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NPPL San Diego 2006

NPPL Super 7 - San Diego
Sept 8-10 , 2006  - Photos by Matt Dawson

Stockholm Joy Division - First Place Pro
Miami Raiders - First Place SemiPro
SD Aftermath - First Place DI
LTZ's Destiny - First Place DII
Drama - 1st Place DIII

The grounds of Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego have been host to the NPPL Super 7 World Series Commander's Cup in past seasons, the last tournament of the year where teams grab their final points for the annual championships. This year Qualcomm Stadium became the site of the league's fourth event – next to last as the series shifted west. With three out of five tournaments in Southern California, the travel costs for western teams, which comprise much of the league are reduced. The series started in California at Huntington Beach, then went to Tampa, Florida, and Boston, Mass before veering back to the left coast for its final two tournaments.

PaintballQualcomm Stadium is host to the San Diego Chargers, but the stadium itself, like most traditional sports venues just isn't big enough to contain a whole NPPL tournament. The expansive stadium grounds however, have the space needed for six tournament fields, the trade show, VIP areas and musical performances that make up a Super 7 event.

True to Super 7 format, games started on Friday, with the divisional teams competing. The professional games were reserved for the weekend, allowing more fans to attend and watch the action. As the weekend rolled in the Semi-Pro and Division II teams were able to complete all of their prelim games on Saturday as the pros got rolling.

The round robin preliminaries required each team to play a total of eight games. Each 7-man format game awarded a team points based on live players at the end of the game, eliminated opposing players, pulling a flag, and hanging the flag to end the game. Each team's total scores from the preliminary games were totaled to rank the teams for advancement into the quarterfinals.

With 46 teams competing in Division II, getting into one of the 16 quarterfinal slots wasn't easy. Notorious TCP lost a single game, and finished the round in the lead position with a total of 698 out of 800 possible points. They were followed by Hogan's Alley Factory, XSV Influence and Splat Attack. Sinful finished in the 16th position, making the cut to the quarters by a mere four points. Knocked from the running was AZ Real, when successful use of the NPPL player ID system showed they were fielding a player who was listed on another team's roster.

PaintballThe smaller field of 19 semi-pro teams were vying for just 8 quarterfinalist positions. In the next to the last tournament of the season, finish became more important. The top ranked semi-pro teams would be given the opportunity to turn pro for the 2007 season. Impact finished the preliminary rounds with the highest score, after playing the round with no losses. They were noteworthy also in that they were to only semi-pro team to make a max (perfect 100 point game score – pull and hang the flag, eliminate all opponents and take no losses) through the prelims. That game was against SA X-Factor, which also made the cut to the quarterfinals in the 6th ranked position. The cutting edge deciding who would play on Sunday was the 454 point total accumulated by Las Vegas LTZ. LTZ edged out Trauma for the 8th position in the quarters.

The largest division at the tournament was Division III – or the rookie division in old-school tournament lingo. While it had 46 registered teams, as did D II, there was only one no-show in DIII. Like Division II, the teams in D III played the prelims with the goal of making it into one of the 16 quarterfinal slots. 187 Crew finished the round with the highest total score, with eight wins in a row – the only DIII team to do this in the prelims. They were followed by Indecent By Freaks Of Nature finished the group off in the 16th position, bumping 17th ranked Team Keebler by 6 points.

In Division I it was Faction at the top of the charts, playing through the prelims with a single loss. SD aftermath was next followed by Critical Paintball. HK By was the team to make the magic eighth slot, a full 75 points ahead of Redz OA Mayhem. The tighter division had 21 teams competing for those 8 quarterfinal positions.

The Super 7 series pros play a slightly different tournament format, though the rules are the same for each game at the event. The eighteen teams played in two separate prelim divisions. Each team played one game against all of the other teams in their division for an eight game round. At the end, the top four teams from each were picked to move on to the quarterfinals. This meant that in the quarterfinals round, teams would play that had not had a chance to face each other in the prelims. In pro group 1, the top four were Sacramento XSV, New England Hurricanes, London Nexus and Ironmen. For Nexus, an appearance in the quarterfinals could well be a lifesaver. After the first three tournaments, the team was ranked 17th, when Pete “Robbo” Robinson handed over the reins to DYE Precision and new team manager Jeff Abbott. In a DYE Precision press release Robinson cited a desire to spend more time with his family and concerns over not being able to dedicate the time the team needs in the upcoming season among reasons for the change. With only two tournaments remaining in the year, the team's position put its professional ranking in jeopardy, as the 16th, 17th and 18th series ranked teams would be demoted to semi-pro status for 2007.

PaintballIn pro group two it was San Diego Dynasty (winners at Huntington Beach and Tampa) at the top of the pack, with Miami Rage (winners at Boston) Stockholm Joy Division and DC Arsenal moving on to Sunday.

For teams that did not make the cut to the quarters, Saturday was the end of the line. The put the order of finish at St Louis Avalanche in 9th place, Chicago Evil in 10th, New York NRG in 11th, Oakland Blast 12th, Philadelphia Assassins 13th, Los Angeles Infamous 14th, Portland Naughty Dogs 15th, OC Bushwackers 16th, Aneheim Sedition 17th and the Pittsburgh All Americans in 18th place.

For the OC Bushwackers, London Nexus and Philadelphia Assassins, who came into the tournament in the bottom three ranked positions, performance at San Diego, and later at Los Angeles would be critical to keeping their pro classification. While San Diego was the first NPPL event of the year where The Philadelphia Assassins finished better than 18th for the tournament, their finish did not earn enough ranking points to pull them out of 18th place in the series. In fact, they would have to finish in at least 6th place at Los Angeles to avoid being demoted to semi-pro. Just by making the cut to the quarterfinals, London Nexus guaranteed they would at least come out over 17th series ranked OC Bushwackers.

The quarterfinals were the last elimination round. Each division's quarterfinals knocked out all but the top four teams. The top four would then go on to play the semifinal round which sorted their orders for the finals where two teams would play for 3rd and 4th place, and two more would play for first and second.

The sixteen quarterfinalists in Division III were divided into four groups, where they played three games each, one against the other teams in the division. The top team from each group, based on total score advanced to the semis. This was Triple “X”, Drama, 1 Up Kids and Redline. Division II, with a like number of semifinalists produced Torment, TCP Machine, Dynasty Entourage and LTZ's Destiny as its semifinalists.

The Division I quarterfinals, with just eight teams were broken into two groups, with the top two from each advancing. These were SD Aftermath, Tombstone, Faction and Sin. In the SemiPro division, the eight quarterfinal teams were whittled down to Miami Raiders, Las Vegas LTZ, Impact and Phoenix United.

The pros had the largest quarterfinals. All eight teams played in one group for seven round-robin games each. Miami Rage, Ironmen, San Diego Dynasty and Stockholm Joy Division went on to the semifinals. London Nexus topped the teams that were cut, including Sacramento XSV, DC Arsenal and the New England Hurricanes. This meant that Nexus finished the tournament in 5th place, XSV in 6th, Arsenal in 7th and the Hurricanes in 8th. In terms of championship series ranking points a 5th place finish was enough to push Nexus up out of the bottom three danger spots, leaving Anaheim Sedition, OC Bushwackers and the Philadelphia Assassins on the chopping block.

Division III Semifinals pitted Triple “X” (top ranked from quarterfinals) against Redline (bottom ranked from quarterfinals, and the third and fourth ranked teams – Drama and 1 Up Kids against each other in a best two out of three games format. Triple “X” fell to Redline their first game, but won the next two. Drama dropped their first game against 1 Up Kids but won the second. One Up took the third game in the round.

PaintballLTZ's Destiny and Torment went to the clock in their first D II Semifinals game, but Destiny took the game on points, with enough eliminations and live players. They won their second game with a pull and a hang. Dynasty Entourage won their first game against TCP Machine, dropped the second, but took the third and advanced to the 1st and 2nd finals.

In Division I, the pairing of SD Aftermath and Sin had more drama. Aftermath took the first game, but the second game ended when the clock ran out – and both teams had earned 19 points. Aftermath took the third game to go on for the trophy in the finals. Tombstone fell to Faction twice in a row.

Miami Raiders posted back to back wins over Phoenix United, in the SemiPro semifinals, and Las Vegas LTZ dropped their first game against Impact, won the second, but fell in the third.

In the Professional semifinals Boston's winner, Miami Rage ran Stockholm Joy Division to the clock, but Joy took the game on bodycount 21 to 13. Joy Division won the second game 95 to 15, earning a place in the finals to fight for first place. Ironmen took down San Diego Dynasty twice in a row, both times with the same score – 98 to 6.

In the finals for Division III 1 Up Kids beat Redline in their first game, but lost the second and won the third for a third place finish. Triple “X” played Drama to determine first and second place. Drama won twice in a row, taking home the first place trophy.

Division II saw TCP falling in their first game against Torment, but turned it around to win the second. The third came went to Torment securing them third place. LTZ's Destiny won their first finals game against Dynasty Entourage, but lost the second. They won the third game and first place for the division.

Tombstone had alternating wins against Sin for third place in Division I. SD Aftermath was defeated in their first finals game against Faction, but won the next two. This gave them the first place trophy for DI.

Up in the SemiPro division Las Vegas LTZ took down Phoenix United in back to back games for third place. Miami Raiders did the same – back to back wins over Impact to secure first place SemiPro.

Both pro finals groups went to three games. Miami Rage finished their first game against San Diego Dynasty 15 to 95. Rage rallied for the second game and took it to Dynasty 97 to 9. The boys in blue took the third game and third place with a 95 to 15 score. Stockholm Joy Division beat the Ironmen 98 to 6 for their first game, but lost the second 15 to 95. The third game went to Joy Division 95 to 18 meaning the first place trophy would head back to Sweden with them.

For Joy Division, San Diego was their first NPPL Super 7 win, bringing them to a rank of fourth in the 2006 championship race. Their move from 6th to 4th is not surprising when looking at their performance trend over the season, finishing better at each tournament than the one before.

NPPL 2005 Rankings After San Diego

Teams are listed in right hand column in order of series rank after San Diego - Each colored line represents the team's finish at the four events so far in the season.

Despite their sixth place finish, Sacramento XSV's first place finishes in Huntington Beach and Tampa gave them the point momentum to keep their top ranking spot. Similarly Dynasty and Rage held their second and third place rankings they had coming in to San Diego, though Dynasty narrowed XSV's lead from 9 to 3 series points.

From San Diego, the next stop for the NPPL is Los Angeles, with the date and venue to be confirmed in the near future. The Los Angeles tournament will wrap up the 2006 season, with the crowning of the series champions.

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