Saturday, March 31, 2012

HB Thursday & Friday

We flew in Wednesday night. All of us except Timmy who arrived Thursday morning at John Wayne. At the venue we picked up some paint and two bags of pods from Galveston transported by our friends at CP. Then it was off to Whittier Ranch to get some field time practicing the HB layout with Infamous. Turns out Whittier Ranch is really a working ranch--just off the 605 in Whittier. Manure to spare. When we arrive Infamous and Legend have been there for an hour or two already along with divisional team TCP Machine. By 3:30 pm we've run through our paint and are beginning to feel comfortable with our lanes, breakouts and general game plans. Communication will need to improve but we're a lot closer to ready than we were before.
Returning to the beach--and the venue--we worked through the registration process--which remains just another NPPL revenue stream but at least it's more efficient than the Millennium process was last week--and then we walked the grandstand field as the sun dipped toward the Pacific horizon. Divisional games were played for much of the day Thursday. We heard field two, beside the pier, was closed for a time due to paint bouncing off props and over the netting onto the pier. There was talk of raising additional netting to protect the pier and passersby. There was also a minor surprise on the field itself. The newest set of NPPL props (from Adrenaline Games) have shrunk and once again, it looks to be a decision made by the manufacturer without consulting the affected league. Full-sized Cans are about five-sixths the size they were before. The same holds true for the Mayan Temples, the Cubes and even the Wings. Otherwise everything looks to be in order although there's no sign of how or where the webcast cameras will be positioned. (Sometime Thursday night or early Friday all that was taken care of though I heard during the day on Friday that there were issues early Friday with the broadcast being down or inaccessible.) Well, everything except the pits. The pits are at one end of the field and there's less space in each one than in a comparable PSP pit yet each is expected to serve 2 7-man teams plus staff at the same time. It has proved over the course of the first day's play to be workable but only just. Each pit has a flat screen displaying game data like score, time outs, time to play and the countdown to game on clock. Similar but larger screens are on display for the grandstand incongruously zip tied to supports made out of two by fours. The info is there but it's hard to see at any distance.
The weather reports say Friday will be the warmest and nicest day of the weekend. The morning begins cool, overcast and hazy. Our first match is at 10 am. When we arrive Dynasty is playing Vendetta. We're scheduled to play at 10 am in the third set of the morning against Arsenal. The Race 2 format as translated by the NPPL is a solid improvement over the traditional 7-man format. And as the teams and officials get acclimated the schedule allows for a little laxity in running the turnaround between matches. Even so every now and again a team burns a time out in order to get all 7 players on field for their next breakout and more than once teams started down bodies. Despite the occasional blip the whole runs smoothly.
I still don't know how Sunday will break down for the Pros but it doesn't matter as long as you keep winning. Also no word yet on the data collected from the Virtue chips or the stats promised from that data. At the moment it doesn't really matter.
Today's game play saw 2 teams from each bracket go 2-0. In one group Dynasty & Infamous went 2-0 and in the other it was Damage & Impact. 2 teams in each bracket also went 0-2 leaving 3 teams in each group at 1-1. Nothing is setled yet so there remains hope for those teams that started slowly. In three matches on Friday teams reached 5 points.
Throughout the day's play we kept making minor changes and our game improved as the points accumulated. We enter Saturday's play confident but not overly so. Things can shift from match to match and even point from point but we had a strong showing to begin the event. The plan is to build on that beginning and continue getting better.
Among the pro teams the word is two teams are shooting GI Sportz while eight others are shooting RPS with the remaining four teams are shooting Valken. Another curiosity is the rumor that the league is insisting that on site vendors not sell Dye products. It has been confirmed by a few but I hesitate to claim that is really what's happening as it sounds so outlandish on its face. There is also talk the banning isn't limited to Dye but also includes Kee stuff as well. If true what's the point for some regional retailers to support the league if some percentage of their stocks can't be sold on site? More if hear anything further. And more tomorrow on the results of the Pro prelims.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Galveston D2, part 2

Here is part 2 of Mike McGowan's report on D2 divisional play in Galveston.

I will say that there is a HUGE difference between Race-To-5 points and Race-To-4 points. Game 3-2 is match point in D3. Just getting to the meat of the match in D2. The ebb and flow of the game starts to become a factor. Several teams would go up 2-0, only to lose the match. Whether CEP D2 vs. Vipers in the Prelims or Prime vs. Boom in the Quarters. I'd say, and many agreed, that this was the most fun a layout that has been created. Allowing for not only attack, but on all three sections of the field.
As familiar as the undesirable weather was for a paintball tournament, the D2 division did get to experience something unprecedented. Playing Quarters to Finals on the PSP Pro field with Pro officials. All on Paintball Access Webcast vision. The difference in officiating is dramatic. They are less forgiving. There are more of them. They are scary. I will also say that they are highly professional and all of them were very polite and explanatory. They would also just as politely throw a major or minor flag, which by comparison at the divisional level, might appear to be a lessor infraction. I can say that Boom and Prime may have paved the way with 3 Majors and 4 minor penalties. Presumably, these guys are professional refs with long-ago playing experience. The refs in D2 are decent refs with recent player backgrounds. They seem more forgiving for hits on the loader and pack. If you're still rolling that gun in PSP Pro, you've got confetti coming your way. All the majors I saw in the Boom vs. Prime match were indeed justified. Just as your margin for error playing-wise undoubtedly decreases at the Pro level, so it does with the Pro officials.
I'll also say there is a fundamental disconnect between those that understand the Professional division and the Divisional. The announcers could not figure out how penalties were assessed. Minor penalty is one plus one. Major is one plus two. If there are not enough bodies left, then they are pulled off the box for the following point. So, if one man plays with an obvious hit and there is no one else, 3 will be left on the box for the ensuing point. Perhaps, us divisional teams are to blame by not lasting long enough. Teams only being known if they are a Pro feeder team. Some day I hope it'll be like MMA, only instead of being out of "Black House", or the Miletich camp, or American Top Team, they'll say, "Revo out of PAP", or NJJ 2 under New Jersey Jesters program.
The Quarters saw PB Vipers, PR1ME, and Zone quickly scraped from the field. PR1ME got up early but were clearly mentally unprepared for the match, gaining lots of penalties. Boom capitalized. According to Mike Hinman, Revo "outclassed" Vipers, while Todd Martinez questioned the "discipline" and "competitive" nature of the Vipers as well. For how young a team they are, I'd expect them to be a top-four force some time this season. There is a also a perfectly captured pod paint-throw on footage. Hilarious. Zone looked athletic, but earned early penalties as well. They'd be trounced by Elevation. The only close Quarters game was Coaltion edging out Siege 3-2 playing patient paintball. This is the only game I saw Coaltion play on the webcast. They zoned up, crossed up, and laned up. Occasionally taking corners off the break, but more often doubling back bunkers and allowing teams to run into their guns. Siege almost tied it up with 3 secs remaining. By their scores, this appears to be how Coalition played the whole tournament. Most of their games being narrow wins to time. This trend continued against Boom, 4-3, in the semis.
For the one and two spot, I'd be curious to watch the Coalition vs. Revo match. Revo was ambitious on the snake side all tournament and willing to hold. Revo dominated every team, with a combined tournament 25-10 point margin with one 2-3 loss in the prelims. Perhaps guys from Maryland came in unprepared for a slow grind after so many easy wins. But it came to be a 3-1 victory for the team from New Mexico. They've won D4 PSP 5-man and a pair of D4X, one in AZPL, the other in the WCPPL. They didn't lose a single match the entire Texas tournament. Apparently there was a miscommunication or lack of time and the consolation game between Boom and Elevation for 3rd place was never played. Both teams listed as "Forfeiting" the match-up. By hearsay they were each given 3rd place prize and 3rd place points for the event. That might be unprecedented. The fog of war against the elements I suppose. Maybe the elements assisted Coalition's patient play (by slowing down their opponents as well). But a zero-loss tournament speaks for itself. Congrats Coalition, you gloriously bamboozled the preseason alignments.
It was a miracle the event was finished at all, not just the D2 Division, which had the first fields to be ripped up from the winds. Despite the majority of the field coming from East of the Rockies, several teams from the West side of the nation found success in D1 (Pirates) and D2 (Coalition). The WCPPL birds haven't ceased their chirping on And why not. They took down two top finishes. But I'm not sure anyone was really provoking them to begin with anyway.
Mission accomplished for the PSP, but everyone is hoping for normalcy in Phoenix. We'll see if that alters the results for the D2 Division.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Galveston D2, part 1

Given the length of the submission I am dividing it into 2 parts with minimal editing. I hope to see some robust comments rating, praising and even critiquing the report so that Mike (and others, myself included) have a better idea next time what y'all would like to read about in divisional coverage. Both the pre-season D2 rankings and this report are by Michael McGowan of Prime.

We all knew the weather was coming. It rained and gusts blew. No surprise. From the looks of the things the weather was actually better than predicted. Many believe the paintball gods are simply merciless, or powerless, when it comes to controlling the weather. Others have waxed and waned on the PSP's inability to select solid venues. Already talks have begun to change the venue for next season. Historically, March is by far one of Galveston's driest months, close behind February or April. It rained zero to negligible amounts in the same dates in years prior. Last season saw no rain. However, according to the Almanac, scattered thunderstorms and high winds (the most recent being abnormally high) are almost always predicted.
Improvements were made from last season. The parking situation was rationalized. Fields leveled, especially the Pro field. The ant situation much more taken care of. Though, after the rain, fire ants were finding their way into my Exalt pants. Sub-aquatic fire ants were lighting fire to my calf with their teeth under water. I couldn't believe it. But let's not forget why this venue was also chosen for paintball reasons. Texas has numerous teams in the PSP and would be next in line for paintball population density with the other venues. Most teams are from the east coast. Not the west. Which makes the results at Galveston all the more interesting.
The D2 Division in Galveston unfolded rather similar to the VFTD pre-season rankings. Save for some glaring surprises of the undefeated Coalition victory and the letdown of Greg Pauley's GP admitted via ProPB Smackbox to enjoying the event, having fun playing again, and looking positively on the future of the team's less experienced players. Many presumed Boom would struggle more than they did with their team being gutted by Aftershock. I can tell you from playing opposite them that this was not the case. I will say however that I did not experience a big jump from D3 to D2. Well, there aren't any "bad" teams. Essentially, with 18 teams you go to where the Ocho cuts were last season in D3. There are no "trap" games. Everyone is pretty solid and there to win. Teams hold their lanes better. You have to create your gaps more than simply wait for them. If you don't hold your gaps, people will inevitably take advantage. So the margin for error goes down. But I don't believe anyone saw another team on the field and said, "Whoa, these guys are on a D1 level."
The D2 division was made up of eighteen teams split into three brackets. I'd argue the first bracket, made of Boom, PR1ME, Elevation, was the most competitive. Three teams making it to the Quarterfinals with lower margins of victory. The "soldiers" award certainly goes to the third bracket. They played all 4 of their prelim games on Saturday. At night. From 7:30PM to well past 11:00PM. Lights were brought in. Conventional wisdom is that at night, difficulties (or even unethical play) increases. Laning goes down. Nighttime with mud? Those lanes simply disappear. I'm not convinced it mattered. The teams that attacked won the day in the third bracket. Both Revo and Vipers were flooding the snake side. Vipers being a younger team, this is no surprise. With youth and less experience, they played to their strengths of speed and relentless attack. Getting up the field quickly. CEP, notorious as a program for their patience, may have gotten hurt from the elements. But I saw some wicked fast players on their squad as well. They would go on to garner the uncoveted "first place in the cut" award with 9th place. Last Call may have struggled regardless, but perhaps the elements furthered them to a dismal 4-20 point performance for dead last. They should be given the opportunity to play D3 Race-To if they so request.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

VFTD Update

I'm back. For a minute. On the road last week we were without internet access most of the time. (You'll hear about it in an upcoming post.) I'm back but only for a day and a half. Then it's off to HB.
Stuff is piling up and the simple truth is it's probably gonna take a while to catch up. With respect the recent Millennium event I will be inundating y'all with no doubt more knowledge than you'll likely want but that's okay--'cus it's my blog. But in consideration of you're attention deficit disorder I'ma break the reportage down into almost bite-sized chunks. I'm also going to divide the Euro coverage into three categories; TBD's experience, The Event & The State of the Millennium. That decision revolves around a couple of things; one, our experience isn't (wasn't) the sum of the event by any measure and two, there are a number of interesting things to talk about irrespective of the game play. (Hint: we had cameras on 4 of our guns that delivered some interesting footage.) (Hint: I also had an extended conversation with Laurent Hamet.) So expect Millennium stuff here & there for the next couple of weeks.
Regarding am division reports from Galveston there will be one D2 report. It looks like weather, circumstance and perhaps the difficulty of putting it all into words meant VFTD received only the one report. VFTD will continue to make space available and continue to encourage anyone who wishes to submit your views after any major league event you participate in to do so because I'd still like to see the divisional teams get more love. I will post the Galveston D2 report later this week.
In comments I was asked about the stats that came out post Galveston. I haven't had any opportunity to look at them in depth so I can't offer any review or analysis yet--but I will get to it. In general though I remain staunchly in favor of the idea. I'll have a much better idea after Phoenix when I can match stats against a reasonably large sample of matches played and the notes I keep. I can note that the sample posted at ProPaintball--our match versus Vicious is missing at least one bench penalty--which is the sort of thing that potentially skews how one might "read" some of the stat values for individual players, for example.
In looking at the Pro schedule for HB it looked a bit odd at a glance so I charted out the match-ups to see what it would look like across the board. Turns out it is, in fact, based on two brackets of 7 teams. And broken down further pairs from each bracket play the same teams numerically. For example Dynasty as the 1 seed plays the 3, 5, 6 & 7 teams in its bracket. Impact as the top seed in its bracket also plays the 3, 5, 6 & 7 teams. The same pattern follows but the results still seem a bit odd. Take the ranking of each team Dynasty plays and add them together then divide by the number of matches and the result is the average place of Dynasty's opponents. (In this case approx. 10) Given that Dynasty is the overall  top seed their's should be the easiest path to Sunday. Critical, as the new kids and seeded 14th face an average opponent placed 5.75 and everyone else should more or less fit in between those numbers. And they do. Sorta. Except the 5 & 6 pairing and the 9 & 10 pairing. For example, Uprising, ranked 6 has a schedule that matches Critical's at 5.75 while Avalanche ranked 7 is at 8.25 and Mutiny ranked 11 faces an opponents average of 8.
Perhaps of greater interest is exactly how these prelims will lead to Sunday and how many teams will make it through. A review of the new rule book was not helpful. Apparently we'll all find out when it happens.
Hopefully I will be able to post daily HB reports.
Finally big ups to Friends of VFTD Argentine team LOD on their CSP win last weekend. Way to go guys!

Monday Poll in Review: Y'all Suck

By any metric last week's Monday (Mega) Poll was a flop and I blame you. Unless you're in the minority and actually voted. And even then not everyone who voted could be bothered to vote for all the mega poll pairs. Do you know how I know you suck? 'Cus the Mega Poll was--and still is--an awesome idea. Five, count 'em, five poll questions in one mega poll! Awesome!
The first pair of questions asked if a predominantly American team would win St. Tropez in the MS event opener for 2012. (Lots more on this to come.) 77% of those that responded voted yes. 23% voted no.
The second pair of questions wanted to know if there would be more or less than 12 pro teams competing at HB. This one was much closer. 57% thought there would be fewer than 12 teams while 43% expected at least 12 teams. (Given that 11 teams were registered it was probably a fair bet to guess that at least one more team would show up on the list.)
The third pair asked if there would be more or less than 100 teams participating at HB. 63% thought there would be less than 100 teams competing while 37% expected more than 100. This compares to last year's 133. (Word from a probably reliable source suggests HB will have 104 teams though I haven't made a count yet.)
The fourth pair of statements were about how the new Race 2 format would play out in the NPPL Pro division. Would matches go to time or would some match-ups see a team score 5 points. In the tightest race of the mega poll 53% thought all matches would go to time and 47% figured at least a match or two would see 5 points scored.
The final pair ask if PSP Phoenix will reach 125 participating teams after the mudfest that was Galveston. 70% think the answer will be yes with 30% not so sure. There are currently 113 teams registered (but not paid) with only a couple of weeks still available to register and pay.

Y'all got number 1 wrong--though not your fault really. Number 2 is probably the one y'all should've got correct--although I don't see an HK team on the list do you? Number 3 is over 100 but has yet to be confirmed. (The best way to get that is from the post event rankings.) And with number 4 we still have to wait and see how the matches turn out. I'm going with the time crowd as I have a hard time seeing 5 points scored--but hey, we'll see. And number 5 is looking iffy for the 70% who didn't hesitate to go with 125 teams or more for Phoenix. The venue is great but the time between events didn't leave a lot of room to pull the scratch together. PSP regulars will want to be there so 125 is still in reach but it's gonna be close.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Monday (Mega) Poll

This week another The Monday Poll first. The mega poll. Instead of answers this week's mega poll will offer pairs of statements and for each pair you pick (vote) the one you most closely agree with. that means you get to vote multiple times but please, while I know mouse clicking can become addictive, stick to one pick (click) per pair of statements.
For example, A team primarily rostered with American players will win the CPL division of the MS event in St. Tropez. A team primarily rostered with European players will win the CPL division of the MS event in St. Tropez. Your vote is cast for the statement you think most accurately reflects what will happen. Got it? Good. Pretty simple, right? So what are you waiting for? Get to clicking, picking and voting. (Not necessarily in that order.)

Monday Poll in Review
Okay, last week's question was (more or less) 'What state should host the first PSP event in 2013?' Historically Cali hasn't always been all that welcoming and Galveston has gone back-to-back in trying to kill an event. (The first year high winds flattened the fields 2 days before the event.) Arizona has proved a positive pleasant environment but in its traditional location a bit pricey.
The list of choices included all the southern boundary or coastal states except New Mexico. I left it out as Albuquerque is high desert and not really a suitable early season venue. Years of Mardi Gras experience ought to be a clue as to what the league could expect from Louisiana and I only tossed in Mississippi and Alabama to extend the choices and because Biloxi is a popular entertainment & gaming destination and Mobile is an historic city near the tip of Florida's panhandle. Georgia probably couldn't host a first event but might manage a second. SoCar is the home of the long time standard MAO venue--but again, not so much a first event of the season kinda place in a five event schedule. I tossed in Hawaii, Mexico and Cuba out of curiosity more than anything. Nobody is going to either Hawaii or Mexico for a MLP event any time soon and despite the romantic and exotic appeal nobody is going to Cuba either. And the votes, by and large, confirmed all those things. Mexico and Mississippi each got 1% of the vote. Alabama and Louisiana garnered 2% each. Hawaii & Georgia pulled 3% each and Cuba got a whopping 5%--probably because it just sounds cool. SoCar got 11%. Arizona & Texas tied at 14% and Florida grabbed 17%. (Two events? Works for me but I'm biased.) Cali came in on top with 23% of the vote. But with Cali we're realistically talking SoCal and coastal SoCal at that and some of the highest prices in the country.
If I were a betting man I'd guess another Texas venue in either the first or second slot--but not Galveston--and cross my fingers. 

MLP Divisional Reporters

A brief word. I've heard from some of you that your reports are in the works. To all of you let me suggest a couple of things. Post event reports begin losing their appeal relatively quickly so the sooner you can get something to VFTD the better. Also, if you are concerned about the quality of your submission--don't sweat it. Facts, details and observations are what's needed, not lasting prose. At this point feel free to spend some more time on your reports as I'm off to France in a day or so but for future reference, sooner is better. I'm looking forward to the reports and to posting them asap. Arizona is already on the horizon ...

PS--just in case the photog flap has you in a tizzy and you're wondering if VFTD plans to co-opt your submissions and leave you bereft--yes, I do. No, not really. VFTD requires only one time publication rights and editorial oversight. All submitted materials remain the copyright property of the authors in the form originally submitted.
Who knew paintball could be so complicated?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Top 5 Worst MLP Events [*]

[*] Given the caveat 'within my memory.' Doesn't mean I was there. Only that I'm semi-confident contemporaneous reports told the real story. And before you start whinging--(tossed that in for our UK friends)--I know I promised it a day or so ago. If this is the first time in your memory I have failed to deliver a timely post you'll get used to it. Foolishly I decided to do a bit of research and make sure my list was impervious to challenge. First, it was taking way too long and second, somebody is always gonna disagree no matter what so there was really no point in over analyzing the possibilities. Instead I've decided to offer a list that not only delivers a Top 5 but also a few honorable mentions. And do it off the top of my head--which means, among other things, I'm not even exactly sure which year it was for some of the events. Y'all can fill in the details--or, of course, suggest your preferred alternative events. Instead of the definitive list consider this a conversation starter.
My criteria is simple. If I wasn't playing paintball when it happened it ain't on the list. Mostly. If I don't consider it to have been a major league event it isn't included. That's it.
I wanted to say that rain alone wasn't enough to get an event on this list but that's not quite true. I've been to so many events where it rained that I can't put a number to them but there's rain--and then there's rain. So without further delay--

Honorable Mention
Sometime in the mid-Nineties there was a Mayhem Masters? that I seem to recall was a massive mudfest.
It rained relentlessly at NPPL Pittsburgh in '98 leaving puddles and small ponds (and larger ponds) on the mounds field(s) and while not completely unplayable a snorkel would have come in handy.
A couple of Mardi Gras events not including Muddy Gras--I'll explain down the list.
It might have been the first NPPL (Pure Promotions) Miami held in a park not far from the airport. The rain came down in sheets and if it had continued for the duration there wouldn't have been a tournament.
NPPL Houston, cancelled in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike [?] which left the entire Houston area devastated. (Didn't make the list because the event never got started.)
PSP Texas in '06 when it dropped 50 degrees overnight and snowed turning the fields into mush and while not unplayable the conditions were singularly unpleasant.

The Top 5
5. There's a 3-way tie at number 5 'cus it let's me fudge the numbers a bit. MS Charleroi which saw high winds tear down field stanchions and enough rain to produce nearly knee deep mud. NPPL Jersey in '03 next door to the dragstrip was another massive rain and mudfest. And then there's Muddy Gras. I distinguish the various wet & muddy Mardi Gras events by two things; being a PSP-sanctioned season opening event and by the crazy winds that tore down the fields and sent some of the props into the bayou in, I think, 2004.
4. PSP Chicago at the Badlandz in 2010.
3. PSP Los Angeles in Pomona. I want to say '05. Rain, rain, rain and more rain. Mike Ratko on the NXL field digging runoff trenches. Mid-calf puddles at both starts. Players diving the snake literally disappearing.
2. MS Malaga Beach in 2008 [?] Only other event I can recall that wasn't able to finish play the Mills did the same thing as the PSP by carrying over pro play to the next event. Severe and sustained winds not only blew the inflatable net supports hither and yon they tore the traditional fields apart as well.
1. PSP Galveston 2012. Sustained high winds and a chilly rain flattened the majority of the venue and lasted long enough to make immediate reconstruction impossible. It also kept the PSP from completing an event for the first time in their history. (I think.)

Friday, March 16, 2012

From the Silly to the Sublime

Yep, more musings on the Photog Wars over at PBN. Well over 500 posts. Never too much of a good thing? Oh yes there is and that point was reached long ago. Even I am no longer amused and I have a notoriously high (or is it low?) tolerance threshold for the absurd. I'm sticking by my 'Photographers Gone Wild!' suggestions but there is one more suggestion that needs to be considered; individual release forms when the work product is intended for commercial use. That should have occurred to me before but I can't ever recollect anyone in the paintball (photography) industry bothering. [With the exception of Jerry Braun at the Smart Parts Championships filming where he also wanted right of first refusal on your first born child and droit du seigneur.] The assumption is, I presume, that everyone getting their picture taken is thrilled by the prospect of showing up in a magazine ad or website promo or catalog or whatever but since we're being sticklers for rights that one best be included too. With so many legally well-versed photogs in paintball I'm kinda surprised that has slipped through the cracks. And while magazines can normally count on editorial allowances precluding the need for model (or similar) releases it's hardly a universal standard and with e-zines being the new standard and available anywhere the internet reaches I can see potential future liability issues there too. (tsk, tsk)
I also thought it might be interesting to check out the mastery and artistry of the offended so I followed links to about a dozen websites purporting to represent professional photographers. Now I suppose if you have a camera and get somebody else to pay you money for your photographs you are a professional--but as we see in paintball that is frequently a mighty low standard. A couple were reasonably good, most were technically proficient and none of them displayed hidden talents that will take them to the top of the photographer's heap--unless it's the heap of long forgotten photographers. In fact the majority demonstrated a proclivity for hanging around events with young boys, be it pee wee soccer, hockey, baseball or football. Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that.
Some may ask, why come down so hard on the photogs, Baca? Because it's fun and because they invite it. Nobody cares or should care what it cost them to meet the minimum standard of so-called professional photographer. Nor what it cost them to get to the venue or the time away from school or work. Or that there are so many of them around almost none of them can make a decent return or that when 30 or 40 photogs take a thousand or more pics over a weekend that their collective work product is so diluted most any random pic is nearly worthless. And we already know that for the handful of better than competent photographers (and there are a few) out there the market doesn't reward superior images because the buyers can't tell the difference as a general rule and bargain over basement pricing.
If the lot of you were really all that professional you would have been lobbying the PSP long ago to institute well defined professional guidelines & standards that would have served everyone's interests.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Photographers Gone Wild!

Due to circumstances beyond VFTD's control today's post will be postponed. Unlike the PSP this blog was unable to recover (from bursts of hyperventilating laughter) in time to post the 5 Worst Events in MLP History. [*] Look for it tomorrow. Instead to day's post will say everything that needs to be said about the latest brouhaha involving paintball photographers. (Link to PBN thread in post title.)
VFTD has long considered the bulk of paintball photographers to be nuisances and the majority of paintball photography to be the "extreme sport" equivalent of vanity portraiture. Amateur photogs taking mundane, virtually indistinguishable, repetitive images to sell to divisional players wanting a memento or two to take home. Which is fine--to a point. In recent years every sensible limit has been strained to the breaking point--which (apparently) snapped recently.
As entertaining as the thread in question has been I won't be commenting on the particulars because there aren't enough factual details. Instead I will be suggesting a measured response and future course of action to be considered in the aftermath. This is actually a bigger issue for the PSP than the raging photogs and should probably be addressed as such. It begins with the new PSP affiliated media company now responsible for the webcast and related media products. What if any exclusivity does or should the new media company have? My reply would be the match narratives that the webcast is attempting to capture and communicate. And if that's the way the league perceives it then still photography is not a concern, only alternative video products. If that is the case then the follow-on issue becomes what sort, if any, product should secondary video media producers be allowed to create, promote, display and/or sell.
I would say the league doesn't need to--or want to--monopolize live action at least for the time-being--but that's just me. In any case some thought will have to be given to what is and isn't acceptable when it comes to alternative video presentations.
Also I think it would behoove the league to have a simple use rights agreement with the featured teams signed on an annual basis. No monies need change hands but some clarity for all involved parties on what is fair and expected use could preclude future hassles. And if the webcast develops as anticipated it will eventually become an issue. Right now it's in everyone's interest to make the product available so now is the ideal time to begin a cooperative effort.
Okay now we can talk photogs. These can be divided between established media reps and vanity photographers. (I suppose a very few are both but then not all "media" is created equal either.) The media reps should be vetted and given access where and how the league determines. (Media reps can also include sponsor and team photographers.) The vanity photogs should also be limited to a pre-determined number and perhaps vetted based on a different criteria; years of experience, customer satisfaction, etc. The media reps receive credentials and in return agree to provide the league with images under a simple use rights agreement that serves and protects everyones' interests. The vanity photogs pay a modest access fee and are under no other obligation. Under such a system the league controls competing content, limits access, vets legit media outlets and provides some oversight of the vanity photography industry which benefits the players in general even if a limited number of photographers would likely mean higher prices. At some point the market; ie: the players, will decide what they're willing to pay.
Of course then I won't have anybody to make fun of anymore--except guys pulling off lame DMW.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Upcoming Events

Tomorrow the Millennium begin their season with the CPL 'Drawing From The Hats' ceremony to determine the St. Tropez brackets. Not exactly NCAA March Madness when it comes to bracketology it's a bit of Euro weirdness not indulged in the other divisions. This time, for the first time, the top four teams will lead the 4 brackets. In Hat #1 will be teams 5-8 which will be drawn at random and assigned a bracket until there are 2 teams in each bracket. That will be followed by a Hat #2 random draw then a Hat #3 random draw whereupon 4 brackets of 4 teams are set. While it makes little sense when a perfectly logical seeding system exists we'll chalk it up to eccentricity.
The event begins a week from Friday and I gotta say I'm looking forward to it. Despite the proximity of the event there appears to be a few teams still not settled into their divisions just yet. In locked divisions (SPL & D1) that have maxed out at 32 teams playing the SPL currently has 29 with 5 other teams pending. Whatever that means. In D1 they have 26 with 9 teams pending. Be interesting to see what the final numbers are in the next few days. (How many teams are reffing?)
Finally I still wonder how it is some Euro teams end up picking up the American players they choose. I know in some instances it's a matter of sponsor affiliation but frankly that still leaves some questions in my mind. Are some teams compelled--or enticed?--into putting players on their rosters? Do teams always know what they're actually getting in the players they pick up? Without wishing to be too controversial or specific I've often looked at some of the U.S. players playing for Euro teams and I just don't get it. So how 'bout an anonymous or two Euro team captains (or owners) explaining some of the U.S. pro players pick-up ins & outs for me. Hey, a guy can ask, right?

Lastly a quick note on HB. Today the registered teams total was at 108. I still think we'll see more Pro teams in HB than the 11 presently listed. But I also think the final team totals participating will be under 100. Alot of the registered teams still don't have rosters posted and they are running out of time to do it online for the discounted price per ID. Also no updates on prize calculations given the new divisions--although it looks like 5-man race 2 will only happen in D3 & D4. 2012 rules were posted recently and I'll have a look at them before the event but haven't had a chance to look them over yet.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Monday Poll / Galveston Recap

If this post is sub-standard blame Texas. Apparently it didn't want us to leave as our flight Sunday night was delayed a number of times until we didn't get off the ground until around midnight--which meant I didn't get home until close to 4 am. Not a complaint, it just means I might not be my usual clear-headed incisive self, so cut me some slack, slackers.
This week's The Monday Poll asks, "What state should host the PSP's season opener next year?" It may be a wee bit premature but it's timely. It's also not a no-brainer. For years the PSP tried to source an early season event in Cali (mostly LA) only to be the recipient of bad weather more often than not. And it should be obvious the PSP likes the idea of a Texas event regarding it as something like a centralized location--but we've also had some rough experiences with Texas venues. [Btw, not all the choices in the poll are states within the United States.] While we were waiting for our flight last night a friend suggested the PSP take a look at the way Nascar schedules their early season. They are competing in outdoor venues and have to be cognizant of the elements just like the PSP does. It may seem a little redneck but it has a logic about it as well. Another consideration, especially when you're attempting five events and want two of them in the summer it's hard to begin much later than sometime in March--which limits your likely fair weather options. And then there's the concern about mixing the venues up enough so that teams from some parts of the country aren't 'penalized' by the required travel involved. All in all there are no simple answers--except those you supply when you vote for The Monday Poll! No complications. No repercussions. Vote with a clear conscience and vote today. Do it right now!

Galveston Recap
It's unfortunate for fans, players and the league the first event posed such hardships all the way around. In the future some will recall the adventure, the hurdles overcome. (It's easier to be nostalgic when you're warm & dry and actual events are a receding memory.) Others will find excuses for what went wrong and either blame the PSP or forces beyond control--except of course for those who did fight through it and overcome. And that includes the PSP's efforts to complete an event in the midst of terrible conditions and a decimated venue. Ultimately however the league chose to return to Galveston after high winds created havoc last year with disaster barely averted--and then there's the small matter of the event not quite actually being completed. The Pro event remains incomplete.
During the event there was talk of beginning a day early in Phoenix and finishing Galveston for the Pros. That would certainly be my preferred solution--and it was imperative the divisions were completed in Galveston--but this solution poses a new set of logistical concerns. All the remaining pro teams still in the hunt will have to come in early. If the PSP is going to webcast the matches they will have to be played on the Pro field that will used for both Galveston's completion and the Phoenix event. It will also be a lot of games to get done on one field in one day. There are 6 prelim matches to be played followed by 2 quarterfinal match-ups, 2 semis and the finals. Half the bracket is done. The morning session bracket is decided. Afternoon session teams could play as many as 5 matches the day before Phoenix starts. Then there's the roster issue. Completing Galveston has to be done with the Galveston rosters, doesn't it? Look, none of it is insurmountable but at the same time it won't be as easy as saying 'make it so' either.
From the little I heard and saw the webcast appeared to deliver better than ever lines of sight across and up & down the field. I didn't see or hear enough to know how well the new stats introduction worked or whether or not commentary remained Matty & His Friends or not. (Don't get me wrong. Far as I'm concerned Matt Marshall is the Voice of Competitive Paintball but that isn't enough anymore. If the goal is to professionalize the pro event and its broadcasting the commentators need to know who the players are--not just who their friends are--and be prepared to talk not only about the players but also the teams and the strategic flow of the matches to be truly informative. Nor will all of that happen overnight but it ought to be the target they're shooting for.) It was probably a near miracle there was any webcast at all.
Congrats to all the teams, winners and losers alike. Winners, remain humble and hungry, losers make no excuses and re-double your efforts. There are four more opportunities coming this season to compete and win in the PSP and a season title to be contested in every division.
I look forward (hint, hint) to hearing from the divisional correspondents and when I do I will post their thoughts, reactions & observations on Galveston.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Galveston Day 1 & 2

Somehow we have been transported into an alternate universe where Texas is wet, cold and dreary. (Curse you Southwest. Bags may be free but this isn't the Texas I signed up for.) Oh yeah, and it's pouring rain. I've been here before. In 2006. Freezing rain and snow that time. It's one thing for Galveston to be prime spring break real estate for high school dropouts but after today Galveston is now at the head of the VFTD not-a-suitable-competitive-paintball venue. The fact I spent the whole day cold, wet and miserable has nothing to do with it. (Okay, maybe it has a little bit to do with it.)
Anyway I heard early Friday morning that interest in the webcast crashed the PSP server. Apparently a generator (or two) went down and, like last year, the wind tore down some more fields this evening during the downpour. We arrived late Thursday reaching Galveston around 11 pm. Given our late arrival we were glad to be scheduled for afternoon matches. Later that would prove to be less beneficial than we initially thought. Friday pro matches got behind early. A combination of conditions, a new hierarchy of authority and the heavy focus put on the webcast saw the schedule running close to an hour behind late in the day. And then it rained; Texas deluge end of the world thunderstorms. Our second match of the day, against Vicious was postponed mid-match and the anticipated match between Russian Legion and Houston Heat was carried over to Saturday. That was before late night storms brought powerful winds ashore that demolished most of the fields. Late Friday the PSP hoped to have the fields rebuilt over night with only a short delay. As night turned to morning the delay grew longer and longer and the pro field am session didn't begin until nearly noon.
Originally the idea was to plug in the missing matches between morning and afternoon Saturday sessions. Between posted schedules and flooded fields and makeshift netting supports we played the remainder of our Vicious match late in the afternoon Saturday. Followed by Heat vs. RL which couldn't have been a tighter match with a thirteenth breakout with the teams tied 6-6. Heat captured the last point and a 7-6 win. The league held the Dynasty vs. Shock to provide a time buffer as we were the first "afternoon" match.. As that match began we were given the word that the pro event would be finished a day early prior to Phoenix. That means the morning sessions teams to move thru are decided but the whole afternoon session from Saturday will need to be completed before the quarters can be played. Then the semis and finals.
Sunday the focus of play will be on completing the tournament for the divisional teams--as it should be. The outcome is less than ideal but the pros will compete at every event and that can't be said of every divisional team and they need to have their opportunity to win.
When we left the sun was going down. Dynasty and Shock had begun and plans were in place to run divisional games under the lights deep into the night.
For what was lost here in Galveston Phoenix doubles down. Two pro wins over one weekend will be at stake. And with any luck Sunday's webcast will feature the best of the best of the divisional kids and we'll get an extra day in Phoenix as the pros finish the Galveston event.
And--here's a guess--after two years in a row with the wind nearly ruining the tournament the next time the PSP comes to Texas it probably won't be to Galveston Island. Besides, if you were looking for the hot Spring Break babes they're having fun on South Padre.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Galveston Webcast

I know I called this post Galveston Webcast but that's mostly 'cause I didn't know what else to call it. And this post is about the webcast, sorta. Yes, there's a new media company in the mix but I don't know much about it beyond the fact it seems to be PSP peeps and already-active-in-the-process-webcast peeps. And there are rumors of bunches of money spent in upgrades in the off season. That and other rumors about big changes and improvements. I know there's gonna be an effort made to incorporate more statistics live into the broadcasts, whatever that means exactly. But what really caught my attention is some of the prelim match-ups.
The biggest of the big prelim match-ups is Houston Heat versus Russian Legion. Who doesn't want to see that? Given the drama surrounding the 3 Legion players who went to Heat in the off season and the hints of bad blood--along with will the Russian Legion still be the Russian Legion?--it should be an epic match even though it's only a prelim match-up.
There's the new Northeastern Hope in 187. The Dynasty face lift. The rebuilt Infamous. And enough new faces and changed situations to leave the outcome up for grabs. That and the bonus of a 12 team division: two extra Sunday teams. The top team in each bracket gets a bye to the semis and two other teams in each bracket make it to Sunday where they'll play an early morning quarterfinal (of sorts). What that means on Friday and Saturday is more uncertainty and more opportunity with the results often undecided until the very last match is played. Should be fun.

Monday, March 5, 2012

VFTD Translates

I haven't done this in a while so it should be fun. (For me anyway.) As a public service to all competitive ballers VFTD periodically translates Press Releases into easy to understand common English. (American English, of course. Take that all you Eurosnobs and raging Anglophiles.)
Turns out the NPPL put this presser out last Friday--to little or no fanfare. Of course the news about Vancouver was already out there but the prospect of a(nother) new TV show hasn't been picked up by other paintball media outlets or garnered much attention. Is the paintball community so jaded by past failures that it simply isn't registering or are peeps simply postponing judgment with a wait and see attitude?
And if you guessed this latest NPPL news was part and parcel of secrets Mr. Curious has been keeping lately you would be correct. The italicized paragraphs below are the original press release as posted on the NPPL's website and Facebook page. This post title links to the NPPL site.
Vancouver Postponed / New NPPL Pro Player reality TV Show

The NPPL in conjunction with Dynasty has made the commitment to produce a reality Paintball TV Show based on a Dynasty/Impact World Tour. The League will be filming segments at each NPPL event this year and feature tournaments outside the United States. Impact have chosen to only to attend NPPL events in North America, as they will be traveling on a worldwide tour to capture paintball on film. The show will also focus on woods ball, recreational play and scenario games. The Show will Air sometime this summer dates and times to follow. The NPPL once again is paving the way to expose the sport of paintball worldwide.

The NPPL Board of Directors after speaking to players, teams and sponsors has decided to reschedule Vancouver. The main reasons for dropping Vancouver from the 2012 schedule is the economy is still tight and teams, sponsors have expressed they can only afford to go to 4 events this season. Furthermore, there were concerns about getting supplies and equipment across the boarder. We are looking at the possibility of hosting the event in 2013 which will allow the league, teams and sponsors more time to plan, promote and take care of logistics for running a successful tournament. The NPPL views Canada as a growing paintball tournament market and looks to promote more feeders and teams in Canada this year. The League hopes players; teams and sponsors will respect and support our decision to postpone Vancouver for one year.

The new reality TV show, if that's what it turns out to be, is a NPPL project in name only and until recently was conceived to be something like Real Life San Diego featuring the Dynabrats is morphing into something else. After some productive back alley brawling Bart managed to wedge Impact into the picture. Rumor has it behind the scenes an effort is underway to split the Millennium season and CPL spot between Dynasty and Impact as well. In the meantime minus an actual format and a changing show conception and no word exactly where, how or with whom all this will be sorted out the NPPL would like to take credit in advance for any success it might have and should it fail like various past ventures the NPPL hopes you will appreciate their efforts to bring the good news of tournament paintball to the masses regardless.

The Board was shocked to discover the decision to put an event in Vancouver, even though taken without the slightest consideration of the facts or the hardships it placed on players and sponsors alike, was not universally hailed as the stroke of genius we thought it was. So never mind. Notwithstanding, the league views Canada as one place where we can still convince a few teams to play 7-man. And contrary to expectations the offering of the Race 2 format didn't result in all the PSP teams pulling up stakes and moving over to the player's league and with Huntington Beach registrations lagging--and this economy thing some people keep mentioning--we've decided 4 events is a safer bet. However, running a league means never having to say you screwed up so we're all going to pretend like we're just postponing the event by a year or so. (wink, wink) And in closing we hope you respect and support our latest display of incompetence because it seems to work for everybody else.

Monday Poll in Review

No new Monday Poll for you! (No, it's not a punishment for failing to vote last week. Although, for a community that seems to have one harebrained opinion after another that folks happily share online daily nobody seemed too interested in the NPPL HB poll. I'll leave you to decide why.) With Galveston this coming weekend everyone's attention is gonna be--rightly--focused elsewhere and besides, I got nothing--and can't be bothered to look up an old poll question to recycle. Next week.
Last week's poll question was: Will attendance at the 2012 HB event equal or exceed last year's total of 133 teams? (Or something very much like that.) I posed the question in light of the failed merger and myriad  changes the league undertook in the off season and on the basis that attendance will give some indication of how the league is currently perceived. If not in the poll--which I routinely point out is never scientific or objective or even statistically relevant--at least in the raw number of competing teams. Like it or not actual participation is a form of referendum. The day the poll was posted HB registration was at 92 teams. This afternoon it is at 98. 73% of those responding to the poll question voted no--meaning participation wouldn't equal or exceed last year's team totals--while 27% voted that HB would have at least 133 teams and perhaps more. Registration remains open so we won't know for sure for two or three weeks but at this point it looks like it will be a struggle to meet or exceed last year's total. Pro registration remains at 11 with rumors of this team or that still to enter. Pump has shriveled with the new higher price and an alternative offering from the PSP. And in the divisional groups it looks like Race 2 options will only exist in divisions 3 & 4.
If you have any ideas for The Monday Poll's future poll questions post 'em up in comments or on VFTD Facebook and I'll steal the good ones and make fun of the bad ones. What could be fairer than that?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Some Days

This is gonna have to be short-and maybe bittersweet. It's easy from the outside looking in to romanticize the pro paintball player (and teams.) In the sense that those are the guys who get the majority of the attention and have the highest profile in the sport it's true. But if HK has taught the army of agglets anything it's that the paintball lifestyle is accessible to anyone who embraces it. And some days the pro paintball grind is just that, a grind. The team is in Sacramento for the weekend practicing the Ironmen. For most of us Friday began in the middle of the night Thursday. Our flight out of Tampa scheduled to depart at 6:30 am. Some guys stayed up all night. Some of us got a few hours sleep; 3 or 4 was the norm. Early morning is one of the two busiest times of day at Tampa's airport. I was the last one into and out of security arriving at the gate with 15 or 20 minutes to spare. It was 2 hours on a full flight to Houston followed by a ninety minute layover. Then 4 hours to Sacramento. Collect the rental cars after picking up our bags; hotel to check in, Subway for lunch and to the field. Capiltol Edge to practice the Ironmen for the rest of the day. Only to discover delivery of our paint was delayed by a snowstorm to the north. Arrange to make enough paint for Friday appear anyway. At which point it's been a fifteen hour day already. Except J-Rab missed his connecting flight when his flight out of D.C. was delayed with icy wings. For him the majority of the day was spent in airports waiting. He arrived Friday night around 8:30 pm. Some days. Saturday is the all day grind and Sunday it will be get in one last morning of practice prior to Galveston leaving the field around 1 pm. In order to get everyone home in time for work Monday morning our return flights have 2 or 3 scheduled stops and we'll hit the tarmac in Tampa just before 7 am. Assuming everything goes as planned.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Lite on posts in March, that is. I want to take this opportunity to warn the regulars awaiting their VFTD fix that you may suffer the occasional withdrawal pang in March. Looking at the calendar it seems I will be home 12 days in March. The rest of the month it's twice to Cali (starting tomorrow for a practice with the Ironmen at Capitol Edge) (& HB at the end of the month), once to Texas and over to France. That's not gonna leave much time for blogging though I should be able to handle the Galveston Divisional stuff--with help from the volunteer correspondents (could use a few more)--and some event comments. We'll see how it goes.
Also wanted to let y'all know that I will be providing Social Paintball with a monthly update on what's happening with Tampa Bay Damage. Since I seldom comment here about the team as a matter of unofficial blog policy I've agreed, with official blessing, to cover the team for Social. I'm going to try and manage a monthly update and include some pics (and/or videos) for Social to use as they see fit. I hope to have a Pre-Season Update to Social in the next few days before Galveston.
Finally a little light housekeeping. VFTD would like to welcome the newest members of the DPA (Deadbox Puppet Army) to the ranks. Greetings and welcome to Nisbah Rupa, Matthew Schultz & Stacy. Thanks!  Your roles in the coming World Domination will be sent covertly using the latest carrier pigeon technology. New identities will be provided along with access to our super-secret YouTube channel of inspirational songs and Do-It-Yourself world conquest video series.