Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Whitebox TV

Whitebox TV: Breaking Down the Challengers at MAO
by: BacaLoco

The camera angles failed to display but since the event is almost here y'all gonna have to settle for the preview version.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

MAO Here We Go

Last weekend we had Impact in for a weekend's grind on the MAO layout and this weekend we had new Challengers competitor Texas Storm in town pounding out the points. From our perspective reversing that practice order would probably have been better but you do the best you can and both teams helped us prepare our game for this coming weekend's event at OXCC. Many thanks. In terms of the nuts & bolts of breaking this field down we're good. We know what we want to do and why and everyone has a good feel for all the various roles this layout requires but when the opposition is lined up across the field and the horn is about to sound and the scoreboard posts up each point as it's scored it all boils down to execution and the will to win. Are you ready?
This layout is interesting in the sense much of the field replicates many of the patterns seen on the PSP Dallas layout--D-wire and assorted crossfield contain lanes--except there's more going on in the center/middle of the field and the snake, which plays very differently. Given the offset positioning of some of the props it will be very important to see how the playing fields compare to the grid--and peeps practice set-ups. With so much clutter on the field narrow gaps and tiny windows offer marginal lanes and even small changes to key props can alter the field in important ways. Walk your tourney field carefully!
This is also a curious layout on account of the fact I expect to see a lot of cautious even slow play, especially by the time Sunday rolls around, in many if not all the divisions despite the fact that when approached with an aggressive attitude and a game plan to match it's very possible to score very quick points and turn any match into trainwreck paintball. Which will or at least could make for a great webcast. It will also make for a difficult field for the refs to officiate efficiently and effectively. Hopefully they will be well prepared too. The faster and more furious the action the more likely we are to see flags fly as the refs are overwhelmed by the speed of the game. After the event VFTD will compare and contrast the Dallas and MAO layouts.

Also coming soon, another installment of Whitebox TV as hosts Randy Randy and Old Grouch breakdown the Challengers action in this historic first event with both Champions & Challengers.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Is Adrenaline Games Trying to Standardize International Competition?

By standardizing the playing field? Now that the PSP has returned to 150' x 120' the dimensions are nearly identical (36 meters x 45 meters is 118' by 147.6') and so far this season the first two events of PSP layouts have been mirrored quite closely in the MS layouts. Except for the A (X) and the (new) 3D giant M how soon will it be before the rest of the bunkers sets align too? As it stands they are already pretty close. With the NPPL shifting over to the Race 2 style bunker set it makes too much sense for a company perpetually struggling in a tough economic environment to standardize the international bunker set--minus the unique center props--not to try and make it happen. My only question is are they, once again, acting independently of the leagues they provide bunker sets for or has there been some agreed upon plan to transition to a universal field set? Given past practices I'm assuming they are simply doing it and waiting for someone to notice as past objections--or claimed objections--have yet to result in forcing AG to change direction.

In a separate paintball mystery I wondering which pro teams currently retain a stake in the NPPL. Far as I can tell there's no way of knowing unless you're already a member and know the secret handshake and password. Last I heard the league had no formal (legally binding) contractual structure or bylaws and no formalized system for booting anyone once in out--but you know there are teams once on the inside that haven't competed in a couple of years--and they can't still be in, can they? Did they forfeit their stake by not competing? Does that mean that Impact is out? Did nay of the new pro teams pony up to buy in. The league wants to claim it's still a "by the players for the players" league but there's more secrecy surrounding which teams, if any, still have an owners stake in the league than when the Vatican elects a new pope.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Growing the Game

It used to be the highest moral justification for whatever you chose to do in the realm of paintball was for the love of the game. Nowadays it's a little different. If you claim your actions are aimed at growing the game you get a pass for most anything because what's more important than growing the game? Do the blood, sweat and tears you shed at the paintball field result in new turf or extra bunkers sprouting up perhaps? Or your online support of a particular tournament series? Does that make it better, more appealing or efficient? Or the routine injunction to only say positive things? Is paintball like plants that shrivel when harsh words are spoken or discordant music is played? Is there a peak output for amateur videos on YouTube that when reached will result in growing the sport? Do photos of players diving into the snake grow the sport faster than photos of players tucked behind doritos? But wait there are also those who are equally certain that the demise of a particular tourney series will benefit the sport too. How does less of something indicate growth? Or maybe 'grow the sport' is just the latest nearly meaningless paintball cliche, a mantra for the slack-jawed and semi-literate. Or the latest code phrase used by the in-crowd who somehow conflate how they feel about paintball with actually doing something constructive for paintball.
I don't mean to burst your bubble or deprive you of that warm, fuzzy feeling you had inviting a couple of friends to play paintball with you that time 'cus I think that's swell. Really I do. And who knows, they may keep playing and invite other friends along and that's a good thing. But if you want to make a real if modest difference every time you play give your business to the local field focused on customer service, a safe and friendly game environment--and be a part of that friendly environment when you're there. Use a little common sense and try a little common courtesy and you will always be 'growing the game' wherever you go and whenever you play. Do me a small favor while you're at it? Quit talking about it and just do it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


It's coming. VFTD is selling out. (Not really but I figure if I say it first it will confuse the haters.) VFTD is not going the typical Blogger-Google Adsense route of stuffing every nook & cranny with some ugly lame ads. What I do intend to do is use a rotating banner ad above the header--the photo at the top that includes the blog title--and a block of sidebar banners representing the blog's sponsors. My intention is to attract inside the industry sponsors. If you rep a company, large retailer, tournament series, etc. and are interested in the possibility of sponsoring VFTD let me know via the email link on the sidebar. In the meantime I will be using the lead-up to and time at MAO to make the rounds.
For those concerned that sponsors might influence content the best I can tell is the same thing I will tell potential sponsors--the value of this blog resides in its independence and the positive brand association readers will make. Besides, I never discuss gear.
Nothing will change other than I will be able to better justify the time and effort spent on what until now has been purely a hobby. Which reminds me, have you seen the "new" VFTD T-shirt promotion. If you hadn't noticed all remaining stocks of VFTD & Deadbox Puppet Army t-shirts are on sale at Baddog and if you want one all you gotta do is click on the image.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Webcast in Euroland

I know, I know, I'm getting to this a wee bit late but there is no expiration date and while it might not be at the peak of its freshness it's still worth posting about. If you are up to speed you know VFTD holds the opinion that PBA has upped the ante for a major league series with their webcasts of the PSP. Webcasting in general is interesting on a couple of counts. The technology is almost daily becoming more accessible and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the webcasting of events move down the tournament food chain in the next couple of years--and if anyone finds a workable revenue model webcasting of paintball events will explode. (All those kids who wanted to make videos gotta do something, right?)
Slightly O/T apparently PBA handled the broadcast of the College Nationals this past weekend, which, in the past has often done a better than average production job. Was this most recent event noticeably better? Worse? About the same? I'm just curious 'cus I missed it.
Back to the Cote D'Azur or at least someplace not too far away, Puget Sur Argens, host of the recent Med Cup--and past host of the St. Tropez Open or whatever they called the event in 2012. While retaining the venue this time around the MS brought in the folks who produced the DPL (German league) webcasts last season to handle the technical side of the Millennium webcast. Unlike the budget webcasts in America that feature the snake wire the Mill's budget webcast featured the D-wire with fixed position cameras elevated in the dorito wire corners of the netting (or thereabouts) and at least one hand held roving the wire. (I watched a DPL event last year with the same basic set-up.) The resolution was barely adequate as any fast and furious action pixelated large areas of the video images--though bandwidth on tap may have also impacted the visuals. Without being overtly critical if one considers the webcast like the proverbial gift horse it was much better than nothing. The question that remains is this a standard the MS will find acceptable--in order to claim that like the PSP they too have a dedicated webcast--or will any effort be made to improve the product as the season goes forward? I guess we'll see.
And what about PALS?

MAO Practice

It's late Monday evening and I've only been home long enough to grab some dinner and take a shower. And I have two more weekends coming just like the one past. First another practice in Texas this coming weekend and then the event the following weekend. And if you'd asked me six months ago what I thought of that schedule looking at it on a calendar I have absolutely no doubt I would'a hung my head and muttered a string of naughty words under my breath--at a bare minimum. And yet, here I am right smack dab--(I'm learning new stuff in Texas)--in the middle of it and I couldn't be happier. Weird, huh? I've never been a big fan of the travel. I'm a destination guy yet here I am almost (but not quite) looking forward to more of the same. And I'm not feverish and as far as I know I haven't ingested any illegal substances. Go figure.
On top of that I had my backpack stolen yesterday after practice. Alex (Martinez), Ryan (his younger son) and I stopped at a Mexican restaurant called Chuy's off the 1604. In hopping out of the truck, an enormous quad cab turbo diesel beast, I grabbed my wallet out of the backpack and in we went for lunch. The truck is so big even Tim Duncan couldn't look inside the cab without using the step so nobody noticed the backpack and grabbed it spur of the moment. Whoever took it had to look inside the truck by opening the door and deciding to lift the backpack while leaving everything else. My son thought maybe the person or persons were hoping for drugs or money in the backpack and if he's right they were in luck--sorta. All my vitamins and sinus meds were in the backpack. Along with maybe two bucks in change, my APPA PSP I.D., some sand, lint and gum wrappers. That and my team notebooks, field layouts, practice notes and a couple of pens. C'est la vie. Thank God I took my wallet with me or this would be a completely different post. And if you happen to run across a two year old Dye backpack spotted with dried paint speckles in the San Antonio area let it go. I hated that APPA photo anyway.
Impact dropped by for the weekend grind minus Bart and his sons who had to stay home because they were buying Manitoba or something like that. It was good to have the rest of the team in and we had a very productive practice both days as we stayed late on Saturday. For those keeping score at home my unofficial stats had Impact getting the best of X-Factor but the points don't go into the record books for another couple of weeks and in the meantime everyone learned a lot and both teams finished the weekend with very clear ideas of how to play the field. Which is kind'a the point, right? There was about the perfect amount of chippiness for a pro practice. Enough to let you know the guys are competing but not so much that the process becomes unproductive. After all, anytime highly competitive guys get together and compete a few sparks oughta fly.
We've got a lot of work to do next week too when Texas Storm comes to town but we have a blueprint for success. Now all we need to do is learn to execute it effectively in one weekend and we're golden. Btw, have you looked at the prelim match-ups in the Champions brackets? Either half could easily be the teams that moved through to Sunday from a year or two ago. Not for the faint of heart.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

NPPL 4.0?

So I was wrong. I had previously predicted the Denver event as the over/under for the demise of the NPPL 3.0. At least this is gonna be fun to watch. (Gee, I hope the checks from HB don't bounce.)
The official statement can be seen here. [Does any paintball company have anyone on the payroll who can write and spell? Doesn't seem like it.] A few items are noteworthy.
But before I get to those it might be worthwhile to do a brief, very brief, historical review of the NPPL. The original NPPL was comprised of representative pro and am teams fed up being at the mercy of the limited number of promoters running national scale events back in the day. The idea was that the NPPL, representing the teams, would sanction specific events after vetting the promoters who would handle the logistics and event operations. Within a couple of years it devolved into a series of individual events run by NPPL members. Without going overboard on the details ownership of the NPPL name and logo lapsed due to unpaid fees and was acquired by Chuck Hendsch. At around the same time WDP had a falling out with the by then PSP promoters, specifically Jerry Braun, at one of the Ponciana Blvd. cow pasture World Cups. Thus was born Pure Promotions and a deal with Chuck to promote NPPL (1.0) events using the 7-man format then used in Euroland by the Millennium Series. Despite a second and third season of operations when it wasn't uncommon to see 200 plus teams signed up Pure Promotions was rumored to be hemorrhaging money and sold their interest to the Pacific Paintball group (NPPL 2.0). Pacific hired Shawn Walker as their event operator and over the next few seasons was unable to stave off declining turnout and in a surprise move the Monday after a tentative merger agreement was made with the PSP Pacific declared bankruptcy. Prior to asset sales of the Pacific bankruptcy Chuck talked a number of pro team owners into the idea they could each pony up some cash and run their own league. The physical assets and intellectual property were bought by Chuck & partners and NPPL 3.0 was formed. Rumor has it that prior to HB 2013 the league (3.0) had spent 300 large more than they had taken in. Throw in a couple of failed TV ventures, a fistful of fumbled merger attempts and the departure of most of the original "owner" teams and here we are today.
NPPL 4.0.
According to the press release the NPPL will oversee (and sanction) events now to be run by PB Promotions--a company[?] that has apparently existed for a few days at most but is believed by most to be a front company for Valken. My sources say such speculation is incorrect and that it is Shawn Walker and Shawn Walker--of NPPL 2.0--alone who will be the event operator using PB Promotions as the legal front company. Walker has past and ongoing on site operations experience in tournament promotions though his previous NPPL efforts were unsuccessful and left him shrouded in ugly rumors and innuendo.
So where does this leave Chuck, Pev & the rest of the "owners"? For starters no longer in charge of the checkbook but still able to sit around and dream big dreams and talk big talk without the downside of actually having to produce anything.
A couple of months ago there were some hot and heavy rumors of Richmond (GI Sportz) and Gino (Valken) both buying into the NPPL. At the time Richmond was also looking to regain a piece of the PSP but the only thing that came of all the threats and bluster was a multi-year sponsorship deal between GI and the PSP. It was also rumored at the time that one look at the state of the NPPL as a legal entity frightened both potential suitors away.
By acting as the event operator PB Promotions avoids legal ties to the NPPL and what may or may not be its current debt burden. In the interrum however it seems fair to ask what resources PB Promotions will bring to the table that will help the league succeed when as the man on the ground for NPPL 2.0 Walker literally had millions of dollars to work with from Pacific Paintball yet failed to be successful.
The one remaining critical question for PB Promotions is: Does a national tournament series exist if it doesn't have a webcast?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Maintaining An Aggressor's Mindset, part 2

If you missed part 1 you don't deserve this link but I'm just that kind of chill dude still willing to help you lazy slackers out--as long as I don't actually have to make much of an effort. I'll wait while you go back and catch up. Any time now. Oh, you're back. Let's continue.

Too often the image we conjure up of the ultimate aggressive player is a rabid beast hellbent on destruction whatever the cost. (Which is admittedly cool--but not productive.) A more useful mental construct is of a hunter. A hunter in search of prey. The hunter prepares. The hunter is patient. The hunter makes every effort to put himself (or herself) into a position from which to strike. But most of all the hunter has a clear perception of his relationship with the hunted. The hunt has risk, there is danger but the hunter is in command. This is the mindset to cultivate.
As a team player it is one thing to have the correct mindset and another to be confident you are acting appropriately within your team's style of play. Here is where a clear and shared understanding of how the team chooses to play is important. Secondarily each player's role will be defined by the team's vision. And here, within the individual player's role in the context of the team orientation, is how you make decisions about what actions are appropriate in any given situation. Remember this is a process and if the members of the team aren't on the same page the individual can only make personal decisions. (Some of which will be good ones regardless if the are predicated on principles of smart play. What I mean is the nature of the game, any game, is such that correctly understanding a situation and acting accordingly is a good decision even if your team fails to take full advantage.) Part of the process, the foundation of the process, is coming to a shared vision of how the team should play as this is the only way to free the individual player to be their aggressive best.
Here we reach the final hurdle. You understand conceptually but you're not always sure you "see" everything there is to see and there are times when you absolutely get destroyed and don't see it coming. Which leads you to feel like you got's a long way to go and may or may not be making any progress.
There is no "easy" button. There is only hard work and the right attitude. (And I may surprise y'all with this one.) The right attitude plays for the love of the game without fear or conscience. The ideal attitude is irrationally confident yet humble. Too often our egos interfere, making us both proud and fearful, both of which are seriously detrimental to learning.
Remember practicing like you intend to play? This is your opportunity to improve. Get out there and screw up. In practice. The more the better--as long as you learn from each mistake--and that means being open to constructive criticism and operating within a team environment that carries a shared vision. And finally, be the hunter. If you aren't the hunter you are the hunted.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

HB (& the Monday Poll) in Review

I was gonna do another episode of Whitebox TV to wrap-up HB but I think it deserves a more serious take. (Instead Whitebox TV will preview the first PSP event featuring both Champions & Challengers--kinda like Matty and Todd--but animated.)
I know what you're thinking: X-Factor wins so Baca won't be dissing the event or making fun of the NPPL like usual. Well, yes and no. Because we won I think it's important I try to be fair but I won't be pulling any punches. First let's review The worst Monday Poll ever.
Last week's The Monday Poll wanted to know who you (the voters) thought would win HB given a pro team line-up that included so many brand new teams. Predictably y'all went with the biggest names, the established teams with the few votes that went to some of the new kids almost certainly based on family and friendship or a wishful level of confidence bordering on insanity. Consequently your results had Dynasty, not unreasonably, appearing on 87% of all ballots with X-Factor next on 77% of the ballots while Uprising was third with 20%. [Some of you may have remembered right about now that Arsenal was on the list and had 27% of the vote. That's correct but since they were a no-show I've chosen to toss their result. Speaking of no-shows there had to be something more to the late Arsenal withdrawal than misplaced dates on the calendar, didn't there? Waiting until the very last minute, almost literally, was a huge snub and one that must have been intended to send the league a message. And not one of well-being or best of luck either. That's also one more big checkbook no longer part of the NPPL.] Contact received 15% of the vote followed by Avalanche at 10% with a number of teams, Vendetta, Explicit, Outlaws, tied at 7%. More interestingly though is how the actual teams performed.
For those with a few years of HB experience it wasn't hard to spot a few shortcuts here and there but nothing that would have effected the competition--with the possible exception of rumors of "missing" chronos. (On the grandstand field it wasn't an issue but there was some talk about conditions on the other two fields.) And it seems the Virtue chips, if needed, weren't supplied as part of a team's entry this year--at least if our experience was indicative--and the cost of the chips was up 50% too. [I might add here that over the course of the last year all the stats promised by Virtue and the NPPL have been non-existent which tends to make a cynic (like me) wonder how well the system is really working.] Word on site was that around 110 teams were competing but a count of teams using the results suggests it may be closer to 100--though that doesn't include any 5-man or 3-man teams--if there were any.
The grandstand (much reduced from the its scale back in the NPPL's heyday) was sparsely populated most of the weekend though the weather didn't help as both Saturday and Sunday were overcast much of the day and uniformly chilly. (The sun made a brief appearance Sunday towards the end of the day.) Also not helpful was the announcing coming from the VIP. Without a scoreboard and with 4 teams playing at the same time--within the same set--it's important that the information provided to fans and spectators make the play comprehensible. Something that frequently lacking but at least Pev wasn't soliciting women from behind the microphone this year--at least not that I heard.
Despite lowered expectations the anecdotal reports I heard from a couple of vendors was that they did better business than expected--and better than they've done at other recent NPPL events. The venue was set-up in the original location, north of the pier, which goes a long way toward creating the HB vibe that has made the venue a popular favorite of the players and of the imagination of Paintball.
Okay, let's take a look at the pro teams starting with the remaining regulars; Dynasty, X-Factor, Vendetta, Uprising, Xplicit, Avalanche and Phoenix Contact (which played Vegas 2012 as their first pro event as a team.) Dynasty and X-Factor are the only two remaining pro teams that also routinely have competed in the pro ranks of the PSP. Uprising came in to this event with some highly publicized new additions and a lot of momentum. Amongst the teams with pro experience a part of the difference in results can be attributed to the amount of practice time the teams get in preparation for each event. This time around it looked like Xplicit was learning the field and how they wanted to play together during the prelims. The same is usually true of Avalanche. (Even on a simple layout like HB--and by simple I mean it played as a straightforward control the wires win the game traditional layout--a number of the teams were fundamentally sound OTB but struggled in the mid-game and failed in the close.) In the past both Uprising and Vendetta have had their high moments but have generally lacked consistency. Most if not all of the boys from Uprising also play PSP so their attentions and preparation for the event were divided. Even so they played with a lot of intensity. Vendetta looked solid and played a consistent and aggressive game all weekend long looking like they were confident in their preparation and in each other. Contact looked improved from Vegas and didn't shy away from making some strong moves but man for man simply don't have the roster some of the established teams do. Contact is also symptomatic of the sort of team that looks like they plan for their breakouts but not their close-outs and as a consequence find themselves up on occasion but clueless as to what to do about it. Of the new teams the two Crushes (Buffalo & Arsenal) and Flashpoint were the least prepared mostly looking ill-matched even against the other new squads. In the case of Arsenal Crush they at least were intending to play D1 originally and bumped up to fill the pro division vacancy left by Arsenal at the last minute. Warped Army was a noticeable level above the basement teams but not quite up to par with the best of the new teams. They were (and are) the Ft. Wayne Outlaws sporting a roster peppered with some old pros, CP Raiders (a successful D1 team from seasons past in the NPPL) and PB Gateway which proved to be a solid if unspectacular team that played smart methodical paintball.
What then does the future hold for the newest pros? I suppose it depends on the fate of the NPPL. Some of the NPPL's old pros weren't that long ago the new kids on the block themselves.
And how much impact will the change in the bunker sets and field dimensions have--if they are ever actually implemented? It's hard to say but the game is rapidly becoming more and more like its competition.
While the tournament itself seemed to go well (and on schedule Saturday and Sunday) there were a few behind the scenes glitches like the disappearance of the color guard on Sunday and rumors of regular crew members quitting either prior to or during the event. If true, it didn't seem to impact the paintball but HB is also the most expensive event in the NPPL schedule and without a cash infusion the league will likely spend the rest of the year in debt (and attempting to break even or even pocket a few bucks). Add to that the so-called 4 star Chicago event is now less than a month away and registration hasn't opened yet nor have any of the event details been released, including a field layout, and it appears like the remaining NPPL leadership is already slipping behind. And Tampa will not be the Tampa of old despite the fact it's a good venue with excellent access to hotels, restaurants and the airport. Nobody plays 7-man in the southeast anymore and if the most magical of all tourney venues, HB, can only muster 100 teams Tampa won't be close. What Tampa might be is the last NPPL event of the current regime.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Maintaining An Aggressor's Mindset, part 1

A while ago (quite a while ago) VFTD received a mailbag request to post on how players in support roles can stay (or become) the aggressor. So here it is--finally. I know now this is gonna go long so I'ma breaking it into two parts. One today, another (hopefully) tomorrow.

First thing we need to do is define our terms so we begin this discussion on the same page. What does it mean to be an aggressive player? Is it the guy who suddenly dashes downfield to bunker out two players and blow a point up? Is it the unopposed snake player who pushes past two or three knuckles without even looking to take a shot in order to get to his opponent's end of the snake asap. Is it the insert who sees his lead eliminated and immediately retakes the spot in order to maintain a position of advantage on the field? Is it the back guy who sees an opportunity to begin pushing a wire hard who rotates out to a corner from home? The answer is it's all of them--and the ability they share in common is recognition that results in instant action. And if either element is missing nothing happens. You can't take the proactive move if you don't "see" it when it is available and you can't make good things happen if you don't act on what you see. (Or, what often happens, is that players will "see" opportunities but over-think them as if they are having an internal debate over whether the opportunity they think they "see" really exists. And by the time they decide it doesn't matter 'cus its too late. More about that later.)
Okay, the aggressive player sees opportunity and acts--but that doesn't happen in a vacuum, especially for a support player. Whatever action you take will have an impact on your team and teammates and in the meantime you have a job to do. And here is where a lot of teams come up short and as a consequence leave their players hanging--and ultimately indecisive.
The aggressive player's mindset is to make something happen instead of waiting for something to happen and it is first and foremost a conscious decision. As a player you make the decision to act--and then you act on that decision.Over and over again until you no longer consciously question yourself, you simply act. (Practice the way you want to play because if you don't, you won't.) That is the basic step but this is a team game and while we all know the lone cowboys who will ride or die at the drop of a hat the loners frequently do as much harm as they do good. So we need to take some additional steps. (Next time in part 2.)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Over At VFTD (FB)

Facebook, that is. If you haven't been checking in regular like you have--once again--been missing out. The latest--and why I brought the word over here to VFTD (OG) is there's a rumor that Arsenal is going to be a no-show at HB. Let me repeat that: It's only a rumor at this time. If true however it would explain why the NPPL posted then pulled their event schedule earlier today. Not only would an Arsenal no-show ruin the schedule it would necessitate reconstructing the whole pro schedule because there would no longer be enough teams to create 5-team groups.
In other VFTD (FB) news T-Harm was Instagramming the original NPPL schedule even as the league was going back to the drawing board.

Yesterday, VFTD (FB) pronounced unalloyed hatred for the new PBN front page and is looking for 500 "like" minded peeps to agree. So far the "likes" are in the fifties. Get over there and add to the numbers and check out some of the comments. Hey, John Dresser of PBN asked for opinions and since he's a friend I thought it only right to respond.

The MS claimed that one of the fields for the Med Cup event had been vandalized and showed a few pictures as proof. It struck VFTD as suspect however as the damage is marginal, the field was (apparently) left lying about on the ground uninflated and what better way to take a shot at modifying their sad reputation than by pretending to pull a PSP outta thin air? (Despite unforeseen hardships the league and logistics crew were able to blah blah blah) I think it's a hoax. I've heard from sources on-site as well who find it both conveniently timed with only minimal damage done. If anyone there sees any police presence etc. I'd like to hear about it.

In other MS related news rumor has it the EPBF rulebook is done. (The new rulebook intended for the Millennium Series but run through assorted EPBF committees to maintain the fiction the EPBF is something other than the latest rubber stamp for the MS Board.) Ironically it hasn't been released or a release date promoted because the rulebook has yet to be reviewed by the EPBF's Ruling Committee.

See the fun you're missing out on if you aren't dropping by VFTD (FB) once in a while?

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Monday Poll: And the Kitchen Sink

Okay, this week's poll--which will close Friday morning before "Pro" matches begin in HB--wants to know which three teams will stand atop the podium with the giant checks come Sunday afternoon as the NPPL season gets underway this coming weekend in Huntington Beach. (Hypothetically the NPPL season kicked off a while ago in Hawaii with the non-existent four star event but that whole non-existent part is tough to overlook.)
(And why you ask is pro in quotation marks? Do you really have to ask?)
Yes, it's a lame Monday Poll. I agree with you 100% but then they can't all be gems. Can't all be exciting, stimulating, consciousness-raising mini-masterpieces of paintball incredulity--can they? They can't. Take my word for it. So sometimes you just have to lower your standards and vote anyway. (You have voted in the *real* world before, haven't you?)
While the NPPL team list still doesn't confirm the total number of competing "pro" teams--much less a schedule--for purposes of today's weak poll VFTD is assuming all fifteen teams will show up. When you vote pick the three, in no particular order, you expect to finish either first, second or third in the competition and as a result walk away with the big money.
Last weekend in San Antonio Warped Army joined X-Factor for a day on the grind getting ready for this event. Hopefully it was a positive learning experience for them and they can bring the lessons learned to the competition. This past weekend the team called in some former players and friends of the team to stock the ranks of the opposition as we spent two days working through every conceivable option, goofy breakout and continued to push for greater and more consistent communication. Now all that's left is to play the tournament and see what happens.

And later this week I'll begin trying to catch up with the backlog in Baca's Mailbag.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Challengers on the Webcast

A recent commenter suggested it was nearly pointless to call Challengers "pro" if they weren't on the webcast. While more than a little hyperbolic he did swerve into a point of sorts. If the PSP wants to enhance the stature of the Challengers--especially early on in this process in order to validate the concept--then featuring some Challengers matches makes sense. The problem is PBA can't rig a second field for webcasting and there are a finite number of matches that can be played on one field. Fortunately that still leaves a small window of opportunity for PBA and the PSP to consider something like a 'Match of the Day' for the Challengers bracket.
Given a ten team division each bracket of five plays ten matches to complete their prelims. That's ten matches per day. Now while that may seem like a full day's schedule it's not. Last year the Pro Division had 12 teams and managed to get in all the matches necessary for a 12 team division in two days. Which was 12 matches per day. So we know 12 can be managed and we know the league will only be running 10 on the webcast field. So what if the PBA picked a prelim match from the first Challengers bracket on Friday and moved that match to the webcast field--and did the same from the other bracket for Saturday? That way at least a Challengers match would get on the webcast each day of the prelims and allow the talking heads to recap how the Challengers were doing etc. so they weren't totally out of sight, out of mind until Sunday.
Logistically the league could use Challenger refs and schedule the 'Match of the Day' during the midday break on the webcast field and all it would take is some coordination between the two fields schedules.
Sounds like a win, win to me.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Latest

I took a long weekend break from all things paintball over the Easter holiday as I went to visit my Dad in North Carolina. I haven't even taken the time, yet, to check and see what might have happened or been said over the weekend either. If there was anything of interest (to me) you can be sure I'll get around to mentioning it sometime soon. In the meantime let's talk a little Challengers and CPL today. When I say CPL I really mean Infamous in Euroland or more precisely a mixed Infamous/XSV squad given that there was an announcement last week that 3 XSV players would join Infamous in Euroland for the MS. I get why KEE wants to go that way but have they really thought it through? All the JT eggs are in the XSV basket so I get including XSV players but what's the likely result on field? Is corporate really maximizing their interest in promoting JT if the blended team's performance suffers? Look I'm not prognosticating, just asking. But so far KEE seems to be asking an awful lot of an XSV team that may not be ready to shoulder the whole load. And sending a mixed squad is unlikely to work out as well for them as it did the old Dyna-pact alliance.
Of course the real interest of the day centers around the Challenger invitees. And I must say it's a mixed bag, isn't it? There was once some talk about going with eight and leaving two slots open for expansion but I guess somewhere along the line it was decided that a complete Challengers bracket was a necessity. So here we go. Now if you're expecting me to verbally body slam some of the teams moving up you're outta luck 'cus I ain't gonna do it. Instead I want to commend all of the teams choosing to accept the Challengers challenge. For all of them it's a real risk and it's gonna be a tough row to hoe. (If you'd prefer a different cliche it's gonna be a tall order to succeed.) And they all deserve credit for taking the chance as I think they all could as easily blow their existing programs up as move up the ladder to the Champions bracket.
But what about the PSP? I had thought the league was doing its best to vet the teams on a variety of criterion--and maybe they did their level best--but I still have to wonder about some of the choices. Who is the ideal Challengers candidate? A team that's been around for a while. One with a track record. A team with a real organization supporting it. One that's been around for a while. (I know. It's that important.) A team that has rebuilt itself more than once. And an organization with resources. The teams with the best chances to succeed, heck, to survive the transition, are teams with functional supporting organizations that have been in the game long enough to understand how things work and sufficiently dedicated to have kept a team going through a series of players and with changing rosters.
Organizationally Top Gun, Texas Storm and Jesters appear to be reasonably sound. Less so Sac DMG and Royalty. The first three also have an advantage in the test of time. DMG has a core roster of experienced players and Royalty has Shane Pestana, old skool Ironman and outstanding coach. Top Gun lost some key players to TonTons but moving up should make all the new Challengers a more desirable destination for good players looking for their shot at the pro ranks. For now I think this group of Challengers need to focus on learning what it's gonna take to truly be competitive and then making that happen. If they made the move with outsized expectations or an unwillingness to take a few early lumps they won't last. Commit this season to learning and growing and next year they may have what it takes to test themselves against the Champions.