Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Last Word On Merger Madness

Okay, probably not really the last word but hopefully the last for a while. Mostly I wanted to reiterate a couple of past comments on this subject. First, a prediction: If the merger results in a format change it will take about three weeks for new state and regional leagues to pop into existence offering Race 2 variants and perhaps six months after that for some of those leagues, plus some of the ones already operating, to plan on a cooperative national championship event to be held wherever. Nature abhors a vacuum and if the mergents, in their collective wisdom, move away form the most popular format functioning today somebody else will make sure it's available. (Yes, mergents is a made up word. It means those participating in a merger.) And since the local and regional level can offer the format for considerably less cheddar than the national league those lower level leagues will instantly cannibalize some significant percentage of the divisional teams.
One reason that will prove to be true--should those conditions emerge--is because everyone who claims they don't care about the format is either a liar or a poseur, or both. Now there surely are a few players and/or teams prepared to go with whatever format but that doesn't mean they don't have a preference--it just means they are unwilling to admit it.
Then of course there's the fact none of this would even reach the discussion stage if the Industry could police itself. Virtually all the impetus to make this happen comes from a collective that can't seem to make a decision either individually or collectively as to where their actual interests lie. They say they want one league to support but that's a red herring, a blue mackerel even. Nobody has ever put a marker to any of their heads and forced them to support anything. And a merger of the NPPL & PSP does not, I repeat, does not, guarantee that there will only and ever be only one national league. At some point the Industry has to decide who and what they will support (or won't support) and it isn't the leagues, either one of them, that put the Industry in that position--it is their fellow industry members and their own intransigence. In essence the Industry is pressing for the merger in the hope one league will protect them from themselves. (Until another league, or leagues, come along and then it's right back where we started.)
Those of you who have been around long enough will know that I'm not a big supporter of the Race 2 format. That, in fact, each time Xball was watered down I railed (even "raehled") against those changes and would love to see something more like Xball return. Nor, despite some of the naysayers, do I dislike or disdain 7-man. (I've coached teams to series championships in both Semi-Pro & Pro in the NPPL.) Personally, I'm content to see two national leagues. I understand and sympathize with the aspirations of the pro team owners in the NPPL. The fact that I comment on the weaknesses and/or failures of one or the other league only means I'd like to see them get better and deliver a superior service to all the competitors. However, at this stage, if there is to be only one national North American league it makes zero sense to insist on some 7-man variant as the format. Look at the rest of the world. If Xball Lite has been good for anything its real claim to fame is that it has largely united the competitive paintball world. It would be foolish to move away from it now or make it even more difficult to compete. 7-man xball? Really? How big will that field need to be? Look at the chaos and ruckus adding twenty feet to the PSP field length caused last year. Are we in for a repeat performance of that? My point is simple. For better or worse the world plays Race 2. And so does most of North America and that is what the vast majority of fields that cater to competitive players is set-up to offer. It makes no sense to kowtow to the wishes and egos of a handful of team owners in order to effect a merger that will not, cannot, do what the Industry that is pushing for it wants.

Merge. Don't merge. Whatever. Try not to screw it up for everybody else.

World Cup field posts & practice coming next. (I didn't forget.)


Anonymous said...

Honest question Baca. Hopefully you can answer this,

What if you said this in person to the PSP owners? Are they just too stubborn to listen to you or have you stepped on too many toes by writing this blog over the years and earlier in the print publishing?

Almost always you say stuff that makes logical sense, still it seems sometimes that you write to a brick wall that is more focused to ignore you than to talk back.

To be 100% frank, you are the only coach in the pro circuit who even talks over the internet to us mere peons who watch this blog religiously. And as of last WC you are a world cup winning coach who talks with peons over the internet. That alone, is pretty epic.

Why in the hell these are so hard concepts to the league owners?

Anonymous said...

What's the difference then when we moved from 15-man to 10-man? Then from the woods to airball. Then from 10-man, to 7-man AND x-ball. It's not like fields aren't used to evolving/changing. I think the players actually like change in formats from time to time. Maybe it's helping keep the game fresh.

Anonymous said...

Damn I wish you would stop using those big words so I could know whether I like what you said or don't like what you said.
I do know that if you refer to me as an "intransigence" again, we're gonna go a round or two in the parking lot next time I see you. I may dress badly, but not like a woman.
Go Jaguars ;)

Baca Loco said...

Anon #1--if any of this was "aimed" at anyone it wasn't the PSP owners. All the changing formats, 7-man talk comes from the NPPL side. And in fact I have talked to PSP peeps and the NPPL kids keep an eye on the blog so they aren't unaware of my views--though they seem generally not to like them very much. ;-)

As for the rest, I enjoy paintball. I like talking about it and it isn't hard for me, usually, to find enough time to write about it a few times a week.

Anon #2--I almost don't know how to respond to this level of silliness. A) the majority of people don't like change whether it be paintball or anything else. B) paintball in the competitive realm tends to have short "generations" of competitors and most of today's players don't know 10-man from a hole in the ground much less 15 or woods tournies. C) the transition from 10-man to Xball was a brutal one in terms of participation. The last year of exclusively 10-man saw over 400 teams at WC that year. The Xball brand has yet to reach those levels. And a fair case can be made that 7-man worked well early on because of the large number of disaffected 10-man players who had nowhere else to go. And, of course, a small group are stubbornly clinging to any vestige of 7-man they can even as they turn it into something closer to Race 2 every day. Human nature, history, paintball history and the present format debate all work against your premise.

Anon #3--I have pictures. You can deny it all you like.

Anonymous said...

From what I picked up over the weekend it seemed that common sense was prevailing in the merger talks, and I thought that the proposed compromise was extremely promising, if not 100% complete.
Competent people were trying to reach a fair and reasonable solution that offers the product the players want.

I felt very positive after the Cup about a merge that would provide a solid platform moving forward. My fingers remain crossed, although as always - the Devil is in the Detail.

Brad Johnson said...

I think you have summed it up with this statement
"In essence the Industry is pressing for the merger in the hope one league will protect them from themselves."

Reiner Schafer said...

I agree Brad. I think that is very insightful. The industry can't organize itself. They are spreading themselves thin trying to keep two leagues happy, but really can't afford to do so, so they hope a merger will solve that problem for them.

But as Baca has said, a merger won't guarantee one single national league. As soon as a second viable league pops up, the industry will once again be forced to split their resources, as competition in the marketplace tends to do.

Of course this is only so because there is no one single competitive paintball format. Right now, NPPL and PSP are almost like two different sports, so both get attention from gear and paintball manufacturers. If they were both the same format, one would most likely have succeeded over the other at some point and we would naturally only have one national league, just like virtually every other professional sport. Major League Baseball is an exception, but in reality, since they play for the World Series, they are more like two separate divisions who come together to play against one another in the final.

Anonymous said...

No offense to the 7-Man people, but "7-man" or "NPPL's 0-100 point style" more resembles a game while RaceTo/xball lite/xball more resembles a sport.

Seriously, teams have enough issues getting players as it is. I have no clue how a RaceTo 7-man format is supposed to help that. Seems like you're going to need an old xball sized roster to work that out... which in that case, go back to 5-man xball.

Every poll on the purposed format change either has current 5-Man Race-To winning majority, or wining by plurality. Hopefully if there is a merger, they don't completely ignore that fact. Or simply the fact that most leagues around the world play 5-man xball or RaceTo.

Don Saavedra said...

All I can say about the format discussion is that this past weekend's CXBL finals game reminded me of just how boring "real Xball" is to watch.

Mike said...

I hope that was sarcastic Don. Real X-ball is an outstanding format and lives strong in Canada. The pros love it too - proven by the #s who come up to guest with teams and play it. It's also more paintball to watch so in my mind far more exciting.

Baca - out of curiosity which semi-pro NPPL team did you coach to a series title?

Missy Q said...

I'm with Don, 50 minutes? 2 x 25 minute halves? It was too much, and got real stale real quick for me. I thought the race 2 format was more exciting, as there's always a chance that the losing team can turn it around. If an xball game is 11-2, and there's 5 minutes left, whats the point of watching it (or even playing it), to the end? That's what the CXBL final was like, the last few minutes of the game, rather than being climactic, where just pointless.
btw. Most of ehe US guys go to play CXBL because they don't have to pay their own way.

Anonymous said...

Mark said:
If I recall, some of the old NXL finals matches (Two halves of 25 minutes) were played as a best of 3. You wanna talk about monotonous paintball?

Baca Loco said...

Don't hate the game, hate the players. The quality of xball play is directly correlated to the quality of the players playing and the field layout's potential to offer diverse tactics. Mismatches happen. The Saints beat the Colts last week 62-7. Does that mean the NFL sucks?

Raiders in '06. Same year Impact & Arsenal earned their NPPL pro spots.

I think the '05 season was the last time it was best 2 of 3. After that NXL was opened to non-franchise teams and each event had a winner. Before that NXL teams were playing matches for season record and seeding at WC.

raehl said...

Ah, the familiar NFL analogy.

The Saints and Colts have a stadium full of ticket-buying fans, a couple hours of TV time to fill, and don't have to pay a paint bill at the end of the tournament.

Playing 30 minutes of paintball against one opponent is just plain inferior to playing 15 minutes of paintball against two opponents.

Baca Loco said...

Geez Chris
None of which is relevant to my reply to Don's original claim from a sample of one CXBL game. My point was simply that one doesn't reasonably discredit a game, its rules, etc. based on a very limited sample or outlier results.
I could as easily say the same about Race 2 7 after watching Dynasty in the prelims; 7-0, 7-0, 7-0 & 7-3. Boring, boring, boring.

Nobody said anything about better or worse and no comparisons to other formats or variants of competitive paintball were made. Try to stay on topic. :-)

Missy Q said...

You could potentially say the same thing about Dynasty at the cup, but you'd be wrong, based on the fact that if I watched that play out in an Xball format it would have stolen 3 hours of my life, instead of about 30 minutes. In race to, if a team is outmatched, the game ends quicker (after just 7 points, or 5, or whatever). Hence it's a more merciful format for both the people who watch and the team that's having no fun whatsoever.

Don Saavedra said...

Baca, my sample size is much more than just one game. The CXBL Final was a reminder, as you will see if you re-read my post. I thought "X-ball" was boring back in the day as well. Sort of like seeing Run Lola Run but without the cute German chick...

Also, I was clear to say that it was boring to watch. I really don't care, as a spectator, who likes playing it or where they go to do so. It lacks the immediate drama and urgency of RaceTo, and you can say the same for the Major sports if you like analogies. Nobody cares about Baseball until the playoffs, people tend to tune in to the 4th quarter of basketball games, and people turn boring football games off all the time.

Baca Loco said...

My point, Don, was I could as easily say I've seen and been part of some extraordinary traditional Xball games too. Doesn't mean there haven't been boring matches too. And the object of bringing in other, established sports, is to suggest that the same things afflict them from time to time too. And clearly, if "everybody" or "nobody" behaved as you claim there wouldn't be any big time pro sports anymore.

Anonymous said...

What about RaceTo-7 through prelims and then a finals match that's just a 20min match/ raceTo-unlimited? The leagues and teams get to save money, then generally speaking the best two teams would play a close/exciting xball-lite match for 1st/2nd.

I actually concur with the monotony of full xball matches. They're fun as hell to play, but watching a spanking for 60 mins is no bueno. And even when it's closer, my attention span still drops. I'd rather see 2-3 different matches with different players/teams style of play.

I really think the current RaceTo-7 format is a pretty good compromise for both the players and spectators. I enjoyed watching just about every single match the PSP webcasted at Cup, except the 7-0 games. I'm very glad those didn't have to go on for a longer period of time. I think the current format is a great webcast friendly format. Especially mixed with Pats crew and Mattys enthusiasm for the game/sport/whatever you wanna call it.