Saturday, December 20, 2014

History Lesson

Leaving aside for the moment the new 'no coaching' rules for the pro fields and the quagmire that will be uncapped semi-auto I want to take a closer look at the other new pro rule--release of the pro layout the day before the event begins. VFTD views this change as a very positive move in redirecting how players train and a playing field leveler when it comes to the costs associated with practice. But I also want to take a look at it from the PSP's perspective--at least inasmuch as that's possible with the limited amount of info available. With follow-up interviews of Lane Wright on Social and Tom Cole on PBN the only official statement addressing the layout release change (indirectly at that) comes from the original press release

"PSP believes these changes will provide Pro players with exciting new opportunities to exhibit the skills that make them the best players in the world while simultaneously providing fans with more exciting contests between the best teams in the game."

It's not a lot to work with. But it will do. I understand how 'no coaching' is intended to impact game play. I also understand the argument about semi-auto even though I think enforcement will be virtually impossible. (But that's another conversation.) But how releasing the layout at the event will help create "more exciting contests" escapes me. Sure it sounds good but what is really likely to happen? We can't know for certain but it's possible to make an educated guess or two. 
Let's begin with a little history lesson. The last time competitive paintball revealed layouts at events the premier game played was 10-man and/or 7-man (as early NPPL 2.0 had multiple playing fields.) When 10-man still ruled game times were 15 minutes. 7-man games were 10 minutes (although that was eventually reduced to 7 minutes primarily for scheduling purposes.) Today if a point lasts two minutes it's boring and impossible to watch--or so we're told. Game plans were formulated to win games not to win fast or win flashy. Even the aggressive teams unless involved in a grossly mismatched pairing took minutes to win games, not seconds. If you're thinking that was a completely different playing environment and the purpose was to challenge the knowledge and creativity of the players--not to speed up the pace of play--you might have a point.
Ignorance of the field and its nuances will have the same effect ignorance on the paintball field always has: uncertainty results in delay, hesitation and inaction--not the opposite. Teams that are by nature or design cautious will likely be more so while they learn as they compete and the teams more aggressively oriented may attempt to push the envelope but only if they succeed. For years the league justified RaceTo on the basis that anytime a 3 point gap in score occurred it almost always assured victory to the leading team. So if a team is predisposed to be aggressive but aren't successful how long do they keep pushing the envelope? One point? Two points? The magic three points? Do you see where this is leading?
Another simple reality is that the playing field remains the playing field. I know pointing out the obvious is kinda boring but bear with me a minute. ("A whole minute? You've got to be kidding!") Given the current dimensions and bunker set whether the particular positions are known or not each layout will have the usual fundamental characteristics in play, two wires and a center that may or may not be useful plus a few lane blockers and even fewer bunkers that feed the wires. Smart teams will use that knowledge as the basis for how they begin to think about playing an unpracticed layout. And their goal, more often than not, will be how to best avoid unnecessary risk and maximize live bodies early. The results will look very much like the pro game has looked of late regardless of the changes.
One last thing. Re-read the league quote above and ask yourself if the stated goals are good for the pro game why not divisional? Or why the league is trying to create "more exciting [pro] contests"?


Anonymous said...

Excitement can be a bit different than you are stating. Imagine a 3 min point with the normal rules. Pretty straight forward stuff and it is boiling at an accelerated rate. As soon as big stuff can happen the point ends in 15 seconds

In the same 3 min with no coaching, you are on the edge of your seat for the mid game. Watching two opponents share a bunker, or when a guy makes it onto the other side for instance are now entirely different. Why, might you ask? Inside your head when there is no coaching, what's the rush to make a mistake? You will try to be sneaky and fish out some extra kills before getting seen. Even if nothing is happening for the viewer movement wise, they will be biting their nails watching paintball. As a player you are now allowed to make an unseen move. Moves don't HAVE to happen in 5 seconds flat to be effective anymore. Now viewers will see the pro players work out big moves as the game unfolds. Moves that are not only bigger, these moves last longer and keep you watching for longer.

Baca Loco said...

That's really swell, Anon, except the post wasn't about sideline coaching.

cash said...

I completely agree with your entire post Baca and while at it, I think going back to Semi is only going to justify the timid play. Most of the players playing the PSP today are not used to walking the field for the first time, let alone semi auto. Put those two together and you have a group of players all kind of playing a brand new game. Given the state of Pro teams right now and everyone having to fight for their given spot, no one is going to want to make a mistake in this new PSP format. I really think these first 2 events are going to be somewhat boring to watch.
On that note, like you already stated, the best thing about not releasing the layouts is that teams can now focus their practices on other things. But to be honest, if teams weren't really doing that before hand, then there was already a problem in the practice regimen and I'm not so sure teams will initially change it up, or for that matter, even know what to change it to.
The old school players/teams will be able to respond faster to these changes as they've been down this road but some of the newer teams are going to have a hard time with this new set of rules.

Anonymous said...

Baca you said the game would look the same regardless of the changes. I was just stating that, yes 90% of the point will look the same. Difference being maybe a nail biter moment or two during the point, plus a much more creative closeout. Looking the same yet still adding excitement

As far as the layouts.. yeah a lot of teams will hit the learning curve hard. Only serves up bigger opportunity for the teams that know how to walk a layout. Same with semi auto, teams that can't shoot will be timid (or maybe the opposite, relying on aggression instead of gun power. Either way trying to force it instead of play to the field strengths). Doesn't that open up the door for bigger moves when we see more lopsided matches as the teams adjust to the rule set? I seriously doubt that out of the top ten teams in the world, majority can't walk a trigger.

Look at dynasty, Kyle can't shoot semi but they have Ollie, Alex, Tyler, Ryan, and Brandon that can easily step up on snakeside. They have all played a ton of semi, not to mention played back when there were events with more layouts and no coaching. Teams like Infamous, Impact, X Factor etc have plenty of experience with this stuff.

Baca Loco said...

I agree to an extent though I think most of the "Champions" will adjust reasonably well there are other factors in play that matter; Format, field dimensions and bunker kit all have an impact.
The semi-auto thing will be dependent on what exactly the rules turn out to be and I'm not even gonna try and make a prediction about that except they will eventually have to cap it.

I will grant that for the knowledgeable viewer there will hopefully be occasional additional moments of excitement and suspense but that's not what the league is after. Beyond that much of what you're hoping for will be precluded by the format, dimensions and bunker kit.
Appreciate the comments Anon but don't sell Kyle short--he'll do what it takes to get up to speed.

Anonymous said...

Baca, I think the last part of your post is the most important.... Re-read the league quote above and ask yourself if the stated goals are good for the pro game why not divisional? Or why the league is trying to create "more exciting [pro] contests"?

My thought is that the PSP has to create more exciting pro contests in order to revive the "dying" webcast. Without true statistics on viewership/revenue, it would seem that the webcast is losing money. This maybe a last ditch effort to get more people to purchase the webcast, even if it is to see the crazy methods in which they intend to enforce the "semi-auto" rule. Or, the PSP may be trying to create more exciting matches if they have some outside investors/sponsors that they are looking to entice (dare I say... TV?)