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.