The first thing you see exiting the elevator is a sign that reads: Places of refuge available in both stairwells. Only in Cali I think to myself. Only in Cali. Refuge, eh? Worn out tourist refuge? Snail darter habitat perhaps? What sort of refuge does California think exists in the fourth floor stairwell of a Hyatt hotel? From a tsunami maybe but that's not where I'd want to be when the San Andreas decided to fault once and for all. Viva la revolucion? Not so much. Tornado? No thanks. Terrorist attack? Hmm, no. Nor was there any refuge for the unprepared on the unforgiving fields of PSP Riverside.
Speaking of the fields whatever sort of soil and seed begat that grass in drought ridden California we need more of it. Looking yellow by Sunday that was the result of paint, not wear and tear as the surface held up remarkably well. The venue itself accommodated the six fields easily but if there had been a need for much more than that it might have been a very tight squeeze and the available space also largely separated the vendors who were there from the fields and players. Parking for most was along the street or in a dirt lot across the street and I heard something about a daily parking fee being charged. If true I imagine it wasn't well received. With the exception of the parking situation and the ability to avoid the vendors if so desired it was an ideal place to play paintball. Even the boneyard was paved and nary a hint of rain or puddle of mud anywhere in sight to mar the proceedings. The weather as well was superb with temps only reaching slightly uncomfortable levels a couple of days but even the heat was mitigated by a constant cooling breeze. Lastly, downtown Riverside and a nearly endless supply of hotel and restaurant choices was less than 10 minutes away. The only real downside to Riverside is the distance to LAX and even then (for the smart traveler) Ontario International airport is about twenty minutes away.
The setting was one of the best in recent years. The stories to be told some of the most dramatic in recent memory. The results more than measured up to the hype. Art Chaos finally fulfilled expectations by beating Impact in the Champions final after dispatching Russian Legion in the semifinal. For RL it was a return to past glory as the team has shown consistent improvement over the course of the season. In the other semi Impact stopped Damage once again leaving the prelim powerhouse short of the ultimate PSP prize. In one relegation match 187 sent VCK back to Challengers but I expect VCK to profit from the experience and to come back more determined than ever. In the other relegation match Dynasty lost to Heat which sent the most storied team in competitive paintball down to Challengers for World Cup. And from Challengers only X-Factor made it back up to Champions as both Aftershock and Infamous failed to regain a Champions spot. Instead newcomer Revo will make their first Champions appearance at World Cup. Most of the matches were fairly decisive although there was some controversy in both the Infamous and Dynasty losses. In any case neither team played particularly well and in fact I say that was mostly true across the board as even the successful teams fell well short of their potential. Chaos, for example, was more aggressive in Riverside but also somewhat disconnected which resulted in some excellent positive points--enough obviously to win--but also more than a few blow outs too. Even Impact, despite their continuing success looked less efficient and unified than have at times this season. Otherwise only Revo, RL and at times, X-Factor delivered a standard of play that measured up to their potential. I don't know what it is but it's been a season long trend so far.
Divisional play proved as hard fought as the pro matches with some new names appearing at the top of the standing which should only see the season ranking tighten further as the league enters the stretch run to World Cup.
There is more to say but as I'm sitting in the airport trying not to fall asleep that's gonna be all for now. I'll catch y'all later.