Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The EPBF Strikes Back

Never heard of the EPBF before? Relax, you're in good company. The EPBF is the European Paint-Ball Federation. (Yeah, I know. They're European. Do I need to say more?) The brain child of Euroland's paintball elites it began as a dream. If some bureaucracy is good, and who can doubt that it is, then more must be better and the EPBF is intent on proving it. First there was the Intercontinental Cup in '06 (in which 4 sacrificial CPL got mowed at WC and the paintball world yawned.) (True story.) Today--or rather this upcoming weekend--years of EPBF determination will result in a Nations Cup event played during Campaign Cup, or rather, after each day's regularly scheduled matches. (And the nations cheered. Yea.)
Okay, there's more to it than that. There's also an international ranking system, take that, APPA, based (sorta) on the model of tennis. (Yes, I know. But they're European. I thought you understood that part.) Complete with Grand Slam events, Masters events & a few others with big numbers. I confess however to being slightly confused. You see, a lot of the numbers (teams will be assigned based on where they finish) overlap. For example, the second division at a Grand Slam maxes out at 1000 points for the winner. I take that second division to be the equivalent of the Millennium's SPL--largely 'cus all but one of the Grand Slam events is a Millennium event. But then the top division of a Masters event maxes at 1000 points too. That makes them equivalent, right? But are they really? And look, the way the points overlap the back half of the CPL teams, for example, will be well behind the top SPL teams, or whatever they choose to call the divisions in an EPBF future. If I really cared how this was supposed to work I might have tried to figure it out. Since I don't I'ma give the EPBF the benefit of the doubt and assume it actually makes sense even if, at a cursory glance, it doesn't appear to. (Yes, I know they're European. I'm the one who brought it up in the first place!)
Perhaps more impressively the EPBF have strong-armed a number of different paintball leagues into joining and EPBF future. In the case of the Grand Tour--remember them?--all it took was to give them one Grand Slam and consider the rest of their circuit Masters events. If that doesn't help the league pull more than their usual 20-25 teams then nothing short of free play will accomplish that miracle. Beyond that the EPBF has signed up a list of some of the major national level tournament series. Although "signed up" may not tell the whole story. Let's just say it wouldn't surprise me if a few horse's heads didn't show up in a few beds.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

PSP Chicago 2011 Post Mortem

Yes, post mortem. Live with it. (There's a gag in there somewhere.) First, I'd like to commend the PSP for being able to regroup after storms demolished the venue & set-up. I'd like to be the first but I'm already too late as the PSP glowingly commended itself in one of the (I counted ten) email blasts sent out in the last week. (Despite the snarky joke they did do an amazing job with an assist from the CPX folks.) But at what point does the barrage of email (e-messages?) become obnoxious spam despite any informative value individual messages contain? I'm just asking--but if the PSP hasn't crossed that line they are dancing on it like the whole cast of Riverdance.
CPX was an adequate venue with the only real weakness being the walk from the parking lot(s) to the fields unless you were a vendor or lied about being a vendor--and vendor parking was pretty well packed every day. Draw your own conclusions. (It's where I parked every day.)
Prior to the event I expressed the opinion that I expected something of a repeat of Galveston in that I thought a lot of the divisional play in Race 2-X would result in games going to time. A review of the numbers only partially support my expectations. (And while the raw numbers don't measure up to Galveston's data there were lots of very long, drawn out points played in Chicago. Fortunately most of the Sunday webcast matches were also very close contests which made for some real suspense and drama.) In D4 only 8% of prelim matches went to time. That increased to 25% in Sunday play. In D3 22% of the prelims went to time with an increase to 44% on Sunday, In D2 34% went to time in the prelims with the percentages increasing to 50% on Sunday. In D1 36% went to time in the prelims increasing to 83% on Sunday. And in the Pro bracket 10% of the prelims and 66% of Sunday play went to time.
The return of the webcast was (or should have been considered) a great success. With limited cameras and angles Patrick and the crew did their usual outstanding job--and Matty continues to be the Voice of Paintball. The only possible weakness in the webcast is that I haven't yet had an opportunity to bore a video audience into submission. I broached the subject with Matty but alas, nothing came of it. At this point I have to assume everyone is just plain skeered. (I'm a loose cannon you know.) Perhaps next time, hoping there is a next time as the webcasts and YouTube video matches do a first class job of presenting competitive paintball in a very positive way. How much real measurable difference that makes today I don't think anyone can say.
There was, as is always the case, more yammering from the cheap seats about the weather, about going to Chicago in early summer, blah blah blah. Short of CPX building Thunderdome--two teams enter, one team leaves--you guys can have that idea gratis--with only four events on the seasonal schedule these days the Midwest needs an event. Traditionally Chicago has been a strong PSP location and while end of June probably isn't written in stone anywhere, if not Chicago, and if not then, where & when? Of course once the novelty of a New Jersey event wears off, day after tomorrow, I expect we'll hear the same sort of whining about the heat & humidity of Jersey in August too.
Oh, and I'm an official sell out. I took free swag from John of PBN. So the next time--the first time?--I have something positive to say about PBN you lot will know why. John hooked me up with a T-shirt soaked in Ed's tears 'cus VFTD isn't nice to them. The thing is PBN is a perfectly adequate all-encompassing portal for paintball peeps and serves a useful, perhaps even vital community service even if not everyone agrees with their occasional Draconian methods. What can I say, the tears moved me.
The other thing that moved me was missing Sunday play in the PSP for the first time since WC 2008. There are a number of really good teams--as there always are. It's never enough to be good as the finals match between Dynasty and Legion demonstrated. Both teams made mistakes. Neither team was dominating or perfect but both teams were confident and both teams were prepared to give it everything they had to win. It's an old sports cliche that between evenly matched teams the team that wants it more will win. I'm not totally convinced but it does speak to the idea that there is much more to winning than talent & skill.
Lastly, when the videos of the Pro matches go up check out TBD's Saturday matches for some sweet new gear they were sporting. (It's hiding in plain sight.) If you like what you see there's more, much more coming.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Monday Poll

Okay, in the aftermath of CA SB 798 specifically removing paintball markers from the pending legislation everybody in Paintball breathed a sigh of relief. But that's hardly the end of the bill, or the potential for other states to pick up the issue in the future--or for Airsoft to try and throw Paintball under the bus. (Title is the link to a story and comments over at the Big Bullet.) So it seems the Airsoft kids are a wee bit unhappy that Paintball separated itself from the other targets of the bill in question. As a result the Airsoft Safety Foundation has gone on the offensive with much of their ammo aimed at Paintball.

What should Paintball do next?

You know the routine; blah blah blah vote.

Monday Poll in Review
Obviously last week's poll didn't set the (paintballin') internet on fire--nor did I expect it to--but if, when, the occasional poll is less than insightful and thought-provoking you could you know, fake it. What do I mean, fake it? Ask your girlfriend.
Anyway, the whole point--until it was undercut in comments almost immediately (Thanks, Reiner)--was going to be that reasons aren't all that different from excuses and in reality your self-professed love of paintball is pretty poor evidence of love. I mean if you loved your pets as much as it turns out you love paintball Fido is a shaggy skeleton on the side of some anonymous stretch of road.
The numbers don't matter. I don't care. You don't care. The big draws were school, jobs & girlfriends. Whatever. See, I can treat The Monday Poll as badly as you lot frequently do. Not much fun is it? The fact is I do all the heavy lifting and all you have to do is vote once a week on a lame poll. Bite me.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A New Perspective on Paintball

The title of this blog post is a very (very) insider gag. Damned funny but don't bother. You're not going to figure it out. Anyway, here's the thing. VFTD never took a wrong turn either pointing out Paintball's failures or mocking the same--but I've been forced to reconsider my editorial stance regarding the industry, leadership & direction of Paintball--if we can even say such things truly exist.
For purposes of this blog VFTD tries (mostly) to stick to topics related to competitive paintball although I do, on occasion, sprinkle the posts with commentary, metaphors and jokes based on things occurring in the big wide world apart from Paintball. All that extra stuff though is secondary (at best) to talking paintball. But paintball doesn't exist in a vacuum.
In the guise of security the TSA gropes children because it's inappropriate (and un-American) not to believe that every 5 year old or grandmother with an underwire bra is as likely a terrorist as anyone else. Militarized police conduct warrantless midnight raids into people's homes and threaten, assault and arrest citizens for videotaping their public actions. Everyone giggles (VFTD included) at the hubris and foolishness of (ex-)Congressman Weiner cyberstalking young women on Twitter with pictures of his package and the latest celebutant arrests or incarcerations, weddings & divorces. Less entertaining are the immediate family ties of the ex-congressman's wife to the Muslim Brotherhood. Or Delta Airlines plans to add Saudi Arabian Airlines to their SkyTeam Alliance which would compel Delta to screen for Jews and/or holders of Israeli passports. Or the ATF assisting in the sale of weapons to the Mexican drug cartels in an operation code named, Fast & Furious. And that's just the run-of-the-mill stuff. There are big ticket items like the fact the Congress has failed to pass a budget in over two years or that the GNP includes debt in the calculation for "growth" and if you take out all the "money" the Feds have dumped into the economy in the last three years out of the equation our growth disappears like a magician's sleight-of-hand. Or that there are six sets of statistics kept on determining unemployment and those out of work but the media routinely only reports on two sets of figures. Or when CPI indexes begin to hint at inflation the Feds change the calculus--they've changed their methodology threes times (at least) in the last twenty-five years.

And that's just in the good old U.S. of A. All I'm saying is look around. Is it any wonder Paintball is frequently a mess? By comparison it's practically a well-oiled machine. Now there's a scary thought.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bad Weather Forces Changes to PSP Schedule

The title is a link to the modified PSP schedule as of 2:30 pm Wednesday afternoon. Make sure you stay on top of possible changes due to the recent severe weather. The PSP provided photo gives an indication of the severity of the damage and the amount of work required to prepare a playable venue (again). While we can always debate the practices & procedures of all the major tournament leagues this isn't the time. Now is the time to rally around the PSP and realize they are doing everything in their power to put on the Chicago event. I expect they will make it happen despite the enormity of the setback. For the teams & players please be patient and focus on the competition. The end result may be less than ideal but try to keep in mind why we are there; to compete & have fun. Don't let circumstances outside anyone's control ruin the tournament for you. Best of luck to all involved. See y'all tomorrow.

Cut From the National Enquirer

With no thought of his own safety Tampa Bay Damage paintball player Ramzi El-Yousef risked life & limb to rescue a bizarre two-headed baby from a burning car last week. Unfortunately he was injured (broken hand) while making the heroic rescue and will be unable to compete in the upcoming PSP Chitown Open. El-Yousef was overheard asking paramedics on the scene, "Did the evil baby head bite me? I think it bit me. Look how swollen my hand is. That's not normal is it?"
Initial reports indicate the baby (babies?) was driving and an argument between the two heads precipitated the crash. It's being presumed accidental for the time being according to a highway patrol spokesman.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What Was the PSP thinking?

What was the PSP thinking introducing Tactical (Really? Tactical? What with all the Mil-Sim connotations built in) Race 2 in mid-season? Who is going to want to play the poorer man's xball at a national level event? On the bright side it looks like the league has finally found a rule that will, in fact, reduce paint consumption.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Monday Poll

Thinking way outside the box today--and, no, it has nothing to do with that half bottle of Don Julio and expired pain killers I accidentally mixed together yesterday. 3 times. (Kids, just say no to drugs.) (It's not a mixed message, it's a joke--so back off. Besides, celebrities do it all the time. I'm doing a PSA next week from rehab.)
This week's poll takes a look at what other interests y'all have that interfere with or take priority over paintball in what VFTD mockingly calls "your lives." Pick the top three 'real world' things that cramp your paintball style. Loser. (You may pick up to three 'answers'.) You call yourself a baller? Where's the dedication? The sacrifice? The desire to be the best you can be? Your gutless compromises make me sick. So go on. Vote. Get it out of your system. You'll feel better and we'll get loads of votes. You know it's the right thing to do--and it's cheaper than therapy.

Monday Poll in Review
Given the potential serious repercussions if paintball guns had been included in the (still) pending legislation in Cali regarding could-be-mistaken-for-a-real-gun variants; toys, Airsoft, etc. VFTD wondered how much impact the story had within the tiny corner of cyberspace devoted to Paintball. Prior to the poll it was my opinion the result would identify the pending law more frequently than say, a PBN poll might, simply because the average VFTD reader has very likely self-selected from the PBN pool or at least has an awareness of the PBN model and offerings. (Does that make the average VFTD reader smarter, a better baller and a generally all around more accomplished human being? Probably.) But even if the typical VFTD reader is more enlightened how enlightened can y'all be and still be involved in Paintball? (That one remains open for debate.) But in the poll comparison the Cali law came in second (at 22%) just edging out the PSP webcast (21%) and behind the latest on the upcoming PSP Chicago event (28%). The upcoming Millennium event pulled 13% and was the only other option that managed double digits. (A testament to VFTD's global pull.) Everything else tracked in single digits including a new hopper, a new gun, a video or two. The largest of the single digit choices (6%) was the PE series video featuring, who else?, Dynasty.
From this we might glean that the big tournaments still command the most attention. And at the rate we're going perhaps one day soon we'll be able to recreate the excitement tourney ball generated in 1998.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

You Call That A Grind?

We played simulated matches today on the Chicago layout. Yesterday we ran breakouts and full points. Two days, one weekend and that's it until we play Shock on Friday afternoon. The old grind isn't what it once was. Oh, I know, a few teams will get in some extra scrimmage time during the week--and the Legion coaches are probably busy trying to figure out how their players can achieve positive visualizations in their sleep--if they don't already do that. Of course that isn't the only paintball we played to get ready but it was the most valuable time spent. If only we had layouts to play that really took advantage of the limited preparation time by offering unique characteristics that different teams might try to exploit in different ways. That might produce some pretty exciting paintball. That's not going to happen (much) in Chicago.

The virtue of the Chitown layout is in its lack of unique qualities. It made it easier to prep as we've all seen versions of this before. It also means there are some worthwhile general lessons to be learned from a field like Chicago. Consequently, after the event I'll try to spend some time revisiting the layout and discussing the keys to play & some of the trade-offs that will have been well illustrated during the tournament.

In some general PSP info it looks like the final number is 155 teams (although the optional registration during the event is being held open for a couple of Tactical Race 2-2 teams.) Last year's total was 154 but last year saw 93 xball teams compared to 80 this year with the difference made up in added Race 2-2 teams. During the registration period there were plenty of teams to get within sniffing distance at least of the old Chicago 200 team standard but apparently being registered for Chicago for three months was their competition.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Back on My Hobby Horse

Remember Galveston? And VFTD's predictions regarding how the PSP's annual-we-must-make-changes-in-order-to-save-paintball would turn out? Yeah, well, I'm not satisfied with being right once because frankly it hasn't made (enough of) a difference so I'ma do what I always do--continue to bludgeon ignorance into submission with the Baca stick. In the case of the PSP it's my stubborn determination to help the PSP be the best it can be. Sometimes despite itself. Really. (Love you, Lane. No homo.)
Anyway, the plan is simple. VFTD will be charting all matches played in the multi-point format once known as (watered down) xball. (At Galveston more than half of all matches went to time despite the fact the great majority were Race 2-4.) After taking a look at the Chicago layout I see no reason to suspect there will be a different outcome this time around. (Why, btw, was it released on a Wednesday when the oft-stated pre-season change-to-save-paintball was that official field releases would occur on the Thursday prior to the event? I know, it's just a day but how hard is it to consistently do what you say you're gonna do?)
For those outta the loop here's the deal. The longer field matters, in part, because the number of props hasn't changed. Bigger props were supposed to be close to Home to help out the bigger, slower, fatter player the league was trying to entice back into the game and the upshot of the collective changes was supposed to be a more inviting game to a wider pool of potential players. (While I understand conceptually it was never going to work that way in practice.) As a practical matter it was only going to slow matches, extend points, use more paint & generally be less exciting. To make that point after the fact VFTD charted match results.
To sum up: early release & (apparently) those bigger, fatter, slower players are no longer of interest. Even so, it won't change the outcome at all. Results posted after the event--maybe even during. Watch the webcast and enjoy the pro matches. (Trust me, some of those won't be pretty either.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

CBXL Event #2

Seems some of our Canadian friends are feeling a bit left out when it comes to breaking layouts down. Despite the fact I'm finding the process a bit tedious of late how could I turn our bros from the Great White North down? (At least this time.)
I'm going to do this one a bit differently however. The diagram indicates the basic snake side Home shooting lanes and on the opposite side of the field some different pathways are defined in four different colors; light green, dark green, light blue & dark blue. Given the CXBL plays traditional xball at 15 bps--and there are some wide open OTB lanes--I thought it might be worth taking a comprehensive look at a variety of ways of getting into the snake (alive, that is.)

Before we get started a couple of general comments. The
snake corner rockets (MTs) do not have complete control over the snake(s) [tall players excepted perhaps] but will end up battling each other hard. In addition the MT has dominating wraps on the snake side primaries and is also capable in a pinch of contesting the D-wire rotation from the opponent's 40 MD. Which reminds me, the snake isn't great (until you get past the 50) but neither is the D-wire. The only mitigating factors are the placements of the Cans and TCKs on both sides of the layout which are more susceptible to getting pinched but probably have to be played.

Let's get started. In one respect taking the snake (as is the case with any other possible primary) is pretty cut & dry, either the move is made OTB or some amount of time after the breakout. Since it's a contest there's usually some urgency. I'm going to focus here on the options that rely on changing sequences and use delays to misdirect your opponent. One quick reminder first: Remember, the distance between running lanes can be critical to regular success. A direct run to the back of snake 1 is generally the best in combination with a deep baseline run to the corner. (The counter from your opponent is to use the lane inside of the Can where the spacing between the snake & corner runner is closer and both will still be running upright. It is also a more difficult lane to shoot as it needs to be on target a "second" sooner than a wide lane.)
Looking at the light green paths you will see go right to the snake while the other delays somewhere around the TCK. There is a relatively effective Dead Zone past the TCK (moving outward toward the wire side) and behind the Pins. This area can be used in a number of ways. The light green path represents taking the snake OTB. The Dead Zone/TCK delay is one of a couple of related options. Version 1 a corner runner trailing the snake runner delays to shoot back at opponent's home and disrupt lane. Version 2, that player is a designated edger who will play the TCK as primary leaving it to Home shooter to take the corner after shooting the OTB lane. In either case an attempt is made to assist the snake runner by counter-laning back at Home. Looking at the dark green paths they could represent precisely the same sequences but don't. In this variant the corner runner leads. (And is also gunning back at Home.) The snake runner delays, either doubling on Home or zone shooting for an opponent running wide, prior to taking the snake. The alternative is the snake runner is also running & gunning but from a trailing position that offers the opponent(s) just enough time to focus on the lead runner but not enough to re-adjust as the trailing (snake) runner heads for the snake. The dark blue paths and one of the light blue paths indicate intermediate primaries (TCK, Pin, Can) that are launch points for taking the snake on inside-out rotations and are done in conjunction with a corner player. Where the difference in time with a trailing runner is perhaps a second and a runner on the delay is a bit more but ideally still less than two seconds there is no time limit on secondary moves into the snake. (Simple rule of thumb for delay runner is as soon as an opponent has moved through your lane it's time to go.) From any of the inside-out launch primaries the basic manuever is to use your Home shooter to keep opponent's widest guns from wrapping while your corner takes the opponent's Home off his lane. This leaves the player making the move into the snake with one or sometimes two (a crossfield shooter?) to check off/and-or deal with in order to make a successful rotation into the snake. If you have any follow-up questions post 'em up in comments.

There are a variety of creative ways to get a player into the snake quickly. These are some of the common options. They require coordination and teamwork in order to execute them effectively. Best of all perhaps they will apply to virtually any field layout you might play that has a snake, not just CXBL #2.

Deadbox Puppet Army

VFTD is pleased to take a moment to greet the latest recruits--and remind the rest of you lazy slackers that world domination isn't just going to fall into our laps. (And worse still some lame corporate types rip you off trying to be cool & clever. As of course does much of the rest of the Paintball universe at one time or another. C'est la vie.)
Thanks to Full Bore who joined a few weeks ago when the MS was congratulating itself for finding a new way to get peeps to pay more. (The Millennium photog jersey. Initially mostly yellow and finally mostly blue. But always all about the green.)
Thanks as well to Gregory Andre Martin who joined this week.
VFTD is proud to welcome you both to the ranks of the Deadbox Puppet Army. (After the initiation period you will receive your VFTD secret decoder rings.)

VFTD is currently working (feverishly) behind the scenes and will have an announcement (or three) upcoming in the next few weeks. DPA members will be given priority access. That is all.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I thought about posting on this subject yesterday and resisted the urge. Yet here I am doing it today instead. Entering acronym hell--and that's the least of it. But first a modest disclaimer.

Disclaimer: VFTD is in no way opposed to the efforts of individuals and industry to secure paintball's place in the state of California as a recreational & competitive activity.

If you hadn't figured it out yet the title refers to the freshly minted special interest group and lobby, the California Paintball Safety Coalition. (A link to the latest info at ProPaintball is in the title.) What disgusts me in this process is (the apparent) default to automatically playing their game. If the title of the group reflected reality it would the Coalition to Keep Paintball Safe from California. Instead it's "1984" quality doublespeak wherein everyone pretends we all share concerns about safe paintballing and want to work together in the best interests of all Californians when in fact businesses and industry dependent on paintball are scrambling for their very livelihoods. With no immediate redress other than to hire some parasitical "lobbyists" in order to gain access to some (moronic) politicians the whole thing bears the imprimatur of law but as a practical matter is little different from the local thugs selling "insurance" to neighborhood businesses.

Frankly it makes me want to puke and probably means I don't have any future career options in politics.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Monday Poll

Wow, you people, and when I say you people, you know who I'm talking about. You people have, once again, dodged a metaphorical bullet. I was this close--imagine index finger and thumb maybe a centimeter apart--that close--to bailing (again) on The Monday Poll this week but as I began working on the review section an idea came to me. One I actually find interesting. What you lot will think of it I won't try to predict. (But I could if I wanted to but that would only risk skewing the results.)
Here's this week's question: Pick the item currently in the (paintball) news that interests you most. Okay, not really a question but that's not really all that important. The idea is to offer a very broad diversity of answer options so that VFTD can see what sorts of paintball stories garner the most attention. (Unless of course you are embarrassed by your true choice, even in your anonymity, and lie on The Monday Poll.) The results should be fascinating--plus or minus five minutes--although your mileage may vary.
What are the chances the numbers pick up this week? Who knows. You people are a fickle lot. Most of you are plenty opinionated when it comes to the playing field. All that's required here is the click of a mouse. So vote already.

Monday Poll in Review
The least you could do is cover your mouth when you yawn. Last week was another Monday Poll most of you didn't find particularly noteworthy. They can't all be gems. I'm just saying. Anyway, last week's question wanted to know what you thought about the legal brouhaha in Cali. Given the vote totals y'all either aren't all that concerned or you figured there wasn't anything to be gained from worrying about it now. Besides, we're talking about paintball and paintball is supposed to be fun. Who wants to get bogged down in legal shens and the like? And it could be said, I suppose, that the optional choices perhaps lacked some seriousness (you know, the airsoft thing for one) even if potentially accurate.
For what it's worth here's how the voting broke down. Receiving 30% of the vote was "Glad I don't live in Cali" followed by 17% (determined to look on the bright side) who suggested, "Maybe getting rid of Mil-Sim markers not such a bad idea." 12% are concerned. 10% figure paintball in Cali (along with its players) "are screwed." Closing out the results with 8% apiece were "Here's a chance to get rid of Airsoft" and "Don't like it much but there's nothing I can do."
Lastly and definitely least with the remaining 2% were those afraid of the possible outcome and prepared to act.
See what I mean? Between the poor vote total and the fact less than a third of the votes reflected real concerns about the pending legislation it seems to me that most paintballers are tuning it out.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Calls to Action (Paintball Edition)

I did it myself yesterday. A call to action. On behalf of Central Florida Paintball--a place I've spent more weekends than I can count. And I'd do it again. Anytime. But being a cynic (and a lazy slacker) I'm not giddy with excitement awaiting the outpouring of happy (weekend) warriors ready & willing to combat the retrograde anti-paintball forces all around us. Don't get me wrong, it would be nice to see but my hopes are modest and my expectations more modest still. It would be nice to see but every day we are tugged and pulled this way and that by a thousand and one things demanding our attention. From a quick glance through the latest paintball news there are numerous calls to action--of one sort or another.
What merits our interest and attention? Why?
Before I go further I need to confess a thing or two. I'm not a joiner. A member in good standing of much of anything. Nor am I a team player by nature. (Though I can make it happen when needs be.) My default position is to push back against authority. I don't play well with others--and I frequently run with scissors. Consequently I tend to rebel against any and all calls to action regardless of their nature.

Besides the upcoming hearing involving CFP there is also the pending law hanging over the heads of Californians, the Facebook group gathering round the idea of 'Respecting Paintball' and a charity scenario game benefiting the wounded warriors organization. Each is promoting a cause and in one way or another issuing a call to action. It's a pretty diverse group considering they all fall under the banner of paintball. And they are just representative samples. (Hell, I was invited to join 3 other Facebook groups (that I remember) in the past few days and all of those mostly wanted easy access to try and promote stuff at me. Have I ever mentioned before how much I hate social networking? I have? Well, I do.)
Despite the lack of outrage from much of the VFTD universe--which legitimately spans the globe--if not the solar system--at least that I'm aware of (or the galaxy) (or universe) the pending legislation in Cali is a big deal for paintball--or it might be depending on how things turn out. It's of immediate concern to much of PBIndustry and many west coast players but after that it's hard to say. Even if you're concerned what can you do? Does the voice of one guy in Arkansas make a difference? Or a Facebook group called Friends of Cali Paintball? Maybe. What about a paintball team from Finland? Seems kinda unlikely. But what about the PSP or the NPPL or Millennium Series or PALS or paintball federations from around the world? Closer to home there's the Airsoft industry. Are they up to speed on this? How many stores and fields in Cali are working together to reach out to these politicians?
Then there's the Facebook group (plus available T-shirt) started by a sincere (and earnest) woman who is a long time player and nostalgic for the good old days when honor and respect ruled the playing field. As an ideal (if never quite the reality) it's a swell notion and God bless 'em. And as long as it's a voluntary association of like-minded peeps I say more power to them. But good intentions are also the paving stones on the road to hell. How long does it take before if you're not a member you're assumed to be without honor and disrespectful? That the litmus test of the "good" paintballer is the one willing to join in lockstep with the majority. Sound silly? Give it time. If it isn't this one it will be something else and then it'll seem prophetic. It won't happen on purpose. There will be no malice aforethought. But that won't matter and won't change the outcome. Anytime something like this reaches a critical mass it goes south and turns sour and becomes a vehicle for somebody's dreams of power--even if it's just another big fish in a little pond.
The final example of a call to action is a charitable scenario game honoring (I was sorely tempted to put that in quotes) real wounded warriors. I have issues with reenactment-type scenario games (yes, like D-Day) and I'm a cynic. 9 times out of 10 I see 'charity' attached to some routine commerce and I assume it's a gimmick. In this case it would be to pump up the turnout with a game while also delivering the personal satisfaction of contributing to a worthwhile cause whilst running around in the woods reliving the Battle of the Bulge--or whatever. What's better than entertaining altruism? Which is okay. What looks like a cynical move to me may in fact be completely innocent. But does nobody else sense the intellectual disconnect between legitimately honoring the sacrifice of real soldiers while trivializing everything about real combat running around with paintball guns pretending to be the Allies vs. the Axis. Reenactment scenarios intentionally attempt to frame their game with some vestige of "reality"--and they can't. All they end up doing is making a mockery of what they are supposedly honoring.

So what's the point? Don't have one really. It was just one of those how are these things like the others moment. And a tiny rant of sorts if I'm honest. I found it momentarily distracting--and kinda interesting. If you're reading this--so did you.
Oh. One last thing. There's no links to any of these calls to action because they were unnecessary and to include them would have been to promote them--and there's already plenty of that going around.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Support CFP

I know California is the latest paintball in crisis lead story what with the potentially all-encompassing not-a-real-gun-looks-like-a-gun law pending but there is also another, similar but on a smaller scale situation in Florida that threatens the state's top tournament paintball site--and a family (and employees) dedicated to our sport. Looking at this week's poll about the Cali situation it's clear that it hasn't grabbed the paintballing public's imagination as, perhaps, it ought. (The current vote total is low average which means the subject is of limited interest to VFTD readers. Why is a different question and open to diverse opinions.) Here in Florida it seems some "neighbors" of CFP (Central Florida Paintball) have filed complaints about the noise and the issue will be addressed by county commissioners in July. For more nuts & bolts details look here and send an email or letter. (Links and instructions provided.) If you are from the central Florida area and can appear at the hearing a large show of solidarity would help give the commissioners an idea of how important CFP is to so many. If you play tourney ball in the southeast you've probably been to CFP. If you've participated in the NCPA Nationals you've been to CFP. If you're a tourney player from Florida you've competed and practiced at CFP. Additionally there is a Facebook page Save CFP you can join to add your voice to those hoping to keep CFP. I know you're a lazy slacker and even a sniff of activism goes against the grain--but take five minutes and take action anyway. Support CFP. Surprise yourself--and make a difference. Thanks.

Rules of the Game

Baca's Rule #15: Nobody has ever won a tournament keeping score in practice--or lying about it afterwards.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Baca's Mailbag

Received a question recently about what to do about a team that seems to wilt under pressure. (That's my paraphrase and we'll leave the query anonymous so as not to potentially embarrass anyone.) I know what you're thinking: Did one of my teammates send in that question? It's a pretty common problem. It's easy to succeed when things are going well and a lot harder to turn things around when they go south.

The thing is I'm not answering that question today. I need a little more information. But it did get me thinking about performance in a competitive environment and what sets some players apart from the rest. And it isn't skill. Oh sure, skills are a prerequisite, the foundation of performance but there are a lot of players with some serious skills. Everybody who competes in the Tour de France knows how to ride a bicycle and has trained long and hard. So what separates the winners from the losers? (No, it isn't blood doping. Okay, maybe it is but this is just an example of a competition where the fundamentals are similar across the board.) Let's switch to basketball. And the question shouldn't be about winners and losers. The real question is what separates the unquestioned greats of a sport from all the other gifted, talented, hard-working & determined players? The answer is a self-confidence bordering on the irrational. A self-confidence that cannot be shaken by transitory failure. A self-confidence that doesn't ebb & flow with the tides of Fortune, the results of competition. A self-confidence that leaves no room for doubt or uncertainty. Michael Jordan is the archetype. (And why LeBron isn't.) I'm sure you can name other players in other sports whose performance routinely transcends that of their fellow competitors. This is a common trait they all share in degrees.
Of course it's one thing to identify what is, in many cases, a very frustrating factoid for those without and another thing to find a positive way to make something of it. (This is where Baca takes pity on all you mere mortals and herewith divulges one of the secrets to superior play.) But before I do I want to tell you a story. Once upon a time I began working with a team. From Day 1 it was apparent one of the players had enormous untapped potential. He had physical tools. He was teachable. His fundamentals were sound if perhaps unhoned. In a lot of respects he had all the makings of the perfect player--except he was a headcase; his own worst enemy. Over the course of that first season he made progress but nothing that suggested he was on the verge of fulfilling his potential. I was disappointed. And yet, somehow, sometime during the first month of preparing for that second season--the following January--everything changed. Almost overnight the lightbulb had turned on--and here's the important part--the same is possible for any and every player who picks up a marker but somewhere along the way hits a wall they can't seem to overcome.
Here's the secret: You can manufacture your own self-confidence. All you have to do is act as if it already exists. It's like muscle memory training for your emotions & perceptions. If you consistently act like a supremely self-confident player you will become one. This is easier to say than to do however. And I cannot promise Michael Jordan results if you don't have the skills and tenacity to go with the self-confidence but I do promise that it will open up both your mind and your game. Begin with practice. You will never do anything in a match that you haven't or won't do in practice. Push the envelope and keep on pushing. Believe it and you can be it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Monday Poll

Thank God for California. VFTD was going to cancel The Monday Poll this week and then the Cali legislature came thru in a big way with (another) asinine bill aimed, this time, at "guns" that look like real guns and could, if not immediately, include paintball markers as the people's representatives focus on the important issues of the day as the state sinks into a sea of red ink along the (de)fault lines of billions of borrowed dollars.
Instead of predicting whether this bill will become law in one form or another VFTD wants to know what you think of it right now. In some respects it's not unlike what happened in Germany last year with anti-paintball legislation put up in the aftermath of a school shooting (if I recall correctly.) Fortunately wiser heads prevailed but German PBIndustry also made a concerted effort to educate & resist.
(To check out the PBN thread on this subject the link is in the post title.)
Will this week's poll resonate with the lazy slackers that are the VFTD polling pool? Only time will tell. Are you afraid? Angry? Apathetic? Alliterative? Get a fifth grader to help you choose the answer that best fits how you feel about this pending Cali legislation--and vote!

Monday Poll in Review
As I predicted you are all a jaded bunch of lazy slackers--is that really a prediction or a simple fact?--and found a poll about the NPPL as exciting as most of you find the actual league. Even so, I think the poll had some merits--even if it too was predictabe in the results. The poll was straightforward and simple; How is the NPPL doing? The resulting answers were not sustainable facts but opinions, perceptions. And as such perhaps worthwhile to such an inbred and august body like the self-appointed Inner Circle or Brain Trust of the NPPL. Perhaps more to the point than the low voting turnout is the wide spread apathy the low turnout indicates compared to polls that excite the voters interest. (Yeah, now I'm just rubbing it in.)
VFTD kept the poll answers as neutral as possible with a range of poor, fair, average, good & excellent. Interestingly enough 6 voters think the NPPL is doing an excellent job--which just happens to match the number of members on the Brain Trust. (That was a joke. I don't know how many members the Brain Trust has but if it's more than six maybe they need to take a loyalty oath.) Anyway, 53% answered poor or fair. 27% went with average which means that 80% of all votes thought the league was average or worse than average. 10% said it was good and part of the Brain Trust voted their efforts as excellent to the tune of 8%.
No real surprises and not much interest either. Of course the league is coming off the rousing success of the Chitown bikini contest and there might be rumors of a wet T-shirt contest in the works for DC. (No, not really. That's called sarcasm, kids.)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mr. C & The HB Seven

Poor Mr. Curious. In another run of bad luck he's voluntarily committed himself for observation and rest. It seems he's having this recurring dream that's ruining his life. (Nothing to do with ESPN3.) Night after night it's the same thing. Over and over and over. In the dream he's an improvisational performer and member of a troupe in a post apocalyptic world being hunted down by both the remorseless machines (intent on crushing all life on Earth) and the remaining remnant of humanity that is highly critical of the troupe's sense of humor. It may seem an odd dream but it's really quite common. I've had that dream myself a few times.

Anyway, in the calming and subdued environment of the hospital Mr. C was able to gather his thoughts long enough to pass along a little nugget of information about some NPPL refs. Given that there has been some concern expressed in a few places over the extremely limited numbers and poor performances of the refs at the Chicago NPPL (not to mention restoring previously fired refs) Mr. C thought his story might help explain some of the league's present difficulties. Apparently a group of seven refs from the grandstand field at Huntington Beach were discovered using part of their lunch break for a medicinal smoke--if you get my drift. League officials were informed and requested the info be kept on the low down. The seven apparently finished the event and were then told their services would no longer be required--or something along those lines.

Which makes for an excellent behind-the-scenes story but doesn't really explain the league's struggle to provide 20 plus competent refs an event.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pro*file: Jason Wheeler

Jason is a friend from across the pond--and I confess I took (just a tiny bit of) advantage of his lack of knowledge for American idioms. Or perhaps he's just more, um, open-minded. Enjoy.

Name: Jason Wheeler
Age: 22
Hometown: London, England
Occupation: Work at DYE EUROPE
Family: Dad - John Wheeler, Mom - Janice Wheeler, Brother - Jake Wheeler and Sister - Kelsey Wheeler.. Brother and Dad both play paintball.
Other Interests: I love to visit new places, paintball and travelling definitely go hand in hand, so I kill two birds with one stone!

1. What was your first paintball experience and who introduced you to the game?

My dad used to play with his friends in the woods and he got me started out, I went down to a local site and hit up some woods ball with him and his work buddies, I've been hooked ever since!

2. What team do you play for now?
London Nexus, since 2008.

3. What teams have you played for in the past?
London Tigers YG (2005), London Tigers (PRO) (2006), Copenhagen Ducks/Method (PRO) (2007), London Nexus (2008 - Present)

4. What role do you play on your current team?
Since I joined the team back in 08' I have been playing snake point the majority of the time.

5. Who are your favorite paintball players?
Theres a few of them, and I respect them all for different reasons.. During 2008 and 2009 I played a lot with Brandon Short in the pro division of the Millennium series, I learnt a lot from B-Short and we became good friends. If I had to name a few; Bryan Smith of TBD has a great methodical style of play, then Mishka and Kirill are a great dorito combo. It's hard to pick just one player, as I have respect for certain players and coaches for different reasons.

6. What’s your best paintball experience or memory?
Definitely the best memory was beating Phillys in my first PRO win back in 2008 with Nexus, and then winning 2010 Semi-pro with Toulouse Tonton at Worldcup.. they are moments i'll never forget.

7. What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve done in order to play paintball?
Hmm, there have definitely been a few! When I was studying I had to jump a few train tickets to get to practice, and sleeping in a random shed in Sweden during the winter to practice a few years back was pretty crazy too.

8. What are the single most important lessons the up and comer needs to learn?
''Never Quit'' Everyone has goals, in the back of your head theres something that any and all players want to achieve or do I really think that if you want it enough, no matter how difficult it seems I really think you should push to make it reality. Be that individual that gets to practice early and leaves late, drill when people are at home, play when ever you get the chance and you'll be ahead of the competition.

9.What keeps you playing paintball?
Paintball is so much part of me that it would feel wierd without it, the drive to be the best, to be at the top of the game is a big motivational aspect for me.

10. Do you have any superstitions related to playing paintball?
I have been wearing the same undershirt since 2008 - its good luck :)

Bonus Picks (Choose one of each pair listed)
Ketchup or Mustard: Ketchup
Coffee or Tea: Tea (I'm english after all)
Soup or Salad: Soup
Whole grains or white bread: Whole Grains
Pizza or Steak: Steak
Beer or Liquor: Beer
Pitcher or Catcher: Catcher
Dog or Cat: Dog
Car or Truck: Car
Harley or Ducati: Ducati
Gym or Beach: Gym
TV or Movies: Movies
PS3 or Xbox: Xbox
Ken or Barbie: This is a trick question! [Editor: It's not the only one.]
Paper or Plastic: They are both useful
Debit or Credit: Debit
Manual or Automatic: Manual

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Virtue of Numbers

If you are a techie or a geek or (perhaps) a far-sighted visionary this post is for you. As some of you will likely know Virtue has been developing a chip that piggybacks your gun's board and collects data it reports remotely. The NPPL have been trying it out the last two events to track the pro teams' markers and make sure they aren't exceeding the 15 bps cap (that is a new rule this season.) The result, so far, is that Virtue can identify both when and how often a chipped gun shoots. This means, in a very basic way, they are collecting data on shots fired, by however many active players (and guns) during a defined game period. For starters this means they have no trouble at all enforcing the cap.
In the meantime Virtue is also trying to devise different ways of looking at their accumulated data to discover if there aren't numerous possible combinations and thus associated interpretations of that data that might be useful to teams and players. Given that they are roaming in uncharted territory all the distinctions and combinations require identifying and naming--along with considerations of their potential utility. For example, the chip is called ROF-fi (raw-fye). And currently the data gathered is simply stats 1, stats 2, etc. Stat 1 is the amount of time a player spends shooting vs. not shooting over the entire game period. Stat 2 is the amount of time a player spends shooting vs. not shooting during the period of time they are actively playing the game. Which leads directly to Stat 3 which identifies the point in a game in which a player stops shooting and doesn't shoot again--thus approximating when they were (likely) eliminated--although I suppose it's possible a player might not actually be eliminated in some rare circumstances and simply doesn't discharge his gun again. Keep in mind all this data and more is being accumulated on (in the 7-man format) 14 players simultaneously which creates a fairly enormous potential complexity.
A couple of simple stats the Virtue nerds passed along in real time at the Chicago event was the raw volume of paint teams shot off the break and the raw totals of paintballs shot in a game. The OTB number was of greater interest to me as it would be a very unusual game where the winning team didn't shoot more paint than the losers. (Think about it. D'oh!)
Chris from Virtue was kind enough to both express an interest in my opinion (and any follow-up ideas) and permit me to post about the on-going process of building unique value into the chip. I thought some of VFTD's regulars would find all this interesting and if you have any ideas, thoughts or suggestions you'd like to offer feel free to do so in comments. If that is insufficient I can't stop you from contacting Christian Williams at Virtue directly. (Sorry, Chris. Just in case you get inundated.)
To get you started thinking about the possibilities here's a suggestion I made; the Plus/Minus stat. Over the course of an event or a season it would be possible to determine an individual player's plus/minus [relative to other players] rating based on eliminations (and when that player was eliminated relative to all other eliminations during a game or point). If you took the plus/minus and compared it to the average time played as a ratio of time played: maximum playable time you could make a number of valuable if rough determinations about individual players effectiveness and that of the lines or units they played with.