In case you have been living under a rock (or for the few who read paintball magazines and don’t follow paintball.) World Cup is the final stop for the NPPL season. It is held every fall in sunny Orlando, FL (Kissimmee actually, but they are very close neighbors.) Teams from all over the world attend in hopes of competing with the best. With the inclusion of the millennium series this year’s cup saw more European teams than last year.
Pretty much everyone agrees that last year’s World cup was a disaster. Safety
was non-existent in many areas. Fields were set up haphazardly and the netting was horrible. The prize packages were pathetic and it appeared that the event was set up to funnel spectators and players through a small corridor of vendors that payed extra for the privilege. There were many magazine articles calling for an improvement and the NPPL even went so far as to restructure the way promoters acted concerning future events. Jerry Braun had a lot to make up for.
So was it better than last year? I think it was. The vendors were placed more logically, the netting was superb, and the players had a great time. I had the opportunity to spend most of the week walking the fields, taking pictures, and interacting with the vendors. The following is what I observed.
First let me say that the turn out of teams was phenomenal. Monday had over 190 five-man teams registered and Thursday brought another 184 ten mans teams. That is a huge number of paintball players for a single event. The divisional breakdown went as such: Ten-Man: 15 Pro, 20 Amateur A, 83 Amateur B, and 66 Novice for a total of 184 teams. Five-man: 18 Pro, 21 Amateur A, 85 Amateur B, and 70 novice For an equally large 194 teams.
While the rest of the state was drenched in rain Orlando had sunny weather all week. The fields stayed dry and play went off without a hitch. Whoever bribed the weatherman did a great job. Even if it did rain there were plenty of covered areas for spectators. The weekend (Semis and Finals) did turn a little chilly, by chilly I mean 60s and 70s, and players had to cope. Obviously some teams laughed at the so-called cold. Can you say Russian Legion?
The vendors were set up in a couple of different ways. There was the main Vendor tent and then the larger vendors each had a pavilion outside of their sponsored field. A few stood out more than others.
TC Paintballs brought an oasis complete with sand, water, and two baby alligators. Rodney Erwin could be seen walking around with a gator in his arms most of the week. They even went so far as to import the plants from their native Miami. (I guess Orlando plants aren’t tropical enough for them?)The beautiful women passing out pods of free paint almost got as much attention as the alligators!
WDP had a whole side of the trade tent to itself, offering free tech support to Angel owners. (How much support the beautiful women were offering is up for debate!) Our booth was located directly across from theirs. I thought I would have nightmares about markers constantly firing. (One of our staff claimed he already had!) They must have been doing a bunch of repairs.
DYE also had a tent all to themselves showing off their new Mask, the Invision, and a customized hinge-triggered Dye cocker.
Smart parts had a series of small tents lined up offering free tech support and showing off their pretty new markers and Max-Flows..
Mantis gear out of Michigan showed up with a line of new equipment.
Unfortunately most of their stuff was almost a direct copy of another companies established line. By the end of the tournament they were asking reporters not to take pictures and were refusing to sell anything.
Facefull magazine, Meteor Paintball, and Adrenalin Productions made the trip from Europe to share a tent and show off their edgy new lines. Meteor has a line of custom markers, Facefull is the edgy new magazine and Adrenalin makes documentaries.
Kingman’s tent they had two air-conditioned trailers one they set up a showroom
in and the other they set up a series of playstations for people to relax with. Their beautiful Raven girls managed to wear a smile all week as they passed out free snow cones.
I was most impressed with the JT setup. Their tent stood out for its color (Bright JT yellow), which matched the JT field as well as its content. Tables and chairs were set up along the netting (Under the tent) to watch the games. What made it special was the gorgous DJ who announced the beginning, end, and highlights of each game played on the JT field.
System X Enterprises came all the way from California and brought a series of clear polycarbonate barrels and angel accessories.
Community Fire Equipment came from New Jersey came offering their paintball support Services to do onsite Hydro testing for $20.00. They would even take the regulator off for you. The turn around time for testing was fairly quick. These folks also had a hospitality tent that provided misting fans as well as ice water. These folks came all the way from New Jersey? Their web site is www.communityfire.com
So did all these vendors bring anything new and exciting? Not really. I was especially looking foreword to getting my hands on some new and innovative equipment. To my surprise there really wasn’t anything new released? Dye did bring their new
masks. AKA was on hand with their new Viking. The Viking is basically an open bolt variant of their Excalibur. By making it open bolt they were able to use a single solenoid and save a bit of money. Look for more info about both of these products in future issues. Where was the Halo? What about the new colored Ricochets?
The air stations were fabulous. Baur compressors are responsible for these great set-ups. For those of you who havn’t seen them at past NPPL events they are completely player oriented. There is one attendant at the entrance to the tent that checks your tanks pressure rating, it’s hydro date and looks for any dings or cracks in the fibers. You then walk up to a box, attach your tank and press a button. Your tank fills automatically. Simply disconnect and walk away. They had about six tables set up with two connections on each table. I never actually saw a line at the air station. With 200 five man teams that is an accomplishment of monumental proportions. (Can you even remember the last time you didn’t have to stand in line to get air?) The longest anyone had to wait in line was at registration. Almost 200 teams take a bit of time to get signed in. A few more people handling registration would be welcome. I am sure the folks doing the registration had to be as frustrated as the teams waiting in line for hours.
Which brings me to the reason most everyone was there; The games themselves. The fields that encouraged outrageous play also earned the most criticism from the
players. The PMI, JT, Diablo, and Smart Parts garnered their fair share of negative remarks. From a spectators point of view these fields were great. They each created exciting play in a different way. Players were forced to think outside of their normal Doritos / Bear can routine. Those that did were rewarded with spectacular muggings and glorious wins. Those that couldn’t get past the change fell by the wayside.
From my point of view the referee staff was outstanding. They knew the flow of the game and were able to be in the right place at the right time. I am sure bad calls were made, but then name me a sport where a bad call hasn’t been made. Every close call that I witnessed was handled fairly and quickly. The referee staff did have the benefit of a couple of new rules this year. It seems that these rules have brought about a bit of controversy. The first is the use of the hand held chronographs on the field. I completely agree with this rule. It seems to me that the only way players are going to take the velocity limits serious is if there is strenuous policing and enforcement of the rule. Yes it is possible for the referee to get in the way while checking a player, but it is equally possible that the referee will pick the moment wisely.
The second was the dead box rule. Players are required to return to their dead box, sit behind a barrier and face away from the field. I can’t tell you how much controversy or the number of arguments that this rule ahs prevented but I can tell you that I witness surprisingly few this year.
Play throughout the week was outrageous at times and lacking at others. Some teams were unprepared for the new dead box rule enabling a single opponent to hold off three opposing players. I got my first glimpse of the fabled Russian legion. While I was not impressed with their five-man play, I was completely in awe with their ten-man performance. Their hours of practice showed in their tactical and technical efficiency. Everything I had heard about them was true. There is no question that they play stand-up paintball. As I reported earlier in the season Bad karma would be making their debut with a brand new (fully sponsored) 10-man squad at Cup this year. While not what they (Or myself) expected, they did come in9th place in the 5 man division. Missing the cut by only 2 points.
When it was all said and done the ten-man competition came down to this; Dynasty took 1st, Aftershock took 2nd, and Bob Long’s Iron Men took 3rd in the Pro division. Amateur A saw Trauma taking 1st, Farside taking 2nd, and Naughty Dogs taking 3rd. The Amateur B breakdown was Warped Kids in 1st, Outta Control in 2nd, and Mox Nix in 3rd. And Finally VIP taking 1st, Nonstop taking 2nd, and Mortadelos/Kaya taking 3rd in the Novice
The Five-man competition broke down like this.
Pro: Aftershock 1st, Ground Zero Chaos 2nd, and the Ton Ton Flinguers 3rd stndrdAmateur A: Strange Red 1, Strange Black 2, Shocktech 3. stndrdAmateur B: Ravage 1, Static 2, Rebellion 3. stndrdNovice: Static AKA 1, Hawaiian Homegrown 2, Team NME 3.
Each of these teams played awesome and deserves the win. Congratulations.
One of the more important things going on at cup was the formation of the Professional Reffing Organization. (PRO.) If you have read any of my previous articles you know how strongly I support this idea. I believe this makes the third effort to from a centralized referee corp. (PTI, and WPF being the first two.) Why do we keep
reinventing the wheel? Almost every promoter, sponsor, and player would benefit from a centralized referee corp. that were trained uniformly and were paid to referee events. Hopefully the three training programs will grow together. The only other alternative would be for one to dominate and basically put the other two out of the running.
Were there things that needed improvement? Of course there were. A complete lack of local advertising hurt the event. Driving through old town there were no signs as to which road to turn on. There were no radio spots exclaiming what a great time there was to be had. There was nothing. If someone didn’t have directions ahead of time you were pretty much lost. (Unless you remembered from last year how to get there.) There was no indication that the largest paintball event in the world was even going on right under their noses! Signs, advertisement, and flyers are a must for an event this size if you want it and our sport to grow.
A couple of unfortunate incidents did happen during the first few days at the cup. A player stumbled and fell (On open ground) breaking his ankle. The nearest paramedics are only about a quarter of a mile up the road so treatment was prompt. (I was wondering how they could get away with not having a medical team on site.) Numerous eyewitnesses stated that the player did not trip over the ties that hold the Ultimate Air bunkers in place. Yet it was agreed upon that that particular field would be shut down while some of the bunkers were restaked. The second incident occurred late in the day Thursday as all of the ten man teams were arriving. Some individuals decided they would steal a couple of markers from the Smart Parts tents. They were caught at the gate and detained until the police arrived and took over. I understand that Smart Parts did not press charges. In my opinion that is an incredible act of good faith. A felony record is hard to get away from.
I had a great time this year. The event as a whole was extremely well run. The fields were safe to play and watch. The air system was convenient. The play was spectacular. Hopefully next year will be even better.
I have to say a personal thank you to the folks at Paintball Junkies and Redz for all their support throughout the event. Both Dick and Red were outstanding in the help they offered to me throughout the week. These companies seem genuinely concerned for the player and our sport as a whole.