Friday, May 10, 2013

Russians, Challengers, Relegation & More

A single "unexpected" outcome doesn't invalidate a system. The current version of relegation/promotion isn't a failure because the Legion got relegated and, yes, it's almost certainly still a work in progress. Regulars should recall that in early discussions before the season began this blog suggested the first year would be a learning process--and it will be. It is also true the Challengers concept was conceived in response to pressure to add more pro teams when the practical limit (given the webcast and tournament duration) is 12 teams. It was determined, based primarily on "political" concerns to identify the Challengers as another pro division instead of semi-pro which would have been more accurate and more in keeping with the purpose of the division which was to bridge the gap between D1 and the pro teams. And to give the overflow of pro teams a place to go. Whatever status you assign the Challenger teams it has largely fulfilled its purpose. As the season goes on it will continue to serve as a training and proving ground for the promoted D1 teams. It should also unlock the bottleneck that for years has seen teams reluctant to compete at the D1 level and then make the leap to pro. Even if it's eventually decided that the process requires a tweak or two none of that will negate the positive benefits Challengers is delivering today.
One of the opportunities a forum like VFTD offer is the possibility of a free-wheeling no-holds-barred intelligent discussion of things of interest or concern to competitive players. This situation is no different. I usually advocate for the changes I think are worth considering but this blog also broaches topics in order to open a dialogue. Disagreement is to be expected. But disagreement alone isn't productive. Disagree all you like but bring something constructive to the mix.
As to that unexpected outcome it wasn't unexpected at all--at least not among some of the Champions. Prior to MAO the expectation was that RL stood a better than even chance of being relegated. This isn't the Legion y'all grew up watching dominate. There have been roster changes and coaching changes and a number of things have been apparent for some time. The Russian Legion system proved not to be a paintball player making machine. The system develops the individual player's skill set--a process that has expanded across Euroland in recent years--but it has limitations. It doesn't create intuitive and talented players. Fortuitously they started with a core group that proved to be both well trained but also adept at the game. What they couldn't do was develop a second generation as gifted as the first which is why they have picked up so many non-Russians in recent years to fill gaps in the roster. Include the departure of coach Max and some decline was almost inevitable.
I originally liked the event-to-event relegation and promotion concept mostly because year-to-year seemed too extreme, at least when you're dealing with only a ten team division and no guarantees about the quality of the promoted teams. As it stands now a Russian Legion can be relegated for an event but that's substantially better than if it were for a whole season. All that's missing now is for the Challengers to actually earn promotion by beating the Champion they replace. And should the league ultimately make no changes that will be less than perfect in my never to be humble opinion but then most things are.


NewPro said...

If anything, this showcases how extremely tight the pro division is. The one fault w/relegation is the crap shoot nature of pb. While xball/race 2 eliminates most of the variables because of multiple points, 4 matches does not define a team. Consistency over the course of a season does. Initially i was all for the reclassification and the weeding out of weaker pro teams but after E1, there are only marginal differences bt the top echelon teams and relegation is punishment. NFL/NHL etc teams does get relegated to minor league status if they miss the play offs. Another aspect is the scarce sponsorship resources that some teams have based on their "pro" status, is this diminished w/relegation. In hindsight, this season should've seen a semi-pro div for a full year along w/the pro div and use the relegation promotion (based on bottom two fighting top 2 for div/role reversal)at world cup. This would've given teams a full season to play/prepare and reach their full potential. reward consistency, not the exceptions.

Anonymous said...

“Saving the sport” means discussing how to solve problems for people we pay to solve problems. –YFA

Anonymous said...

New Pro: "In hindsight, this season should've seen a semi-pro div for a full year along w/the pro div and use the relegation promotion (based on bottom two fighting top 2 for div/role reversal)at world cup."

So would 187 have been pro all season (since they were pro last year) and Ton Tons have been Semi-pro (since they weren't part of the league last year)?

The per-event relegation gives the league flexibility without having to play favorites. Say a team that could hang with the Pro division comes along (be it a top MS team, or a newly formed team of guys with pro backgrounds), PSP can put them in challengers and if they prove themselves, they are pro the next event. Without the per-event system, that team either gets parked in challengers/semi-pro for a season, or the league just does whatever they want and makes them Pro.

This flexibility may be more clear in the off-season, especially if we see any teams implode due to financial or other reasons.

Grant H. said...

Sponsors should be happier. Former D1 teams now in Challengers are getting more exposure, bottom of the pack Pro teams are also getting more exposure.

If they happen to fall into the Challengers div and fight their way back at the next event they get prize money (and possible $ for $ sponsorship money) and more exposure for their sponsors that they may not have gotten if they were always bottom of the pile in the Pro division.

NewPro said...

Sorry, please dont take my post as the basis for an argument, what the SPSP has done is legitimize ProPB. No more hiding, no more resting on laurels, the name doesn't mean anything...Now you are forced to produce. My point would be, relative to other sports, our up/down system takes place event by event instead of by season.

Fullbore said...

If scheduling allowed the 'last chance saloon' play-offs between the potentially outgoing Champions and incoming Challengers could be preceded by a play-off between the two effected Champions teams to seed them against the first and second place Challengers. The winner of this final prelim playing the second place Challenger and the first seeded Challenger the loosing Champ team. IMO this would add to the relegation battle tension and further qualify any promotion/relegation moves.

Imagine the drama and upsets it could potentially create!

Anonymous said...

I agree the Russians are not the Russians of old. They shoot their lanes pretty well on the breakout (just about every gun up every point) but after that they play like Europeans rather than the "run the field" style Russians they used to be.

The Challengers division will be good for that team if they don't fall apart in the meantime. They will get a little confidence and practice running the field. The sad reality is their new pick-ups do need a little more experience in high pressure situation.

But it's still bad for paintball that no one will get to see this happen in most of their games.

Anonymous said...

'Bad for paintball', that an unquantified number of people will not be able to watch all of the RL games, for free, online?

I think that's a bit of a stretch.

Anonymous said...

By that same standard it's not bad for paintball if PBA goes away.

PBA goes away tomorrow and we're right where we are. Manufacturers sales will not change. Field attendance will not change.

Granted, PBA is more important than RL, but a lot. But PBA isn't really that important by a stretch either. It would be a lot worse for paintball if UPS and the docking union went on strike.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Other teams sports promote and relegate end of season, because each event does not crown a winner and hand out prize money.

The NXL tried the season league table system, and people didn't like it... we like playing and watching finals games in paintball - not games of questionable importance, depending on where in the season we are.

People always bring up NFL, NHL, NBA, etc. in these kinds of debates, and it never makes any sense, because they are all franchise based systems, that have zero relevance to paintball.

In most cases, we need to look to sports organised under the same system we are, like for instance tennis and golf.

Both are very similar to paintball if you think about it - not just from a tournament perspective:
Commercial fields are the basis of the sports, they have large technologically advanced industries in the sports, fashion/clothing plays a big part, on-site Pro shops, fairly high equipment costs, part of the equipment is consummable (yes, to a much lower degree), very active online trade, players ranging from the occasional punter to the consummate pro, only moderate difference between male and female participants, players travelling all over the world for events, etc.

Both of those sports use end of season promotion/relegation btw (except for the majors, that you can qualify for upto a few weeks ahead), but that is largely because the number of events and them being scheduled one weekend after another for most of the year, would make it impossible to manage event to event promotion/relegation logistically, for the participants.... we do not have that issue in paintball.... yet (I look forward to the day we do :D)

Paintball is still missing a proper World Championship for nations teams and a Super Cup bringing together the best teams of each major league... but we'll get there eventually ;)

Anonymous said...

It's commonly accepted that the NXL would have attracted more interested if they had event winners.

The truth is, no one would have cared to watch the NXL because they didn't have important brand names in it. Miami Effect? huh? NYX? Assassins? Huh? Sure they had Ironmen, but by that time Ironmen were dead in the water for some time.

Meanwhile you had the Dynasty rampage destroying every one left to right in the "pro/open" division, including XSV. That was a real rivalry and worth watching.

Plus the NPPL outclassed the PSP in the minds of the player by light years back then. (even though their reffing was still problematic)

The fact is title teams matter, and Dynasty is what its name suggests. Year in and out they are "the" team that matters most.

Which is all the more ironic with the relegation system that would push title teams to the sidelines based on a terrible event. It really is possible to imagine a Dynasty implosion at LA and have them miss out on Cup. Unlikekly, but good for no one.

Nick Brockdorff said...

But then, the chance of "title teams" getting relegated, is exactly what adds to the drama, and makes events even more interesting to watch - isn't it? ;)