Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2012 PSP Pre-season D2 Rankings

VFTD is happy to continue flogging the divisional horse with a pre-season ranking of all the Galveston competitors in D2. (Especially 'cause I didn't have to do any work.) I would also like to apologise to the author for ruthlessly and cavalierly cutting some perfectly good (explanatory even) content in the interests of not overburdening the Attention Deficit Disorder of the average baller. (Go ahead, kids. Pop those Ritalin pills. They're just like Pez candies.)
In creating these rankings a number of variables were taken into consideration: Past Achievement ("Winning"), Experience (at the given Division and Race Format), Team Cohesion (Years as a Team), Roster Make-Up (# of D1s, D2s), Access to Higher Level Teams for Scrimmage & Coaching. Conversely if a team is newly formed or has few D2 players on the roster that hurts. If they've never played Xball, somebody get some Advil. All said, we all know the playing will do the talking in the end. I'm sure the rankings will be gloriously obliterated once play starts March 9th.

VFTDS presents: The Division 2 Pre-Season Rankings:
1- Revo: This team has all the above characteristics save for playing in D2 before. They were dominant in D3 last season. Their players are coming back plus two D1s. PAP in MD is a gladiator academy with D2 DC Monstars and D1 Assault teams once hosted there as well. [Baca edit: bonus points for use of Latin "ludus." Points subtracted for misspelling. I'm tough but I'm fair. Somebody has been watching too much Spartacus: Blood & Sand.]
2- Boom: always have to give the edge to incumbent teams in a division and they still have two D1s on their roster.
3- Zone: another incumbent D2 team. Placed 5th at Cup. Might find the podium with those dominant teams out of their way. Maybe some home state advantage as well?
4- Greg Pauley has obvious pedigree as a coach. Plus, he and another former Vicious player are on the roster. But will they be able to pick up the slack? Since it's GP's team, everyone is thinking VICIOUS Part 2. Side note, they get last place for team name.
5- Prime: The boys from Alabama clearly got some love in the VFTD poll. They have a pair of Pro coaches. They did well in CFOA 2010. They got 2nd at Cup and 3rd at TX last season. But they lacked consistency. They're not cashing in on having D1 players on the roster like the other teams are either.
6- Scottsdale Elevation: Played Pro 7-man in '09. Ranked 9th D1 NPPL playing two events. Play PSP feeder AZPPL. No proven Xball pedigree at the national level. They seem confident as the team is already slated for D1 PSP after PSP Galveston.
7- CEP D2: The CEP program did very well divisionally once upon a time. Since they get to practice a Pro team regularly as well, it makes them a threat. But they've only played one event together, barely squeaking past prelims at Cup.
8- Blackout: Damage's Florida feeder team; Total Karnage 2.0. [Baca edit: just so there's no confusion the core of the Blackout D2 squad is last year's NPPL D3 series champs.]
9- Da Bears: looks like Wolfpack 2.0 with some LIFT players and Jersey area walk-ons. Habit of being super-hot, super-cold. Struggle to maintain a roster.
10- NCPA All-Stars: They were always competitive in D3 with three top 5 finishes in '11. With the amount many of them save by working for the APPA during the event; they can always draw a solid mix of talent.
11- Carolina Breakout: Finished 4th for the season in D3. Showing steady improvement from D4X-D3X, but only one top 4 finish in D3. 3rd Place at Cup.
12-Palm Beach Vipers: Only one D2 player rostered. As interesting and lasting as the Vipers franchise has been, they've only won a few times. Palm Beach Venom has won a 1st at PHX Open 2010 in D1. PBV kids won Cup in D3X in 2010. There is one player from each rostered for 2012. North Florida does have a wealth of D1 teams to scrimmage against though and Ken Bryson should have enough experience to make some good things happen.
13-Siege: Wisconsin, 5 D2 ranked players; narrowly beaten by Revo at Cup.
14-Overhead: 100% Latino team mostly out of Monterrey, Mexico. While they've done well in México, non-US teams, aside from Russians (Legion, Grad) tend to struggle. Props to them for making the trip. Most gringos wouldn't go to Tijuana or Monterrey for a michelada. Much less for some paintball. (Both are locations for the PSP affiliated Mexican Paintball League, but also centers for intense cartel turf wars.) [Baca edit: Yo no sé nada.]
15-Coalition: out of Albuquerque, New Mexico; rosters 3 D2 players.
16-OBK: out of San Antonio. The team rosters only 1 D2 player; making them eligible for D3.
17-Last Call: from Atlanta, GA. After winning World Cup in D3 5-man, these guys had to bump up to Division 2 Xball. This is inexplicable, as it is common knowledge that Xball has much more difficult competition. They'll have to get used to a whole new format and a higher level of play at the same time.
18-PC Katana: from Panama City, FL Team rosters only 1 D2 player making them eligible to play D3.
[Baca edit: Cut some unnecessary hedging and dissembling thrown in just in case anyone has any hurt fewlings.]That's the pre-season rankings.
"Welcome to the layer cake son."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Supporting Divisional Paintball

In yesterday's Monday Poll in Review section (and at VFTD the Facebook Page) I threw out the possibility that VFTD would make an effort to give more coverage to national divisional competition if some of you lazy slackers would volunteer to help. I am reiterating that offer here for those who couldn't be bothered to read all of yesterday's post. (I know, it was long and after sounding out some of the big words your attention wanders. It's okay.) Since I seldom see any divisional action I need you guys to fill in the details. Report on the action in your division. I will take all the reports and integrate the info into a post-event divisional report; one post for each division, D1-D4 Race 2 X. That would be nearly a full week of divisional paintball talk and provide the basis for y'all to get involved via comments. I will be happy to credit (or not) the content contribution of the volunteers without attributing specifics to any individual. So far we have one volunteer in each division for Galveston. If this is going to work we need more. If you'd like to see your division receive more attention it's time to stop sitting on the sidelines. I'm willing to provide the platform and put in my time too but it won't happen without you. Drop me a line for details.

UPDATE: VFTD has received a pre-season ranking of the D2 teams signed up for Galveston. I will post the list up tomorrow. Consider it a sample of what's possible if you're willing to get involved.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Monday Poll (Bitch at Baca Edition)

If you were hoping VFTD was gonna do a 'Whose Gonna Win the PSP D3 Series' poll because the other divisional polls have proved popular--well, you're outta luck. It would'a been easy. It might even have been popular but I went a different way. Thing is, start of the season, everybody is shiny, new and full of hope. Truth is most teams from D2 down don't play all or even most of the events and as a consequence series winners come from the smaller pool of persevering teams that also perform well. So while a D3 series vote might be popular it would just raise false hopes and VFTD thinks it's better to come to grips with reality sooner rather than later. (Of course with the opportunity to compete for a title now by playing 3 events plus Cup [for double points] it opens the field to a lot more potential competition.) More in the Review below.
This week I'm using The Monday Poll as an excuse to talk around the edges of all the NPPL rumors--and they are flying, under the radar, faster and more furiously than ever. The poll question is: Will attendance for HB 2012 equal or exceed last year's 133 teams. At my last count it was around 90-ish with no indication of which teams are paid and which are only registered--particularly as almost none of the rosters are given. (And team 'Man Hands' as registered by George Costanza is still listed in D4. Did anybody confirm that? It is, after all, a Seinfield joke.) I'm curious given the disappointments of the failed merger, the host of off season changes and the PSP opening their season up around 15% over last year. But enough of that stuff.
VFTD is sitting on a powder keg of rumors, some confirmed some unconfirmed, mostly because I don't want to be accused of single-handedly wrecking the NPPL season. (They tend to be dramatic like that. And because I'm a selfish bastard and want to see my team have an opportunity to compete and succeed in every league possible.) So all I'ma say is there are rumors of a power struggle (or struggles) in the upper echelons, perhaps one big name on the outs, the reality TV gimmick is still in the works but less about the NPPL than a particular team. A rumored big announcement has been on the verge for a couple three weeks now. That's just the tip of the rumored iceberg, too.

Monday Poll in Review
Apparently VFTD has some regulars among the friends, family and players on Prime. This was not a caucus--but way to get out the vote, kids. 1 in every 3 voters included Prime for a runaway victory--in the poll--but if you aren't familiar with them they were a strong contender in D2 last year finishing 5th overall while appearing in two finals.
There was another large turnout for last week's poll and while the results are unscientific and certainly biased (towards VFTD readers with favorites) it has convinced me there is a place for more divisional talk here at VFTD. But there is a small problem. I never see any of it. Divisional play that is. In any league. Except for Sundays and I willingly confess right here, right now I am not usually paying very close attention. So here's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna give y'all an opportunity to help me remedy that weakness and rep the divisional teams better. What I will need is some volunteer reporters to send in their take on the play in their division at the most recent PSP, NPPL or even MS event. From those reports VFTD can produce a post-event review for divisions 1 thru 3. (More on this coming but if you want to volunteer drop me a line.)
Nor would it surprise me if CEP D2 did a little community organizing in finishing second with 22%. They were followed by Boom, Revo & Palm Beach Vipers--all in double digits. Boom is the highest ranked team remaining in D2 from last season (although they lost players to Aftershock.) Revo was at the top of the D3 rankings last year and Vipers teams have competed successfully for years. Greg Pauley's new crew, pulled 7% followed by Team Zone at 6% and both Scottsdale Elevation & Carolina Breakout at 5%. Everyone else finished with 3% or less--which of course is meaningless but it was still fun to see how the voting would round out.
The division should be very competitive this year with a lot of strong D3 teams added to a mix of new teams and mostly mid-pack D2 teams from last year. It would be great to see the majority of teams play enough events to make the series title a real dogfight at Cup.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Will Technology Kill Airsoft or Recball First?

How's that for an attention grabber? Right up there with the social media attention whores who take almost racy pictures of themselves in mirrors to post on the internet. Or a George Lucas narrated remastering of THX 1138 with previously unseen footage now available on Blu*Ray.
Okay, so I've got your attention. (No, it's not real. I made up the THX thing and while I'm at it knock off the sycophantic drooling as a response to the attention whores. "You're so beautiful. lol XXX" Gack! It doesn't work. It makes me want to puke and I despair over what's become of the male gender. Of course paintballers probably shouldn't be reproducing anyway.)

The kids at ProPaintball (post title is the link) put up a couple of videos earlier in the week with Matty Marshall and there's one out there with Mr. U too. Both are introducing iCombat; a paintball-like game play variant using products being produced by irTactical. (irTactical is a division of Predator Games. Predator Games makes laser tag conversion equipment and have partnered with Tippmann in developing Tippmann Laser Tag.) irTactical's focus is for use as a training tool for police and military and includes realistic looking weaponry and a vest with multiple target receptors. (Which is a more sophisticated and accurate measure for confirming "hits.") iCombat takes that a step further and adds a skin contact that discharges a minor electric shock when the vest registers a "hit." And the iCombat kids are already introducing their use of the irTactical technology into paintball playing environments. More interactive related products are in the pipeline already.
VFTD continues to view all the competing games as, d'oh! competition. Airsoft has some crossover to parts of paintball but it's likely paintball is a net exporter of players. And while laser tag is scoffed at by many paintball players (and Tippmann is advertising their variant as a gateway game to paintball) the newest technology could pose a real threat. Add to that the recent incorporation of competing game products (including Airsoft) into industry conferences and what you are witness to is the breakdown of resistance to these direct competitors (to paintball) where it matters. At the local field level. The hook is new, different, more customers for struggling paintball fields. (Which is another post altogether.) Diversify your revenue streams. And why not? Better to have somebody on the fields playing than nobody and have to close up shop, right? Well, sure. For the field operator. But a field where paintball ain't being played is--wait for it--a field where paintball ain't being played!
Case in point: Is Tippmann's move to quick conversion kits for Tippmann markers to laser tag play intended to grow paintball or offer Tippmann--and some local fields with existing Tippmann markers in inventory--an alternative market (service/game)? (Or maybe both?)
I know, I know. It's hard to take too seriously. Now take a moment to consider the limitations placed on playing paintball. The regulated hazards of high pressure air. Growing environmental safety regulations. Zoning restrictions. Gun laws. Peripheral safety equipment like goggles. Cost of paint. The list doesn't end there. If you toss Airsoft into the mix you've got all those damned tiny plastic pellets everywhere.
Along comes another way to play the same game. No high pressure air. No projectiles. No paint. No pellets. No cheating--you get "hit" and your gun turns off. No need for goggles. No damage to the game play environment beyond the wear and tear of players moving around. Want realistic guns? Not a problem. Want to play Army? Coming soon--guns with 4 times the range of a paintball or Airsoft pellet. And, oh yeah, no welts. No pain unless you want the little jolt of failure but it's optional. Are you beginning to see the potential?
Today the top end equipment is pretty pricey. It won't stay that way. And when prices fall into a range similar to Airsoft and paintball it's gonna be game on.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

For the Good of the Sport

We still don't have a definition except in the broadest terms and even those terms aren't agreeable to everyone. But maybe that isn't necessary. (Maybe it is. Who knows?)
Anyway I want to offer y'all an analogy by history. The history of American football to be precise. Played irregularly, often as an annual event, at a handful of eastern universities beginning in the 1830s it developed into a club sport (in a few places) as a game that was either mostly soccer or mostly rugby and the rules didn't begin to form the unique game of football until the 1880s. The impetus for those changes was a university football conference organized by 8 schools including Harvard and Yale. By 1900 there were 43 universities playing organized football. The forward pass came into vogue around the era of the first world war but the forward pass as we know it today wasn't part of the game until the 1930s. From its origins to the present rules and equipment have changed but the form of the core game hasn't changed much in the last 75 years. Of course it took, at a minimum, 50+ years to reach that point.
Which perhaps begs a certain chicken and the egg type question: Which came first, the game or the organization?
Meanwhile alternatives to the current loose association of mostly industry types and influential leagues (which are mostly owned by or tied to) more industry types are split between player organizations and federations (of some sort). The principle virtue of either one appears to be they aren't what we presently have. (Here's where I play Devil's Advocate for a moment.) What exactly makes a player's union--on any scale--a better choice? What is the collective wisdom of the players? And does simple participation in the game validate their view of where the game should go in the future? The same of course applies to any federations. Which are not democratic but representative at best. Where do the candidates come from? And who is permitted to vote? If the pool is sufficiently exclusive aren't you just exchanging one elite for another?
Now if the real purpose is some divesting of power and control from industry--over their dead bodies and/or corporate bankruptcies--into other hands I understand the motivation. And I'd probably agree in principle that was a good idea, but--
A) It's one thing to suggest an alternative, it's another to demonstrate why it's a better choice, and
B) A different idea is swell but the nuts & bolts of how it can actually be accomplished is the important part.
While I an not opposed to any of the "comments" suggestions or similar ideas that have made the rounds in the past neither am I convinced any of them necessarily lead to a better future than the track the game is presently on.
As a former card-carrying anarchist--nobody carries the card anymore--if I thought blowing stuff up and starting over was a viable option I'd light the fuse. (And it isn't like I haven't tossed a bomb or two in my day.) The thing is though I'm not convinced there's enough structure erected yet to bother tearing it down. I'm also beginning to think the process inevitably will take the time it takes no matter how many attempts are made to fast track this or invoke TV for that. Or any of a number of other means of making "progress." Does that mean that people who are interested in the development (dare I say growth?) of the game should just sit quietly on the sidelines? No but maybe it means investing more thought and less emotion and accepting the fact this is likely going to prove a much slower process than most of us want.
More next time. (Oh yes there will be a next time. Bounce this post all you like. There's nothing you can do to stop me. [cue evil laugh])

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sport or Not Sport

VFTD first addressed this idea in Paintball Games International magazine back in the days when the printed word still existed. [If you're curious look here (circa 2003 for serious Baca) & here (circa 2005 for not-so-serious Baca) in the Dead Tree Archive.] Today there's not really a debate over the status of competitive paintball as sport so much as there is over just what paintball as sport is or ought to be (and become.) But even as most of us will agree that competitive paintball is sport there remain a lot of different ideas as to just what that really means. Are scenario leagues and the UWL, for example, on equal footing with the WCPPL or the CXBL? But deciding how elastic our definition of competitive paintball is is only an aspect of one of the current roadblocks. The bigger issue is that we all have a general idea of what paintball as sport means but not an agreed upon concrete definition or shared abstract vision and in even the most basic conversations there is a tendency to conflate "sport" with all the other bits & pieces that form the game as we see it today. Let me explain.
Here's an easy one for you. Making a buck off paintball isn't paintball the sport. (I said it was easy.) Satisfying the customer isn't paintball the sport either. (Think about that one for a second and you may see where this is leading.) The local recreational field isn't paintball the sport. Neither is PBIndustry. Players of competitive paintball aren't paintball the sport. Even competitive paintball leagues aren't paintball the sport.
Here's a different take. Is LeBron James basketball the sport? Or the Chicago Bears the sport of football? Does the MLB have a monopoly on the sport of baseball? In each instance the answer is no. (Despite the best efforts of the United States Congress.) In each preceding instance there is a connection but an association or relationship does not confer sports status on everything and everyone involved.
At this point you're either confused or going, yeah, so what? Here's the thing. There has been a lot of conversation lately in the comments about what is good for the sport of paintball and what isn't. And who ought to do what to make things better. Or who ought to be involved and who shouldn't and on and on. But it seems to me that most of that sort of talk is both premature and not particularly productive and one of the reasons is because we don't really know what competitive paintball the sport is yet. And until there is some sort of consensus a large portion of the ongoing dialogue is simply us talking past each other much of the time.
More on this subject next time but in the meantime here's a question or two to consider. How would you define paintball as sport? And once you've got that figured out: Whose in charge of protecting/preserving/promoting competitive paintball as sport? And who ought to be?

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Monday Poll

I wasn't going to do it but I can't help myself. The PSP D1 poll was so popular I want to see what will happen if I do a D2 poll. Hey it could be a complete flop or it could prove another big surprise. For those who slavishly follow  all the latest news, rumors & general paintball chatter it's easy to get the impression that a lot of regular tourney players seem to have more of a vested interest in the top am divisions than they do in the pros--not that they aren't interested or follow the pros--just that they feel more connected to the top am players. I don't know if that is inspirational or aspirational or both. I'm not even sure it's true but the interest in last week's poll merits another look. Maybe it's just that nobody else ever bothers to give these divisions a second look.
Pick the podium, one more time--this time for PSP D2. You may choose as many as 3 teams to vote but please limit your vote to 3 choices. (More than 3 votes and you're not helping your favorites reach the top.) Will a chance to vote for D2 teams surprise? Call your friends and neighbors. Here's your chance to make some noise and if it proves anywhere close to as popular as the D1 poll VFTD will give you a regular opportunity to support your favorite divisional teams. Don't just sit there--start voting!

Monday Poll in Review
Gotta say I didn't see that one coming. But it's great to see that much interest and support for the D1 kids. Across the board there was clearly some friendly voting but there was also some name recognition voting that helped separate a few well known names up a few spots. Perhaps more interesting is the lack of votes for some well established teams. The predicted podium finish for the D1 series came out VCK on top (33%) followed by Topgun Union (28%) and Grad Moscow (20%). Not a big surprise but a mild upset with VCK topping Topgun who battled Upton 187 all last season for the top spot. VCK made a big splash at Cup--and probably benefited from a get out the vote campaign. Grad was the top team in D2 last season. Two other top D2 teams also made the move; Distortion (11%) with Static (6%) returning to D1. Interestingly the top four D2 teams all finished within 25 points of each other so it wasn't a runaway for Grad yet they dominated in the poll. The only other team (that will be playing) to break double digits was Sacramento Damage and as a brand spanking new squad probably benefited from the name and their home turf in Cali. None of the rest of the returning D1 pool received strong numbers [except Montreal Mankster but they apparently chose during the poll not to come to Galveston.] Texas Storm led among the rest of the D1 returnees with 9% which was matched by L.I.F.T with RNT (6%), NJJ (5%) & Mayhem (4%). Rounding out the voting were the SD Pirates and Fuzion (teams out of the WCPPL) and new teams Tampa Bay Notorious and Florida Bomb Squad. Notorious has a core of former Fierce players augmented with a couple of ex-pros.
If the majority of teams in Galveston compete throughout the upcoming season it could be one of the most exciting and unpredictable D1 divisions ever. Keep an eye on the match-ups and scores in the prelims. It could be epic. It could be chaos. It might even be epic chaos.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Last Word on the New Snake Props

Let's get the big question settled up front. The PSP Galveston layout is a playable design with a potentially very active snake that is capable of promoting (or inviting) explosive action. [In large measure because it's going to be damn difficult to intentionally shoot anyone out of it. It will however be possible to spray a lot of paint around and clip careless, large, clumsy and unprepared players all day every day.] Will that necessarily happen? No. How a field is played is ultimately in the hands of the teams and players but this layout is not the slower play norm propagated last season--although I suspect that's more of a happy accident than anything else.
It could also very easily prove to be a very difficult field to play but that too will be dependent on how teams analyse the layout and execute their game plans. If you want to play vanilla it will play vanilla and you can drag points out--particularly if your opponent settles for the same. If they discover a trick or two you aren't aware of it will also be possible to lose a few points very quickly. Do your homework.

Okay, that's the short term positive. What about the longer term? I think the layout confirms every concern that VFTD and others had from the first release of information and images of these new bunkers. The bunkers clearly don't function independently. They do not free up props for other uses or placements. They dictate the rest of the field in order to accommodate the new props and they certainly don't help fulfill the PSP's desire to offer a fully competitive but more forgiving playing environment. Did I leave anything out?  Probably but if you've been following the prior debates you know the score. No need to re-hash it again.
Here is where I would have liked to tell you why this decision and not something else. I can't because I don't know. I do know a number of options were considered. I strongly urged a different decision and I did so based on my concern for how these props will play in the lower divisions. (Of course all dressed up like this Galveston layout it's a different scenario.) Even so the apparently widening gulf between rec and competitive paintball at the grassroots isn't helped by this new, technical snake either. Still, I'm not privy to all the in's and out's and it's easy to focus on one potential concern perhaps to the detriment of others I'm unaware of.
Unfortunately there is also something of a Pandora's Box quality to having chosen to go this route. Even with the limitations involved it shouldn't be a problem to generate 5 designs that will satisfy the PSP and its player base for 2012. (That said by mid-season and after there's a good chance we see some consistent themes emerge.) But it will be an ongoing issue. What happens in 2013 or 2014? If everyone acknowledges the bunkers were a mistake what happens? Another kit undoing the effects of this one? Or a different kit of new props making the new snake more versatile and no longer holding the rest of the design hostage to the snake layout? Or the status quo carrying over trying to avoid another year another bunker kit upgrade? I'll be honest, none of those options sound like winners to me but I also don't see a better option given the path we're now on. For whatever reason the PSP made the call to accept the new props that choice also locked them into some future decisions.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valken Army Mobilizes

As the regulars know Mr. Curious keeps his (over large left) ear to the ground when he's not creeping dark alleys or peeping through grimy windows into smoke-filled rooms. Well, yesterday's stampede nearly deafened him. With his head still ringing (and in between fits of laughter) he itemized the deployment of the Valken army from friendly media resource to retail and sales agents all the way down the line to scenario team players unleashed in a coordinated attempt to raise as much hell as possible--and incidentally position themselves as the aggrieved as well as the friend of the little guy. (The irony of which is lost on those who don't know their PB Industry history.) Why is Roger Delta-Tango cursing out the PSP on Facebook when he and his cronies spend less time outside of the woods than Bigfoot?
My point isn't that there aren't any paintballers out there sincerely put out by the PSP decision not to allow Valken paint sales. There surely are. But that's not all there is to it. The effort was orchestrated from start to eventual finish. (Nor is this a first for the PB Industry other than how rapidly and vociferously the onslaught came. Gotta love social media.) My other point is that it's one thing to be justly upset and another to simply play the fool.
That said VFTD does not mean to minimize the "real world" result. The impact at ground level is that there are some competitive teams out there that won't have the cheaper paint available to them or they will choose not to play in the PSP. And that is a lose lose for both the teams and the PSP.
However, the reality of this situation goes deeper. It's origins are part of the industry's hothouse history and long-standing animosities. On the field all of us are players. Not necessarily equals but all players. Off the field there are a lot fewer players and it is frequently difficult to determine just what game they are playing.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Monday Poll

Looking at team registrations for Galveston this is the fattest D1 bracket I've seen in a long time. A lot of teams bumping up and more than a few new teams jumping in. So this week The Monday Poll wants to know how you think D1 is gonna sort itself out by the time World Cup rolls around. Who will be at or near the top fighting for a series title? Pick your podium! Who will be the top three when the dust finally settles? Choose three and only three teams. (When you start picking more all you're doing is diminishing the chances of your favorite teams.)
It's a once in a while opportunity to vote more than once. Don't blow it. Pick your 3 D1 favorites and see how they end up.
Well, what are you waiting for? Get to it.

Monday Poll in Review
Excellent turnout for last weeks dueling (dual) polls although around 25% couldn't manage to vote in both polls. Bastards. Stephen Hawking gets a pass but he's the only one--and once he gets his ipad synced with his wheelchair he's out of excuses too. The rest of you lazy slackers suck. Despite your intransigence the results are pretty interesting. (And I did make a mistake. For purposes of the polls I should have duplicated the options. As it stands most options were duplicated but not all.)
After sorting out the brown-nosers (J-Rab to TBD! 21%) and the Northeastern fanboys (Yeah 187 Crew! 12%) the results in the Best poll trend toward options that may directly impact the voter. Of the top five remaining options (mandatory Virtue chip 14%, PSP return to Phoenix 8%, Houston Heat to play PSP pro 8%, PSP hires Tom Cole 6% and NPPL hires Tony Mineo 6%) 2 options directly affect players of those leagues and 2 others could easily have an impact on how those leagues operate this coming season. And in the Worst poll the results skew heavily toward options that may impact the voter which tells us, among other things, y'all are a lot more motivated to vote for stuff you don't like. Leading the Worst poll by a landslide margin was New snake bunkers added to PSP field set (42%). That compares to 4% that considered it the Best off season move. Another 10% chose making the new snake bunkers period so in essence over 50% of the Worst results identify the new Sup'Air snake bunkers. The only other option in the Worst poll in double digits is the mandatory Virtue chip being introduced in the NPPL at 13%. So there's 14% that think that was the Best move and 13% who think it was the Worst move. None of the other NPPL changes had much impact on the voting; Best--NPPL offers expanded format choices (3%) and NPPL schedules Canadian event (3%) & Worst--NPPL increases entry fees (4%) expanded format choices (3%) and Vancouver event (2%). Not much more than a blip on either poll and a wash where they overlap.
The other obvious trend is the dominance of PSP-related options over NPPL-related options. While certainly unscientific it's hard to avoid the conclusion that at least VFTD readers (& voters) are more interested in what happens in the PSP than they are the NPPL. Does that correlate to relative popularity--I suspect it probably does. For example both sides of the poll saw more interest and votes for issues that tied to teams playing the PSP over the NPPL as well. RL players to Heat; Best (7%) & Worst (7%).  Heat to play PSP Pro; Best (8%). Impact leaves PSP; Worst (5%). Cumulatively Xplicit picking up an All-Star roster, Critical moving up to pro and BLAST disbanding received 1% of the vote in both polls combined.
The only other significant vote getter in the Best poll was the PSP's return to Phoenix with 8%. And in the Worst poll it was the expansion to 5 events at 5% but since the option wasn't league specific that 5% is the sum and actually suggests the opposite--that mostly nobody has any concerns or problems with the move to 5 seasonal events.
Finally, with the top 5 vote getters in the Best poll heavily focused on team moves and the other two split by league (mandatory chip) (return to Phoenix) and more than a dozen other options receiving votes indicate little strong connection with the choices made. The Worst poll suggests the opposite with such a preponderance of the vote split only ways with the vast majority targeting one situation. While the NPPL didn't receive a ringing endorsement of most of their off season actions only the mandatory chip introduction drew a significant response either way at that was, according to the poll results, a wash. Given the way each poll trended it will be interesting to see if one result or the other has stronger real support that affects the league for good or ill. (I'm inclined to think those who thought it was the Worst move are really objecting to the cost and are misplacing their ire.) On the PSP side it's crystal clear that the new snake bunkers have created a lot of uncertainty and that negative views vastly outweigh positive ones. (And while VFTD probably has to take some credit or blame for this poll result it should be equally obvious that VFTD had marginal impact on the wider dissatisfaction being expressed around the paintball internet. As much as everyone fatally attracted to competitive paintball ought to be reading VFTD--they aren't. Yet.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Preseason Look at the Major Leagues

With registrations open for all 3 major leagues and the first event, PSP Galveston, about a month away it seems like a good time to check the pulse of MLP activity. (In the past I have included the rather eccentric Grand Tour kids because they feature a Pro division but their website hasn't been updated since autumn and it's unclear if they are producing a 2012 season.) The PSP & NPPL have chosen to expand this season to a 5 event season again. The MS is standing pat at 4 events. What impact this might have on the overall seasons of each league is uncertain but it seems clear that both leagues are counting on a continuation of last year's unexpected if modest growth trend. The conspiracy minded might see the move to 5 events as a mutual passive declaration of war against the other--and it may work out that way--except there was talk of adding an event last year long before the merger talks failed. Of course then the red pill crowd would say each made the move to 5 preemptively certain that the other league was going to do so. Whatever the motivation it's a five event season with the top 4 scores counting toward divisional series titles--at least in the PSP. (I haven't seen anything from the NPPL on that yet.)
The PSP currently has 146 teams signed up (with at least a few more to come) and 105 paid. There are just over two weeks left to pay and the price increases after midnight tomorrow. Last year Galveston had 126 teams and at this rate it appears the PSP will have similar numbers this year. And that covers the recent brouhaha over Sup'Air's last second introduction of a new snake via an upgrade kit. Efforts to pre-sell the kit has created confusion and animosity in some quarters that threatens not only participation at events but a backlash at the local field level. While there has been no formal response from the PSP yet CEO Lane Wright did post a statement in a field owners forum attesting to the fact the PSP was blind-sided by this new bunker kit release. Nor has there been any official statement forthcoming from Sup'Air or Adrenline Games.
The MS opens their season two weeks after Galveston with the French Riviera Cup at a new location in the south of France. In recent past seasons the upper divisions (CPL, SPL & D1) have been locked and last year the MS introduced a team cap in the open divisions. (D2 & D3) While the cap effectively limited the overall size of a Millennium event it appears to have served its purpose well. It is clear the MS's goal isn't to maximize the size of their events and the cap does a couple of positive things for them. It fixes the logistical requirements well in advance and it creates a scarcity--the limited number of open slots--that pushes interested teams into action. It also serves, for the time-being, as a sort of protection for the upper divisions as the open divisions are the path upwards. (While not altogether true--spots can be purchased and divisions jumped--that is a function of availability. Should those spots fail to be available in the future the option won't exist. At least theoretically.) The defined path to success, scarcity of open slots, closed upper levels all function to establish and maintain the MS's preeminence in Euroland--which is particularly important with the growing strength of national leagues in Germany and France, for example.
Assuming numbers matching last year the Riviera Cup will have 126 teams participating. That isn't a foregone conclusion because there is no info available yet as to the status of any of the locked divisions. Last season the MS worked frantically behind the scenes to fill in upper division slots lost to attrition and they scoured all of Europe to do it. Since there hasn't been the same level of off season talk about teams dropping out VFTD is assuming that the locked divisions have remained relatively stable. This year VFTD will be able to deliver live post event reports on all the MS events.
Overlapping the end of March beginning of April is the NPPL's now customary opening event, Huntington Beach. In a positive move, except when you're parking, the league has moved the venue to the northside of the pier this year which is where is was originally. For whatever reason it is a much preferred location. The one drawback is that it will limit, to some degree, the logistics of the venue although one supposes the NPPL is expecting the MS style Race 2 formatting to allow them a more compact venue. And the league has posted that there are limits to available spots but haven't posted any numbers. A check of the team list indicates 64 teams signed up so far. the new Race 2 brackets are very light with the majority opting for the standard 7-man with a couple of teams registering in both. (Presumably in order to pick one or the other at some point.) The numbers look a little thin but there is more time to register and pay for this event than either of the other two.
At this stage it is also hard (or perhaps impossible) to judge the impact of off season changes other than to say the NPPL made more of them than any other league. Much ballyhooed was the move to 5 events--including one in Vancouver, Canada, the introduction of a Race 2 format option, changing Pro and D1 to a Race 2 variant exclusively, the hiring of Tony Mineo as Commish [and head of officiating], an increase in entry prices and finally the introduction of the mandatory Virtue chip to confirm the ROF cap and provide collateral statistical data.
If participation comes in under expectations (and even if it doesn't) HB will be the first and most important test of how well all the changes will be incorporated and what impact they will have further into the season.

The countdown has begun. Tick, tick tick ...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Clinics Aren't Just For Players Anymore

It seems FOV (Friend of VFTD) and renowned paintball photog Gary B. is gonna be participating in a paintball photography clinic in Thailand. (Is that what you're really doing in Bangkok, Gary?) At first blush I confess I thought maybe this was a bit over the top--but then it occurred to me we already have player clinics and referee clinics--so why not? (Except of course we already have too many photographers gracing our fields but that may be a North America thing. I look forward to your angry comments. For all I know our friends around the globe despair because they don't have access to vanity paintball photography.) So best of luck on this latest venture--but I'm thinking there may be more opportunities here.
I am fortunate to have a world class pit manager and pod bitches extraordinaire. I have no doubt there's lots of poor pit crewing and pod bitching going on out there. The obvious answer is pit crew & pod bitch clinics. If photogs can sign up teams before events why couldn't certified pit crew offer their services? Does chaos reign in your pit? Sign up bitches trained by the best.
There's more. I don't mean to be critical but how 'bout sideline coaching? Not always a strength. And how many sad players have you seen desperately seeking aggness--and failing? Agg clinics could be the answer. Maybe a bonus balling clinic too. Lot of players talk big but fail to deliver in the clutch. I'm thinking there could be some big bucks in counter-coaching clinics as well. We need to think outside the box too. Everybody has heard the shrieking mom and cringed. There's a real need for a spectators clinic. How to be loud and supportive without inviting a parking lot beating. The sky is the limit!
Who says there's no money in paintball?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Examining the new snake props

The diagram is the first practice layout delivered to the public by Sup'Air. The use of the new snake bunkers mirrors the original photos and should be accepted as a reflection of Sup'Air's conception of how the new snake will play generally--although other configurations are possible. My objective isn't to claim the new snake bunkers are unplayable--they aren't--but to clearly demonstrate that the new bunkers are not an improvement--as was predicted here earlier--and also have other drawbacks.
(The issue of how and why this change is being made is a separate issue. Over at PBN AG's U.S. rep has claimed comments made here at VFTD are "allegations and untruths" they will not respond to. When confronted with a Lane Wright quote also on PBN, in a different thread and forum, along with some clarifying questions AG has chosen so far not to respond to those either. Nor has AG commented here at VFTD. Until such time as AG can demonstrate errors of fact VFTD stands by the content of all prior related posts.)
Two shooting zones are highlighted in gold. They are the zones available to the snake side insert T and snake corner. Between them they cover the majority of the snake (as does the MR snake feed.) I have highlighted the T instead of the MR because the corner cannot contest the insert T's shooting zone. the result of this is the insert T has more or less free play to cover the snake. Now if you examine the green and purple lanes between the snake and various crossfield props you can see who the snake can shoot at and who can shoot back at the snake. (The dotted line indicates at least a partially obstructed lane at best.) But that's not why I included those lanes. Where the lanes connect to the snake indicates the approximate position of the snake player in order to shoot into and across the field. Contrary to the idea the snake player will be called on to use the whole snake the lanes make it clear that there are key spots where the snake player will expose himself coming over the top and that the insert T can shoot pretty much all of them.
[Keep in mind this is the sample field AG put out to demonstrate their conception of how the new props will play.]
Take a close look at the snake 50--and beyond. Can the opponent's side of the snake be played at all if there is any opposition on the snake side of the field? One other characteristic of the new bunkers is to make them nearly unplayable past the 50 with a risk that so vastly outwieghs any reward that it simply won't happen given this layout. The problem isn't limited to this layout either. It's inherent in the bunker conception. (And, FYI, if the MS field layouts continue to be as compact as the recent ones the new snake will be even worse than in a PSP application.)
The bunkers highlighted in pink can't be targeted from the snake--although Home may be dependent on precise placement of Pins & Can. The D-wire feed MT however will end up being played constantly to contest the D-corner and the feed gap to the wire without any concern from across the field. To a large extent the reverse is true of the bunkers in green given they have been specifically blocked from contesting the designed shooting spots out of the snake which will limit their utility. Given their exposure to cross field angles and inability to battle the snake good teams will have little reason to play them. The overall impact of the effort to make the new snake props playable is a failure and creates an utterly predictable pattern of play on the rest of the field--slow play at that unless multiple bodies drop OTB--and this is the sample Sup'Air put out first to show off their new props!
Looking beyond this single design a couple of other things ought to be apparent. The effort to incorporate the new Adrenaline Games snake concept requires the rest of the field layout to be designed around making the snake playable. This in turn will limit design options until such time some of the traditional snake bunkers are incorporated again at which point AG concedes the new bunkers were unnecessary.
And if we backtrack a year we know that the PSP, with the rules changes of 2010, intended to have field layouts be more inclusive (old, fat & slow) but also encourage aggressive play. Last year's layouts were neither. Why not? In part because the league found using Sup'Air to create field layouts was convenient--and, bottom line, apparently nobody involved in the process knew what the consequences of the designs was going to be. But shouldn't Sup'Air at least understand the consequences of their designs? And if they don't are bunker changes just a crapshoot too?
Whatever else happens the PSP should take this opportunity to take control over a key element of the league's product and identity.

Aussie Super 7s, event 1

VFTD has never done a field analysis for the kids down under---at least I don't remember doing one so here it is. But before this goes any further this is absolutely and categorically the last one--for now. And now means for the foreseeable future. (I try to get out and you keep pulling me back in.) There are plenty of breakdowns of past major league events (and others) in the archives. While not the same thing those interested in learning or picking up new ideas will hopefully find previous breakdown posts helpful.

This layout is the MS Fuengirola Beach event in 2009. I'm going to focus on the OTB lanes, OTB dead zones and necessity to get guns up and rolling. With the exception of the four corners it is a very compact layout with a very strong snake. That compactness and the likely tendency of teams to want to play and fill the corners will allow for some very aggressive play we'll talk about shortly.
Diagram a charts some of the breakout lanes. They lanes have been matched to a relative shooting position. For example position A is shading the wireside of D-side Temple insert. Anyone in position A is either crouching and moving up into the T or still on the move to the wire but momentarily delaying. By reviewing the arrows it's easy to pick out specific lanes. In the example you can see that A is laning the corner and/or D1 gap. A can also lane inside the wire MT. Positions B,E & F are blocked from a Home shooter which allows B to stand up and shoot over the Temple if/when no counter lanes are being shot into that zone. Keeping in mind that any lane that can be shot can also return fire which makes the timing on your OTB delay lanes critical. The place most players get into trouble isn't shooting the delay lanes, it's in staying in that spot too long. Good teams and players will catch on--particularly if you use the same breakout too often--and find ways to counter your laners directly and indirectly. For example, let's say your standard D-side breakout is corner or D1 with a laner at Home that seconds into the T or MT. You are also holding a shooter back in E or F. A strong indirect counter lane could run the D-corner deep and lane the E/F zone before moving up into the corner prop. Positions E & F indicate that the Pins can be played either close or well behind allowing for primaries upfield in the MT, or along the run to the snake or out to the corner. With regards C & D the center M and blocking bunker placements provide a margin of safety that the Home bunker (MC) might not otherwise and allow for two Home shooters. Given the spacing up to the Home prop the best option is to stack your shooters. Each side shooter should come off the board laning while moving up into position but it isn't a prop you will want any of your players to stay in overly long. And your breakouts should account for your Home shooters secondaries. (Be careful of secondaries that require a teammate to move first so that Home fills the vacated spot. It's a common tactic but can get you into trouble on this field with the Pins and limited numbers of insert and feed props.)
There will be some inclination on the part of a lot of teams to want to cross up some of the mid- and backfield props. On its face that isn't necessarily a mistake but can easily turn into one. Crossfield lanes are less effective than closer ones. (D'oh!) And worse, tend to instill a defensive and/or reactive mindset while limiting your offensive options. (Guns committed to the cross can't help push the snake player that extra knuckle.) Use crossfield lanes sparingly at most and primarily as an option for countering your opponent's effectiveness if nothing else is working. Having trouble containing or battling on the D-side go ahead and cross up the midfield MT but make it conditional. Get a D-side kill switch back. Lose the snake corner, switch back. And so on.
Diagram b highlights a few props and some shooting lanes. The snake corner is red because it is an essential bunker. It can feed the snake and inhibit your opponent's movement in the snake and as such must be played. However that doesn't mean it must always be an OTB primary. There is no reason you can't mix up your breakouts enough to remain unpredictable. That said, if and/or when snake corner isn't in filled the upfield MT needs to be in order to hold the opponent's snake player in check. The red lanes indicate the opportunities the snake knuckles circled have to eliminate or pressure opponent positions. (A review of D-wire lanes don't offer comparable opportunities.) The red path (running highway) indicates that there are a number of options for running down snake players on this field. (Any time there is no inside/out gun defending a highway run is a doable option.) The orange lanes indicate options for bouncing paint off the Pins into opponents indirectly. The orange props will be played with high frequency despite the fact each has limited utility. The issue with each is while they provide some unique opportunities they also will tend to slow the game play down. The thing to keep in mind is the close spacing on the wires and the mirrored pairs of midfield standing props. The standing props provide interior upfield movement lanes and the close spacing encourages aggressive plays; bunker moves. In order to take full advantage of the aggressive potential it's important that your player spacing allow you to take advantage and control the field when you force trade outs.
Guns up OTB. (All 5!) Be patient when you delay--let the other guy run into your gun. Mix up your breakouts. Control the snake. Act, don't react. Nothing to it. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Monday Poll: Best & Worst

I liked it so much the first time VFTD is doing it again; dueling polls. As before you will get one vote per poll. And this time you're not going to want to miss out on casting your "extra" vote. This week's The Monday Poll dueling poll questions are: What was the BEST off season move in major league paintball? & What was the WORST off season move in major league paintball? And yes, there will be some duplicate options common to both polls. This is gonna be fun. No, really, it will. Consider the possibilities. I'm trying--otherwise the polls will be kind of thin on choices--but with my onset Old Timers I tend to forget stuff too so if something happened (that I forgot about) don't remind me. I mean post it up in comments. Between now and next Sunday don't forget to vote--you'll hate yourself later if you miss this opportunity. And if you don't think your vote matters somebody elected all the fools, morons & charlatans we have in public office.

UPDATE: Have I ever told y'all you suck? Well. y'all don't suck--just a select percentage of lazy slacker non-voting fags. And I mean that in a non-pejorative affectionate sorta no homo way okay? VOTE IN BOTH POLLS, SLACKERS!

UPDATE: I didn't include all the off season players moves simply because the list would be too unmanageable if I had. It doesn't mean I didn't think enough of those moves to include them. Same goes for options that appear in both polls. The object is to have a little fun and see what you people think--not what I think about the assorted off season moves. If you're still annoyed at something I did or didn't do--get over it.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Desperate Measures

Spirit of Paint (SOP) a French website has the skinny on the new bunker kit being foisted on the PSP & Millennium Series this year--and not so incidentally on the local fields that support competitive paintball and on us too! (Link is the title.) In the recent post, Supporting Adrenaline Games, VFTD takes the PSP to task largely for past sins as it turns out the Sup'Air people have intentionally put the league in the position this season of having to accept the new kit in order to have enough fields available for the 5 events this coming year.
Perhaps worse is the change being made. Check out the SOP article for pictures of the new props. For those who don't read French below is the Google Translation:

Here's a preview of the obstacles that will be used this year on the land side snake in Europe and the United States on the PSP system!
You find that the spectator side became boring? You will be served. With these new obstacles to former Lower adorning the grounds of major tournaments, and the new L-shaped design, players will have to be more technical on this side.
The Upgrade Kit will consist of at Supairball 4 "Chips" (Beams in the Angliche) and 4 "L" (for Elbows). They will replace the six fries usually found on the lands of last season.
It'll just test them to tell us what happens.


Previous field kits had 6 Giant Beams in Sup'Air speak. The new "upgrade" apparently reduces that number to 4 Chips--which appear to be the same except slightly narrower--and 4 L's. As they are displayed in the article's photographs they are damn near worthless as playable props. There is nothing "technical" about them. They will remove much of the skill of playing a snake effectively while shrinking the size of the snake at the same time. All the new bunkers demonstrate is Adrenaline Games lack of imagination and desperation in trying to force us into buying and using these pointless changes. (It may be possible to find alternate uses for the Ls but that's clearly not what Sup'Air intends.)
And does anybody know what the full field kit will be comprised of this season? Are any other bunkers out besides (apparently) the 6 GBs of the past?
I don't know that anything can be done now but at a minimum Adrenaline needs to pay a price down the road. I bet the kids at Ultimate can make a Giant Beam package available pretty quick to replace the "upgrade." Then nobody would need the upgrade because the league wouldn't be using those new props. I know but I can dream, right?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Chips Ahoy!

VFTD has discussed the Virtue chips in the past (for example here & here) and while I had intended to leave it at that until something new developed--and there are plenty of ideas in the pipeline--it seems that with the recent NPPL announcement of their intention to use the chips across all their non-pump divisions of play to enforce the ROF cap it has created--if not a firestorm of misinformation--a tiny tempest of confusion.
Instead of attempting to refute assorted misinformation I'm simply going to give you the facts as they stand today. Anything else you may hear will be either wrong, disinformation, conjecture or, at best, outcomes intended to be implemented some time in the future.
The chip can monitor a ROF cap. In this instance the cap is 15 bps. The chip can identify guns exceeding the cap, it does NOT enforce the cap. That remains a matter for the rules and rules enforcement. The chip does NOT identify bouncing, ramping or any other artificial shot adding. It does provide data that with experience and testing may suggest shots are being added but that falls into the category of data interpretation. The interpreter is a person, not the technology.
The chip can monitor ROF because it is recording each discharge from every monitored gun in real time. This has resulted, over the period of time the chip has been in trials--primarily by pro teams in both major leagues--in a substantial amount of raw data. The same kind of data that will accumulate across divisions in the NPPL during events assuming everything goes to plan. All current "information" within the data is a matter of interpretation and statistical analysis built on the firing of the guns in play.
Okay but what about the claims made by the NPPL? (here) (Which mostly fall in line with what Virtue has been promoting.) For example, what about the player stats? Player Effectiveness tracks how many of the opponents were eliminated while a given player remained active. Does that tell you that the active player was responsible for any of the eliminations? It does not. Even with an accumulation of data covering many games does the stat really confirm the effectiveness of a player? I don't think so. It may but at best it's inconclusive. Or how about the Stamina stat? Let's apply it to a lead snake player. Depending on his role he could easily be one of the first players eliminated routinely. Does that mean he isn't doing his job?
One thing the accumulated stats do allow for is comparisons. Alone a stat's value may be uncertain but since stats will exist for every player it should be possible to compare similar players or positions by stats in which case the data may prove valuable. I think the jury remains out on that too but it's a viable possibility.
The same applies to team and game stats. Yes, numbers and notions can be generated from the raw data but the question remains about the real utility of those numbers and notions. Unfortunately the stats don't generate themselves and part of the ongoing process will be in pulling the stats from the raw data.
I am, btw, pro stats. I think having bite size numbers and easy ways of looking at our game helps make it accessible. And some of the stats the chip offers may prove popular and if that's all the "stats" do they could still serve a valuable function. On the cautionary side claims made for the numbers aren't the numbers and the numbers, in my estimation, do not necessarily validate the claims made. All I'm suggesting is to look past the hype. Take the claims with a grain of salt and examine what the numbers are really all about. At worst it's harmless and at best it is a legit tool in rules enforcement and may provide new ways for people to think about the game.
Apart from functionality it seems to me a couple of other issues arise. In traditional 7-man it's relatively simple to keep track of guns & players. In the Race 2 format with the quick turnarounds and changing lines it may be a singular challenge to try and keep track of the gun (chip) / player association. And while chips can be installed in a minute or two it will almost certainly prove nearly impossible in Race 2 format matches to swap out the chips to different guns which means teams will likely need extras. If each specific chip isn't always associated with a specific player it poisons the data and the stats derived become unreliable so it's going to be a rather big deal trying to keep up with which chip is being used by which player in which game or point.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Supporting Adrenaline Games

It's that time of year again--apparently--when the PSP supports Adrenaline Games by sticking it to the local field operators that support the PSP and Race 2. Was that too harsh? Upon re-reading it sounds pretty harsh. Unfortunately it's also true.
Confused? Here's the dealio. Every year or so it seems Sup'Air adds some new props that the major tournament leagues incorporate in their event layouts (also frequently designed by Sup'Air) that forces fields with airball fields used for tourney practice to buy the annual new props kit in order to keep up to date. Good for Adrenaline Games, not so good for local fields.
I noticed the NPPL expressly didn't change their bunker set this season--an unequivocal thumbs up--and it appears that Adrenaline Games hasn't kicked them to the curb by refusing to provide event fields or gone out of business. And while I have no desire to see anything bad happen to Adrenaline Games I have a hard time understanding how any league can justify placing their grassroots supporters in that position to benefit a third party. It's practically extortion.
Beyond that I have a couple of other issues too. Since when do real sports let manufacturers dictate what essential elements of the game will be? Yeah, I know, competitive paintball has always been an old boys club. Now's as good a time as any to change. Also, why is somebody other than those responsible for the sport deciding what's an appropriate change? Seriously, the whole thing ought to be a no go.
That doesn't mean the bunkers shouldn't ever be changed. Want to add some interest? Keep the game fresh? Sure. Sounds good but that's a job for the PSP--or any other league purporting to be focused on competitive paintball as sport.

UPDATE: Mr. Curious weighs in with some on point rumorology. It seems the PSP thought they had a deal with Adrenaline Games to make bunker changes every other year and had no intention of changing in 2012. Seems the first the league heard about the latest changes came from sources outside of Adrenaline Games. When confronted Sup'Air allegedly claimed they only had 4 2011 field sets left and given that the league uses upwards of 20 field sets a season the PSP was left with little alternative but to accept this year's changes. It will be interesting, to say the least, how the league responds to this practical blackmail in the future.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

CFPS 1 Breakdown

Let's begin with a quick review of the layout. It's nearly an archetypal Xball design except there's little value in attacking up the center and none of the corners offer any significant wire control. Each corner section of the field is made up of a triangle of three props; the insert, the feed and the corner. The value of playing the corners is largely to command edges from an advantageous position in assisting teammates to make the move to the wire and/or denying same to your opponent. Adding some variation are the two mid standing props; the D-Can & the Aztec. To regular competitors even these ought to look familiar as this relative placement is quite common as well. Given the layout the points played will feature (and reward) strong gun play and coordinated action. (Communicate, communicate, communicate.) The mid-field stand-ups will also encourage some teams to play them consistently and defensively oriented teams will want to cross them up as often as not. Our focus will be on the breakout and how to utilise the stand-ups more offensively as part of a diversified attack.
In diagram A the red lines are principle lanes. Note the lines marked A & B. They are the primary OTB lanes from Home. The interior red lines are optional and only useful if your opponent is delaying their breakouts or attempting to counter your Home shooters. Take a look now at the orange lines marked 1 & 2. 2 is an option to either red snake side lane and may catch the occasional floater intent on shooting a lane before making his/her primary prop. If the opponent is consistently breaking hard that lane is unlikely to be effective as it will almost always be late. 1 is a bit different. Note how the lane crosses over a Pin. One of the secrets to effective laning OTB is to find and utilise unusual lanes that catch players unaware. However, there are risks. In this case the Home shooter must shoot the lane standing--or nearly so--otherwise the paint won't drop in time to hit the TCK (and be at a level that may catch your opponent.) (Shooting lane 1 from a kneeling posture won't be effective because of the angle change unless the shooter's velocity is well below normal ranges.) Likewise, standing or not shooting over the mirror Pin on your opponent's half of the field won't hit anyone except perhaps a player delaying close to the back boundary. The pink lines show the secondary lanes available if the OTB shooter stays Home or makes the delayed move to one of the mid-field stand-ups. Note that the pink dots approximate alternative "Home" OTB laning positions and offer the shooter good laning zones and the ability, in most instances, to put paint on likely props. The purple lines are the same side lanes that are available once the player is in a midfield stand-up. Take note of purple arrows indicating a rotation toward the wire from the stand-ups. The stand-ups offer an excellent alternative path to the wire feeds particularly if there is a teammate in the corner. (The best option is to match that rotation to a support player in a corner but it isn't necessary.)
Switching to diagram B note the props surrounded in green. The green lines represent the primary Home OTB lanes and the more effectively those lanes are shot the greater the likelihood your opponent will begin holding up on their wide breakout moves. Containment provides new offensive opportunities. (This is likely to occur more often on the D-side of the field as most teams will play weakside on the D-side. This means they will tend to commit only two of their 5 players that way.) Better yet if the opposition uses the Can to play the cross field angles you are no facing only one gun caught in a compact insert. And even if, when using the Can on the cross field, Home stays D-side the opportunity to attack the center of the field as a secondary option remains. The goal is to eliminate the widest gun (and at a minimum hold them in that spot) while positioning yourself to deny any moves to your wire while gaining new angles to threaten other positions. So while it is probably not an effective move to go up the center OTB given the right circumstances--circumstances your team can force on your opponent--secondary moves up the middle ought to be nearly automatic responses to the correct set of conditions.
In both diagrams the focus is on making full use of the stand-ups effective lanes while maintaining an offensive mindset. Too often teams, newer and lower division ones in particular, tend toward a defensive approach regardless of their talk or intentions and this can happen unconsciously even in playing certain props--like these midfield stand-ups--that promote a defensive style.