Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mailbag Extra: NPPL Drops Format Bomb!

With the recent announcement by the NPPL that they are converting to Race2 for professional matches, and adding what they term as Millennium 5-man divisions, do you see this as:1) an attempt to offer a similar format as PSP, in the hope of a "smooth" transition in a future merger?
2) an attempt to offer enough formats to satisfy all tournament players, with the goal of stealing PSP market share?
In my mind, it has to be one or the other, or am I missing something?

Re: question #1: That's very sweet and naive.  And it will be the correct answer the same day Vegans vote unanimously that their favorite fast food is JackInTheBox.

Re: question #2: In some senses I almost find this one hard to credit as well because I am initially unconvinced that much thought went into this decision. Even so I think it has to be viewed, in part, as a direct challenge to the PSP whether that was intended or not. (Nor would it surprise me to see the PSP respond in kind or at least use their left over scheduling flexibility to best effect.)

I know those probably aren't the most satisfactory answers but there's still a lot of necessary information missing before this move can be fairly judged. Things like what will the prelims look like? How will Sunday play proceed? Will the fields all still comply with current NPPL design characteristics, etc.? Will there be time limit? How will it work? Without this sort of info it's impossible to adequately project how this might work out.
However, given what we do know there are some, if not conclusions to be drawn, pitfalls that might arise. How much paint will the Pro teams shoot under this formula? (Contrary to popular belief many of them have marginal sponsorships.) Will they severely limit the prelims in order to split the difference? (Something like the Millennium currently do where teams only play 3 matches in the prelims. In which the scoring becomes matches won--which will frequently end in ties and come down to the plus/minus ratio of points scored to determine who moves on. A variant of the system that was both confusing and unsatisfactory in HB last year.) Will the return of Semi-Pro be a mixed division with D1 or an attempt to revive a separate division? Will the new formats cost more in entries? Will the offer of 5-man Xball Lite prove to be direct competition with traditional 7-man among the am teams? There are dozens of similar questions but you get the idea, I'm sure.

And then there the issues that prior experience suggest might arise. How will the format changes be reflected in the rule book? (If the NPPL can't produce an adequate rule book for 7-man can they be expected to deliver one that covers multiple formats?) Format changes don't change a registration and ID system that only function as a revenue stream for the league and they don't instantly improve the officiating. In fact they put more stress on both those factors. And then there's scheduling and field prep requirements? How many more fields will it take? The league was running 12 hour days in Vegas trying to get in all the scheduled games for much less time intensive formats. With 3 fields in Vegas the quality of the carpets was noticeably diminished--the fields looked like green quilts. How many more fields will the league need? How many more refs will it take? Does the league have any idea if they can effectively run Race 2 on 7-man style fields?
The bottom line is format changes don't fix the endemic problems. All the NPPL has done so far with this announcement is confirm that they too believe their prior format was lacking--at least when it comes to the Pros and the 5-man teams.


CadeX said...

Dear NPPL,
Please don’t ruin a format that I enjoy just because you want to try something new… Just because you have the ability to offer the format might not mean that you have the structure to supply the format properly. My fear is that your ‘Race-To’ delivery will be sub-par and not only reflect poorly on your league but also damage a solid format that others have spent time and money to refine.

Vijil said...

Yeesh... this makes things interesting. Not sure entirely what to make of it. Does it mean the NPPL are working with the Millenium or have some kind of arrangement? Does it mean the NPPL are sorting themselves out and getting a more long term view?

Will it kill the NPPL?

Full Bore said...

"[And there's the small matter of the Millennium no longer offering the M5 division--Race 2-2 that NPPL are assigning to D4 5-man. It was only played in Germany in 2011 and isn't on the 2012 schedule. Details, I know.]"

FYI, MS Div 3 is Race to 2 (as played by JRab & Little Leif in Paris) M5 5-man (single games in a grouped round robin) is the format that was only played in Germany, I'm guessing German teams dug their heels in and refused to be 'upgraded' to a multiple point format - as many teams were this year, either from their original M5 entry applications, or from D3 to D2 race to 4.

Just saying.

Baca Loco said...

You're over-thinking this. Of course the NPPL isn't working with the MS.

Not even close. All they are thinking about now is winning.

And the reason they are calling their Race 2 Millennium-style is because they intend to run 4 teams on a field at a time. Team A plays a point versus team B. Then team C plays team D. Then A & B come back out for another point and so on. What it is not is Race 2 the way most North American players think of Race 2. Or so it would seem from what Frank said over at PBN's NPPL forum.

sdawg said...

I thought that this e-mail as a joke at first. Second thought was that Baca's head was popping off. Third thought is: isn't X-ball a trademarked name or something, meaning the original inventor granted the right to use that term?

Seeing as how 1) raceto teams seems pretty much in favor of the PSP (for all the reasons discussed; and 2) the NPPL can barely draw enough 7-man "traditional" teams in recent years, it seems like the most likely outcome is that the race-to format is dropped from lack of participation after the first event.

7-man race-to in pro seems designed to bankrupt teams.

Baca Loco said...

Full Bore
Fair enough. D3 only plays Race 2-4 in the finals.

Baca Loco said...

No head popping. Maybe I'm amazed, but ... :)

Xball as a trademark name belongs to Richmond Italia, I think. Which is one reason the PSP changed their game to Race 2.

Anonymous said...

The NPPL is working with the MS....FYI

Anonymous said...

Hmmm to pull this off... extra cash has been found... the word xball being used.. throw in italia as cash cow and new paint sponsor... as in most things we see today.. cant make a good one ..steel it or make a good copy... this sherly clouds the water (dont call me sherly)

CadeX said...

I wish the NPPL luck, but I hope they are not spreading themselves too thin in terms of formats and their ability to deliver quality matches to their paying customers.

I was a little taken back by the NPPL's ability to release a full schedule so quickly after merger talks ended. (No biggie, just seemed like they were more focused on next year then locking down a deal. (Outsiders View))

Maybe conversations about format adoption were part of the merger talks, but if not, to disseminate a press release stating that you’re going to offer the competitions format seems insulting.

Anonymous said...

*sits back with popcorn*
im going to go out on a limb and say this is the end for the NPPL. no way they can produce a quality race-2 event imo.

Don Saavedra said...

We know "XBall" is tm'ed... but surely Race2 and it's variants were as well.

Right? I mean, who would go and invent a name/logo and not get it protected as Intellectual Property?

Devon Stuart said...

Any word from insiders on how they will choose to run these race to 5 and 4 matches? Will each game still have a time limit of 7 min or will each match have a time limit? I can't imagine these matches possibly being under an hour in total time. One thing is for sure, operating costs for the NPPL are about to double, or more. I wonder how long they can afford to keep events like this running.

Anonymous said...

"Right? I mean, who would go and invent a name/logo and not get it protected as Intellectual Property?"

Hyrbid rings a bell....

Don Saavedra said...

It was a rhetorical question, but I see you got my point.

Baca Loco said...

Wasn't Hybrid's problem that they A) used protected images in some of their products, and, B) Their Chinese factory was over-producing and selling out the backdoor? (That's the way I remember it, anyway.)

I don't know about times or clocks. It seems the field will be altered though (shorter and wider) and that the matches will be played two at a time--which is a Millennium practice. (Teams A & B alternate playing points with teams C & D.)

Full Bore said...

Baca Loco said...

"Full Bore
Fair enough. D3 only plays Race 2-4 in the finals."

Nope, still race to 2 :)

Anonymous said...


If my memory serves correct. Hybrids main problem was Kee had the Hybrid name trademarked. As for the factory over producing. I would venture to guess Hybrid was over projecting and couldn't foot the bill.

As for format changes.... just another year of tournament paintball.

Anonymous said...

seems like a logistical nightmare if they are changing the field lengths for 5 man

Baca Loco said...

Full Bore
From the Millennium website's description of D3 "The top four teams will qualify for the semifinals and finals.The final games only (games for 3rd and 1st place) will be played in R:4 format, to give the top teams of Division 3 a taste of Division 2 atmosphere in order to bridge the gap between these categories. Division 3 will play Saturday and Sunday only."
My shorthand point was that I made an assumption about what the NPPL intend based on an incomplete review of what the Millennium currently does.

Probably. But what was happening was their Chinese manufacturer was selling Suicide shells independent of Hybrid out the backdoor. They weren't knock-offs, they were literally the real deal, only bypassing the company it belonged to.

Other Anon
I think the field size change will be across the board but I can't confirm that.

Full Bore said...

I think you got me on that, whatever NPPL come up with its bound to be a complete hash up, one of the reasons MS actually works is that they have pretty darn good officiating. Personally, I didn't see a really bad call across all four fields on Paris but I did see a couple of misjudgements corrected instantly by one field ultimate.