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 ...

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Concerning the millennium it seems that locked divisions will be full and will have :
CPL: 16 teams
SPL: 32 teams
D1: 30 teams
for open division with the waiting team list, the numbers should be:
D2: 44 teams
D3: 30 teams
which means with 152 teams, their biggest starting event since 2008!

Anonymous said...

apparently the information i have are wrong and numbers seem to be higher:
Locked divisions:
CPL: 16 teams
SPL: 32 teams
D1: 34 teams
Open divisions
D2: 44 teams
D3: 30 teams
which means a minimum of 156 teams!

Nick Brockdorff said...

They need extra teams in D1, because D1 teams ref each event. So that is why the D1 number seems "off" mathematically.

If they need 3 teams reffing each event, it will be 35 teams, if only 2, it will be 34.... so that 32 play each event.

Baca Loco said...

The open divisions are full now at 32 and 30 teams; D2 & D3.
Last season 2 D1 teams reffed per event because they were at 26 with 24 teams (6 brackets of 4) competing.
The only year during the locked era that either the SPL or D1 have been maxed out at 32 competing teams was 2008.
And while the open divisions have some teams on a waiting list it doesn't mean they are getting in. The league maintained the caps through the first 3 events last year only expanding the open divisions at Paris Disney.

PB said...

SPL: 32 teams
D1: 30 teams

That's some increase over last year's 28/26, even allowing for the promotion of 4 teams from D1 to SPL (and the promotion/demotion of 2 teams to/from CPL) no demotion of SPL teams and the promotion of 4 D1 teams (again no relegation) and 3 D2 teams moving up. Do your own math. Plus the inevitable teams falling by the wayside during the off season (or even relinquishing their 'locked division licence' to play D2). The MS have done a full out job of filling the void, considering they are currently encouraging D2/3 teams committing to the whole season to 'acquire' a D1 licence (not sure what, if any, financial value the MS are placing on this!)

Baca Loco said...

I could check--but I'm lazy. Does anybody know offhand how former CPL teams do? Do most of them choose to play SPL or do more of them cash it in?

Has there been relegation in the SPL and D1 before? Is the league simply replacing relegation with attrition and hoping to keep as many locked div teams as possible?

D1 licenses? I can see why they would. If the D2 teams had any sense they'd cooperate and refuse to buy a license.

Brad Johnson said...

This may be an odd questions. Im reading the MS rules to try and get a grasp on their format. Is it really just race4/5 like PSP with 10/15 max game time? I'm trying to understand the NPPL new format

Baca Loco said...

Hey Brad. The short answer is yes...and no. Yes it's Race 2 4 or 5 points. Yes there is also a clock so that you could go to time instead of points.
Where the MS differs is in field layout--and the NPPL appears to be using their field dimensions and bunker set--so the NPPL will be unique in that way. The MS also uses a buzzer instead of a flag hang. I'm guessing that NPPL will stick with a flag hang but there is no official word yet. Finally the biggest difference is that the MS (and NPPL) will be running two matches at the same time with alternating back-to-back points. Imagine 2 teams in each pit. You are team A playing team B. Also in the pits are Team C (with you) and Team D. Your line goes out to play a point. when the buzzer sounds team C and team D have 30 seconds to get ready on the board for their breakout and point. And the teams alternate until their match is completed. The upshot is you have varying amounts of time to get your next line ready depending on how the point in play goes plus 30 seconds.
You will also want to see what the NPPL roster rules are.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Traditionally, most relegated CPL teams keep playing, but then find it tough going in the SPL division the next season, and then disintegrate after a seson.

There is very little difference in quality, between the bottom 6-7 in CPL and the top 10-12 in SPL. Only CPL teams that regularly make Sunday, are of a different caliber.

It's where Europe is vastly different to the US in terms of Pro teams.... we have a much broader base, but a much more narrow top..... possibly because we do relegation from the Pro division, which means SPL teams have to step up, to not just see the 2 former CPL teams move up again each year.

There are exceptions to teams imploding, like Consilium Dei.... they are the elevator team of Europe, and keep hanging in there, no matter if playing Div. 1 or CPL..... though this year, they seem to have sold their newly aquired CPL spot - possibly to Disruption from England?

PB said...

Relegated CPL teams, buy their way back in if they can afford it, play SPL but often loose their better players or fold, no set pattern, depends on the team.

"Imagine 2 teams in each pit..... The upshot is you have varying amounts of time to get your next line ready depending on how the point in play goes plus 30 seconds."

The Pits are set out to accommodate two teams at each end, previously MS had one team on field and one prepping for their game at each end, each pit area is approx 20'x20' with a tented crono area separating each.

In theory, you should always get 2 minute minimum turnaround, if the previous point runs less than 90 seconds the refs are supposed to add the shortfall to the turnaround, in practice though..

Brad Johnson said...

Great that helped a lot! I was so lost.