Wednesday, March 31, 2010

NCPA National Layout

I am not going to critique the layout--which is really pretty interesting--except to comment on a couple of things. The orange square highlights what I think is poor placement of the CK as it makes it an irrelevant and nearly pointless bunker. The pink square highlights the snake side MT for a couple of reasons. Check your angles and see who can apply pressure to that position. (The answer is almost nobody including the Dorito 50.) The other characteristic of that MT is that it does very little to contain or contest a snake player and functions as little more than easy access to the snake--despite the fact you will likely have to battle a mirror.

Instead of identifying otb lanes from Home I thought I'd make it clear where you can't lane somebody off the break. (All those grey areas. Bars of grey indicate partially obstructed areas.) On the D-side the distance between the corner and D1/D2 will keep a laner guessing at the required elevation and will make one or the other spot relatively easy to take. [Hint: if you are going to play guns up, go short, or delay a rotation on the snake side breakout always lane for a dorito runner (D2) on the Dorito side because that's the position that will do you the most harm.] As can be plainly seen Home shooters will have limited effectiveness particularly if the opponent chooses to use the "blind" spaces around the pins to edge Home. [In order to get a good lane on a snake runner take a position a few feet behind Home. That would make the snake side shooter the back position in a typical two shooter stack formation. (Instead of two shooter fighting for cover side-by-side they position themselves like a two man bobsled team, one in front tight on the bunker, the other behind.)
The snake is the dominate feature of this field because of the brick placed in the 50 and the relative ease of access to the snake. While the snake 50 position doesn't dominate all or even most of the cross field shots it is also not at great risk except from a bunkering move. Only two routinely playable positions contest the snake; Home (which does it rather poorly) and D2 [in a blue circle] which does it from across the field. These factors will tend to result in slower play as it's nothing more than exchanging one gun battle--up & down the field--for another, from side to side. In addition, the green circled TCK provides better control over the D-wire than any bunker on the snake side controls the snake wire except the high risk Can. As a consequence I would expect to see the D-wire dominate only in situations where the numbers are unbalanced and even then its easier for marginal players to play defense than it is for them to attack.
I further expect most teams will leave a Home player in position. This has value but only up to a point. On this field it offers some defense against the snake and it allows a team to fill a body to a needed area but that flexibility is only partially (and often unsuccessfully) utilised if it is always used for defensive purposes. For example, corner runner is shot off the break. Home player recognizes the loss and rotates out to corner. If this happens early in point it's fine. The later in the point it happens the greater the likelihood that rotation is being made under pressure as the opponent holds superior positions on the field and is being made in an attempt to hold the opponent at bay. Can you win a point under those circumstances? Yes. Are you likely to? No. Much better to commit that player earlier in a proactive way. For example, if the snake has been hotly contested all match one high value tactical objective is to be the last man standing in the snake and/or to control that 50. Let's say your teammate bunkers out the opponent's 50 snake player and your snake side support immediately dives into the snake looking to take advantage and gain control of the 50. The Home player must commit to preserving the gain in the snake and shift to a position that reinforces that control or positions him to be the next in line to push the snake. Too many lower division teams do not have team objectives when they play and consequently you end up in shouting matches later on over who should have done what when because team goals are left to individual decisions.

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