Monday, May 13, 2013

Dissecting the 2013 PSP Field Designs

There's quite a lot to be learned from the Dallas & MAO layouts but what I want to focus on is how layouts intended to be one thing--promoting a faster game play--and that was plainly the intent--turned out to be nearly the opposite.
How do I know the intent was to promote faster game play? Simple. Look at the back center. It has been conventional wisdom for some time that no back center, or a marginal one at best, pushes teams to run for their primaries and diminishes laning OTB. The theory is less laning with its concomitant lowered risk encourages more aggressive actions OTB. But actual game play doesn't match up with the theory. For starters heavy guns OTB are far more likely to get breakout eliminations and every kill is a 20% reduction of the opponent's players and numerical mismatches are what promote aggressive play particularly when the situation is fluid. And of course the fact there is no traditional laning options doesn't stop teams from finding lanes to shoot in a variety of different ways. Now you might think the risk involved shooting lanes despite lack of cover would result in those early eliminations and mismatches we want but simply watching a few games will show otherwise. The reason for this is usually the placement of the blocking bunkers (the bunkers that block certain lanes and shots) which results in the unintended consequence of also blocking efforts to find those laners using blind spots and dead zones to temporarily hide in.
As you can see the snake used in Dallas was very different from the one used at MAO--and the MAO snake was a much better "fast" play snake--up to a point. That point was the mid-snake or snake 50 dorito. Anytime you see an isolated prop in the fifty, especially snake side, you can be confident play will bog down at that point. But the place where all current snake designs have difficulty in promoting aggressive play are the elbows and "technical" beams or more accurately the efforts made to make those bunkers playable. The technical snake requires its own set of blocking bunkers which make the snakes playable but also reduce the number of inbound and outbound shots and angles available to be played. Since it is now sufficiently difficult to play the snake in the traditional manner alternatives have arisen. For example, if you can't deny the snake you prepare to deny the one or two positions in the snake that could be effective.
Now let's look at the d-wire. Note that all the wire bunkers are within a single (green) column of gridded space the length of the field. When aligned thusly it's nearly impossible for players on the wire to contest their opponent's wire movement. This theoretically promotes aggressive movement and a race for the fifty. As can be seen subtle adjustments do allow some contain opportunities on the wire but they are minimal. So if a team intends to contest their opponents movement they require a different bunker and angle. (The orange props.) [In the case of Dallas the Can also functioned as an offset "Home".] The orange positions provided inside angles capable of shooting in the gaps but were also easily double-teamed. (At Dallas teams could double the Can and upfield MT and did but the Dallas Can was also in demand as a cross field lane option at times.) 
The light green column is just a demonstration that illustrates that most of the blocking bunkers also fill a column space and often create in interior running lane--and if you flipped the fields the two green columns would contain the snake and a similar inside lane on that half of each field as well. And usually does.

If both Dallas & MAO were intended to promote faster play what happened? In Dallas it was possible to aggressively lane the snake and corner OTB which forced teams to short play their snake breakout to reduce their risk. In order to both slow down d-wire movement and maintain a snake wire presence the teams used the snake inserts to post up cross field. (See pink colored bunkers.) And also used D1 (or D2) as a primary snake contain position. Remember, they weren't denying access, they were denying useful shots and since the number of positions in the snake with useful shots is limited now it's easy to target the spot(s) you want to stop. And even though it was fast and easy to access the MAO snake the same limitations applied that allowed the lead snake players to be contained more often than not. Right now we are getting the games the teams are choosing to play and it isn't going to be easy to encourage change.


NTran said...

I felt the layouts kind of restricted what people did off the break.

There seemed to be more predictability as to what each team was going to do off the break which leads to slower playing also.

Anonymous said...

I have been going to PSP events since 2005. The last couple of years it has become extremely boring to watch. Why don't we just say what the real reason for these layouts, they are strictly for long drawn out points to shoot lots of paint and nothing else! ($$$) And for some odd reason the webcast has become more important than the players to PSP. Put your back players back to work, change the layout where it is fun for the players to play and for us viewers to watch. If not..funeral arrangements for paintball will be announced at a later date.

NStoer said...

I don't know if there's any merit to this but I think it's because the field is narrow

Fast play paintball is getting kills off break, and moving up the ladders to get better angles. I can only comment on the D side of MAO but my biggest issue was moving up the ladder didn't cause kills. Maybe it's because the field is narrow but getting to the D3 didn't put much pressure on the field, it was all gun fighting. Fact that there was no 50D and the D2 was hardly playable didn't help at all.

I found D side played slow until you got 1-2 Gs to start closing the game. They only won games if they cleared out the side and went around, as opposed to making a big move to the D3 for 1-2 kills cross-field that weren't there.

Old xball was a fight to get wide, and then a fight to get up. Breaking corners was risky. But when you got up the field, at least kills were there.