Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Road Less Traveled

A Paintball love story. Not. If I wanted warm and gooey--get your minds out of the gutter--I'd go for some Cinna-minions down at the local IHOP. Actually I'm picking up where 'Broken Record' left off. I know I promised new ideas and they may in fact be new to some but there really isn't much that is truly new. Even in paintball. What I really have to offer is a variation on an old idea used in perhaps a new way. Now that you're thoroughly confused let's get started.
Paintball as sport is moving toward integration but that causes issues at the local and regional level where tourney ball is competitive but it's also a (struggling) business in many cases. Part of that process is pushing younger and younger players out of competitive opportunities because of their classification and the inability of the locals to accommodate those players within the framework of that integrating process. (And even without the integration process there has always been, or so it seems, the ever present sandbagging hysteria which does much the same often for less reason.) At the big maw end of beginning and developing players the integrating process needs to cookie cutter and categorize everybody new and up-and-coming. And there's nothing inherently wrong with that it's just that it is often contrary--or can be--to much of the motivation and fun for playing a competitive form of paintball at the local level. Sure the desire to win exists but so too the desire to hang out with friends and enjoy playing the game.
The driven players do what they have to do. The rest simply want to have fun playing the game.
As currently envisioned competitive paintball as sport has a tiered pathway that leads from the local field's D5 event all the way up to the major league's Pro division. It works (or could work) because it universalizes the competitive experience in format and classification. But as much as everyone may want it to it cannot accommodate everybody's interest in competitive paintball.
In the past we've discussed all sorts of alternatives; return to the woods, mechanical markers, pump guns, restricted ROF, limited paint and more but those "solutions" are aimed at throwing a wider net to attract more players. They don't directly address keeping the ones we've already got but this does: re-seeded open division play. (See, I told you there are no new ideas.)
No or very limited restrictions on team rosters. Institute whatever set of rules and format you want and organize it a couple of ways based on participation. The secret is relatively short rounds and reseeding of teams. To make it simpler you could have Open A that allows Pro/Semi-pro ranked players to be rostered and Open B that doesn't. Play a round and be re-seeded into a new division based on scores playing a traditional 5-man format, for example. After the second round everyone finds themselves seeded for the final round in competitive groups and you finish up playing for your division title. Mostly the best teams, most experienced players, rise to the top but not always. Early losses don't matter. Everybody gets to compete. The lower div teams and players get the benefit of competing part of the time against superior competition and still end the event with a chance to win their division. It could be a season ending "special" event or a bi-annual or if it proved popular it could be a semi-regular alternative to "serious" competitive events. It's also a way nearly everyone who wants to compete can play together.


raehl said...

At what point does a team know which division they are in?

Is there a part two that talks about how prizes work in this?

Baca Loco said...

One virtue is that it can be as big or as small as a promoter wishes it to be. It can be low cost for fun minimal prizes event or it can be more costly bigger prize package to draw entries. In either case the gimmick is to be as inclusive as possible yet still end up with the majority seeing the outcome(s) as fair and well-earned.
Prizes would be assigned to divisions ahead of time but even there you could be as egalitarian as you wanted to be with bragging rights going to the top divisions but the spoils to everyone.
I suggested three rounds of play with the final round being the prize round, So two seeding rounds followed by the prize round. At same time I think there are reasonable alternatives perhaps depending on format, total number of teams, available fields, refs, etc.
I would have to do projected scheduling before I could give you solid details.
This post was a Big Picture concept intended to give peeps ideas and/or inspiration, not a blueprint or a how-to.

raehl said...

I'm trying to flesh out the details of what you're thinking because the details matter.

I actually did something similar to this at the NCPA National Champs in... 2003 I think. It failed miserably. Basically, there were 4 or 5 games, then we took the top teams and put them in one group, and the bottom teams and put them in groups by skill. Half of the teams that didn't make the top group quit playing. They didn't want to play if they were not playing to win.

Now, I realize NCPA is a bit different because the whole concept is all one division, but in general, if you offer significant prizes for anything other than winning the whole thing, teams will just manipulate their prelim performance to end up in a lower skill group to win the prizes there. And if you don't offer prizes - well, then the system we have now works very well for D3 and below.

I do agree that we have an issue with players who have D1-level talent but don't have D1-level wallets. But I think there are less drastic changes that can be made that give those sorts of players the opportunity to play locally - but only as one guy on a team.

Which is one other issue with your system - it doesn't prevent the best 5 players in an area grouping up on one team and kicking everyone else's butt, which is extremely destructive to a local/regional league.