Monday, June 23, 2014

PSP Chicago: Sunday & Monday

In Dallas I kinda sorta borrowed a golf cart. At MAO I had one assigned to me and in Chicago I had one assigned to me I didn't get to use. (I'm not sure if the league is sending a message or not. It's not like I've wrecked one yet or even run over any pedestrians--although there as that yappy little dog but that was a service to humanity.*) Fortunately Chicago was a nice compact layout so it didn't really matter--and besides there wasn't any place to park it anyway. And it was put to good use. At least those are my rationalizations.
Sunday proved to be the day the weather gurus expected Saturday to have been. Clear skies (mostly) and sunshine until mid-afternoon when a few clouds dotted the sky. Reports of a storm front on the Iowa-Illinois border produced a few anxious moments as the powers that be--whoever they are--decided whether or not to move some of the divisional finals in order to play the final pro games early. Determined to avoid a repeat of Saturday's final matches the schedule would have been accelerated if the need had arisen. Fortunately the divisional finalists got their webcast moment on the Champions field as all the Sunday matches went off without a hitch.
By now you've likely seen the scores and/or know the results--congrats t all the winners--but did you know that the D1 final went to the one-on-one shootout to determine the winner? Or that TJ All-Stars are from Mexico. Or that all those pristine clean jerseys became unidentifiable within a point or two? While the weather was fine the standing water and mud pits remained. On the plus side just consider how expensive a mud bath treatment is from an upscale spa while here in Chicago the PSP included them free of charge. (I know I feel pampered and my skin feels softer. Well, except for the sun-burned bits and, yes Mother, I did use sunscreen.) Hopper stickers remain a hot property apparently as about half the ones distributed to the divisional teams weren't returned--and, no, they couldn't possibly have used all the numbers up. Perhaps I should start taking a sticker deposit before handing them out at Riverside (or wherever it is near Riverside we'll be in August for the next PSP event.)
There were some excellent close matches on Sunday and a few blow outs. The blow outs were often as a result of penalties putting one team or the other in a hole they couldn't climb out of quickly enough. It's a hard fate to swallow in the best of situations but particularly difficult when either relegation or victory is on the line. I am not so far removed from my time on the sideline that I've forgotten the feeling.
Art Chaos on Sunday came out looking like the team I expected to see from the very beginning. The biggest difference was attitudinal. They weren't breaking out differently or shooting new lanes but were much more aggressive. They weren't passively waiting for good things to happen, they were making good things (for them) happen and when they play like that they are tough to beat.
Infamous remains in Challengers (much to their chagrin I'm sure) and are being joined by X-Factor and Aftershock. As the next event leads into World Cup and only two Challengers will move up to the Champions bracket at least one perennial Champions team won't be included. It should make for some exciting and brutal competition.
Despite the loss to Art Chaos on Sunday VCK continues to prove they are a team that belongs in the pro division and may yet prove to be a team to be reckoned with--although their first time in the Champions bracket will certainly be an unforgiving learning experience.
If you missed it the other day we had a unique situation--an inadvertent buzzer caused by a paintball. It happened during the RL versus Ironmen match. Ironmen were rolling up the Legion when suddenly a buzzer sounded. At first it was assumed the Legion had conceded the point but no, they hadn't. Neither had the refs or the tower. It had been the Ironmen's buzzer that sounded but why would they concede a point they were about to win? Turns out they didn't. In a truly bizarre fluke the wind had blown the net up against the pit scoreboard and a shot paintball hit the buzzer button flush and set it off. Under those circumstances the rules specify all live players go to their respective starting stations, the clock is set at ten seconds and the completion of the point is played from the horn. Turned out (after reviewing webcast video) that the Ironmen had five alive while the Legion only had one player. As you can imagine it didn't last long but for all practical purposes it was just the completion of an interrupted point.

As each field finished tear down began and by the end of Sunday much of the process was already complete. The pro field scoreboard still needed to be taken down on Monday and thousands of feet of cable needed to be cleaned but the majority was taken care of on Sunday. Of course that still left repacking the scoreboards and related equipment and then stacking all the gear on pallets that are then wrapped for shipment. But every part of the process is constantly being reviewed for improvement. For example, at MAO we had electrical failures do to all the rain. Chicago could have easily been a repeat but between MAO and Chicago new routines for set-up were instituted and there wasn't one similar problem in Chicago. On the ref front early on this event we were at the mercy of the weather as storm after storm cancelled, delayed and diverted flights. The last of the missing refs finally arrived Friday morning. It's both frustrating and nerve-wracking to have everything organized and ready only to see it fall apart at the last minute do to forces beyond any control. Despite the complications though everyone stepped up, worked hard and generally with good cheer--except me, of course, I'm old and grouchy.

* No dogs, yappy or otherwise were actually harmed in the creation of this post. So lighten up.


sdawg said...

It seems unthinkable that a long-time marquee team like Infamous could remain in the Challengers division. Do you think that, as more an more "top-tier" teams are relegated, the team owners will begin to demand a change to the format that makes relegation more difficult? Or remove event-to-event relegation all together?

Anonymous said...

If top tier teams can't make it out of the challengers division, then it would seem they are not top tier anymore. At that point the team owners should rebuild their teams or make changes to their methods.

Anonymous said...

You left out the part where you criticize the event location for the time of year, and ask 'how hard it could be' to just go to a place with guaranteed sunshine (you typically throw out some examples)
How come you've started leaving this kinda stuff out?

vijil said...

Loved the layout this time around. Great to watch, still saw a variety of tactics.

Baca Loco said...

That push has been in the works since last year actually and will likely gain steam. The general consensus is that upcoming Challengers ought to face the bottom Champions and win to take their places instead of churning teams that don't face each other.

144 Anon
In Chicago it turned out that Infamous and Art Chaos faced each other in a semi- so someone was going to stay down. At Riverside since there will be 3 perennial Champions in Challengers only two--at most--of them can get back into Champions for Cup.

358 Anon
For starters I have direct access now and I'm aware of a few more factors nowadays.
If you would enjoy seeing me include those criticisms then I whole-heartedly agree with you. At the same time the league made a real concerted effort to improve the CPX venue this year.
And if it's any consolation I did suggest flipping MAO and the Cali event.
From the league's perspective though it's a tricky proposition for a couple of reasons. One, it's tough to impossible to move dates around much--there's a week here or there but that's about it--so that leaves adjusting locations and the league's bread & butter has largely been the midwest and east so they have concerns about breaking patterns. (And the simple fact is the Phoenix venue, as much as peeps claimed to love it, had an uneven turnout history. Was that because it was a left coast event kicking off the season? Maybe.)
So in principle I agree. It seems like more could be done but at this stage I expect it will be too--just cautiously.

Sean Ponder said...

I watched the webcast all weekend and have a few comments:

1) much more exciting layout than MAO and from a webcast viewer perspective, was way more entertaining.

2) This year the teams seem to be much more evenly matched. It really is the case that anyone can beat anyone this year.

3) Penalties played a huge factor in deciding the outcome of games on sunday. Some certainly well deserved but some.. not so much.

4) webcast was great and certainly worth the 20 bucks for the weekend.. and it actually went smoothly from the start

5) i read a post on pbnation about how the pro field should use a standard bright color for paint shell and fill to make it easier for viewers to see. This is an idea that really needs some attention.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Agreed Sean Ponder

Although, I'd like to add to item 2, that Chicago also saw some teams struggling immensely with paint.... or rather with their gun/paint combo.

It was clear to see that some team (who shall remain nameless ;)), would have done a lot better, had they not been shooting more spray than whole paintballs.

Sean Ponder said...

Agreed on the paint issue but as a further note, i'd like to add that vicous making the finals in Dallas, Aftershock making sunday at MAO, and Heat, Infamous, Art Chaos and Xfactor all being relegated this season really has me pumped up going forward. It really is going to be tough a pick a clear favorite for the remaining events.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Yeah, and Ironmen looked better than in a long long time

EC Lil Baller said...

I think paint was a huge issue in MAO as well. Teams shooting Evil on Friday morning struggled immensely and I would go so far as to say a couple in the that bracket lost as a result of their flamethrowers. With the margin for error getting narrower and narrower it sucks to see teams lose because of that.

I think the bright/hopefuly camera-visible shell idea sounds interesting. I know in the past the darker shells have been touted as providing an advantage precisely because they are harder to see by opponents. With the webcast now PPV does it make sense to give the customers something easier to see? This ties into the question of should there be a greater effort to ensure a more "exciting" layout to attract/retain viewers for PB Access.

Baca Loco said...

Relative paint quality is always a factor. Chicago had some of the best paint I've seen in a long time across the board.

Re: bright shell. It's easy to see outbound and incoming but I'm not sure it matters much from other angles given the velocities involved. Still it's worth looking into.

Anonymous said...

GI had paint that turned your gun into a flame thrower, and so did Evil.

They also had paint that shot.

You could also open the bags up for 20 minutes before packing your harness out and be fine.

Or you could blame the paint.

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