Monday, January 28, 2013

Elvis Has Left The Building

In a bold move that is going to cost the PSP money the league has cemented its position as the preeminent tournament series in the world. There are details still to be finalized and odds are there will be a hiccup or two along the way but the framework is now in place that provides a path to the pinnacle of pro play and that will deliver minute-by-minute, match-to-match excitement. VFTD touched on this very subject back in November 2012 in pro division dilemma and again in early December with pro team dilemma revisited and I am excited to see that the league's solution is closer to those ideas than might have been the case. The other top contender under consideration for modifying the pro bracket was simply to add teams and reduce the prelim round to 3 matches in a move that would have drawn us closer to the Millennium model--a model that to my mind offers the least possible paintball one can still call a real competition.
Instead the PSP will offer a two-tiered pro division called Champions and Challengers that will use the first event in Dallas to launch the necessary changes. As many as fifteen teams may play PSP pro in Dallas in a 4 match prelim that will result--as has been past practice--in 6 teams moving on to Sunday. What will make Dallas different is that the top ten finishers in Dallas will gain spots in the Champions bracket for the next event and the remaining teams will compete in the Challengers bracket where they will be joined by some additional by invitation only teams to create the feeder pro division. Now this is where it gets good. The PSP will likely leave a couple of Challenger div slots open to allow greater flexibility in how they are able to respond to late comers. The end of the season will see the bottom two teams (in season rankings) in the Challenger bracket relegated to D1 and the top two teams in D1 promoted to the Challenger bracket. But here's the best part: Every event will see promotion and relegation between the Champion and Challenger brackets. Two up, two down. The Challenger bracket will have its own field and the PSP will expand the pro ref crew in order to provide the same high level of officiating across all the pro teams.
In the future it means the Challenger bracket becomes the crucible of excellence that creates teams capable of competing in the Champions bracket and a clearly defined by rule and practice pathway to pro play. It also allows for any outstanding individual team to make the jump to Champions quickly via event-to-event promotion/relegation. And imagine a webcast where nearly every match is meaningful. Where the audience can watch the best vie for titles but also thrill to the suspense of teams fighting to stave off relegation from point to point.
Still not clear? At the second event the Champions and Challengers will play self-contained tournaments. Besides their own field and refs the Challengers will be playing the same pro format RT7 and will be awarded prizes, etc. The rankings will carry across both divisions to account for the teams moving up and down event to event. From the second event results the top 2 teams from the Challengers bracket will join the top 8 in the Champions bracket in Chicago--while the 2 relegated Champions teams play the Challengers in Chicago competing to be promoted back up for the following event.

What's not to like? The competition will be brutal and the process will assure that each event the ten best teams in the world are competing against each other. And once the Challengers is fully populated with 10 teams those teams will be battling it out for not only a series title in their division but the opportunity, every event, to make the move to the Champions bracket with the possibility of staying as long as they remain in the top eight. There has never been anything like it and I am convinced it will take our great game to new heights.


dan. said...

i love it, every event the relegation and promotion will make it very exciting.

looking forward to it!

sdawg said...

It's about time. As a fan, I have not understood why they have continued to let certain teams that shall not be named be stomped event after event, year after year.

It also explains why certain teams who will not be named are apparently opening their checkbooks.

It will be interesting to see if any of the favored, long-standing pro teams find themselves relegated to the lower division due to a fluke bad event..

rob said...

Definitely the right move. Good thing I was sitting down. Assume entry fees etc. will remain the same too. Really interested to see how this changes performances from struggling teams.

Baca Loco said...

checkbook moves by and large were motivated by other factors as the info reached those who knew late. (If that makes sense.)

early on I would say there are probably at least 5 or 6 teams that will not really be at much risk. Give the process a year to populate Champions with the best 10 teams each event and that's when things will get interesting.

EC Lil Baller said...

Very interesting concept. I'm looking forward to webcasts with lots more meaningful prelim games rather than blowouts.

I'm curious though, will the World Cup divisions be decided solely off the 4th event's results or season-to-date standings? It would suck for team that's done consistently well to blow the 4th event and not make it to the top division at WC (almost like Russian Legion or Infamous @ 2011 NJ).

splatkid10 said...

There was a post on pbNation about players jumping ship and playing with other teams to maintain their status in the Champions bracket. Your thoughts on this? Think players may do this? Certainly not the type you'd want on your team, but the ones that still might shoot the most people.

Assuming 16 teams in the pro bracket - 14 from WC, Ton Tons, and T1 - why would they need to invite another 4? Scheduling reasons?

I am kinda bummed that a team could have 3 first place finishes, have a 9th place showing at the 4th event, and then be totally out of the WC discussion. I think this system gives credit to overall series standings, but we all know that WC is what REALLY matters. It's our superbowl. Event 4 just became the most important event of the year for the pros. It is THE playoff for Cup.

MikeM said...

They might add a clause where a top 2 finish or a season ranking exempts you from relegation. But then again. Why shouldn't MAO matter nearly as much as World Cup? Now ALL the events matter instead of a team that waited til Cup to get their stacks together to take a shot at the PSP Pro Div. "at the one tournament that matters". There are only 5 tournaments. These tournaments need to matter more and they made it happen.

What might be annoying is a tumbling of the same 4 or 2 teams, but 2 of them are clearly better than the other 2 that keep getting relegated in their place. If one team is clearly the "best" of the challengers but can't quite break into the top 8 and is replaced by inferior teams.

There is one perk to getting put back down. Instead of pouring cash event after event to get the experience at Pro, you get a "softer" introduction. Get your head pushed in, then go to the Challenger division and, assuming top finishes, should get prizing that'll aid you financially in pushing the team forward. Gaining steady, but non-suicidal, experience at the highest level.

This is makes it all more interesting / debate-heavy as a fan.

All in. This is a big improvement.

NewPro said...

My concern, posted above, will there be contractual obligations to prevent ship jumping, now that would really be a step towards legitimacy. GJ PSP

Baca Loco said...

I think you may see some modified roster rules for the pros.

I am inclined to think that this first season you will probably see most of the movement within a group of 5 or 6 teams but in time as the Challengers bracket improves the teams making moves will expand.

sdawg said...

Reading the obligatory thread over on the Nation, it seems that some of the pro teams (perhaps the newer ones) were blindsided by this development.

Baca Loco said...

The league discussed this option with a number of peeps across the paintball spectrum in advance. Beyond that I can't comment. It seems some were left out. If they're unhappy I suggest they take a hard look at the alternative. Of course maybe they prefer to be called pros than play like pros.

sdawg said...

As the kids say "ooooooh BURN"

Mike said...

Baca -

PSP first changes field dimensions to (attempt to) improve pace of play... and now this. Both changes I love as a fan.

Just curious if you met with any PSP upper folk and had input into these decisions?

JamesTC said...

When the top two team move up or down. Just the prior event standing will be looked at or the season over all standing? Any word on how many teams will be the challenger division?

Sully said...

With regard to the openness of World Cup and how teams could be knocked out after the fourth event. I hope PSP would go a a neutral approach and just have the top two teams from the challenger division move up to join the 10 from the Champions to form a 12 man division much like it was all 2012 instead of screwing over 2 teams who may have had just one bad event.

Also how will placing in the Challenger bracket affect season standings. For example, should the first place team in the Challenger bracket get as many points as the first place in the Champion bracket at one event. I would hope not

Anonymous said...

Besides the bottom 5 teams from pro, who will make up the challengers division? The only D1 team that did consistently well was Topgun. Apart from them every team was up and down.

Baca Loco said...

I think it would be fair to say that most of the leading lights of the PSP are regular visitors to VFTD. Of course I've advocated lots of things over the years the PSP didn't do too.

The individual event results will determine promo/relegation.
At the start Challengers may not have a full compliment of 10 teams but will at some point probably sooner than later.

For ranking purposes the 2 pro brackets will likely be considered as one so a tenth place finish in Champions is worth more than first in Challengers--though I haven't seen a formula for this yet it will (almost certainly) be in the rules update for 2013.
I don't expect a change like that as it would be inconsistent with everything else the league is doing with promo/relegation. Nor is it "fair" to change the number of teams at Cup as it alters the ranking points scored for the teams that have been competing all season.
As for getting "screwed" that's easy, don't finish on the bottom. It's not like it's gonna be a surprise.

Baca Loco said...

There are a number of candidates the league will consider.

karen said...

It is bad if you are a pro team and you learned this from the press release. I would hope that pro teams were notified by the PSP but doesn't look like it was done that way.

Vicious knew, but we still don't know every rule. Roster sizes going to 12 could change how some teams were going to operate this year.

Anonymous said...

Roster size going to 12 won't mean much. Playing more people means you're putting less talented players on the field more.

I don't know why the Pro teams would expect notification. They pay an entry fee just like anyone else. If they would like greater input they should inquire with PSP about buying some shares.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Awesome solution.

It will make the "relegation" fight at every event very interesting to watch.

Now they just need to show the Challengers semifinals games also, on the main field, and it's all good :)

NewPro said...

@karen, how would you prepare Vicious any differently if you would've known. Sure a courtesy call would've been great but this won't affect you guys from placing where you should be,fighting it out with the other top 10 teams at E2.

Roster lock after E2 would be grand

Karen said...

Vicious did know. I just know that some of the other teams feel like they are left out of the loop while others have all the info.

Now we have been told that teams 7-10 will have to play each other to see who gets to stay in the top 8. You don't get to get back in the mix, you just now would have to play another game to get to stay. Maybe this info is wrong.

It would have been nice to see the rules at the same time of the release.

I don't think the 12 players would affect Vicious, because we will stick with the same kids. Maybe add 1 which would only put us at 10.

Just set the rules and we will follow them.

Baca Loco said...

RE: roster. 12 is the max allowed not a number you need to meet.

RE: relegation playoff. Do not expect that to happen. It isn't part of the Champions/Challengers framework as I understand it. Strikes me as overkill. You can't play 4 prelim matches and then possibly undo those results based on some losers playoffs. Sounds like raehl to me. :)
One question to be determined with regards relegation however is which two? The two lowest results or the last team from each bracket? Most times they may be the same but it isn't a guarantee. I would favor the lowest result in each bracket.

Devon Stuart said...

If it ends up being the bottom from each bracket, I would hate to see a team go 2-2, get last in their bracket and get regulated, and a team from the other bracket do worse and stay.

Nick Brockdorff said...

I disagree Baca

I think a relegation play off would be a grand idea..... and a way better solution to just going by scores, when 2 of the 4 teams in the bottom never faced off.

I say, let the 4th from one bracket play 5th from the other, and vice versa, to decide it.

Especially as brackets can be quite unbalanced (not least at the start of the season, and even more so now, with strong challengers coming up)...... also because it gives a team a direct head to head to save their spot, rather than being forced out by results in a bracket they were not part of.

And..... it would make for a much more exiting watch for all us fans out there!

Baca Loco said...

Fair point.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Thanks - every now and then I am lucid ;)

IP said...

So what happens when a second line from a pro team makes it into the champions division? Are we back to selling slots again? Cause that worked so well to legitimize the pro bracket last time.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Well, I would assume the PSP leadership is bright enough, to not allow ownership of more than one team in the same division of the league, going forward.....

It's the same in most other sports, for fear of rigged games and bias.

So, if that is the case, a second team in the same club/with the same owner, can never move into a division that has another team from the same organisation?

IP said...

So then a second team could never move up from D1 or from challengers? Because either way that sounds like you could quickly end up with a roster of players that are pretty posses AND would have a liscense to sandbag that division that for all other intents they are over qualified for.

And Nick you missed the point. When relegation and promotion was previously implemented in the other US league, it failled as soon as team owners started earning a second slot with their semi-pro team. These slots were sold to other teams that never earned them and all of a sudden the "champions" concept went out the window and we were back to beating on the new kids that bought their slot.

IP said...

*players that are pretty pissed* not "posses"

Anonymous said...

The difference is that with event-by-event promotion/relegation, the new kids are gone after an event. Knowing you will be relegated after an event should reduce the incentive to buy a spot since you can't keep it a whole season.

RG14 said...

CEP knew, and if we knew...everyone knew.