The best thing about very early, early morning flights is ... nope, can't think of one good thing much less more than one or a best thing. But we arrived at O'Hare (yuck!) with very nearly all of Thursday still available. Which was a good thing as we had a practice scheduled, needed to register, check in to the hotel, walk the event field and conduct a post dinner team meeting to review plans and personnel for Friday and make sure everybody is on the same page. (I conducted the team meeting by myself--best meeting ever. That's a lie. I actually spent the time getting Brandon up to speed as he arrived late in the afternoon and missed the practice session. How's that gonna go? Ask me on Sunday.) Oh and there was some unscheduled nap time in there as well.
Turns out CPX put up a practice field so teams could get some last minute practice. (Thanks guys!) Turns out too they wanted $250 or the purchase of 10 cases of paint for the privilege of practicing on it. (Somebody has been taking Millennium lessons I see.) Next time they might want to keep in mind that at least the Mills kids are allowing teams to play on the actual event field. Our practice field was unnetted and bore only a passing resemblance to the event layout. (Same props, same general locations but a precise gridding is kinda important. Maybe next time, eh?) Regardless we got in some good competitive games with Infamous and overall it was a positive practice that included walking the event layout. If you're wondering how it could be considered a good practice when the layout was off there are other factors to consider. Fitting players to positions. Getting them used to the basics of the layout--or similar. Going through the game play routines like communication, etc. Having real competition shooting paint from the other end. Opportunities to try out breakout options in advance. Any practice time is better than none.
The venue is more or less the same as last year. More grass and less gravel. It's on the nearest patch of the big grass field just past the overflow parking lot on your right as you enter the CPX Sports complex. More where it was two years ago and less where it was last year. Word is there was indeed a modest uptick in the total number of teams competing but the event will still fit on two fields. (I'll try to get a solid count after the event.) The vendors line the woods edge boundary of the overflow gravel lot to form a giant L shape with the two fields and paddock area. If teams and guests alike are allowed to park in the gravel lot it will create a compact and ideally accessible small tournament environment. The only early sign of the coming Living Legends onslaught was the presence of Dye and Empire with big rigs and their full boat traveling circus and tent store(s). They are located in the closest corner (to the NPPL event) of the main parking lot nearly equidistant between the two events. By this time tomorrow the paved parking lot will be packed to overflowing.
For the curious here's a little advance info on the fallout from the HB finals; J-Rab will receive a 2 match suspension to be served on Friday. The team will not be required to play with 6 while Justin is out. Odds are you won't hear this anywhere else as I strongly suspect the league would rather not comment at all. Make of it what you will--I'll have more on the general subject next week.
What with a lot of uncertainty surrounding our roster coming into this event--work, school, stuff--we ended up with extra bodies when we were initially concerned we might be short. (Speaking of B. Short we were pleased to be able to pick him up for this event from fellow Dye-sponsored team, the Ironmen.) Now we have to decide what group is best suited to make a run at the Chicago Open title. The games begin tomorrow and part of our process will be winning matches as we evaluate various roster options.
Rumor has it that neither Fraige or Lang will be playing this event with Dynasty.