Sunday, May 19, 2013

Baca's Mailbag: Event Paint Sponsors

What do you think about Joey Blute's [Manager of TB Damage] suggestion in the recent Social PB video about limiting events to specific paint providers so as to avoid an advantage?

Is there that much variance in paint from event/manufacturer event to event to provide an advantage and warrant such a change?

Let's begin with the second question. Yes, there often is. And the reasons are almost endless. It can be as simple as miscalculating the local weather if the top grade paint was made for the event or deciding a large quantity of leftover from the last event was really good and if it's been properly stored it should still be good ... And complicating the issue further is separate lots within the grades of paint vary as well. Now I don't want to suggest the differences are enormous but then they don't have to be to potentially impact the results. Which is why the smart pro teams (and I assume that's all of them) make their event paint supply a high priority.

I think it's an intriguing idea. I liked it back in the days of print mag 'Paintball Games International' when I suggested it and again on this blog in 2008 in a post called, Paradigm Shift. And I have no doubt that somebody else before either one of us got around to it thought it sounded like a good idea because it is a good idea. From a competitive perspective it would remove the most influential existing variable from game play. And it's a significant enough variable at times to have an impact on the outcome of matches particularly if the teams are closely matched to begin with.
I also think now was a good time to bring this idea back. In the past when virtually all the pro teams were locked into substantial (and very valuable) paint sponsorships it would have been impossible, or nearly so, to make this kind of change but now we have a one paint league with the NPPL and the level of team paint sponsorships has shrunken to the point where a change may be in the best interests of the manufacturers and most of the teams. There has been a trend of late for local and regional leagues to feature single paint sponsors. But exactly how that might work in the PSP for example is hard to say. I do think it's an all or nothing proposition though and an event like WC would have to be shared on a rotating basis between the paint sponsors. What if PSP offered two 2-year paint sponsorships to the highest bidders and each sponsor would get 5 alternating events. Whoever took the first event the first year would get the first WC but each sponsor would get exactly the same number of events over two seasons. High bidder gets choice of schedule. Would leaving someone out work? In the hothouse environment that is paintball industry probably not but who knows?
And of course at the end of the day whatever the arrangement it would have to make economic sense to the manufacturers.


Anonymous said...

So now Infamous can complain and be suspicious that GI intentionally gives them bad paint.
If I were a paint manufacturer I wouldn't do this. Rather than take some communalistic type approach I'd solve the problem with good old fashioned product superiority. The fact is teams don't pay enough attention to paint these days. Days gone by you'd see drop tests and paint left in the sun or chilled. Now it's rare, not saying never but rare to see. Paint manufactures could do much in the way of "paint conditioning" innovation at the event. I think some have gotten lazy and some real world knowledge has been lost. Its an art and some times the skills of artists are lost to history.

Baca Loco said...

You have no idea.

As for the skillz once employed to improve event paint, it's still out there.

EC Lil Baller said...

Can you really eliminate the competitive advantage though? What's to stop Empire from holding back cases of a particularly good batch/lot for their marquee teams and giving the less optimal/older batches to their competitor's factory teams? Or taking this one step further, how about flat out sabotage of cases destined to competitor's teams?

Admittedly I don't have too much experience here but from what I saw pitting on the Pro field one Sunday, the competition for "the best batch at that time" amongst XYZ manufacturer's sponsored teams was already quite intense. I can only imagine what it might be like when Empire teams have to go to the GI truck.

There would have to be a whole lot of transparency in the new system to avoid such abuses.

Joey said...

IT would be simple you make one batch of paint for the whole event same as DYE is Currently doing the only reason they make 10 different lots now is to try to get a competitive advantage with one of there paints.

Anonymous said...

This idea is a great step as it does strip away any competitive advantage that does not come directly from the team/player skills. If my breakshooting is superior to yours but my paint bounces you while your paint breaks on me then the difference in paint removed any competitive advantage I had from my practice/training. I would say that if the paint was "standardized" between events, would that also lead to other equipment (markers,barrels) being standardized as well. This is more of a long shot idea, it remains the same in principle. However, the competitive advantage between markers/barrel/etc. are really much lower then the advantage that different paint can offer.

However, issues still arise. Consistency between batches (even morning vs. afternoon). Once teams hear about a advantage (even an imaginary one) there would be fights over the limited "good" batches. As was mentioned before, there would definitely need to be oversight in the process to make sure teams were not receiving any bias or sabotage. Also, without the need for true competition at each event, would tournament paint quality decline as a whole? I am not sure this is a problem as most (even divisional teams w/o paint sponsors) already have event paint decided before the event (based on price and previous experience/word of mouth). Why would manufacturers really push the quality of their paint if they really do not have any direct competition at the event? I feel like this would lead more to less brittle paint as manufacturers would probably err on the side of caution versus having players blowing paint chunks all weekend.

I pitted for an Empire team on the Pro Challengers field, and I must say that I was severly disappointed with the quality of the Evil that the team was shooting. The paint was dimpled and was so bouncy that we watched one opponent get a bounce of his mask on the break. I've been to several PSP events over the years, and Ultra Evil has always been consistent as the most amazing brittle tournament paint out there. I am not quite sure if it was just the batches (we tried several) because Dynasty shot the same paint to win the event. Needless to say, the team did not do very well. As much as paintball is about skills, nothing is more frustrating as paint issue. Its hard to really push yourself to win if your paint is blowing up in your gun or bouncing all over people.

Nick Brockdorff said...

I understand why it is a good idea for the manufacturers financially.

But, for the sport, I think it is a terrible idea.

I get why some think it will level the playing field, when everyone is using the same thing, but 2 things will happen:

If only 1 brand is available at each event, there is zero incentive for manufacturers to strive for excellence anymore, neither in terms of quality nor in terms of price..... if you are a dissatisfied customer, where are you gonna go?

We will be starting down a path where we standardise other stuff, like guns, goggles, tanks, clothing, etc...... and, why on earth would a sport largely devoid of sponsors (from the outside), start down a path that will eventually make numerous manufacturers superfluous?

Anonymous said...

@Nick Brockdorff
I agree 100%
This was my main concern as well.

Missy Q said...

My info was that Tampa had a nightmare with Dye paint at MAO and did some box-switcheroo's to put somethinbg else in the boxes.

Now, Tampa, via Joey, are putting forward an idea for the league to standardise paint?

Did someone just have a fish dinner, and then roll around in fish?

Is this a new 'trend'? Pro teams making suggestions to the league, dressed up somehow as 'levelers of the field', but that are really thinly veiled attempts at gaining advantage, or in this case - at regaining parity due to issues arising from sponsored product they chose to shoot for the season?

Serious question.

Baca Loco said...

Now it's getting interesting.

1. That's easy. It's in the contract with the promoter as grounds to void the deal and give it to another manufacturer.

2. That's already happening but people like choices.

But coming from the sports angle does the NBA have different brands of basketballs they use? Or the NFL different footballs, etc. And of course that issue is largely only in play at the professional level though over here there is some carry over to large athletic programs at the high profile universities as well.

Look, Missy, even if everything you claimed were true what difference does that make? The concept and rationale behind it still make it worth discussing.

Missy Q said...

Sure, it's worth discussing, but while we're enjuoying the concept and rationale lets not ignore the context, or the events leading up to Joeys idea. I don't think there's anything wrong with Joey suggesting this. He's just doing his job. I expect he felt paint was maybe a reason Tampa lost some parity in the last event and he's already come up with an idea to remove the problem altogether. All it took was some creative thinking! I'm sure it could be argued that with the same paint - talent will shine, and that's a valid point if you remove the money from the decision making.

However, Paint is what makes the industry tick, and event results are used to drive paint sales. I don't think the idea has any legs at all and wouldn't even get past the 'who gets the cup?' debate.

Joey said...


Truth be told this was not even my idea it was one that came up during a discussion between Mike Hingman, Cassidy, And Hunter from Social. It was something Hunter put out there after we talked about something else at first I was like that would never work. After thinking about it more I thought why would it not work everything you guy bring up is super easy to solve.

Paint company's screwing non sponsored teams. Simple fix the 3 companies let Representative from all three current company's have a person on the paint trucks. If you think for one minute PGP is going to let Steve screw over Infamous you are nuts.

Not making good paint because there is no competion. Another easy fix after said event if the paint sucks they are not allowed to attend world cup bet no one tanks the quality on purpose.

This had nothing to do with Damage. Have I done the switch arue before ofc will I do it again i hope not. Have I done it this year no. The DYE paint has been working perfect this year.

Missy Q said...

Whuddup Joey,
I appreciate your answer. Call me cynical, call me a big fat chocolate bitch, but I don't think your idea flies.
For starters, if you give a team something to blame a loss on they will take it. If Infamous get relegated during the GI sponsored event they will blame the GI paint, and Kee will back them up. Same goes with Heat the other way around. It will be good press for the manufacturer to make the claim, and if the system gets changed back because 'GI/RPS just didn't cut it' then that's even better press.

After the first GI event, do you think they're not going to send a mass-email telling people that all of the first place finishers at the latest event shot GI Sports paint? Thats what I would do. Only about 10% of the people that get that mail will know the reality of the statistic, and those guys don't look at those emails anyway unless they're pictured in them. Technically I can run a GI Ad featuring Infamous, if they won shooting my paint. How will that go down? What if it's the first event they won in that season?

Then there's the different paint on the trucks. GI hold back paint for their top sponsored teams. They will continue to do this, and even if they don't, the perception will be that they do, especially if their teams win.

Is it even in the teams own interests to devalue themselves in the eyes of their paint sponsor (assuming they have one)?

Lastly - who pays? Do GI have to pay KEE for the paint their sponsored teams shot at the event?

Nick Brockdorff said...

I don't think the league passing judgement on paint quality will fly - I'd like to see Lane tell DYE (especially) or G.I., or Kee they are out, due to poor quality.... even leaving aside all the usual politics in paintball, the fear of liability would completely stop any sane league rep from considering such action.

Secondly (and especially keeping in mind the paragraph above), no competition will ALWAYS mean lower quality - it's a main reason communism didn't work ;)

Third, Baca mentions NBA and NFL (the usual suspects that have very little relevance to paintball)... but in both instances, companies pay huge amounts for multi-seasonal exclusivity, and those contracts are heavily contended.... try that in paintball, and you'll see NPPL 5.0 entering the scene with a competing 5-man concept, so fast it will make your head spin.

Fourth, I'd be very surprised if any of the 3 major manufacturers accepted to only have their product present every 3 events - if they did, I'd suggest they fire their head of marketing and hire someone that understands the job ;)

Fifth, the potential for sabotage some mention, I believe is near non-existent.... but there are still all the other reasons why it is a bad idea.

And last, but certainly not least - is there really an incentive for the teams here? - What exactly do the teams win, in a league they have no ownership stake in, by suggesting meassures that limit choice and puts a little more money in the leagues pockets?

We should be a little more careful what we wish for in paintball.

Baca Loco said...

The real question is an alternative to the present course a better idea? I don't recall anyone suggesting it would be easy or done without requiring thinking thru the consequences--but Nick, your contortions are worthy of a world class Twister player.
1. Isn't a clear issue that industry dominates the game?
2. Since when does one league amount to all of paintball?
3. So? They've had that opportunity for years.
4. Too big to not have their way?
5. Pick a reason?
6. A better competition?

Nick Brockdorff said...

World class? - thanks :D
- though - I might just be right ;)

1. Yes it is - and this scheme is increasing that dominance.

2. Well, it doesn't - but I am saying that extra care taken today, for the even specific batch, will go away, and we'll be back to paint qualities of 15 years ago.

3. Yes, but you are suggesting we go poke the sleeping bear with a sharp stick

4. No, it is just extremely poor marketing strategy

5. The first 4 ;)

6. Define "better"? - Will the competition be better (for instance) if everyone is shooting the same bouncy paint?

Joey said...


I do not know you but I know 15 years ago paint was 10000000 times better then current paint.

It is easy to say no it wont work I can sit here and give you ways to make all your issues go away but you can always find flaws and I will keep solving them so lets just say. If people smarter then you and I decided to make this happen it could if people decided this cant happen it wont.

Wait till you see my next episode of Paintball Real Talk. I will at least keep Coach Paul's blog busy.


Joey said...


Read what I told Nick. It is easy to deny a good idea its a lot harder to work out all the details and make it work. I am just trying to put stuff that has worked in different sports into paintball to get rid of competitive advantages. Call me a dreamer but if we took some different approaches to the way we run this sport we mite make some head way into becoming a real sport.

Nick Brockdorff said...

That's cool, I don't know you either :)

FYI, I'm in my 24th season now.... and I don't agree paint was better 15 years ago - or rather, that depends what you mean by "better"?

It was less brittle back then - it had to be, because the guns (and a little later the loaders) were tougher on the paint.

It was more round, yes - but that goes hand in hand with less brittle paint - it's easier to maintain a perfect sphere with a tougher shell.

I will give you though, that paint was better just before the financial crisis set in - it is very evident that production quality has dropped over the last 5-6 years, as price has become more of an issue.

Anyway, all that is besides the point really :)

So, to address your last post:

I'm not saying it can't be made to work - I just think it's a bad idea in its core concept.... for all the reasons mentioned earlier.

I'd rather we move the opposite direction, where the teams get more choice and more freedom.... and we push manufacturers towards competing on quality.

Now, it's not a realistic solution, but just for the sake of argument (and to illustrate the direction I'd prefer), I'd like to see paint be free for teams in the Champions division, irrespective of what brand they chose, but then have no paint sponsorships.

That way, teams had total freedom to chose the brand (and batch), that best suited their equipment and the weather.... and manufacturers were forced to compete on quality.

(and yes, I know it's not realistic, due to the whole practice budget - as said, it was to illustrate a point)

As for "people smarter than you and I"...... get real :P

Baca Loco said...

Besides quibbling over dates you and Joey agree paint was better in the past. So tell me where did the competition go to see quality decline? That's the core of your thesis, yes?
And if you tell me it was rising costs and tighter margins I say we're seeing all the competition we're going to and this looks more like collusion to me. Or at a minimum tells us the "competition" element of achiving a sales price isn't the be all or end all of the process.
And then you offer up an admittedly completely unrealistic example of what you'd like to see. And that is supposed to convince who?

Anonymous said...


If your legs ran as fast as your fingers do on a keyboard or your mouth when someone puts a mic in front of you, maybe you wouldn't be so fat. It's easy to talk, and while you may have some good ideas, you never have, and never will, put money into the sport to make it better. I do rather enjoy the real talk, I think its funny watching you put your foot in your mouth because anyone in the industry knows, you are all talk and (obviously) no walk. I personally saw your guys do the "switch aru" at MAO, so... nice lie. Anxiously awaiting the next real talk.

P.S. The goatee doesn't make your face look any less fat. Maybe you should go to the gym once in a while like the older Edwards.

Nick Brockdorff said...


It's the principle of the matter, combined with parts of the industry having an ownership stake in the league.

First, the principle of non-competition never seemed right to me, as I believe it will inevitably lead to lower quality. The same has been true in every industry I can recall in history.

Secondly, when some of industry has an ownership stake in the league, you can be damn sure they will never be under the same scrutiny by the league, as their competitiors.

As said when the whole Valken debate happened some time ago, I believe it is best for the sport and the teams, and this time, to have as much choice available to them as possible.

Last anon:

Awfully big words for a guy too afraid to put his own (good?) name behind them - and btw, trolling is for children ;)

IP said...

You know that little startup league called the National Speedball League? Been a one ball league since day 1. Amazing how these "issues " y'all are bringing up have never been an actual problem.

Baca Loco said...

No, no I don't.

IP said...

You once called it "potentially a good thing for grassroots paintball" but declared the rule book as created during "one giant circle jerk." So sure the NSL is rough around the edges but when you get into the meat and potatoes of what they are doing, there are changes that address significant shortfalls of the current competitive environment. Metrics capturing, one league ball, a fixed regular season, a real national champion... all done in partnership with current paintball fields and reducing the cost in both time and money for every player.

I'm not saying the NSL is the perfect solution for everyone. Plenty of established teams and players who are better at getting on teams because of who they know feel threatened and are holding their local fields hostage over adopting the format. But the league executes the structural change needed to both improve the competitive industry as well as grow local businesses. Maybe it is time for you to take another look.

Baca Loco said...

What IP, no links? ;) What am I supposed to look at? Who is playing NSL in Florida? If you're gonna make the pitch go all in.

IP said...

:) google is an amazing tool. Honestly, nobody in Florida is playing the NSL. I could provide excuses but I'm sure the truth lies somewhere between change is scary and the NSL hasn't become established or refined enough just yet to really draw established fields and the current crowd of players.

When the NSL made a big recruiting push with the inaugural season last year(as the NPL) your own response was typical of the populace. Too confused by the rule book and too hung up on the classic issues like semi enforcement and such. Big changes made it a hard sell so only those fields that truly desired improvement bit and of those that bit, there were less that were able to rally their player base behind it. So the league made adjustments while staying true to supporting local businesses and continues on.

I am not here to provide links or make the hard sell. I understand that everyone has their own investments in the current structure and their own experiences. I just thought it was funny that while y'all were arm chair jockeying this single ball issue(and the 90s pit time) there is actually someone out there that is implementing it without the "issues" y'all are yammering about. I mean really, what do I know? I'm just some overly aggressive player who couldn't make the cut for damage two years ago. ;)

Baca Loco said...

Google is only an amazing tool for someone who is interested--and since you chose to jump into the comments of two or three posts at the same time with nothing substantive to talk about other than the NPS I was inviting you to make your case--and instead get the above snarkiness.

IP said...


I misinterpreted your invitation as snarkiness on your part. Here is the basic run down. Feel free to ask questions.

NSL is currently running one ball over the entire league. It works because the league events are distributed throughout a regular more classical season and matches are played at local fields. This removes issues involved with paint trucks and any questionable staff practices because paint delivery is no more than normal business quantities. On top of that, if a batch is at the lower end of the acceptable standard, everyone is using it so everyone is at the exact same handicap. This in and of itself has reduced the common "blame it on the paint" excuses. The fact that the league deals with the paint manufacturer as a representative of all the venues means more leverage for the league to negotiate a high quality ball at a price that is both reasonable for the fields and reasonable for the player. Questions?

Regarding 90 seconds. That is the max time between plays in the NSL. Teams are regularly turning their lines and calling plays in half that time. These are teams comprised entirely of non pro players and staff. If these amateurs can do it, what do you feel is stopping pros? What is more substantial than saying it is being done?

Baca Loco said...

I'm not sure you can make blanket statements about paint when only what, 2or 3 locations actually participate? Are you suggesting that interested local fields need to be associated with the current paint supplier?

As for the 90 second business it's not necessarily an apples to apples comparison.

Without seeing more actual competition I can't make any real judgments about what the NPL is or isn't doing.

Anonymous said...

Interested local field do not need to be associated with the league paint supplier. They are not asked to change their regular contracts. They are only required to only sell the league ball during league matches. Regular practice paint, and the paint they sell to customers during all other times is entirely up to them. Their league players are under the same requirement. Shoot what you like during practice. Shoot the league ball during matches.

If I can't make statements based on empirical data(limited or not) than what qualifies the armchairing going on above? It has worked in implementation under the limited scope the league has to work with. That actual experience seems like more than hypothesizing with no experience. I agree that it is limited. But I disagree with disqualification without further discussion based on the fact that it is more actual evidence than anyone else has.

Regarding the 90s rule, you are right that it is not apples to apples. The NSL format was developed for a fast game flow all around. This promotes quickness in the pits. There are no plays that exceed 2.5 minutes. Thus no players carrying a case of paint or requiring more than a tank top off each pit. Matches are also local so trained crew is readily available and plenty of players volunteer to help other teams. Do these make race to format impossible for 90s pits? Nope. But it would require additional preparation and focus during pitting which makes it more challenging.

IP said...

Oops tablet fail. That comment above was me.

Baca Loco said...

Nowhere did I suggest you couldn't make any statements that you wanted. I'm simply saying that a) you can't make a direct apples-to-apples comparison as if the NSL has "solved" what may or may not be "problems" in the PSP or the NPPL for that matter because the formats aren't that similar.

As to the one paint policy while I agree it neutralizes one important variable has anyone at the NSL considered that it may actually hinder the league's development and growth?

And again, any claims you make about what happens in the NSL is almost irrelevant to what happens in the PSP. Direct me toward some more full game video of the NSL in action and I'll take a look. In the meantime you're always welcome to comment--you're just not guaranteed agreement.

IP said...

No need for agreement. Just discussion. Life would be boring if everyone agreed.

NSL has a livestream account where one region's home games are webcast live and archived for later viewing. Simply search livestream for National Speedball League.

Have I considered that the paint policy may constrain rapid adoption? Very much so. Paint contracts are a foundational issue of the industry and, depending on the field, the most prized or despised thing in the world(besides players of course). But the choice reflects the league's push to adress core issues that affect local field solvency. One ball means one variable to order and stock. Reduced complexity reduces potential failure points. Is it against the grain of current industry trends? Sure. Are vegetables everyone's favorite food? This is the fiber to clear out 'blame the paint' issues and reduce long term issues. Will that mean slow growth? yeah. But then again the first year the PSP was on it's own, it's slow change slow growth model wasn't exactly popular either. Look who won that hair and tortoise race.