Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pro Teams for 2014: Vicious

Vicious has a story. Competitive paintball's version of the up by their own bootstraps success story. To many Vicious did it the right way, they moved up the ranks with one success following the next until they earned their way into the pro ranks. And if that's where the story ended nobody would blink an eye except for the sentimental brushing away the beginning of a tear. But that isn't where the story ended. The Vicious story goes on and living in the past doesn't satisfy the future.
Of course it's no small feat to reach the pro ranks period. The list of teams in the past that managed it is a short one but, again, dwelling on the past doesn't serve the future. And what Vicious requires to complete their story is pro success and by most accounting that's a win; a permanent record that if only for one day at one tournament Vicious was the best team in the world. That is an elusive prize.
It is also a prize that the current structure of the league and the team itself make very difficult. But the 2014 season is one marked by an uncertainty that could easily infect every event and leave the established order of the past--even just last season--in ruins. Can it change to favor Vicious? It can but it probably won't.
In preliminary brackets of 5 teams everyone plays everybody else and only the top 2 from each bracket advance. There is little margin for error and no way to gain a favorable draw. The literal difference between moving on to Sunday versus fighting to avoid relegation can be a single point. There is no place to hide, no place to hope that luck will be on your side just this one time. When the league had 12 teams it was possible for fate and the draw to conspire in a team's favor--even if only once in a long while. Not anymore. Yes, there are a lot of close calls, tight scores, uncertain outcomes until the very last games are played but those matches tend not to favor Vicious either. Over the last two seasons their PSP record was 21-26 and that includes winning two Challenger brackets last season. In matches determined by 2 or fewer points they were 5-9.
The reason is in their DNA. The very things that boost their popularity, a home grown team of friends, is also one of the things that holds them back. The strength of the team was forged in a crucible of sound fundamentals and tempered with precise execution and firepower. They do not play a sophisticated game, they play a straightforward game and rely on brute force to overwhelm their opponent. It's an excellent formula to excel in divisional paintball. At the pro level it's not enough. Their roster is solid and consistent but lacks breakout talent or a breakout player who has the ability to change points. And when they are routinely competing against teams that have more talent and/or unique players Vicious frequently struggles coming up a step slow or a second or two late in making a critical decision. At this level of competition it is often small differences that eventually add up.
During the preseason so far Vicious has made a concerted effort to get more practice time against other pro teams. They've been to Florida and California but scrimmaging other pros isn't going to be all that helpful. Vicious as a team has always been tenacious. They always play hard to the last point no matter the score and competing against pro opponents holds no new surprises. Consequently simply scrimmaging isn't the best way to try and address and fix their weaknesses. (It is certainly possible to focus on strengthening weak areas while scrimmaging but it isn't the ideal scenario.) And two areas Vicious might take a hard look at are capitalizing on eliminations OTB and closing out points. It would be an interesting team statistic to have but without hard numbers I can only offer the impression that Vicious doesn't win a high enough percentage of points when they eliminate an opponent OTB and routinely fail to take advantage of those same eliminations by taking up more of the field. Likewise working on making changes and improving in those areas as a team are more easily and quickly accomplished with drills, reps and simulations.
Currently caught in the no man's land of better than the majority of the Challengers and not quite as good as most of the Champions a swing of a few key points could make the difference between hanging in Champions or slipping further down. VFTD sees another season much like last year in store for team Vicious.

Next time, Ironmen. Hint: mission 


NewPro said...

Its been said time and time again about this organization, they need a game changer, a player who isn't a robot and someone who can make things happen when the gameplan goes out the window.

If their system can handle someone who doesn't normally qualify as a Vicious system type person initially, they have the firepower to win. Your analysis nails this point by point and adding another homegrown hero is not the answer. Unleash the bucks, bring in a ringer and if that doesn't work, I will run naked across the 50 during the WC webcast.

Baca Loco said...

No need to punish us all for your mistake, NewPro. :)

Anonymous said...

My feeling is that the 'flair players' don't want to play for Vicious for the following reasons.
1. They are no fun
2. Omaha
3. They are insular
4. Nebraska

None of the above is likely to change.

Anonymous said...

How much of a problem is Karen?

NewPro said...

Only knowing what Ive read/heard/assumed, shes the Queen, very opinionated but breathes this sport until the end and loves "her" boys. On the other hand, anyone who doesn't kiss her feet, gets those feet in the ass.

The "flair" players need some wiggle room but unless Todd convinces her, dey be no wigglez.

As coach said, Vicious is maxed out skill wise and if no G's are made OTB, Vicious lose the war of attrition.

For the love of F%$#, try a couple ringers to support the die hards.

Anonymous said...

Drew Templeton

nuff said.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing no-one complains about Karen while she's paying all the bills, just when she's doing all the other stuff.....

Anonymous said...

Complain or no complain, her leadership isn't giving them wins or entry into the champs div.