The following was in the mailbag this morning. It proved to be a rather lengthy take on yesterday's post about the soon-to-be Challengers bracket. I think it adds to the conversation so it's receiving guest post status. Take a look. Part 2 tomorrow.
Recently I read the blog post from View From The Deadbox, asking where are all the teams banging on the door of the PSP asking to be included in the new challengers division. In my opinion the largest reason for this delay in teams wanting to enter into the professional division is not all fear, but a lot of uncertainty. The largest uncertainty comes directly from the PSP itself. We as players are uncertain as to what will really happen, will four teams really just be bouncing up and down from Champions to Challengers or will these new teams be competitive in the Challengers division? Will teams realistically have the opportunity to come in and compete in the Champions division? Will my team be branded a “failure” if we don’t get into the Champions division this year? Will this be a one/two year experiment like previous locked divisions in paintball? On and on the questions and uncertainty leads teams to flounder on what their next step should be.
Launching the details of this champion and challengers method in Jan of 2013 for the 2013 season was a bad move by the PSP. The delay in the announcement kept the industry out of the growth and legitimacy of this model. Most professional and divisional teams that I know of had already finished their negotiations with sponsors prior to the announcement of this new model. Sponsors who were basing sponsorship packages on teams playing in the professional league now have contracts with teams that ultimately could be playing Division 1 next season. Additionally, these sponsors want “impressions of their brand” and base compensation on the fact that sponsored teams will be on the webcast; bye bye on these impressions if the sponsored team gets relegated to the non-webcasted Challengers division. If the plans for this format were released at an appropriate time then sponsors could have created tiered approaches to sponsorship. Enticing teams to not only participate in the professional league but adding additional fuel to the desire to do better.
Not only was this error temporally wrong but procedurally I think the PSP also made a mistake. They had 15 teams in the Professional division and went with a 10 team Champions division. relegating 5 teams. During the early days, why not relegate half the teams? This would have created a Champions division of 8 teams and Challengers of 7 teams. You can always promote more teams into the Champions division when the Challengers division proves successful. instead you have the PSP trying to scramble and entice 5 teams into the Challengers division this year instead of 1. Once the Challengers division proved successful it would have been easy to expand to the desired limits.
Because we can not turn back time, I would now like to focus more on the positive of the Champions and Challengers concept and how we can get teams to commit to the model proving the solvency of the model and league. For teams in the Champions division congratulations on your promotion. You are now 1 of 10 professional teams playing in the top division of paintball. As a team, your bargaining power has just increased. You are fighting with 9 other teams instead of 14+ other teams for sponsorship opportunities. With the locked divisions your franchise is in your own control, and external influence has diminished. If your team goes out and performs to the level that they have exhibited to reach their current status, then outside teams cannot just show up and act like they have been here forever.
The locked division and limited roster changes means that a person can not go out and hire a squad of professional players and enter the league. That is why I said earlier purchased teams like Houston Heat are gone. Professional means Champions and Challengers; so even a new Divisional team coming into the Challengers division cannot go out and hire players, at least not in the current season. I would like to see a rule change to limit the number of off-season moves that teams can do. I understand that moves of players will always be a thing, until teams have the financial stability to sign multi-year contracts for players. However, in the new format of Champions/Challengers the league will really need to look at the off-season as a place to exploit the current system and decrease the legitimacy of what is trying to be accomplished.