Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The (NPL) National Paintball League

There is an announcement about the NPL in the News section at PBN. There is also the NPL website here. First order of business is to suggest perhaps a less generic name for the league as it turns out lots of nations have national paintball leagues. Just an observation. Second, I want to separate the NPL vision into two parts; the game format and league structure.
Let's begin with the game format. While I'm not a fan of swapping offense and defense I will limit my concerns to problems not opinions. The principle one being uncapped semi-auto marker operation. A serious league cannot validate a mode of operation that cannot be regulated. And since the only way the defense can score a point requires elimination of the flag carrier in his/her end zone the rules also encourage illegal modes of operation. (And if refs start penalizing teams and players for things they think but can't prove happened it opens the league to unnecessary conflict and controversy.) Also, no where is the league's field set of props outlined by numbers or type. And, as with other forms of competitive paintball this will directly impact the nature of the game as it plays out as will the layout(s) used. (Though one might assume a NPPL style bunker set given the field dimensions although that would prove problematic from a game play perspective.) The other thing of note is the apparent requirement to provide scoreboards, time clocks and scorekeepers able to keep track of all the game records as matches are played. One assumes these are built in costs that a local field operator must commit to before the league even gets off the ground in his "region." If there was a simplified way to run a match it would make it more attractive for fields to opt in and give it a try.

As mentioned in passing in a previous post I think a rigid adherence to the structure as currently outlined is counterproductive. While there needs to be some sense of how all the pieces fit together as the league grows the important part, especially in this formative stage, is that it grow period. And as with any developing venture there will be growing pains and as more people and regions become involved there will be more and more diverse opinions about what ought to come next regardless of what's written down already. If the outline of the future league structure is taken as a set of guidelines instead of set in concrete the league becomes flexible enough to deal with issues as they arise. That said there are numerous incongruities and conflicts in the current details. The following is just a sample, not a comprehensive review. (And if it seems confusing I'm responding to the Rule Book and Players Guide so you're only getting half the "conversation".) For example, "regions" are defined essentially as local fields which is okay but confusing. Not okay is that local field owners are also team owners and regional directors. (Each region is supposed to comprise of 6 teams--unless it's eleven--but don't ask me how that works 'cus it isn't explained anywhere--and the field owner also owns those teams and essentially runs his little corner of the NPL too.) Regional directer--yes. Team owner--no. In part because only the Regional Director can approve trades but since that same person is all the team owners he's "approving" decisions he instigated in the first place. That's not oversight, that's nonsense. Get more local people actively involved who have an interest in the outcomes and success of individual teams. The rankings "system" given is a mess and if a region actually operated the combine completely unnecessary. The combine demonstrates talent and the teams draft eligible players. Some outside source of artificial ranking is completely unnecessary particularly given the NPL's definition for pro and semi-pro players. But seriously while sounding cool the combine and draft are a no go. (Only authorized NPL professionals will be allowed to be involved in testing and evaluations? And just who will be an authorized NPL professional and what is the criteria the league will use to determine that status? Really?) Best of all just jettison the combine (drug testing?) and the draft and the rankings because, according to the NPL, they are all Amateur players. Some teams will be better than others. So what? The Regional Director controls who plays and who doesn't and can provide competitive balance. Meanwhile not so good teams will have a reason to work to get better and recruit new players, etc. There's more but this is enough for now.
Finally there is a sanctioned NPL paintball. Why? If the idea is competitive balance that's fine. If it's part of a funding scheme for the NPL then less so but understandable. (Minimum event day purchases.) But then how is the league funded? It isn't actually outlined anywhere though there are hints in the section on registering players in which pros, semi-pros are apparently expected to pay a pro and registration fee while Ams only pay a registration fee. Otherwise how will the league afford its commitments to the regional teams once the playoffs begin? Did anybody crunch the numbers? Where will the national championships be held? Lots of partially formulated structures, short on some of the details that will matter to the players and teams.

The simple fact is if the league has any chance to succeed it needs to focus on getting local fields participating and making it as simple and easy for local players to get involved. Bottom line, the game may appeal to lots of players but it's going to have a hard time getting off the ground with all the extra unnecessary baggage its lugging around.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Poll in Review

No Monday Poll for you! No, you didn't do anything. You are, after all, a lazy slacker. I just didn't have a good poll topic--so no poll this week. If you've got any ideas you know what to do with them. (Take that however you like.)

UPDATE: I lied. There is a Monday Poll. The off topic who will win the SuperBowl Poll.

Last week's The Monday Poll asked about the best way(s) to improve tournament paintball. Since much the dialogue lately has revolved around the virtues of restricted paint and/or reduced ROF it's small wonder they were popular categories. Perhaps most interesting was that the only category that didn't receive any votes was Lower maximum velocity. Not a one. Less energy, less pain on impact, right? Less energy maybe more guns can consistently shoot more fragile paint. Less energy fewer breaks at longer ranges more live players after the breakout. And not one vote. The next 3 categories with the fewest votes look to have split the M. Carter Brown voters with 3% favoring a return to woods tournaments, 3% longing for the larger fields of yesteryear and a whopping 6% ready to dust off their cockers and automags and go mechanical. When semi-auto was really semi-auto and a man was a man and an enormous drop forward let you tuck that 118/3000 in nice and tight. (Right.) I'm not sure I believe it though 'cus the PSP has tried offering Tactical Race 2 [mech guns] and it ain't like they are turning teams away. The fact is even the UWL hasn't garnered much interest in all mech gun teams so those who say they want it either don't really or are so broke they can't play anyway. Four categories tied at 9% each. The pipedream universal industry standard semi-auto board or chip or whatever. Even if all the obstacles involved were overcome nobody would really want it if they had it or, more to the point, were compelled to use it because it would be too slow. I can pull faster than this, it's ruined my gun, this is no fun, etc. Also at 9% were restricted paint and lowered ROF for the lower divisions of competitive play. Of course when the PSP tried to tier ROF by experience the crowd that would have benefited most raised the biggest ruckus. And while limited paint leagues existed in the past I don't know of any currently in the U.S. Whatever plusses either option has it ain't gonna happen if nobody is willing to play that way. (At the same time it's possible to educate--or in raehl's case, browbeat--the tourney crowd into eventually seeing that a recommended alternative might not be such a bad idea after all but it's necessarily a time consuming process.) Last of the 9 percenters was more props. Fill that field up. More choices. Closer together. More angles and lanes blocked. Heck, if you stay low it almost becomes a game of hide & seek--which everybody knows is way better than capture the flag.
Next at 10% was bring back the 10-man game. I hear this a lot. What I haven't heard is anyone trying to bring it back and having any grand success. I keep suggesting to the PSP that Masters play ought to be Race 2-2 and that they'd get more geezers playing--but maybe they wouldn't. Tactical has been about as popular as a pick-up artist in a lesbian bar and for all the 10-man nostalgia I haven't seen any evidence that anybody would show up if they built it. At 11% we have the lowered ROF across all divisions of play which is, if nothing else, a testament to Brockdorff's tenacity, enthusiasm and good cheer. Which brings us to the top 2 vote getters; a completely new format (14%) & restricted paint across all divisions (17%). One thing this poll result suggests is that there is no widely held opinion of what the answer is or ought to be. Even so I'm mildly surprised that nearly 15% opted for the unknown which I think tells us more about some level of present dissatisfaction than it does an expectation of what the unknown format might deliver. I find it curious but as with all these results I think most of the votes are soft votes in the sense that you people (the voters) aren't do or die committed to your choices. Any of them. Although apparently raehl's restricted paint crowd wants to make sure everybody suffers if they have to or else maybe they imagine a time in the near future when restricted paint will allow them to play at the upper levels of competition.
So apparently if we restrict paint, lower the ROF, add props, enlarge the field, use mech guns with 10 players per side using a brand new format tournament paintball as we know (and love) it will be saved. Hurrah!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Baca Addendum Explained

You didn't ask for it--but then you didn't need to 'cus you knew it was coming, eventually. We got some field time in yesterday playing with the BA rules and to be honest the jury is still out. I'll explain in a minute but first I'ma outline the rules.
It's very simple. There are two flags. Each team begins with a flag at their start position. Anyone (live player) can possess the flag to begin the point. Only a live player possessing their team flag can score a point. If the flag carrier is eliminated the flag is placed where visible nearest the elimination position and a different live player from that team can regain possession--but only if there is at least one live player opponent on the field. Once the opposing team has been eliminated an unpossessed flag is out of play and no point is scored by either team.
The two flags provide visual info for following the strategy and implementation of each team's effort and the live player possession rule means a team either must protect the flag possessor or be prepared at a moment's notice to regain possession. Theoretically it allows for an offensive or defensive game plan but field layouts will, as they presently do, tend to dictate the preferred strategy.

The jury is still out because we didn't really get to play enough points or complete a match and as the concept was a foreign one to everybody but me the players were still adapting and trying to figure out what they wanted to do. Did they want the flag further upfield or not if the original carrier was eliminated? And as often as not they forgot about the necessity of having the flag to score either until it was too late or they were left scrambling to get across the field to try and reach their flag. The mindset was the game they are used to playing.
It needs more play to determine its real potential and it needs players adjusted to the way live flags potentially alter the tactics and strategy of a match--which is a big change for experienced players used to doing things a particular way. Who knows, it may also need fine tuning as well.

If anyone wishes to give it a go feel free to do so--and let us know how it goes. If you just want to argue about it hypothetically, or throw out suggestions or whatever that's fine too--you know where to find the comments.

Friday, January 27, 2012

APPA Classification Score Inflation

This is a critique, not a criticism. Short history lesson: In the early months of this blog I likened the then UCP to Logan's Run and suggested the system (and the league) was unnecessarily driving players up and out of competitive paintball. Which was true. Since that time the classification system has been adjusted a number of times in ways that (intentionally or unintentionally) fell in line with VFTD's original criticisms.
In a recent post about Social Paintball I took them to task a bit for a contributor who simply regurgitated the old claim--first made here--purely to engender some controversy. It has since occurred to me that the system was tweeked again and that I hadn't reviewed in detail the latest changes and if I was going to give Social some grief over it I oughta make sure nothing major had changed. And nothing major has changed--but a situation that hadn't been addressed before has been now, sorta. That is the relative merit of a score received depending on the size of the division.
One of the score modifiers is # of teams in a division. Any number 10 and above doesn't modify the received score. For divisions less than 10 teams there is a modifier that reduces the overall score received based I presume on the idea that it's more difficult to win out in a bracket of 20 teams than it is in a bracket of 8 teams and regardless there is necessarily a higher likelihood of competitive intensity in the larger bracket. Conceptually I'm okay with that but where I think an issue exists is at the other end of the team numbers spectrum.
Given the current scoring system every team, other than first and last, receive a score that accounts for the number of participants--at least in part. For example in a division of 12 second place receives 92 points (rounded) while the same second place finish in a division of 8 receives 87 points. The # teams modifier goes further and will reduce that base score even further--which is okay--but that's not where the score inflation problem lies. Score inflation produces disparate values when the divisions get bigger.
Btw, the reason this is a critique and not a criticism is because, despite the score inflation, a quick crunching of the numbers demonstrates that, unlike in times past, this won't effect the upper divisions where the problems of the past primarily resided but it might have an impact on the lower divisions, principally D3 & D4.
Here's an example: 6th place in a division of 8 is 35 points (rounded); in a division of  10 it's 50 points & in a division of 20 teams it's 75 points. In a division of 30 teams 6th place receives 85 points. Each result is a 6th place finish but also results in a swing of 50 points between the lowest and highest score. Of course in one sense the swing reflects the degree of difficulty in arriving at that placement; 6th out of 30 is considerably more difficult--at least statistically--than 6th out of 8 and while I happily concur that's not the issue either.
The issue with score inflation is that the classification system determines a player's status based on multiples of a base score. If your division nevers exceeds 12 or 15 teams it own't ever be a concern. In divisions that routinely reach or exceed 30 teams it could be a problem. And when I say "problem" I mean produce a result where players are bumped up when they shouldn't be. Fortunately the present system has sufficient safe guards--and most D4 & D3 teams don't play a full season--so that score inflation alone shouldn't push players (& teams) up a division.
A simple way to address the issue would be to reconsider the size of the smallest max score division and adjust the reducing multipliers--or leave it as is accepting score inflation because most of time it probably won't be a problem.

(And of course it ought to go without saying, but I'm saying it anyway, I may differ with APPA on occasion but only because it is a serious and legit effort--unlike the revenue stream mockery used by the other national league.)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Brockdorff Fallacy

Okay, fallacy is probably a bit strong but it sounded so good I couldn't resist. Not unlike 'The raehl Solution' 'The Brockdorff Fallacy' does have some merit and deserves consideration as a viable option in the quest to preserve the game and reduce costs (and produce better players in greater abundance.) On that score I think Nick's idea for reduced ROF is more widely applicable than raehl's restricted paint. Some of you may recall the PSP briefly attempted--a couple three years ago--to tier their ROF by divisions and that VFTD supported that effort. You may also recall that it was the teams that got them to reverse that policy after a year as well. (Which was when standard ROF went to 12.5 bps.)
Since I'm going to shorthand the argument--again--if you'd like more details look here & (particularly) here for a pair of old VFTD posts from 2008 that speak to the issue at hand. Or visit the link given in yesterday's post, 'The raehl Solution.'
The issue, as it was with restricted paint, is balanced game play. The current ROF limits reflect, more or less, the upper limits. Given the present playing environment ROF provides/creates a challenge for the very best players--and as a result can be overwhelming for less able players. The answer isn't to dumb down play for everyone; it's to balance ROF versus ability to move. (The links are particularly helpful in defining what movement as a game function is, too.)
Last season the PSP lengthened their field by 20 feet as part of an effort to provide a more "friendly" playing environment for a potentially more diverse player base. What I tended to call an invitation to the old, fat & slow. While the measure of that success is debatable what isn't is that the longer field increased paint use and produced slower points as a significant percentage of matches went to time rather than score.
The flipside of that decision was the one taken by the Millennium in their field designs last season which tended to compress the playing area further in an effort, at least in part, to encourage more aggressive play. Different layouts met with greater or lesser success but all of them, overtly or more subtly, also altered the priorities of the skills in play--just like the changes the PSP made even if the results were different.
The point, once again, is that what may seem like simple changes will almost certainly have unintended consequences, game changing consequences and should only be undertaken after the results are known and understood. Unlike with restricted paint however the relationship between ROF (and to a degree velocity) and Movement does allow for perhaps greater flexibility than other sorts of changes might. It is readily apparent that many, if not most, lower level competitive players struggle to move against the current ROF. A reduced ROF will, at some point, balance out against the limited skill of the lower level players. And that would be a very good thing as it would both encourage more movement, allow a larger pool of lower ability players to enjoy all aspects of the game and incidentally passively develop superior gun skills.
But as with restricted paint at some point the skill level of the players overwhelms the lessened ROF and you have to make other alterations to restore balance--and the challenge for the very best players.

In one sense reduced ROF if tiered for the skill level of the players will allow for a game that is, in every other respect, universal. It's just that the ROF itself can't have a universal value.

And if you'd like to dig a little deeper into what sort of changes might prove both workable without drastically altering the game take a look here. The only problem left is convincing the next generation of aspiring players that they would be better served and ultimately enjoy the game more (and probably longer) if they don't jump into the deep end of competitive play right away.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The raehl Solution

Or perhaps the off the raehl solution would be a better title. I'll let you decide. Related to this week's Monday Poll I want to take a minute to comment on raehl's preferred "fix" as expressed (many times in many places) but most recently in the thread hijack over in the PBN News section. (See Monday Poll post reference for Jan 23)
Before I start let me surprise a few of you (and bore the long time regulars) by stating (again) I am not opposed to limited paint in every possible competitive scenario. In fact, I think it's not only a viable option in certain circumstances but a desirable one as well. More on that later.
I do however think that 'limited paint' is a misnomer. All competitive paintball games/matches are played with limited paint--each team is limited to the paint they bring onto the field. (If raehl's notion of "wasted" paint were in fact correct there would be teams that chose to compete using much less paint but it isn't--and they don't.) And, of course there is no rule that requires teams or players to match another team's paint totals. What 'The raehl Solution' advocates is restricted paint; a set amount per team per point/game.
What is the point of restricted paint? To achieve a substantially reduced, nearly fixed cost for paint in a competitive scenario. The claimed benefit is to make the game more affordable and therefore more attractive to more players. Which is a worthwhile goal but there are other consequences of making such a change.
When he first began advocating his restricted paint idea he did so without qualification. It appears he may have learned something over time--see example in this post, Movement vs ROF,--as he has qualified his restricted paint proposal with a spacing change between props--in the PBN thread hijack. It's "growth" but it's also insufficient. Change doesn't occur in a vacuum--as raehl acknowledges when suggests he'd also space the props differently.
I'm not going to break this down in great detail--it would be a much longer and considerably more tedious post than it's already going to be. My objective here is to simply make it clear that restricting paint isn't so much an "answer" as it is the beginning of a whole different set of issues that would also need to be resolved.
So why would the props be spaced differently? Because as the game is presently played it is ROF and volume of paint that inhibits free movement. Take that away and you must open the space in order to try and regain a neutral balance. (Assuming such exists today. And it does at some levels of play.)
Slightly O/T this is the core of the problem with Brockdorff's solution and desire for a universal game. His notion of something like a standardized ROF at 6 bps is swell for lower division play but completely impossible for pro level competition.
Going back to the raehl solution: If the spacing is opened up all of a sudden we no longer have room for all our props and at a minimum the result would further limit the number of choices for placement of transitional (or insert) props. So, if it is necessary to reconsider spacing the game either loses some number of props or the field dimensions need to be adjusted too. But there's a problem with that as well. It seems the raehl solution is okay with more or less whatever ROF and ramping or uncapped semi etc. [Because the paint sum is so restrictive careful consideration must be given to its consumption.] However, once the spacing has been adapted some gaps will become virtually insurmountable and if I, as the player, have a high expectation of getting an elimination even if it costs a quarter of my paint then I'll do it. Which leads us inevitably to the conservation of that limited supply of paint. Each paintball becomes more valuable but only so long as it remains unshot. Consequently by its very nature heavily restricted paint games become defensive in that there are very good reasons to not shoot your gun.
At this point raehl, he of 'The raehl Solution,' will say, "Perfect!" as that will free up more movement and create a more free flowing game blah blah blah. [Which it would likely do for beginners and those just getting involved in tourney type play assuming all the other conditions were modified harmoniously. And this is why I think there's a place for restricted paint--but that's as far as it goes unless the end goal is to play a different sort of game.] For experienced players the results would be dramatically different because the risk/reward values will be dramatically different. Assume for a moment a player with superior gun skills. What is his motivation to move? Every move puts him at risk and the closer he comes to his opponent the less effective his relative skills differential becomes. (Just like now for many low division teams where ROF and their lack of skill & training produce a greater risk in movement than there is reward for moving--hence the tendency to spray & pray in their primaries.)
This is where Mr. Peabody & his boy Sherman give raehl a ride in the Wayback Machine to say, 1997 and he can revisit what his version of the game would look like--300 foot long fields & 25 minute games--except of course they were even then playing with as much paint as they chose to carry.

Next time, 'The Brockdorff Fallacy.'

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's Official: Tony's & Dan's Big Adventure

The Catshack has the NPPL presser posted--even before the NPPL website or their (assorted) Facebook page(s). Link is down on the sidebar--see the kitty in the toilet. (Yes, it is so a link.) Is it because of the new Canadacentric thinking in the NPPL? (That was a joke. No, it wasn't.)
Anyway, there are only a few things to say about this move. First, it's an admission, despite the presser's jargon, that the officiating was broken before. Second, it's going to cause a major culture clash. Third, we don't know how many, if any, of the PSP pro refs they took with them.
If  the PSP refs went with Tony then it is, at a minimum, a short term problem for the PSP that could become an endemic problem. If the core of the refs stayed then the PSP will carry on and decide how they want to replace Tony's role.
Bringing in Tony means, among other things, that the NPPL agrees to do things Tony's way--not the other way around. The only way that isn't true is if there's so much cash on the table Tony will acquiesce to league requirements. And if that's the case then the league has simply thrown a bunch of money around without fixing the core problem--their own inability to follow the rules. It will be interesting--and perhaps even entertaining--to see how the "owners" and the pro teams respond to the Mineo Regime. It will also be interesting to see if there's any noticeable improvement across the board over the course of the season.
At the end of the day bringing in Tony has the potential to actually solve their problems as well as appearing to solve their problems. Will the league let Tony do things his way when push comes to shove? Will that way produce more consistent officiating? Will pre-existing NPPL refs feel undervalued? How will the experiment in Millennium style Race 2 work out? What will the PSP do? Will refs demand more money across the board? And most importantly what choices will teams looking to play national events decide to do?
To the great unwashed it's a PR coup. To the knowledgeable it's still an open question: Can Tony overcome the institutional dysfunction or will it overcome him? Only time will tell and it will, at least, make for an interesting 2012 NPPL watching season.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Poll

I'ma cross my fingers this week and hope some of y'all actually read this section before you vote in this week's Monday Poll 'cus it's gonna be a bit tricky. In recent years the subject of how to improve tourney paintball or, alternatively, make it more appealing and/or get more peeps playing has been a nearly endless topic for nearly endless conversations. I was reminded of this over the weekend by the thread hijack perpetrated by raehl and Brockdorff--Have you been injured in a slip & fall? Call raehl & Brockdorff, they'll sue somebody--over in the PBN News thread on the new NPL. And I thought it might make a good poll topic. The question is: Which of the following choices is the best option for improving tournament paintball? Note that the goal isn't more players, it's improving the game. If you think more players is the best possible improvement that's fine but I wanted to open up the possibilities. The poll will certainly not contain every possible option so feel free to add your favorite in comments but should have a good selection of choices based on various (often recurring) proposals that have been discussed in the past.
As is the norm you will get one vote and one vote only. Cast it wisely. (Not like usual.)

Monday Poll in Review
Out of concern for the delicate sensibilities of some readers I won't be going over the results in detail this week. Last week's question concerned format preference between the PSP, NPPL & MS and, not surprisingly, the PSP was the winner. The margin was what was unexpected given it was essentially 3:1 over both the other leagues combined with the PSP garnering approx. 75% of the votes. (NPPL got 15% & MS got 10%.) The MS began with the disadvantage that VFTD has fewer regulars from Euroland than North America so unless a voter preferred fewer matches played while sharing the field with two other teams it wasn't an unexpected outcome. And with the lack of experience most voters have with the Millennium style format it's also no surprise it didn't receive a significant number of votes regardless of the league presenting it. And finally it was no great surprise that majorities in each category favored the option that provided the longest game, the most points--and perhaps reflects the continuing dream of many to play at the highest level.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

VFTD Odds'N'Ends

I have been remiss lately in welcoming the newest members of the Deadbox Puppet Army. Apologies & Greetings! The most recent recruits include Nikilwig, (that paragon of paintball perspicacity) Nick Brockdorff, Cinic, Cassius Dixon & Greg. If I've missed anyone I blame Blogger because it doesn't track join dates after a brief period of time. (Curse you Blogger!) VFTD would like to welcome the most recent recruits, named and unnamed, to the Deadbox Puppet Army--and encourage you fence sitting lazy slackers to step up to the plate before it's too late. You don't think we're in the world domination game all alone, do you? (Hell, half the paintball industry "borrows" VFTD's style & schtick.) The Freemasons have a few hundred years head start. And don't get me started on the Illuminati. Ever hear of the Skull & Bones? That's right. The DPA needs to make a move by the end of the year if we want to see some movement in next year's Janes' Conspiracies of the World. No time like the present. So join now and make a difference. Slacker.
Benefits of joining are membership in a truly elite club--paintballers with both good taste and (probably) a 3 digit IQ. Then there's the secret handshake--only available in person, it's a secret handshake after all--and magic decoder ring. (Currently on back order.) And finally the opportunity to purchase a handsome DPA T-shirt. (See link and image on sidebar.)

UPDATE: VFTD also welcomes aboard recruit(s) Devon Stuart & Gabriel Aponte who had the good sense to jump in post haste and maybe get a personal mention--which in fact is what just happened.

VFTD would also like to take this opportunity to thank y'all for the recent spate of Facebook "likes." (At least those among you who actually made the effort.) As regulars know VFTD would prefer to be feared than liked but still appreciates your social network literacy and conformity to the stalkers' & attention whores' favorite interweb portal.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Baca Addendum

Is it synchronicity or serendipity? (Google a definition, slacker.) The current Monday Poll wants to know your favorite format given that there is no world standard just yet--and the NPPL has jumped into the multi-point variant with both feet for 2012. But even that is just the same old same old after a fashion. Nothing groundbreaking. (Other than the tacit admission they needed to do something other than traditional 7-man to be competitive.) And then there's the new NPL (National Paintball League) being discussed over at the Nation. Like the original tourney alternative [the first USPL] it features offense and defense. A smaller field not unlike the old UAPL--that was also 3-man. The NPL splits the difference and goes with 4 players per side. Perhaps most intriguing is the fact the NPL is imagined to function from the grassroots up to a national title event modelled after more traditional sports but also akin to VFTD's own (Almost) Everything Tournament Paintball Needs To Know from the Dead Tree Archive (and the days of real paintball magazines.) Also along the way there's been real Xball, 'Moneyball' and truckloads of other random ideas for how competitive painball ought to be played. VFTD has even contributed the purely hypothetical Bacaball to the list of mostly ignored (forgotten) ideas--and probably rightly so. (Except of course for Bacaball.) But reading about the NPL got me thinking--and that's always a dangerous proposition. And I've got the answer. The Baca Addendum. [Cue Also sprach zarathustra]

Before I get into that though a couple of asides about the NPL. As raehl mentioned [at PBN] they need to focus on the basics for now and not sweat the superstructure of unnecessary rules and requirements and procedures that will only inhibit their potential for growth. (Thanks for asking, yes, agreeing with Chris about anything was a singularly unpleasant sensation.) This is not, btw, an endorsement. I've read the website, watched the videos and seen the comments (so far) and I'm unpersuaded but that's neither here nor there. If the game has something going for it--and the creators don't suffocate it prematurely--it may find an audience and if it gets and keeps peeps playing competition-oriented paintball that wouldn't be a bad thing.

About the Baca Addendum. It's one simple idea built on existing notions of playing competitive paintball. [So simple in fact that somebody must have already thought of it but was ignored or didn't set it up quite right. I'll be interested in finding out.] It's 3 simple rules that can be added to any common format or variation currently played although it really will work best in a multi-point or time limited match. It'll work in 3-man, 5-man, 7-man or whatever you like. On a PSP, NPPL or MS field layout. It will work for beginners or pros. It will both offer focus and strategic and tactical complications at the same time. It will make players better. It will reward both athletic and intellectual agility. The variety it can produce is unparalleled. And I will explain it in detail after I test play it. (Which will happen within the next two weeks.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

MS French Riviera Cup 2012

Over on the main page of the MS website the announcement of the venue for the first event of 2012 reads:  "We are pleased to announce that our 2012 opening event will be held on the French Riviera at “Parc Saint James Oasis Village”, Puget-Sur-Argens." (If you want to see what it's like the title is a link to the venue's website--and a bit of exploring--at the website--will give you a sense of what else is in the general area--but not the amount of traffic to be overcome to visit various sights.)
All in all it looks pretty fantastic and if the Millennium can manage to put the fields on some nice level grassy ground it looks like a winner. Since it will be at least an hour's drive from Houston to Galveston if I have to drive--and I do--I know which destination I would prefer even though I'm not a big fan of Provencal cooking or wines.

VFTD would like to hear from the Eurokids; what do you think of the venue? More trouble than its worth? Too pricey? Or a nice mix of paintball with an appealing destination?

2012 NPPL HB field layout

VFTD is not going to do a breakdown of this layout--at least not yet (but probably not ever as the very thought sounds like work.) Nor will I be taking the league to task for re-cycling a past layout. [Vegas '09] The fact is it's difficult to maintain a fundamental design concept--snake wire and D-wire--without some routine similarities design to design and the change in props plus the interior position changes from the original to this layout makes it different enough I think for those who care about such things. (The only way to avoid similarities would be to open the design process up to unconventional ideas.)
What this layout does do is give us some more info on what to expect from the NPPL in 2012. For example, there were rumors of the league changing field dimensions--which plainly didn't happen. It will be interesting to see how this plays into the various Race 2 options the NPPL intends to implement for 2012. As a practical matter the field dimensions and prop set will make a difference in how match play plays out on this HB layout--just as the PSP's move to extend their field did last season. The mid-field will (continue to) be difficult to ref efficiently. (Before all the fanboys start hyperventilating it's not a criticism, it's an observation.) I will also be surprised if more than 25% of the pro prelims go to points instead of time. (Consider that a prediction.) At any rate it will interesting to see how it turns out.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Paintball Awards

The kids at ProPaintball have posted--out of the blue--a "best" of 2011 list. If you missed it the post title is a link. But before I get into the subject of this post I would be remiss if I didn't thank ProPaintball for the honor bestowed on me. And I will refrain from thanking everybody I've ever known but it remains a fact that no individual succeeds in team sports alone and I am very fortunate to be part of a first class organization and surrounded by some of the best players in the world. Okay, enough of that.

While there is nothing new in doing best of lists or handing out annual awards I'm beginning to come around to their utility. You see, the thing is I've been, in the past, rather ambivalent about the whole idea of awards, player of the year, team of the year sorta thing, even All*Star players for the simple fact it often seems either political or a popularity contest that fails to acknowledge teams and players that don't have sponsor ads touting them or videos featuring them or who go out of their way to put themselves in the public eye. As a consequence I tend to view such things cynically. But it has occurred to me that such things might serve another purpose beyond simply recognizing excellence (to whatever degree of accuracy.) They might serve to help make competitive paintball more accessible.
For example, what if PBN did power rankings over the course of the season for each of the major leagues? The ranking needn't follow results alone but could include match-up results in the prelims, point margins, etc. or be voted on by members or players of the particular league. At the same time perhaps ProPaintball has the Insider's or the Expert's poll running concurrently doing much the same thing but with a limited list of voters chosen for their insider knowledge or expert opinions. Do such things change the results of matches or events? Of course not but they do create a potential for dialogue amongst fans of the different teams and leagues. And once you begin with an opinion you have to have reasons and before long people are talking about competitive paintball the way sports fans talk about other sports.
And while All*Star events have at best a checkered history there's nothing wrong and a lot right with the idea of awarding the best players All*Star recognition. Maybe mid-season each team nominates 3 or 4 players and over the rest of the year fans vote and the teams vote for the best players on their competitors' teams and at the end of the year when the series titles are handed out the individual All*Stars are acknowledged as well.
Which still leaves Top Tens, Best of's and whatever other annual awards anybody wants to assign and what better time to start drawing those up than after the final paintball has been shot in competition for the season and the off season is looming. It would be an excellent way to keep people interested and actively involved if, say, social media and networks were used interactively or to collect votes or whatever. And under those circumstances more than one batch of awards is both welcome and adds to the potential debate. It seems to me that the good outweighs any potential negatives and every handle that gives players and fans a positive, fun way to talk about competitive paintball is a plus.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Monday Poll

This week's Monday Poll is the all-inclusive something for everyone (in competitive paintball) format poll. The poll will list all and sundry format options available this year in major league paintball and VFTD is going to allow you to choose the format you'd most like to play. Or the one you will be playing. Or would rather play over what the rest of your team decided to do this season. Whatever. But keep in mind, once again, there can be only one. One choice that is. Certain lazy slackers--who will go unnamed--ruined the dual poll concept for the rest of you by not voting in both polls last week. (And you know who you are. Nearly 20% couldn't click the old mouse twice. Oh, it's so hard. I'm tired. I didn't see it. I didn't read the post and thought I had to pick one poll or the other. There is no excuse you can come up with I haven't heard or used myself so don't bother trying.)
[Besides different field dimensions and props Millenium Race 2 also features two teams playing simultaneously taking turns on the field where PSP Race 2 does not. In addition Millenium pre-lim brackets offer 3 games while the PSP has 4. While some of the details for the NPPL's versions of Race 2 are unknown they will generally follow the Millenium option.]
Anyway. It doesn't get any simpler. One poll. One answer (per voter.) One format winner. Which one will it be? It's all up to you--and however many of your friends you can get to vote with you, you cheating bastards. So get to it already. You don't have all day. Well, actually you have a week or thereabouts but no time like the present to vote in the Monday Poll.

Monday Poll in Review
Here's how the first dual Monday Poll is gonna work. VFTD has tallied all the votes in both polls and subtracted last place votes from first place votes. The resulting sum was then compared to all other results in order to rank the teams from first to last.
But before I give the final results a couple of comments on the polls themselves--and some of the voting. The last place poll received around 18-20% fewer votes than the first place poll. No big deal with a non-scientific VFTD poll but it would'a been nice to have the numbers balance out and could have changed the finishing places for a number of the teams particularly those mid-pack. Of note was the limited number of votes Impact received although given the apparent likelihood they will not be competing in the PSP this season it's not unreasonable. Even so, since they were in the poll I think they probably merited a few more votes than they got. The same is true of the Russians, Dynasty and the Ironmen. Dynasty (18%) opened the 2011 season with 4 straight wins for goodness sake. The back half wasn't as strong but they were solid and consistent all year. And the Russians (11%) were in the finals of 3 of 4 PSP events and a mostly (if not exclusively) Legion roster won the MS as Art Chaos. What happened to fans of the 'Men? Can anybody say "fair weather?" That actually holds true for a lot of the teams where I expected their hard core fans to throw them a few votes--but as it turned out, not so much, except for the big effort on behalf of 187 who received as many "winning" votes as Dynasty and Legion combined. Clearly the new kids have a lot of home grown support. All in all what we have here is less fan support across the board than I expected and a lot more flavor of the month voting than I expected. This is not PBN people. (Hi, John!)
Finishing in last place was CEP. Tenth position went to Aftershock. Vicious finished ninth. X-Factor came in eighth. Tied in the six/seven position were Ironmen & Impact. 187 Crew came in fifth. Fourth was Infamous. The Russian Legion finished third. And Dynasty was second. (Remember, these places are the results of the voting and are not endorsed by VFTD.) Despite the last place votes from the NPPL Board of Directors (keep reading, guys!)--rumor has it they don't like VFTD very much--was it something I said?--Damage finished first in VFTD's first dual poll as most likely to win the PSP series in 2012. No pressure.
VFTD will revisit this result (if I remember) at the end of the year and compare the actual results top to bottom with the poll's results. It'll be fun. Or not.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Major League War!

It's on! Sometime today, in all likelihood, the NPPL will be announcing the coup that will bring former NXL Commissioner--and current PSP Pro field supervisor--Tony Mineo over to the NPPL. It is rumored that some number of the support staff and referees (from the pro field) will also make the move. If this at first seems like a response to the PSP hiring of Tom Cole, it isn't. The NPPL seems to have convinced itself that Tom was "stolen" away from them by the PSP. Just like the PSP "stole" Camille Lemanski away from them last year. It isn't true. In either case. Tom quit. The antecedents of Tom's decision to leave the NPPL date back at least to the DC event last year. And the NPPL wasn't paying Camille her contracted salary when she left--and hadn't for some months. (Look, I don't care if everybody denies any or all of this. What else would you expect?)
This move, timing aside, was originally considered as a way to resolve reffing problems in the NPPL given that the general consensus has been for some time that the PSP's pro refs (and staff) were the best in the business. Cole's move may have precipitated the NPPL's push to make this happen right now but it isn't or wasn't a new idea. It is rumored that the NPPL has not only offered Mineo a pile of cheese but also an ownership stake (better get that in writing, Tony) and autonomy in organizing and overseeing the officiating of NPPL events. It is rumored but unsubstantiated that part of the deal was to pull as many of the PSP trained refs over as possible.
As a practical matter this is apparently a lucrative deal for those making the switch and will almost certainly improve the quality of the officiating--at least on the center court field--if enough of the PSP refs also make the move. As a business move it may or may not make sense. That will depend on what the real dollar numbers are and whether it has any impact on NPPL participation (and/or the league's reputation.) It is an effort to purchase competence in an area where the NPPL was weak. It is also certainly intended to be a PR coup as well. And lastly it must be seen as an attempt to weaken the competition.
Will it effectively change anything? Time will tell. The NPPL fields are different with some key different props. None of those making the move have any experience organizing and running the Millennium style of play. And neither Mineo or his staff developed or trained the refs initially. At this point it's a grand experiment.
The existence of two major leagues has been a sharp debate in recent years and whatever else anyone thought of either league they offered, between them, more options for the players. Those days are ending--at least with regards to these two particular leagues. Intended or not this move by the NPPL is a declaration of war and it won't be over until one or both of the current major leagues is finished. It would behoove the players and teams to think long and hard about what they want and what they hope for in a major league paintball future and decide accordingly. Except of course the paintball half life of too many making such decisions is so short they won't (and don't) know what is potentially at stake. As VFTD as been saying for some time it is the industry that will have to choose--and it is no longer a choice they can put off. Choose wisely.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

VFTD Housekeeping

Comments is (apparently) currently not functioning. At least it isn't working for me. Please take a moment and try to access a "comments" option under any post. If you can--drop me a line identifying your browser. Thanks.

UPDATE: It seems the problem impacts only IE8/9 and only in the comments form that VFTD has been using. Comments has been switched to a different formating--opening a separate window--until (if) there's a Blogger fix. If anyone has issues with the new comments format let me know.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Never Say Never

Farewell to the Hurricanes. Once New England's finest and a beacon for all Northeast teams has called it quits. I had the good fortune to coach a few Hurricanes and always had a soft spot on my head for the brash boys from Mass. To Jeff and all the 'Canes, you done good.

The New Social Paintball

First a little love for the kids at Social. (Title is link to Social website.) They have put a lot of blood, sweat & tears into a labor of love and paintball can only benefit from the efforts of those willing to do so for the most minimal of returns--generally accompanied by more criticism than praise or worse, indifference. Second, you should visit Social, if you haven't, and see what the new site is all about. And I would recommend the same for any and all paintball-related sites that have something of interest to you. If nothing else support them by regularly checking in and seeing what's going on--and if you have anything to contribute to an ongoing conversation or the site, post a comment or three. Traditional media support of paintball is mostly a thing of the past and the plain fact is if you want to have a diversity of new media supporting and promoting paintball you (yes, you, no, not the other guy, you) need to actively support it. Just saying.
Now comes the part where I harsh everybody's mellow with some criticisms of the new Social PB. First up, "girl paintball tech" videos. For real? I know there's a contingent in paintball desperate to include more girls but pointing them (girls) out like freaks in a sideshow every time one shows up isn't the way to do it. If she was working on your gat is it important that she's a she or that she can do the job correctly? It's condescending (and isolating) whether it's intended to be or not.
Reporting & interviews. Neither one are about the reporter, what they think or how they feel. Case in point, the Russian Legion coverage. I realize the staff isn't professional journalists but more professionalism would go a long way from separating Social from the rest of the herd. (And frankly from much of the rest of paintball media, period.)
Keeping it real; controversy & taking a stand. This is an area that needs to be handled with care but not because it might upset some people but because it's easy to make a mess of it. For example, the piece called 'Does the APPA system class players out of the game?' For starters it's incomplete. All it does is throw out an assertion. It makes no case supporting that assertion or offers any alternatives. All it really does is re-hash in the most superficial way a subject VFTD broached in 2008. Is it a fair question? Sure, but if it's going to serve any purpose other than to rile up the ignorant or ill-informed it needs to be more than that. In fact APPA, working with the PSP, has changed the classification system dramatically from the time I first started posting about the issue until today and they continue to move in positive directions. (And of course the alternative to some sort of classification system is to say there is no such thing as sand-bagging. I'm okay with that but do you really want to go there?)
Then there is 'The Cost of Winning.' It isn't controversial or thought-provoking, it's just silly. It opens with the idea that Legion dropped it's American players from 2011 because they were more interested in saving money than winning paintball tournaments by equating them with professional football teams that focus on profit over winning. A) it misunderstands what Alex says in the PR, B) it demonstrates the author doesn't know the facts, and C) it strongly suggests the author has no clue about the realities of competing at the pro level in paintball. Later in the article he says, "Some pro teams are obviously worth more than D4 teams ..." No, they aren't worth more, they COST more. There is no profit, there is only cost and it is a flawed premise to begin with to equate any paintball team to a truly professional sports franchise. And everything that flows from that is misguided at best.
But it's hardly a make or break flaw. It is an example perhaps of trying too hard. Look, there are plenty of debatable topics in paintball. Exercise good judgment and some editorial oversight and raising controversial subjects will contribute to paintball instead of further muddying the water. Social has the potential to be a great paintball site and I am looking forward to seeing it reach its potential. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Monday Poll First

This week's Monday Poll is a VFTD first. Two polls in one! (Kinda) Two questions, two polls but aimed at one thing. The predicted finishing for the 2012 season in the PSP Pro Division. Top to bottom. Bottom to top. The results of both polls will be combined to create the most seemingly scientific poll ever at VFTD. (Though of course it won't be because, as usual, all voters in every VFTD poll are self-selecting so the only thing we know for sure is that VFTD voters aren't quite the lazy slackers the rest of you are.) Mostly we're doing two polls because I decided one poll with open voting was unlikely to be effective as most of you would use the opportunity to vote your favorites along with the teams you thought most likely to win. If I could have limited you to three choices that would have been fine. But since I can't you will only get one vote in each poll. Which team will win the PSP Pro series in 2012? & Which team will come in last in the PSP Pro series for 2012? (Keep in mind the series winner is the high score after, and including, all 5 event results.)
If you vote, please vote in both polls.
The teams listed are last year's teams plus 187 Crew. While VFTD does not expect an 11 team division  these are the teams that would be in as of today.
Be a part of VFTD history. Vote--then vote again--in the first twin Monday Poll.

UPDATE: What the hell, man?! Clicking your mouse twice was too much for some of you? Determined to skew my already unscientific poll results? Didn't want to anonymously hurt any team's po' widdle feewings by voting them most likely to come in last?

Monday Poll in Review
Last week's question wanted to know which team(s)--from the list given--were least likely to compete in the NPPL Pro Division in 2012. Even taking into account those who misread the question--or didn't read it at all--looking at the raw numbers proved to be, er, confusing. Everybody received some votes. And nobody was seen as an overwhelming choice not to compete. The top vote getters (those teams seen as least likely to compete in the NPPL Pro division) were Vicious and Top Gun (Top Gun Evolution was the series winner in D2.) Mutiny was a no-show at the Vegas finale last year and didn't come in last. Nor did Blast--which announced they would not be competing in 2012--while the poll was still open! In fact neither Blast or Mutiny received votes from more than 50% of the voters. Hello!?
Despite the goofy looking numbers there was some order amidst the seeming chaos. NPPL Pro has 16 teams. The poll list included 24 teams; all 16 from last season plus the top 2 D1 teams, top D2 team, the rumored possibles plus Vicious. The list didn't include any Euro teams or the other 3 PSP Pros; Legion, Ironmen & CEP since all were deemed as highly unlikely at best. If the final poll results are listed in the order of fewest votes (most likely to compete in NPPL Pro) to the most votes the result is kinda interesting. The top ten begining with number 1 are, Dynasty, Avalanche, Legend, Impact, Vendetta, XSV, Xplicit, Uprising, Thunder & Arsenal. 11-13 are X-Factor, Damage & Infamous. Rounding out the top 16, the poll's projected NPPL Pro Division for 2012, are HK, Aftershock & Unnamed Canadian team. Tied at 17th are New Mystery Team and Miami Devious(Rage). Listed in order it almost rounds into shape and despite the actual numbers it even makes a kind of sense. And while I know it's silly I'd love to see Unnamed Canadian listed amongst the teams at HB.
So--will the NPPL have a full 16 teams in the 2012 Pro Division?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Guns, Guns, er, Markers

Since it's the weekend I'ma try something a little different. I'm going to propose a topic and let y'all have at it. More amazingly, the subject is paintball gear. Guns in particular. (I know! I never talk about gear. And I'm not gonna start now. You are.) While I don't talk about gear it is a subject some people (who will remain nameless) that I talk with do talk about. Every damn chance they get--or so it seems. That being the case I'm (vaguely) aware that in recent months there's been news of some new guns coming to market; Zodiac (blah blah blah) Renegade, Machine Vapor and a gat from Thin Air Sports. Feel free to toss in a GOG gun too or whatever else strikes your fancy.
Say whatever you'd like but I'm (vaguely) interested in pricing, perceived value & perceived marketplace considering the Crome kids called it quits recently. (Yes, somebody told me that too.)
That's it. It's all yours now.

Mr. Curious Is Back

From his holiday vacationing. The lucky bastard. It's his world and we're just living in it. Anyway, as you should know by now a Mr. C sighting means another round of rumorology. And he did not disappoint--though he came a little short on details. (Beggars. Choosers. His world. What are you gonna do?)
Rumor has it KEE will not be sponsoring the NPPL this coming season and that a formal (or informal?) announcement will be forthcoming soon.
I know, there's been talk about that possibility for some time and this doesn't really add a whole lot but if true we should find out before long just what it will mean in fact and practice.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 PSP Divisions & Entries

And prizes. (Such as they are.) I threw that last bit in for the D3 podium deserves fat cash crowd. Look, I don't have a lot to say about this yet. Maybe ever. I'ma wait until the PSP posts their series prizes but otherwise it seems okay to me. But then I don't favor big prizes to the lower divisions even if there are more teams there. the PSP is about the competition and that means, among other things, that everybody who thinks they belong in D3 or D4, legitimately or otherwise, don't believe they can compete in a higher division. And if the object of competition is to reward excellence and success one of the ways you encourage that is to help motivate players and teams to be excellent and succeed if they want the best prizes.
Mostly I'm surprised by the lack of a hue & cry today from the prize hunters because it's been such a popular topic in the past. (Of course, it's early yet.) Otherwise the only thing that gave me pause was double value points World Cup for divisions D3-X and below. (I'm good with less stringent series requirements for the lower divisions.) I'm not sure what I think of the double value Cup points just yet other than I would object long and loud if it had extended to the Pro division. More on this when series prizes are announced.

In Demand?

As you likely already know, unless you've just pulled your head out of the snow (or the sand), the NPPL is touting a PPV show of Huntington Beach 2011 available In Demand. What nobody makes clear until you order it though is how much it costs. It's $9.99 on my local cable service. [And if you follow VFTD on Facebook you know I've been through the snipe hunt it took to make that discovery. And if you don't, why not?] But that's not what I'm presently curious about. Has everybody (anybody?) who is promoting this program actually ponied up their cheddar to watch the show? And beyond that who else has watched the program and how much did it cost them to In Demand it? And if the NPPL is so gung ho to get viewers why haven't they listed the price anywhere? And if, as the hard core supporters insist, it's all about promoting paintball why isn't it 5 bucks or 3? Did you buy the show? How much was it? Remember, your comments can be anonymous. ;)
I suppose it's supposed to be a big deal that competitive paintball can join the ranks of the PPV event giants and charge money for their show but is there really an audience and is it really about anything other than the NPPL's bottom line? Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed in any way to competitive paintball generating cash money--if it did, some of that might trickle down to me--but I weary of the hucksterism that always seems to be part of the effort. And if you think about it the condescension and lack of respect it displays for most of you people.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

If Only I Played the Violin ...

or self-medicated on heroin. (Or was it opium?) I'm never quite sure. Perhaps then I could alleviate the raging boredom. You know, like Sherlock Holmes. He of the notoriously low boredom threshold. Or maybe somewhere in the wide world of paintball SOMETHING INTERESTING COULD HAPPEN. It was so bad earlier I started reading the postings on Facebook. And I thought I was bored ...

Did you notice the recent PSP announcement (there never seems to be an off season when it comes to cluttering up my emailbox) that the new AES tourney series was a PSP affiliate series? (I deleted the first one too.) Seems they will be running 2 conferences with the northern conference in a region of the Midwest more or less overlapping that of the Vicious Series. And that the Vicious Series will be switching to a Millennium style of Race 2 (with 2 matches proceeding on the same field simultaneously or thereabouts.) Does that mean the Vicious Series is no longer a PSP affiliate? Oh and it's vaguely ironic that GP (& the Fergs) [formerly of DSS & Vicious] is headlining the AES series of events.

A query arrived in the mailbag recently wondering what I thought of the idea of trying to organize larger scale combination paintball events. Something like a Big Game and tournament to occur over the same weekend at the same venue--perhaps as the coordinated effort of multiple promoters. Part of the notion being that some of the logistical expenses overlap, some of the players interest may also overlap and the whole thing would have greater appeal to industry sponsors and supporters. What do you think? And while you're thinking take a moment to post those thoughts in the comments. (For those of you who weren't sure what to do with your thoughts.)

Periodically VFTD will receive requests for guidance or assistance from teams and players at different levels of competition that go well beyond the specific questions I'm (usually) happy to respond to in Baca's Mailbag. In the past I have tried to offer what is hopefully some helpful advice and encouragement but recently the numbers of this sort of request have been growing and as a practical matter I simply don't have the time to respond to each one individually. The language barrier has also become a more frequent issue as many of these requests come from all corners of the globe. For those who have lately received something of a stock reply, my apologies. And for those who are relatively new to VFTD there are quite a lot of posts in the archives covering practice routines, drills and the like. The search function isn't great but will help sort things out. As always I'm happy to respond to specific questions whether they become a mailbag post or not.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Monday Poll

My original thought--btw, you slackers were no help at all, way to keep the streak alive--was to do something about which teams will be playing in the PSP pro division this year but when I thought about how to frame such a poll it became obvious that would, at a minimum, be boring. Last year there were 10 teams (except for Cup with 12) and if Impact drops out it makes a place for 187 Crew. If Impact doesn't drop out there's the questions swirling around Shock's status but that's pretty much it. Not much uncertainty beyond the logistics of how the division will function, so--
What about a similar poll for the CPL? You know, the Millennium Series equivalent. Then it occurred to me that not even the Eurokids care all that much--unless they're actually playing in the CPL so if the Monday Poll is gonna be about a pro division to kick off the new year, and it is, dammit, it's gotta be about the NPPL. There's rumors Hollywood HK (you can't be serious) is gonna get a spot and Mutiny didn't show for Vegas last year and then there's Shock in disarray (again) and will Blast play or won't they plus teams having to prep for the new format so all in all there seems more room for rumor and opinion in a NPPL poll.

The first Monday Poll question of 2012 is: Which of the following teams won't be playing in the NPPL Pro division in 2012? To be followed by a long-ish list of, doh!, teams that might or might not be participating in the NPPL this coming year. You may vote for as many options as you wish. As usual the final test will be graded on a curve because otherwise you'd all fail. So what are you waiting for? It's time to cast your vote. Go on.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Burning Questions, 2012 Edition

Hair of the dog? They say bananas, sports drinks & primrose oil among other things can help--not that I'm familiar with post celebratory hangovers mind you--but stay hydrated. Btw, thanks for the week off. I enjoyed it, nothing much happened anyway. Hope you had a swell blah blah blah and have a happy blah blah blah. And yes, I'm brimming over with holiday cheer blah blah blah.
Since December was Baca's Mailbag month at VFTD (the blog) everything else was either tweeted (@VFTD) or posted up on VFTD (the Facebook page). Try to keep up.

The first burning questions of 2012: (feel free to add your own)

If Impact sticks with their rumored plan to play only NPPL this season will their players be allowed to play elsewhere in the other leagues? And if so, who should play where?

Will there be an Aftershock in 2012?

How many pro teams fail to answer the bell at the start of the season?--(whenever that might be in individual cases.)

Will HydroTec finally roll out there water ball this year? Did you see the latest HydroTec video? [h/t Facefull on Twitter] Can you say desperately trying to remain relevant? Still, the sheet of half shells filled was kinda cool but I don't remember hearing a release date in there anywhere, did you?

Over in Euroland will there be as many defections from the closed division ranks as there were last year? And after scouring far and wide for replacements last year where will the new crop come from?