Nothing fancy this year. Nothing provocative. No MLP on Suicide Watch or something similarly dramatic. At this point everyone who is interested understands, more or less, the lay of the land. If anything those of us who compete at the major league level may be more in need of the occasional reminder to work hard, play hard & have fun. Don't ignore reality but also don't get swept up in the swirling negativity that will rob you of your fun if you let it. (No, no one has hacked the blog. This is the real Baca Loco.) Don't think for a minute though that means I'm letting any of the MLP peeps off the hook. As usual you will get as much of the Big Picture as I can cram down your throats and it won't always be pretty, unlike the Paris Longchamps venue.
PSP--Whatever happens it won't be from a lack of effort. Due primarily to the virtual utter collapse of industry support the league was confronted with a real quandary. [The issue with industry isn't only that many smaller members no longer show up except perhaps to World Cup but also that the value of participating is being constantly reexamined. As a practical matter what that has meant in recent years is that even if Company A shows up they may only being paying a fraction of what they once paid to attend.] How then does the PSP continue to operate and offer the best competitive events possible when their annual budgets keep shrinking. The results weren't only geared to the short term but to a plan to ensure ongoing long term survival. As everyone should be aware by now changes included prizes, entry prices, letting staff go, reducing salaries, new series prizes, pre-pay annual discounts, new venues, more discount deals with hotels, airlines, etc. plus a fistful of rule changes intended to broaden the appeal of playing the PSP. And I'm sure I left something out. As of today there are 109 teams registered with 75 in the various Race 2 X categories. The jury is still out.
NPPL--Had their venues and dates set early. They are unchanged from 2010 and that's not a bad thing. Both the DC (at Pev's) and Chicago (at CPX) events are somewhat isolated but the venues themselves provide a quality playing environment. It would be hard for HB to be any more public and short of dancing showgirls, wrestling midgets and an open bar with a spectacular view the Vegas event is competing with a lot of other "entertainment" options. The real draw is playing in Vegas only a block (or two) off The Strip. Registration is now open but there isn't yet any general access (that I could find) to a teams list. Entry fees for 2011 are mostly up a little bit and the divisional options have been reduced by one as there is no longer a D3 5-man division. The NPPL has also offered annual pre-pay discounts, airline discounts and a plethora of hotel discounts under the banner of Stay, Play & Save. The bottom line of S,P & S is that teams wishing to participate must stay in one of the recommended hotels. (If I were you I would expect this one to spread to the rest of the MLP.) You see the dealio is all the discount accommodations kick back a little somp'in sompthin to the organizers and the more volume the better. And as long as the discounts are real everybody wins--but for obvious reasons they prefer not to talk about it. The one notable rule change remains capped semi-auto but still no word on enforcement. (Deja vu all over again) And there is also the question of what the pro division format will be this coming season. Will it stay the same or include some elements of S7 (best of 3) used on Sundays?
Last and not least, X3 announced the solid rumor that HB will be broadcast on ESPN a couple days ago. As this is the sorta thing I'm outta the loop on all I can tell you today is that it will be ESPN3 and that the details of the deal have been or are about to be finalized.
The Millennium Series--Opens the season in the first of two Paris venues, Paris Longchamps, which looks to be a terrific place to hold a major league paintball event. (The other is Paris Disney which is considerably less Paris than the Longchamps location.) Registration is open but last I checked none of the locked division teams were being displayed and I suspect negotiations are ongoing with teams throughout the locked divisions in an effort to shore up lost numbers beginning with the CPL. In fact the MS contacted my team to inquire about our interest in a CPL slot. The discussion broke down over roster exemptions given that the MS scheduled their German event on top of the NPPL's Chicago event and we simply don't have the personnel to make a proper showing at both simultaneously. Does that mean the CPL isn't as big a concern as one might have thought? I don't know. Currently on the top of the MS news is the announcement of 2 teams making the move to D1 (outside the regular promotion system) and I suspect we will see more of those announcements in the coming days.
For additional Mills info on the 2011 season check here (or down the Home page a ways of the MS site.)
As for The Grand Tour there is no 2011 event information posted yet but if you'd like a DVD covering the 2010 season you can order direct.