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San Diego Pan Am 2002
June 14-16, 2002
San Diego, CA

Young Guns - Su Madre
Stock - Hard Eight
Rookie - Highlanders
Novice - Team RM
Amateur -  Cartel

The second leg of the Pan Am Circuit 5 man series majors had a venue well known to Pan Am teams, and to those who played in the Pan Amís predecessor, the Great Western Series.  Camp Pendleton Paintball Park is a field operated by Pan Am promoting partner Russ Maynard.  The field is located right in the middle of the developed areas of the Camp Pendleton US Marine Corps base next to Oceanside, California, north of San Diego.

The park is nestled in a small canyon opposite the base helicopter field.  While the 5 man action started on Friday morning, the beat of rotor blades filled the air with USMC Sea Kinghts CH-46 (thanks Staff Sergeant J.D. Walker!) and Cobra helicopters passing overhead during games.  The terrain was fairly typical for the San Diego region, dry brush bordering on desert.  Each of the fields in play was unique in design and ranged from dirt berms and trees on a sloping hillside, to sewer pipe, wooden bunkers, and a field densely packed with small huts.  Field design definitely had an effect on how games were played.  Field 6, which was spread out on a hillside with a lot of natural cover had many stalemate games, some would consider it large for even a 10 man tournament.  On this field many of the games were won with only seconds on the clock, or resulted in a stalemate.  On the other hand, smaller fields like field one with its pipe bunkers had games that were fast and decisive.

The trade show presence was fair sized for a mid-year Pan Am event.  ACIís new trailer came out from their west coast warehouse.  It looks very similar to their older trailer but is significantly longer with more product display space in the sides.  In the cases were ACIís accessories and Bulldog compressed air systems in addition to parts they distribute for other companies such as WDP and Nelson Anarchy paint.  Their original trailer is now based out of their Tennessee warehouse, making it practical for them to have a presence in San Diego, as well as at the NPPL Chicago Open the next week.  A truck supplied Draxxus paint, or players were free to bring their own from offsite, as the Pan Am is an open paint series.  Under the Vendorís tent Top Stitch designs showed their soft goods next to AKALMP which was displaying their full line of low pressure parts, VLM bodies, as well as the Excalibur and Viking electro-pneumatic paintguns.  Equation displayed their line of sectional barrels.  A multi-camera video from the 2002 Phoenix Pan Am tournament was available for sale and was packed with action from the southwest desert fields.  The games were presented in real time with a running clock on screen, and icons indicating when players were eliminated, making the game plays easier to follow on the screen.  Next to the Pan Am trailer, Kevin Hamm and Jason Henley of Dan Bonebrake Airsmithing provided tech support for players and showed the Dan Bonebrake product line.

Like all of the Pan Am tournaments, the referees are teams which compete in the series.  Series promoting partner Dan Bonebrake says he sees the league as a place for teams to grow, and that means both in competition on the field, and as referees.  The teams supplying referees were Madd Catz, Diablo Factory Team, GOG Kidz, Team CCM, This Side Up, Plague, and CYAís.

With 61 teams competing on five fields, the tournament schedule was light.  Preliminary games ran from eight in the morning on Friday until mid-afternoon, giving players and referees time to enjoy the San Diego beaches under clear sunny skies.  Aftermath had an amazing morning.  Due to transportation problems for two team members, they were fielding only three players up until the lunch break - and they won all of those games, ranking them well by the end of the first dayís games.  While the Pan Am circuit has one of the most fully implemented player database and ID systems in the sport of paintball, the way team rosters are cross-checked means that sandbagging teams aren't always caught until part way through the event (though the speed at which discrepancies are found continues to get better).  JIPT had the points from four of their games zeroed out, and was forced to drop a player when it was learned that he was actually classified as amateur rather than novice.

Saturday's games were treated with the same quality weather as Friday - warm clear skies with a light breeze that made the shade trees on site an precious commodity.  The remaining amateur and novice games were played in the morning, and then the rookie teams took to the fields in the afternoon.  While it was initially announced on the Pan Am Circuit web site that the rookie captains meeting would be held at noon on Saturday, games were scheduled before that time, so the meeting was bumped to earlier in the day.  The Pan Am staff made an effort to call as many teams as possible to make them aware of the change, but some like Intimidation Factor  were driving in that morning didn't get the message and showed up just in time to rush on to the field, hoping that their paintguns were set up properly in their haste.

The rookie teams played roughly half of their games on Saturday, the remainder being scheduled for Sunday morning.  Saturday's five man games finished on time, at an early hour like on Friday, but the Young Guns three man competition went on to the early evening as scheduled.

In the amateur division, Asylum won all of their games, ranking them in the top of the six semifinalists to play on Sunday morning.  The other semifinalists were Outkast, Cartel, Urban Quest, Team Intensity, and 24/7.  Blitz, Team RM, and Phoenix Heat Inferno topped the 10 novice semifinalists who would take to the field on Sunday.

The Pan Am Young Guns circuit is the largest young guns series in the US.  In order to compete players must be 15 years of age or younger on January first of the season.  They must also never have competed in rookie, novice, or amateur categories in the Pan Am, at any time.  The last two years, the young gun series was won by brothers playing for team RIP from Fresno, CA and with more brothers in the right age to play as Young Guns, RIP is looking to bring a trophy back home again this year.

Twenty one three player young guns teams faced off, during the day, with eight of them going on to the semifinals where they played two games.  It is interesting to note, that what some observers have called "the soccer mom" mentality has begun appearing in paintball.  In the young gun semifinals it became apparent.  Heading into a semifinals game, one of the teams was told by Dan Bonebrake that they would have enough time to head back to the staging area and prep their gear for their next game.  Meanwhile on the field, the refs were unaware of this, and issued a forfeit to the team still in the staging area.  Bonebrake decided to overturn the forfeit, on the grounds that the team was late to the field because they were told by a tournament official that they had ample time before the game would start.  The two teams played, and the one that had been to the field on time originally, lost.  If they had the points from the forfeit, they would have been finalists, but losing the game stopped them at the semis.  This resulted in a mother of one of the team members shouting and cursing at various members of the Pan Am staff, leaving and then returning only to shout and curse at them some more.

The top three young guns teams missed this staging area action, because they were out on the fields playing paintball.  Team Techno came into the finals in the top seat, they had earned 157 points in the semis.  They lost both of their games, however and ended up in third place.  UQPIT1 beat Techno in their first game, but lost their second game, finishing in second place.  David from Su Madre bunkered a UQPIT1 player in the snake and shot the player out of the middle taking out two thirds of the opposing team himself.  Su Madre maxxed both of their finals games, taking home the first place trophy for the San Diego Pan Am Young Guns competition with players ranging in age from 13 to 15.

The weather for Sunday was a repeat performance and the day started with the completion of the rookie prelims.  During one of the first games of the day Hard Eights played Pure Evil.  Charlie from Hard Eights dislocated his shoulder while sliding into a bunker at the start of the game.  The game was frozen for safety while he was helped up off the ground.  Gino of the Paintball Park staff was able to relocate the shoulder smoothly and painlessly enough that Charlie's immediate reaction was to wiggle his fingers and ask for his paintgun - unfortunately he had been eliminated on the slide in, so he was taken off the field and the game restarted.  Hard Eights went on to win the game.  When Intimidation Factor played Nitro Blue, the level of banter between the players rose to very entertaining proportions for the spectators on the sidelines.  "Hey, do you have some marshmallows?  Yes? Then let's roast 'em."  "That guy in the middle bunker?  Right there?  He doesn't shoot very well."  Later a Break Out player emptied his hopper three minutes into their game against Mass Confusion (Pan Am limits players to one filled hopper or two 100 round tubes worth of paint per game) so he kept calling placements and dry firing acting as an effective decoy while one of his team mates grabbed the flag and fell into the narrow gully in the center of the field.  A Mass Confusion player tried to bunker him and was taken out.  The player in the gully was taken out on another attempt, but the player without of paint grabbed the flag from him and ran it up three feet from the flag station before getting hit.  A backline Break Out player took out the remaining two Confusion players and finally hung the flag after it had been handled by three players on the same team.  Urban Quest II took the top ranked position going into the semifinals, they were followed by Fission, Dynamite Bush Apes, and seven more teams.

Playing two games each in the semifinals picked the top three who became finalists for each class.  For the amateurs this was the top three teams that came into the semis, though not in the same order.  Cartel won both of their games and ranked top, Asylum won both, and was in second, while Outkast had enough points to be the third.  It is becoming commonplace to see pro players appearing in Pan Am amateur teams (one is permitted for each 5 man roster).  At this event Rusty Glaze from Avalanche played Asylum, and Matty Marshall of the SC Ironmen played for Cartel.  Also playing for Cartel was JT Bouchard who was getting ready to start playing pro for the Ironmen in Chicago the following week.

Team RM topped the novices, followed by Blitz and Menace, while Ruffnecks ranked first rookie, Highlanders and Fission joining them in the finals.  When Blitz played Assasinz on the large hillside field, they used the top, brush filled side of the hill that most teams had been ignoring to flank behind Assasinz and take them all out from the back.

The amateur teams finished their finals games ranking in the same order they went into the round.  Cartel took first place with two wins.  Asylum finished second with a win and a loss, and Outkast finished in third place.

Team RM finished in first place novice, with Menace 20 points behind them in third place and Blitz in third.

Highlanders won both of their rookie finals games to claim first place.  Fission finished second, and Ruffnecks finished in third.

The stock class tournament was held during the 5 man finals.  The Great Western Series stock class tournaments started as a Sunday activity for the teams that didn't make the finals.  It has evolved into the Pan Am 3 player stock class tournaments that are the largest stock class series in the world.  There are a number of teams that travel to the Pan Am tournaments solely to compete in stock class.  13 teams competed in San Diego stock event, playing three games each in the prelims.  Six teams went on to the two game semifinals, lead by Uma Rattlers and Max It.  Hard Eight took first place with 114 points, Yuma Rattlers finished second with 78 points, and Strange Alien Brew finished in third with 74 points.

Stay tuned to for continuing On Scene Coverage with PigTV from the 2002 Pan Am Circuit San Diego 5 man major.

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