The post title should probably read mostly major league because I'ma including the NPPL and CPS along with the MS and PSP. (The distinction being the presence of a pro division and yes, I quite agree that what passes for a pro division in the NPPL, after Dynasty and X-Factor depart, probably doesn't really qualify but I may keep them around anyway. Who else are we gonna laugh at?) Oh, and no, this doesn't count as an official statement of X-Factor's intention. Consider it wishful thinking on my part--at least for the time being.
The new Shawn Walker/shadow Valken NPPL 4.0 set a new record for national tournament irrelevance in their first effort with 29 non-pro [designated] teams participating at OXCC. Offering limited time reduced entry fees has seen 20 teams sign up so far for August's Windy City Open. Going above and beyond though is TMG (Trade My Gun) with 5 teams entered so far. Much of the NPPL talk this season has been about its projected demise and if it had remained in the hands of the "teams" read Chuck & Pev it would, almost certainly, be just a memory--a failed monument to ego mostly. Instead we have Valken's latest Trojan horse at work. If the NPPL remains (or grows to become) a 50-75 team series that caters to a marginalized format I suspect the PSP would be quite pleased to be inoculated against other competition sniffing around the prospects of a national base. In the meantime the NPPL will exist as long as Valken wishes it to exist.
The CPS (Champions Paintball Series) serves Euroland as the bargain paintball series offering the Race To format while maintaining a modest pro division and a four event season. Earlier this year the MS made an effort to dissuade pro team participation and that effort, along with some perhaps poor scheduling, has limited pro participation to single digits per event so far this season. So far all three events have led into Millennium events but as the gaps between event dates has closed--this weekend is CPS Milan and next weekend is MS Basildon (London)--the turnout has declined at CPS events. The fourth CPS event will be interesting to see in that it is scheduled after the final MS event of the season. While not openly competing with the MS--and even scoffing at the very idea--the CPS is nonetheless a threat of sorts with their entry fees and closer alignment to the PSP rules and version of Race To. The CPS might do better yet avoiding even the appearance of conflicting with the MS schedule next season while coordinating as they are able with the French and German national leagues.
The MS is, by any reasonable metric, enjoying another successful season "selling out" every event--although it appears London will be the least well attended event so far at around 125 teams. That doesn't include whatever special Euro-wide event will share the weekend of competition with the MS's standard divisions. (I think it's the Under 19s this time around. Suppose I'd best check. Nope, that was in April. This time it's the Mens Championships with teams organized around nationality.) The MS offers a decent quality webcast so if you're interested in the Euro action there's a link at the MS homepage and a link to all the scores at pblivescores.com. Sometime soon VFTD also hopes to post the latest discoveries of our super sleuth Mr. Curious who has been on a European vacation hoping to ferret out a few more Millennium secrets as he visits the capitols of Europe to observe the nightly displays of youth culture (and fire bombing of parked cars.)
Which brings us to the PSP. The numbers suggest the PSP has had its best first half of a season in quite a few years. Registration for Riverside isn't open yet so there's no way of knowing if there will be a decline given that Riverside will be the proverbial fourth event. (In years past when the league offered more than 4 events a year the fourth usually fell in August and consistently proved to be the least well attended of the season.) Mitigating that is the strong showing thus far and the upcoming event being the first in Cali since the season opener in 2007. Working against it will be the proximity to school starting around the country and the short seven weeks between Chicago and Riverside. Even so I expect the event will draw around 150 teams and I suspect anything in that neighborhood will be accounted a success. But even as the PSP is prospering and the PBA's webcast expands the vision of competitive paintball literally around the world the league must remain vigilant. As the recent Chicago event demonstrated--mediocre fields and some ongoing officiating concerns--the option of resting on its laurels doesn't exist and you are only as good as you're last event.
All things considered 2013 is proving to be a pretty good year for competitive paintball--and as soon as our friends in Asia make the move to a pro division the future will be that much brighter.