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Phoenix Pan Am
Maricopa, AZ
February 22-24, 2002

Amateur - Phoenix Heat B
Novice - Madd Catz
Rookie - Hard Eight
Young Guns - Hellrazers
Stock Class - LA Explosion

The 2002 season for the Pan Am Circuit kicked off on an all new location this year, Maricopa, AZ, just outside of Phoenix.  The event drew 62 five man teams approximately 40 of which were new to the circuit and came from Arizona or Nevada.  The Pan Am staff hopes that the new location will bring more teams into the circuit, and that after a successful first year in Phoenix, more of the Northwest and California teams will make the trip to Arizona next year.

The location also made a short trip for Arizona teams who already play the Pan Am and are used to having to travel.  Aliens, with Ennis Rushton, manufacturer of the Ricochet 2K loader were in their home state, and members of the CP Factory team were playing just 40 minutes drive from the Custom Products factory.  The Harrah's resort just a couple of miles from the field was used by many of the competitors and proved to be quite luxurious for the price charged to teams.

The tournament was held at Breakout Park.  Four fields were used for the 5 man competition, and were all speedball style, each with their own type of bunkers.  The site was clearly laid out with tournaments in mind.   Bunkers range from Sup'Air Ball to oil drums, pallets and pipes.  The desert floor of gravel, dust and sand was basically barren after much work to clear it and level the area, eliminating the brush to leave thick, fine dirt.  Netting separates the parking and staging areas from the fields.  Red barrier netting outlined the fields, including the larger speedball style fields which were not used.  Some of their more unique bunkers included scrapped helicopters and wood shacks.  Weather for all three days was on the hot side of ideal, with clear skies low humidity.

The Pan Am has undergone a number of rule changes for 2002, most of which reflect on changes being made in the NPPL.  In order to better deal with safety problems between games (primarily unblocked barrels in the staging area) many offenses in the rules are now dealt with by player suspensions.  Like the NPPL, player suspensions can be made which will not only bench the player for a game, but also force the team to play one player short (preventing an alternate from sitting in for the player) if the offense is something for which team as well as individual punishment is appropriate.  Suspensions may only be issued by series promoters Russ Maynard and Dan Bonebrake, or ultimate judge Randy Wood.  Like the NPPL, the Pan Am has gone fully to bag style barrel blockers.  Also there is a change in stickers allowed on hoppers.  Rather than limiting as tightly as the NPPL, the Pan Am is specifying that the hopper may not be fully covered, and that the stickers may not be in a splat-like shape.  The chronographing procedures are also now the same as the NPPL with the player chronographing on to the field and spot checked during games.  Players shooting hot during a game are eliminated, no point penalties are assessed.

Breakout Park is a fully outdoor facility, so the trade show was not as large as the 2001 Las Vegas tournament.  A vendor tent housed AKALMP, Mountain Top Designs, Equation Barrels, JMJ Concepts accessories, Bonebrake Airsmithing, and Custom Products.  Outside of the tent Command Post (local store affiliated with the field) had a general selection of paintball gear under the awning of their trailer, across from ACI's event support trailer.  A Diablo semi trailer allowed paint purchases on site or players could bring their own, since the Pan Am is a BYOP series.  The tournament was reffed by Menace, Pentavalent, Assasins, Bad Karma, 24/7, and Team Smoke.

There were a few new products shown under the vendor's tent.  AKALMP had their Viking which is expected to ship shortly.  The Viking is an open-bolt electropneumatic paintgun built in the same receiver as the Excalibur, and sharing many common parts.  The Viking features a substantially lower price tag than the Excalibur and a peppier rate of fire due to the open-bolt operation.  While the gun is physically capable of higher rates, the electronics are locked at a maximum of 13 balls per second to stay in accord with the rate of fire agreement (13 bps semi only) that most major paintgun manufacturers signed in 1999 (many have not followed through on this agreement).  JMJ Concepts had their Vortex paddles for the Revolution loader.  In design concept they are like an eVLution loader that has been bent to use on the Revy, providing more efficient feeding when the hopper is low on paint (see the Revolution loader in the Technical Section).  JMJ's paddles are more sturdy than bent impellers, as they are in their original injection molded shape, and make a fast and inexpensive upgrade.  Also new at the Bonebrake Airsmithing table was the long awaited Bonebrake Autococker.  Like the Bonebrake Angel it carries a lifetime warranty, and features new valving and hammer set ups aimed at providing trouble free, reliable operation.  Spring pressures are set to allow full velocity adjustment only on the Max Attack Gladiator vertical regulator.  Players from Aliens were using the Ricochet AK, lower cost version of the Ricochet 2K that lacks the LCD display and game timer, and adds a clear window in the side to track paint remaining.  Some Members of Intimidation Factor were fielding the Ricochet loader with a prototype electronics package from Wicked Air Sportz.

The two pro players competing in the tournament (a single pro is allowed on each amateur team) were Glenn Forster of Dynasty and Billy Ceranski of Aftershock - both of whom played for different Phoenix Heat squads.

As is the standard Pan Am format, the Amateur and Novice teams played their preliminaries Friday and Saturday morning.  Rookie prelims began Saturday afternoon and continued on Sunday morning while the Young Guns division played all day Saturday.  In the Novice and Rookie divisions the top three teams out of the 8 team divisions advanced to the semifinal rounds. 

For the Amateurs with only 8 teams they went straight to the finals without semis.  Attitude held the top seat going to finals followed by Phoenix Heat B, Phoenix Heat and the Diablo Factory Team.  Aftermath, CP Factory Novice, Team RM, and Team Ambush led the Novice teams heading into the semis. 

During the 5 man finals the stock class competition was held, with eight teams competing for top total points at the end of the round.

Custom Products Novice had a noteworthy game against Phoenix Heat Inferno in the semifinals.  A CP player dropped his paintgun to his side and headed up the sideline to the deadbox.  The Heat players ignored him figuring he was eliminated (Pan Am rules are clear about dead players holding their paintgun up over their head).  The CP player pulled off a perfect dead man's walk and took out three of the Heat players swinging control of the game and winning the hang.

The Novice semis weeded the field down to three finalists, Madd Katz, Team RM and CP Factory Novice, with less than 30 points spread between them.  The top three Rookie teams advanced as well - Phoenix Equation 2, Plaque and Hard Eight.

Amateur finals were hard fought.  Phoenix Heat B placed first.  Some had suggested that Billy Ceranski of Aftershock guesting on the team made them a favorite, but it should be noted that he sat on the side lines during many of the games and was not the only key to the team's success.  Because Phoenix B shot Ricochet loaders all of the tournament and placed first, they took home $500 cash from Ricochet.  Attitude placed second, while Diablo Factory Team placed third, and Phoenix Heat took fourth.  The Novice finalists were topped by Madd Katz who won both of their finals games.  Team RM finished second with a win and a loss, while CP Factory team finished in third.  In the Rookie finals, Hard Eight came in seated third but finished on top after a pair of wins.  Phoenix Equation 2 finished second, and Plague in third.  LA Explosion topped the stock class teams, with Blowfish in second and Hard Eight in third.

The tournament wrapped up right on schedule with the awards ceremony including both prizes for the winning teams and raffle drawings for an assortment of paintball gear.  As usual the raffle was met with eager faces wanting people to be gone - giving the folks who remained a better shot at winning a prize.  Ross Mertes and Jose Mercado Jr. both lost shots at the new Bonebrake Cocker but Bill Trott from CP Factory Team was more than happy to win it instead!

Interesting travels....
After dinner at PF Chang's near the ASU campus (taaaasty chinese food), we found ourselves waiting in a non-moving line of cars all wanting to leave the public parking garage.  After a few minutes, and checking out the situation on foot, it seems the parking attendant - the one person who could open up the gate to let cars out was no where to be found.  Someone approached with a tool box and a short while later a line of more than 20 cars poured out of the garage.  We last saw the parking gate slung over the shoulder of a person walking down the sidewalk a half a block away.

Stay tuned for video coverage of the Phoenix Pan Am on PigTV.

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