Thursday, April 29, 2010
This post focuses on a couple of things; taking (denying) the snake OTB, playing dead zones & why (& how) design matters. This layout is similar to Malaga in order to facilitate finishing that event. Comparing my analysis of that layout with this modification may not help you play it but will help clarify the design elements at work.
Beginning with the snake run OTB we see the Home lanes on the snake side are early in the run (which encourages the runner--or ought to.) With a separate Snake 1 there are two snake runs possible. Snake 2 is an order of risk higher but the run is simply and extension of the move to the TCK that feeds Snake 2. A Home shooter can shoot his/her primary lane and immediately shift to a wide second lane in the Snake 1/Snake 2 gap but the greater risk is a laner somewhere in the DZ behind the nearest TCK (orange shooter and lanes on the layout) who can lane inside the feed TCK, Snake 1 and the corner. The combination of shooters should, undisrupted, be reasonably effective (assuming they know which end of the gun the paint comes out of.) But that's only half the play.
On the upper portion of the layout the gray denoted DZ (dead zones) where the Home shooter is blocked. These areas allow players to ignore the Home shooter. The Blue spot and lanes shows how to support a snake runner by offering suppressing fire aimed at either the Home shooter or the TCK. And the larger secondary DZ offers a wide variety of guns up zone shooting opportunities to complicate the effort to shoot a snake runner OTB. Playing either zone as a moving gun can also be a very effective way of responding to teams that reveal patterns or habitual actions.
Cross field shooting lane options exist but are unlikely to be effective. Of course, other movement combinations for making the move into the snake also exist but the key is to mix it up while suppressing any laners.
Word of warning--even with the obstructed and limited shooting lanes this is a very potent snake capable of dominating this field. Figure out how to contain it or better yet figure out how to exploit it and nothing else will matter much. This is a power field that will reward teams with superior athletic ability and/or paintball skills.
Turning to design I included the basic D-side lanes--both of which are excellent and complicate the initial breakout--but also include the mitigating factor of forcing the shooter to pick. This is a good design characteristic because even with two excellent lanes the necessity of picking one (very few shooters are capable of shooting both with effect) negates the other. As is the choice of a Can for the Home bunker as it presents greater risk when doubled and is easier to pinch from angles. It can be played effectively but isn't a fortress that encourages keeping a player back center indefinitely.
Looking at the bunkers surrounded in green tells us all we need to know about how the design was improved over Malaga. the 50 Dorito is now a dominating presence with a wide variety of shots that can still be actively contested. The corners are now Temples which creates a small but potentially important elevation disadvantage for the corner player and inhibits his/her ability to wrap (or even see much beyond the wire.) Further neutralizing the corner bunker the placement of the forty doritos expose an avenue of attack on the 50 dorito that is more effectively contained by the wider MT. The result is the upfield positions pose a much greater full field threat that matches the greater risk involved playing the position while other changes provide greater balance in shifting the nature of this field in favor of the aggressor where Malaga better suited defensive play.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
And while you're at it spend less time on the computer and more time playing paintball. And that doesn't mean shopping for more new jerseys and sitting in a safe zone polishing your latest must have new gun. Sack up and have a little pride.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
PSP registration increased by 17 teams over last week to a total of 107 with the event still two months away. On its face it appears promising although there is a sharp distinction between xball and 5-man registrations. On the plus side if one includes the so far unregistered pro teams to the xball list the total is within 10 of last year's participation. Chicago has been traditionally--if you can use that term in relation to paintball--the PSP's second largest seasonal event but the bulk of those extra teams--above and beyond events like Phoenix and MAO--is made up of 5-man teams (Race 2-2) and without them the event will take a serious hit.
In the other Chicago event the NPPL has yet to post any information about registration other than it is open and available to teams who wish to participate. For those who want to play a guessing game with NPPL registration keep an eye on the venue and gun rules categories of the current Monday Poll as I suspect they may offer some direction. In other NPPL news the league is looking to drum up some affiliate league (event) interest as it touts the couple of great affiliate events prior to HB. On one hand this is typical public relations blather but I think there's another way to take it. While I didn't participate in either affiliate event prior to HB what I've heard suggests that my definition of "great" varies rather dramatically from the league's definition--as apparently does their definition of affiliate when compared to the PSP. Again, nothing wrong except there is a whiff of me-too-ism about it. As if the NPPL feels it needs to compete against the PSP at the PSP's game and that strikes me as a losing proposition particularly when even the average paintballer can see the difference. The NPPL has shown no indication it intends to restructure the way it puts on events so why the need to appear to be following the other guys? I don't get it.
Skipping back across the pond (while avoiding descending ash clouds) the MS is hoping to get back to business as normal--which means poor communications and poorer customer relations if the past is any indicator. The league is making noises about preparing a texting system to facilitate communications with the teams but there's a difference between having the means and actually following through. Was that unfair of me? Perhaps. Registrations for Bitberg in the open divisions stands at 10 total today.
While no official word has been posted on the MS site as to how the missed matches, etc. will be resolved in the closed divisions an unofficial official statement has appeared on at least one French website suggesting teams that were unable to attend have two optional courses of action. They may take forfeits in any scheduled match they missed in Malaga and play out the others in Bitberg or they can take an average score comprised of their other event results over the rest of the season. If that is in fact the intended MS solution then what happens when team A wants to play in Bitberg and team B (in the same original bracket) wants to take an average score? Will teams be reseeded and new brackets made up? How will that work when some teams have played some matches and others haven't?
In some respects the MS is getting off a second Malaga debacle easy. What if there had been no lightning or volcanic eruptions? There still would have been excessive wind, some rain and tides washing away beach from under the turf and all the teams would have been there and then whose fault would the resulting chaos have been?
Monday, April 26, 2010
Last week I wanted to know which 5-man national format y'all preferred; PSP or NPPL. This time I'ma try to pin down the reasons why. In all likelihood more than one reason will apply but you will only be allowed to pick one which means you will have to prioritize--pick the one reason most important to you. There are eight options provided--some of which strike me as marginal but who knows? It's your opinion that matters in the Monday Poll. And just so you're clear I'm going to explain some of the options so there are (hopefully) no question about how they apply. The choices will be; Vibe, Venue, Entry, Officiating, Gun Rules, Coaching, Layouts & Format. Vibe reflects on the tournament as a whole. Venue is where the event(s) is held. Entry is the cost of competition. Officiating is officiating. D'oh! Gun Rules are "semi-auto" or capped ramping and/or enforcement of the rules. Coaching is the presence or absence of sideline coaching. Layouts are about field dimensions and types of bunkers in play. And Format is about traditional 5-man scoring versus Race 2-2.
Narrow it down, make your pick and then complain about the ones you wanted to choose in the comments and about how much better the poll would have been if you were allowed multiple choices.
Monday Poll in Review
No big surprises from last week's Monday Poll as the PSP version of 5-man dominated the NPPL variety 72% to 28%. Although it is intriguing that in actual numbers of people who paid to play so far this year we haven't seen anything like those percentages play out on the field. Maybe the poll should have included a generic category for PSP affiliate as well. Oh and that gives me an idea for next week's poll. It will be interesting to keep track of 5-man participation over the season and see how it ends up in real numbers and how it compares to our poll results considering the NPPL has already brought out their big gun with HB and the PSP is holding WC in reserve.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
You may recall after Phoenix I reported on a conversation I had about small ball and more specifically GI Milsim's future plans. At that time the North American focus looked to be aimed directly at the mil-sim market--which still seems to be the case.
But Euroland looks a bit different. A new French team Boost Air Rennes joined the SPL--bought their way in--were handed an open spot--whatever--sponsored by Paint Distribution, the French distributor of GI Milsim in order, one presumes, to give 50 cal paint and guns a boost. (Yes, I did that on purpose.) They appear to have played one match and I'm quite certain that short of a podium finish, SPL or not, nobody cares. (Although I suppose it's conceivable that French forums are full of Boost Air Rennes watchers--but I doubt it.)
Which is where Joy comes into play. (I am assuming the Nanos in question are of the small ball variety although I have yet to receive official confirmation. Far as I can tell GI Milsim do not produce a 68 cal version of the Nano.) It's a no-brainer that Joy has the profile to make their use of small ball and the Nano marker a story of interest regardless of results--and they have a history of being one of the CPL's top teams as well. That makes Dark Sports interest obvious and standard operating procedure for a new company intent on promoting its products. On the flip side this could be a make or break situation for tournament small ball. If Joy don't continue with their consistently high results won't small ball get the blame, deserved or undeserved?
Of greater interest (to me) is what it says about Joy (and Angel Paintball Sports) and sponsorship in the present environment. Over the years no team has shown greater brand and sponsor loyalty than Joy in their relationship with Angel but the present realities (at both Angel and Joy) are compelling changes. It's swell to say Joy will continue using Angels in non-MS events but the simple fact is the MS is Joy's showcase series and the majority of fans will only follow those results. And how does a team of Joy's rep and longevity start a season without a paint deal? And how is it Angel allowed things to come to this pass? Doesn't this mean that either they simply aren't able to support Joy the way they once did or that they couldn't justify making that level of commitment?
Tourney ball doesn't need anymore cautionary tales. What we need are some new success stories--which leaves me a little torn when it comes to the future of small ball in the competitive paintball arena.
UPDATE: Sems there's some contradictory info out there. For links and the latest check out the comments.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
So what's the point? Only that no sport is immune from reffing issues but how you handle them is the measure of how seriously you take your sport. (And the NBA made the mistake of turning a team game into a showcase of stars a long time ago.) I was talking to a friend today after practice. He has been a PSP/NPPL ref for a few years but in some instances found it both political and hard to justify in terms of time off work, etc. In part I was sounding him out to see if he had any remaining interest in reffing major league paintball. (Besides being an old teammate he's also an excellent ref with the ideal temperament and personality for the job--and has never once cut me a break.)
That conversation and this post weren't just idle chat. I have an idea or two for improving the NPPL's reffing. (I'm not going to say it sucked, cause it didn't, but it needs to be better.) It needs to be better because it's one of the positive and proactive things the league (and owners) can do to prove they are a players league. I'll be passing my ideas along to Rich (Telford) and we'll see. I don't know if it's a realistic option or not--but it won't be hugely cost intensive. (And, hey, I've got a couple of ideas for the PSP too but the programs are in two different places.) Players don't need to be athletes or pros to appreciate and deserve the best officiating possible. I guess the real question is--in the current environment what really is possible.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Chicago PSP registration is up to 72 Race 2-X and 25 Race 2-2 teams. The first deadline for payment is still 3 weeks away and the event is two months away. I'm interested in the affiliates on a couple of counts; I believe (and have advocated for a long time) that regional tourneys and a centralized championship is (was) the way to go. And because the greatest risk to the PSP is in the transition away from the old national model. So both the health of the affiliates and their immediate impact on the PSP are worth following.
The jury is still out on Phoenix. Was the decline the economy, the elevated entry fees in a category or two, or draw down from prior WCPPL & AZPPL events or some combination of them all? After checking the numbers at APPA it seems the Phoenix Race 2-2 entries are (were) generally consistent with Cup & Chicago '09. Also of some interest perhaps is the factoid that anytime Race 2-2 is available as a Sat-Sun or Fri-Sun option the longer Friday thru Sunday draws more teams (except WC 'o7). Probably not all that relevant as Phoenix '10 had both options and numbers were still down 40% over the two years prior.
With respect to each of the affiliates I'm not going to try and draw any conclusions just yet although a few factoids seem worthy of mention. The WCPPL appears to be going great guns with 85 teams registered (when I checked earlier in the week). Seems solid considering its only the second year for the league and first using the Race 2 format(s). Mike's league is also the only one offering pump right now. The AZPPL has 28 Race 2-2 teams registered for its next event and did over 20 in its first event. The Vicious Series is maxed out at 36 for their next event including 16 Race 2-4 teams. And the recent addition MSXL has 24 Race 2-4 teams signed for its next event. In the northeast the Hurricanes Tourney Series is just getting started as ther first event isn't until the end of May--but this is a completely new league launch. Down in Florida the CFPS looks to be down numbers-wise a bit over last year but the best turnouts last year were during the summer months so it will be interesting to see how this season trends. Which brings us to the CFOA which isn't drawing like the old days but has solid numbers in both Race 2-4 and Race 2-2. The CFOA is also committing to a broad offering of 3-man events presumably to help rebuild the competitive base in their region.
Overall, the numbers may look pretty good but it seems to me there's lots of potential for growth despite the hardship factors and it will be interesting to see how this season unfolds.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Over at one of my favorite watering holes somebody leaked a copy of a possible NPPL Chicago field design. It is one of two under consideration and it is a copy of the original that was scribbled on at an HB meeting called to discuss the various submissions. The scribbles are suggested changes (like moving the carwashes further toward the center of the field and switching the Dorito wire corner SDs for the nearby Temples.) An owners vote was supposed to decide which one would be the Chicago layout but apparently the drama continues. It is rumored that white smoke will rise from Eric Crandall's barbecue once a final field is actually chosen.
The MSXL, the PSP's newest (first) (only) supporting league [Why aren't these guys an affiliate and what's the difference? Enquiring minds] has taken a big step and they are offering an Open Division of play for players ranked pro down to D2. It will be interesting to see if this gets off the ground. So far it looks like a couple of "local" PSP D1 teams are on board. Could be an excellent opportunity for regional D1 and higher ranked players to consider putting new teams together as well as this provides them a place to compete without the expense and uncertainty of jumping into the national fray right away.
UPDATE: dropped by the Big Bullet (after checking out Steve's guest posts at T-Square) and it looked like a brand new site. Looks good. (The purple is gone.) and it's very easy to skim through all the different items quickly to get an overview of what's happening. Also, the right sidebar is dominated by links that go the extra mile and list a number of recent postings on the various sites represented--so if you want to make sure you haven't missed something at the Bullet you can skim all the new stuff at loads of other paintball sites. (And even better, it means you can officially leave Twitter to the teenaged girls--as well as those who might as well be teenaged girls. [You know who you are.] Twitter is not for real men. Call me backward, Neolithic even but if Twitter doesn't make you uncomfortable you probably ought to check your hormone levels, ladies.)
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
VFTD would also like to announce a special offer available only to Millennium teams--pristine waterfront development acreage along the southern Gulf coast of Florida at virtual give-away prices. Contact via email for details.
A sudden (last minute?) influx of teams swelled the ranks of participants for the not so Grand Tour's May 1-3 Venice event to 30 teams. Also announced at the last minute is a change of venue. It seems the original venue, a mainland park with a view across the lagoon of Venice, is overbooked or something so the event has been moved further inland to another Mestre city park. The GT will provide free shuttle service to the new venue. On a sad note nobody took me up on my offer to coach and provide a guided tour of Venice for the price of the plane ticket so it looks like I'll be stuck at home. That means I'll be enjoying a Soviet era May Day celebration with some of my tourney pals as we dress up in authentic uniforms and recreate the excitement of the times with our model tanks and missile launchers, drink vodka and goose step down main street.
In NPPL country registration has opened for the Chicago event scheduled to take place at CPX in Joliet over the Memorial Day weekend. No word yet on teams but registration is limited to a very truncated period of about 3 weeks. Given that Monday will be a national holiday the NPPL has altered the usual event schedule with play beginning on Saturday (instead of the usual Friday) and running thru Monday (instead of the usual Sunday.)
Will there be enough time to get a decent turnout? How 'bout a ginormous rec vs. tourney war on Friday before the event? I mean, we'll have all those Living Legend peeps showing up anyway. Maybe we can settle this once and for all. The world's largest game of Tap Out.
Will flying out of Chicago on a holiday be more expensive than normal?
The PSP has released a Chicago layout with a largely conventional snake (in a break with recent past practice.) Registration is open and there are currently 90 teams registered; 70 Race 2-X and 20 Race 2-2. Otherwise everything is fairly quiet at the moment. (I'll be doing a special affiliates update later in the week.)
Expanding on yesterday's Monday Poll the numbers are running about where I expected them to with PSP holding a 2:1 advantage. The one area I didn't mention was pricing. It was suggested to me on the weekend that perhaps price had something to do with the Phoenix PSP turnout. I wasn't sure so I took a look and sure enough this year's Phoenix was priced higher in some categories. (Then I recalled questioning the 5-man pricing last year as it seemed designed to either "encourage" teams to register for Fri-Sun or take advantage of those intent or only able to play on Sat-Sun. On the flip side the league could argue there are/were logistical reasons, etc. for the price differences.) Anyway, it seems possible price also had an impact on the Phoenix turnout and scheduling might have had an effect as well given that 5-man play was only Saturday and Sunday in Phoenix. (Curiously, the league has gotten more 5-man teams to sign up for Fri-Sun than Sat-Sun even though the shorter schedule would seem more convenient.)
For Chicago the prices are consistent and Race2-2 is only being offered on Sat-Sun. When the variables keep changing it's hard to know which ones have the most influence. Perhaps the PSP ought to include a brief survey for team captains at registration in order to get some feedback? Just a thought.
As interesting as all that might be in a direct comparison PSP 5-man is distinctly less expensive than the NPPL version, ranging anywhere from $100 - $400 dollars less depending on division and schedule. I smell another 5-man related poll coming next week.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Why 5-man? Because I think there's a fair chance it will be the 5-man competitors who are the deciding factor between profit and loss, failure and success, for both leagues. And the NPPL seems to be at a disadvantage in every category except venue--and perhaps timing, as it comes before Badlandz but leaves a smaller window for registration and payment.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Okay, I can see how you might have misunderstood the weather but this time you got the weather and a volcano. A volcano! Really? Please, Millennium Series, take the hint. You are seriously inconveniencing a sizable chunk of the planet with your obstinacy. And I'm pretty sure the next message includes a plague of locusts.
Cut everybody some slack and get with the program.
PS--God ain't thrilled with you peeps blaming him for your intransigence. He also thinks you're treating some of the teams pretty shabbily. Just saying.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Last year a combo of rough weather and the goofy inflatable fields wreaked a bit of havoc on the Millennium's Malaga event. This year some more high winds and unpredictable weather have again conspired to threaten the event and if that wasn't enough a volcanic eruption in Iceland grounded planes all over the UK and Scandinavia leaving who knows how many players and teams scrambling.
Will the league have to reschedule massive chunks of their schedule? Will teams arrive late to discover they've forfeited a match? Will the sea swallow up a field or two? And what about Mary? The drama continues all weekend long. It seems the MS has made an effort to reschedule and will attempt to accommodate all late arrivals. The league is also offering additional assurances that field crews will be working hard to make sure the fields are playable first thing tomorrow.
UPDATE: Apparently the MS was overly optimistic about getting all the fields up and ready as play began today with 2 fields. There was some talk earlier about cancelling but matches have gone forward. Also talk of carrying matches and results over as happened last year. A large number of teams unable to get there at all and no difinitve word from the league how the event will proceed or be resolved.
I've also heard a disgusted mutter or two over the D1 prizes at the recent NPPL HB event--largely for the same reason; there wasn't enough of it. The deficient prizes (according to some) the result of two completely different approaches to the subject.
Btw, I'm going to avoid standing with one approach over the other as I have, at different times in the past, argued in favor of both approaches and find merit in both--for obviously different reasons. Consequently I don't have a dog in this hunt but it's a topic worthy of some time and consideration.
The PSP has decided that mediocre play shouldn't be rewarded and that prize money should instead go to motivating teams to improve, challenge themselves and advance if they want to win prize money. (For the record the PSP doesn't claim lower division play is mediocre play--that would be me--and that's not intended to be pejorative, just descriptive because I don't grade on a curve and my standard of excellence is ridiculously high.) In essence the PSP is saying that your entry entitles you to compete and if the league chooses to award prizes it's a bonus, not a given. [That's my take anyway. If an accredited rep of the league would like to offer a clarification we's all ears and I'll include it in the post.]
The NPPL 3.0 discovered last year that simply offering set prize purses didn't bring in "extra" teams for the most well-rewarded divisions (and while even higher prizes might have the league couldn't afford the ones on offer given the number of competing teams.) Teams that "know" or believe they can't compete at a certain level or against certain teams are almost always correct and when they don't think there's a chance to win the big prize they settle for the next available option. This year they modified the prize structure to reflect the number of teams participating in a given division and to encourage more upper division participation have graduated the percentage of entry fees returned as prizes so that the higher the division of play the greater the percentage returned. The result in HB was a much smaller payout in D1 compared to last season because the teams just weren't there.
Has the PSP gone too far? Will the lesser numbers of upper division teams in the NPPL see further erosion as the season goes on. What should be the purpose of the prize packages? Is it a participation bonus or should it be merit based? Can it be both?
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Also heard something he found far more interesting than another run-of-the-mill All-Star game idea which is, you know, okay but really just okay. The other idea was the institution of a paintball Hall of Fame. And while it may seem premature it would be a good way to preserve some of the game's short history while recognizing some of formative figures of the sport and in the process laying another foundation for taking the game as sport seriously. The current thinking would see the Hall of Fame established at Pev's in Virginia. (A grand opening that coincided with the NPPL DC event would be a natural, wouldn't it?)
Mr. C doesn't concern himself with such things but I wonder how the politics of the game and competing leagues will impact what and who would be included in a Hall of Fame linked to one league. To do this right it needs to be a-political and inclusive of all that's come before and in thinking about it I'm halfway convinced that isn't possible. I hope I'm wrong this time.
The roster of the registered only increased by one this past week as the deadline rapidly approaches for the not so Grand Tour’s Venice event. What is the matter with you people? It’s Venice (almost). On the GT website there are links to copies of two documents (in Italian) confirming that the event is legit and not some hit-and-run renegade urban paintball assault–which sounds much cooler–to me anyway. It may be there has been some hesitancy to consider competing on the part of teams due to paintball being illegal in Italy. Come on people, it’s Italy–where the law is more like a suggestion that can, on occasion, be conveniently ignored.
The NPPL will open registration for Chicago any day now–they may already have done so. (My online time remains limited lately.) A Chicago field layout will be posted shortly as well. Otherwise there is little to report that didn’t make the assorted HB reports. The league is making a big push to develop the PR arm of the league to feature the pro teams and players and those changes and additions should be coming online as time permits. One thing I think the NPPL ought to do is video the responses of the divisional teams to the event(s) and post those on the league website. As much as players enjoy watching the pros play nobody shells out entries and pays all the related expenses just to watch the pros–they do it for the competitive experience. All the peripheral things the past NPPLs focused on are great extras but do not take the place of a positive competitive experience and one thing NPPL 3.0 needs to do is prove to potential participants that playing paintball is their number one priority.
Chicago registration has been open for a couple of weeks now in the PSP. (The one thing that could hurt NPPL Chicago registration is the small-ish time window between HB & Chicago.) As of yesterday there were 58 Race 2-X teams and 16 Race 2-2 teams registered. Keep your eye on the Race 2-2 totals. The PSP appears to have capped the Race2-2 category at 100 teams. That’s interesting because it’s the Race 2-2 (5-man) teams that have lifted past Chicago totals over 200 teams.
This past weekend the PSP announced a new ‘supporting’ league, the MSXL and their Race to World Cup 2010 series of events taking place in Indiana, Kentucky & Illinois. In a continuation of the process begun with the first announcement of the affiliates leagues the PSP moves into a previously unrepresented part of the country. What I want to know is why is this a supporting league and not an affiliate league.
So where is the field layout for Chicago? And with the numbers decline in Phoenix will the league risk an "unconventional" layout as seems to have been recent past practice in Chicago?
Squeaking in at the last second DYE signs up to be a MS platinum sponsor. It looks like there will be no diamond sponsors this year--another sign of the times. (Even if a past diamond sponsor or two received an unannounced discount.) It will be interesting to see how much of a show some of the big sponsors roll out this year. Over here it seems the trend is to economizing on the traveling road show. Where the biggest vendors used to go all out they mostly don't nowadays. Will the same hold true in Euroland? Did the MS pro rate their sponsor packages after they dropped Antalya? I heard a couple of numbers that were lower but not by much. Even so with the rush of included sponsors (and teams) in the closing days there must have been some horse-trading going on.
The current team list is looking much healthier--I hesitate to call it the final team count--as there seems to be no real deadline other than the horn for the first match--and even then, who knows, the league might be willing to squeeze another team into the schedule then, too. Anyway, the tally is CPL, 16 teams; SPL, 28 teams; D1, 22 teams; D2, 24 teams; D3, 18 teams & M5, 18 teams for a total of 126. Still down from last year's 143. Two weeks ago registrations were off nearly 30% compared to 2009. Somehow the league closed that gap to less than 13% in the last two weeks. Now all they have to do is run the event and pray for good weather.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Aside from the competition there were a couple of interesting results at HB. (Besides the rumble in the VIP--no it wasn't a fight, it was the floor taking a fall. I don't know the upshot but I'd guess a few paying customers weren't very happy. At a minimum standard for a functional Heaven I'm thinking there needs to be floor that will, you know, actually hold up.) While related one of the interesting results makes me personally happier and a bit more mellow (hopefully.) (I can't really afford to lose any more hair.) The other result should be of interest to competitive ballers everywhere. You see, this HB turned out to be something of a novelty. It very likely made a few bucks. (Which would be a real change of pace. And a real big deal.)
The accounting isn't complete--or it wasn't last Friday--but there was substantial confidence that the final numbers would show a modest profit. [For those keeping score at home some of the owners are, let's just say, a bit reticent to have me around--which is completely understandable but our current understanding is that I won't use sensitive inner workings of the league knowledge as blog material unless or until it otherwise becomes public. So if you're wondering if that compromises my objectivity, I don't think so. It limits what I can tell y'all but I do that anyway. Either way you be the judge.] The change from last year's losses are many; lessons learned from last year that reduced unnecessary costs, a lot of work done by voluntarily by members of the owners, no deals or under the table discounts from Frank the Tank, more teams than last year and the NPPL i.d. cards. At a guess I'd say the cards alone are the margin of difference.
That news has inspired the owners group and provided fresh motivation to keep on plugging, keep on working to make the NPPL work. So much so I'm going to get my wish too--actual, serious practice for future 7-man competitions. This new confidence has extended to my team as well and just showing up is no longer acceptable. If the league survives then the results matter. If the league is a success then taking the competition seriously becomes mandatory. How we're going to work that out I'm not sure. I'm not sure there's a complete 7-man field in Florida and there isn't anyone to practice and extra days and traveling practice will pose a hardship on our current roster--but if there's a will, there's a way. I hope.
I know what you're thinking. Does that mean Baca is changing his mind about the NPPL? No, it doesn't. And I don't know where you people come up with that kinda stuff. It's basic reading comprehension. I've always favored team ownership over industry ownership with respect to the league(s). I've also always favored competition over monopoly. But none of that ever meant that I didn't see problems with both leagues--and still do. I wrote in the post on March 30, "Chicago will tell--at least better than HB. Just as the PSP fortunes for the season may rest on the Chicago turnout so too will Chicago NPPL give us a much better indication of the health of the NPPL than HB will." And I stand by that 100%. And I still wonder if the format can be revived--at least in the way big league events have been structured all along. And I wonder how the hell you keep the format alive when you can't even find a NPPL field to play on around huge chunks of the country.
Despite all that HB keeps the dream alive. The owners have demonstrated the capacity to learn and improve. There are new ideas and a new optimism to drive those dreams. Time will tell if it's going to pay off or not but it's a little bit closer today than it was this time last week.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Arrived around noon Cali time today. Site is much closer to the pier. Still on the south side. A bit cooler than I expected but it seems like it always is. Beautiful, breezy--but chilly. Some slow games going on on the center court and of the few I've seen a few real mismatches too. We'll see how it shakes it tomorrow. Organizationally everything appears to working well though it's not rushed because the divisional kids were doing all the registration stuff yesterday.
Wahoo's is still excellent. Had a Number 4 with wet burrito & taco, carnitas for both. Good stuff. I think the vendor layout is perhaps more inviting than last year as it's highly visible from the beach-side boardwalk. Don't know if it will attract the curious non-paintballer but it adds to the pageantry of the event.
Apparently the pro schedule is two groups with some cross over games. Everybody plays 8 on Saturday and 8 will move on to Sunday morning. At least that's what I've heard. It may be a bit more convoluted than that but with 8 of 13 moving on if you don't make it you don't really have any room to complain. Or so it seems to me. Game schedule has focused on the pro field so games will be running until around 5:30 pm. That leaves us the one hour break tomorrow before our games start to walk the field and check or shots, etc. Most everybody else seems to be in the same position. Also seems like about half the pro teams got any real practice in on this field so it will be interesting to see if it has any effect on the outcome of the prelims. From what I saw the field is playing as I expected but divisional players aren't pro players.
Whatever happens I'm halfway to my dream HB. As I write this the sliding glass door to our beach view balcony is open with the sounds of Pacific Coast Highway rumbling softly like the crash of the surf. Bright sunlight is beginning to cast long shadows and a misty horizon gives way to a blue canopy sky. All that's missing is the pitcher of margaritas but we have some games to play first.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Yeah, right. Like there's anything to report prior to the event. Except there actually are a couple of things. The schedule is up. Pro teams play a snake-seeded 8 game round robin on Saturday afternoon. Don't know how many move thru to Sunday but if it's 8 like last year seems like a pretty sweet deal for the pros. (Just so you know I ain't lost my edge I will say those hour gaps between games late in the afternoon suck. But there are lots of worse places to be than the beach.)
The league also posted on their website some player conduct info as well as a preview of some of the details to be discussed at the Captain's meeting at 5 pm PST today. (I'ma miss that one seeing as I'm in Florida.) Let me suggest if you're going to be competing you at least check out the website update. Yeah, it was posted late but it's in your interest to catch it now if you can. The big 2 are concealed markers--I mentioned this before with respect to the new rules--are the warnings optional nature of aspects of the officiating. At a guess I think they will strongly enforce the concealed marker request as they's able and I think the stern language regarding official warnings or the lack thereof is intended to frighten peeps into compliance. Will I get a warning? Won't I? What's this crazy ref likely to do? (And of course it covers the league when some ref loses his cool and starts dishing out suspensions--though I can also picture Chuck getting heart palpitations under those circumstances too.)
The other thing about HB (kinda) that I'm vaguely interested in is the sponsors and new product releases. Don't get me wrong--I'm not interested in the products themselves--I'm interested in what's going on behind the scenes and in marketing departments (for those who have them) within the industry as we begin the old cycle anew. Take for example the Euro distributor who is convinced that sponsoring the MS reaps business benefits even though there is very little team participation from his region in the series. If it's true, how does it work? And would it work as well--since he's a distributor--if it were only his principle suppliers who sponsored the league?
At HB we've got the Angel folks bringing back Heaven and introducing a new goggle system. They are limiting access to their VIP in hopes of making it cool and trendy again but if that effort falters will it impact the goggle intro? Their timing has been impeccable on the goggles and now the question is will it generate some serious buzz that results in serious dealer interest. But more than that--I think we're seeing a lack of imagination when it comes to the Big Picture. How has the industry always promoted and marketed their products? Through high profile events in an effort to reach a broad number of players while generating widespread publicity. So here we are with most vendors losing money to attend big events--at least in the competitive paintball realm--and promoters demanding ridiculous sums as if it were still 2005--while we keep wondering why we (paintball in general) keeps doing, or trying to do, the same old things over and over. I think there remains a place for sponsors of teams, events, etc. in the game and circumstances where it's still worthwhile. However, as with any commodity--and opportunity is a commodity of sorts in this context--the question is what is it worth. If it isn't worth what the promoters are asking it doesn't surprise me that different terms need to be negotiated and it shouldn't surprise you either.
Okay, that was a rambling mess but I hope you get the idea 'cus I ain't rewriting any of it.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Anyway, the title of this post is not a Billy Wing reference (although I will be securing trademark rights in a matter of minutes.) It's actually a reference to that most common of so-called poor techniques, the chicken wing, in which the player's supporting arm (hand on foregrip commonly) is elevated perpendicular to his/her body with the elbow pointing outward. (Take a breath.) And frequently flapping like a chicken wing when attempting to run & gun. Last time I visited the topic of running & gunning I left off with some drills here. (Was it really that long ago? I could'a missed a post. Or two.) For even more on running & gunning look here.
Let's talk technique. Everybody makes fun of the chicken wing. Almost as many as do it. I'm not a stickler for forcing proper technique on my guys when their technique diverges but that's only because they've already proved they have the skill set required even when their technique isn't ideal. But just because you see some pro doing things wrong it is not a free pass for you to do the same--or insist on doing wrong whatever it is you're doing wrong. Bad habits and bad technique are bad because they aren't efficient or effective for most players. That is the attitude that will see most of y'all getting old and gray in D3.
If you can run & shoot effectively while chicken winging you're done here--but--you know, and I know, you can't hardly hit the broad side of a barn from the inside standing still. The funny thing is it isn't necessarily the "wing" that's limiting your effectiveness. It ain't helping but if it was as simple as knocking off the chicken winging everybody could be a hero. My real problem is you can't wing it while playing a bunker. (Or if you do you're preparing for a future as a rec baller.) And that means you're switching between techniques to accomplish the same thing and you will not, let me repeat that, will not execute either one of them with the same effectiveness as if you practiced a consistent technique. (Not rocket science but it appears to be eluding more than a few of y'all.) And without lots of practice and a consistent technique you will not be an effective runner & gunner. Period.
Now go back and read those old posts and next time I'll talk about ways to make your running & gunning more effective.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
The team list over at the not so Grand Tour continues to inch upward. At this rate they may hit two dozen. And in another sign of the times the GT has enlisted Intager Entertainment as a league sponsor. Seems Intager is hoping to entice field operators with the prospect of extra income from what sounds rather like some sort of laser tag gimmick. Okay so sponsors are hard to come by but come on, laser tag!? Have a little self-respect. If you guys are gonna go there you might as well chase that Airsoft dollar too.
In the PSP registration has opened for the Chicago Badlandz event. It's so early I didn't even bother to look to see if any teams are already on the list--but I bet there are a few. (That and I feel like I'm typing on borrowed time while I wait for the computer to go straight to hell again.) Let me recommend if you're going to Chi-town to get those hotel reservations in asap. And it's better to commute to the fields and stay somewhere in the vicinity of civilization than anywhere too close to Badlandz. Just a suggestion.
This week is the week for the big (-ish) HB extravaganza. I feel a bit better about this one than the last one only because we actually got in a day of practice (sorta) on the layout and because, frankly, I expect this field to play in a way that will neutralize, to a degree, our poor preparation. I might feel even better if I knew what was gonna happen schedule-wise but between my intermittent online availability the last few days and the general wisdom of the NPPL cabal to keep me out of the loop I have no clue what the pro teams will be doing. Except playing on Saturday. And I'm only assuming we're playing Saturday 'cus we's flying in on Friday. So here's hoping. I did notice there's no sign of a schedule posted yet (for anybody) over at the NPPL website.
To tell the truth I'm tempted to just find a nice spot near the pools across the street at the Hilton where I can watch the sea, enjoy the breeze and go for the margarita drinking world championship. I've been training. Hard.
Did you read the MS's announcement that KEE will be a platinum sponsor this season? It actually states "KEE has agreed to become ..." Does that strike anyone besides me as odd? Doesn't it sound like the league pursued KEE? (I'd be shocked if they didn't actually.) Will we see Dye "agree" next? And if we don't will the MS enforce their gun sponsor rules and deny teams in the locked divisions if they use "un-sponsored" gats? How well would that go over after the yeoman's effort the league has made to get teams signed up in the locked divisions these last couple of weeks? To tell the truth I'm hoping for a confrontation so we know exactly what the league will or won't do.
I've followed up best I can on the rumors that the league may be making deals to get teams on board this season. Sources suggest it's happened in the unlocked divisions before to get the "local" teams to help swell the ranks as the event dates close in. Some additional sources have confirmed as well that locked division deals have occurred though I couldn't get any direct info on this season's batch of new SPL late entries for example though there's talk of the league waiving the licensing fees.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Which league you ask? For shame. It's our pals over at NPPL 3.0 who are trumpeting a sold out event for HB with--drum roll please--the convenient number of all the teams that happened to sign up and pay. The league is claiming 120 teams. As always there's unfair rumor-mongering that a bunch of teams got in on under the table deals but what do you expect when you're accused of doing the very thing you've done in the past? (Btw, I'm not saying it happened this time 'cus I don't know, I don't care and I'm even willing to take Frank's word for it that it didn't happen. This time.) Just saying the rumors shouldn't come as a surprise.
When I first saw the SOLD OUT email I was reminded of last year's efforts when the league set what they thought was a reasonably conservative but still profitable (Maybe? Really? Unlikely?) limit of 160 teams on the event. Which--with no fanfare whatsoever--dropped to 140 then 120. Which wasn't reached last year but turned out to be this year's magic number. The second thing I thought was that nowhere on the website does the league suggest there is--or was--a limit on participating teams. Which, if you think about it, was probably the way to go. Don't put any pressure on yourself and then whatever happens claim victory. Or success. Or that your event is sold out.
Will Chicago sell out too?
Last week I asked about the milsim aspect of scenario/big game play reiterating my take--not a big fan--not sure it's a good for paintball generally (although it's good right now for the industry's bottom line, maybe.) Anyway, not a high interest poll (which isn't a big surprise) and more interestingly I am in a very tiny minority on this one. (Of course that's because I'm always so far ahead of the curve.) 90%+ see the milsim stuff as basically harmless fantasy and just barely worth a mouse click vote. 3% see it as bad for paintball and 3% find it disrespectful and trivializing or just kinda creepy. 40% don't think the milsim stuff is a problem but also aren't interested in getting down with the milsim either. (And I'm only guessing but I'm pretty sure approximately 18% don't know what trivialize means.)
Okay, so it wasn't a rock'em sock'em poll and it didn't start an internet war with the Airsoft cadres. (I hate reading death threats in crayon anyway.) It was a good excuse to take another shot at the milsim mentality and really that's all I was looking for.
Friday, April 2, 2010
I will concede one thing: if VFTD was among the leading paintball sites online and lots of everyday paintballers got their info here I'd consider moderating my tone on occasion. However, that isn't VFTD and it's never going to be VFTD. I'm interested in competitive paintball and that's what this blog is about. (Including, occasionally, how industry and the broader paintball landscape impact competitive paintball.) And, as we are regularly reminded tourney ballers are a tiny fraction of all paintballers--ergo VFTD is highly unlikely to be unduly bringing ballers down. (Whoa, buzzkill alert.)
What I won't concede is the commonplace notion I like to call the Theory of Happy Face Paintball. You know, the feeling that if only everyone would be positive and say positive things why, pretty soon, things would turn around and really be positive. Which is fine. And to an extent, a superficial and transitory extent, it might even appear to work but what it really does is offer cover for the weasels, incompetents and the rest who are just plain mistaken. I will concede it doesn't make sense to swamp newbies with the minutiae or politics of the game and it's possible a few have dropped by and been psychologically damaged but hey, that's the internet for you. If you can find VFTD I assume you're capable of being responsible for yourself. (Yeah, that's kinda self-serving but it's not like I spend any time promoting the site.)
The fact is Happy Face Paintball never got anything accomplished. It never got a promoter to at least pretend to act responsibly and consider the players. It never pushed anybody to get serious about officiating or rules. Happy Face Paintball never held anybody accountable or told the average player what's really going on. It never started a dialogue or made anybody think. As one-sided as things may sometimes seem paintball remains in its infancy and there is a real opportunity to be a part of the game's growth and maturation.
Finally, I will confess a certain fondness for sarcasm and ridicule. But I see that as more a matter of humor than negativity. Perhaps negative humor but humor nonetheless. You might disagree. But it can be more than that, too. For example, I mock the MS in part because they've proven to be unresponsive to much of anything else but it's hard to ignore when you are relentlessly made fun of. (Even by a little old blog.) Besides, it's fun. And easy. And there's a nearly endless supply of material.
Not exactly a defense, I know, more of an explanation. And in case you were wondering if this means VFTD will make any effort to mollify the critics or reach out to the mob--that would be y'all--the answer is no. Embrace the negativity. Come over to the darkside.
This week the army is joined by Santiago and carlton. As always, welcome and thanks.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Normally I wouldn't care. In fact, I don't care now but I'm interested because the field is an unconventional design. Similar to this. And because it's coming, the unconventional field, that is. It's necessary and it's also beneficial--except for the select group of whiny little bitches who refuse the challenge. To them I say hasta la vista, bitches. There will be more unconventional fields in the future. It's inevitable so get used to it.
Let's talk about the snake first. I'm unconvinced the gap between the legs of the A offer any opportunities for effective shots and the A clearly blocks most cross field shots. Besides, the battle for the snake is going to happen in the snake. Depending on the placement of the GBs it appears likely that a player at the 50 will be able to stand and wrap the A. If so it's a very high value position. It also makes playing the temple in the corner a near necessity as a control counter.
Despite the unconventional layout the lanes otb remain conventional. The only significant difference is the option of pounding paint thru the center--which isn't a bad thing. The red lanes are a standard stack. The orange points and lanes are optional samples of different possibilities (and there's plenty of others) that are perhaps also "unconventional" and require guns up otb and movement. How good are you really at running & gunning? Guess you're gonna find out.
For those who are concerned that this layout will play defensively I think they are somewhat justified as there are characteristics here that lend themselves to defense. The bunkers identified with green are a case in point, particularly the center dorito. Some teams are going to want to play it to control snake side rotations and suppress snake 2. The same applies to the green MTs as making the bunker will not be as difficult as it may appear on the diagram. (Although a Home shooter is likely to be playing the D-side. Another factor that may push players into the center dorito.) In the end however it's the players and teams that make that call and all other things being equal defense will lose on this field.