Remember when shrinking sponsorships and the lack of paint sponsorships in particular bespoke imminent doom for the ranks of pro teams? As it turns out there's doom--and then there's more doom. More than enough doom for nearly everyone. The downward spiral that has seen the once overflowing PBIndustry gravy train run dry and leave many teams without first killed off the weak and defenseless, those almost fully dependent on industry largesse for their survival. As team numbers shrank those that survived the first round of cutbacks may (or may not) have seen a modest uptick as the total number of pro teams decreased. But the thinned ranks also invited new teams to take their chances and, at least temporarily, swell the ranks of pro teams again. So while the pro ranks haven't altogether gone the way of the dinosaurs (yet) the forces driving them to the brink of extinction continue to wreak silent havoc.
As in the past we first see signs of the next round of losses after mid-season. With Arsenal re-joining the NPPL in DC (and 3 D1 teams tossed into the pro mix) it (mostly) covered the no-show status of Entourage & Explicit. Not as well known a majority of XSV regulars didn't make DC either. Under the surface there is the reduced practice schedules of many pro teams (just like last year) and at MAO there was an undercurrent of dialogue about current pro teams taking a hard look at their ability to continue past this year. The numbers suggest anywhere from 4 to 6 pro teams may be unable to compete in 2011. And realistically similar numbers may come from the other major league although the NPPL may benefit from some two league teams opting to go NPPL only. Assuming the NPPL extends into 2011. (I'm not hinting at trouble--only that even if the NPPL manages to break even in 2010 there remains substantial debt from 2009.)
It will be intriguing to discover if the new paintball (and corresponding rumor of prices & costs) has any impact on pro team attrition or even major league paint sponsorship. Whispers suggest that some dialogue already exists sub rosa on the sponsorship prospects for the prospective new paint manufacturer and a significant cost reduction could breathe some new life into struggling programs.
The other factor that could help with pro attrition is VFTD's oft repeated suggestion that pro field layouts not be revealed prior to the event(s) which would radically reduce practice paint usage and the "need" to burn tournament volumes of paint in scrimmaging points.
(Yeah, yeah, the paint wars is coming. I didn't forget, just got side-tracked.)