Thursday, September 5, 2013

Putting Out Fires With Gasoline

Here we go again. No Art Chaos rumorology today. Yes, I know what I said yesterday but trust me--this takes precedence. A breathless Mr. Curious contacted me this morning and said all hell was about to break loose over a post at PBN. After I stopped laughing I asked if he was taking painkillers--again. He assured me he was completely sober and this was serious. Impeccable sources told him Laurent Hamet put up post #662 (in the PSP forum thread pertaining to the TonTons hot guns at Riverside) and equally reliable sources informed him the PSP and Lane Wright personally were fit to be tied over the contents of the post.
Before going further we need to lay some groundwork. Yes, this relates to the TonTons hot guns at Riverside and the recent PSP statement regarding the incident and the league's final response. (The league forfeited the team's seed points from Riverside and put them on probation for World Cup. Neither of which affect the team's return to the Champions bracket at some point.) The post in question however does far more than object to the sanctions imposed, it directly accuses the PSP of ignoring all sorts of cheating and playing favorites among the pro teams. While not the first time some angry supporter has leveled such accusations it's the first time [in my memory] it's happened in public when the author was such a high profile figure in the sport (despite the fact it was posted anonymously).
So who is Laurent Hamet? He is the driving force behind the formation of the international paintball federations, an influential member of the Millennium Board, owner of Adrenaline Games (manufacturer of Sup'Air bunker) and former owner/player of the TonTons--among other things.
What did Hamet post? He begins by asserting that Lane is dragging the good name of the TonTons in the mud and that the virtually meaningless sanctions were unwarranted and amounted to a vendetta against the TonTons because Lane (and the league) doesn't want TonTons or any French team in the PSP. At which point he appears to threaten to pull the team from further PSP competitions. Then it gets good. He then accuses unnamed 'others' of using cheater boards and routinely shooting over 300 fps as the league turns a blind eye and offers as an example a short clip (apparently) pulled from a recent Ironman video showing Marcello adjusting his reg just before the horn sounded during what appears to be a match point. Next he claims there's routine game fixing going on as well and cites the Damage--Infamous match during the MAO prelims as a blatant example. And his final accusation was that some unnamed pro team captain told him at beginning of the year the league wouldn't allow either Infamous or Ironmen to be relegated and the aforementioned "fixed" match was proof.
(Today's words, boys and girls, are xenophobic paranoia.)
Besides being highly inflammatory and directed at the integrity (or lack thereof) of the league and its officers it is also something the league is taking very very seriously.
Let's look at the charges. Which league was it that restructured their pro division completely and invited the TonTons to participate in Dallas? Oh yeah, the PSP. The only time such a 'Wild West' scenario existed in the PSP was in the earliest days of electro-pneumatic markers and when the league became aware of the severity of the problem was the first, and for quite sometime, the only league to take meaningful steps to reign in such practices--and that includes the NPPL and Hamet's own MS. Then there's the video clip. Yes, it looks bad and the player absolutely should have been rechrono'ed but it isn't proof of anything except perhaps the same negligence that allowed the TonTons to reach Sunday play with creeping regs. First, there is no context. We do not know what instruction if any the player received from a nearby ref. We also don't know if the visible ref or another remotely checked the player's marker as that point began. We don't know if the player was turning the marker up or down. Second, it is routine practice on the pro field for reg keys to be tucked away where the players can access them if they need to when chrono'ed at the start gate. It is contrary to the rules but is a common practice that the refs are fully aware of. Note the player tossed the key back in the direction of the penalty box. Whatever the clip 'proves' it isn't rampant and ignored cheating. (For a reminder of the VFTD position on the Riverside controversy look herehere and here.) And the game-fixing claim. Let's look at the example given. It was the final prelim match on Saturday. The Sunday morning match-ups had already been decided as had Damage's seeding going into Sunday. They literally had nothing to play for--unlike Infamous. So where is the collusion? What did Damage have to gain? Damage has no ties to KEE and no love for Infamous. What team was affected? You guessed it, the TonTons. So apparently anything that doesn't go the Tontons way is somebody else's fault. (Projection much?) Which brings us at last to the secondhand accusation that neither the Ironmen or Infamous will ever be relegated. Well, it hasn't happened yet but Infamous has had to play three relegation games in four events so far and the Ironmen came within a hair's breadth of playing in two relegation matches. (If X-Factor had lost by less at MAO they could have taken the Ironmen spot and I assure you X-Factor didn't lose a match to help out the Ironmen.) Despite it's appeal to the conspiracy-minded the whole notion is preposterous.
The upshot of all this, according to Mr. C, is  the league will require concrete assurances the TonTons will show up for Cup. And there have always been elements within the PSP that have wanted to expand the PSP brand internationally that have, in the past, sparked occasional rumors about the PSP putting on events in Euroland. This could be back on the table. Additionally the league is seriously concerned about the stability of its relationship with Adrenaline Games as it relies (too heavily in VFTD's opinion) on them for bunker sets and have, in the past, made contingency plans to produce their own bunkers should the need or desire to do so arise. The potential fallout here could effect international tournament paintball dramatically and for a long time to come.


Nick Brockdorff said...

Laurent is in serious need of a publicist.

His temper seems to get him (and by default his MS partners) in trouble time and time again.

This is not that different to his public rant against the CPS in the spring, which caused a number of teams that had not previously supported the CPS to look that way.

Now, when the CPS has already established closer ties to the PSP, Laurent goes and gives them a motive for putting even more resources behind the former CPS (now PSP Europe).... and at the same time endangers his company Adrenaline Games of losing one of it's major customers (PSP).

If I were the more level headed individuals on the MS board (Barry, Stephen and Manfred), I would be getting really tired of Laurent inability to keep off the public forums right about now :)

Anonymous said...

Baca and Nick -
I'm more if a fan and less in the know than you guys. But I try to keep up with all things paintball and have developed a sense of who's who and what their demeanor seems to be.
I find this completely out of character from my impressions of Laurent. Nick seems to disagree. What's your take Baca?
Secondly Lane seems to be unapologetically rough around the edges but in all a stand up straight shooter type guy. He would also seem to not stand idle when provoked, especially in this manner. Accurate??
If so, why would Laurent tempt such a personality?
Very curious and can't wait to see how this plays out.

Anonymous said...

"becauseiworthit" for those who have a doubt, is a well know username LH already use on french forums and wesites.

LH is speaking about =

1 = cheating board, modified regulator or simply keys diretcly on the field !

2 = fixing games

1 = If a league really want fight all this cheats, they have to invest in the OG NXL chronos !
Chrono the players before the game, during the game, and after the game.

The PSP and millenium are actually on the exact same level for control guns velocity.
They chrono all the players before the game, and at some time, before a point, they chrono a random guy on the team. That's it.

With this kind of control you can easyly play a whole game witout get chrono once. And so, shooting 330 Fps...

2 = There is every year in the millenium series, some fixing games. Everybody know that, and everybody know Tontons already fix a game this season ...

Millenium = LH Tournament
Tonton = LH team

He really should shut fuck up !

Escuse my French :)

Baca Loco said...

From my contacts with Laurent, admittedly few, I would have agreed however according to Mr. C. there was an effort made to confirm it was in fact Laurent before anyone flew too far off the handle.
That's a pretty apt description of Lane I'd say.
I expect everyone will calm down in a few days but I don't see how Lane or the PSP let that post stand without some sort of follow-up.

Baca Loco said...

338 Anon
To an extent the PSP has dropped the ball. Rules enforcement hasn't been as rigorous the last couple of years but that is easily resolved and I fully expect them to have it taken care of by Cup or the start of next season at the latest.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Well, historically it's out of caracter - Laurent used to be a smooth operator, and very good with both media and marketing.

But, the last couple of years have seen a change in attitude I feel.

As for Lane, he's a straight shooter an old school pro - and an allround nice guy, so I never believe the things he write to be politically motivated.... but sometimes, he's too straight, and doesn't take all the conspiracy theories that might develop into consideration, that occur when people pick apart every word in his press statements.

Anonymous said...

Nick, is that really you saying on Pbn = " Nobody will increase intentionaly velocity before enter the field, because you gain nothing and you can get caught ! "
(not the exact word but same at the end )

You play or played millenium right ?
Do you have been chrono a lot during games ?
Do you never shoot a gun a 330 and see how powerfull it can be otb ?

Just wondering, no hard feelings :p

Nick Brockdorff said...

Yes, that is "really" me :)

Obviously the reffing standard varies from division to division, in both PSP and MS, but at Pro level, people very regularly get chronoed during matches, buth walking on, during play and at flag hangs (buzzering in the MS).

To me, it would seem illogical to try with a velocity cheat purposely, unless you had a method to turn it back down.

I am old enough to remember when software cheats were rampant in paintball, and have even played with it myself at one stage... but those things don't happen anymore, because the game has changed and it doesn't pay off anymore, especially because the refs have become far better at controlling it.

Anonymous said...

What is your opinion on the Ton Ton's additional sanctions and do you think they deserved them? Is the probation period to harsh?

I used to be a fan of the Ton Ton's but after they released an official statement and lied about what happened I feel differently. It's one thing to cheat but why would they try to deceive and make up stories about what happened in an official statement?

I think the moral of the story is that you should tell the truth. It's one thing to cheat but it's another to cheat and then lie about it to the community. If I'm wrong about some of the facts regarding the situation please let me know.

Nick Brockdorff said...

I don't think they lied (though obviously, that is going by gut feeling and knowledge of the players alone).

I think the PSP press release is fairly ambiguous, and it can easily be interpreted as if the team was trying to use organised deceit, to gain an unfair advantage.

I think a combination of rumours, affinity for drama, and historical knowledge (how our sport used to be at pro level) got to certain people, which led the PSP to impose additional sanctions, which I view to be highly unfair and over the top for this particular case.

Sometimes - because we have gotten SO good at packaging our sport as a billion dollar enterprise (especially though PBA) - we forget that this is still the same little backwater sport, where rumours run rampant and intent is often misconstrued.

It is still the same sport, where the russians were stripsearched on field at an event, because there were rumours of them using artificial communication devices.... and when nothing was found, the rumour became "yeah, they found nothing, because they have all had communication devices surgically implanted deep in their ears".... and I am not talking about conspiracy theorists on Internet forums.... I am talking about Pro team captains and owners, and top industry individuals, perpetuating those rumours at the time.

It is still the same sport, where many current principals, have been party to rampant cheating, such as cheat boards, cheat regulators, sniping people from outside the field or from the deadbox, etc.

But, those things don't really happen anymore - the rewards do not merit the risks.

Anonymous said...

PSP's opinion is the TonTons were on the field with knowledge that their guns were shooting significantly over the limit.

If that is PSP's determination, the penalty issued by PSP is appropriate.

You may disagree with PSP's determination, but PSP was running the event in California where the events took place, and you were in Europe, so one might expect PSP is in a better position to make such a determination.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Show me where in the rules the penalties on velocity mention knowledge, and I'll gladly admit defeat :)

After that, I'll look forward to the next event aftermath, when random players and teams are given extra penalties, because someone said they knew they were shooting hot :)

Anonymous said...

TonTons were blowing people off the field way before they made their spots. The TonTons were laning better than Damage or Impact that event!

For several games people were complaining. Refs were talking about painful hits.

The TonTons were chronoed on the field and no spikes were found. Only when they were chrono'd right before the match was about to start (is that in the rulebook? freeze the clock and chrono some players) did the team have hot guns.

You can't tell me it doesn't make a difference. Especially using the paint they were (Dye paint in Riverside was a little harder shelled than the GI/Kee stuff that broke more in the guns).

They conspired to cheat one way or another. Either through boards, regulator modifications or bolt modifications. Or simple old fashioned loosing/tightening of the barrel. Who knows how it was done, but it was done.

Nearly all of the team was caught doing it on the single point they were checked. What are the odds of that? Combined with the earlier complaints and painful hits in other games?

Should our presumption of "thinking well" of others we know override the evidence?

Back to the topic at hand. What does Mr. C say Lane's/the PSP's response to Laurent is going to be?

I'd assume it's approaching the level of all out war?

The funny thing is how completely useless Laurent's post on PBN was in the eyes of the typical player. Just about everyone moved on, few people took the bait and of those that did, it was minor.

So Laurent basically infuriated Dave and Lane and won no one over to his side in the process. And he looks like a cry baby.

Can we at least agree that LH doesn't have an ounce of strategic sense?

Baca Loco said...

1234 Anon
The items mentioned in the post, PSP Euroland, and PSP-manufactured bunker sets have been and are under discussion. Mr. C hasn't heard any firm details of other possible responses.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Anon 1234:

So, you are saying normally Damage and Impact velocity cheat? - Are the best laners automatically doing something underhand? ;)

Maybe the Tontons practiced it (heaven forbid if they realised they needed to raise their skill set, after dumping our of the top bracket)? - I know at least the Samuelson brothers are amongst the best laners in the world, and maybe they have taught the french a trick or two?

No cheat "items" were found, so that is all pure speculation and rumour mongering on your part.

As for LH, I already posted my opinion on that, so yes, I agree it was a very ill advised post.

Anonymous said...

If I had a dime for every pro team player that cheats I would have at least 10 bucks. If I had another dime for every player that vehemently denies that they cheat, I would have another 12 bucks.

The basic rule in Pro paintball is 'don't get caught'. Tonton broke the rule, now they are trying to 'out' a few others to make them seem less culpable. In most cases of cheating (in recent years), teams have had willing help from manufacturers and chip/board providers. The TonTon just put all Dye teams under the spotlight for Cup.

Anonymous said...

I think the above poster is correct. Right or wrong I feel this does put the other Dye teams under more of a microscope.
Tournament paintball has been/is about how well you play and more importantly who you know. The PSP has purchased a crap ton of product from SupAir and helped sell a crap ton as well. I don't think they will easily forget this slap in the face from LH any time soon. It would not surprise me if the PSP had another bunker set for 2014.