Or should that be the Dallas Wrap-up Post or the Wrap-up Dallas Post? Call it what you will this is where VFTD ties together all the odds and ends into a neat bow with a summary (including highlights!) of the event.
Let's begin with the very short list of not-quite-problems so let's call them "concerns." The Return to 150' along with the added oomph of 4 additional props was supposed to solve Slow Game Syndrome--and to an extent it did but certainly not to the degree the shorter field alone (and past stats associated with the shorter field) would have indicated. For example the pros went to time in around 25% of their prelim matches. Worse the D1 kids clocked in at 34% to time in their prelims with D2 down around 22% to time in their preliminary matches. Overall that's down a little but not much. Now one event doesn't make a trend but if we get something similar at MAO it's a problem. Two related issue remain; the "technical snake" which continues to dictate design characteristics on one half of the layouts and the PSP's track record in deciding which available layout to use for an event. (What I'm trying to say in a delicate sorta way is the league ain't got anybody who can accurately assess how a layout will play prior to playing it so the decision becomes a crapshoot.) The other, more pressing, concern is reffing--and in particular all the red flags during the weekend and the causes that precipitated the rain of red. As a practical matter the league is getting a new pro crew up to speed for the new Challengers' field and essentially doubling the number of pro refs. It's a process so a few hiccups along the way are to be expected. However the critical danger here is that instead of building the new guys up into solid pro refs everybody ends up a notch or two lower than they started. It is incumbent on Tom and Leon to focus their efforts on maintaining, even improving, the standard. And I thought the propensity for tossing majors this past weekend was a clear indication of flag-happiness not cheaty players. Admittedly it can be a fine line but first and foremost the goal must be to let the competing teams battle it out with as little official interference as possible while keeping the game fair. ("Fair" is however a tricky word.)
Moving on to the pro matches, the webcast and the immediate future of Champs & Challengers. After touting Thursday play in advance here in VFTD I was a little disappointed but overall there were some outstanding and exciting matches played, particularly on Sunday--and it's only going to get better. What I saw of the webcast was first rate (as usual) and with the extra day and new faces should have generated lots of interest and a growing audience. (I hope we hear some numbers at some point.)
What about instant replay? On the ground at the end of the Infamous-Dynasty semi it looked to the naked eye, my naked eye anyway, that the flag reached the penalty box netting after the clock hit zero but just a fraction before the buzzer sounded. After watching the replay I think the buzzer may have sounded before there was any contact but it was so close reasonable people could argue over what they just saw in good conscience. Could the league address those rare situations with instant replay? Should they?
With the move to Champs & Challengers I had initially thought it likely we'd see mostly the same teams and names going up and down with some modest variations. I no longer think that. Depending on the bracket one bad match, one call at a critical juncture could cost a team a match and one untimely or unexpected loss will leave teams fighting to avoid relegation. Even in stacked brackets somebody has to lose. And they will. Each event only four teams will move to Sunday and four will struggle to stay in the Champs bracket. And there will be some surprises. Count on it.
Like last year if anyone who participated in the event, in any capacity, would like to try their hand at covering a division of play VFTD would be happy to give blog space over to that effort. I don't see much divisional paintball but would like to be able to promote the up-and-comers in a small way so if you want to give it a try, hit me up using the email link on the sidebar. VFTD reserves the right to function as editor (for space, clarity, tone, etc.) but beyond that you're on your own.
If you missed it in Dallas the next time the PSP offers Open 10-man make you sure you check out the rosters and catch some of the action. This time around there were 4 teams including Femmes Fatale and a way past their prime roster of former superstars, Tour de Force, that included Todd Adamson, Billy Ceranski, Rocky Cagnoni, Manny Francia and others. They lost their first game of the day to the girls when the refs reportedly pulled three wiping penalties. (Ah, the memories.) They won the rest of their prelims to make the finals only to lose to Redneck Central, er, PPS SFO. (It was another throw together field with inflatables on a hyperball layout intended for rec players. Seems to me if the PSP is serious about a modest but consistent following in 10-man they need to offer the real deal all the way 'round. But maybe that's just me.)
The venue, Cousins Paintball, outside Mesquite, Texas was isolated but satisfactory with plenty of room to accommodate the 7 plus fields, row of vendors and parking for everyone. The weather was exceptionally nice if a bit windy early on. And with a 160 plus teams for a season opener it's hard to imagine that the Dallas Open was anything but a solid success and an excellent lead into the rest of the 2013 season.
Later in the week I'll take a look at the Dallas layout and talk some about the keys to playing the field and where and how points had a tendency to slow down when they did. If you have any specific questions drop them in the old mailbag--email addy on the sidebar--and I'll be happy to answer the good ones.