Monday, November 18, 2013

Tracing The Evolution Of Paintball

The idea of presenting the top five influences on the evolution of tournament paintball was suggested by FOB (Friend of the Blog) Nick B. And it's a good idea but I want to expand it a wee bit. So to get the ball rolling VFTD wants to know what you think are the top five influences on the evolution of tournament paintball. But if five is too hard then one or two will do. All I ask is that you not only list your influences (in the comments) but give a short reason as to why you think a particular thing is a top five influence. Keep in mind we could be talking anything from technology to rules, formats to rate of fire. Anything that has impacted the game is fair game for being named a top five influence. After y'all have had time to ponder the question--and offer up your ideas--VFTD will use the best or most often mentioned top fifteen or twenty suggestions in an upcoming 'The Monday Poll' so that even the laziest of the lazy slackers can have their say. And after we've determined your top five I will list VFTD's top five influences on the evolution of tournament paintball and we can argue about it all over again.
I'm guessing that there will be near universal agreement about two or perhaps three of the influences when it's all said and done but at least a couple will generate a lot of disagreement (and name-calling if we're lucky.)
What are you waiting for? Surely you can think of one or two things that have changed the game in important ways.
Btw, we're saving the name-calling for the end. This post and the comments are for posting your influences and reasons--not for commenting on somebody else's choices. Time enough for that later.


Devon said...

Technology- reliability and ease of use has really become a huge aspect of what the consumer wants

Format- the use of the raceto format has dramatically changed the way the game is played from being fast paced explosive moves almost every point to slow methodical(some would say boring)points in which teams are playing not to lose.

And lastly, I'm not sure how to classify this but the gap between good pros and everyone else is borderline ridiculous. You see the teams that have the most experienced players usually winning. Newer pro teams can't do anything to excel past teams like this because the more experienced players on the powerhouse teams keep getting better and better.

Anonymous said...

1. Air filled bunkers. Symmetrical playfield. Easy to build up/down. Able to copy the layout around the world.

2. Race to -format. Actual game time increase. Single referee/technical error doesn't ruin the whole game -> better team wins. Audience/coaching participation to the game. Rewards more organised teams -> increases organization generally in sport. Able to copy the format around the world.

3. Scoreboard
Game is more understandable for general audience with visible and changing score & time.

4. Computer driven markers with eyes. Easy to shoot without breaks, easy to control ROF. Everybody can shoot the same ROF = equalizes skill levels.

5. PBA Webcast. This shows the best this sport has. This boosts everyone to train harder. This demonstrates our sport to anyone in minutes. Every sport needs a media and audience.


Nick Brockdorff said...

I'm doing people/entities, and just to be difficult, I'm going to do 6:

1. Jerry Braun for conceptualising the first major league which grew into the PSP we know today.

2. WDP for bringing the game out of the woods and into a stadium setting with the Hyperball World Championships, and for bringing the first electro-pneumatic gun to the broad market.

3. Laurent Hamet for inventing both the standard bunker system of our sport and the Millennium Series which was groundbreaking at the time.

4. Dynasty for completely reinventing how the game was played, from a defensive and slow game to an aggressive and fast game. Everyone today can trace the way they play back to what Dynasty started.

5. Richmond Italia for revolutionizing the way manufacturers viewed the paintball market and for inventing the X-Ball format.

6. Russian Legion for professionalizing the game to a degree that had never been seen before (or since), both in training and at tournaments.

Anonymous said...

1 ) Electronic guns - made everything quicker and faster pace.

2 ) X-Ball - emphasized athleticism and took the game permanently out of the woods.

3 ) Coaching - took many things away from the game but more importantly it made for a generation of malnourished skills and ultimately, lowered competition.

4 ) Paintball's branding image as a whole - Made the game appeal to the wild childs which in general, don't represent the socio-economic status that paintball needs its users to occupy in order to be successful.

5 ) Paintball's online presence in general - The rise of the internet helped guide a younger demographic to paintball.

John D said...

Playing age - Lowering t to 10 has meant lots of young players at local fields. Often these players have less money, less ability to travel and less problems overshooting new players which has lead older players to leave.

Format - Points based system leads to people getting more tries at playing, playing from both sides of the field and there's less penalty for getting shot. Coaching leads to dumber players, less sneakiness, encourages trading out and discourages big moves.

Airball - Means easier setup, more ability to run tournaments anywhere, balanced fields, less splatter and fewer holes to look through to discourage hiding.

Gun and hopper reliability - Guns work better than ever and can shoot more brittle paint than ever.

Locked Pro division - Makes it harder than ever for divisional teams to gauge if they can compete against pros. Takes some of the cool factor out of playing big events. Less upsets. Less fans of divisional teams.

Missy Q said...

I agree with 3 of Nicks.

1. WDP bringing the game out of the woods to symetrical arena-based viewable fields.

2. Introduction of Electronic guns such as the Angel.

3. Dynasty's impact on the team-base

Then I would have:

4. Brass Eagle breaking open the big box market (this should be on everyones list btw)


Baca Loco said...

Good start, kids. Some of these are great and some are nuts. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Dye for keeping it alive. There would be no Xball/Race2 today if Dye didn't hold on when it was a sure thing the NPPL was the dominant league a few years back.

Chris said...

1) Television, as in the desire to be shown on it, leading to the tape-focus of airball fields, among other things.
2) Climate, as it affects different regions' ability to support pro teams.
3) The extreme sports industry, as it provided a template for monetizing a hobby.
4) Player technology: Constant air, electronic guns, force fed loaders: the amount of paint in the air reduces movement.
5) Published standardized field layouts, and the degree to which they encourage or discourage risk taking, and reward practice repetition.

Reiner Schafer said...

#1 The very first paintball game in New Hampshire in 1981. It was, after all, the first "competitive" paintball game and where it all started.

Mark said...

1) The Free Market: The "for profit" league winning over the "players" league with a better format, better personnel and better officiating.

2) Venues: the relinquish of the desire to hold events at marquee locations, and the money wasted on them.

3) The paintball video: Showed everyone how dorky early players' lack of athleticism and how god-awful the gear they wore was, prompting a style and athletic revolution.

4) The humble paintball field/Local tournament series promoters: Those few fields around the country that will still invest in a $4k airball field (or 4) so competitive teams can practice, compete in local events, and thereby, dare I say? Grow the sport!

Ken said...

1) Baca's Blog.
2) The extinction of the drop forward.
3) The birth of Missy Q.
4) Splitting of the leagues.
5) Smackbox.
6) Robbo and PGI.

Anonymous said...

No particular order:

Electronic guns (WDP and Smart parts, angel and OG shocker respectively)

Hyperball (WDP world championships) brought tournament game out of the woods


OG NPPL (Jerry Braun and co.)

Speedfeed (beyond me that this has not been mentioned. We are talking about the evolution of tournament pball, right?)

Mike said...

1) Air bunkers - competitive paintball evolved from woodsball, to hyperball, and air bunkers which is the current (and longest standing?) bunker format.

2) Electric Markers - Increased rate of fire

3) Dynasty - yes the team. Changed the way teams play, how athleticism was an advantage, and established one of the first teams people look up to and emulate in the way they worked up through the ranks.

Joe R said...

Top 5 influences:

1.) The Internet. Honestly, would even a quarter of the discussions or teams exist right now if we couldn't all brag / discuss / flame somewhere on the Internet (be it PbNation, VFTD, ProPB, Warpig, etc)? Not a chance.

2.) Gun technology. There are several instances of paradigm-shifting technology throughout paintball's 30+ year history: semi-automatic markers, use of compressed air over Co2, advent of electronic markers, advent of force-fed hoppers to keep up with the super-fast markers, and the advent / implementation of ramping in guns. I'd argue that tournament paintball hasn't really seen a technology paradigm shift since 2003/2004 with the widespread use of force-fed loaders.

3.) Concept field. Whether you want to give credit to WDP and hyperball or Sup'Air for the inflatable air bunker (I'd tend to lean toward the latter), having a field that is not in the woods where everyone can watch what's going on significantly changed how the game was played, and how it would be played going forward.

4.) Hyper-aggressive play. Credit this to Dynasty and Image - Image was a prime example of a team playing with reckless speed while we were still playing on wooded fields, and Dynasty played with the same level of reckless speed but on the new concept fields. Both teams, IMHO, broke the molds of what should be expected of players in competitive paintball. Honorable mention: Russians and their individual skills development.

5.) PSP. PSP took organizing paintball tournaments to the next level - providing on 3 core competencies: fair & similar playing surface no matter what "field" you play on, quality refereeing, and an on-time schedule (for the most part). Eschewing the NPPL marketing-driven tournament for a tournament run based on giving each and every team a fair experience, for a reasonable fee, allowed teams to play a similar game no matter what division you were playing in.

6.) Brass Eagle / Tippmann. I was going to completely skip over this one until Missy Q mentioned it, but Missy is right. General public exposure certainly ushered in a large group of players who were willing to not only play for fun, but play competitively, even if they weren't using BE markers. Tippmann's contribution was in the readily accessible guns for $250 for a full package (mask, gun, loader, tank) that were super-reliable, putting guns in player's hands without having to fully understand the intricacies of how the marker worked. (How many fewer players would we have if everyone had to learn to play using Autocockers / Automags / Brass Eagle Talons?) This was also great for local fields as rental markers, as they could put one in a 10-year-old's hands and tell them to point and shoot.

7.) Honorable mention #2: dedicated coaches. There were always team leaders, but most of them also played on the team. Some teams still operate this way (Vicious up until they picked up Todd, and upTon 187). While I think that understanding exactly which 5 players are lining up across the field from you back in the day used to be a simple enough strategy to prepare for, dedicated coaches took the burden of decision making away from the player-coach and caused the game to be more about preparedness for each opponent as a team. No name drops here, as the list would be too long.

7.) Honorable mention #3: APPA. Biased here, but I do believe that the classification system ushered in by APPA / Raehl / PSP has certainly shaped how modern paintball is played by ushering in the age of Divisional paintball. Whether you agree with the outcome or not (and I know Baca has his reservations, especially about the older classification rules), readily accessible information on the play history of individuals helps foster a similar competitive environment for teams entering tournaments and establishes a path of team goals.


Kevin said...

Great question --

1) evolution from CO2 cartridges to CO2 to HPA. Remember when 6-pack CO2 changers allowed for superior firepower? CO2 to HPA was also huge, allowed for sustained high rates of fire without shoot-down.

2) Hyperball/concept fields. Choosing a side in a tournament used to carry the possibility of a tremendous advantage. Plus, visiting teams were at a huge disadvantage to any home team.

3) Introduction of the electropneumatic gun. The shocker was the first, but WDP changed everything with the Angel LED (IMO).

4) Cost of paint. In the early 1990's, paint was $150/case, and shooting a bag (500 rds) a day was slinging some serious paint. It would simply not be economically possible to play today's game with yesterday's prices.

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