Tired of the 3-2 pro scores that sees players sit for endless minutes in the same bunker controlling the same lanes until somebody gets dinked or the team that is down bodies is forced to concede the point? No need to answer that 'cus I know you are, as am I. In the off season the league returned to its traditional field length and Adrenaline Games talked the PSP into adding bunkers (in order to shorten the gaps between bumps leading out to the wires [which they did not follow through on in this season's designs]) (and that have had zero positive effect on play) and the league is now going so far as to organize a layout committee in order to do, er, something about these long slow points and dull matches.
But even though I am not a fan of slow play I have a warning for y'all--this is a scenario that is ripe for the law of unintended consequences to smack everybody hard upside the head. It is a truism amongst trial lawyers that you never ask a question you don't know the answer to already in order to avoid being blind-sided, caught unawares and unprepared. And while I respect the committee members the PSP has chosen I have yet to see a solid indication they have a comprehensive understanding of how a layout will play short of playing it. So far we have had three layouts that either minimize or delete a back center position. One made the snake hard to reach, the other made it easy. All the dorito wires have been aligned, more or less, within a single grid column and now we have one devoid of a back center and with the barest minimum of feed bunkers inserting to either wire--and a clutter of Pins and TCKs in the middle. (O/T: should the playing surfaces be elevated at one end of the field compared to the other it will provide a significant advantage to the team shooting down on their opponent. Just saying.) Along with open lanes wide (and restricted primary options) the objective is to facilitate eliminations OTB. The layout also clearly hopes to encourage play at the X. Let's for a moment consider the results if this layout plays as intended.
Imagine it's the fourth event in a row where the odds are your team or the other team or both teams will lose one or two players off the break every point. (I know we haven't actually had any like that recently but play along 'cus I'm trying to make a point.) How many events in a row like that would it take before the divisional teams and players started to complain about the unfair manipulation of the layouts? Why, you ask, would they do that? Simple really. Race To is played either to a point total or a time limit and if nearly every breakout results in losses between 10%-40% that's a lot of not playing paintball. If you're a 1 you're risk for getting shot OTB is higher than the rest so how many points are you really playing if that many bodies are dropping OTB? Or you have some older players who are the backbone of your team but have fewer to no places they can play effectively anymore? Will teams used to playing to time begin to resent playing half the time because the points go faster? And when it's random players getting shot does the skill factor go up or down for trying to pull back those sorts of points or do teams mostly get steam-rolled depending on how many and which player(s) they lost OTB? If the norm becomes fast points and lots of quick easy kills how much actual paintball will teams end up playing in Race To 4 or even Race To 5? And will the luster wear off that style of play just as quickly if (or when) it becomes the norm?
Nobody seems to know how to design a layout that can be played either fast or slow while staying sufficiently neutral that it rewards the better team--or to even shade an advantage perhaps to the risk takers as it is fundamentally easier and less risky to play defense. Instead we are getting these experiments in brute manipulation and while it might force play on the pro fields, it might not, and I doubt any consideration was given to what it might do to divisional play at all. It will certainly be interesting to see how this latest experiment plays out.