I don't have anything new on the merger (Kaboom!) front but when has that stopped me before? If, in fact, this signals the end of serious talks about a merger for the foreseeable future--and there seems little doubt that it does--then a post mortem is in order. And if it's all some sort of misunderstanding--I didn't know she was your wife when she stepped out of my shower--we can consider it just another one of those wacky Vegas misadventures along the rocky road to happiness--but it's not. But seriously, odds are, given the rumors exploding last weekend in Vegas, and the sudden posting of an HB event schedule for 2012 it sure sounds like everything went Kaboom! So what happens now? Is top flight national competition paintball in trouble? And what about some of the reported rumors? And how does the sale of Procaps effect national level competitive paintball, if at all?
While I'm not privvy to any first person insider info--go figure--I think there are a few reasonable conclusions that can be drawn (and I'm willing to climb out on a limb and offer a few up.) Back in September I posted a couple of merger-related posts. The first one, Merger Counterfactual, addressed the possibilities of what happens if there is or isn't a merger. I stand by that post and have a rumor or two to toss into the pot as I go all in. In Monday's post I alluded to the rumor that KEE was threatening a hard line with its sponsored teams if there was no merger. A hard line that favors the PSP. (There's even been some talk of a united industry--minus PE--determined to break the 2 league sponsorship cycle--but color me skeptical of that one.) If true that would mean KEE would likely pressure teams like Dynasty, Infamous and XSV to abandon the NPPL. (Of course the reverse could also be true but that isn't the way the rumors were flying.) And think of all the teams shooting Axes & RPS paint. That doesn't paint a pretty picture for the NPPL's future success.
Merger Machinations was also posted in September. In that post I identified some impediments to the merger I believed to be accurate. (And I've had no reason or received any info to suggest otherwise since.) Admittedly there are more current rumors but only the folks in the room discussing the merger know what actually happened and why and I would be very surprised (shocked actually) if the whole process wasn't covered by non-disclosure agreements. [I use them with some regularity and while not foolproof non-disclosures provide some extra legal protections again sensitive or proprietary information being leaked.] That is however just a supposition on my part. That said all the "insider" rumors about the meeting are coming from one side; the NPPL side.
What's perhaps more interesting than speculating about exactly what happened is speculating about what will happen next. Rumorology has suggested (for some time now) that there will be more events next season--rumor says 5 but who knows, is back to the old schedule of 6 events possible? I would guess not but that would only be a guess. Further I would expect the PSP to maintain the status quo when it comes to rules and format and such. After a reputedly successful 2011 (and the general playership aversion to change) a little continuity would likely prove quite popular. (Although a return to the shorter field might be change everyone could appreciate--and would help reverse the more paint, fewer points trend of 2011.) And then there's the sale of Procaps. Richmond has always flagshipped his paint brand with high visibility sponsorships--the current GI Sportz line-up for example--and there's no reason to imagine that will change. The question really is--will DraXXus be retained as a separate brand line (that incidentally ends up competing with GI) or will Procaps be subsumed into GI? And what happens to DraXXus sponsored teams as a result? Does GI spread the wealth and go with the numbers or focus their resources on a few well chosen teams? (Last year, KEE picked up a number of teams on the relative cheap with their Axes & RPS deals because there wasn't any real alternatives available.) Will the Procaps sale force further belt tightening and if it does what will that mean? In the Pro division it will likely mean a number of the NPPL only Pro teams won't have any real option about where they play; it will be NPPL or nothing.
And then there are the players. How many players play for multiple teams? How many teams are made up largely of players who also play elsewhere? Back in the day the NXL attempted to restrict player movement and I can imagine a time, in the not so distant future, when that becomes a more viable policy. When the NXL tried to restrict player movement there was too much money and too many options available to make it stick but that isn't the paintball universe of today.
Recently the league wars have been relatively mild low grade conflicts, schoolyard pissing contests if you will, but if the industry really does pick a side will it signal a heating up of the war? In the aftermath of whatever caused the merger to fail are there hard feelings, bruised egos and bitter recriminations? Frankly that's the stuff of paintball wars past--will it be the basis for a hot war going forward?
So many questions. So much unknown and/or uncertain going forward. At least there will be something to talk about over the winter.