I took a long weekend break from all things paintball over the Easter holiday as I went to visit my Dad in North Carolina. I haven't even taken the time, yet, to check and see what might have happened or been said over the weekend either. If there was anything of interest (to me) you can be sure I'll get around to mentioning it sometime soon. In the meantime let's talk a little Challengers and CPL today. When I say CPL I really mean Infamous in Euroland or more precisely a mixed Infamous/XSV squad given that there was an announcement last week that 3 XSV players would join Infamous in Euroland for the MS. I get why KEE wants to go that way but have they really thought it through? All the JT eggs are in the XSV basket so I get including XSV players but what's the likely result on field? Is corporate really maximizing their interest in promoting JT if the blended team's performance suffers? Look I'm not prognosticating, just asking. But so far KEE seems to be asking an awful lot of an XSV team that may not be ready to shoulder the whole load. And sending a mixed squad is unlikely to work out as well for them as it did the old Dyna-pact alliance.
Of course the real interest of the day centers around the Challenger invitees. And I must say it's a mixed bag, isn't it? There was once some talk about going with eight and leaving two slots open for expansion but I guess somewhere along the line it was decided that a complete Challengers bracket was a necessity. So here we go. Now if you're expecting me to verbally body slam some of the teams moving up you're outta luck 'cus I ain't gonna do it. Instead I want to commend all of the teams choosing to accept the Challengers challenge. For all of them it's a real risk and it's gonna be a tough row to hoe. (If you'd prefer a different cliche it's gonna be a tall order to succeed.) And they all deserve credit for taking the chance as I think they all could as easily blow their existing programs up as move up the ladder to the Champions bracket.
But what about the PSP? I had thought the league was doing its best to vet the teams on a variety of criterion--and maybe they did their level best--but I still have to wonder about some of the choices. Who is the ideal Challengers candidate? A team that's been around for a while. One with a track record. A team with a real organization supporting it. One that's been around for a while. (I know. It's that important.) A team that has rebuilt itself more than once. And an organization with resources. The teams with the best chances to succeed, heck, to survive the transition, are teams with functional supporting organizations that have been in the game long enough to understand how things work and sufficiently dedicated to have kept a team going through a series of players and with changing rosters.
Organizationally Top Gun, Texas Storm and Jesters appear to be reasonably sound. Less so Sac DMG and Royalty. The first three also have an advantage in the test of time. DMG has a core roster of experienced players and Royalty has Shane Pestana, old skool Ironman and outstanding coach. Top Gun lost some key players to TonTons but moving up should make all the new Challengers a more desirable destination for good players looking for their shot at the pro ranks. For now I think this group of Challengers need to focus on learning what it's gonna take to truly be competitive and then making that happen. If they made the move with outsized expectations or an unwillingness to take a few early lumps they won't last. Commit this season to learning and growing and next year they may have what it takes to test themselves against the Champions.