Friday, July 30, 2010

Talking Paintball

I really enjoyed seeing the ProPaintball kids come out with a pro ranking but I was disappointed to see how little conversation it generated. Disappointed but not surprised. Half the fun of being a sports fan is talking about your favorite sport, the games played, match-ups to come, the players, sharing opinions and talking smack, standing up for your favorite teams and players and all the rest. It's happening around the clock, 24/7 around the world. Sports radio is huge. There's at least a dozen television networks dedicated to sports available from your local cable provider. Sure the bulk of the talk is about the big time mainstream sports but that's not the point. The point is guys and more than a few gals (that didn't date me much, did it?) really enjoy talking about sports. So where is the competitive paintball equivalent? By and large it doesn't exist.
I'm not sure why. Unless it's partly the fact there's no language for talking competitive paintball as sport. Most sports have statistics. Ways to compare teams and players based on various aspects of performance. Paintball doesn't. We have "What a killer!" or "He sucks." That and player name recognition and reputation based largely on video clips and articles from a now nearly dead media. And without a language for discussing paintball as sport it's that much harder to actually educate both players and fans about the game. (If that wasn't quite clear, yes, I'm suggesting even many of the players either don't know their own sport or at best don't know how to explain it.) And, there remains little connection between the "fans" and many of the current batch of pro players. There's minimal info about actual games played in competition. Little known about many of the players. Teams with no history--it's small wonder it's hard to figure out how to be an active fan.
Which is why I like Cade's effort to get folks to predict event outcomes for the PSP tournaments on PBN. It's a start. As are the assorted league partnerships with what remains of old media and some recently forged relationships with new media. And if somebody came up with a workable fantasy paintball that would be a big plus. (As were the webcast statistics when they existed. See, they had more uses than just flushing out the webcasts.) I've even suggested the PSP set up a booth and encourage people at the events to "gamble" on Pro match results using PSP dollars. There's lots of things you could do; donate the purchase of PSP bucks to local charity, vendors could accept PSP bucks at some modest exchange percentage to in effect offer discounts and encourage more on site buying, build up the interest in pro games, etc. In the meantime (if the gambling angle is too complicated) there's always a tournament version of bracketology. One reason college basketball's season ending championship tournament is such a sports happening these days is because everybody can fill out the brackets and guess at the winners of each game over the two plus weeks of the event. Newspapers and websites and informal groups at work or from the neighborhood award prizes or collect pots to give the winners. More people are more invested when they have a stake in the outcome. So how 'bout some PSP bracketology? Not only would it get more people actively involved in the results of matches played it would provide a sort of value added to the proceedings. And it touches on an element of how the major leagues can and should promote themselves that they haven't. (More on that soon.)
So what are you waiting for? Let's talk paintball.


papa chad said...

pro paintball is fleeting. no one seems to stay dominate on the scene for long. teams change overnight. big names are swapping teams all the time.
it was sad to see Adam Geis leave Mutiny for Ironmen, I feel great for him but at the same time, that's one less local hero, and one more team in a constant state of flux. teams need contracts to be stable, to gain fans, but then paintball would need money. and paintball has no money.

and what's there to talk about? it seems to me that the team that is at the gym the most is the team I should bet on winning. another factor I see in winning is "who can afford the most skids."
teams will vary some in their strategy, but not enough for me to talk about... they are mostly all moving up field and getting angles to get kills.

Xball introduced a whole new level of shallow. in our attempt to never-ever look like a war game, we have finally made it. we officially have no strategy or other war-like tendencies. it just seems that speedball came, was figured out in a couple of years, and became stale.

I would like to propose changes to the field. maybe by not changing it at all. what if we played a single field layout all year long? but then the field would have to be complex enough to allow for evolving strategies. and that would mean revolution in how the game is played (and that would be hard).

what would we even call a "play" in paintball? going X off the break? running highway? bunkering? these are shallow, simple things.

RIP the last great paintball strategist, whoever you were.

so I'm preaching it again: complexity. we need it.

Baca Loco said...

Do you follow players or do you follow teams?

Boy did you jump the topic rail. :)
If fitness equals wins the Legion takes the prize. And of course paint matters. Do you think Impact broke the piggybank this year compared to last?
You seem to be saying there's no consistent power in paintball--like the Yankees--but who cares 'cus winning is who can outspend the other guys anyway--the Yankees. Isn't that a no win scenario?

There is, you know, a distinction between the meaning of strategy and tactics.

When has anyone played the same field in paintball all year ever?

Are you talking Airball? Acres? Woods? What constitutes complexity? More bunkers or less?

The fact is both 7-man and xball have both strategy and tactics at play--and, while I'm at it, at least 8 in 10 players bunker the wrong way. Including mine, on occasion, despite the fact they know better.

Lastly I'm also gonna disagree with the "void of war" claim. All paintball all the time carries that essence because that is the nature of the game. Same applies to chess. How overt a "war game" is, is a separate issue.

Anonymous said...

When you talk to someone who just watched a good match live, regardless of its level - you always notice the same trend. "Did you see how wrapped and snapped mid and then slided into 50 and got an awesome blind on the corner and their coach was yelling like a madman and then he.." Lot's of excitement, followed by a keen conversation about what just had transpired.

So there is alot to talk about, just very few means to do it. If you can't point, wave your hands and such, there is no actual vocabulary made for paintball to discuss strategy post game. There is no named plays, there is no easy to understand tactics like 4-3-3 nor there is wide understanding or agreement how to name various moves. I do not think these are established until someone writes a book, well made book, about tactics and strategy in race-to-x play.

Also, I would like to point out that what media we have left has no balls. They, even your favorite fansite leaves most of the juicy stuff completely unreported or even deletes things that dig too deep. You watch a video from an event on youtube and you can bet all the actual drama, cussing and big decisions are either a) cut to ensure pass for next event or b) cut because friend of his friend.

Everyone who plays on a field where a "pro" team guys come, either side of the pond, get the juice. All those whacky stories and rivalries are mostly talked about in the local area and never get wider attention. Reason for this is that for some, image of paintball is more important than people who play it actually enjoying it. I personally loathe this, its a raw game, its for grownups and shit hits the fan all the time and sweeping it under rugs to polish image of paintball is a joke.

When we have no common language to talk about plays that happened and we are literally banned to talk about the drama, what there is left to look at other than scoretables?

papa chad said...

I dunno. I guess it's always going to be one of those "you have to play it to enjoy it" sports.

you could say the same about skateboarding and snowboarding. but we can't go mainstream like they have. does paintball just lack "the cool?"
style plays a large part in both of those sports. are paintball players not cool? haha.
way off topic. think i'll just sit back and watch now.

Reiner Schafer said...

It seems to me that if you want fans to talk about the game, you need fans to see the game. Until you find a format that can be easily understood and readily viewable by masses of people, there is no chanc of getting masses of fans. Paintball does not focus around one signal object as most sports do, therefore will always struggle to be viewable. It's a hoot to play (for the same reason - lots of different things need a player's attention) but too much happening at the same time to stay on top of what's happening for the average viewer. To be honest, I don't think that is something that can be overcome. Paintball is destined to be fun to play, but not so much fun to watch.

raehl said...

The paintball media won't get balls until their bills are not paid by paintball companies. You can't blame them.

Sports Illustrated can say whatever they want about the sports they cover because the people buying the ads are not MLB/NBA/NFL/NHL.

But, I'm also not sure that's a bad thing. Let's get the out-of-industry dollars together before we start trashing on ourselves.

Anonymous said...

I don't know - 68Caliber has no trouble publishing what it wants to - including taking the industry to task on some major issues and all we hear from advertisers is "enjoyed your editorial - don't always agree with what you say, but you make some fine points" - never - NEVER - have we been threatened in any way with withdrawal of dollars if we do or don't do whatever.
There are far too many voices, websites, videos & etc., for those threats to carry any weight these days; advertisers will go where the traffic and perceived market is, even if they have to put up with negativity. Just look at PBN and how badly some companies (who advertise) get trashed by the great unwashed over there.
Steve - 68Caliber

Baca Loco said...

Glad to hear it, Steve. Hope it stays that way when/if paintball media becomes more competitive again.
Don't think PBN is typical "pb media" either. ;)