Thursday, November 8, 2012

PSP Pro Division Dilemma

Mr. Curious tells me there's a veritable stampede of interest from both sides of the Atlantic in playing PSP Pro in 2013. If even half the teams making inquiries are serious it isn't gonna work. Heck, it doesn't work now. The two party crashers at Cup only managed it because it was possible to add an extra day to the schedule and unless PSP is contemplating 4-day Pro events moving forward there needs to be another solution. (4-day events for Pro only increases the costs for everybody, promoter and teams alike.)
Right now 12 teams works well within the framework of the current tournament structure. Mr. C says the league is kinda sorta maybe leaning toward 15 teams--in part because the party crashers are looking for permanent spots too. So what would it take to expand to 15 teams? An extra day works logistically. Does it work financially or schedule-wise? How many teams will have players that, over the season, can't take all those weekdays off? There can be only one feature field--the webcast already costs a small fortune and the feature field already fills the day's broadcast. Could some matches be moved to an alternate field? Say the D1 field? Sure, but that becomes dependant on how many D1 teams are competing. Or do you start bumping D1 matches for the bumped Pro matches? Using Pro refs or divisional refs? Without intending any disrespect to the divisional refs officiating a pro game is on another level. (And then there's the matter of where the rules applied diverge--and they do.) Does the league begin to train new Pro refs--and just how do that do that if those refs aren't on the Pro field? So far I'm not seeing any obvious answers.
Okay, beyond the mechanics of making a larger division work there are also the unknowns to consider. It's still only November and VFTD is running a poll on which pro teams won't survive to start the new season. A lot of things are up in the air including just how and where a fair bit of sponsorship is gonna fall. And until the teams know more they can't decide what comes next. And what about the teams clamoring to get in? What sort of commitment are they prepared to make? Anyone after a Pro spot has to commit to the whole year in advance, don't they? How do you make decisions to let anyone in before you know what will happen with the teams already there? I'm still not seeing any obvious answers.
What about suggestions the Pro division already has some have-nots among its rank? Is adding unproven teams a remedy or a risk of further diluting the quality of the competition? It's a tough call either way.

Of course this wouldn't be VFTD if all I had were questions so I'ma throw out a couple of ideas for how to handle this Pro division dilemma too. (Not saying--yet--it's the best possible outcome, just the first that came to mind that seems to be workable--and expandable.)
Start by locking the Pro division at 12 teams. That's right, 12. Now you don't need to worry about event logistics blah blah blah. The issue becomes how to handle the current interest in being part of the Pro division. In addition a locked league creates a limitation on access, a scarcity, something not available to everyone or anyone. Nor does it have to stay permanently at 12 but right now 12 works. Reintroduce the semi-pro division and lock it too. Maybe begin with 8 teams or even 10 if there is sufficient interest. And introduce promotion and relegation. In doing that the league would create a path to Pro status. That path would assure that the best teams achieved Pro spots and by locking both semi-pro and Pro you protect those teams--at least as best the league can--and encourage sponsors to support those teams as the only ones either already Pro or with the possibility of going Pro in the near term. That's the basis for a generic solution.

To respond to the situation as it exists right now here's what I'd do. Locked at 12 means the World Cup party crashers are on the waiting list. If any of the 2012 season long participants drops out, breaks up, self-relegates? then the open spot(s) are filled from the waiting list. World Cup records determine the order of their access. If nobody drops out they go to semi-pro. (Yes, I realize this risks antagonizing some sponsors now but once the rule is established it solves future procedural problems and one likes to imagine, despite evidence to the contrary, that paintball has a few rationale members within its industry who may not like that answer but understand it.) As to the teams that want in, make them prove their fitness and commitment to the longer haul. The league isn't about accommodating their whims, it's about being top to bottom the finest competitive paintball series period. I would also provide some path to the Pro division for TopGun Union not because I think they're ready but because in recent seasons the D1 series winner has come to expect that success brings that opportunity. If that means, at best, a spot on the waiting list that would be unfortunate but still necessary. Lastly depending on what the semi-pro division numbers were looking like I'd offer spots to the top finishers in D1 in order of their finishing position until I'd filled the new Semi-pro division.
It is admittedly less than perfect. Such a course would leave some peeps and teams unhappy for the time-being. It might even be unfair to one or two. And there is no telling how it will play in future seasons. After all the PSP has done the Semi-pro thing before--just not quite like this. Nor is this "solution" guaranteed to resolve every issue that might arise. What it does do is minimize Pro division changes today based on the whims of a few teams who may or may not be committed to the PSP. It also creates a more permanent process for gaining Pro status while also doing everything possible to assure the teams that become Pro are the best available and committed to the PSP.

The invoice with my consulting fee is in the mail.


Anonymous said...

The check for the invoice bounced yesterday.

Baca Loco said...

Did I send it to the NPPL by mistake? Damn

Anonymous said...

Isn't this all just the old NPPL relegation/promotion plan?

And how many teams should get regulated each year?

Nick Brockdorff said...

I like it!

It will keep the pro division fresh and competitive, and give teams a clearly defined path to pro.

Step 2: Including D2 (or D1 as it would now be called).

Step 3: Including the affiliated leagues

Nick Brockdorff said...

BTW - can Mr. C drop some names?

Would be interesting to see who the "stampede" consists of...

Baca Loco said...

Taken one step further, more or less.

No. D1 remains an open division. The inclusion of a for now modest Semi-pro is a "new" division. The only reason to lock the top two is to confirm and confine the path to Pro.
Any result that suggested locking D1 was worth doing would happen a long way down the road.

In the meantime I don't even like the locals being "affiliated" or tied into the central system that is APPA because I think it is counterproductive at the grassroots level.

Baca Loco said...

Mr. C has of course mentioned the names to me--I chose to leave them out. :)

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows Topgun took World Cup and the Series. Yes, I believe they will be following in 187's, CEP's, & Vicious's footsteps at making the jump to the Pro Division. But what other teams are the stampede to getting into the Pro Division from D1? or Perhaps some of the teams that played in World Cup Pro Division might like to compete in the 2013 season. Do you have any other tips?

Anonymous said...

Lock the division at 12 teams, and give 3 spots to each of the 4 major sponsors. (Or four to 3, or two to 6...)

Then the major sponsors pick who is in the Pro division.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Baca - It can be open, but still award promotion to semi-pro :)

Pity you can't mention names.... but from Europe,I'd say the top 3 this year (obviously not counting Dynasty) are realistic bets.

Art Chaos would cause a lot of upsets stateside, due to so many of their players populating current PSP pro teams, which would make the move difficult.... but it would make sense for the owner to want to take away the title of best russian team from Legion.

Tontons might want another stab at the US, and France is a virtual hotbed of talent, so I'd say they are a realistic bet.

Instinct might have Tanked backing them, for a serious go at gaining US market share.... otherwise I don't see it.

Further down the list:

I don't see Breakout having the funding, though they would be a fun addition, with their crazy aggressive style.

Syndicate might, but only if Maxs is having designs on the US market, or possibly getting bought by a US entity.

Icon... hmm... maybe, if they are getting picked up by a new player in the tournament market... Valken or Tippmann?.... they have a history for supporting "new" players in the industry... otherwise I don't see it.

Nobody further down the list.

Nick Brockdorff said...


Why on earth do you want sponsors picking the teams?

Let teams make it on their own merits, not on who knows who!

Greg said...

About the divisionals, there needs to be more strict "affiliation" between the big league and affiliation leagues, or simply no affiliation ranking wise. You can't use APPA player points for PSP equal to that of a local league. As it stands now you are SOL if you want to play a local league if you are d2 or higher (some places only as low as d3) because the experience isn't the same as a local.
Make local affiliates less than national experience

Baca Loco said...

Yep, the promotion part would need to happen to semi-pro.

With ya.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Question is how long APPA will be around, if the whole federation thing takes off..... but's that's another story ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Raehl will having something to say about this lol
The fastest way to kill paintball would be to shut down APPA. The federation would have to cut a deal with Raehl to carry player points into this new "league".

Nick Brockdorff said...

What new league?

nickgibson said...

How would appa going away kill paintball?

Missy Q said...

Promotion and relegation. Wow, now there's an idea. How did you come up with that?
Genius like that definitely deserves a hefty consultation fee.

Baca Loco said...

And here I thought you'd be pleased to have the legacy of Pure Promotions enlighted genius carried forward into the future.

Anonymous said...

Missy Q -
How many times, during the Pure Promotions era, were Bad Company and/or Rage relegated down?
Did they ever actually play down a division?

Missy Q said...

I am, I'm just trying to understand your own 180.
Did you forget that the stuff that Pure Promotions did was bad/evil/fail? By advocating something they introduced aren't you jeapardising your reputation?

Question. If your team was currently ranked 12th, would you still advocate this path?

Missy Q said...

On the Rage/BC Q.
LOL, at least twice. The issue was that other teams folded/quit/switched to PSP, meaning teams rarely actually got relegated. I think the PSP has a far more stable, erm, stable of Pro teams than the NPPL though. The concept is tried & tested in European sports but it requires committed Pro and Semi-Pro divisions in order to work in practice. It did make all the games interesting. There's the battle for the top, and also the battle to avoid the drop, so those lower ranked matches actually became important, which was very positive.

The main issue with Pro/Rel in paintball is sister teams. Impact and Dynasty were both poised to have 2 teams each in the NPPL Pro division in 2007. The same could happen again unless contingencies are preparesd in advance.

Anonymous said...

drop the 2 worst pro teams to d1, and pick up the best 2 teams from d1 every year. and the same way down the divisionals. constant new faces, and allows others to make the advance.

Baca Loco said...

You're becoming tedious. Nothing better to do in the Canadian cold than create your own comments fantasyland?
Fail isn't the same as bad or evil. Really Missy is it that time of the month for you?
Nor have I advocated anything "they" introduced unless you're talking about Euroland sports federations in general.

And finally--sure, yes, absolutely. If you were actually read my post you might note I didn't advocate relegating anyone now in the aftermath of the 2012 season. That would be totally unfair.

Anon 2:40
That might fly except in general the D1 level of play simply isn't close enough to the Pros to merit promotion necessarily or to assume the relegated teams won't dominate. And then there's the question of player classification. New rules would have to be applied to the relegated rosters.

And you haven't addressed the issue of outside the PSP teams wanting in.

Missy Q said...

appreciate the feedback.

Nick Brockdorff said...

I'd argue that promotion/relegation helps create the level needed to play Pro.

At least that has happened in Europe, where we are seeing, to an increasing degree, that teams no longer move up and down, year in and year out.... and that the general level of professionalism in the semi-pro division has increased tremedously since its inception.

There WILL be an adjustment period, over 2-3 years... but down the line, promotion and relegation gets rid of a great deal of complacency, as well as create a broader top of the sport.

Granted, the level of play is generally a little higher in the US.... but there is no reason the same mechanics should not be in effect there too.

Nick Brockdorff said...

As for teams wanting in from the outside... just use the same model as in Europe:

1. Buy a spot
2. Start in the highest open division

It's all temporary anyway.... a few years down the line, there will be a global pro division, and both the PSP and MS (if they still exist) will have their top division qualify 1 or 2 teams into the global pro division every year. :)

Ryan Brand said...

If PSP winds up with 15 teams wanting a spot I wouldn't be surprised if they look for a 16th team to create 4 brackets of 4 and have 3 prelim games each. That's why we were brought into the league in 06' mid season.

Nick Brockdorff said...

3 prelims games only is a terrible idea.

They do it in the MS, and it often means a team can't afford even a single loss - if they want to make sunday.

I'd say 4 should be the minimum number of prelims games.

But yeah, 4 brackets of 4 is 24 games only, whilst 3 brackets of 5 is 30 games.... so you might be right.... simply due to time constraints.

Anonymous said...

You can't use promotion and relegation because paintball doesn't have teams to promote and relegate.

In Euroland sports where promotion and relegation are used, you have actual legal entities with actual paid and contracted players. You move a team up or down, there's actually something being moved up or down.

Most paintball teams are not set up that way. If you promote Top Gun, what, exactly, are you promoting? If the owner sacks the whole roster and that roster gets together as a new team (Heat is half of a Russian Legion), who is promoted? That's not a problem in real sports where the players are under contract preventing wholesale change like that from happening.

You can't suggest promotion and relegation as a workable system until you're willing to demand teams have an actual legal structure and players are contracted to teams for multiple years and the league is going to enforce those contracts.

And all the players shit a brick when the NXL tried that so I don't see promotion/relegation happening. (Sure, a league can DECLARE they're going to do it, but the result will be the same it is now with Millennium and was with NPPL, a yearly scramble to un-relegate teams and promote non-qualifying teams to get the team count to a nice-to-schedule number.)

Anonymous said...

3 prelim games is OK if you take 2 teams per bracket. It's still possible for a 3-way tie to leave a one-loss team out, but that's already possible with taking 2 teams out of 5-team brackets. The only 100% solution is to always take 3 teams out of each bracket, but then you could be advancing teams that lose 3 games.

NewPro said...

The last anonymous post hit the nail on the head. The players "shit a brick", well I guarantee that when contracted players who don't fulfill contractual obligations have to watch PSP from the sidelines, they'll wish they fulfilled said obligations. What are they going to do, run to the NPPL stamping their feet. Someone just has to put their foot down. Starting with the pro division is an excellent way to get the ball rolling with this type of idea.

Nick Brockdorff said...

You are completely mistaken as to promotion and relegation needing a legal structure and multi-year contracts in place on the teams.

First of all, promotion and relegation is not just used in professional sports in Europe - in soccer (for instance), it continues all the way down to division 12 (or whatever), where teams consist of happy amateurs that MIGHT show up to practice every once in a blue moon, and whos only loyalty to the club consists of paying the yearly 10 dollar membership fee and showing up when they have nothing better to do.

Secondly, in the scheme I propose, the team belongs to the owner, just like today.... and just like today, he is free to sack his entire team and hire other players (between seasons).... just like in real professional sports, both sides of the Atlantic.

Third, the ONLY problem the MS has had with the system, is that team owners were able to sell their spots in the league between seasons.... something I hear they are putting a stop to in the coming season.... once that is no longer an option, you will have team owners treat their projects with a lot more seriousness, as folding means your next attempt starts in D2 (in Europe - equivalent to D3 in the PSP).

Without the option of selling, you get rid of all the crazyness, as a team folding will just give back its spot to the league, who will then promote the next in line, from the division below - or relegate one less team - whatever they decide the rule is for those instances.

So, the only thing you really need for promotion/relegation to work, is to have rosters locked throughout the season, in the locked divisions, so that players have no other option of playing the PSP, than to stick with their team throughout the season - and then they can transfer to their hearts content between seasons :)

NewPro said...

SO you're substituting locked for contract, one in the same i guess, half empty, half full....bottom line...teams should not have to worry about a player jumping ship. If players don't fulfill Obligations set out by the team when they initially joined, don't give them the opportunity to bail, let them work on their spectating skills :)

Anonymous said...

What if the team doesn't fulfill obligations to their players? Are those players sent to purgatory too?

Anonymous said...


Citing Division 12 soccer in Europe in an argument about Pro promotion/relegation makes about as much sense as citing D5 paintball when talking about Champions league.

Then again citing major pro sports in a discussion about pro paintball is a stretch to begin with.

Fact is claiming promotion/relegation won't improve anything. NPPL and Millennium have proven it - even though they claim or have claimed promotion/relegation, the end result is the same system PSP uses: Pick a number of teams you like and invite the teams you need to get that number.

If you can't count on teams surviving from one season to the next, you can't really have promotion / relegation work.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Ehm.... dunno if this is the same anon... but I responded to the dude saying it would only work if paintball had lengthy contracts, like major pro sports - so I responded that the scheme works perfectly well in low grade amateur sports as well.

I don't quite know why you think it has failed in the MS - please elaborate?

What I see, is 50+ teams all fighting vigorously to play Pro... I don't quite see how that is a failure?

Baca Loco said...

Anon 1:18
Just because the system isn't seamless from day 1 isn't a good reason to have no system.