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NPPL 2003 Las Vegas
Super 7 Man Series Tournament
April 10, 11, 12, 13, 2003
- Pro 1st Place
The NPPL Super 7 second leg was planned for the location where casinos and flashing lights clash with the southwest desert - Las Vegas, Nevada. In years past the professional Vegas events have gone from the dusty desert outside of the main part of town to the All Sport Complex just off of the Strip. This year, the venue moved to a more spacious and player friendly location of the Sam Boyd Stadium. Pure Promotions built the tournament fields on the grass practice fields next to the stadium used by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The Sup'Air fields were surrounded by the same netting and fiberglass pole system used at the previous event, but had an added new twist - field lines. Each field tapeline was painted on the grass with division lines marking the 50, 40 and 20 percent distances down the field. Most of the grass on the field was dormant with patches of green scattered throughout, providing some padding over the hard earth base.
After the success of the first event at Huntington Beach, speculation was high about how the league would survive the second event, if Pure Promotions and the NPPL would pour the same attention to detail and expense through the entire series, and whether any venue could match the spectators seen on the beach.
The team support for the Vegas event was in force with 124 teams showing, a definite increase over the 89 teams who made the trip to the beach in California. Redz Factory moved their amateur team up to play professional along with their sister team who took 6th after Huntington Beach. Moving up from their 9th place amateur status, Redz Red would take the 11th place pro slot after 80% of their amateur ranking points were given to them. Joy Division made the trip from Sweden to play this event after their reffing stint at the first tournament. The NPPL no longer awards reffing points, so the boys from Sweden started in the 14th place slot followed by another European team who made the trip, the Russian Legion. The Amateur bracket welcomed several new teams to the event including novice ranked Fatal Swoop Black who placed 21st in Huntington Beach. Novice and rookie teams flourished in Vegas, increasing by roughly half the number of teams.
Teams walked the fields, practicing breakouts and slides into bunkers through the day on Thursday. Clear skies meant unrelenting heat - sunscreen was in order for the day. The tournament site was laid out for efficiency, with even shorter distances between staging and fields than Huntington Beach. The five fields were arranged in a U shape, with individual team staging tents inside the bottom of the U. The individual tents with walled sides provide an added sense of security for teams, as opposed to general staging in a single tent where gear bags mingle on common tables. Midway through the center of the U were tech support tents and the score table, while the air fill stations and porta johns were placed between the arms at the top of the U. Outside of the bottom of the U sat the ring of vendor and sponsor displays. The field layout meant that the public had access to view one sideline from each field, while walking distance for players was minimized. It proved to be one of the most effective layouts ever used at a large paintball tournament.
One of the items that drew much attention in the vendor displays was the new Angel Speed. This new Angel model features new internals for improved gas efficiency at low pressure, lower voltage operation, easier maintenance, more advanced anti-chop features and control electronics that are stripped down to performance features without the extra bells and whistles found in the IR3.
The NPPL "center court" field formed the bottom of the U and featured a full grandstand on the outside. While preliminary and quarterfinal games rotated through all the fields, the center court would feature only pro teams during the semifinal and final round games. A new change was planned for the finals. At Huntington Beach the finals were changed from the previous round robin system to a best two out of three matches between the first and second ranked teams to determine first and second place, and between the third and fourth ranked teams to determine third and fourth place. Starting in Las Vegas, the league would move to a best of 5 finals for the top pro finishers.
The preliminary rounds started under clear skies with cool temperatures at 8:00 am. Through the day spectators and players alike were treated to a miniature air show. A local radio control model airstrip was located about 150 yards north of the fields and model planes performed aerobatics maneuvers in the skies to the north. A sound system with speakers through the staging area piped in background music, and allowed for announcements to get teams to fields quickly, to avoid schedule backlog. The Chill Zone inside the player compound offered a shaded break area with both water and fresh fruit available at no charge to players. With the dry desert heat and full sunlight, hydration was an important factor to avoid heat exhaustion.
As the temperatures heated up, so did the competition on the fields. In late morning and early afternoon the fields stayed reasonably close to schedule, a few getting slightly out of synch, but the lunch break helped by giving fields time to catch back up.
After most teams played at least four of their eight games, the sun started to set on the first day of the Vegas event. Wind gusts having taken their toll throughout the day, blowing the Mantis monster bunker over the top of a tent and lifting the Raven truck's awning up and over the truck, there was some concern that the wind would pick up over night, but the forecast was looking to be more of the same, sunny skies, temperatures in the 80's and light breezes.
Breezes were a welcome respite from the heat of the prior day on Saturday morning. The light clouds cut the temperatures down by several degrees which led to happier players and staff alike. Games started out on time at 8 AM, actually getting ahead of schedule on all of the fields by mid-morning. The referees for the event were drawn from a number of Scandinavian teams, as well as independently hired referees most of whom hailed from Northern California. Some of the unsung heroes at the tournament were the field and site crews. Local area teenagers were recruited through the Las Vegas I&I Sports paintball store to police and clean the fields during the two minute breaks between games. These crews, with 5 or 6 youths per field were armed with squeegees and buckets. Their primary job was to clean bunkers between games to minimize paint rubbing onto players from the props. Their efforts made the fields look much more professional than those at other events.
Through the day as spectators filtered in and out of the grandstands for field one, Matt Marshall of the Los Angeles Ironmen and Will Orroyo of New York Xtreme announced games backed by music from the event DJ.
NPPL tournaments are formatted with inter divisional preliminary rounds, meaning that teams play not only teams of their own classification, but above and below as well. Teams are divided into two groups, to allow their games to be scheduled predominantly in either the morning or afternoon. Occasionally, depending on the ratios of teams in each group, a morning team will have to play an afternoon team. This can lead to a long wait, such as playing an early morning game, and not playing again until the afternoon. Two of these games which crossed the time boundary were rescheduled into the lunch break, with the referees on the NPPL field voluntarily giving up some of their eating and resting time in order to make the day smoother for the two teams.
Stolen gun alert - Saturday afternoon a 2K black stock LCD Angel with Cobra mid rise, blue Warped volumizer, Cobra stick trigger, DYE 14" barrel, and OTP Barrel, serial number 9939 in a Warrior Sports gear bag. Reward if found. Anyone with information about this paintgun, please contact WARPIG.com.
Saturday evening the preliminary rounds came to a close under the last of the day's light. Wind gusts ripped loose netting and snapped one of the fiberglass poles on the corner of the Angel field, so the last game being played there needed to be moved to the Raven field, stopping the game mid-play.
As the NPPL's official Internet Resource, WARPIG.com had set up the tournament's quarterfinals schedule earlier in the week using a traditional snake method to distribute games throughout the fields. Pure Promotions, the tournament producer asked for a new schedule which would place all of the pro games on the NPPL field which was the showcase location for the event. When the second schedule was printed and distributed Saturday afternoon, it drew an immediate reaction from pro team captains who were concerned that games could be fixed or thrown if their quarterfinals were played sequentially rather than simultaneously. Pure Promotions then reverted to the original quarterfinals schedule, but the added delay printing the different schedules meant that they were not available while teams were still on site, but would be distributed later at the player's party. This presented a problem in making certain that all of the quarterfinal teams had the correct schedule.
While players and staff headed to the Sam's Town casino for the player's party a handful stayed behind to deal with the wind damaged netting. Ultimate Judge Phil Dominguez, Tom Bromfield, and one other field crew worker were left behind to affect the repairs. They were joined by Bill and Dawn Mills from WARPIG.com, Terry Stolmeier from Shibbyschwing.com, and Southern California paintball player Pete Hollenhorst who would not leave them to go it alone. After removing the broken corner pole a new one was forced into place against the wind with a manlift and forklift and then the lower edge of the net was resecured. At the top of the net caribeiners and locking d-rings kept it connected to the top cable. At the lower end, caribeiners tied down the net to a bottom rope. Under the strength of the wind, many of the aluminum beiners failed and bent open. This left the net billowing in the wind from the top cable. The net was wrestled back into place by sheer manpower and bodyweight. At one point the wind gusts carried a section of the net back into the air with Bill Mills still hanging from it, his 195 pound weight outweighed by the force of wind against the net. Other poles which had worked themselves loose in the soil were secured with new guy wires, and guy wires which had snapped or torn their stakes from the ground were resecured. One damaged pole was buttressed from the side with a second pole lashed to it on an angle. Field repairs wrapped up shortly before one in the morning. During the day field staff added new guy wires and secondary poles to support pole that had cracked or worked their way loose in the soil.
At the Sam's Town casino, the players party consisted of what became known as the launch and the raunch. The launch was the debut of the NPPL DVD produced by Brad Maughn for Pure Promotions and the NPPL. Maughn is already known in the paintball industry for his work on the Jawbreaker video series for Warped Sportz. The DVD which covered the the Huntington Beach NPPL tournament drew praise for its quality, but also criticism for focusing heavily on pro teams and Dynasty with comparatively little recognition for the amateur, novice and rookie teams. The raunch was the Miss NPPL contest, a bikini contest with competitors recruited through Las Vegas area radio ads. The player's party wrapped up with a musical performance by B Real who also competed in the tournament on the Warped Sportz sponsored team Stoned Assassins.
Through the night additional sections of netting tore free from their bottom rope and needed repair before games could start. For player safety, some sections of the player compound with loose poles were blocked off with barricades. Games got underway at 9:00 am, the teams competing in round robin quarterfinals.
The top eight pro teams advanced to the quarters. This sent home 7 of the 15 teams. The Naughty Dogs led the pro teams followed by Dynasty and Nexus. For Nexus, making the cut marked their first time playing on Sunday in the NPPL, in their second event. Nexus was not alone in making the cut as an overseas team, Tontons, Joy Division and Russian Legion were all playing in the quarterfinals. The Tontons, having mentally prepared to play all of their games on the NPPL field were very displeased with the change in schedules used which placed them on the Zap and JT fields. Avalanche, having been concerned with a hard draw in the prelim schedule still captured the needed points to put themselves on the Sunday schedule. Bushwackers International ranked eighth with 440 points which was an unusually low cut for the pro division.
Similar to the pros, eight of the twenty three amateur teams moved on to the quarterfinals. KAPP was in the lead followed by STP and Cartel. Eclipse Factory Red edged out Sharp Shooters for the 8th slot by a single point at 622 winning 6 of their games, which is the value of one live player at the end of the day.
The novice teams, with a field of 43 competitors were shooting for 16 quarterfinals positions. CheckIt Factory played undefeated prelims, with Team Platinum followed by BK Dogs, sister team to the Naughty Dogs. For the novices and rookies the quarterfinals would be tougher than for the pros and amateurs. Because there were twice as many teams in their quarterfinals it meant that only one team from each division would progress to the semifinals instead of two. The novice cut was 502 points with Backwoods XS Sports coming in the 16th slot.
The rookies also had 43 teams competing, and the preliminary rounds whittled them down to 16 semifinalists. Team G&C Electric, known through the northwest tournament scene for their chocolate chip cookies, ranked first going into the quarterfinals. They were followed by Money Shot and Atomix Factory Team. Yard Dogs made the 16th seat with 408 points which was an unusually low cut for the rookies.
The quarterfinals knocked teams out leaving the semifinalists. The Semifinals only selected the order of the top four teams, so any team making the semis would be guaranteed to rank at least fourth place in their classification. Team RM went into the semifinals ranked first, meaning they would play fourth ranked Outkast. They would play the best two out of three to decide who would go to the winner's bracket and who would go to the loser's bracket in the finals. Similarly, second ranked Backwoods BBQ would find themselves playing against third ranked Draco.
Vicious topped the novice quarters to face fourth ranked Outkast in the semis. Second ranked Shockwave Los Angeles was then matched up with third ranked Draco.
Fusion topped the amateur teams to face off against fourth seated Viewloader Allstars. Second seat KAPP Factory was paired up against third ranked Extreme Rage Factory Team (Static.) The pro semifinalists matched Dynasty against 4th seat Russian Legion. Over the past year Russian Legion has been the subject of much attention due to their intense commitment and training, but haven't found themselves in the pro winner's circle at a US event, or even the final four, so their semifinal placement alone marked a strong accomplishment for the team. Second seated Naughty Dogs faced the third seated Bushwackers international.
Dynasty posted a pair of wins over Russian Legion putting them in the shot for first or second, and leaving the Legion with at best a third place finish. Naughty Dogs topped the Bushwackers pitting them against Dynasty in the finals. In the NPPL's new pro-focused finals format, the showcase position, first place would be determined by a best out of 5 finals round, while the 3rd and 4th, amateur, novice and rookie finals were best out of 3. Viewloader Allstars bested Fusion in two games, and KAPP dropped a game to Extreme Rage Factory / Static but won two out of their three matches. Vicious defeated Tippmann Effect in two matches, and did Shockwave LA over Atomix Factory Red. Team RM beat Outkast, but then dropped a game to them and beat them again. Draco was victorious over Backwoods BBQ in the two games they played.
The first pro finals game was between Bushwackers and Russian Legion, with the Wackers winning, but in the second match Legion's training worked and gave them the victory. Their third match, the Russian team gave up one body to win with a near perfect score, securing third place for them, Bushwackers in fourth. KAPP Factory defeated the ViewLoader Allstars twice in their final rounds giving them first place victory, Viewloader in second. ER Factory/Static defeated Fusion, then dropped to them in the second round. Winning their third game against Fusion put them in third place Amateur, Fusion in fourth. Shockwave LA defeated Vicious and Atomix Factory Red defeated Tippmann Effect. Team RM beat Draco twice in a row giving them first place rookie over Draco's second place finish. Backwoods BBQ defeated Outkast twice in a row putting them in third place rookie, and Outkast in fourth.
Naughty Dogs defeated Dynasty in their second match, putting each team at a single win. Tippmann Effect and Atomix Factory Red stood with a win for Tippmann, and a tie, with the refs checking the rulebook to see what happened if Tippmann won the third game. The third game went to Atomix 21 to 18 securing them third place novice with Tippmann in fourth. Dynasty took their the win in their third game against the Naughty Dogs. Shockwave was victorious in their third match against Vicious capping the Novice first place title as their own and putting Vicious in second. Dynasty won their last match against the Naughty Dogs to the screams of cheering fans, posting the third win and taking home first place pro.
The tournament drew to a close with the awards ceremony held on the west end of the site. Teams were brought on stage and awarded individual medals as well as their team trophies. Thanks and congratulations were made while teams discussed what would be happening at the next NPPL event in Chicago, Illinois.
Thank you to the two kids who helped
us when the staff didn't show to run the scoreboard - Melissa and Nick,
you were so helpful. Terry Stolmeier, buddy, you're the best for
coming down just to help - all the effort means so much to both of us.
Martin from Sweden for the man-lift ride, thanks bunches. Tom and
Andrew for building scoreboards that weren't in any risk of falling down
- they were the most sturdy scoreboards! Hi Chelsea! CJ for
the lollipops and the encouragement. Pete for the step stool and
for being willing to help when the nets failed. Rocky, for the thanks
from the podium. Alan, for the online recognition. Thank you
to Debbie for the cold drinks, snacks and trusting us to keep an eye on
your kids. Josh Silverman for understanding and all the rest of the
media who get it too. As always, thanks to the teams for sporting
the WARPIG.com sticker.
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