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"?