NITPN = Not in the Paintball News. I saw a notice on Facebook yesterday. (The only reason I was "on" Facebook is I was being held hostage by pirates who were trying to break my spirit and I was about ready to spill the beans when they lost their hotspot and ... that's all a big fat lie, of course, but it might have been true. Have I ever mentioned I despise social media? Well, I do. Hate Twitter with a passion. too.) Anyway, what I saw was a notice for the new intermediate division RT5 to be offered next year by the CXBL. The Canadian (not quite good enough to be American) Xball League. If you know anything about the CXBL you've probably heard they play "real" xball--and they do--but that isn't all they do. They have a beginners division called CX4 that plays a variant of traditional 5-man except with 4 players per side and a no ramping capped at 10 ROF. RT5 will be a modified xball lite/Race 2 allowing ramping but still capped at 10. The idea is the two pre-xball formats lead step by step into the full on xball format. It seems to me there's still a pretty big step up from RT5 to RXL but that's not what interested me. It's the different ROFs. Yes, I know the PSP wussed out and bailed on progressive ROF a couple of years ago but it isn't a dead letter issue and the CXBL proves it. The other thing the CXBL proves is that there's still room for different brands of competitive paintball. (Granted, the majority of world competitive paintball is now an xball type variant which suggests the game is slowly coalescing into a world game.) And there still ought to be an ongoing debate about what is best for the game and its players--and progressive ROF is an overwhelming good.
The fledgling NPL recently closed their first season. (Link here & here.) Whatever else you may think of their brand of competitive paintball--and how its structured--to my mind the key is that they are truly local. It isn't an overly complicated game. It's fast paced (and on a slightly smaller field of play) would probably prove to have real potential for improving the all around skill profile of new to speedball players. What I like here--at least conceptually--is that the NPL is a format that may be able to bridge players into competitive paintball in ways that perhaps the more highly regulated APPA family of league and affiliate leagues perhaps can't. (Their focus is on creating a universal vertical hierarchy of players and I'm unconvinced it's the best option for beginners.)
So what's the point? Not only does competitive paintball have room for more than one game it almost certainly needs more than one game in order to reach its widest audience and grow in popularity. Each game variant, each format is a laboratory of competition with the potential to improve the game and its players. While it runs contrary to the nature of competition itself (somebody wins, somebody loses) perhaps we should embrace the different possibilities as they offer the prospect of making positive contributions to the sport of competitive paintball in the future.