Monday, December 31, 2012

Wrapping Up 2012

In years past VFTD has done a Year in Review retrospective of the last season as we usher in the new. Not gonna happen this year. Frankly I is just too damn busy (and the search function on Blogger just plain sucks.) Instead I'm gonna close out 2012 with a few random thoughts, well wishes and a shameless appeal or two.

Since PBA is still milking the MVP voting I am inspired to name VFTD's World Cup MVP. Oh, it's been done? That's okay. This is a little different. I'ma tell you who and those of you intrepid enough or swayed by free swag will tell me why. Like Jeopardy but better. (Okay, maybe not better but then Jeopardy never asks paintball questions.) The reasoning that most closely approximates my own will win a free VFTD T-shirt. You may respond in comments or via Baca's Mailbag (email addy). Got it?
And the winner is ... Sergei Solnyshkov. (I will accept all entries received prior to midnight EST January 7th 2013.

On the analytics front numbers are up across the board here at VFTD. Not huge by PBN standards, or to be honest probably any well known mainstream paintball site (like Social) but traffic has never been the goal. The goal has always been to been to focus on competitive paintball while leaving no subject off limits. (Well, and to remain honest, it's also been about influencing the powers that be.) That said it is gratifying that there are as many of you out there who choose to frequent VFTD. The big jumps by nationality this year were France and the Philippines both of whom made the top 10 this past month. The U.S. audience remains the largest by a substantial amount of course but the top 10 countries in audience this past month reflect the worldwide audience; U.S., UK, Russia, France, Canada, Philippines, Sweden, Norway, Singapore & Germany. (More typical months in the past would have included Malaysia and another Euro or South American country instead of the Philippines and Singapore.)
What, you want to know some real numbers? Fine, the average week sees just over 4K unique visitors with around 50% being from the U.S. & Canada.

Now for a little advice to see you into your 2013 paintball adventures. If you are the leader of a team it is important that you set some goals for the upcoming season. Set some mundane goals you expect to reach. Set some goals that you can check off as accomplished as the season progresses and set some goals that at first may seem out reach so that by the time 2013 is over your team can look back and see, step by step what was accomplished, take pride in the positives and then look forward again to what still needs doing.
And as a player you should do much the same thing in terms of setting personal goals. But before you do that consider what will it take to be the player you aspire to be? What proactive steps you can take and incorporate the accomplishment of those steps into your list of goals.

And finally, the shameless plug. In the next week (or so) a sidebar link will be posted dedicated to scheduling clinics. [There will be a separate dedicated website.] Along with the 2-day team(s) clinic--which I highly recommend--I will also be offering a 1-day clinic open to anyone option that will retain the team-oriented focus of how the individual player fits into the team concept. The 1-day clinic will cover some of the same territory as the 2-day in an easier to organize format. [Accurate event dates should be released soon. Fingers crossed.]

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Paintball Clubs cont.

Worried that I had forgotten all about paintball clubs? Or afraid that I hadn't and that this day--and post (with others to follow)--was soon coming? If it's any consolation I almost wish I had forgotten or become bored with the idea and moved along. Mostly because I'm still not exactly sure how to proceed. What I am sure of is that the potential of the paintball club is bigger than the boxes we are so far trying to limit ourselves to. For example, I write "paintball club" and our Euro friends automatically envision a European style club structure from the grassroots to the international federation. Which is fine--but not really what I had in mind. (Although if it works and a particular area, region, country whatever is receptive to that particular idea then I'm all for it.) Nor am I in favor of replacing the local tourney scene with club competitions. Among other reasons I don't see enough clubs forming, but ...
Hang on. Did you miss the first post--and especially the comments that followed? If you did it would be worth your while, assuming this topic interests you at all, to go back and catch up. Go here. (I'll wait.)

Up to speed? Cool. Let's continue. The paintball club concept I want to focus on today is an adjunct to an existing paintball field. This paintball club is something the field owners and staff organize and offer to their regular customers and as a different way to attract new (regular) customers. Okay, so what does the club do? Anything and everything you want it to.
What are the impediments to enjoying playing paintball as a newbie? No friends playing with you maybe? Lack of experience, don't really know what you're doing. Gun doesn't work all of a sudden. Nervous? Timid? The club can deal with all those. Join the club and get free access to special monthly classes. What should be in your gear bag and why? Routine maintenance. Playing paintball--in the woods--on the speedball field. Intro to tournament paintball. Beginning skills. Intermediate and advanced play. This Saturday is the routine maintenance class and then you can play the rest of the day.
Perhaps restricted games and reserved field and play times for club members. Want to open the facilities weekdays or evenings but don't know what to expect or how to get people thinking in terms of playing some paintball during the week? Try it out by offering some club only activities first on a trial basis. The club can be as simple as a positive proactive way to assure that as many of your customers have a good time as possible and want to come back to your field again and again. But there's no reason the club can't include teams & competition too.
Couldn't all these ideas be incorporated into the services the field offers without calling it a paintball club? Well, if you're hung up on the club being a specific thing then sure, why not. What this club does do is provide a unique place to be a part of. How many times do you see a couple of kids show up at a field because they had a good time at a birthday party event but on their own are isolated and lost? And what sort of follow-up does the local field make, if any, to get that first timer or party participant to come back again? To feel welcome and like somebody made a special effort on their behalf? The club provides not only a place to fit in but also guidance, structure and a controlled environment to learn and play in.

Maybe, you're thinking, but I ain't doing all that for free. Of course not--you're doing it to grow your business but nobody really appreciates anything that's simply given to them. Joining the club is an option not a requirement but it needs to be an attractive option (keeping in mind one of the goals is to keep that customer coming back.) Offer basic memberships on a trial, bi-annual or annual fee basis. Have a ready calendar to show class schedules, club play days etc. Kick in a "free" T-shirt (like the 'Property of ' assorted sports teams) that prominently displays your field, location, contacts and featured relationships you may have with various distributors. Maybe you kick in free air too or maybe you have levels of membership that offer different perks like discounted entries or discounts on pro shop purchases or airsmithing services. (The kinds of things that get players coming back to your field, not just playing more paintball somewhere.) Whatever and however you do it the club needs to be special and make your customers feel special. And of course add to their enjoyment every time they come out to play some paintball.

There's a nearly limitless number of possibilities available to encourage people to play paintball and get as involved as they want to be in the way they want to whether you call it a club or not. Is it right for your field? Start small, keep it simple and find out.

Next time, paintball club and local field working together.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mr. Curious: On the Prowl

As the regular slackers gathered around the VFTD watercooler are well aware I am easily bored. And despite the rapidly approaching holiday--pick your preferred greeting--I'll stick with Merry Christmas--there has been damn little happening of note lately in the world of competitive paintball. Sure the kids at Paintball Access have been slaving away to keep fresh content up but frankly I was bored with voting for players before the VFTD player poll closed. It's just not been enough. So I sent out a weary Mr. Curious in search of worthy paintball news. (He had been working his favorite seasonal job as a Santa's helper at a Victoria's Secret in Vegas--or something like that.)
It worked out since the PSP was in Vegas last weekend. A disgruntled Mr. C soon had some juicy info in hand. Seems the NPPL guys are moving forward with plans to return an event to Tampa--rhough Mr. C says it isn't solid just yet. We both shared a laugh wondering if the MS is gonna return to last year's "St. Tropez" location while simply changing the name to Mediterranean Cup and hope nobody notices if they delay the announcement. And then things got good. Sorta.
Mr. C says the PSP is close to locking down all 5 events for next season with dates coming perhaps as soon as early January. He says it might have been done already except for a (nother) last minute hiccup. He says he knows where but then he wouldn't tell me. Perhaps it had something to do with this screen shot sent to me anonymously right after his phone cut out. (It looks like it might be a closed circuit security feed.)
He also reminded me of his post-World Cup rumor about teams coming outta the woodwork looking for a PSP pro spot. He reminded me because he says it's only gotten worse. There are Euro teams definitely making the push to be included as well as a NPPL name or two--perhaps besides Impact & XSV who are well known to want in--and even some real outside shots, a divisional team has tossed its hat in the ring and then there's a team that isn't a team quite yet. Then he said there's a possible plan for resolving everything that doesn't include any of the options VFTD has been concerned might happen as expressed in the pair of 'Pro Dilemma' posts in the last month. And then--just as he was about to name names and clue me in--his phone went dead. (Or he hung up.)
Okay so he was hanging out with lingerie models--this is paintball, man!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Baca's Mailbag: Buying a Spot

Just wanted your thoughts on something. I was out with some friends the other night and we were talking about the whole CRUSH thing with them buying a spot. One of them made a point, we rag on them for buying a spot, but didn't HEAT do that?

The short answer is well yeah, kinda. (But you know I don't do short answers.) I doubt any cash changed hands in either situation but then we aren't necessarily talking about actually buying a spot. While it is literally possible, I suppose, to "buy a spot" in the NPPL and of course all (theoretically) of the original NPPL 3.0 teams bought their way in it's more than that. As I understand "buying a spot" it's become more like shorthand for didn't earn it or don't deserve it. In both examples given in the question teams were (are being) formed for the express purpose of competing at the pro level--and that's where the similarities end. The PSP took the Heat on because they were deemed to be a competitive prospect given they had established pro players, supporting organization and the independent resources capable of maintaining a team. And there was an opening. [Those aren't the only criteria the PSP consider but were the relevant ones in Heat's case.] The NPPL is operating from a different perspective and different priorities. Clearly they want to maintain a 16 team pro bracket. They also, unlike the PSP, need to establish some local, grassroots support for the NPPL and it appears they have begun using their prospective new pro teams (and Avalanche) to help do that. [Frank "moved" 'Lanche to the east coast and tied the team into an established local scene and began developing divisional teams.] In my estimation the new NPPL pro teams are expected to serve a similar function. And if the teams and league last another ten years it won't matter because established teams will eventually begin to draw in the talent. At least that's one way to look at it. 

As a sidebar it is, I think, interesting to note the nearly universal pejorative connotation of "buying a spot." Despite the fact the NPPL 3.0 has always allowed for that possibility and there have been a few cases like Heat in the PSP. I say nearly universal because there are some, mostly Pre-Skoolers, who don't seem bothered at all. To many working your way up through the divisions is the way to earn a spot and buying a spot intentionally skips all that leaving the perception those teams are illegitimate. So it's little wonder that most competitive ballers object without even thinking about it--or how often it happens. It also speaks to the need for a consistent, regulated mechanism for advancing teams to the pro level that legitimizes the new guy and protects the competitive integrity of the pro division. (You knew I was gonna take at least a short turn on the old soapbox, didn't you? Well, you do now.)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Housekeeping: Comments

A quick note. Seems the spammers have figured out how to defeat Google's anti-spam filter with "comment like" scripts and as a result the blog has been getting slammed lately. Consequently I've taken the action today to require word verification in order to post a comment. Otherwise anyone can still post a comment. I kept it as simple as possible in the past to encourage you slackers. The only alternatives would be to limit comments to registered users or those with Google accounts. My question to you slackers is: Do you have a preference? Word Verification, Registration or Google Account. (Or I can combine the last two, or perhaps even all three, and offer an either or option.) Regardless it's going to take a little more time in the future to comment.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Is That Accordion Music I hear?

Off season musical chairs has begun. I suppose you could say it really started with Mouse officially joining TBD for 2013 but that didn't really upset an applecarts. The big news of the day is Marcello Margott returning to the Ironmen. There was plenty of speculation about that very thing happening particularly after Mike Hinman joined the Ironmen as a coach. Now that it's official it's time for all you slackers to begin guessing and second guessing the moves that will follow. With Margott an Ironman that leaves a hole for the Legion to fill (again.) Will it be a home grown product this time or another Euro player? Are the Ironmen done making moves? If not who might they be after next? Who else is in the market for some star talent? What teams do you think will make some big moves too?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Universal Classification: Helping or Hurting the Game?

It's baaccckkk! I'ma dusting off an old bugaboo and going another round with universal classification. (Which, for the record, has been improved upon greatly in recent years, but ...) I am also still following my old teammates in their return to competitive paintball. [If you missed those posts a bunch of guys I used to play with in the Dark Ages got together and started competing again two seasons ago. That was after nearly a decade of not playing. The majority, as you might guess, are older, mostly thirties and forties. Their return to the game also spawned a second team.] Their story, while purely anecdotal, is instructive because universal classification is, well, if not universal it's close to it in the U.S. And I remain unconvinced that in the current competitive paintball environment that it's a universal good.
What is the point of universal classification? Most would probably say it stops sandbagging. Let me suggest it also exacerbates the problem and the fear of sandbaggers. The more divisions you create between players the more opportunities are created for more sandbaggers of every stripe, size and marginal skill level. And it's sillier than that. At D4 a couple of D3 players is "fair." Yet three D3 players is sandbagging or cheating. At what point is the cure worse than the disease? Once upon a time we had Amateur, Novice & Rookie. Was there sandbagging? Sure, most noticeably where valuable prizes were at stake. Now it's conceivable that D4 players can "sandbag" D5 players. Are we really better off? [And APPA could serve much the same purpose by simply tracking all the events a player plays and in what division.]
Maybe but universal classification allows teams from all over to see how they compare with other teams. Does it really? Or does it simply quantify results the same way across the board? Is a successful team from the Northwest necessarily a strong team in national level competition within the same division? The easy answer is nope--that's why we play the games. To find out who is the best. I'm not sure you can even say the results must be close. Is D3 competition more intense and demanding in Cali compared to the Northeast. And isn't the likely result of that breadth of competition better teams across the board despite their similar classification ratings?
Let's return for a moment to my friends, the kids on Team Voodoo. They played D4 Race 2-2 these last two seasons. The first year they were a mid-pack team. This year they won one event and finished near the top of their division a sufficient number of times for the bulk of the team to finish the year ranked D3--if only just. As a result they are now classified out of the chance to play D4 Race 2-4 locally--which is the highest option available at present. (They tried Race 2-4 once last season and struggled, mostly with the logistics.) These are exactly the kind of players that the local level needs desperately and yet, after just two seasons at D4, they don't have any place to play locally anymore. The system now regards them as "sandbaggers" if they were to compete (or try to compete) in D4 Race 2-4. They lose out as does the local tourney scene as do the young and developing players they've helped over the last two years. How many times in how many places is this happening to other teams and players?
Granted it isn't the fault of the classification system that no division above D4 Race 2-4 is offered locally but the system can't (or shouldn't be) divorced from its real world impact. We have seen positive signs in the last year or so of a resurgence in team numbers at the grassroots level. It is a trend (hopefully) that requires nurturing not a blind eye and a one size fits all classification system.

Monday, December 10, 2012

VFTD's Top Ten PSP Pro Players in 2012

Here's another top ten list. Are you sick & tired of top ten lists yet? I'm definitely getting there. I think it's an interesting question and I think it's fun to debate--as long as it's just for fun. Fan lists are always okay but I confess to being a tiny bit worried about the statistical list. (The stats are great and good for the game. Don't get me wrong on that score. I'm just not sure they're all that good for the players. Believing the hype is never a good idea and certainly at this stage the stats need some fine-tuning.) So, you might reasonably ask, if I have some doubts about the stats why did I base my list on the PBA numbers? Mostly because it was just for fun--and it gave me an opportunity to fiddle with the numbers and see if I liked the adjustments I was making. (Already forgotten my adjustments? Look here.) Without anymore chit chat here's the VFTD 2012 Top Ten.

1--Constantine Federov
2--Ryan Greenspan
3--Alex Berdnikov
4--Jason Edwards
5--Sergei Solnyshkov
6--Chad Busiere
7--Mike Paxson
8--Justin Rabackoff
9--Jacob Edwards
10--Damian Ryan

Okay, okay, I have to include some honorable mentions as well. Deserving players who didn't make this list but deserve to be part of the conversation. Is this everyone I think merits recognition? No, just a few stand outs that come to mind. In no particular order:
Greg Siewers
Daniel Holliday
Yosh Rau
Colt Roberts
Chad George

Monday Poll in Review: 2012 PSP Top Ten

Without any ado, here's your Top Ten:
1--Jason Wheeler ( 6 )
2--Constantine Federov ( 8 )
3--Chad George
4--Alex Berdnikov ( 1 )
5--Marcello Margott ( 2 )
6--Ryan Greenspan
7--Jason Edwards ( 4 )
8--Axel Gaudin
9--Mikhail Knyazev
9--Sam Monville

Surprised? I can't imagine why--unless, like the slackers you are, you weren't paying attention. Without focusing (for now) on the ballot stuffing effort by a whole country let's look at the Top Ten as a group and compare the popular choices with the PBA statistical top ten. Five players appear on both lists. [PBA rank in parenthesis after each player's name.] The popular vote is, beyond the ballot stuffing, a reflection of reputation and name recognition. It is also an acknowledgement that winning matters in the real world. And, with the ballot stuffing effort from the UK, it also trends toward a Eurocentric list. (The ballot stuffing also tended to skew the percentages as the Euro voters were focused on their guy winning and not so much on picking a top ten--beyond checking off on other familiar Euro players.)
So how did the popular vote compare to the statistical vote? Which one is better top to bottom? Does it matter that I restricted the popular vote to the top thirty PBA ranked players? Why?
The other interesting question is how do voters determine the popular vote? Obviously in the case of the UK push for Wheeler it is national pride [of a sort] lifting up a native son so they can all share in his accomplishment. (Except it's really their accomplishment on his behalf.) Once upon a time the event results--to a degree--and the name dropping in the major magazines informed the fan base who the best players were (in the opinion of a select few.) Now there's the talking heads on the webcast, the PBA statistical leaders and the already well-known names from years past. Is one form of information about the players better than the other? Are any of them particularly informative or accurate?
What do you think? Pick this list apart or post your own top ten.

Friday, December 7, 2012

PSP Pro Team Dilemma Revisited

Look, this was bound to happen. Regulars know I have a penchant for flogging the proverbial dead horse anyway but this old nag still has a bit of life left--until the league decides how it will handle the pro bracket in 2013. So the time to talk is now. On the plus side (for some of y'all) nobody is compelling you to read this. Stay or go I'm going to re-make the case I've already made for how to handle the pro bracket in 2013--and beyond.
Factoid: 12 teams works within the confines of the current format and event time frame. Adding more teams will require some significant changes.
I don't think anyone is prepared to extend the tournament days across the whole season (or the webcast hours to four days for that matter) which doesn't leave too many options if adding more pro teams is the goal. Keep the current format, add teams and bump some prelim games off the pro field. Not really a very satisfactory answer and one sure to be objected to by pretty much everyone--except perhaps the new teams. Or, change the current format (which is already a watered down imitation of what Xball once was) to Race 2-5--which can be fitted into the current schedule even with a bump up to 15 pro teams. But does that really solve anything? It diminishes the pro game (and the spirit of Xball one more time) and for what? A one time deal to add two teams that quit on the league once already?
Of course the real complication here isn't the teams wanting in, it's their sponsors (and the broader industry desire to retain as much of their influence over the league as possible.) Here's the problem: There's another league (the NPPL) industry can leverage in their battle for influence and there's the PBA's desire (and need) to promote industry advertising on the webcasts. The question then is: Does the PSP play ball to keep industry happy and how much influence does the PBA have on PSP decisions? Hanging in the balance--this time around--is what happens to the pro bracket.
Today the PSP pro division is widely recognized as the pinnacle of competitive paintball worldwide. It didn't happen by accident and it isn't purely because of the preponderance of North American players. (The game and its players around the world are beginning to close the gap.) It is also the game PSP pros play. It is a unique format that retains more of the best features of the original Xball than any other variant of Race 2 or Xball Lite. To throw that away at a difficult moment would be a terrible setback for the competitive game.
What to do?
Begin by remembering how the PSP achieved this. It began by "Advancing the Sport of Paintball." Not just a slogan but a statement of intent. It began by believing the best product was found in the best possible competition. That while players were customers they were also, and foremost, competitors. It's a balancing act because the PSP isn't a sports federation, it's a business. A business that has succeeded because it's offered its customers legitimate sporting competitions.
What the PSP and the pro bracket need now isn't more teams, it's to consolidate and build on their current leadership. To make sure that only the best of the best earn their chance to compete in the undisputed very best pro division in the world. Now isn't the time to risk diluting the division when it's plain to see the NPPL relegated themselves to second tier status by routinely allowing weak unproven teams into their pro division. If anything it should be harder now--and in the future--to make sure every team that reaches PSP pro status is among the best of the best. And the proper way to set the gears in motion is by league structure and rule so that every team that competes in the PSP knows from day one what it will take to earn pro status and the right to compete at the true pinnacle of the sport.
Of course the truth is not every PSP pro team is competitive. Not as competitive as might be desired and one of the reasons is that divisional teams, even the best of them, aren't being fully prepared to take up the pro challenge. The gap between D1 and Pro, despite the chest-thumping from the cheap seats has grown in recent years. Now is the time to put a new (old?) system in place that maintains the PSP's current command of the pro heights and builds on that success to assure the PSP remains the standard of the competitive paintball world.
First thing I would do is reduce the Pro Division to 10 teams. How? You can't just pick two teams or take the two bottom teams from last year, it wouldn't be fair. Well, two random teams wouldn't be fair and it would be kinda unfair to suddenly change the "rules" like that after the season was over--so, how about this? Play the first event of the season in the normal way except going in everyone knows the bottom two teams are getting relegated to a semi-pro bracket for the rest of the season. Still unfair? Too much pressure? Okay, stay at 12 teams but still introduce a Semi-pro bracket above D1 and make access to Pro available only thru promotion/relegation. (Yes, this is the same plan as before. Which part of flogging the nearly deceased horse didn't you get?) And limit access to semi-pro as well through promo/relegation from D1. The reason for this is with a limited access to semi-pro a short list of the best possible future pro teams are battling it out event to event. Allowing random teams to enter at their whim dilutes the competition. This isn't about giving ten crazy kids a chance to live out their dreams if their dreams only amount to paying for the privilege of one time getting their brains bashed in so they can claim to be semi-pro players. This is about not just players but whole teams proving they have what it takes to take their place amongst the best.
This season Semi-pro is comprised of ( 1.) every non-PSP pro team that wants in ( 2.) any CPL or SPL that will commit to the series ( 3.) the top two teams from D1 [promoted] plus some number of other D1 teams that choose to take up the challenge with priority given to the highest ranking first. 8 teams would be fine. (If in the future more is deemed better it can easily be bumped up to 10 when the level of competition merits the move.)
From then on two teams down each year from Pro, two teams up from Semi-pro. Same between Semi and D1. The ultimate size of any division can remain flexible but now a system is in place to ensure that only the best teams reach the Pro bracket.
This is actually good for the industry sponsors as well. A smaller pro bracket makes each team more worthwhile to support and tighter competition would provide greater sponsorship value across the division. And there wouldn't be any uncertainty beyond who might or might not be relegated in a given season. At the same time industry can opt to also support strong Semi-pro programs or take flyers on up-and-coming teams to get in on the ground floor of teams they believe will continue to do well and help deliver brand excitement as they rise.
Short term some folks will be put out but in the long run a move like this will help assure the continuing dominance of the PSP.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Monday Poll: The British are Coming!

And this time around the invasion doesn't include plump little generals in knee high wool socks and powdered wigs or catchy pop tunes. The British are coming and they are stuffing the ballot box of this week's The Monday Poll. My question to you is are you going to allow this to stand? Are you going to let a bunch of layabout fag-smoking beer-swilling hooligans control the vote this week and deliver popular victory to their chosen candidate? Well, are you?
It might be less offensive if the Brits bothered to even read or follow the rules but they (can't) don't. They are here for only one reason--to put their man atop the popular standings. Where is your pride people? Slackers unite! I say repel this latest British invasion. Whose with me? Get every paintballer you know to cast their vote and send the Brits packing.
While I'm at I'd like to encourage everyone who follows competitive paintball to cast your votes for your favorite top ten PSP players. If the Brits can do it so can you. Poll remains open thru Sunday at 6 pm.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Only Constant Is Change

If you've already begun your pre-Christmas whining ("Why aren't the event dates out yet?" "The PSP hates Cali." "I have tests that weekend!" "I wanna go back to the old MAO venue." "I hate the old MAO venue." "Can we just play one year without rules changes?" "I bet ID prices go up again. What a rip-off." "I already bought my plane tickets!") knock it off. First the NPPL is operating under a severe handicap. Everywhere they go they all dress up and travel together in this really tiny car. [Wait a minute. It will come to you.] And the PSP is having their off season meetings in the next few days. I don't know if anything definite has been decided in either camp yet--well, except apparently that "everyone" agrees four more mystery bunkers from Sup'Air is just what Race 2 needs to get back on track. What I do know is there's a substantive difference between moaning and bitching on the internet, or worse, calling me on the phone to personally moan and bitch--you know who you are, knock it off. I'm totally serious--and making an argument supported by *gasp* facts and stuff. (Stuff can be mighty persuasive you know.)
Today's post is both a reminder and an opportunity. Change happens. You want to be heard? Have something to say worth listening to. It's also an opportunity for me to get a head start on arguing what that change should look like and what it shouldn't. (If you want to join me you know where to find the comments. And if you don't I don't want to hear from you anyway.)
The one change that ought to happen is to return the field dimensions to their pre-2011 size of 150x120. Hell, let's go all in and go back to the original 150x125. The numbers don't lie. You want Race 2 matches, go back to the old dimensions. While not irrelevant field designs had less impact on how matches played out simply because of the changes to the angles involved. And, bonus feature!, if anyone is seriously concerned about too many peeps getting shot OTB Adrenaline Games can go ahead and shorten the gaps between inserts--as per the sample World Cup layout--using the mystery props and problem solved. Win, win. (Well, there's still that damned "technical" snake but one or two things at a time.)
If regular matches were long and tedious (and plenty were) overtime points required extra operators on duty at the local suicide prevention hotline. This is a rule that needs to be changed. And while we're at it I'm not a fan of either the 60 second rule or the overtime swing point on a major penalty. While the 60 second rule has a rational basis (a reasonable argument can be made in its favor) not so on the overtime swing point. In both instances however there has to be a better option than to award a match to one team. That's simply contra everything that sport is supposed to be about.
I'd also like to see a referee's guide supplement to the regular rule book. Something that literally gets all the refs on the same page. The problem is such a guide should not be available to the rank and file players and how you manage that I don't know. Maybe it's limited to field ultimates who are then responsible for directing their refs. That way there would sanctioned interpretations of the complex or unclear rules that would hopefully lead to more consistency in the officiating without providing new boundaries for the players to try and exploit.
Okay, still up in the air is what happens in the pro bracket next season. Whose in? How many teams? What are we playing? If you've been paying attention you know I have some thoughts on that subject. Thoughts I will expand on next time.
In the meantime if you've got something PSP on your mind here's your opportunity to make your point.

Monday, December 3, 2012

VFTD's PSP Top Ten Players of 2012

First, I am no doubt gonna get some grief for this list--which is fine. Why you wonder? Because my list has more of my players than the PBA list does, that's why. So y'all go on and have some fun poking the bear. The VFTD list shares 5 players with the PBA list but only one player is ranked the same in both lists. (That would be Jason Edwards at #4.)
So how did VFTD calculate its list compared to the PBA list using the same stats? ('Cus I did use the same stats. The alternative was to simply pick and choose.) As mentioned in the ROTY post I modified some of the stat values and I took one aspect of one of the stats [percentage of total points played] and weighted the outcome based on a player's participation in more or less than 50% of his team's points. That created different scores in the percentage of team points played category. I left the max value at 7.5 but also included a range that assigned negative scores for players playing less than 50% of their teams points. I did that because the roster limit of 10 players allowed for teams with full rosters to play two lines. (There were also teams with less than 10 rostered players as well.) With a full roster everyone has the potential to play a minimum of half the points. I assumed those that played a lower percentage did so for a reason--regardless of how their overall stats turned out. I also largely discarded 'Winfluence' as a faulty value when applied across all the competing teams. [See the November post, 'Winfluence' for a fuller explanation of why.]
Now I'm not suggesting my list is better than the PBA list--but it is. It would be if all I did was toss Winfluence and see what resulted. Anyway, there's one last calculation I'd like to make--at least for now. I'd like to be able to give more weight to Sunday play--and I suppose that data can be pulled from the Sunday match records--but I didn't go to that extreme.

The Monday Poll: Top Ten
This is where I was intending to reveal VFTD's Top Ten list but I've got a better idea. And by better I mean that amuses me a lot more. Before I reveal the VFTD Top Ten we's gonna do a The Monday Poll and see who you slackers think were the ten best pro players in 2012. How you ask? I'ma give you the top 30 names according to PBA ranking and you may pick as many as ten players and after a week we'll see which ten players received the most votes. If you have objections to the PBA's top 30 take it up with them and if you're surprised by the names not on the list time to start paying more attention. And you could, if you want make a big deal outta it write in your own alternative candidates. You know, in the comments. The PBA top 30 will be listed in order of their PBA placement (beginning at the top with #1) so you can compare their ranking to how the vote is going--and next week, against the VFTD Top Ten.
In next week's Monday Poll in Review we'll take a look at the popular Top Ten, the PBA Top Ten and then add VFTD's Top Ten into the mix and drag the arguments out as long as possible. Should be fin, right? So what are you waiting for? Get to voting.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Aight. I wasn't gonna go here but what the heck. It's kinda fun--and definitely a good move on the part of PBA for sustaining off season interest while continuing to build on the foundation of paintball as sport. (If you haven't heard Matty & Todd talk about the candidates yet they offer up lots of good info beyond the stats in episode 4 of 'The Breakdown.' 4 of the 5 candidates also have interviews posted--leaving Axel out in the cold [at least for the moment.] ) EDIT ADDED: Axel interview now posted. As regulars know I'm not (yet) convinced by the stats being used--even though I'm all for having stats help make the game and players more accessible. So I found 'The Breakdown' particularly informative and, I confess, I was already leaning toward a particular player and only had my tentative choice confirmed. I'm not gonna try to make a case for my guy because all the candidates earned their nominations and all of them have positive cases that can be made on their behalf. The only thing that disturbs me at all about ROTY is that we didn't have it a couple of years ago. (I had a sure winner.) (Hey, gotta give my boys their props every now and again.) There is one thing I think ROTY is missing: the criteria for making the cut needs to be more clear cut. For example, there was a lot of talk about where the candidates fit in the player rankings, which is fine, but nothing about events played or minimum points played or other standards the potential candidates have to meet to get nominated in the first place. It seems like it was more of an internal PBA discussion--which if true is fine--for the first time--but ought to be more formally structured in the future. That's all I'm saying.
Anyway I won't keep y'all in suspense any longer. VFTD's vote goes to Nick Leival of Upton 187 Crew. Of course it's only one vote--unless you wanna take my word for it and jump on the bandwagon.

Bonus coverage: coming up on Monday will be the first VFTD Top Ten players of the PSP. Here's the thing; I've been fooling around with the "official" stats. I haven't created any new stats--if I had there wouldn't be any data for them anyway--but I have tweaked the existing numbers a bit in some cases. Well, after tweaking the data I calculated out "my" results and I will post that list Monday. (And may include a related The Monday Poll.) I don't claim it's a better list than the PBA's, just different--though some of the players are the same if not in the same slots. Anyway, just doing my part to raise the controversy index in the off season.