Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bitburg and Beyond

Millennium Bitburg is a wrap. Impact wins again. The rest of the top 8, more or less, from Puget trade spots like a game of musical chairs and Art Chaos is left scratching their heads once again with another mid-pack finish. After two events the North American teams are still leading the CPL pack with the rest of the competitive teams so close in series ranking to be almost indistinguishable from one another. Then there's the 8-10 slots with teams like Ton Tons and Art Chaos who expect to be higher up the rankings--which is still possible--but only just. They are followed by the non-contenders who at this stage are really working to stay in the CPL.
Yesterday local police confiscated some player guns outside the Bitburg venue that didn't have the required F stamps and there was a rumor the police would return today. So far VFTD hasn't received any info regarding a follow-up or the results of yesterday's grab. German law classifies airguns as firearms and requires the F stamp to show the markers are legal in Germany. So no stamp no marker for you. The unspoken reality is that any marker used in competition in Germany is illegal by German law F stamp or not because they exceed the ROF restrictions. This complication is nothing new but having the popo show up at the venue is. Word yesterday was that the MS was trying to get the markers back but police procedure is to destroy confiscated illegal firearms--including paintball markers.
Of greater interest (to me anyway) is the lesson being illustrated this season by Impact and Art Chaos. (It is a lesson that everyone will claim to already know but one that almost no one ever acts on in reality.) Art Chaos entered the season with a reunited Russian roster of past Russian Legion superstars along with some additional top Russian talent and other hand-picked top players. The expectations were sky high. How could they not be? Practically an All-Star roster, experienced and winning coach and tradition--How could they possibly fail? Compare that to an Impact roster rebuilt in the off-season after the loss of 3 top tier players with admittedly other established pro players but players with less experience and less successful resumes. By normal reckoning, straight talent for talent, Impact shouldn't be as good as they are--at least not until the new players improved and proved themselves.
So what's happened? Art Chaos is struggling for respectability and in the meantime everyone is bewildered by their performances and clueless to explain their results. Impact, in an experimental and rebuilding year, struggled the first day in Dallas and since then has turned it around completely and is vying for titles at every event since Dallas. And they're doing it with ostensibly an inferior roster to the ones they've had in recent years when victories eluded them.
Are the old players overrated? Are the new kids better than expected? The answer to both is probably not. So what is making the difference? Why is Chaos struggling and why is Impact successful?

As you've likely heard by now the APL cancelled Chicago. (Are you following VFTD on Facebook?) They had a good excuse whether it was true or not hardly matters. what mattered was that nobody was signing up and paying entries. For all you (I'm guessing 5 or 6) lamenting the likely passing of the APL and the loss of another outlet "for growing paintball" take heart. What happened when the NPPL died? Well, first we had a couple of zombie NPPLs and then the APL but that's not the point. The point is there will always be a replacement if even one person thinks an opportunity to get into the tournament business exists. And if you were to list all the tourney series that have ceased operations you will almost certainly be able to name a series that popped up or expanded or whatever to take the "lost" series place. It is the nature of things--even in paintball.


Nick Brockdorff said...

I'll hold off judgement on AC until I see the field design for the next PSP event.

Arguably, the field designs at the last PSP event and the MS event this weekend are the most defensive seen in recent years.... and the first MS event had a very defensive snake side.

So, it is quite possible the AC team just doesn't have the mentality to slow play, even when you should slow play.

Interestingly, those are the events where Impact did best.

I really hope the next field designs in both PSP and MS benefit the teams that can play fast aggressive ball, so that we can see if Impact is the real deal and if AC truly sucks this season.

Baca Loco said...

Excuses excuses, Nick. Suckage is suckage. AC played plenty of 5 to 7 minute points at MAO and lost most of them. If you're trying to suggest the layouts are favoring some teams that may be true but isn't it also true that the hallmark of the best teams is that they succeed under a variety of circumstances?

Nick Brockdorff said...

Oh, I totally agree with you on that!

I do not think I have said AC was the 5th coming (All Americans, Ironmen, Dynasty, Legion), who that is going to be, is still to be seen. - I think they really lack the discipline Kiril brought to the team when they were all on RL.... and they have to find that part of the game again to become great.

Speaking of who the 5th coming is going to be.... I know my dream starting line up amongst current players, to create the perfect team (there is a blog topic for you ;)).

Anyway, I am not making excuses for AC, nor do I have any particular affinity for them, except for being a Berdnikov fan, like most knowledgeable paintballers.

I was just interested to see, how much of an impact (pardon the pun), field design played in ACs demise, since field design was a recent hot topic - and this weekend again showed how boring paintball can be to watch, when leagues pay too little attention to field design :)

NStoer said...

Good teams know how to play fast or slow, bad teams know how to play fast

I do agree with you where I believe AC needs a more disciplined regiment but these results are just plain sloppy regardless of the layout

At some point I think the embarrassment will get to them and we'll see a fast turnaround, doesn't help that they'll get a cake walk at Chicago

Justin Pope said...

I don't understand why an event would be hosted in Germany if the form of tournament paintball that we all are used to playing is pretty much illegal. If I was a player flying from a foreign country, I would not want to risk having my marker confiscated.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Justin: Because one of the owners of the MS, is also the owner of a large german paintball distributor... and because Germany is the 2nd largest european paintball market, after France.

Anonymous said...

Baca, I'd love to read your thoughts on the layout in Bitsburg(sp). I recently used the webcast to go to sleep, as the games were so long and drawn out. Are we going to see major changes to the layouts (both Millenium and PSP)? Paint sponsors cannot be happy with field layouts that cause all 5 players to shot over 7+ pods a game... and it just seems that the games are really boring spectators. How can it be corrected if at all? Good teams will find a way on most layouts to lock up lanes and just wait, but what if the field layouts actually gave a reason to move up. Watching the Bitburg event, it seemed like there was no advantage to moving to even the 50 snake as you still didn't have many shots available. Can any webcast (think PBAccess) survive when spectators are now paying to watch boring games?

Baca Loco said...

I'll address you're questions in a separate post later this week.

Session said...

There are teams that traditionally play an aggressive game who manged not to get completely stomped out on this layout. So completely blaming the layout is absurd.

While far from pro myself(D2 at the highest) It quickly became apparent that it is hard to force the move on this layout without getting cut up. Professionals should know this, and adapt.

You cannot be a slave to the layout in the Champions division

Anonymous said...

"It quickly became apparent that it is hard to force the move on this layout without getting cut up. Professionals should know this, and adapt. "

They did adapt - by not moving.

NStoer said...

"How can it be corrected if at all? Good teams will find a way on most layouts to lock up lanes and just wait, but what if the field layouts actually gave a reason to move up"

Look at the Dallas layout this year, which was too aggressive. It all just depends on the layout. Defensive-teams will lose on a fast layout and fast-teams will lose on a defensive one, and the best teams can play both.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Anon 11.48:

I'd think the paint vendors love the recent layouts.... by far the majority of the teams at the events pay for paint, which even at a discount, makes the vendor a profit.

Events have never been great business for paint vendors, but when consumption goes up, it goes from poor business to ok business.

Nick Brockdorff said...


I am not blaming the layout for the results - I am blaming them for insanely boring paintball to watch.

When you make a layout that allows inside back players to control almost the entire field from large bunkers, through the same 2 lanes, AND moving up doesn't really give you much of an advantage, as you are still pretty much playing heads up with the same guy - you get stalemated games.

Sean Ponder said...

totally agree with Nick. When pretty much every team breaks out exactly the same way, point after point with nobody really pushing at all... it is like watching paint dry.

Nick Brockdorff said...

The leagues should not forget..... we are all paintballers.... all of us watching and thinking "wish I was there".

None of us think paintball is best, when we just sit there shooting endless, boring lanes.

So, why on earth would we want to watch it, much less spend money to go take part in it?

Like it or not, paintball is turning into a new type of entertainment industry... the type where you do not just want to watch... you want to take part.

It's a business model that allow a creative league a much more varied potential income stream, than what is seen in traditional pro sports (who we should not try to copy too much).

Imagine for instance a league owning a string of fields - and running game days that allowed locals to try the PSP experience.

The possibilities are endless.... unless you make paintball boring to play and watch that is.

The leagues should think about this kinda of stuff, and act upon it.

Anonymous said...

Some of the divisional guys I talked to enjoyed the MAO layout because they felt like they could make their spots and "play paintball". I suppose you could say it's a step back, but it had a bit of an old school feel to the layout where you had to shoot lanes and gun fight for awhile before closing out a point. That's not great to watch, but it's actually not boring to play.