It has been my concern for some time that competitive paintball isn't breeding the same number of pro caliber players it once did. Most blame it on sideline coaching but the beginning of the decline pre-dates sideline coaching. (While sideline coaching hasn't helped it's a symptom not the problem.) Others blame it on the current dominant format and I understand why but I'm convinced it's less about the format than the way the majority of new players are taught to play the Race To format. (And, yes, other formats did put an emphasis on different aspects of playing the game. Some of which aren't particularly relevant any more.) What matters can still be taught however. It's just that the average competitive player's paintball education is incomplete--and I'm not drawing the line anywhere along the spectrum of player experience.
Partly as a consequence what we see today in the off season are established pros being recycled like NFL head coaches. Like NFL head coaches the pool of players with a track record of competitive pro level ability is small--and not really getting larger, certainly not at a noticeable rate anyway--so the established pros end up shuffling around between top tier teams instead of those teams developing new players or taking risks bringing in untested talent. (This isn't universally true but close enough to be readily apparent.) The only pool smaller than the pro player pool is the successful pro paintball coaches pool. (But I digress.) And, yes, while I'm at it, it's true some teams have tried developmental squads and players but the results haven't matched the expenditures so most no longer attempt it.
Today I'm wondering if the Champions bracket hasn't exacerbated the reliance on recycled pros. The ten teams that became the Champions bracket in Dallas last season lasted a single event. By rule two Champions teams are relegated each event. Four are at risk of relegation. Only five teams didn't face the risk of relegation all last season. Five teams. The pressure is enormous. To use another football analogy it used to be that new coaches had a window of time to implement their system and fill the roster with capable players. Four or five years wasn't uncommon. Now a new coach is lucky if he gets two years to turn losing franchises around. (With the frequent result that those teams stay mired in mediocrity while recycling the same guys over and over again.) Top tier pro paintball teams have always wanted to succeed. Everyone plays to win but the new formula doesn't allow for having a bad tournament much less a rebuilding season. Some team's reputations survive down times but once the top tier status is in question sponsorship goes elsewhere. The known commodity is the safe bet. Lose a player, replace him with another player of equal ability if possible. Avoid the relegation churn. If the deep pockets aren't deep enough, for whatever reason, it's gonna be hard to turn the inevitable slide around. And even if they are there is no guarantee the next batch of recycled pros will deliver the desired results.