Monday, April 4, 2011

HB Day 2: Tournament Interrupted

This post requires a short preface. I wasn't at HB on Sunday. I don't know who won. I don't care. I tuned in to ESPN3 but didn't watch even five seconds of the coverage. I am not a happy camper. (I am an enraged camper.) In part because we failed to go through on Saturday--as the defending series champions--which is a [expletive deleted] embarrassment of epic proportion but mostly because of the way we failed. (Warning: cliche imminent.) A team, any team, is only as strong as it's weakest link. [This is where everything I'd like to say, to get it off my chest if nothing else, would go except it's team business and that doesn't get aired out in a public forum.] Unfortunately we only had seven players for the event including guest Scott Kemp of the Ironmen otherwise we could have and would have made appropriate substitutions. On a positive note I'd like to thank Scott for filling in. He did everything asked of him like the pro he is. And I'd like to commend Jacob (Edwards the Younger) on stepping up and playing like a man in a totally unfamiliar role because somebody had to and he was chosen. [More stuff I shouldn't post. So, as wiser (calmer, anyway) heads prevail, I won't.]
The rest of this post will be about the scoring system, the refs and the rules. I'll cover the latest TV stuff in the Monday Poll in Review post.
Let's talk chips. Apparently one is enough (despite what the old commercials used to tell us.) Far as I know they worked as intended. Everybody had one and, as far as I know, they were installed in every gun that was used during a pro game. What was also clear was that some guns reached and maintained a higher BPS average with less effort than other guns. Were any of those guns exceeding the cap? Perhaps on occasion but I didn't hear anything that sounded either obviously or outrageously over the limit. It is less clear to me how effective the chip was in the role of policing guns for rules violations. The semi-auto rule to be specific. Some guns that may not have exceeded the BPS cap may have otherwise been ramping up to the cap.
Regarding the gun rules. There was, as I suspected, no real definition or even formula for action in place for the weekend. The intent was to notify teams of guns exceeding the limit and give them a warning--with the implicit (if not quite real) threat of actual penalties "next time" or "tomorrow." I have no idea how many teams, if any, received a warning--or were penalized on Sunday. I know we didn't receive any warnings. (And I sincerely doubt any of our guns ever got close to the BPS cap.) And if any team was penalized, and objected, I don't see how the league could justify assessing the penalty because the rules are simply insufficient as they currently stand. At best this may be a step in the right direction but it is far from a done deal.
Now for the referees. This is where I gain (no) friends and influence (no) body. The layout for HB should have been a referee's dream field. Few blocking obstructions. No confluence of props in the middle of the field. Clean lines of sight nearly everywhere and only a couple of areas on the field where the action might come fast and furious--and still the refs were only borderline competent. 95% of the calls were easy and most of those were probably made correctly. (I'ma giving them the benefit of the doubt.) But the remaining 5% reminded everyone--or should have--that problems, serious problems remain, in officiating competitive paintball and those problems can be divided into two camps. Inconsistency and a lack of a standardized routine. The inconsistency is most often seen in penalties called--and penalties not called. Guy dives into bunker, gets hit but doesn't check or call for check. Ref throws flag, penalty called. Guy runs through half the field gets blown to pieces shoots somebody with no penalty called regardless of how egregious (and obvious) the playing on might have been. Or vice versa. The point is the calling and assessing of penalties continues to be as diverse and unpredictable as the number of refs on the field. And in bunkering moves or run throughs the standard call is the simo because even with 5 refs standing around watching nobody wants to make a definitive call because nobody seems to know or want to know exactly what happened. But I can help.
Since NPPL mythology supports voluntary assistance I am volunteering to fix the reffing issues, free of charge. I will come a day early to the next event if the league will bring the refs in early as well and I will get everyone on the same page and teach them how to work together to make the instantaneous calls that are sometimes required. I will even work out the guidelines for making calls to improve consistency. Trust me, it ain't rocket science. The offer is on the table.
The new format; brackets, scoring, tie-breakers, etc. worked pretty much as predicted. It was a dreary mess that was nearly as incomprehensible to the players and teams as it must have been to the people trying to follow on ESPN3. (I explained what was happening and why to more than one team on Saturday.) Also, as predicted, 3 of the 4 prelim brackets went to tie-breakers as 3 teams in each bracket went 2-1 in their best of threes versus three opponents. The score page posted by the league was also woefully inadequate as it simply showed set wins and losses and never explained why one team or another either moved on or didn't. It may be possible to argue that the new format is an improvement or at least no worse than the old format but the results, and the way they were reported (or explained) (or not explained) (or posted) (or not posted) currently isn't serving the interests of the league or, it seems to me, outreach to a new TV market of potential fans who don't already know the game.
[For those who watched how did Matty do explaining the brackets and the results?]
Lastly, the boom camera. Snake side. Has got to go or the operator has to use some common sense or have some guidelines devised for its use. As it played out over the weekend it bird-dogged players all weekend long, frequently giving away positions in the snake to players otherwise unaware. Think sideline coaching. It was effectively the same thing, except worse. The operator could, if so inclined, tilt the game balance by pointing out some players in the snake and not others. Did that happen? Yes. Was it on purpose? I don't know.
In the small frame of competitive paintball HB was a marginal event; no better and probably no worse than lots of other events. In the Big Picture of the league's future with ESPN (or TV in general) the jury is still out.


Don Saavedra said...

You were, apparently, so pissed you publicly snubbed me. But I didn't take it personally after I was done crying and cursing your name.

OVR Paintball said...

These have been problem in paintball for years now. This is nothing new why so much anger and hate now?

I'm pretty sure the dude working the camera on the boom was not trying to give on positions. lol. The angles that they did get were VERY good for people new to paintball, it gave them perfect views of what players could see from the snake. Although it does suck for the other team, that I totally agree with you on. Back in 04 or 05? When the NXL was on ESPN they had a boom and it worked very well. But it was only on the corner players.

J-Bird said...

i loved the boom on tv. it was great (i can see where it sucks for you guys, but oh well -- if this becomes a spectator sport, you're in the business of serving me).

the cast was pretty good, having a snake dominant field was nice because it gave a decent flow of dramatic action and an idea of who was actually GOOD in the snake vs who was so-so; i want to go back and watch some true xball matches to see how i like them vs. race-2 and 7 man

Anonymous said...

Sounds like some guys were too hungover to play

Monkey with a gun said...

Paul if your going to get mad at any one for the boom, then you only need to yell at me and me only... I was directing the boom man at all times, telling him where to go and not to go. Seeing as we did it the whole time, in all fairness it evened out the playing field and we only did it when they where in the notches (snake 1 and 2) beyond that we backed off and let the player sneak down the snake. We really needed to get those shots of the players perspective to help bring that home to the viewer.


Anonymous said...


You did an AWSOME job with the boom guy. Keep up the insane POV angels. This is MUCH needed for the people at home.

Paul, your guys played great as usual. You win some, and you lose some. Take it in stride!

nickgibson said...

matty and co. did a great job announcing the west coast bias was kinda bad though. Nothing but love for damage but still not alot of respect for the returning champs. Also it seemed like matty was pretty confused by the whole scoring system and how the tie breakers worked. Which i felt was unfortunate because i personally have tried to get it and still dont know why yall ( yes I am from north florida so I am biased) didnt make it to sunday. I thought the play by play and color was really good i wish todd wouldve been a little more colorful because he isone of the most entertaining people on the planet

nickgibson said...

Oh and pat I thought the camera work was by far the best thing ive seen done with whole game footage much less live paintball

houdini said...

I managed to catch the ESPN3 coverage and it was pretty decent. Pity it wasn't HD as you really couldn't see the paint. They didn't really have score graphics which would have helped.
The commentators did their best to explain some of the terminology they were using (not that I think non-paintball playing public tuned in) and amazingly no one swore!!!

As for the ref calls I agree - there were a few inconsistent calls when guys were doing run throughs with hits...

Mike said...

I'm going to agree with everyone else - the boom views were a highlight of a very VERY well done webcast by ESPN (in my opinion). Never seen those angles before and they were as cool to experienced players as they probably were to new viewers (if there were any).

Mark790.06 said...

The footage was good, good enough to see the reffing issues you mentioned. On Sunday though (watching on and off) I never saw anything but repeats of Saturdays games.

Anonymous said...

Matty did a horrible job explaining the scoring. Not because he didn't explain it, but because every single thing he said was wrong. He kept saying games could be won on bodies. He let JRab say that in a tie, the team that played the fewest games moves on. Apparently no one told him what the actual rules were.

In fairness to Matty, I'm not sure much of anyone knew what the actual rules were, and I still don't know why Dynasty advanced to Sunday and BLAST didn't. I suspect I know, and I suspect it has nothing to do with what the rules said.

NPPL always half-asses the competition though, so I'm not sure why anyone would be susprised that they have again half-assed the competition.

I wonder what ESPN thought on Saturday evening when they were asking who advanced to Sunday and the league they were filming didn't know.

Monkey with a gun said...

Thanks guys! and yes every thing was shot in HD. We did have some technical issues with the scoreboard on Saturday and we had it fix by end of the day. Sunday it was working and in full affect. As far as Matty goes I would kill for that guy! He is one if not the most talented on the spot commentator we have in this sport. Trust me Matty was dealing with a lot of issues the whole time and kept it together just like the pro he is. Here is a Tip: Hopefully webcasting will continue in paintball, if thats the case you will see a lot more of Matty, So for you east coast teams that Matty may not know to well. Next time you see him pull him aside and tell him your story tell him who you just pick up tell him that you had to sell your blood to buy your plane ticket here. Trust me he would love to have as much info that he can compile for every team. It's just a big job to try and chase everyone down.


Anonymous said...

I was Impressed with the Coverage. Nothing like seeing live paintball on the 55" plasma, its deffinantly something I could get used too.

Baca Loco said...

Sorry, buddy. If it's any consolation I also (unintentionally) propelled a bikini bimbo and some rude cow off the plywood walkway into the sand.

You misunderstand. The rage is aimed at the failure to perform. That other stuff is just a follow up on what I've been talking about with respect to the event for a couple of weeks prior.

Anon #1
Nope. Strictly an attitude and selfish thing. What really separates the men from the boys is the mental game.

I understand and appreciate your willingness to take the heat--but, it was something the teams and players noticed immediately and we used the camera position to keep track of snake players when we weren't sure.
For example, in our last game Bryan dipped into the snake with none of X-Factor the wiser. We were down bodies after the penalty and Bryan moved to snake 50 (the cake). He took a quick look to see if he had shots on the two guys crossfield. He didn't. He checked his hopper, grabbed a pod to reload so when he went to do their snake player he would be good to go. As he's reloading the boom sweeps down until the camera is with a couple feet of his face. As soon as he sees it the snake corner for X-Factor starts screaming, "There's a guy in the snake 50!" and that killed our last chance to pull that game out. To be fair, as I said, we used the camera position all day to keep track of guys too.
I wish there was another way to get those shots though because the boom is a dead giveaway.

Anon #2
I sincerely appreciate the kind words. However, the issue in HB was nothing new nor was it universal. Some of the guys played very well, some didn't.

Scoring: the first tie-breaker is head-to-head which doesn't apply because the scenario will always see 3 teams tied. Next is average score--although that's not how it's described in the rules--that's still what it amounts to.
In Blast's case they, Dynasty and Shock all went 2-1. Blast beat Dynasty, Dynasty beat Shock and Shock beat Blast. Dynasty and Shock played 6 total games either winning or losing in two straight. Blast went three games in winning against Xplicit for a total of seven games played--and an extra loss so that when average score was calculated they came third among the three teams tied. Same for us and Avalanche on Friday.
Hope that helps. ;-)

Monkey with a gun said...

maybe we as a group could come up with some kind of protocol as to when the boom arm could get in tight. for example tight shots are off limits until a player has fired is gun for a determined time in that position. By then the team should have a good idea that the snake is hot??? or X's the boom all together...

sorry I f#$k you guys, that was not my intention at all and I do see your point. I would have been mad too.


Mike said...

As a viewer/fan I can say the boom angles were effective even when it was extended vertically and the shots were from above/afar. So I'd say a "boom protocol" could be very effective and is a great idea.

Anonymous said...

How about you don't use a boom at all, or just keep the camera back about 15' from the player but shoot the same line? I would have to suspect the cameras have some sort of zoom ability.

Neal said...

Use a dolly track and a small jib ?

nickgibson said...

thanks baca that helps it doesnt make sense to me but at least I get the crazy logic behind it.

Once again pat the games looked great especially on friday. And make another movie sir yours are still the highlight of my dvd collection.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to point out that if you have coaching, where the cameras are doesn't really matter.

Score one more win for TV and XBall.

Mike said...

On the D side players would know when a rush was coming by listning to the crowd.
I saw a couple of Damage games and was bummed they didn't make it.As a puppet army fan I'd come to admire them a bit (even though I'm an L.A. dude) and was looking forward to watching them play.
But their is always the glorious return......