Tuesday, October 8, 2013

On Competitive Excellence

Warning: This post may be hazardous to your pride. Continue reading at your own risk.

On numerous occasions in the past I've expressed concern that the classification system does the players a disservice--and some of those concerns remain. But the other thing the player classification system does is force teams up the divisional ladder or out of the league. The counterclaim is, no it doesn't, it simply assigns the appropriate points to the players on a team's roster so the system isn't responsible for the consequences. The reality is the players are the teams and when they are forced to decide between moving up as a group or going their separate ways the result is some significant percentage of teams and players are lost to tournament paintball. Now on the flipside of that is the claim that it is unfair and potentially demoralizing to the up-and-coming teams to in essence be blocked by better more experienced teams. Somewhere between these poles is a worthwhile discussion.
If you want to review the arguments pro and con in greater detail go back to the 'Unnatural Selection' post--down a couple of posts on the main page--and follow the included links.
Let's try a little thought experiment. Imagine the NPPL's pro division as a D2 division. (Insert your own joke here.) Further imagine that instead of choosing to not play teams like Dynasty, X-Factor and Vendetta were moved up a division because of the player classification rules. Now there may be a reasonable argument to be made for moving those teams up but there are also consequences. For today's discussion the important one is that the standard of winning excellence has been lowered. Where once an incoming team needed to be as good (on a given weekend) as Dynasty now the standard is CP Raiders or Outlaws. And next time those will be the players (and teams) the classification system forces up (or out) and the standard of excellence will once again decline. And it gets better--or worse, depending on your point of view. It doesn't take long before what was the (slowly diminishing) standard of excellence in D2 becomes the majority of your D1 teams. The end result is weakening both the division in question and the one immediately above it and in time as the system works its way throughout the divisions the lack of excellence finally becomes apparent when there are no D1 teams capable of successfully taking the next step up. Next stop Challengers.
Wait, you say, what about a team like Revo? They've moved up the divisions and each time proved to be a top team.
My reply is that's what excellent teams are supposed to do but in this environment what does their accomplishment really mean? They were the best of a series of mediocre groups? Remember the Vicious path to the pro division and that was years ago when the system hadn't taken complete hold of the divisions. And Vicious won a semi-pro division too before going into the pro ranks--and struggling.
Challengers exists, in part, to remedy the chasm that has developed between the first tier pro teams and all the rest including those that aspire to one day compete in the Champions division. The hope is that the process of competing in a division dedicated to results alone will eventually produce teams capable of competing with the existing Champions on even ground. And on that score the jury is still out.


Anonymous said...

Classification complaints notwithstanding, I would argue the larger reason players are disappearing from tournament paintball is it's more expensive than ever to run an tournament paintball field.

Or rather, at some point the lack of new entrants comes around to hurt you. A decade ago (just a tad more now) you could setup a decent woodsball field, go play it a bunch and then go play a tournament with mixed variety fields.

Now you have to have some place with a dedicated $6k airball field and a compressor, etc. Maybe you get the field cheaper for 3k. But that's not the same as cutting brush in a field your uncle owns and getting some buddies together to play.

Do people still do those outlaw/low budget fields? Sure, of course they do. And where do they play? Scenario events.

So... if you want tournament paintball to expand its base into the existing groups of players waiting and ready to play, you need to have them play on old school style fields.

Maybe that will never happen. But I do find some comfort that we can blame one more thing on the French.

And really, isn't that more satisfying than Raehl-baiting?

Baca Loco said...

Too lazy or too embarrassed to put your name that non-sensical jumble?

At least try to stay on topic--and no raehl baiting involved for the very simple reason he's utterly clueless on this subject.

Ethan said...

I do kind of see the first commenter's point. I live in Utah and we don't have an option for full size psp regulation field. The sport just isn't big enough here to justify it. We have to make due with tiny indoor fields and hope that we can learn the field the day before the event when we walk. We've managed to be competitive but a lot of times we have a harder time at the beginning of the event because we are having to switch gears from playing a tiny field that's easy to make it to your spots alive to a full size field.
Utah used to have a handful of teams at every regional event on the west. Now we are lucky to have one or 2. The sport is expensive, people stopped playing, fields can't afford some of the nice things that so cal and other parts of the nation are so blessed with.

Ethan said...

PS. I do see Baca's point as well. Those teams from around here that were traveling were teams that worked their way up the ranks but didn't have the resources to make the jump to d1 or pro.

Anonymous said...

Lazy or embarrassed? Not hardly. The reality is when you work in an industry with spiteful, vindictive people who can make your life difficult you keep your opinion to yourself in public or share it anonymously.

Why jeopardize my job in the slightest and injure my family to share an opinion on one of the troubles with high end paintball.

I have had too many experiences with people in positions of auority say, "I saw what you wrote...

Not worth it. You unfortunately can't speak your mind in this industry (can you anywhere?)

You know of what I speak.

Baca Loco said...

Alright Anon (You may not be the anon I thought you were) but you're still off topic. And yes, I completely understand your reticence.

10 years ago 400 teams were playing on a 12 airball fields in a sizeable cow pasture in Kissimmee.

Not Tom said...

Correct. And ten years ago almost all those guys at one point had a connection to wooded fields. Don't forget the kissimmee had mixed format fields. I played on a team where for virtually everyone but me that was their last event.

It's true if you eat your seed crop you won't go hungry. But you also shouldnt start blaming the presence of the wrong formula of fertilizer (in this case appa) when your seedless crops don't grow next season.

I suppose if you stop having events anyone can train anywhere for you might make it a few more years before the chickens come home to roost. But you need to worry about growing a tournament paintball crop and not just tweaking the rules of current entrants.

I started on outlaw ball. Ten of my teammates did as well. I do not believe we'd ever make the jump to airball if we were playing in the woods on private property. We would however likely play living legends, etc. How's the scenario market these days compared to tournaments?

Reiner Schafer said...

Might as well jump onto this semi-off topic discussion.

Anon, (Not Tom) is right. It takes an infrastructure of airball fields to create the needed players for modern competitive play. The infrastructure isn’t being Supplied because the Demand isn’t there for the Airball fields. There are many places in North America that have decently thriving woodsball facilities and no airball facilities. Believe me, if the Demand was there, field owners would have no problem Supplying them. Back in the day 10 guys playing outlaw or at the local recreational woodsball field could get together and be able to compete on the tourney scene.

The Demand isn’t there because it costs so much more for a player to play competitive paintball than recreational paintball. If the cost to the player (overall yearly cost, not per day cost) were the same, there would be no shortage of competitive players and then there would be no shortage of competitive type fields. It’s not that people don’t want to play competitive paintball but it always comes down to the money.

Anonymous said...

Leave it to the Canada to agree that it's all the French's fault. Where's our token Canadian-Brit Expat?