VFTD: Thanks once again are due Mike McGowan of Prime for putting in the time and effort to rep the division.
"You will hydrate." It felt like a scene from Jarhead. "You will adjust to this desert, and you'll hydrate some more." Everyone got an associate's degree in hydration. Saying it's hot in Phoenix is like saying there's gravity on Earth. But everyone was looking out for each other. At least humidity was left out of the equation. But, like the rest of the US, there has been unseasonably if not record-setting, warm weather across the seaboards. Arizona has not been immune. On the same April 19-22 dates in 2011 and 2010 the highest temps were 90 and 88 degrees respectively. This past weekend. 102.9 degrees. When your body temp reaches that high, you go to the hospital. I heard of at least two cases of heat stroke, one a spectator and one a TX Storm player. If on the calendar next season Phoenix should be the first event of the year for a variety of reasons, weather and cost certainly among them. But perhaps we should see it a month earlier to guarantee less hellish temperatures.
It's rare to see a major city embrace paintball the way the Glendale area has. A real-life sporting complex. Actual paved parking lots. Discounts to local stores issued. Not to mention use of soccer fields. The surface play similar to astroturf. The ground hardened from the beating sun, had a "slick" feel without being slippery on the feet, but tough and survivable. There's that level of refinement at places that have hosted legs in the series several times before. If they're willing to welcome the abuse paintball players bring to their grounds year in and year out, that's a special place to play. [VFTD: They're willing for a substantial 5 figure payday. If you want to see Lane turn red ask him about the fire code inspections prior to the event.]
This event saw 16 Division 2 teams. There were 18 in Texas. Teams from Galveston that decided not to join: Blackout, Breakout, Overhead, Siege, Da Bears (basically Moon City Lazercats D1 at Phx) plus Texas teams, Team Zone and OBK. Several teams made Phoenix their first event: Team No Name (TNN) [New Jersey], Carolina Collision, Denver Fury, Royalty [CA], and PaintballTickets.com [San Jose, CA]. Have to expect that the east coast teams that attended are in essence declaring the rest of the season. Collision is essentially longtime CFOA team Dark Carnival reprised. They had Rob Staudinger playing alongside them as D1 Mayhem was unable to come. They would make the cut through a wildcard for an 8th place finish. TNN brought a couple D1 former Hurricanes along on the squad. Only 5 of the 9 players were from the squad that won D3X New Jersey last season. The remaining teams may just be journeymen that wanted to drop in to the only West coast PSP. Shane Pestana's WCPPL team, Royalty; 4th Place D3X at Cup last year. They're also responsible for the Ironmen's most recent acquisition, Tokahe Hamil ("A-Rod" Rodriguez could be considered but he only played with Royalty at Cup.) Paintballtickets.com placed 5th at NPPL HB, which explains their D4 APPA rankings as players. In spite of NPPL's conversion to a "Xball/Race" format, they did not find the same success in a 5-Man format in Phx.
Fury will probably decide to stick around. They didn't play HB, so they may be committed to PSPs. The webcast commentators knew of their owner, Scottie Flint. The man seems to be known throughout the paintball ranks, and the Fury name has popped up several different times throughout the years. [VFTD: Scottie & Fury date back to the mid- late 90s at least.] One of their players was on the Vicious pro squad. Most of their players, six out of eight to be exact, played D1 at Cup in 2011, but you wouldn't know it by their classification. For most it counted as their drop score. They utilized the two center bunkers to cross it up plus some seriously impressive gun-fighting skills. Apparently, they had been flying out to visit Dynasty and had a long-term scrimmage fest with Texas Storm prior to the event.
While the desert was a distinct contrast from the muddy, soggy coast of Galveston Island. The Arizona oven didn't change much of what rose to the top. There were a few exceptions. Coalition surprised yet again. This time in an unfortunate way for them. They didn't make the cut this go around. A first place, while excellent for confidence, is useless for self-assessment, not to mention motivation. Especially on the same layout. I only saw a few of their Friday games. While they may have tried to change their game plans up, it didn't really look like it. Plus, it's difficult to revamp your entire style. I saw them dying going for that center aztec to cross it up. In what was perhaps the toughest bracket, with no gimmes like in the others, Coalition fell short of their goals. PB Vipers were rocking the brand new Vapor from the brand new company Machine. I watched PBV almost come back down 0-4 to Fury but didn't quite make it, losing 5-4. Penalties plagued them. Last Call took up the caboose yet again. Three of their players were out due to injury. They certainly have heart.