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 here, here 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.