Monday, June 10, 2013

NPPL NEO Recap: Between a Rock and a Very Hard Place

Before I get started I'd like to give a shout out to our invisible overlords at the NSA and apologize for providing only boring paintball talk. And to all you tools of the oppressor, nothing to see here, move along and keep up the good work on building our burgeoning fascist state.

I might as well begin with the pro results because I can guess that you lazy slackers are salivating over the hoped for juicy story. (Prepare to be let down.) We (X-Factor) finished third by demolishing a disappointed Uprising 5-0. We got to the semi-final round by doing the same to Warped Army. In between was a match versus Avalanche--a team we beat in the prelims--along with 4 other teams including Dynasty. Now I could imply that I can sympathize with the naive young man with the purty lips who finds himself all alone and incarcerated. If that's too subtle for you I could say that I approve of the NPPL hiring the handicapped but suggest that they should be crew perhaps instead of referees. Or that BShort received a major because the rubber sleeve on his barrel swab, when folded and tucked into his pants, looked like a hit. Or that the commish apologized to our team owner over an "incident" from our semi-final or that the team is divided, today at least, over whether we compete in the NPPL again or not. But none of that matters within the larger context of winning and losing. Not because it isn't all true but because it isn't relevant. The more important truth is that there are no excuses and champions or would be champions acknowledge and accept the fact that every obstacle to victory must be overcome whatever the obstacle. If that seems unfair, guess what, it is. But the point stands, there can be no excuses.
Now about the tournament itself. It seems the unofficial real team count was 29 with almost half the turnout filling the pro division. That factoid alone demonstrates the difficulty the latest iteration of the NPPL is up against. Not only must it deliver on modest promises made it must convince those few remaining players and teams with an interest in 7-man to give them one more try--and those numbers now appear to be nearly non-existent.
There were a few positives. Registration lines were short. Parking was close so no shuttles to the venue were required. The paint was adequate until the pro grade ran out early on Sunday leaving some teams with and others without. On the logistical front scores were recorded in a timely fashion, relayed, made public and schedule modifications happened almost as quickly--even when they weren't exactly right.
Otherwise the circumstances required a lot of compromises. Why move the event to OXCC instead of say, Pev's where it's been on the east coast the last few years? Because Valken has closer ties to OXCC (and perhaps Pev is now deemed part of the problem?) Whatever the rationale the place was a veritable ghost town compared to the PSP presence the month before. The event was played on two fields, neither of which was set-up for walking the day before, although that may attributable to concerns about the weather. Both fields were less than ideal as well but this is where those compromises begin to be noticed. An established local field like OXCC was used to minimize costs so the tournament fields needed to go where there was already netted off playing areas. The basic infrastructure at a large recreational field also provided most of the infrastructure required. Then there was the "webcast" which might as well have been a live security camera feed at a warehouse for all the information and game action it displayed--to the dozen?--people who both knew it existed and wanted to watch. I get the NPPL feels it needs to compete with the PSP on a number of fronts but it's wrong. They can't so they shouldn't try and claiming the "webcast" existed was counterproductive as all it did was highlight the differences between the two offerings. Then there was the stuff the NPPL did choose to spend its money on; spectator bleachers (of modest proportions) and the covered VIP area looming over the bleachers. The VIP is supposed to be a value (and revenue) added feature as well as the method by which the league promotes its Sapporo sponsorship--and offer the appearance (once again) of competing with the PSP on a national stage. [The VIP is also a perk for vendors and a way to separate the "vips" from the ordinary folk.] Bottom line, does it make money or cost money? If it costs money is it money that must be spent or is it an attribute of the old NPPL that isn't sustainable for the time-being? Let's toss in the players party while we're at it. If I were a proper social scientist I would have attended to get a head count and see if the league was getting a kick back but I honestly didn't and don't care other than it's a vestige of the old NPPL and the old NPPL's mentality. If it can be included as a cost neutral "extra" then sure, why not, but once again the question needs to be asked how does the new NPPL separate itself from the old NPPL when it seems to want to do all the old stuff, just less?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying those things are terrible or should go the way of the Dodo. I am saying much of the old vestiges cost money and give the appearance that nothing much has really changed. Take all that, the wretched turnout, the poor weather, the same old promotional style and perhaps the most unfortunate occurrence, the pro results, the only "good" to come out of the event was an unwatchable webcast and the fact that almost nobody was there to witness the event in person.
For those of you who are fans of prizes you may have noticed the prize packages were reduced (slashed) (razed) from HB. In a page included with your registration packet (I assume that's how we got a copy) the prizes were further reduced by the inclusion of free entries and paint to cover the dollar values given on the NPPL website. Now if entries go down commensurately it would seem a fair trade-off if one reason you might attend a NPPL event is for the prizes.
Overall having attended more tournaments than I can remember over the last fifteen years this one would have rated a good local tournament given the conditions if teams had paid local prices. As a state wide or regional level event I would have rated it fair but considered the turnout low--even in these troubled times. As a national level event it was poor. It was NPPL ultra light with nothing to distinguish it from a thousand other tournaments and very little that stood out and signaled either real improvement or hope for the future.
But it was the first for NPPL 4.0. Maybe the second go round will be better--if anybody decides to show up.


dan. said...

you may not wish to discuss this here, and that's cool, but just curiosity is killing me - how would you rank the competition of the new pros versus what ya'll have to square off against in the PSP?

and yes it was a shock not seeing you guys advance - and a shock to see Dynasty go down too.

Anonymous said...

Cp is good, Avalanche has ringers, but it's obviously not the same.

Anonymous said...

So Shawn changed the prize package after receiving everyone's entry fees?

Baca Loco said...

The prize package values were changed between HB and NEO. For example first place pro went from 15K to 7K. At the event was an insert that explained that the 7K first place was X Dollars, a free entry and some number of cases of paint. The other divisions were treated similarly.
I cannot say whether anyone knew about the changes pre-event; we didn't.

Baca Loco said...

Seriously dan, you wanna go there? Ok, a couple of the new teams don't embarrass themselves in the format but still play passively at their best. The rest are pro in name only and none of them could compete in the Challengers bracket of Race To--even if there a few good players in the mix.

dan. said...

that's a good answer, i'll take it. Thank you. And yes i did watch a little of the webcam and it was just tough to see what teams were doing what. I had no sense of what the new pros were doing / capable of doing.

Most of the time it was about 60 people tuned in according to the counter.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Didn't know there was a webcast... looked for it on the NPPL webpage, but nothing there?

dan. said...

actually i didn't know anything about it either. I just happened to click on the scores tab on homepage to check to see how some teams were doing and then on score page it was there.

and to clarify, it was a single webcam pointed in one direction. Sometimes if the field announcer spoke a little louder you could hear who was on field or on deck.

Don Saavedra said...

Not even the NSA was watching the NPPL webcast!