First order of business is my apology for failing to post daily updates--but by now y'all ought to be used to me not always posting what I intended to post. In my defense I was a little busy--and preoccupied. For the record that was 3 World Cup finals in a row. (Yeah, I know, Big Dave is way ahead of me and no, I ain't likely to catch up. It's okay.)
On the fantasy paintball front post your team name and score by this Friday either here or at VFTD--Facebook to enter the T-shirt giveaway--as long as your score is higher than 20975--(and whose wasn't?)--I'll announce the official winner next Monday.
I mentioned the air supply situation the other day. Turns out the league's experiment with doing it themselves was confined to the two pro fields (What?! Really?! Who thought that was a good idea?) and they only managed to keep up a consistent air flow the whole weekend with help from the the Paintball Central crew. (Thanks, Rob & Roy!) Guess the jury is still out on the league taking over that aspect of operations completely.
Remember the missing TonTons? Turns out not all of them were missing. Quelle surprise! Fabrice Columbo was playing for the D1 team Red Storm (Grad Moscow). So what's the deal with that? The PSP put the "TonTons" on probation but what does that mean? That the individual players that made up that roster don't matter? While I'm in favor of players playing it seems like the league needs to decide exactly what sort of probation they are enforcing particularly as league officials seemed unaware that Columbo was playing at all.
As we have come to expect the webcast was stellar. (Although I heard some folks were unable to access the HD version but I don't know if that was a delivery or reception issue.) What I do know--or at least have an opinion about--is that the booth needs a shake up. All 3 guys do the same thing, provide the same sort of commentary and stumble over each other at times along with more than a few awkward silences. It's one thing to replay an exciting rundown or a controversial penalty but how 'bout using the opportunity provided by the webcast to also help educate the audience? And I don't mean by just regurgitating PBA stats. More along the lines of explaining the nuts & bolts of the breakouts and player reactions, decisions, etc. in light of core principles of play. Just a thought.
Many of the big vendors are also major team sponsors and as such provide private areas for their teams to collect their gear, get out of the sun and relax between matches. Planet Eclipse went the extra mile and had air conditioning inside the big tent of their booth. Great way to relax and get ready for the finals on Sunday afternoon. A space we shared with Impact. Planet should've had a huge banner outside promoting their air conditioned space too. (If they did I didn't see it.) A great way to get everyone walking by to step inside and oh, yeah, check out all the latest gear.
While I'm not usually interested in the gear end of this game--if the gun shoots, the paint breaks, the goggles don't squeeze my head and the pads stay put I'm pretty easy to please--I did see some of the new stuff on the field and there was too much white going on. At what point is a stained yellow, formerly white, jersey illegal? And even if the leagues let that slide it's gonna look bad fast. Right?
It seemed like there were more substantive complaints about reffing standards this year compared to years past. (Oh sure, there's always complaints with a significant percentage falling into the sour grapes category but from my perspective that was less the case this time around.) Echos of last year's complaints put a little tarnish on the 10-man effort with a few teams and players unsatisfied with the lack of consistency and civility. And some element of the broader inconsistency was evident on Sunday when divisional teams suffered some brutally penalty ridden games. Clearly some of the teams were used to a different standard of officiating and that speaks to inconsistency. At the same time I think the lower divisions should be officiated a bit more leniently than the pros. There was also some background chatter among the refs that changes were coming and some thought those changes might include them. Since we're headed for silly season I guess we'll find out in the coming months.
Congrats are in order to the 'Shock crew for playing hard, aggressive and defiant paintball all weekend and sticking in the Champions. The recent return of Sosine to the roster has helped settle the team down--and it didn't hurt that Chris was a killing machine at Cup either. If you're a fan of competitive paintball you gotta like what 'Shock is bringing.
So how's this relegation thing gonna work at the end of the year? By season ranking Vicious & Upton 187 finish in 9th & 10th place but Shock retained a Champions spot in their relegation game and the Challengers results has Vicious and Texas Storm moving up. Of course ranking isn't the same as seed position and if all the pro teams start at zero for the first event of 2014 I suppose it doesn't matter.
Open 10-man saw 20 teams compete on a field larger than the Race To standard but a bit smaller than last gen 10-man fields from a decade ago. This year the field was made up of standard airball props with a traditional snake and dorito wire(s). It looked like an excellent layout. Past the 10-man field the UWL kids were humping the boonies in a soggy stand of trees by the lake that emitted occasional clouds of smoke that drifted through the trees and either toward the 10-man field or across the water depending on which way the breeze was blowing.
Sunday the forecast was for intermittent thunderstorms but the morning matches began with intense sunshine and stark shadows cast across the playing fields. Later and for much of the day clouds rolled in and threatened the forecast rain but it never came. Only the odd blustery breeze that helped keep the debilitating humidity at bay. We arrived around 9 am for a scheduled 11:20 am semi-final against Heat. The mood was low key but expectant. Relaxed at first but as the time ticked by the tension and intensity began to build. We stayed with our routines as we prepared to compete. In the tournament format the best teams usually prevail but largely on the basis of past success are teams considered the best. But every now and again a team will rise to the occasion. In many ways the season was a struggle, an effort to find a new balance, to find the path to success. It was punctuated by frustration at times but never despair. No matter what the team believed. Believed we could do better, that we were better than we had showed. On Sunday we (X-Factor) were the decided underdog, a team with talent and experience, yes, a team that earned a Champions spot long ago but not a favorite or a flashy team. Not an all-star team or a defending champion. In all sports intangibles nearly always play a significant role in the outcome of the biggest moments. Momentum. Chemistry. Heart. And in rare moments it all comes together in victory. X-Factor wins World Cup.