Thursday, March 31, 2011

KEE Feasts on Smart Parts Intellectual Corpse

Who saw that one coming? (Yes, kids, that was sarcasm.) For the official statement and the usual PBN incoherency look here. Other sources are the Big Bullet & ProPaintball. Are you digging the title? Me too. The first and last time the "F" word will appear in a VFTD post. I don't know about you but I'd love to see the licensing letter KEE sends to GOG Paintball. (I know I shouldn't but I just can't help myself.)

The Chip continued, or

How I learned to love the NPPL.
Mr. Curious has been scouring dark alleys and putting his ear against moldy walls in cheap motels desperate for the rest of the story. The Chip Story, that is. It didn't help but a couple of timely emails did help sort things out a little bit more. It seems some of the ownership teams were out of the loop when NPPL Supreme Command made the decision to install the chips prior to Huntington Beach. (And is likely responsible for some of the leaks and surprise expressed by some.) It also seems that the current idea of enforcement from the Supreme Command's brain trust is to adjust markers with the chips installed to a monitored 15 BPS limit and assume that because the guns can be monitored that no one will alter their gun's function.

But VFTD continues to ask what if some team or even player challenges the league to enforce the gun rules during the event. What then? There is nothing (known to VFTD) in place for handling such a situation. Perhaps a quiet word about turning the guns back down. Or, you know, we know your guns were doing 20 BPS OTB. Best not do that anymore. Or maybe retroactive penalties after games have been played? Nor is there yet a real definition for what constitutes a violation of the 15 BPS cap as monitored by The Chip. What happens when the gun rules are challenged and nobody can give a clear, defensible explanation of how the chip monitoring translates into fair enforcement?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

NPPL Pro Brackets: Scoring

Not only does the new NPPL Pro format invest one third of its schedule in games that are "play if necessary" but with the brackets of 4 teams in each of four brackets the odds are (particularly over the course of a season) there will numerous results requiring resolution by tie-breaker. (Something regular readers know I find contrary to the ideals of competition.) Anyway, with 4 teams in each bracket the possible outcomes are as follows: (Wins) 3, 2, 1, 0. 3, 1, 1, 1. 2, 2, 2, 0. 2, 2, 1, 1. That's it. There are no other outcomes. 50% of the time the outcome is clear cut. 50% of the time the result will be determined by some sort of tie-breaker, and in this case it will be highest average score. (The first tie-breaker is matches won which doesn't apply. The second is head-to-head and with three teams tied [group 2 & 3] that doesn't apply either. The third tie-breaker is total points scored divided by games played or highest average score.) Since the third tie-breaker is highest average score it would seem the fewer games a team plays the better but that isn't actually correct. It's true if a team loses single games in matches it eventually wins--because that dilutes their scoring average. But in matches a team loses every extra game won increases a team's scoring average. The moral of the math is win matches 2-0 and if you gotta lose do it 2-1 for your best chance of moving on. That may seem obvious but look at this way. Two teams play 7 games each and end up 2 matches won and one match lost. First team goes 2-1 in a match it won and the second team went 1-2 in the match it lost. Who goes through? First team went 4-3 in games won/lost. The second team went 5-2 in games won/lost for the higher scoring average. So here we go again. Btw, the Millennium does the same damned thing--and has for years--like you didn't already know that. What the hell is the matter with you people?

Big Brother: NPPL Division

The NPPL giveth and the NPPL taketh away. Or, in my case, they tooketh but are now giveth-ing back. (That was awkward.) Rumor reached the paintball public yesterday regarding plans for a monitoring chip the NPPL wants to put in everybody's marker--but just the Pros for now--5 days before the first event of the season. Oh, and the prelim schedule is now posted as well. Here's how my current arrangement with the league works: In exchange for nobody telling me much of anything I agree not to discuss league matters until they are made public through another source. Seems more than fair to me. About the chip--it's the real deal and a few pro teams have tested them (or something very similar) in match conditions over the last few months. We had them (or something very similar) in a test sample of our guns briefly last season. And there was some effort made at Galveston to have the chips installed in Pro team guns. [We had tentatively agreed but our Friday schedule didn't allow for the time as it turned out. I don't know how many teams had them installed in Galveston either. And I am hedging my assumption it's the same chip because, while it seems to be performing identical functions, it appears the two leagues are interested in it for different reasons. It is the same manufacturer in both cases however.]

UPDATE: Virtue sent the ProPaintball kids an email claiming Damage had chips in some guns in Galveston. Since they say we did I don't doubt it's true. My comments above were based on what I thought I knew--and it wasn't something I followed closely once I was comfortable that it wouldn't affect our guns.

Every indication I have seen suggests they work as advertised though I don't think we had them in long enough to judge potential impact on battery life. Even so, as a practical matter it seems to me any concerns of that sort are probably over-stated.

That said (typed) (keyed) (whatever) I do have some concerns. The timing is poor to say the least and if I were on a team that had no prior experience with the chips I would flat out refuse to accept them at this late date. I might be otherwise convinced if the purpose was purely testing at HB and I had the option to opt out if it appeared there was any loss of marker performance. But that's just me. Beyond that we have no idea how the ROF will be enforced. Let's agree the chip accurately monitors the firing of each and every paintball. So what? There is a 15 bps cap on a gun shooting in a semi-auto mode. [In the PSP with ramping guns enforcement measures the time gap between shots. A dirty little secret is most ROF violations are both unintentional and outside the player's control.] It seems to me semi-auto mode assures inconsistent gap times between shots while the cap theoretically will limit a marker to 15 bps regardless of how fast the trigger is being pulled. So my question is what constitutes a ROF violation? How does the chip monitor for that? And how does that data result in pulling the appropriate penalty? Finally there's the question of the collected data. The idea is that accumulated data has potential value. If so, who is collecting it and how does the league assure it won't fall into the wrong hands? Or is it the league's intention to make all the data available to anyone who wants it?

And what about the schedule? Yeah, buddy. At HB the league is not only beginning the 2011 season it is undergoing a critical test with a live streaming webcast on ESPN3 and chooses to go with a new format in which up to one third of all the scheduled games may not be played. Looking at the schedule there is already extra time plugged into it--I'm assuming for some extra TV type stuff like interviews and player info--but still, if those third (and deciding) games aren't routinely happening I can foresee a lot of empty air time. Fingers crossed.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Monday Poll

What else could we possibly vote on this week other than the prospects for the success or failure of the Huntington Beach NPPL/ESPN3 webcast? Unfortunately, we may not know the real results by next Monday but at least we'll know what you people expect to happen--and when the actual results are in rest assured I will remind you. [The voting will close at Noon on Friday.] It's been rumored that the magic number is 100K. 100,000 weekend viewers will keep ESPN's interest going. I don't know if that's true or not but, obviously, the more the better. I have yet to hear any confirmation regarding participation (exhibition or otherwise) in the Summer X-Games and I'm hoping it isn't contingent on the webcast numbers. (No, not because I think the numbers won't measure up. More along the lines of the more exposure competitive paintball gets the more fans and future players that exposure will hopefully draw.) Anyway, let's get to it. You know what to do. Pick the single option you think will be closest to the actual result. Vote soon as the cutoff is Noon on Friday. Keep your fingers crossed and tune in this weekend.

The live streaming broadcast of the Surf City Open via ESPN3 will be:

A huge success, exceeding everyone's expectations. A success as the final numbers don't reach ESPN's goals but are close. A moderate success even though totals are low but a stronger than expected international presence. A toss up as the total numbers fall well short but are consistent throughout the weekend. A failure because of an insufficient lead time to campaign for paintballers participation. A failure due to general apathy among all paintballers.

Monday Poll in Review Last week's poll question asked y'all to pick the four finalists in this week's upcoming NPPL Huntington Beach event. The results are unlikely to come as much of a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to 7-man competition but the interesting elements are in the details. Which I'll get to in a minute. First though I'd like to talk brackets. (Having just come off the two big weekends of March Madness it's kinda cool to be able to frame a paintball competition using bracketology.) The following are unofficial but should be correct as I've used the current rule book and last season's rankings. A= TBD, XSV, Vendetta & X-Factor. B=Impact, Legend, Mutiny & Uprising. C= Infamous, Avalanche, Arsenal & Thunder. D= Blast, Dynasty, Xplicit & Aftershock. (I removed Naughty Dogs from rankings--as a non-ownership team nobody was in a position to buy their spot--and added new teams alphabetically according to team name.) Two teams come out of each prelim bracket to be reseeded. B & C play Friday and A & D play Saturday. (I think.) The two remaining brackets after the prelim round will play Sunday morning to determine the semi-finalists at which point the 1 seed plays the 4 and 2 plays 3 with the winners advancing to the finals. Does that alter how you voted? Probably not.

The top four vote getters were Dynasty (87%), TBD (62%), Impact (50%) & Infamous (47%). A close fifth was Arsenal at 44%. The rest of the teams, in order of percentage of the vote received, are Blast (20%), X-Factor (14%), Vendetta (11%), Aftershock (8%), XSV (6%), Avalanche & Mutiny (5% each), Uprising (3%), Xplicit & Thunder (2% each), & Legend (1%). The numbers for a resurgent Dynasty are understandable but what about Blast, X-Factor & Vendetta? Is Blast low, and if so, why? They were top 4 last year and series winner the year before that. Are X-Factor fans remembering the team's past successes or are there just lots of Texas fans. (They made enough noise in Galveston.) Double digits for Vendetta? Clearly the voting sample isn't that large--we're talkin' paintball after all--but look at a team like Xplicit that has worked hard to build a fan base and only garner 2% of the vote. What percentage of voters are voting last year's results? Or the return of Ollie to Dynasty? Or for a favorite team? Or even some combination of all those possibilities.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Look What Mr. Curious Found

The first Millennium of the season is over and while Mr. C wasn't all that interested in the results (Dynabrats win; good results for the UK across the board; where are all these Russian teams coming from?) he has had an abiding interest in American pros playing in the MS. A quick perusal of rosters seems to indicate the numbers may be down this year but the item Mr. C found most interesting was the 3 Vicious players on the Dynasty roster. The last couple of years Dynasty has competed with blended teams, first Arsenal and then Impact--but they also announced those moves. (Mr. C always assumed it meant a defrayed expense sheet for competing in Euroland.) This time around though, no announcement, but Vicious does share both gun & gear sponsors with Dynasty and the next MS event, Bitberg, falls on the same weekend as NPPL Chicago so odds are a heavily reduced Dynasty presence will be augmented with Vicious players for that event. Or maybe not.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Baca's Mailbag: Lessons from Galveston?

Don wants to know--at least he wanted to know last week--if the Galveston pro game videos might be useful as film study for either the pro teams or divisional teams. (At the time he asked I hadn't watched any of the videos. I have now seen a fairly large representative sample.) The answer is an equivocating maybe. More definitively, and equally disappointing, there really isn't enough of the right kind of material to serve as useful film study.

But before I get into the details I have a request: Hey, Matty, how 'bout mixing up your booth partners in order to get reps from all the teams involved? There's nothing wrong with Matty & His All-Star Friends but maybe a little love for the rest of us? (Assuming the league is going to continue with the event videos.) I know, it's out there ... but it might work. Just saying.

The matches, or as I prefer to call them, the kinetic motive activities too often focused on elements of the action, even on the breakouts where a single team was featured or the split screen and camera angles couldn't keep all ten players in sight. The elevated camera view that encompassed most of the field was the most useful angle for film study. With film study I'm focusing on one of two s. Either I'm confirming my guys were attempting the play called and analyzing their execution and following thru to success or failure or I'm observing an opponent for patterns that may occur over the length of a match or things like tendencies exhibited by specific players. The patterns reflect either intentional or unintentional actions or routines that may be predicted beyond the patterns that are a nearly universal element of playing the format. For example, you don't need film study to know that if an opponent loses a corner player they are likely to try and re-fill the spot quickly. But film study (or live study for that matter) can tell you that #34 always goes to a particular prop OTB or that Team X shows a strong tendency to fill a particular prop on the delay or as a secondary move. Unfortunately, the way the match videos are edited they don't provide enough consistent info to make those sorts of determinations.

What the Galveston videos may provide is some how-to (or even some how-not-to) info for developing players on playing specific positions on the field. There is quite a lot of snake play in the videos as well as lots of shots of individuals playing particular props that might be useful to some players.

For any teams interested in film study let me suggest you focus the majority of your efforts on filming and analyzing your own team first. Knowledge of an opponent may provide useful information but the advantages gained are seldom the difference between winning and losing--though they can be. Breaking your own team down will deliver larger rewards, faster. The first priority is a team's ability to go out and execute their game plan. And while it's nearly impossible in practice to keep track of every detail and every player the capability of going back and reviewing film over and over can reveal weaknesses and mistakes that are easily missed otherwise but just as easily addressed when you become aware of them.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

NPPL Pro Division on ESPN3

It's not news. I know. (Unless you've been living under a rock in a Geico commercial lately. I can't for the life of me remember if I used that lame joke recently or just planned on using it sometime. Either way you're stuck with it now.) It's not news, it's a reminder. A reminder to check out the live streaming video next weekend, the 1st thru the 3rd of April, on ESPN3. It will be available most everywhere although for much of the world it will be pay-per-view. (The title is a link to the NPPL which is presently prepping a links and connections page for all the tournament action.)
For those of you finding my mildly upbeat attitude disconcerting (distressing) (disorienting) (discombobulating) (I could go on) relax. I do not have my fingers crossed. I am not jumping up and down with glee. Or excitement. Or even repressed anxiety. I am not even slightly hopeful that this latest foray into competitive paintball on (almost) TV will work. Paintball's track record isn't good. This is but one, modest hurdle that must be surmounted before additional hurdles are put in our path. Yet, for all that, it remains an opportunity. An opportunity whose success you can contribute to simply by signing up and tuning in. (You don't even need to watch if you don't want to.) If you have any interest in competitive paintball being on TV tune in. (My laptop will be tuned in at our HB hotel while we're at the field.) It doesn't matter if you're skeptical. Or that you expect it to go no where--again. It's about making the most of the opportunities that come your way, and make no mistake, this is an opportunity. Tune in.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Guerrilla Paintball

It's not what you think it is. (Unless you've been peeking over at the dark side lately.) Every once in a while VFTD's attention is distracted from the rigors and rewards of competition paintball--and this is one of those times. (Yes, I'm aware the MS Longchamp event kicks off in less than 36 hours. Plenty of time to look into guerrilla paintball first.) After you finish this post the title is a link to the guerrilla paintball site describing the latest game--upcoming--in their Call to Duty series. To give you some idea of what's involved every player must transport themselves to Split, Croatia where they will board a ship that will take them to the island venue where the game will be played over a long weekend in July. Despite my better judgment (and complete and utter lack of interest in the run-of-the-mill scenario game) I find the idea of guerrilla paintball very compelling. Can I get a hell yeah? "Hell yeah!"
It's odd because it's the extremes that make it appealing. To me anyway. The isolation, privation and hardships create a completely over the top and separate from anything else in the paintball world type of challenge. Of course I'm not going to go. I'm not even going to try and get a ticket--even though I love the idea and can imagine myself doing it. My problem is I don't really like that kind of paintball but it promises to be a rare and virtually unique experience for those who do. I also have issues with scenario games based on real modern warfare. I wouldn't call it immoral but I find it, at best, to be in poor taste. But that's just me. Looming larger as a concern (for me) is just how play-acting combat goes over as a competing representation of what paintball is with the general public.
With respect to the actual Call to Duty series of events it looks like the organizers are trying to out-do their last event--which is both cool for the players and understandable--but it's got to end somewhere, doesn't it? Is parachuting into a real jungle one step too far? The last game had players that suffered various degrees of hypothermia. The organizers talk about the players being personally responsible but don't the organizers bear some responsibility if anything ever went seriously wrong? Enough hand-wringing. (I'm my own buzzkill.)
If you're looking for the ultimate in extreme paintballing look no further--and check out what the guys at guerrilla paintball are doing next. It's awesome but is it good for paintball?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

PBIndustry & Media

Here we go again. (Another rant.) Another paintball company (out of Canuckistan) has taken a flyer in the New Media goulash of mixing self-promotion with (supposed) entertainment. Not quite infotainment, the blasphemous offspring of celebrity & (low) culture, this latest effort is called Gab-fest and can be seen on ProPaintball among others. For starters the name is something MY grandfather would have come up with as hip and au currant. Seriously, Gab-fest? That'll definitely have all the prepubescent punks tuning in for sure. Then there's the topic of episode one which was practically ripped from today's paintball headlines, The Generational Differences. I know I can't decide who was better; Marty Bush or Jason Edwards--and it's driving me crazy. (How 'bout a call in feature to make Gab-fest interactive and maybe answer some of these important questions.) Unfortunately, most of today's players don't know and don't care that paintball was played before they started nor do they care who it was playing back in those dark Old Skool ages. To speak for the generations Gab-fest rounded up popular player Justin Rabackoff and--more importantly--his dad, Steve Rabackoff. The conversation went something like this: The game was slower then. It's faster now. We were really good. Everything was slower then including the guns and players. The best of the OG's would match up fine with today's top players. They couldn't compete with today's players, old man. Could so. Could not. Yada yada yada. But of course the real point was to get Steve front and center. [That last statement is speculation, not fact, but ...] Thing is, the Canadian company producing Gab-fest recently dropped one brand of paint in order to be Canada's sole distributor of another brand of paint. Coincidentally, Steve used to work for the dropped brand of paint but now works for the other. So without quite beating their audience over the head the producer reinforces their market tie-in, promotes their exclusive paint brand and builds closer relationships with the paint brand and its reps. All in the guise of an entertaining video with a couple of famous paintball peeps. [More speculation ...] The real purpose of Gab-fest is to popularize the producer's product lines using an infotainment-type vehicle instead of traditional advertising and promotion--marketing masquerading as media. Which is better than media shilling for PBIndustry but still, there's something about the blurring of boundaries I find troubling.
Next time on episode two of Gab-fest--and this is just a guess--sales reps from two gun makers the company sells will debate that perennial paintball contest; scenario vs. tourney. Sounds like another winner to me.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Monday Poll

This week's poll is a straightforward pick the top four finishers for the NPPL's Huntington Beach event, the Surf City Open. You may pick more than one team but please limit the total number of teams you pick to 4. (Last time y'all did a reasonable job of following directions so here we go again. Fingers crossed.) [For all of VFTD's Eurobuds I'm intentionally skipping the first MS event given that matches begin on Friday and would make for a short poll week--and most of the North American audience couldn't care less. Yes, it's horribly unfair but there it is. Besides, I should have done an MS CPL poll last week if I was going to do one at all. And I didn't. Maybe for Germany.] So remember, pick four and you could be this week's giant grand prize winner. Keeping in mind there is no causal relationship between participating in this week's Monday Poll and any specific or generic grand prize.
Oh, and you know, you might want to consider how the brackets are gonna shake down--standard snake seeding--before you make your picks so that your chosen outcome is at least possible given the modified format. Wait, what am I thinking? That involves work, again. I apologize and take it back. Just get out there and vote. Or you could be the next target after Libya. Just saying.

Monday Poll in Review
Last week's question wanted to know what you lot thought of the PSP deciding to do videos of the pro event without mentioning the fact before hand. I was (mildly) concerned my list of "answers" skewed toward the cynical and so I invited alternatives to be posted up in the comments. As usual, that was too much like work and required thinking so it was, of course, out of the question. Personally I'm inclined to think all the optional "answers" had some merit and Patrick "MWAG" Sporher specifically referenced the option of undercutting the whiners who wanted their free videos faster as the reason for not making a formal announcement in advance. (And since the whiner scenario played out before when the effort was made to turn webcast matches into downloadable videos it's no great surprise it was a consideration this time around.) Even so, it was scant months--if not weeks--ago the PSP was fearful of its continued existence and then they go and make the decision to spend money on a reduced cost variant of the old webcast. It's at least curious. The top vote getter at 38% was YouTube views are the next best thing to live webcast viewers. I am inclined to think that reflects a generally positive opinion about putting out the videos rather than the more sophisticated if incremental approach to building a demonstrable audience for the product. 2 of the remaining 4 options relate to competing with the NPPL's ESPN3 webcast of HB and a combined total of 26% votes opted for one or the other. The final 2 choices both related to the league trying to avoid some initial negative responses--making the videos available too slowly and/or not as good as the old webcast--and that combined vote totaled 34%. Overall, given the options to choose from, I think the voting reflected favorably on the PSP and the videos.

Burning Question

Hey APPA, how many first time i.d.'s were issued at Galveston and how many were issued to players 30 and older compared to Phoenix last year? Isn't that the sort of data the league should have already requested APPA determine to help evaluate the effectiveness of the older, fatter, slower rule changes? How 'bout sharing with us?
After all the point wasn't to turn Race 2-X into Snooze 2-2 (or 3). And it wasn't to shoot a third (or more) more paint--yet here we are. And if anyone at the PSP is thinking of raising the ROF in order to compensate, don't.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Arsenal Out Ducks In

Last minute changes in the CPL see Arsenal dip out and the Copenhagen Ducks waddle into the final spot. Rumor suggests a series of misunderstandings led to this latest move at the top of the Millennium heap. "Whad'dya mean there's a licensing fee? You offered me the spot!" "You want me to do what with my roster?" "Europe? What the hell do I want to got Euroland for? We're a serious paintball team." [Quotes do not necessarily represent any actual statements made by any actual person or persons. They are the sole product of the writer's imagination unless they turn out to be true.] No word yet on whether there will be any actual Ducks on the Copenhagen roster as the team is well known for their charitable work in bringing in underprivileged American pros and providing them an opportunity to compete in the MS. Lately they have been assisted in that selfless effort by the kids from PE. Go Ducks!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Pro Division at PSP Galveston

First things first. Congrats to Mike & the Dynabrats on getting the first win of the season. It was well earned. (Yes, I'm sticking with Dynabrats because of the Hinman youth movement.)

I don't know how well this post is going to go over. I guess we'll all find out together. Btw, if you're hoping for dirt you are out of luck. The last thing I need is to antagonize (any further) the other pro teams. But you never know, some peeps have delicate sensibilities.

The new kids on the block (CEP) benefited from the rules changes as first event pros--yes, that's an opinion, feel free to disagree--but also gave indications they have some real potential. In the recent past a large part of the transition for newcomers was adjusting to the pace of the pro game. The Galveston field and new field dimensions neutralized that factor and allowed CEP, for the most part, to play within their comfort zone. More importantly the team demonstrated it has the ability to evaluate its own performance and make positive changes and improve on the fly. Now they just need to get used to the officiating and cut down on the penalties.

It's apparent Vicious used the off season to build on lessons learned last year as they came to Galveston and played very consistent team paintball. The execution of their game plan was of a high order and they played confidently yet within their limitations. If they continue to play like they did in Galveston they will have successfully made the transition to competitive (and dangerous) pro team. Kudos to Greg as well for maximizing the team's results and minimizing their weaknesses.

Much the same might be said of the new (or is that the old?) and improved X-Factor. They have technical similarities to Vicious but are, I think, less predictable and more versatile. And I fully expect them to break through at some point during the season. They are a well-balanced team and as long as they can maintain their focus and keep a unified eye on the prize will always be competitive.

I'm somewhat undecided on the Ironmen. Don't get me wrong, I think SK is doing an excellent job and the mix of youth and experience is good. And it's hard to argue with results. The Men came in and knocked off the Legion and, until the last point was scored in their last prelim match, had a chance to move on. With the loss of Oliver and with Mikko missing Galveston I doubt anyone--except the guys on the team--expected the Ironmen to be that tough. And yet I remain unconvinced. The new field is a great equalizer. It mitigated the explosive potential of some of the teams. At the same time some of the young Ironmen have some real physical tools. Overall I think the new field is a net plus for the less experienced and/or less physically gifted teams. But if the kids focus on learning and the Old Guard remains hungry the team will challenge everyone they compete against.

The new rules do not favor the Red Legion. The new field slows the game down. (Have I mentioned that before?) (If I had a nickel for every time I ...) It also tilts the balance back toward the mental game--not all the way but a little closer to equilibrium. Of course the mental game needs to be accompanied by the will to act and take risks. And the lack of an extended opportunity to break down and evaluate each layout minimizes one of the team's long time strengths. Does this mean they won't win anymore? Not at all. Like the rest of the pro teams they will adapt and find new ways to be successful. It would be rather ironic though if their ultimate solution is to loosen the reigns on (some of) their players.

Infamous is not only a very experienced team (perhaps the oldest team on average in the league?) but more importantly that core of experience has a tremendous will to succeed that is the key to their results and consistent competitiveness. It almost doesn't matter how old any of them are or whether or not they can match the athleticism of some of the other teams. They can't; too many lumberjacks, not enough pirates or ninjas. But they continue to compete and be successful. Something of a pro's pro team. The field change won't be a problem for them, it may even be a plus--although I hesitate to give the changes much of an impact because Infamous has a proven track record that covers both leagues and every sort of field imaginable.

A number of teams underwent significant roster changes in the off season; Shock, Impact & Dynasty. Clearly Dynasty made the transition with hardly a hiccup. The return of Ollie, a core of champions, experienced and talented young players and a willingness to relinquish control to Hinman's leadership looks like it's accomplished exactly what was hoped for--and needed. The flipside of change is that it's always a roll of the dice. In any team sport the intangible of chemistry can override all other circumstances. Beyond that it frequently takes time for a new mix of players to work out how best to play together and when you consider the limited time available now to learn the competition field it's not surprising that all the pieces didn't fall seamlessly into place for Impact & Shock. So, while Galveston results may not have met expectations those results are also no real indicator of future performance. In Impact's case the team also brought in former Philly coach Jason Trosen which added another layer of change. Even so, Impact's results, while likely disappointing, were still competitive. In Shock's case their results are definitely shocking. A little bad luck and perhaps a little complacency and you have a recipe for an unexpected disaster. If nothing else it should serve as a warning to the other pro teams that the new rules and field are a leveler and that the division may exhibit unprecedented parity this season as a result. Fortunately Shock is young, hungry & resilient and they will fight back.

Lastly we come to Damage. Damage is a laid back team. It is both a strength and a weakness. There is steel under the relaxed exterior but no killer instinct, no stoked furnace of desire constantly burning to be the best. That doesn't mean that winning or losing don't matter. It does. But it does mean the team must rely on its strengths and execute the game plan with greater consistency and more confidence. The greatest accomplishment in any sport isn't reaching the top--it's staying there. After being focused (frequently for years) on achieving a singular goal the tendency after the fact is to relax. And that can lead to complacency because it's hard to find the same motivation, to stay hungry. The one real weakness Damage has is a lack of internal leadership among the players. This sky remains the limit--the question is: How bad do they want it?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

PSP Galveston Recap

First up is the rules recap. (I'm doing this stuff first 'cus it's incredibly boring and dull and if I put towards the end of the post y'all would probably skip it.) Those of you with a masochistic bent will recall the VFTD post, PSP Rules Questions. In Galveston I had the opportunity to follow-up and receive clarifications of those questions. It was a good thing I did as the "rules" enforced bore no resemblance to the written rules. (Yes, this sorta thing is very annoying. Kinda like NBA refs giving the superstars a pass on traveling violations.)
Rule 3.1.2 states, "At no time during any team points or matches, may anyone communicate from the designated staging area to any Active Players."
Which may or may not be fine but wasn't the "rule" enforced in Galveston. The actual rule (mostly) enforced could be written as follows; Any action, aural or physical, including non-verbal sounds and gestures or patterned movements or the use of devices like signs that could be interpreted as an effort to communicate with persons on the field during the play of the game by any person within the staging area is prohibited.
Worse was the stated determination to extend an unwritten and personal opinion of "fair play" to the spectator sideline. The rules no longer address any coaching issues period. The rules for 2011 are blind to any notion or aspect of coaching. Given that fact there is no basis in the rules for deciding one thing or another is either allowed or "fair play." The claim at the time was that it fell under unsportsmanlike conduct but that's self-serving nonsense as well. Without a definition it simply becomes a catch-all that allows an ultimate (or a commissioner) to do whatever they want. I don't care who you are nobody has any business making up the rules as they go along. Or, for that matter, enforcing rules contrary to how they appear in the rule book.
(Do I treat this kinda stuff more harshly when it's the PSP than the NPPL? Yes, because the PSP represents itself as the league promoting paintball as sport and I take them at their word.)

By and large the field at Galveston played the way I suggested it would far too much of the time; slow & boring. Unless this was part of some masterplan to incrementally move the two competing national formats closer and closer until they are indistinguishable from one another it didn't do the PSP any favors either. Whether it's called xball or Race 2 the format was in a conceptual shambles at Galveston. Part of the issue was the longer field and part was the specifics of the layout chosen. (In leveling this criticism I am not blaming the field designer. Some of you may know who it is but I'm not naming him purposefully. In recent years he has developed a good general understanding and works very hard to provide new, unusual but still playable and entertaining designs--which isn't an easy task--and the new mini A's aren't helpful either.) The problem is juxtaposing the need for secrecy against the notion that including some added voices of experience into the process could be beneficial. Or it might not. I'm also unconvinced there are enough bunkers for the new field dimensions. Fortunately there's time between now and Chitown--oh, wait, we don't yet know, despite the rash of recent rumors, if there will be a Chicago event this year--to consider possible improvements to the process.

UPDATE: Harrass and you shall receive. PSP has posted info on the Chicago area event.

As a resort community Galveston is West Palm Beach compared to Palm Beach. For those unfamiliar with Florida Galveston is like the promise of The Strip in Vegas when reality turns out to be the million-and-one-lightbulbs of La Galleria de Jackpot on the east side of town surrounded by check cashing joints and RV parks. If that didn't do it for you think dinner at Denny's at Ruth's Chris prices. The event was held on a lumpy patch of ground with nothing to commend it other than the grass was decent and there was enough room for the fields. I understand the league is economizing and if you gave me a sheet of optional either/or choices to check off I would pick those that enhanced the competition every time over those that enhanced the venue--but that's really what it is coming down to. At events like Galveston there is nothing there to justify the time and expense except the competition. If the competition falters ...

Back to a few numbers. In the Day 1 & Day 2 reports VFTD noted that nearly 50% of the prelim matches in D1-D3 went to time instead of score. If D4 Race 2-4 was included in the total it would be well over 50% of all those matches went to time. Kick in the playoff matches and the total drops to slightly under 50%. While I'm at it I also want to object, on competitive grounds, to the way the pro division is playing out with a 10 team division. This time 4 of the 10 finished with identical records and will be ranked 5th-8th based on point differential despite not all of them sharing common opponents. I acknowledge that is the rule but it strikes me as woefully unsatisfactory for what is supposed to be the epitome of competitive paintball. Why not rock, paper, scissors to decide. A return to last year's formula would go a long way toward assuring each team earned their ranking and would create some added Sunday excitement.

I'm running way long so I'll save a pro team round-up until tomorrow. Y'all come back now, ya hear. (Oh, and can some kind-hearted Texan tell me when Texas decided to take the bone outta a T-bone steak and smash it round and thin? Two different, relatively high priced restaurants passed off the same sorry piece of meat as a T-bone steak.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NPPL Huntington Beach Oversold

Or should that be over registered? According to the NPPL HB is oversold but in point of fact it really isn't. If it were they would have closed registration and put remaining teams on a waiting list. But they didn't. Instead, the league sent out an email yesterday announcing caps on all the competing divisions and encouraged all registered teams to pay soon or risk missing out on the upcoming event of the year. (Although it wasn't phrased quite like that the obvious intent was to push teams into converting those registrations into entries.) Curiously all the caps, except Pro and pump, are just slightly less than the numbers currently registered in the corresponding brackets. And I can't help thinking with only a few more days to register and pay the league is a wee bit anxious over what the final participation numbers will look like. And I remain curious over the effect Stay, Play & Save may be having on confirmed participation and paid entries. There are presently 145 registrants and the cap tops out at 131 maximum teams. It will be interesting to see how many teams end up competing in the event.

PS--a recap of Galveston is coming. I'm not blowing it off, just trying to get my thoughts in order.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Monday Poll

You heard it here first. (Okay, so you really read it here first--you know what I mean.) You know, the whole secret PSP Project YouTube where the league filmed pro matches for upload. Why secret? Did you know before VFTD told you about it? Didn't think so. So what do you think the PSP is doing when they make the effort and go to the expense (even at a fraction of webcast cost) to film the pro event--but don't tell anyone they're doing it until the event is over--and even then, just sorta mention, oh, btw, check out the video of the pro action at Galveston. Me either but I can think of a few possible reasons. And that's what you'll be voting on this week. Have I ever mentioned I'm suspicious (of pretty much everything), cynical and frequently angry (about pretty much everything)? Well, I am. Which means this poll is probably skewed toward a negative outcome before anyone even votes. So please, if you can come up with a positive possible explanation for Project YouTube put it in comments. (Yes, that requires thinking about it so no, I don't expect any of y'all to actually do it. Lazy slackers.) Pick the option you think most accurately describes why the PSP gave Project YouTube the green light.

What is the PSP trying to accomplish with Project YouTube?

YouTube views are the next best thing to live webcast watchers.
Doing what they can to preempt NPPL's ESPN3 broadcast
An early announcement would have resulted in cyber-whiners complaining the matches were coming online too slowly
An early announcement would have just compared unfavorably to the old webcast
Feeling the need to compete for fans and supporters beyond those who participate

Monday Poll in Review
Last week some of y'all voted on which teams would finish on top in the D1 division at the PSP Galveston Open. Not many, but some. There's a reason bookies make book on sports betting. Most bettors bet their heart. Oh sure, they talk about the odds and they can always find a rationalization to confirm the bet they want to make. The one that really has little or no chance of paying off just because it's their team. Apparently it's a good thing you people can't bet on paintball results 'cus you'd (collectively) lose your shirts. Top vote recipient LIFT didn't make the Sunday cut. In fact, only two of the top five did (but they were the right two as it turned out); TKO & 187 crew. (What the hell is the deal with capitalizing random letters? It's stupid.) Back to the votes. NJJ pulled the third most votes and Texas Storm had the fourth most votes with Assault in sixth followed closely by Hustle & VcK.
The poll just goes to show what much of the vote was really predicated on--who you wanted to do well and/or which teams you have a personal connection to. I'm just saying.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

PSP Galveston Day 2

Gotta keep this one fairly short, kids, 'cus it's getting late and I got's work yet to do to prepare for tomorrow. Some unusual results on the first day of pro play. Legion drop an overtime match to Ironmen--who are playing very well--and finished the day; 2- 1. A morning win on Sunday will almost certainly get them through. Impact went 2- 0 but have two tough matches Sunday morning in Legion & Dynasty. CEP has shown well for their first event. Penalties have hurt them and the field (and new dimensions) has helped them. Shock struggled on Saturday in the afternoon bracket as did Infamous, to a lesser degree. Vicious, with a short roster, has played very solid and consistent paintball as has X-Factor. Damage went 2- 0 but will need to pick it up to make a real run at tomorrow's title. Right now it looks like at least one, perhaps two, unexpected teams could crack the semis. And it also looks like we could have a few tie-breakers determine outcomes. (More on this after the event.)
The PSP is filming the pro field with the intent of uploading largely raw video footage to YouTube in full match form. (Check it out and see what's there.)
In today's prelims in D1- D3 more than 50% went to time instead of score. (For example, if it was Race 2- 5 that means winning scores were less than 5.) Yesterday the total was over 40% so for the total prelims nearly 50% of all matches played failed to reach their race score max. (And there were plenty of really low scores.) Of course the same was true of the pro field where less than a handful of scores went to 7 points.
The weather continued to be amazing and despite being breezier than yesterday it was a terrific day to play some paintball and tomorrow promises to be more of the same.
There won't be a report tomorrow but (hopefully) on Monday I can go into more detail and discuss Sunday along with putting the event into perspective relative to the new rules (or even the made up rules.) (Yes, that was a tease to make sure you come back.)

Friday, March 11, 2011

PSP Galveston Day 1 (Friday)

Realizing I screwed up the timing for ending the D1 Monday Poll I called the poll at 85 votes in order to make sure the result wasn't skewed by votes cast after the partial prelims played on Friday.
Weather today was excellent. It's a bit windy but we're on a gulf island--it comes with the territory. Pro field is close this time largely, I'm guessing, the vendors are close to the fields but without the players being forced to hike past all of them. The "grandstand" reflects the expected crowd. It's actually 5 or six three row bleacher sections. It could be standing room only Sunday afternoon but the majority will be players, friends & families. (We did meet a restaurant hostess tonight who will be at the event tomorrow because a friend of hers will be playing.)
Fields are somewhat uneven but the surface looks like it will hold up okay. (Fingers crossed.) Parking is in an empty lot across the street. The venue is (realistically) pretty low rent but everybody seemed more focused on the competition. Still, after the fact, it won't surprise me if people express some disappointment. Is it serviceable? Yes. Does it fire the imagination? Not really. In part I think because Galveston itself isn't particularly special either. (Sorry, Texas.)
In reviewing prelim results in the Race 2-X divisions scores reflect VFTD's expectation about low scores and slow games. Across D1, D2 & D3 more than 40% of all the matches went to time. It appears if the games were competitive they more often than not went to time. Most of the matches that hit their race goals were 5-0 or 5-1, 4-0 type games suggesting one team in the match was definitively superior.
A number of the pro teams used the unexpected off day to leave the event site and go to another paintball field--about 40 minutes away--to get in some last minute practice.
While it still hasn't been announced the PSP looks to be preparing the pro field for filming. Camera platforms were up inside the net on the snake side as well as some elevated remote cameras. And, yes, this is what Mr. Curious was referring to the other day. There is every indication the league will be filming the pro competition but it will not be webcast live. Just what the league has in mind VFTD doesn't know.
More tomorrow with the first day's pro matches.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mr. Curious & The Cone of Silence

A short while after VFTD posted the MLP Update Mr. Curious showed up with his hands pressed firmly over his mouth. Practically bursting at the seams with some exciting news Mr. C refused, despite all his natural inclinations, to reveal the latest secret to fall into his ever grasping clutches. However, he couldn't resist offering up a clue or two. It seems that in the past competitive paintball hasn't had the best of luck making The Big Announcement. Instead of everyone rallying around excitedly it seems that more often than not everyone ended up deciding The Big Announcement wasn't all that big after all and the resulting letdowns proved more potent than the initial celebrations, so ...
The new meme seems to be to keep working away on Big Announcement-type efforts while keeping it all on the down low. Not unlike the maybe (could it be?) ESPN deal with the NPPL that the NPPL refuses to comment on officially--for the most part. So, while Mr. C wouldn't say it--it appears the PSP has a Big Announcement they decided to keep under wraps too.

Curious? Fortunately you won't have to wait too long to find out what it is.

MLP (occasional) Weekly Update

The 2011 major league tournament season officially kicks off in two days with the PSP's Galveston Open. The 5-day forecast predicts temperatures in the mid- to upper 60's, mostly sunshine and a tiny chance of rain over the weekend. If it snows again I am never (repeat never) going to Texas ever again for a paintball tournament. Period. End of. The same applies to the sudden appearance of a mystery tsunami. You've got to draw the line somewhere and that's where my line is drawn. Oh, and that monster from 'Cloverfield.' It was like a gigantic mutant Cajun crawfish hellbent on vengeance, right? Gulf coast? I'm just saying. My line includes the monster, too.

The Grand Tour just recently posted that they will soon be posting event info for the 2011 season. They haven't yet but wanted every interested party to know event info would be coming soon.

Over in the Millennium; a curiosity. The league has capped all the divisions for 2011. Not locked, but capped. D2 is capped at 28. D3 is capped at 24 and M5 is capped at 12. I thought at first the league was looking to create a scarcity and perhaps drive teams to register and pay early in order to assure their spots. It could also be the MS chose to pre-determine the scale of their events this season to have more control over the logistics and event costs. Or even both. Right now it looks like 9 or 10 D2 teams will be outta luck and that the league will cancel the M5 as only 1 team has registered to date. I'm also curious about how the numbers were chosen. I mean more slots in the higher divisions? Seems counter-intuitive but it appears to have worked out okay.
Of course the league spent much of the off season drumming up new teams to commit to the upper, locked divisions, too. I wonder how many of them paid the licensing fee. "Please, Guv'ner, take my cap, it's filled wif all the pennies I's got." Really? I don't think so. And frankly if I was part of a locked division team that had been paying the extra fees all along I'd want to see some documentary proof the new kids on the block paid too. (I keep saying this and I know some of the Euroballers agree but does anybody ever do anything except quit playing the MS?) Actually I'd probably refuse just to see if there was a deal to be made--but that's me. Cynical, suspicious & cheap. (If it's any consolation I still think the Longchamp venue is dynamite.)

Over in NPPLand registrations for HB are at 133. Which is a mighty decent number no matter you look at it and if the final participation numbers are in that ballpark the league will have gotten off to a good start in 2011--even if it proves to be the biggest turnout of the year (as it was last year.) It's all about operating in the black (one way or another.)
I remain curious as to what effect, if any, Stay, Play & Save is having on teams making the final commitment of paying their entry fees and confirming their hotel registrations.
And then there's the mystery of the true TV dealio. Will they or won't they? Who knows for sure and why hasn't the league confirmed or denied anything? Seems to me they would at least know what's happening at HB by now given it's less than a month away. I'm told there's a done deal so why isn't the league using that info to drum up more excitement and sell more grandstand tickets or whatever? The closer the event gets without some sort of definitive info the more it looks like another TV flim-flam.

UPDATE: Harrass and you shall receive. NPPL made a formal announcement about HB live streaming on ESPN3 Wednesday evening. Not that VFTD had anything to do with it, of course.

And finally there's the new pro format. If you've been keeping up you know I'm slightly unhappy with how the PSP pro brackets are going to play out in Galveston given the ridiculous influence I expect tie-breakers to have in the outcome. Well, the NPPL's move to S7 (or whatever name they've given it; Race 2-2?) is going to have a similar impact. In any bracket where a team goes 3-0 only 1 other team can go 2-1 which satisfies the determination of who moves on but leaves the remaining two teams tied at 1-2. (At that point they will be ranked in the bottom eight somewhere despite never having played anybody else along with the very real likelihood that most of the rest of the bottom eight will have identical records. Perhaps the wizard who devised the NPPA can come up with a suitable formula for distinguishing final placements.) Of course in any bracket where a team goes 3-0 it's also possible for the other three teams to go 1-2. Now one of them will move on into the top eight while the other two end up in the bottom 8 despite having identical records. If no team goes 3-0 a bracket could end up with three teams going 2-1 where two move on and one goes home, once again, despite having identical records. And with or without tie-breakers how satisfactory is it for the teams or the fans to have tie-breaking rules determine so much of the final outcome of the event? Does anybody ever pay any attention to the consequences of their decisions?

One final word for all those VFTD readers who think I'm too negative too often--if the people making some of these moronic decisions removed their heads from their hindquarters more often you'd be amazed at how positive I might become.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Former Players Return To The Tourney Field

In last week's 'Being Charlie Sheen' post I mentioned that a number of friends and former teammates had decided to bring the old team back to life and play a CFPS event, a PSP affiliate series. I want to follow-up not so much on the results but on what happens next. And to encourage anyone in a similar situation (or who knows someone in a similar situation) to post up those experiences in the comments.
The upshot of the first fresh tourney experience in years was a near unanimous more please. In the process a number of the guys had to buy gear, some used, some new, arrange a practice or two and calculate what the hit to their personal budget was gonna be--all before they had competed again. And despite a less than stellar performance that included a number of penalties for violations the guys didn't realize they were committing for things like ROF. (Two guys got their settings wrong and one guy's gun was semi-auto out of the box and it was still the fastest gun he'd ever shot.)
Not only do they want to do it again but more of the old gang are hoping to jump in and join them. At this rate they could reconstitute two or three former teams in fairly short order. Follow-up conversations have broached the subject of making tourney days family days as they discuss the prospect of bringing out wives, girlfriends and children next time hang out, enjoy the atmosphere and spend some time together.
And as the plans become more comprehensive what was originally no more than a one off, let's have a few laughs, is already looking ahead to the next event and the rest of the season. If they stick with it, it will mean more gear sold (or re-sold) with more people returning to the field and who knows just where it leads next. It could easily expand to a group of fifteen or twenty players and two or three teams. That could sew the seeds for the next generation of players as their families grow up or, if one or two get seriously hooked (again) it could prove to be the beginning of completely new teams. The sky, as they say, is the limit. Or was that 300 fps? (I know, really lame joke.)
The one place this return to the tourney game is unlikely to lead is the PSP. (Or the NPPL, for that matter.) Questions have been asked and prices given. For the majority it's out of the question. Nor is that sort of competitive paintball really what most of them want. Sure they want the competition. They want the heat of battle and they want to win--but not at any price. Not at a totally unrealistic price in time, resources & money. That's way beyond what most of them are willing to even consider.
So call it good news and bad news. There are former players out there who may not need more than a little push to jump back into playing again. Guys with families that would create bridges to the next generation. Guys with experience (and resources) who could help new teams develop. Guys who are unlikely to ever play the national circuit again. But why stop with ex-tourney players?

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Monday Poll

I'm not gonna try blowing smoke up your skirt. This week's poll is a last ditch desperate--if obvious--move to come up with something, anything to base a poll on. Truth is I've been despondent all day after hearing CBS fired Charlie Sheen. Hey, when you're head and shoulders above the crowd there's always someone trying to knock you back down. That and I've been thinking, if Charlie can monetize Twitter, why can't I? Winning with VFTD. Now, that's a winner.
And this week VFTD wants you to pick the winner (wow, what a clever segue) in the D1 division of the upcoming PSP Galveston event. As with last week's pro pick 'em (shamelessly stolen from Cade) you get to pick a top 4. Don't abuse your voting privileges and don't be a lazy slacker. (Yeah, right.)

Monday Poll in Review
Thanks to all you lazy slackers for voting last week blah blah blah. Last week's actual question wasn't about picking the winner, it was about picking the top four finishers. Damage & the Russian Legion topped the voting finishing within a percentage point of one another. Finishing a close third was Dynasty where off season moves have inspired y'all to expect big things this year. Picking the Russians is pretty much a no-brainer but the popularity of Damage frankly surprised me a bit. Sure, there's brown noser or three out there and then there is the great unwashed (who usually turn out to be uninformed too) countered by what I call the "recognition lag." Almost all teams (except Vicious) are subject to recognition lag. A team performs for some period of time and whatever results they achieve aren't really recognized until later on. Think of it like baseball players finally scoring a giant long term contract. He's really getting paid for what he's already done--and management is hoping he will do again. That's recognition lag. Anyway, there was a lot of interesting off season action that Damage didn't participate in, until the last minute (last week) that most of the voters didn't seem to consider all that big a deal, except for Dynasty of course. As it turned out Impact grabbed the number four spot a few points ahead of Infamous. And despite their World Cup success 'Shock came in sixth. Rounding out the rest of the pro division the voters chose X-Factor, Vicious, Ironmen & CEP.
I could make the case for some of these other teams--I really expect an intact X-Factor to break through at some point of the season because I think the new rules may favor their style. And how about Impact? They were in the hunt all year long last year and haven't done anything to diminish their potential. And did anybody consider the brackets before casting their votes? Whatever the merits of the poll or wisdom of the voters (I hope y'all are right on target) we'll see your collective results next week and see how close y'all got.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

PSP Rules Questions

I noticed over at PBN some peeps were inquiring about the possibility of being placed in separate prelim brackets ostensibly because they were "sister" teams (which their names suggested was likely the truth.) It was explained to them that the rules specify how the seeding is worked out and the result is what it is. It was further suggested to them they should read the rules in advance and figure this stuff out. (Though it may have been to the PSP's benefit they didn't, otherwise they might not have bothered to come.) Be that as it may what the rules didn't address--so far as I can tell (though I confess I haven't read every single word)--is how to handle the potential for collusion when sister or otherwise related teams meet during the competition. This strikes me as an oversight particularly as the issue and situation is nothing new in tourney paintball. I am not suggesting that in such circumstances teams will necessarily cheat but shouldn't the rules address the possibility and have a method in place for handling such situations?

Anyway, that got me wondering about a couple other items. One is a rules question and one is more of a procedural question, I suppose. On the procedural front I'm curious about the order teams play one another. Is there a standardized formula in place depending on the bracket size etc. that comes into play automatically or is the playing order for matches somehow determined randomly?

Regarding the rules I am curious about 3.1.2 which states, "At no time during any team points or matches, may anyone communicate from the designated staging area to any Active Players."
What I'd like to have clarified is the word "communicate." (Yes, I have a very specific reason in mind.) And since the term 'Active Players' was used specifically and active player denotes a very specific status in the rules, does that mean communication with anyone who isn't an Active Player is okay? And perhaps how the determination will be made between an intent to 'communicate' to someone outside the staging area as opposed to someone within the staging area? Or to someone other than an 'Active Player'? "No person appearing on the roster of a team may employ an electronic or mechanical device to communicate with any other person during any of their team’s points or matches."
I understand this particular rule but I wonder why there is no rule to address the loophole scenario--particularly as it has occurred in the past. A person using such equipment proximate to the team or rostered players who then communicates information gathered in violation of the rules to a team or players.

Hey, when I get really bored I'll start in the NPPL rule book.

Friday, March 4, 2011

MS Paris Longchamp blowup

Before I begin on the upcoming MS event layout I need to apologise to VFTD's followers out in PALS country. I received their layout with a request to do a breakdown--which I intended to do--but neglected to check the event's date. And--you guessed it--it done came and went. Sorry about that.

This field is a very technical design that is playable but only highly skilled players are going to be able to make the most of it. (And I remain skeptical that they will enjoy it much.) Less skilled and lower division teams are likely to work ruts into certain runs and bumps because they won't have much alternative. I expect some teams to find this very frustrating unless their players happen to enjoy routinely running to their death or constantly battling out of props that don't push the action.
Let's briefly discuss the snake side. The Home lane displayed in red is the probable primary OTB lane. (A better lane is the one inside the Can and between the trees and SD but I suspect it will be difficult for many team's primary shooter to consistently put an effective lane thru that zone.) However the red lane, when shot properly, will deny the mini, tall cake and snake. (Barring bad luck and/or bad paint.) And it is easily redirected on a player trying to make a move into the Can. Additionally, a disciplined Home shooter will be able to deny upfield bumps past the snake SD with very little difficulty.
The props marked in yellow are the only dual elevation props on the snake side (excluding the trees.) By dual elevation I mean the props may be played on a knee or on the feet, even though the tall cake can--and will be --problematic--as will the Can. Given the elevation and placement of the rest of the snake side props only the Can and Home are decent counters for an active snake player--which is another reason many teams will maintain a Home shooter. Otherwise contesting the snake will be much like the D-side; up close and personal. And with no snake corner prop the SD actually slows down a player's ability to get wire-side; making the snake more difficult to take OTB. All things considered for most teams the snake side is likely to slow play until bodies start to drop.
More interesting is the D-side. The gradient pink area is the primary OTB laning zone. A Home shooter also has a very narrow lane (see dotted line) that will be dependant on actual on site prop placement plus a lane on the outside of D1 (or D3.) In the case of the dotted lane the fact its trajectory must be lifted above the near T will allow a runner to dive low between the Can and D1. Given that there is a D-corner bunker it will be possible to run the Can OTB and if you can make the Can you can make D1. Note all the blue lanes from the various D-side props. Only the mirror Can or the nearest-to-Home MD has an opportunity to contest the run. The run requires speed but it won't be that hard to make. And once in D1 a player commands lanes on all the snake side props except Home and the snake itself. If that happens OTB it should result in a short point.
Because other D-side props can't contest D1, it will be necessary to close and attack the opposition directly. By the same token there are few effective lanes to battle D1 there are equally few lanes that can support and defend D1. Which means, like the snake side, contests on the wire sides could devolve into who bunkers who last. Or, everybody can hunker down and shoot long range lanes.
The primary tension created by this layout is the need to battle at the fifties versus the obvious utility of keeping players in Home. Figure that out and you may have discovered a winning formula.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thoughts on the layout of PSP Galveston

As most of you probably know the new PSP rules for 2011 fostered a fair amount of debate. In particular those rules that altered the playing field. It was spectacularly obvious (to some) from the get go the new rules would be a step back from the xball ethos that has, in past seasons, driven the PSP. Many suggested, including VFTD, that the new rules would slow the games down--perhaps enough to make the clock the arbiter of winning and losing more often than the Race 2 result. We will see. It is a distinct possibility given the layout the PSP has released for Galveston. The only mitigating factor is that probably more teams than not won't be able to hit the broadside of a barn off the break--or an opponent for that matter. (And it's highly questionable if the inability to hit anyone OTB will speed up or slow down any given point. That will depend on what a team does with an 'extra' body.)
Instead of the usual review that offers some tips on shooting lanes or breaks down some aspect of how a given field will play this time VFTD will explain in detail the characteristics of this layout that tend to encourage defensive play and slow overall movement. To begin note there are three colors used; orange, yellow & green. Green for example represents those nice cozy spots where one might settle down to cultivate a little garden. (I'm kidding. Sorta.)
Sticking with green that's the real point. You'll be sticking with green. The backline bunkers are the only wire feeds that may be taken OTB with relative security. They both force the player to the ground reducing visibility and making exiting the bunker that much more difficult. The snake side "new brick" has some (marginal) utility in contesting the snake. The d-side cake has less. And as long a player is contained in one or the other it will inhibit further team movement from the inside out or compel a teammate to a longer, riskier move. On the d-wire the other "new brick" might as well be a stop sign as that is the effect it will most often have as the same characteristics apply that affect the other green bunkers.
Moving on to the orange designated bunkers it should be immediately apparent 2 of the same bunkers that are green on the diagram are also orange on the opposite end of the field. That's because the bunkers are as ineffectual as defensive positions as they are as offensive launch points. From the cake it is clear that despite an inside angle the cake cannot contain or inhibit movement along the d-wire or even contest rotations from its mirror, given the distances involved. The "new brick" feeding the snake is slightly more useful in that it may inhibit some movement but will also be under heavier attack from more positions on the field much of the time. The thing to remember is that the lack of options from these bunkers will at the same time encourage the effort to push more players to the wires while also often making it more difficult to do so.
Finally the yellow designated bunkers appear to be the only tips of the hat to the hoped for influx of lumberjacks the PSP wanted to attract with the rule changes. You know, the bigger, slower, older player who played tourney ball when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. The yellow bunkers are both MTs and both positioned where they are primarily defensive in nature and any layout that virtually requires backfield bunkers to be played for extended periods of time (or in isolation) are fields that tend to neutralize any (but not all) aggressive play tendencies.
One key to this kind of field is player elevation--and, no, I don't mean levitation--I mean lines of sight and ability to respond quickly. (Bunkers a player can stand up in, or play tall.) Much of this layout wants to bury the player's nose in the ground and that tendency must be resisted. Remember communication is just an extension of what you can see. It is important to play this field as tall as possible and maintain crossfield communication.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Being Charlie Sheen

Has absolutely nothing to do with today's post--other than it's an eclectic assortment of odds and ends of a paintball variety--and I'm still trying to decide if his recent interviews demonstrate nothing more than mental oddness (and who among us would deny a fellow his own epic reality as long as its harmless) or mental illness. But if nothing else old Charlie is about winning and who can argue with that? Asked if he was bi-polar he claimed to be bi-winning! "That's how I roll. And if it's too gnarly for people, then buh-bye," "Oh wait, can’t process it. Losers. Winning. Buh-bye." I for one would love to see Charlie Sheen writing press releases for the paintball industry. That would make me sit up straight and pay attention.

In case you missed it, it seems DC Arsenal (T4's personal money pit) has not only been reconstructed but has picked up the final CPL spot from a grateful Millennium Series.

And while I don't normally do this--in other team-related news TB Damage has made it official and added Alex Delannoy to the team roster. Nicknamed (as of last weekend) "Deuce" because he's the team's second Alex, behind Spence, Alex was one of those who attended a recent by invitation only tryout. Despite being French Alex proved to be a very solid player. He has the work ethic, attitude and desire to learn and succeed. Bon chance. (By the way I expect this to improve jersey sales to France. Get 'em while they're hot.)

Anyone want in on the betting pool for the date GOG paintball files suit on a patent infringement claim? (Did you get it? No? Think about it a little longer. It will come to you.) Dollar a day, winner takes all (minus overhead and administrative costs, of course.)

On the subject of getting old farts to play competitive paintball again I'd like to announce a tiny success I had absolutely nothing to do with. Some of my old teammates are putting the old team back together to play the next CFPS event in March. A bunch of them were out practicing the layout this past weekend and had a great time. In fact, from the moment Ed first suggested it the idea seemed to capture the imaginations of most of the guys despite the fact some of them hadn't touched a marker in as many as 6 or 7 years. And they weren't put off by the ROF or an xball field even though one of the guys insisted on using his Revy--unaccustomed as he was to the new heavyweight hoppers. There is no point to this happy little anecdote other than it took one guy to step up and say, "Hey, why don't we play some paintball? We haven't played in forever and, call me crazy but it sounds like fun."
On the downside the old team isn't playing the PSP despite the new rule changes and it's very unlikely they ever will. Most have families and the responsibilities that come along with that and don't have the drive, time or commitment anymore. But who knows, having gotten a fresh taste of the paintball drug they just may prove to be semi-regulars on the local scene again.

Speaking of the PSP it looks like the most official attendance numbers for Galveston will be 124, which is a 15 team improvement over last year's Phoenix season opening event. 124 is a very positive number given the number range the PSP was considering in their worst case scenario projections. It's important now to solidify a good start and build on it by getting everything in order (and the information out to the playing public) on the next event. The lack of continuity and sense that the near term future isn't settled is, in a word, unsettling.

NPPL 3.0 also has 124 teams registered for HB with plenty of time left for additional teams to get on board. While it isn't clear how many of the registered teams are paid the registrations alone indicate at least as much interest as last year. I am curious though as to how teams are responding to the new Stay, Play & Save policy and whether or not the league will really enforce the policy id or when push comes to shove. Regardless the Blast on the Beach appears to be on schedule and on target to help launch the 2011 NPPL season.

Oh, here's another one; Charlie-ism that is: "The only thing I'm addicted to right now is winning." Call me crazy but at least in the world of competitive paintball you could do a lot worse.