Tuesday, May 31, 2011

PSP Brings Webcast Back

At least for the Chicago event in June. Rumor has it that not everyone at the PSP is on board with this decision. How, you may wonder, could anyone in their right mind object to another awesome and entertaining webcast? From a player and fan perspective it looks like a win-win but there are other points of view. One source suggested it may cost the league upwards of 30K. That's a substantial piece of change for a league that is perpetually pleading poverty and telling its customer base, players and vendors alike, that survival depends on sometimes significant changes even though their costs won't see any relief. Fair enough but doesn't a complete turnaround in mid-season send at least a conflicting message? Can the league afford to do this or can't they? And if they can't, why are they? Heck, even if they can, why are they?
It is not from the gooey butter cream goodness of their hearts so what's the motivation? Is it because of the other guys? (The guys who did HB but not Chicago. The guys who are rumored to have turned down ESPN3 because ESPN wasn't gonna kick some cash into the project and the league had no more to spend. Those guys?)
I'm glad in a selfish way there's gonna be a webcast but we've been down this road before and nothing positive has come of it. Will a webcast generate enough paintball-wide interest to encourage new (or other) teams to participate in the PSP? Is the PSP doing a webcast just because the other guys did one? Is the PSP working on their own let's get back to TV angle? (Not that I've heard.) Maybe it's just me but I'm not seeing the point. And I'm not seeing the payoff. I don't see how a webcast in Chicago benefits the PSP or ever begins to pay for itself unless we're headed--once again--toward some sort of pay-per-view effort. Could that work? I'd like to think so but the track record ain't great.
What am I missing?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Monday Poll

Did you read the review portion first? No. I've a feeling this week's poll may make last week's poll look like a real hot topic. Yeah. That's right. Not so good but that has never stopped VFTD before and it ain't gonna stop me now. You know coming up with 52 ideas for Monday Polls every year is not that easy. Go on, give it a try. See?
What, am I gonna ask you to name your favorite CXBL team? I don't think so--but it does give me another idea. So here's what I've got from the recent competitive paintball news. Will Frank Connell retire more times than Brett Favre? If the Ultimate Ref really thinks Ollie head-butted Frank it explains a lot, doesn't it? Is the NPPL moving in the right direction? Will the recent buy out of PBN have any impact, either positive or negative, on the paintball community?
I admit it isn't a particularly exciting or thought-provoking list of possibilities but you owe me. A vote. A simple, easy-to-perform vote. It's painless. Mostly harmless. One click of your mouse. Don't be a bandwagon fan of VFTD. Vote even when the poll sucks.

Monday Poll in Review
Okay. Learn something new every day. Or week in this case. Y'all ain't that interested in the new PSP Tactical Race 2 divisions. That's cool. I see how it is. You play D3 so what do you care what those no game newbs in D4 are doing. I should'a known. But, since VFTD went with the poll I'ma at least gonna see where it all went. That and I've got a couple things to say about the Tactical (limited paint) idea. (If you've been paying any attention at all you knew that was coming.)
Those of you who bothered to participate figured this was a good opportunity to test out the concept with 46% of the vote. Tied at number was money-making gimmick (14%) and the (cynical) it's gonna flop big time (14%). A close third was Gonna help transition teams into national level competition (13%). Another cynical option was fourth (9%) in Looking to pump up event turnout. Closing out the poll with (2%) was Likely to pull teams from regular D4 divisions.
A quick look at the current PSP Chicago registration numbers puts everything into perspective--and also gives us a good idea how this experiment is likely to turn out. Nobody is signed up for Tactical Race 2-4. One team is signed up for Tactical Race 2-2. That team would be the NCPA No-Stars which isn't particularly surprising given that limited paint has long been championed by Raehl. Apparently paintball teams are finding this option about as exciting as you did when you decided to skip voting in this poll.
Apart from the near universal lack of interest I have a concern or two regarding limited paint anyway. It's probably a relatively harmless idea for new to tourney players and the lowest levels of competition. It's a terrible idea for upper division competition. In fact I will go further and state that without other serious game mods limited paint alone won't play. It will only work for inexperienced and beginning players. As a local option it could have some merit. As a national level option it looks like the majority perceive Tactical as a second class competition. For more details on limited paint check this out.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

PBN Sells Out!

Okay, maybe not or maybe they did that a long time ago--depending on your point of view--but you gotta admit it's a catchy title. (Did I mention the kids at ProPaintball have been doing good work lately? I didn't? Well, they have. Check out the PBN news here.) And while I'm at it the title is a link to the PBN news thread announcing the sale. (But you already know all this right?)
Here's an item or two you may not know. The Crowdgather folks have some detractors. (Right here!) And if you like legalese you can read all the down and dirty details of the deal right here.
(Link opens a pdf file.)
Now I'll be the first to admit I don't know how this dealio is gonna shake out but it appears that Crowdgather has so far only demonstrated an ability to lose (or spend) other people's (investors, one presumes) money. And if it is to be believed it appears Crowdgather isn't in the habit of dishing out real dollars for their past acquisitions so let's hope the cash is actual greenbacks (while they still retain some actual value.) Mostly I find these kind of paintball stories curiosities more than anything else but I do wonder what will become of the employees in the long run. And wasn't it Ed's kid who had the original idea for PBN? Is anybody cutting him a check? Curious (and idle) minds want to know. Sorta.

Blogger Error

It seems Blogger will not allow me to comment--at the moment. If this is also happening to you please try again later. Also, I don't know if something similar is affecting this week's Monday Poll volume or y'all find this one boring. This problem is affecting a significant number of Blogger users currently so hopefully there will soon be a fix.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Incident & The Rule Book

The best video record of the incident (that I'm aware of) can be seen here. Check it out. It's less entertaining than one might have hoped for. In fact it's little more than business as usual except for the names of the prime movers. A bit of controversy and a little drama aren't necessarily bad things for sports--unless it highlights an endemic problem and the sport in question is trying to establish its legitimacy as a sport.
My interest is not in the penalties assessed (except as they pertain to the rule book) nor in the personalities involved. I am not interested (in this post) in whether or not the refs got the call(s) right or not--though it appears they did not. What needs to be kept in mind is that the rule book defines the game we play and the refs adjudicate the process. That is, knowing the rules (oops!), they observe and assure the players play the game within the parameters set out by the rules and/or otherwise assign appropriate penalties for violations of the rules.
One problem competitive paintball has had from the very beginning is that certain of the rules were often written not in bright lines with clear boundaries but in such a way that the promoters could do whatever they wanted whenever they felt the need and use the rules as justification. And one problem the NPPL refs consistently struggle with is a lack of institutional control, a non-functioning hierarchy of authority and no independence whatsoever. Along with generally poor knowledge of the rules.
My question for the NPPL is which rules were applied to 'the incident'? And who made the decisions? And, while I'm at it, why wasn't anything done earlier that might have defused the situation?
As to which rules applied see below. All the relevant portions of all the relevant rules are there. Let's take a look. Neither of the prime movers was penalized under 21.06. How do I know? Because 21.06 also identifies the penalties that violations are subject to; 23.04 & 23.05, which are one game and 3-game suspensions. Nor were the prime movers subject to 21.07 because the penalty is a season long ejection.
Instead we are told each prime mover was given a 6 game suspension. Who handed out those suspensions? It's supposed to be the Head Referee. If it was he doesn't know his own rules and if it wasn't--that's another violation. From the first game of the day the two prime movers had been yapping at each other. (There's other video that shows some of the silliness.) There is no verbal abuse category for a 6 game suspension. There was physical contact but it didn't rise to the level of a so-called headbutt and it was initiated by one player, not both. It was physical contact that resulted in no injury to either party. By rule that's a 3 game suspension.
So again I ask: Which rules applied to the incident? Who made the suspension call? And why wasn't anything done earlier to defuse the situation?

The NPPL currently has an Ultimate Ref who is a nice but ineffectual guy. A Lead Ref who is incompetent and favors friends whether they are competent or not. The league has allowed back refs fired for incompetence and bias and the league rep chose to use his authority over the refs to target another pro team. The rules are meaningless if the designated enforcers of the rules don't know them, can't or won't enforce them or try to manipulate them to whatever end. Is this the new direction the NPPL is going?

21.06 Unsportsmanlike Conduct. Players will be eliminated if they engage in unsportsmanlike like conduct and will be subject to further penalties, see Rules 23.04 and 23.05. Unsportsmanlike conduct may include, but is not limited to:
Verbally abusing any players, spectators or Referees.

21.07 Embarrassing, Dangerous or Destructive Behavior. Teams and players participating in an NPPL sanctioned tournament shall not engage in conduct that would bring the NPPL, the promoter or any sponsor into disrepute. During any tournament weekend, players must not: ... harass or intimidate any individuals; provoke a physical altercation or otherwise incite violence, ... Any player caught violating this rule will be ejected for a full season. See Rule 23.06.

Suspensions, Disqualifications, Fine
23.01 Issuing Suspensions and Disqualifications. All Suspensions will be issued by the Head Referee of each field and kept track by the Commissioner. All Disqualifications will be issued by the Commissioner.

23.05 Three-Game Suspension. Players may be suspended, causing the team to play short for three games for the following infractions:
(2) Physical contact. Physical contact during or after play that does not result in injury (e.g., shove, grab, shoulder-bump).
(3) Verbal abuse.

23.06 Six-Game Suspension. Players will be ejected and the team will play short for six games for the following:
(2) Physical contact. Physical contact during or after play (e.g., spit, punch or kick).

23.07 One-Year Suspension. Any player or team that violates Rule 21.07 shall be prohibited from competing in any NPPL tournament for a period of up to one year from the date of the infraction.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Special Tuesday Edition: The Monday Poll

Last week, amid little fanfare (mostly because VFTD hasn't commented on it yet) the PSP announced Tactical Race 2-4 & Tactical Race 2-2 for D4 plus a one size fits all pump division. In this instance tactical means limited paint. Each player gets a full hopper and the team gets 5 pods to divvy up anyway they like. That's it. Otherwise the field and the game and the objectives are the same. The new divisions will be scheduled so as not to interfere with one another (or regular D4 Race 2) and the PSP not only will allow but has issued a challenge of sorts to teams and players to compete in as many D4 eligible brackets as they can. What VFTD wants to know this week is your first impression of the new tactical divisions. Just what does the PSP have in mind? You decide. Then you vote. Then you return a few times a day to see how it's going until you're invested in your answer "winning" at which point you start harassing all your soon-to-be-former-friends to come stop by and vote. Nicely done. That's the way to step up and make a difference.

Monday Poll in Review
Last week's question wanted to know who would win the NPPL Chicago event. The poll closed early so actual results wouldn't play a role in the voting--though I needn't have bothered as apparently nobody knew what was going on in Chicago most of the time--except Saturday night when the NPPL Facebook page received plenty of updates on the bikini contest. Priorities, you know. Anyway, the bandwagon for Dynasty ran away with the vote--and turned out to be correct. Don't you hate it when that happens? I can't stand hyperventilating fanboys unless of course they are my hyperventilating fanboys. (Slow deep breaths. Relax, PeeWee. Sure, Yosh will be happy to sign your forehead.) That part of the vote was no great surprise. After all Dynasty has dominated so far this year. They ought to be the favorites. Damage got votes based on last year's results and nobody other than Infamous got more than 3 votes which only goes to show how quickly the "fans"--such as they are--forget. Until the wheel of fortune returns to one team or another and suddenly paintball's tiny nook in cyberspace is once again filled with the mewling of adoring, lifetime fans. Can you say fickle, boys & girls?

NPPL Chicago 2011

This is less about the totality of the event than some of the odds and ends that interest me--or had an impact on me and/or the team. If you're hoping for a blow by blow on the showdown between Frank & Ollie I'm going to disappoint you. Sounds like it was awesome theater but I didn't see it. The same goes for the call? (or non-call) that brought an afternoon of sniping to a head. (Apparently.) But I do want to discuss officiating.

[Disclaimer: our results had nothing to do with the quality or lack thereof of the officiating. We earned our result. The fact that the reffing has been mediocre at best really can't be disputed. It's so blatantly poor even Stevie Wonder sees it.]

I was supposed to spend two or three hours Thursday afternoon with the refs and league officials with the goal of instituting guidelines and a methodology for dealing with run throughs, bunker moves and the like--along with some other general suggestions. Needless to say it didn't happen. Our flight was late leaving Tampa and bags were lost in transit--and then there was the rush hour traffic we were caught in due to all the delays. As it turned out however many of the refs were missing too.
I was looking forward to having the opportunity to make a difference and hopefully help the refs and improve the results. Today I'm less interested in bothering. Not only wouldn't all the refs have been present but it appears there's more amiss than a logistical failure from both sides. A ref I know was fired last year for cause and bias was working in Chicago. I'm told (from within the fraternity of refs) that many of the best are fed up and unwilling to return. In part it's the pay but it's also internal cliques and favoritism--and a lack of real authority from the top. And if you're wondering if I'm not risking some sort of retribution the truth is I'm not sure how much worse it can get. You see, the league rep, who didn't make it out of the prelims, decided my guys are cheaters and directed the refs to watch us with extra diligence. Targeted purposefully is about as bad as it can get, I think. (I've no intention of naming names or calling out other players because I'm not interested in starting a feud or tearing anybody down but the fact is there is little or no hope of ever getting the officiating under control when the league rep in charge can use the refs to satisfy his personal whim or vendetta.)
If the league wishes to use my ideas they have them, in writing, and can implement them anytime they like.
Otherwise I'm informed there's a lot of excitement around some ideas Pev has for the league. Hopefully they will include the reffing and be better than the blindingly inane chatter between the VIP DJ and the roving microphone that was supposed to be energizing and entertaining. (I must confess tho that when Pev repeatedly called the available bbq "off the hook" I found his wooden hipness very amusing.) If Chicago was an example of what the future holds I'm not sure it will include paintball. NPPL's Facebook page was far more fascinated by the bikini contest and results than it was the actual competition. Just the sort of innovative thinking that drove past incarnations of the NPPL outta business.
Last year the two events, Living Legends & the NPPL tourney, were separated by the main parking lot the vendors on a gravel lot and the two tournament fields beyond that. The vendors were sorely disappointed the scenario crowds failed to make the trek to check them out. This time around the vendors were mostly in one of the main parking lots with the paint trucks and the two tourney fields on patches of grass adjacent to the gravel lot. The grandstand field had turf over gravel along the snake side of the field as the grass patch wasn't big enough for a whole field. Neither field's grass was mowed. I don't know if the vendors fared any better this year but compared to last year the venue had a more makeshift, temporary feel about it. (And from the parking used I would guess the turnout for Living Legends was probably down, too.)
I overheard part of a conversation (during breakfast at our hotel one morning) about venues that was interesting. Particularly in light of the seeming fact that this just past NPPL event got about as much paintball media attention as the typical Millennium Series event get's in the U.S.--which is to say damn little. Three of the league's four venues struggle to pull 75 teams including Vegas. (If my count was correct there were 54 non-Pro teams at Chicago.) The suggestion was that the NPPL put an event in Canada because 7-man is still strong in western Canada. The potential drawback is getting gear into Canada and the need to get passports. But hey, Impact does it all the time, right? There's also talk of combining the NPPL Vegas event with the WCPPL final. If that happens the size of the event will double.
On a more positive note it's a good thing for the pro division to have some different teams coming to the forefront; Legend in HB and now Uprising in Chicago. The more parity the league can produce the better--if the league can take advantage of the potential for heightened uncertainty and drama. Time will tell. We've got all summer to wait to see what comes next.

For those wondering there will be a special Tuesday edition of The Monday Poll later today.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chicago NPPL: TBD

Hey kids. It's still Monday--but just barely. It was a long weekend and a busy day today. Got home around 3am and I need my beauty sleep. I'ma dividing my comments on the event between team-related observations and general event comments because some of my general comments will not be particularly complementary and I want to (hope to) separate the two given how poorly the team played.
Most of what I think about our performance isn't for public consumption, not because I would unleash a tirade of curses (although it's tempting) but because the core of any team is the unity and camaraderie based, in part, on trust--a trust that is violated if it isn't kept private. Within those limitations none of what follows is an excuse. There are no excuses. A team succeeds or fails together. So far this season we are struggling.
Most teams (and most competitors) spend the majority of their careers reaching for the top, trying to be the best. Most don't succeed. The lack of ultimate success makes (and keeps) a player (and a team) hungry. It keeps them loose 'cus they have nothing to lose. But once a player or a team have been to the top it changes everything.
The first thing I told the team this year was that the only thing harder than winning a championship is repeating. Every competitor has the desire, the hunger. Not every competitor stays hungry after being successful or has the fortitude to continue to succeed when that success is expected. Expectation can be a burden.
For us 7-man is the more difficult transition which is perhaps ironic considering the level of success we enjoyed last season but it's true. Team chemistry and player roles matter more in 7-man than in the format formerly known as xball. Our roster is necessarily different this year but the talent to be successful is still there. We haven't forgotten how to play, we just need to adjust to the new reality. To relax, love to play, play hard, have fun and believe. Nothing to it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Burning Question: Pony's New Playground

Recently the kids over at ProPaintball reported that your pal and mine, Chris LaSoya, was taking his skills to Infamous for the rest of the year in a move that reunites him with some former teammates.
It also means he's trading in his Ego for an Axe. And more to the point, it means he'll be shooting RPS. How's that gonna work given he works for GI Sportz? He does still work for GI Sportz, right? "Since sponsors started to put the lock down on where we could play I have been moving around from team to team, but now I can get back to where my heart is. I am looking forward to the rest of this year for sure!", Chris said. Or not?

Whatever, few people have ever loved playing the game as much as Chris and watching Chris play is one of the few things that puts a smile on my face.

A Tool For Every Job

Y'all just dodged a metaphorical bullet. Having nothing topical I was about to pick up where 'A Bar Too High' left off--and nobody wants that. (VFTD has to do stuff like that periodically to maintain my credibility as the iconoclastic fringe of the intellectual wing of competitive paintball. Yes, it's a very tiny niche. A deadbox puppet army of one, you might even say.) Anyway, as I was saying, you dodged that bullet.
Today's premise is there's a tool for every job--and y'all are gonna help (by playing along) thus killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. But first let me explain. It's like this: there's a fanboy for every gat, an aggot for all things agg, a waiting bandwagon for every fad and a hall monitor, or forum commander or whatever, for every thread at PBN. What I want from you (yes, you) are other combinations matching tools and jobs wherever you find them in the wide world of paintball.
Keep in mind the piss poor job you did (no, not you, the other guy, YES YOU) on the last two Another Cynical VFTD Game(s) and the fact ProPaintball's identical poll to The Monday Poll is kicking butt. [The least you could do is vote in The Monday Poll--and get all your friends to drop by and vote, too.] They may be drones and clones over there but they know how to vote. Which ought to shame you (yes, you) lazy slackers into action but the truth is you're spoiled. Well, I'ma taken a few days off.
Fact is if you don't keep yourself occupied when you drop by in the next few days you will be out of luck. I'm outta here tomorrow morning and I won't be posting during the event.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Monday Poll

I'm going with the most obvious and easiest possible poll this week: Pick the winner of the NPPL Chicago Open--or whatever name they've given it. You've got until midday on Friday to cast your vote. With no webcast to watch and scores updated with the haste of a maple syrup drip in December I could probably give you more time--but I'm not going to. The poll will close about the time the teams start play on Friday. So jump on your favorite bandwagon now, make your pick from the HB results or check the early poll results first so you can vote along with the popular kids. Just make sure you vote before Friday.

Monday Poll in Review
On the near anniversary of the original Monday Poll, which queried your vote as to the lamest MLP site, last week's poll asked you lot to vote on the generic paintball website that sucks the most. Alas, it didn't turn out to be all that much fun. For a number of reasons. At a guess I would say most of you didn't have a clue what most of the websites listed looked like as you aren't quite as cosmopolitan in your paintball website taste as one might have hoped for. Or else you actually have lives--which didn't occur to me until it was too late. So the results aren't a huge surprise although I'm inclined to think most of them are anomalous for one reason or another. Not that it matters. The Monday Poll is not scientific nor intended for any purpose other than my entertainment.
Not that I minded all the votes VFTD received--yeah, that was funny all right, the first ten times--but after that it simply demonstrated a lack of wit along with your default sheep-like tendencies. (Not that I'm passing judgment or anything. Sheep are people too. Kinda.) The "aren't we just so clever" vote for VFTD tallied 13% of the total. (On the off chance you really don't like it all I can say is pearls before swine.) (No, not you. The other guy.)
The other prime voter getters were TechPB (40%), Paintball.com (7%) & PBN (6%). Warpig and P8ntballer.com managed a weak 4% each followed by a couple of handfuls of mostly 1 percenters collecting a few random votes with an honorable mention to M Carter Brown at 3%. What's wrong with this picture? By type the majority of votes went to forums. By and large all the forums run off the same software, look and work the same way and provide the same general services. Under those circumstances the votes should reflect familiarity more than anything else because there isn't really anything else that distinguishes them. Yet TechPB got far and away the most votes. Odds are there was a push promoted by PBN to inundate VFTD with TechPB votes because they could and they wanted to see TechPB "win." If true, that's fine but since the results have clearly been manipulated VFTD is voiding the results and naming a uniquely worthy paintball website as the one that sucks the most.
Congrats to the APPA website. It's an eyesore without equal. And like its creator its pedantic and a pain in the ass. And while it does serve a purpose it also takes your money.
While I'm at a few other sites deserve an honorable mention or two for the various ways they too suck. Warpig is the OG of info sites--and looks older than it is. A face lift wouldn't hurt.
Then there's Facefull's portal to cyberspace. Did anyone ever order the magazine based on what they saw at the website? Apparently not otherwise the recent hibernation wouldn't have been necessary.
And if you slept thru a visit to Paintball.com nobody could really blame you. It's back, it's fresh, it's new and exciting. No, wait, actually it's none of those things. Most of the fresh material hasn't been updated in months and the rest of the content looks like it once appeared in APG before the turn of the last century.
The final honorable mention goes to the Big Bullet aka 68 Caliber. While the Big Bullet does feature more unique paintball news items than most other info sites it looks like it's trying to compete with Warpig. (We're really not as old but we make up for that by looking old and tired.) Nor does the Bullet work well with IE 8 often blocking out parts of articles on linked pages. And it's probably just me but I like photos that are in focus.
One other site is worthy of a special mention and that site is X3, the online magazine portal. Not for its design--which is clean and quite decent--and not for its content--which is, um, inclusive (mostly) when it comes to paintball. Nope, X3 earns its special mention for the active counter of visitors currently online tucked away at the bottom right. I won't say the numbers are bogus but ...
The last word on this poll is lighten up. Okay, the last two words on this poll. Lighten up. You people are boring.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

No Chicago NPPL Webcast

That is the word from an impeccable source buried deep within the bowels of the NPPL. (And I can't--don't want to--imagine how unpleasant that must be.) The source pleaded ignorance when it came to the details but was willing to assert that a dialogue remains open between the league and the ESPN3 peeps. Additionally a different source suggested that xbox numbers are more difficult to assess with final xbox numbers likely available the end of this month. What impact, if any, that might have is unclear.

Friday, May 13, 2011

VFTD Notice

Seems Blogger has been on the fritz since sometime last night. The automated response pages assure that everything, including prior postings, will be back to normal at some point in the near future. We'll see. It appears the only missing post is the Zack Patient Pro*file. In the meantime solider on, Sunshine.

UPDATE: I can't replace lost comments but if the Pro*file doesn't return I'll repost it tomorrow sometime.
UPDATE2: Zack is back. Still nothing on lost comments.

NPPL Chitown Webcast?

Lost to the Blogger hiccup were some of the comments to the Burning Question below. A couple of which were very interesting because they appeared to be predicated on information similar to the drips and drabs passed along to me.
What we know--the NPPL, less than a week away from the event, has made no formal announcement about any sort of webcast. One commenter claimed there would be a webcast. Another claimed that the numbers from the HB broadcast weren't sufficient to entice ESPN3 to pay for future broadcasts out of their pockets. Which is an interesting way of framing a response. It implies ESPN3 made a decision not to move forward. It also (kinda) implies the HB viewer numbers didn't reach their targets. It also avoids being an outright falsehood--at least given what I think I know--which suggests to me the commenter knew what he was talking about.
Here's where it gets tricky. This story is a big deal for competitive paintball and could have greater implications for the league as well--but at the same time the league wants to keep what it considers its business private until it has something to promote in a press release. Yet here we are less than a week away from the Chicago event and there has been no news about anything. Given that the NPPL and its member teams, along with numerous other paintball websites, made a very public and concerted push to get the paintball community to sigh up and watch the HB live broadcast on ESPN3 it seems to me they owe that same community some sort of response as to what happened. Or that some of you people (yes, you) would show some interest and start demanding some answers.

I am not--at this time--gonna tell you what I've been told about all this because I don't have permission to use the info for a VFTD post or postings. (If I get it, I will.) But here are a couple of questions worth asking, and re-asking. If there is a Chicago webcast will it be affiliated with any outside of paintball broadcaster or media company? If not, does that mean the latest attempt to gain the interest of a company like ESPN--not to say ESPN itself--has failed? Is there any truth to the rumors the viewer numbers exceeded the target numbers?

Millennium Shenanigans

If you paid any attention at all to the post on the Bitburg layout you will recall that the giant M was offset in all the official diagrams, grid & 3-Ds, the MS posted on their site. (The same ones remain the official layout illustrations at the time of this posting.) Which is why I pass along this tidbit of information; it seems the giant M is, and always was, intended to be part of a symmetrical design. Meaning--it ain't supposed to be offset. VFTD's source has ties with a certain French team that ought to know--and apparently does. Unlike most everybody else. VFTD's Bitburg analysis has even been translated into French and posted on the SOP site so the correct layout isn't widely known even in France.
Will the Bitburg fields be symmetrical? Will the MS erect fields that match what they posted as the official layout? Will only a handful of teams end up practicing on the "correct" layout in advance of the tourney? If this error was simply an oversight, a mistake, why hasn't anyone in the MS made any effort to correct it? Are they so incompetent that nobody has noticed?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pro*file: Zack Patient

Bet you weren't expecting a Pro*file, were you? Me either, but Zack was bored in class one day and so here we are. Consider this a friendly reminder that the opportunity remains open ended if you happen to be a pro player. Hit VFTD up anytime and we'll make it happen. Now, back to Zack. (Photo courtesy of FeatureThisPB.com)

Name: Zack Patient
Age: 19
Hometown: Palos Heights, IL
Occupation: Employed student bullet shooter
Family: Both my rents Larry, Sherri, and my sister Teri. Yeah, I’m the one left out without the rhyming name
Interests other than paintball: Love to snowboard in the winter, skimboard in the summer, hanging out with my friends and getting wild in the chi!

1. What was your first paintball experience and who introduced you to the game?
Back when I was about nine years old, I went to my friend’s birthday party at the badlandz and I’ve been hooked ever since. My first paintball friend had to be Nick Van Gemert. He brought me up in the beginning and [we] are definitely still good friends ten years later.

2. What team do you play for now?
Chicago Aftershock and Windsor Lockdown

3. What teams have you played for in the past?
Thunderstruck, Denver Altitude, RNT Allstarz, LIFT, Excessive

4. What role do you play on your current team?
I’m the guy that everyone laughs at before the point because I get sent the farthest haha but I play front dorits or snake. Love my job on the field

5. Who are your favorite paintball players?
I really don’t have a favorite player. I respect a lot of people in the game and try to make myself as rounded as I can from the things I notice from other players

6. What’s your best paintball experience or memory?
There is no way I can pinpoint a specific experience or memory through my paintball career that stands out the most. I’ve played on numerous teams from all over the place and have met so many amazing people I truly feel blessed. Winning is definitely hard to forget with my best friends on DA and RNT, but I’m seriously dedicated to my teams now and look forward to helping them achieve the dream!

7. What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve done in order to play paintball?
Haha ohh man there are a couple crazy things that come to mind. One was when DA played 7-man in Tampa, we were so broke that when we all flew in we had zero funds for a rental car. We ended up selling some paint or something and rented a busted down U-Haul van. The funny thing was that only two people could sit in the front and the rest of us had to ride in the pitch black back of the U-Haul on our way to the field haha we would jump around and throw stuff at each other it was nuts. Never forget when Towlie rode in the back naked haha if you knew him you would understand. RIP

8. What are the single most important lesson the up and comer needs to learn?
I believe it’s the dedication aspect you have to have to achieve greatness, not only in the paintball world but also in anything. If you eliminate the controversy and stay focused on your goal, it will come. I’ve played a lot of sports throughout my life and realized everything isn’t always going to be fair. You have to block out all the bs and give them no choice but to pick you up, put you in, or whatever it is!

9.What keeps you playing paintball?
My dedication to become the best. I’m addicted to winning and that feeling you get when your hard work pays off, especially with your best friends. If it wasn’t for my friends keeping me going I don’t think I would be where I am today. Definitely want to thank my mom, Nick, Yaya, Damian and LJ for keeping me somewhat sane haha

10. Do you have any superstitions related to playing paintball?
I definitely have to have my rings on while I play. There have been times where I had to turn around (already being late) and go back to the hotel or house to get them. No one really understands why I’m so weird about it but that’s a big superstition. I have habits and routines like before matches I always walk around with my headphones on and put myself in a zone. You might see me by myself like a goon in a corner blaring my music and stretching. That definitely gets me ready before I play!

Bonus Picks (Choose one of each pair listed)
(Ketchup/Mustard) ketchup fosh
(Coffee/Tea) neither, kush and OJ!
(Whole grains/white bread) Whole grain Im a health freak
(Pizza/Steak) Love both
(Dog/Cat) Dog, hate cats so much
(Car/Truck) Fast cars
(Harley/Ducati) Ducati
(Gym/Beach) Gym then hit the beach after
(TV/movies) Movies, everything on TV is garbage
(PS3/Xbox) xbox, COD and NHL all day
(Ken/Barbie) Big titty blonde duhh

VFTD: Seems Zack didn't quite grasp the idea behind the bonus picks but that's okay 'cus he's a dog person. Still, I can't help but wonder if he didn't go overboard on the last one. You got nothing to prove, Zack. Thanks for participating.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Burning Question

Time is short and still no official word from the NPPL on any sort of follow-up webcast, with or without, ESPN3. What happened at HB? Is the league making any progress? What's next? Anything other than another disappointment?

Another Cynical VFTD Game

Earlier this month--it's still May--VFTD posted a different 'Another Cynical VFTD Game' which practically begged you lazy slackers to send in positive stories of your paintball experiences. Knowing full well, of course, that you wouldn't bother. (I wonder how many of you advocating bringing a friend or friends to play paintball as an easy and positive way to contribute personally to saving paintball ever bothered to do that either. Yeah, that's what I thought.) Two, count 'em, two of you (no, not you) sorta made an effort to send in a positive paintball story. And only one was legit if largely inscrutable despite the fact it was nominally written in English. The other was a thinly veiled raehl attempt to cheer lead the NCPA. (I only mention it here because despite raehl's involvement I'm a big fan of the NCPA and a strong believer in its potential to proliferate competitive paintball.) (Okay, fine. He's really done a pretty good job. Happy?) Anyway, as far as taking an opportunity to put out positive paintball stories y'all suck.

The game this time is to send VFTD stories of paintball gone wrong--preferably with you as the victim. It can be a cautionary tale, a comic anecdote or a rage-filled remembrance of how paintball once screwed you over. It's the darkside's turn to be drawn out into the light of day and displayed for all to see. So pretty much the exact opposite of positive paintball stories. As before you can post them up in comments or send them to Baca's email (link on the sidebar.)
You and I both know how this is gonna turn out. VFTD is gonna receives lots more negative stories because you (yes, you) can't help yourself. Last time it didn't matter that I mocked y'all in advance for not doing what I knew you wouldn't do--even that didn't motivate anyone--and this time around you won't be able to resist sending something in even though you know it makes all y'all (yes, you) look bad.

The way I look at it if you're determined to be lazy slackers and faithless bastards I at least should be entertained in the process--and I thank you.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Monday Poll

The first ever The Monday Poll appeared in the middle of May two years ago and wanted to know which major league website sucked the most. (It was a runaway win for the old PSP website; ugly, hard to navigate, a general pain in the ...) In honor of that first poll VFTD revisits the idea and this week asks the question: What paintball website sucks the most?
There is no right or wrong answer. Ask the Magic 8-ball. Sacrifice a chicken. Read the tea leaves. Take into consideration what the site claims to provide. Does it deliver? Is it modern and good-looking? Does it make you proud to be a paintball player? Is it easy to navigate? Do you enjoy the content? Learn anything? Whatever criterion you use this is your opportunity to decide which paintball website sucks the most. (VFTD will be included just so I don't have to hear from the whiners--and because I don't really care what you think.)
I have left out manufacturers, stores, owner's groups and the like otherwise the list would have been endless.
Have fun. Mock the losers. Post up in comments why you voted for the lame site you voted for. Nothing will encourage our website owners to be better like a little ridicule and mockery. Vote now. (The list will include every paintball website I can come up--without working too hard or searching for an exhaustive listing.)

Monday Poll in Review
Last week's poll question wanted to know the average amount you spend playing a day's paintball. The break between double digit percentages and single digit percentages came at around the 80% mark. 80% of all respondents spent $75 or less for a day's paintball. The numbers broke down as follows: less than $50 (32%), $50 (17%), $60 (13%), $75 (14%). The remaining 20% of poll respondents paid more than $75 for a day's paintball. (It would be really interesting to see how the amount spent corresponds geographically. Does the area of the country make a difference?) The above $75 group broke down like this: $90 (2%), $100 (8%), $120 (5%), $150 (1%), above $150 (4%). (It would also be interesting to see if anyone responding to the poll was a renter.)
Here's a bit of conjecture outside the parameters of the poll's data; it looks to me like the majority of players aren't shooting more than a case of paint regardless of the price of that paint which would also suggest that over the top high ROF concerns might be somewhat overblown--or else the perps aren't playing for very long. Figure air & field fees run from $15-$30 and in the $75 and under categories that leaves enough (maybe) for a typical case of paint. At the high end the cost could reflect the purchase of multiple cases of paint but it seems unlikely renegade anti-social punks are the majority of those purchases. Particularly when you realize these percentages also represent fields like Reiner's that use cost to regulate paint usage and practice paint for divisional tourney players. Doesn't seem an unreasonable guess anyway--based on this data.

Baca's Rules of the Game

Did you check out VFTD's Facebook page for rule #14? Well, it's your lucky day, slacker, as I intend to list all the available rules of the game. Not because I'm just that kind of decent guy. (You should really know better by now.) I want your ideas for rules of the game--which I will then shamelessly steal, claim for my own (if they are any good) and add to the list. Alternatively, (when you have no original ideas--like usual) it will be confirmed and unassailable that my rules are the best--and you got jack. Winner!
So put your rules ideas up in comments--or don't. And if you're not quite sure what might make for a rule, read the list.

Baca's Rule #3: Players cheat. Enough with the tantrums, stomping your feet and balling up your fists when you're whining to the refs about the other guy cheating you. Get over it. You cheat too. I know you cheat and you know you cheat so shut up. What you really want is refs who are only good enough to catch the other guy. If there's anything worse than a cheater it's a hypocritical whiny little bitch.

Baca's Rule #6: The shiny perfection of your gat is in inverse proportion to your ability to use it.

Baca's Rule #7: If you routinely dish out bonusballs quit squealing like a schoolgirl when you are on the receiving end. It's unmanly and pathetic. (Unless you happen to be a schoolgirl in which case it's okay. And could you post it on You Tube? Thanks.)

Baca's Rule #8: Communication is vision.

Baca's Rule #9: ROF is not the determinative factor in paint consumption.

Baca's Rule #10: effective shooting isn't the ability to put 15 balls on target, it's the ability to put the first ball on target.

Baca's Rule #14: most aftermarket parts are purely cosmetic. Those that aren't are still, more often than not, unnecessary. (Call me all the names you like but, please, no sticks and stones. I have sensitive skin and a soft head.)

Baca's Rule #17: 'Speedball' refers to any non-woods variant of paintball in which the participants imagine they are playing competitive paintball.

Baca's Rule #19: The ability to spastically twitch the index finger of either hand like an epileptic having a seizure is NOT a skill.

Baca's Rule #23: There are two kinds of cheaters in paintball, honest and dishonest. The majority of "honest" cheaters play out in the open where everyone can see and the bulk of the "dishonest" cheaters skulk around in the woods. There is a certain irony then in the fact it is the "honest" cheaters who are most often condemned. There is, however, a special corner of hell for the "dishonest" cheaters where Nine Inch Nails is the house band and they will be performing show tunes for eternity.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Rule of the Game

Baca's Rule #8: Communication is vision.

I'ma bringing back an old regular feature; Rule of the Game. Far as I could tell the last one--before this one--appeared back in 2009. I have some new ideas for Rule of the Game. Like not duplicating any numbers this time ... and maybe some other stuff. See rule #14 over at the VFTD Facebook page, for example. More over the weekend.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Burning Question

If PSP event #3 ends up in Jersey (as current rumor suggests) will that mean the league is giving up on the Left Coast?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Bar Too High

The fate of UK competitive paintball is being discussed over at P8ntballer--and it's of some interest--given nothing much is happening. (Although I'm beginning to seriously wonder what's become of the NPPL's attempt to engage ESPN & the next ESPN3 broadcast. I've heard a rumor or two but nothing of consequence and, as it's said, the hour approaches.) It's no doubt of considerably more interest to some of the UK kids, as well it should be. But here's the part I'm intrigued by; the path competitive paintball has followed in different countries. The UK is dominated by rental sites that cater--to the near exclusion of everything else (walk-ons, team practices, etc.)--to rental players and groups only. As a result players who became more involved and bought their own gear etc. were limited in the available outlets of play and (so it seems to me anyway) largely turned to tournament play. Or perhaps more of a Tournament Lite. Some teams, but not a lot, took it more seriously than others and trained and improved and worked their way up but many more didn't. When xball came along (including Euroland's bastard child, Xball Lite) the paradigm began to shift. With competitive paintball being transformed into sport so too the participants needed to be turned into athletes and competitors. That shift has had its effect around the paintball world. In the UK it has left competitive paintball in a shambles because a significant portion of their tourney base were really displaced recreational players. There are some who hope to turn that around but have yet to forge a viable plan for doing so.
Meanwhile, in places like Germany (where the development of paintball was almost the reverse of the UK in that tourney & team play has spawned recreational and training facilities) paintball is growing or at least solidly entrenched. The largest national league, the DPL, has around 300 teams competing around the country. What did they do to make that happen?
A few years ago Scandinavian (and particularly Swedish) tourney ball was very strong. It may well be it still is--I just don't know. But again, there's the same question of how did they organize successfully? Did the Germans follow their lead or did each follow a unique path?
There are other examples as well--and I'm very interested in the answers--because I'm inclined to think a significant factor in the decline of competitive paintball in the U.S. (at least in terms of the number of teams participating) shares some commonalities with the UK situation.

[Mix in the fact that PBIndustry policy frequently treated point of contact stores and fields like Sherman's Army marching through Georgia and we're well on our way towards a recipe for disaster.]

A bar too high. (I've mentioned this concept before so if you remember it, good for you and if not, it's new all over again.) The drive to legitimize competitive paintball as sport forced a lot of changes, first on the Pro teams--as did the routines & training of the Russian Legion. The effort to compete with the Russians forced the Pro teams to become more professional in their approach with fitness, drills, training & player development, etc. The whole attitude of the competitive side of paintball was transformed by both the conception of competitive paintball as sport and by the consequent demands it placed on teams. It raised the bar on what was required to be competitive. More money. More time. Greater commitment.
And it trickled down.
In magazine articles about the pro players and teams. In the How-To articles. In the nature of the xball format itself. In the shifting demographic skewing always younger. In the fever swamp created by the mirage of TV.

While I am foursquare behind the conception of competitive paintball as legit sport and have nothing but respect & admiration for the players and teams, regardless of current level or achievement, who are willing to make the necessary sacrifices in order to strive to be the best--it has created a gulf between the average rec baller and tournament paintball. It has raised the bar to entry so high it is driving potential players away. The transition used to be easier, smoother, less demanding. Out at our home field most every weekend you will find D5 & D4 teams grinding away. (Which, after a fashion, is pretty awesome.) They're doing drills, breakouts and scrimmaging. They are working, not playing. And where does that leave the kid or father and son who have been playing recreationally for a while and are curious about the tournament experience?

Next time I'll talk about the two tracks.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Monday Poll

Wow, it's that time again already. Another week has passed and it's Monday once again. Would it surprise you if I told you the NPPL website is covered with Xs that look like an xball prop? (It really is.) (Wassup with that by the way?) Would it surprise you if I told you there's another diabolically clever 'Another Cynical VFTD Game' coming this weekend? (I do!) (And it is!) (Diabolically clever, d'oh.) Would it surprise you if I have nothing this week for The Monday Poll? (I know, you cheated and already noticed there's a new poll up so what is really surprising is that I'm asking such a dumb question in the first place. Yeah, well, screw you--and I mean that in the most polite and hospitable way possible.)
This week VFTD wants to know what an average day of paintball costs--you. It doesn't matter if it's team practice, an all day Big Game, a routine day of rec play or whatever else comprises your typical day of paintball play. When you calculate the cost though please leave out things like gasoline for the drive and the drive thru at Dunkin' Donuts. Stick with costs that are directly part and parcel of playing some paintball. You know, air, field fees, paint, rentals, etc. Whatever applies in your situation. Then go and find the cost option in the poll that comes closest to the number you calculated for an average day of paintball. Piece of cake. (No, there's no actual cake involved.) Vote and see how what you pay compares to what others around the country--and even the world--pay for an average day of paintball.
Go on. What are you waiting for? An invitation? You're invited. Vote already.

Monday Poll in Review
Last week's Monday Poll wanted to know what items of paintball equipment you were (are) most likely to buy used. The answers probably confirmed what everyone assumed, at least about the most popular second hand items, but they also surprised me with respect to how few votes some items received. Guns grabbed 83% of the voters. (Since voters were allowed to vote for more than one item the percentages here indicate what percentage of all voters voted for a particular category.) This was number one by a large margin. Second was loaders at 49% and barrels took the third spot with 38%. Last among the big four was compressed air at 36%. A few years ago air probably would have ranked higher back when the purchase new price was a lot steeper than it is today.
After the big four there's a big drop-off to gearbags at 18% closely followed by jerseys (17%), packs (16%) and goggles (13%). Pants & backpacks tied at 9% followed by pads at 7%. The rest of items; sliders, cleats, paintball-related casual, gloves didn't total 5% cumulatively.
For the most part it seems that the gear that comes with the highest brand new prices are the most popular second hand items. But it also seems to be true that there is resistance to some of the categories that isn't related to price. For example one might think goggles would have scored better given new prices for the most popular systems on the market but it also seems that some players are averse to buying second-hand goggles. And the jersey market has other factors that need to be taken into consideration. Now you know what will sell and what you might as well keep 'cus nobody is gonna buy it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Another Cynical VFTD Game

This one though is unlike any other ever attempted here at VFTD. This time y'all are on the hot seat(s). Thing is I'm bored and there isn't all that much going on. The 'How Big is Paintball?' group page on Facebook has turned into everybody's cheap date--and you know I mean party slut--for their own paintball promotions, which, if you think about it tells you everything you need to know about the non-playing parts of paintball. Then there's the announcement that something called The Paintball University is expanding on last year's rousing 'Woman of the Year' success by adding a 'Man of the Year' award with both to be announced at Living Legends in a few short weeks. (If you're looking for links to any of these, keep looking, 'cus I ain't providing any.) Not only do they get to award some member(s) of their happy little inbred family with meaningless self-congratulatory plaques they also get the benefit of simultaneously promoting the university and its services minus the usual mercenary overtones. Of course if their website is any indication they's still living in the 80s. I know, I shouldn't be so cynical and it's really largely harmless--so that's all I'ma say about that. (VFTD cares. I look forward to your angry comments and semi-literate emails.)

Today's Another Cynical VFTD Game asks you (yes, you) to send VFTD a positive paintball story--preferably a true one. And if there are any good ones or any really bad ones they will receive feature billing and be posted under the 'Positively Paintball' heading as counters to my routine cynicism. If you are wondering why this is another cynical VFTD game here's the beauty of this game. You (yes, you) aren't going to do it. You can't be bothered. Somebody else will send one in. And in choosing not to participate you (yes, you) will be proving my point and confirming my cynicism. Clever, yes? So, get to writing. (haha) I'm really looking forward to all those positive paintball stories y'all will be sending in. Not.