In the flogging a long dead horse category check out this link to a September 2008 post called Saving Xball.)

The official Re-post of the Week is: DIVIDED WE FAIL from August 20, 2008

It's all rubbish, of course. This industry can't seem to decide to cooperate on much of anything even when they decide (supposedly) to cooperate. See PSTA for example of latest effective cooperation in action. Now, lest you think all this is relentlessly negative, it's not. Cheer up. Don't worry, be happy. The fact is PBIndustry has been incompetent, uninterested, uncooperative and witheringly stupid almost forever--and we're still here and so is paintball.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

CPL meltdown?

A quick aside before I get started with the actual subject of this post: I find the predictable lament from a portion of the paintball community at the demise of another pro team almost ironic. They mourn the loss of a particular favorite but somehow seem to fail to grasp the larger implications for pro paintball generally. At the same time how many of the same people dismiss the NPPL which is, like it or not, the only hope for continuity in the pro division--at least insofar as things are organized right now. Regardless of what one might think of some of the teams, the scale of the league, the intentions of the owners, the format, etc. Joy isn't the first and won't be the last.

Word of the Joy Division retirement from the ranks of pro teams probably couldn't have come at a worse time for the Millennium Series and its premier division, the CPL. Each season the CPL relegates the two bottom teams back to the SPL while promoting the top two SPL teams. At least that's how it's supposed to work. Keeps everyone working hard, something to play for and so on. Except as I recall last season there were a few instances of teams who earned promotion who chose not to be promoted. The MS then had to go down the list until they got some takers to fill the open spots. (Though as I recall that didn't include any CPL spots ... but I could be misremembering.) Regardless, it's going to happen this season.
The two CPL teams to be relegated are the Ducks & Comin At Ya. According to the formula they should be replaced by Art Chaos Moscow and Outrage Valence. Assuming both teams accept promotion that will still leave holes In the Bullets, Joy & Menace spots. That means 5 of 16 CPL teams will turn over this season. Nearly a third. More interesting is the fact that Menace is looking to sell their spot as is (apparently) their right. Does the same apply to Joy & Bullets even though both have formally announced they are done competing? If Menace can sell its spot why not Bullets and Joy? (Maybe they can.) Does Menace have to sell before next year's license fees come due? What if there are no takers? For one thing the CPL pool gets diluted as the MS offers the open spots around to any SPL takers. Relegation & promotion are made a mockery of--and how can the league begin to justify charging a licensing fee for something nobody is willing to buy? (The answer to that remains the apathy of the Euroteams to stand up and refuse to be squeezed but that's a separate topic.)
Last year's Millennium scramble revealed the cracks in the structure. This year the cracks are fissures and the league doesn't have enough plaster to hide what's happening this time around.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Monday Poll

I was gonna go with a where will Ollie play next year poll but I resisted the urge to go with the obvious. Then I thought how 'bout a will there be an Open or Semi-pro division in the PSP this year poll? But then I thought, naw, boring--and unlikely. Unless you organized on the cheap; modest entry, minimal prizes at best, mostly just an option to see if it's possible to begin to draw back into the MLP game some of the high classification players lost. Of course the PSP could do that for Cup, kinda like Masters perhaps?
Anyway, according to last week's poll there's a significant number of players the voters have little faith in--so who is most likely to replace lost pros? Which team is most likely to make the jump? Yeah, instead of multiple guess where y'all pick as many teams as you want this time you only pick the single most likely team. Then we'll see what you know, or think you know before word begins to leak out--'cus there are teams seriously making the calculation and considering the leap.

UPDATE: Wad'daya mean the TonTons are already pro? I just them at Cup playing D1.

Monday Poll in Review
Wow! 20 pro teams played some or all of the events in one or both of the two major leagues and you people gave only 7 of those teams better than a 75% of playing pro in 2011. Of those 7 none was over 80% (Red Legion & Vicious). The rest of the 7 were Damage (78%), Impact (76%), Dynasty (78%), Infamous (77%) & Ironmen (78%). Of the 13 remaining teams none exceeded 50% except for Aftershock (59%). The next closest sees 4 teams in the 40's; Blast (47%), Avalanche (43%), X-Factor (40%) & XSV (42%). Fortunately this vote appears to be more a referendum of name recognition and favoritism than anything else.
On the one hand it also looks poor for the NPPL crew as most of the lowest rated teams are also exclusively NPPL teams but again, that strikes me as more commentary of the voters connection and perceptions about those teams than anything else.
What if though we combined this poll with the discussion of NPPL team/owners boycotting the PSP. What if, instead of just Dynasty and Impact it was all the crossover teams with an ownership stake? According to this poll that would leave no more than 5 returning established pro teams and questions exist with at least two of those regarding their viability for 2011. Is 5 acknowledged pro teams enough to legitimize a pro division? Hey, I'm not advocating anything, I'm just asking. Realistically I expect both leagues to be down at the pro level in 2011.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Top Down or Bottom Up? Fixing Tourney Paintball

This post is the follow-up to Interpreting History. Yes, it's finally here. And, yes, I know, you've forgotten what the subject was so go back and skim the old post first. Take your time. I'll wait. (Truth is I wrote 90% of this a week ago but news of the day items kept taking precedent.) Accepting the conclusions in that post it's time to do more. It's time to offer up a few answers. Or at least suggestions for how tournament paintball moves forward from here. This isn't a blueprint or an itemized list that can be checked off. It's not even the outline of a cohesive plan. Nor is it comprehensive. What it is is a few beginning points where changes could begin to turn things around.

Want to make real progress?
1--Go back to the past and don't release field layouts in advance--at least at the major league level. I know, I've been harping on this for a while now but that's because it will save money without changing the game, again. It's a crucial component for sustaining and growing the upper divisions and it could be the key to restoring the mental game as an important part of the best players' skill set. But if that's too big a leap for a single jump then move to two layouts per event. Release a layout early for the lower divisions but have a separate, unreleased layout, for the upper divisions. Hardly ideal, I can hear the whining already, but it's a workable compromise that would benefit those who need it the most without disrupting the routine of the majority of teams.

2--Standardize the bunker set. Right now xball is played on a 17,500 sq. ft. field and 7-man on an 18,000 sq. ft. field. The status quo is to xball's advantage at the moment but if the larger issue is what's best for competitive paintball then a standardized bunker set is a must. It would mean teams can play the format of their choice everywhere and would facilitate the transition of players and teams between formats and tourney tracks. (More on that coming.) And its universality would lay the foundation for international standards & format. It would even benefit the manufacturer(s) who would no longer have to make unique, limited sets for different series as any bunker set could be sent anywhere in the world.

3--The local tourney scene needs to be more (and less) than a single track leading to national level play. I am convinced that the paintball-related damage done to 5-man is primarily the result of trickle down MLP. As the bar to being competitive was raised first at the pro level in xball we have since seen some of the same demands & practices work their way down the divisions into 5-man. Where links to the big league were the strongest is also where the greatest declines have come. While there is nothing wrong with the national level track, particularly if the longer term goal is a restructuring of what MLP is (something closer to my Pro Circuit concept) there needs to be some intermediate opportunities at the local and regional level where players and teams can compete in a less demanding, less intense but still competitive environment. The majority of tourney ballers should be playing local and regional events. And our first goal needs to be re-establishing grassroots tourney play and let that larger pool of players self-select for the MLP track.

4--even so, less is more. The risk of two tracks is too many events. MLP track events must be strictly limited--as must all other local & regional events whether they are part of a series or not. Too many events dilutes the value and desirability of any single event. (Easy to say, harder to do particularly when numerous promoters are competing against each other. [Though right now that's probably less a problem than in the past.]) I would also consider protecting the grassroots player by keeping them out of any classification database and keeping anyone already nationally classified out of the local events. This mostly assumes the regional already supports a MLP track.

5--MLP needs to stop cannibalizing the lower divisions. In 2006 D4 was added to the 5-man competition and D5 was added in 2009. The addition of D5 corresponded to a drop in prices and the move to Race 2-2 and the numbers competing continued to drop. What looked like a measure of 5-man consistency has been weaker than participation numbers might suggest and even those have been in decline over the last 5 years. Finally in 2010 5-man numbers dropped below Race 2-X numbers for the first time. A closer look shows a downward trend that was partially masked by the changes made that added new divisions and reduced entry. I'm not saying the move to draw D4 & D5 teams caused the decline in local teams that has occurred but I think it has contributed and will continue to undermine re-building the grassroots--particularly in the absence of tourney alternatives to the MLP track.

6--PBIndustry needs to get out of the discount sponsorship business. Part of re-building the grassroots will require local stores & fields to be involved and contribute to developing and supporting new teams. When the industry offers direct discount sales to players/teams it removes any incentive for the local retailer to get involved and in turn undermines the local retailer and network of relationships that they depend upon.

These suggestions won't fix every ill that ails competitive paintball but they would be a good start. After that the local and regional event promoters will still have to struggle with what works best for them and their customers but it's a start.

Friday, November 26, 2010

World Domination continues with Social Paintball

The kids at Social Paintball have seen the future and it is VFTD world (paintball) domination. In a move to advance the inevitable Social teams up with Baca Loco to bring you Episode #1 of the VFTD video blog. Watch it, learn it, love it.

This week the Deadbox Puppet Army welcomes our newest recruits; steve (from annandale paintball), Mike, ScotchMonster (lock up the Johnny Walker) & Dale Ford of The Ford Report & Shooting Hot. Greetings. Success is just around the corner.

If you aren't part of the DPA you're part of the problem. Join today and be part of the future.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What's A Pro Team To Do?

There's a good back & forth in The Monday Poll comments on this subject and so I've decided to weigh in and see what the rest of y'all think. Here's the baseline question: If the current Pro teams are pushed into a circumstance where they must pick one league or the other to compete in what do they do?
One side of the argument says it's a no-brainer; the pro teams ought to stick with the PSP. That's where competitive paintball legitimacy exists. That's the league that promotes the most popular format. That's the league a modest majority of the industry support. The league that has active regional leagues promoting the same format. The league that has its bunker sets at most every local field that has an airball field. Etc.
The other side of the argument says do you put in all the years necessary and make all the sacrifices required only to be told what game you're going to play and get kicked to the curb at the whim of sponsors or the league--or, do you choose to take the risk, have a voice in your future and a stake in the game you play? And that's it. Pure and simple. Cut and dry.
In the past NPPL 1.0 (Pure Promotions) kinda, sorta promised (fingers crossed behind their backs) that a restricted pro division has some inherent value to the teams that earned a spot could trade on. At the same time the NXL didn't fool around. They sold franchises to team owners and tried to to take the shortcut to big money sports. (Not that other guys weren't doing that too.) Anyway, the point is that once that rabbit was out of the hat and paintball's elites began to think about the game as a sport and as a road that could carry them into the future there was no going back. And it's not like it was some crazy idea--okay, maybe it was some kinda crazy idea--but the further point is that the idea originated with the leagues, factory team owners and other elements of the paintball establishment.
So here we are. Two leagues. Lots of opinions about the merits of each but what we're talking about here is where does the future lie for the established pro teams? It's easy to say that any vision of greater success, real money--even just a taste, is a pipe dream in the current situation--and it probably is--but a voice, a say, a stake in something, even if it doesn't pan out, is a tangible something compared to nothing.
Look, I personally prefer xball--even in Race 2 form. I was against trying to jump start another NPPL attempt. I understand completely why the PSP thinks the pro teams are out of their minds. After all, it's the PSP that has taken all the risks, fought through the lean years and continues to deal on a daily basis with a laundry list of liabilities that must be accounted for before there's any talk of profit. But.
None of that matters. The nature of the game as it exists today means the quality of the pro teams playing give the league(s) validity. If all the NPPL pro teams boycotted the PSP are there enough established quality teams remaining to sustain a pro division?
Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

More VFTD Facebook Page(s)

Here's the latest on my efforts to make social networking work for VFTD. I've had the unauthorized Facebook page for VFTD removed since no one came forward. It was obviously not intended to be malicious and I appreciate the effort but since I had no access I've re-done the View From The Deadbox page--not to be confused with my personal Facebook page. (I know, you're thrilled to find all this stuff out. No doubt you're also an avid fan of the Housewives of Orange County and think Lady Gaga is a musical genius.) In the process, which included putting up a link and a like button on the sidebar, the site lost all the previous "likes" so please click it again if you already had and as for the rest of you lazy slackers, click the new button now. Not next time you drop by. Not sometime. Do it now.
That means there's now a personal Facebook page and a View From The Deadbox page active and I invite y'all to check them out, put in a friend request, leave a comment, etc.

Also, a special thanks to Jarmo N. from Helsinki Cyclone for getting the VFTD page started.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fishing or Hunting?

The Ford Report has reported the filing of a lawsuit against JT, K2 & KEE Action Sports by the Blenheim Trust (BVI) Limited. Broadly, the suit involves claims that the defendants used expired patents to inhibit fair competition and that they must have knowingly used those patents. (There's a link to the filed documents at The Ford Report.) On one hand it might be seen as (paintball) business as usual. And, I suppose, to a certain extent that's just what it is. What I find interesting is the involvement of the Blenheim Trust--and some of the language in the lawsuit.

Blenheim has no visible connection to PBIndustry. It is based off shore in the Caribbean and it provides a wide variety of what it calls post incorporation services along with a laundry list of other financial services.

The language of the suit--while not uncommon--leaves open the possibility of naming additional defendants as the process unfolds. In a related curiosity the suit names JT, K2 & KEE but there is no mention of Jarden despite the fact they are part of the chain of ownership that is alleged to have misused expired patents.

Now for the fun part. As a matter of pure speculation it appears that some element of PBIndustry has hired Blenheim to pursue this suit. (Here's a couple more free guesses. Whoever passed the info to TFR is likely the interested industry party. Two, TFR will strenuously deny it, which is fine as it's just a guess.) Is the action of Blenheim in filing this suit a matter of expertise or is Blenheim functioning as a blind? Whatever is going on it's an intriguing change of pace, don't you think?

UPDATE: The kids at the Big Bullet have an interesting take that may shed some more light on the Blenheim lawsuit.

UPDATE II: Two additional, similar lawsuits filed by Blenheim have come to light against Clark Recreation & International Innovation. Perhaps the way to characterize Blenheim is to compare them with The Crimson Permanent Assurance.

VFTD Facebook Page

I need your help. Some generous fan of the blog has set up a VFTD page on Facebook. I discovered the page, created on November 12, when Jarmo N. from Cyclone was helping me set-up a, you guessed it, VFTD page on Facebook. Okay, I didn't discover it, Jarmo did. Just like he was doing all the work on the new page. First, I would like to thank whoever went to the trouble and second, I need access to the page. So, please, if you're responsible drop me a line when you see this--and thanks again.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Monday Poll

It's that time of year again. Which pro teams from 2010 will be back in 2011. It's not who will be pro in 2011--although if you want to put forward your best guess on who will be new pro teams for 2011 in comments feel free. The list includes all teams that played pro in either the PSP or NPPL in 2010. You may vote for as many teams as you think will return for 2011.

Which reminds me--where's the ProPaintball final power ranking for 2010? (Is that a self-interested question? I certainly hope so.) Listen up kids. First you vote until your poor little finger can't click your mouse anymore and then you go bug the ProPaintball kids. Vote, bug. Vote, bug.

Monday Poll in Review
I knew when I did it I shouldn't have included a couple of flippant options to last week's otherwise serious poll. Although for those of you who were joking about voluntarily stripping if this continues unresisted the time will come when it won't be a joke, or voluntary. And for those of you willing to do damn near anything to be safe here's a one question quiz for you: How many terrorists has the TSA caught? (Hint--the answer is 0.) The underwear bomber didn't slip thru security. He was allowed on board the flight he took by the intervention of U.S. embassy personnel despite the fact he had no passport and was on a watch list. The only positive from this poll is how many regular voters failed to vote. I'm taking that as a sign of discomfort with even having to think about this subject. However, if you're a MLP player you won't be able to dodge it for long.

Here are the numbers; 8% are willing to passively take it, 18% would refuse the scan and accept the patdown, 15% would refuse the patdown and accept the scan, 15% would consider alternative transportation, and 4% would reconsider playing the MLP event. 8% are prepared to protest, 24% will strip voluntarily and 28% want a copy of their girlfriend's scan. 18% will fly less often and 18% are happy to do as they're told.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

News or Propaganda?

Guess what. This is not the post I promised. Well, promised may be overstating it. The post after 'Interpreting History' was supposed to be ideas & answers for dealing with the current competition paintball landscape. This isn't that post--because I got distracted by something else. (Again.)

Regulars know I am endlessly fascinated with how the paintball media landscape has changed (and is changing) and what those changes mean for paintball in general and competitive paintball in particular. And there's a fascinating example over at Paintball.com. It's the (supposed) leak of a rumor that Spyder might be getting a Walmart deal. (After all, Walmart deals, or the lack thereof, are all the rage right now, so why not?) Is it news or propaganda?

Now this may surprise you but I'm going to call it propaganda. (Of course if I hadn't it wouldn't be much of a post, would it?) According to Webster's propaganda is "the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person" and "ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect"[.] No big lie required. Not even a modest deception or the attempt to deceive--even though that's how most people would define propaganda, as some sort of lie cloaked as the truth.
In the Paintball.com example the core info is called a rumor. Is it true? Could be but it doesn't matter one way or the other. Rumors, by definition, can have varying degrees of accuracy. Sometimes they are dead on, sometimes they aren't. The point of this post isn't about the rumor itself, it is about the presentation. It is about the rumor's source, the additional content provided and the existing relationships between Spyder, Paintball.com & Giant Paintball Parks. In fact, it appears an effort was made to distance those relationships in both what was said and what wasn't.
Look, I'm not going to break the item down line by line. Hit the link and go read it for yourself. Then ask yourself if the way the story was presented is misleading (and self-serving.) (A twofer.) The claim of unnamed insider sources sounds juicy, perhaps even journalistic, but it also means nobody actually has to take responsibility for it. It intimates Spyder was responsible for the expansion of paintball a decade ago. Then suggests the relationship between Spyder and Giant may have been crucial in the Walmart deal. [If there is a Walmart deal.] It also claims no one at Spyder was prepared to go on the record so they went to one of the owners of Giant Paintball Parks, Dennis Bukowski, for a comment. He can't confirm the rumor either of course but is thrilled at the prospect of how this could help launch 50 cal. The next paintball evolution. Paintball.com wants everyone to stay tuned for the latest.
What they apparently don't want you to know is that the deal between Spyder and Giant was a sweetheart deal for Giant to try and kickstart small ball at the local level or that the other owner of Giant is Gio D'Egidio who also happens to be COO of Paintball.com.
If the rumor is true and a deal is signed it's a "scoop" for Paintball.com and a front page of free promos for all the principles. If it isn't, well that's the nature of rumors but no one is at fault and the principles still get a front page of free promos by tossing the Walmart name around.

Am I being naive? This is hardly a first time occurrence. Don't situations like this one occur all the time in paintball between various business interests and the media simply as a function of the way things work? The first answer is no. The second answer is yes. And because the second answer is yes any media outlet staking any claim to independence and (dare I say, integrity) needs to be particularly scrupulous in their process. And instead of either demanding propaganda or conspiring with media PBIndustry should also look favorably on media independence. The general audience is already wary of advertising claims. As soon as they become cynical about the rest of the paintball media industry loses any effective way to reach their customers. And even fanboys grow up eventually.

Does this mean we can't be Facebook friends? I look forward to your comments and emails.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Stay Thirsty, My Friends

There are some new Deadbox Puppet Army recruits to welcome this week. Greetings to kitch and bruce anderson. As the clock continues to tick kitch & bruce are two more tocks toward world domination. Welcome.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Interpreting History

This post picks up where, Playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey, left off. I'ma take all the numbers, facts & figures (plus maybe a few extras) and mix them altogether in order to frame the Big Picture of paintball's last decade (or so.) In the past the highlights of my paintball commentary was in predicting the future--at which I have been depressingly successful if I do say so myself--and if I won't say it, who will? Oddly, I'm less comfortable with this hindsight approach but I'm close to convincing myself (at least) that I've got a handle on what happened and why. Go ahead and poke holes in the interpretation of the past I'm going to suggest. Have at it. I'm only highlighting certain data points and you may give more import to other things. One reason is because there's lots more basic info I'm not throwing into the discussion right now; like Am team numbers, the division breaks amongst the ams over time, the cost of entry, the total teams playing when both leagues are combined, the impact of classification rules, etc. Could some of that data change one's perception? It might very well. This isn't intended to be the definitive word (despite the fact I'm always right.) It's intended as a baseline, a starting place, a means for having a vaguely intelligent conversation.

Chronology: Competitive paintball exploded.
This coincided with and/or was driven by the move out of the woods, electronic markers, concept fields, a rapidly expanding market of new players, traditional formats (10-man & 5-man) were still played and shrinking retail paint prices.
Industry got slammed when the growth spurt suddenly stopped. (The critical question here is did sales go flat immediately or did they decline against expected growth? And how long after the rapid growth did sales actually fall behind past sales peaks?) Elements of industry begin competing directly with traditional retail outlets.
This is also the era of corporatizing PBIndustry which brought different management philosophies & goals into play within the competitive environment. The leadership and value of competitive paintball was no longer assumed. Sponsorship turns a corner and begins to decline in real dollars.
Xball is conceived as the Sport of Paintball designed for a TV audience.
The TV Wars begin. The result is competing leagues (NPPL & PSP) driven by shifting priorities (and concomitant expenses) only indirectly related to putting on MLP events.
The pro ranks are divided by the NXL and the NPPL is the beneficiary of all the burgeoning 10-man teams unwilling, uninterested, unable to make the leap to Xball.

So what happened? Here goes.
PBIndustry was caught ill-prepared when the growth years suddenly stopped. For whatever reason even the incoming transnational corporates failed to manage the transitions successfully except (so far) KEE.
Xball succeeded in turning tournament paintball into sport. That success has had some unintended consequences.
The TV Wars squandered the enormous base of competing teams with redirected resources and in the NPPL's failure to sustain a profitable series.
The Sport of paintball raised the bar for everybody (eventually) and as a result has pushed out of competitive paintball some number of players unable--for various reasons--to meet its demands.
5-man paintball remained vital until the last year to 18 months.
Local and regional competitive paintball has also declined--although the declines appear to vary in different areas of the country.
The impact of the housing bubble was felt most severely initially in competitive paintball strongholds like Cali & Florida.
The general economy remains in an extended recession (at best).

What's important here. (Well, d'oh! all of it in one way or another but --)
One--Xball (Race 2) isn't going anywhere. Despite the fact I am convinced that Xball drove our demographic down and a lot of pre-existing tourney players to 7-man (and out of competition) there is a dedicated core willing to do what it takes to play competitive paintball as sport.
Two--5-man has been amazingly resilient until the last year. 5-man is the heart & lungs of tourney paintball. Through years of being second class competitors (back in the day) and rising entry fees the national scene continued to benefit from a robust 5-man turnout
Three--5-man began to decline on the local level before real weakness appeared in national events. This is the result of pressing to integrate bread & butter tourney ball into the national scheme and raising the bar to basic participation too high.
Four--There's a significant number of former tourney ballers not competing.
Five--If the rumors of operating in the black this season are true the NPPL has a pared down tournament formula that is more sustainable in this economic environment.

Having gone long (again) the next post will look at possible answers.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Predicting Procaps' Future

Wondering what will happen in the wake of Procaps loss of the Walmart contract? For one informed take, look here. Leaves me wondering if Richmond is more likely selling off what he still owns or looking to buy back what he doesn't.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Monday Poll

This one is as fresh as today's headlines. Have you been keeping up with the news? Planning on visiting family or friends over the holidays? Can't wait for the leagues to release next year's event dates so you can get your plane tickets in advance. No, Millennium, yours don't count. They need to be dates, not months. And really, April, May & July with nothing after that until October? How 'bout that TSA? (Transportation Security Administration.) I don't know about you but I don't feel safer now that I know we'll all be subject to the naked x-ray or the full body patdown. And when I say all I mean a "random" selection (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) of grandparents and children and hot girls but statistically thin on hijabs, burkas, guys in robes with scraggly beards or those carrying passports from State Department identified terrorist states 'cus, well, that would be profiling and that's just plain wrong. Never mind the gross violation of personal privacy of millions of ordinary citizens.
While bigger than paintball--what isn't?--it is something that will end up affecting lots of people who do play MLP and I'm curious what, if anything, y'all intend to do about it. (Pick as many answers as apply.)

Did'ja know Homeland Security is purchasing 500 mobile naked xray units--for a start. Hey, if it's good enough for the herds at airports how many other places can they be installed for your safety? Malls. Sporting events. Schools.

The Monday Poll in Review
Last week's Monday Poll generated some interest--thanks to all who participated. VFTD wanted to know what you thought of changing the early release date of event layouts. Included in the list of optional answers was do not release the layout at all prior to an event. A policy advocated by VFTD as a cost savings measure. Also included were maintaining the status quo and a series of in-between choices. Surprisingly only 11% voted to keep things the way they are. Perhaps equally surprising only a slightly larger percentage (16%) were ready to halt release of the event layouts completely. The largest voting block clearly favored the most extreme compromise however as 38% voted to release the layout the day before only. That way teams would have more time to plan and prepare but would be unable to actually pre-play the layout. That means that 54% of all votes were in favor of teams not pre-playing event layouts while the remaining votes were divided over how much time should be given for pre-play covering the status quo (11%), 4 weekends (7%), 3 weekends (3%), 2 weekends (7%) & the weekend before the event received 15% of the vote.
It's clear that of those voting an overwhelming majority favored limits on pre-playing a competition layout and the 3 largest voting blocks (equalling 69% of the total) split the difference but still strongly favored very little to no pre-play. Time will tell what MLP thinks.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mailbag: World Cup Asia Layout

A request came in last week for some hints, tips or ideas on how to play the upcoming World Cup Asia layout which happens to be a Millennium style field. While perhaps a shade ironic--seeing as I'm presently advocating not releasing layouts--I rather enjoy doing them and regular readers of VFTD always seem to respond positively. (That doesn't mean I will do field analysis for Joe's Backyard 5-man--because I won't. If you want a personal field analysis I have a Paypal account. Hint. Hint.)
This is an interesting but also (likely to be) a frustrating layout. It is also a more sophisticated design than is the norm in that it offers a lot of diverse options for ways to play it effectively beyond the standard get wide and control the wires--although the layout also at first glance looks to encourage the routine. The frustrating part remains the effectiveness of the Home bunker in offering control lanes which in turn tend to make the typical team somewhat schizophrenic. You want to attack the snake but at the same time you want leave a player (or two!) at Home so the issue breaks down to when a team makes that final transition to either all-out offense or defense. But with a strong Home the tendency isn't to fully commit which is defacto a choice to play defense first--or find yourself (as a team) completely unbalanced early. The remedy for this is to have a more comprehensive game plan in place prior to a point beginning. It is often not enough (particularly for less experienced teams) to simply have primaries and then play with the flow of the point because if your team isn't controlling the point the other team is. A game plan should identify your attack and the sequence or selection of bunkers the team intends to use and there should be keys or triggers the players can recognize to assist in their timing. The goal is to function as a team and that means everybody on the same page with an understanding of how the goal is to be achieved. Sometimes that's as simple as executing your play in accordance with the general principles of paintball and sometimes it also requires a thorough understanding of the unique features of the layout being played.
Let's take a quick look at the lanes before we start talking about some of those bunkers. The inside lane shooting snakeside cannot shoot the inside pin but it can bounce paint off the second pin into the first one. Otherwise the snakeside Home shooter is most effective denying and/or containing the snake's effectiveness once a player is there. On the D-side that innermost lane may not be there. The margins are tight enough that set-up could take that one away. Otherwise take note of the lane over the Temple. The deep zone can be shot by a player on a knee but to get the best possible lane up a standing shooter is required. The risk to a standing shooter is thru the M and a blind lane from the inside opponent's pin. Beyond that it's easy to see how a player with a large pack can slow movement up the D-wire and contest many of the available shots.
The pins on both sides of the field are playable with the blue field surround on the snakeside showing a portion of the area that is difficult to contest except from a mirror. The pins do remain vulnerable to the crossfield angle. Green bunkers are launch points as well as having the ability to contest key zones or lanes. On the D-wire the green MT can compete with both the snake and the D-wire and when played low is also not subject to risk from the snake. And the combo of bunkers snakeside are the principle props providing snake access (although inside out delayed snake runs can also be accomplished from Home or the pins.) All of the snake positions offer effective shots which the doritos don't making it the likely dominant contest on the field--though control of the D-wire also can deliver the point. The orange dorito highlights the shots the doritos do have and the ones they don't. And the proximity with the other doritos are likely to compel competing dorito players to be constantly aware of the run through possibility. The dark blue Can is an MC, a stubby. So, while it offers some wire control it is awkward for taller players and subject to being pinched by snake 1 and harassed by the upfield snakeside Temple along with a number of the D-side bunkers not on the wire. A much better position is the red Can on the D-side and when played low isn't subject to the blind (high) lane snake 2 can shoot. And as a full sized Can gives a taller player almost as much D-side wire control while also offering numerous inside shots and a short bump to D1. The snakeside red Can represents one of the unusual options this field offers as it's a position that can be taken OTB. The player gains rapid proximity to the opponent with little risk and a number of open lanes. Use it to launch into the center of the field or make an inside/out rotation into the nearby Temple.
This field will reward heavy guns up, run & gun play as long as the lanes shot are effective ones.
Lastly, I think you will discover this field lends itself to big bunker (and/or repositioning) runs. Not only wireside and highway on the snake side but inside/out and crossfield as well. See what you can find. For example, the green brick feeding the snake is an invitation to run unless another gun can control movement down the snake. Fortune favors the bold.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey

If you're confused by the title, no worries, it's a cultural reference to a kid's party game. I have no idea if it's even played anywhere anymore but it was when I was a kid. (Maybe when my kids were kids, too.) The idea is you put a large picture of a tailless donkey on the wall and give each child a turn at pinning a separate tail onto the donkey. The catch was you had to do it blindfolded and then you were spun around until you were dizzy and disoriented. Hilarity ensued. That's kinda how I feel about most of the efforts to "fix" competitive paintball. Even when the discussion is thoughtful and interesting--as it has been the last few days. We're outta the loop when actual decisions get made and the decision-makers are being tugged left, right and sideways desperately hoping they don't make a (nother) mistake.

The WC numbers I mentioned the other day don't prove anything. May even have multiple likely sounding explanations but what I want to do is try and broaden the picture of competitive paintball we're all looking at. In 1997 WC had 67 10-man teams. In 1998 there were 80 10-man teams. In 1999 there were 87 10-man teams. In 2000 there were 117 10-man teams. In 2001 there were over 180 10-man teams and in 2002 there were more than 210 10-man teams. This is the period of time Cup left the woods, moved to Hyperball, then Airball. Electropneumatic guns became commonplace. Xball was introduced and the NPPL split.

In 2003/2004 the PSP offered both Xball & 10-man. In 2004 the new NPPL was averaging around 170 teams an event. 2005 was the first year Xball was the stand alone headliner at Cup with only 77 xball teams & 247 5-man teams. In 2005 the NPPL averaged around 200 teams an event and by the end of 2006 Pure Promotions was looking to bail. (Rumor had it both leagues were losing money. These were also the days of the Race 2-TV.) 2006 saw 131 xball teams & 235 5-man teams participate. 2007 was the peak for xball teams at 160 with a 10% drop in 5-man teams to 212. 2008 had 138 xball teams & 195 5-man teams. (In Pacific Paintball's worst year they had more teams competing on average per event than the latest incarnation of the USPL/NPPL.) 2009 saw xball decline to its second lowest stand alone total of 125 along with still shrinking 5-man total of 183. 2010 had 134 xball teams while 5-man fell off the table dropping to 118. There's some facts & figures. Here's some more.

Bottom drops out on years of streaking growth as industry sales go flat. Fall of 2006 the PMI/NPS merger is engineered creating KEE. Jarden buys K2 in 2007 after K2 struggles with the paintball division it began putting together with the Brass Eagle purchase in what, 2003. By 2006 unification talks between the the two major leagues isn't a whispered rumor but an annual event on the end of season calendar as an intransigent industry demands action yet refuses to back one league or the other despite claiming dire economic consequences.

Since I'm running long I'll leave the analysis of the data to y'all--for now. And I'll pick it up again first of next week.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Deadbox Puppet Army

First and foremost I would like to thank the latest recruit, Chris, for signing up. (Thanks, Chris.) And I would also encourage all you lazy slackers who can't be bothered to reconsider your failure to date to join the DPA. Our agenda is world domination and VFTD needs you.
If you're new around here and uncertain as to what the DPA is, that's easy. The DPA is intended 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.

UPDATE: Way to jump on the bandwagon, Warner. You too, Koker. But hey, it got you a VFTD mention and your DPA secret decoder ring is in the, er, mail. (I do want to warn you tho the post office frequently "loses" them. It's a conspiracy.)

If that's too hard at least hit the damned "Like" button on the sidebar. Even Stephen Hawking could manage that one.

While I'm at it I'd also like to thank the latest batch of Twitter followers and Facebook friends. Y'all make me look normal.