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2003 PSP World Cup
October 2003
Orlando, FL

NXL 2003 Champions - Philly Americans

2003 Series Winners

Division 1 X Ball- Strange
Division 2 X Ball- Twisted Factory Team

10 Man Amateur - Static
10 Man Novice - Justice & Momma's Boys
10 Man Rookie - Rock It Kids

5Man Novice - Doc's Raiders
5 Man Rookie - Method

World Cup Winners

5 Man Pro/Am First Place - Naughty Dogs
5 Man Novice First Place - Vicious
5 Man Rookie First Place - PAG

10 Man Pro/Am First Place - Cartel
10 Man Novice First Place - Momma's Boys
10 Man Rookie First Place - Rock It Kids

Division 1 X Ball First Place - Strange
Division 2 X Ball First Place - Total Eclipse
Division 3 X Ball First Place - PAG Factory
NCPA - Purdue

A tradition in Paintball, the World Cup, was scheduled for the 18th through 26th of October.  This year the tournament  found a new venue in the Orlando, Florida area – The Wide World Of Sports complex at Walt Disney World.  This venue, which is used for all sorts of sports competitions throughout the year means plenty of amenities on site, paved parking and well groomed playing surfaces. 

In 2003 a single field was set up next to the Wide World of Sports parking lot for the NCPA X Ball Finals and NXL exhibition matches the day after World Cup.  This demonstration allowed the Disney staff to see the impact of an operating paintball field on their facilities, and paved the way for the venue to be used in 2003. 

Like the rest of the PSP season Word Cup offered competitions in 5 player, 10 player, and X Ball formats.  X Ball competition consists of teams competing in each of 3 skill level divisions as well as the National Collegiate Paintball Association.  Additionally the event would host the 2003 season finals competition for the NXL, National X Ball League professional play. 

Cross promotions were planned to bring in more of the general public and Disney visitors as spectators who would get to view not only the competitions but the World Cup trade show as well.  Disney World theme park information brochures passed out to visitors at all of the Disney World parks listed the Paintball World Cup as an on-site event, and Disney assigned 10 busses just to shuttle visitors from the other parks to watch paintball games.  The Disney site crews were very accommodating to Paintball Sports Promotions, even clearing sections of woods to expand grass areas to give the tournament the space it would need. 

Admission was not charged for the Wide World of Sports Complex, and Disney offered discounted entry to the other Walt Disney World theme parks to World Cup attendees who wished to combine the tournament with a family vacation.  Most theme parks in the Orlando area also offered free admission to active duty military personnel with discounts for their dependents.

PSP's work crews, led by Robert "Rosie" Rose set up infrastructure and netting for 8 fields to be used for 5 and 10 man play, 4 fields for open class X Ball, and one field for the NXL.  In all this required drilling of 466 holes to erect the same number of wooden utility poles and over 24,000 latching aluminum rings to clip field netting to the steel cables running between the poles.  Sup'Air's crews set up the bunkers for each field with the 5 and 10 man fields completed and available for walking all day Friday and Saturday before the 5 man competition was to begin on Sunday.

SUNDAY

The PSP 2003 five man season has found itself with a lack of Professional or even Amateur teams competing what with the advent of X Ball and its popularity rising amongst the teams who were either ready for a change or not making it on the more aggressive 10 man front.  At World Cup however, the teams would branch out, finding ten teams fielding players to the five man fields in the Pro/Am bracket.

Outlook would move up from Novice where they played in Pomona, Chicago and Philly with a trip to the semi-finals in the first event.  They earned enough series points for eleventh place in the novice ranking.  Moving up, they took with them only 20% of their total points, but enough to garner them top seating in the schedule since none of the other teams had played five man in the 2003 season.

With World Cup expanding to fit in yet another day of relentless paintball action, a few teams had a certain freedom to return to their roots of the five man competition, since their X Ball matches wouldn't start until later in the week.

Novice teams were going to be hitting the field, the top two places held by Organized Crime, who took off to a running start a year ago as well as other new comer Doc's Raiders, a spread of 17 points kept the boys from Florida out of the top placement.  Fifty-four teams played in the five man novice bracket over the course of the 4 events leading to World Cup.  Fifteen made the trip to Florida.  Joining Organized Crime and Doc's boys were Division, AGD Kids, Momma's Boys, who took first in Rookie at last year's Cup, CT Turmoil, Paintballa.com Icemen, Anger Management, Lightning Strike, Punisherpb.com, Paintlords, Long Island Timberwolves, Fox 4 Darkside, Team Hyperson and Far East Dragons.  A total of 15 teams, joining with 41 new comers would hit the fields.

The rookie teams hit World Cup with a vengeance, with many teams trying out the tournament scene for the first time at the largest event of the year for the PSP.  One hundred and twenty eight teams showed, hitting the fields on Sunday morning.

The cross divisional prelims format used by the PSP offers teams coming out of the blocks the opportunity to  face off against the top teams in the world.  While playing the eight games of the preliminary rounds, each team faces other teams both above and below its skill level.  Teams and players generally look at the option as a way to progress, the opportunity for bragging rights if they happen to beat the higher ranked teams and a chance to watch the more advanced teams play. 

Mothers of younger players on a number of rookie teams worried that their boys were going to be smacked around by the more experienced teams, though the thrill expressed by the boys who happened to shoot a well known player typically outwon the Mom's fears.  Although the teams played against teams of differing skill levels, their scores were compared only against those within their own classification when choosing the teams which would advance to the semifinals.  In the semifinal and final rounds the teams played only within their own skill levels.

MONDAY

Games started just on time, the teams and refs having gotten the lay of the land and the swing of the tournament down pat after a full day of play.  Games ran right on schedule on Monday as opposed to the hour plus that spanned the games scheduled time on Sunday.  Disney provided transportation from their parks via buses that brought quite a few spectators to watch games and to wander the vendor area on Monday morning.  Surprisingly Monday had noticeably more spectators than Sunday.  By mid-day the games were about half-way complete for the preliminary matches in the five man, the afternoon session making their way to the players tent while a Channel 6 News helicopter circled the area getting video of the event for local television.

Changes in the way Paintball Sports Promotions did their online team registration led to schedules being available to the players faster.  PSP adopted a tiered payment plan where registration became more expensive in the weeks just before the registration deadline, to encourage teams to complete their registration well ahead of the final date.  The X Ball and 5 man schedules were then available to teams before they arrived on site for registration, and the 10 man schedules were view able online 5 days before on-site check in.  The online rostering system adopted mid-season grew more to fruition.  Teams making roster changes at the event were charged a service fee, also to encourage them to complete changes at registration time free of charge, allowing staff to review and check rosters in advance of the event, minimizing the chance of sandbagging. 

Teams staged in individually marked staging stalls within a massive staging tent.  For increased security, as with past events of the season, only individuals with player passes were supposed to have access to the staging area. As with past events, teams with space on their roster often added a family member or friend to the team in order to help with staging.  When player passes were lost and needed replacing, the team receiving an additional pass was added to a list for additional scrutiny - their team to be randomly spot checked and ejected from the tournament if any non-rostered people were found in the staging area with a player's pass.  Free water was provided not only to the athletes, but to all event attendees.  Coolers were located on stands throughout the tournament site and kept stocked with ice, and regularly reloaded with bottled water provided by Disney's staff.

Games ended right on time on Monday afternoon with the preliminaries wrapped up and teams anxious to know if they'd made the cut to semi-finals that would be played Tuesday.  The scoreboard had some issues of games not posted as well as some team name mixups with scoresheets being posted under a sister team's name which slowed the ranking process down considerably.  After it was determined that none of the holes in the scoreboard were going to make a difference in the process of moving teams on, the ranking was done and teams received the copy of the semi-final schedule to be played on the Empire, Shocktech, National Paintball Supply and Sup Air fields.  Finals matches were announced at the same time, the teams to be determined after semi-finals were wrapped up mid-day Tuesday.  Those final matches would be played on one field, the black and white striped Empire field. with grandstands for spectators and an anticipated video tape crew to shoot for the Outdoor Life channel.

TUESDAY

One of the great blows to tournaments is indeed the semi-final and final day of a competition.  Moving from 194 teams to a seemingly scant amount of 40 teams going into the semi final rounds is a shock to the site as well as the contestants who battle for every flag  and body.  A further blow at this event was felt when a few key teams, having played all season on top of their brackets fell at the World Cup, losing not only the shot at the final match but their series ranking.  Novice team, Organized Crime had a rough tournament here at World Cup, missing a shoe in for the first place series ranking after playing 4 events and reffing in Chicago.  It was a huge blow to the team, and a disappointment to those players and industry members who had watched them climb the ranks through perseverance and hard work.  Another harsh hit came in the Rookie division, first ranked team Method and second ranked team Doc's Raiders Black both missed the cut into semi-finals after both teams played multiple events for the year with excellent performance.

Even with less teams on the fields, the tournament site was buzzing with activity on Tuesday morning.  The entrance to the tournament area lay at the West edge of the Wide Wide of Sports parking lot, and Disney's staff shuttled players through the lot to the site on board multipassenger golf carts.

16 of the rookie 5 man teams advanced into the semifinal rounds divided into 4 divisions of four teams each, as did the novice teams, while the pro/am teams each advanced 8 semifinalists into two divisions of four. 

For the Pro/ Am teams, the semis winnowed the field down to the Naughty Dogs, both Shocktech 1 and Shocktech 2, and the Has Beens.  The Novice teams sent Mullet Factory, Vicious, Doc's Raiders, and Evil Army into the finals, while the final rookies were Attack Red, PAG, Vicious Kids and Slamdancers.
 

Rather than spreading the finals out over a number of fields as had been done in the past, they were all played on a single field. 

The rookie finals started out with the Slamdancers taking down Attack Red 74 to 32 and Vicious Kids defeating PAG 94 to 12.  In the second round Attack Red beat Vicious Kids and PAG beat Slam Dancers, both games ending with identical 98 to 4 scores.  In the third round PAG defeated Attack Red 96 to 8, and the Slam Dancers took the Vicious Kids 98 to 4.  The final tallies gave first place to PAG, second to Slamdancers, third to Attack Red and fourth to Vicious Kids.

In the novice division Mullet Factory fell to Evil Army 94 to 12, and Vicious Maxed Docs Raiders 100 to 0.  Docs Raiders took it to Mullet Factory 98 to 4.  Vicious then defeated Evil Army also with a 98 to 4 score.  In the third round Vicious beat Mullet Factory 94 to 12 locking in their first place finish, and putting Mullet Factory in fourth.  Going into the last game Doc's Raiders and Evil Army were both tied with 98 points each, so the last game would determine third and fourth place novice.

The pro/am finals games were played out of the traditional order.  A3 and A4 ranked Shocktech 1 and Shocktech 2 would not have normally played each other until the last game.  Their game was scheduled first to prevent the possibility of one of these sister teams throwing a game to the other in order to ensure a win.  Shocktech 2 was the victor 92 to 16.  The Naughty Dogs defeated Florida based Has Beens 98 to 4.  Shocktech 2 also defeated the Has Beens 94 to 12, and the Naughty Dogs defeated Shocktech 1 with the same score.  First place came down to the Dogs and Shock2.  Both teams had won their first two games.  Dogs faced off against Shocktech 2 in their last game, the game a tight one in points.  Dogs sent players to the snake, only to be shot out from cross field.  Rocky Knuth hit the snake, leaping it instead of trying to slide in, the critical move that got him into position and allowed him to leapfrog up the snake to the Shock 50.  Ryan Williams leaped the snake just in Rocky's position, exchanging shots with him.  Rocky immediately stood up and started out of bounds while Ryan scooted around a nubbin before a ref got him up.  Before Rocky could walk far, a ref yelled to him that he was still in, without explanation, and continued the game.  Being on the snake that was grandstand side, the crowd erupted with cheers and jeers for the call and the ensuing play.  Dogs won with 98 points giving them the tournament and putting Shocktech 2 in second place.

Doc's Raiders finishing out in third place gave them 43 series ranking points which put them ahead of both Organized Crime and Reflex which tied at 167 points after Organized Crime's 19 points for the event and Reflex's 50 points for reffing 5 man.  Rookie  series ranking was held by Method at 188 points after Method's 15 points achieved at World Cup, followed by Doc's Raiders at 141 points, Team Ultimate at 131 and Adrenaline Rush at 119.

WEDNESDAY

The 2003 PSP season marked the first national open X Ball series.  Because of this some teams came over from 10 man to X Ball mid season, so conversions were made to the series points to allow their standings to transfer with them, just as when teams change classification mid-season.  At the beginning of the year, open class X Ball was split into two divisions, Division 1, made up of pro and amateur teams, and Division 2, made up of novice and rookie teams.  By the time of World Cup, demand for X Ball had increased to the point of adding Division III, as a division below II.

In Division 1, the top two teams heading into the cup were Strange and the Naughty Dogs.  Strange came in first place at the LA Open, where Naughty Dogs came in first place in the 10 man competition.  At Las Vegas, the Dogs tried their hand at X Ball and triumphed, while Strange served as referees, which was the equivalent of a win.  At the Chicago Open the Dogs came in first, defeating Strange in the final match to hand the boys from Florida second place, but at the Philly Open Strange turned it around taking first, and leaving second to the Dogs.  This put both teams tied at 380 series points going into World Cup, both shooting for first place in the series.  To add to the excitement at Cup, Dynasty having recently parted ways with NPPL President Chuck Hendsch jumped back into the PSP (the majority of the team members have been intent on playing, and winning everywhere they can, rather than worrying about league politics) to play Division 1 X Ball at the Cup.  Through the 2003 season Dynasty has traded wins with the Naughty Dogs in Super Seven, and took second place in the LA Open 10 man to the Dogs.  While Dynasty wouldn't have a shot at the Division 1 series title, they promised to be a strong contender for World Cup, and would add excitement to the competition between Strange and the Dogs.

Jax Worriors followed Strange and the Dogs in series rankings with 260 points.  This put a first place series finish within their reach, but not likely.  They were posed well, however for a top 3 finish, and first place at the cup was definitely a possibility.  Shocktech Factory team ranked fourth, 8 points ahead of the All Americans, this due to their points transferred over from playing 10 man.

In Division 2 it was the Twisted Factory Team leading the pack.  Their 60 point lead over second place Strange B, would have guaranteed them a first place finish if they had chosen to serve as referees for World Cup, but instead they entered the event to work for the title.  106 points behind Strange B was Underworld, guaranteeing that the first and second place titles would go to Strange and Twisted – World Cup would simply determine their order of finish.  Of the top 10 Division 2 teams, 6 had transferred from 10 man to X Ball mid-season, getting the benefit of transfer points (teams making the switch after the Philly Open were not allowed to transfer series points.)  While X Ball grew through the year, a number of teams making the switch, only one chose to go back from X Ball to 10 man, a testament to the new format’s popularity.

For Division 3, the teams would be coming at the tournament with a fresh start, having to worry only about how they do in Orlando, no series title on the line.

Final set up of the electronic scoreboards delayed the start of open X Ball games on two of the four fields, but once games began, play went smoothly.  During the morning, a few teams were confused by a schedule change.  Division 2 and 3 brackets had some changes to first day play made after the schedules were published on PSPEvents.com.  Final schedules were given to teams in their packets and reviewed at the mandatory captain's meeting, but not everyone noticed the changes at first.  Fortunately, all of the morning teams were made aware of the changes and got to their matches on time.

During the day Wednesday, Dick Clark and a number of staff members from Dick Clark Productions had the opportunity to tour the site, and watch NXL matches, pleased with what they saw in preparation for televising the NXL series.

THURSDAY

Thursday saw continuation of the divisional X Ball matches through the day, under the clear skies and warm weather that became standard fare for the event.  Even if the weather had gone bad, as it sometimes can in late October, the Disney Wide World Of Sports complex is specifically designed for all weather use.  Games would need to be delayed if there were lightning problems, but the grass and fields would be ready the moment the skies cleared.  The site features 85 acres of Bermuda sports turf, only a fraction of which was used for the tournament fields.  Paved roads and walkways combined with a drainage system capable of coping with 5 to 7 inches of rain – per hour – ensured that even the heaviest rains would not be able to turn the fields into mud bogs.  The facility not only handled the World cup, but also a martial arts tournament, professional golf tournament, and other sporting competitions, all without interference.  In fact, key leadership from the PGA, and some professional golfers stopped in to the NXL VIP lounge to watch some of the pro teams play X Ball.  During the rest of the year, the sports complex hosts almost every type of sports activity imaginable from archery and cheerleading to gymnastics and rugby.  Cracker Jack Stadium, in the sports complex is Florida's only double-decker stadium used for Spring Training, and is the pre-season home to the Atlanta Braves.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also call Disney's Wide World of Sports home for their NFL training camps. 

Vendors at the event kept busy through the day.  Several commented that the tournament seemed to lack the “dead time” on Wednesday that they were used to in years past.  While some credited this to changes in the event schedule, with X Ball teams on site during a day that in the past had only been used for team check-in, others commented on the number of spectators walking through the trade show area who.

The event trade show was a great indicator of how the paintball industry has changed.  A few years ago, when National Paintball Supply brought its T2 trade show trailer, heads turned, but now, any company making a “big” splash has at least two show trucks, and massive tents lined around them.  This year National featured their well known show truck back to back with their Empire truck both of which featured complete store displays under their adjoining tents.  The DraXxus truck was attached to four massive tents which housed a player lounge, the new DXS clothing line, the Vforce product lineup and a DraXxus paintball museum housing advertising art, jerseys and photos showing the rapid development of the Diablo and DraXxus brand lines.  Smart Parts brought only two of their three trailers to build up their compound which was marked on one end by the new Team Strange Bus.  Other sponsors like Shocktech, PMI, JT, Worr Games, Custom Products and others had single trucks or trailers with an attached tent.  Just a couple of years ago any one of these displays would have been a show-stopper.   The largest display – in terms of sheer real estate was DYE, with two semis end to end, adjoining tents, and their tech support trailer on top of that.  DYE’s gear included the launch of the 2004 product line, official unveiling of the DM4 Matrix, and the appearance of their new Proto line.  Two more long tents made up the rest of the main trade show area, filled by smaller companies showing their products and services.

10 player check in opened mid day, and like the 5 man was a lengthy process.  In seasons past, registration and checking of rosters had been less intense, but the use of the APPA Player Database and checking of individual ID at check in has cased more of a line and waiting time for check in, but greatly decreased the possibility of sandbagging.

FRIDAY

A year ago, World Cup's ten man competition was at an all time high with 214 teams taking the fields.  This year the X Ball competition has cut into the 10 man competition with 55 teams taking to the center flag X Ball matches, or 'Soccer with Guns' as we've tried to describe to random spectators.  This year, a thousand players showed on 93 ten man teams to start play on Friday.  Static has ruled the Pro-Am bracket for the 2003 season after 2 third place wins, a second place and a full 50 point placement after reffing in Chicago.  With a 25 point spread between Static and the next ranked team, Cartel, the only way Static could miss out on the Pro-Am series championship would be if they failed to make semi-finals, earning at least 44 points in the three games, only 22 bodies over the course of those games.  They were pretty much a shoe-in for the series champs if they play according to their track record.  Cartel has built a solid record this year, showing definite improvement over the course of the season with two visits to the semi-finals and a big win, first place in Philly.  Nasty dissolved their ten man squad which put Shockwave Canada into third place after a trip to the podium in Philly in fourth place.  Evil Factory showed again after their season opener win.  ECX Factory, competitors to the core, showed with semi-final wins across the board and a nice second place finish in the fourth event.  Addicted was right behind them with 2 semi-final showings and their first place win in Vegas.  Brimstone Smoke hit World Cup in 7th place after transfer points from X Ball, their Chicago win and a trip to the semi-finals in Philly just a point behind Addicted in the series ranking.  Robinhood returned after putting in the time through all of the events, making the semi's in Philly.  Fusion, the Professional team to make up the Pro-Am section, came up in 9th place after playing in LA and taking fourth in Chicago.  Nemesis showed again after playing the third and fourth events.  And new comers to the season were Rush, who'd been playing five man in Chicago and Philly as well as Exile who had exiled themselves to the NPPL for most of the season.  Turtles returned as well after an LA and Vegas trip, more their stomping grounds, moving up to the Pro-Am bracket from Novice. 

Justice hit the Novice bracket, poised to win the series with a solid 20 point lead over power house team, Momma's Boys.  They would face the same circumstance that Static would face, as long as they earn enough points in semi-finals, their series ranking for first would be nearly assured.  But for the first event, Justice and Momma's Boys have shared space on the podium, two first place wins and two second place's for Justice and for Momma's Boys, a trip to the semi-finals, a second place win and two first place wins to give them both the solid first and second leads with 192 and 172 points respectively.  Atomix Factory, who have been playing both leagues this year, had a solid start with a fourth, a third and then two trips to semi-finals in the last two events.  Mantis likewise had the same breakup as Atomix.  Havok, those hard working fellows had a rough start but have been showing a definite improvement over the course of the season with fourth place in Chicago and Philly.  Fat City returned after four events, joined by Sin, Bad Karma, Outcast, and Lockdown who were slipped into a team placement ranked lower than they would have been had their registration gone through initially.  Cypress likewise returned with Static AKA, Connection Gold, Works Factory, Mox Nix, Fox 4 Darkside, Femmes Fatale and the more recognizable foreign team, Far East Dragons.  The Dragons, hailing from Japan have been a regular at both LA and World Cup since Warpig.com started covering the league, in 1996.  When asked, the captain confirmed that they had us beat for World Cup trips, they started attending in 95. 

Rookie teams were primed for a strong finish, a tight one.  Outlaws held tight all year with two trips to fourth place, a semi-final finish in Chicago and then third place in Philly.  Rock It Kids skipped Vegas but had such amazing finishes at the other three events that it just didn't matter.  With three first place wins under their belts they came into World Cup ranked only 2 points behind Outlaws, anxious to step up onto the podium with not only a first place World Cup win but a series champ win as well.  Cartel Empire skipped the fourth event but finished strong with third, second and semi-finals in LA, Vegas and Chicago.  Outkasts moved with Sin and Demonic Factory to play X Ball this event, putting Dominion V3 in fourth place at World Cup.  Texas Torn followed in fifth with Precision, Misfit Toys, Syndicate, and Crucial.  Hogan's Alley moved to X Ball putting the next grouping of rookies into position.  PNL Underground, Supernatural, Quiet Storm, Lost Boys, Blind Aggression, XXX, Paintballwizard.com, Connection Black and Sewer Rats all returned to battle it out in Florida.

By Friday morning, X Ball had gone through its first two rounds, and eliminated teams were going home.  Unlike 5 and 10 man, the open class X Ball competitions use a double elimination tournament format.  Teams are arranged in brackets and the winners of each match are advanced in a branching tree format, while the first time a team looses a match they are moved to the left side of the tree, and the second time they loose they are knocked out of the tournament.  This format makes it harder for teams that have lost a single match to win, because they will face more teams than an undefeated team which heads straight to the final round.  Double elimination is used only to determine the finalists – when they play the final match at the end of the event, that outcome determines first and second place, regardless of previous wins or losses.

Teams are then ranked in the series based on how far they advance through the brackets.  First and second place receive preset point amounts as does third.  After that, 10 ranking points are given for each round a team participated in, starting with the second round (the first cut) on up to the fourth.

Division 3 played all of their first round games on Wednesday.  In the opening round, the top two ranked teams, (Division 3 being new, the teams were ranked alphabetically) Amok and Aruba Madness had BYEs, while the remaining teams played their first matches.  Round 2 on Thursday saw Uprising and Rattlesnake eliminated while Aruba Madness, Wizards, Downpour and Amok were sent to the loser’s bracket for their second chance.

Division 2, with 17 teams competing, took up most of the X Ball fields for the first two days.  The divisional brackets match up the strongest teams with the weakest for the opening round, and the differences in team strength showed.  Point spreads of ten to fifteen points in the winner’s bracket during the second round were the norm, rather than a rarity. 

Division 1 of course with the pro/am teams was home to action filled matches.  One of the eagerly awaited early matches from the tournament was between Naughty Dogs and Dynasty.  During the match both teams each received a five-minute penalty, Dynasty received a pair of twos and the Dogs received 3 two-minute penalties, but when the clock ran out, the scores were tied at 9 to 9, so the match went into sudden death overtime.  Dynasty managed a hang in overtime to win the match.  This didn’t put Naughty Dogs out of the running, but it did put several more matches between them and the final round.

While the open class X Ball games were taking place, the season was wrapping up for the pro teams on the NXL.  These 8 teams had competed through the year at New Orleans, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago and Philadelphia to choose their rankings for the quarterfinal round which took place over the first three days of NXL games at World Cup.  To many this made the competition of the season appear anti-climatic, however with the format of the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, ranking was very important.  Instead of round robin, or elimination formats, these rounds lined up teams in a best two out of three format – loser goes home.  The strongest teams were matched against the weakest teams.  This put Oakland Assassins up against Detroit Thunder.  The first match went to Bob Long’s top ranked team, as did the second, putting Oakland into the semifinal round.  The Philadelphia Americans were matched up against the Los Angeles Ironmen.  The first match went to Philly 11 to 8 while the second was much closer, 8 to 7 giving Philly the victory.  Chicago Aftershock was paired up with Baltimore Trauma and won their first match 12 to 7, but Baltimore turned it around the next mach winning 8 to 14.  This pairing was decided Friday with a 10 to 6 victory by Chicago.  New York Xtreme and Miami effect were the final pairing.  Miami edged out New York by a single point in the first match 8 to 7.  In their second match Miami had a more decisive victory 14 to 8.

The four semifinalist teams were again ranked not by their performance in the quarterfinals, but by how they had played during the regular season.  This pitted Oakland against Philly, and Chicago against Miami.  Again the teams would play a best two out of three format, knocking out two losers, and sending the two winners to face each other for the title.

By the end of the day's 10 man games, Cartel held the best average score of the amateur teams at 96.7, but had played only 3 of their 8 games on the first day.  Static held an average of 95.6 points after 5 games, looking very solid.  In the Novice division it was Mantis Factory Team and Vicious Shocktech holding the lead average scores while Rock It Kids and Most Wanted were showing the best performance amongst the Rookie teams.

The open X Ball divisions continued on past sunset, playing their last matches under lights.  The NXL semifinal first rounds saw Oakland defeating Miami 14 to 7, and Philly taking Chicago 12 to 7.   Both pairings would go at each other again on Saturday, for one or two games to claim best 2 out of 3 wins.

The National Collegiate Paintball Association X Ball tournament also ran concurrently with the World Cup's other X Ball competitions.  On Saturday Purdue soundly defeated Nebraska 18 to 1, and Minnesota State 13 to 2.  Iowa State similarly defeated Minnesota State 16 to 1 and Nebraska 14 to 5.

SATURDAY

Games progressed on schedule throughout the morning Saturday with the vendors reopening their booths after a long night at the local nightclubs and hangouts.    The players, both X Ball and 10 man all sang to the same tune during the week, that the reffing was poor for the caliber of the players.  In X Ball, the situation seemed almost a polar opposite to what would normally make up a good reffing call.  When there were few penalties called, the teams screamed that the judges were being too lenient, yet when they were encouraged to assess penalties for infractions, the crowds began to chant obscenities of 'BS' and taunting the refs became commonplace.  In X Ball, the refs were absolutely new to the game, most having not reffed the format before, so learning that curve of how to assess penalties was a hard pill to swallow of the teams who showed up for the biggest event of the year, expecting top quality judges, but the attitude toward the penalties seemed a bit off.  A penalty in paintball should be viewed as a foul is viewed in any other sport.  A free-throw in basketball, a few yards lost in football, a call of offside in soccer.  Alot of referees and indeed players, act as though a penalty is not only penalizing the players and the teams but is giving that particular player a stigma of cheating.  The adoption of a more distanced attitude toward the penalties would help the games progress without the temper tantrums thrown by players and the refs reacting to them in a personal manner.  Referees were taken to placating players as they'd give out penalties, when a professional demeanor would go a long way to not encourage the teams to take advantage of not only the lack of experience but the apologetic nature of the judges.  As to the call of overshooting, players, refs and anyone in today's world of competitive paintball need to come to the understanding that paintball guns shoot 10+ balls per second and that they can expect to be shot more than once if the player on the other team is capable of accuracy whatsoever.  Moreover, if a player is shot out of a prop and more than one gun is trained on him, he will likely be shot a few times unless the ref is like the Slamdancer ref crew that often went out of their way to shield eliminated players.  Discrepancies over the vague definition of overshooting led to complaints - some teams upset that their opponents weren't penalized because one of their players was hit 5 times, and others upset that they were penalized for shooting someone 3 times.  In either case, the idea that it has become acceptable to challenge a referee's call on the field, slows the game, and makes enforcement of the rules less even across the tournament.  After games ended Friday evening, a number of referees resigned, leaving Paintball Sports Promotions in a position of needing to pull other staff members who had reffing experience, away from their normal duties.

Saturday’s NXL games proved that the regular season ranking system could be used as a good predictor of team success.  Oakland Assassins won both of their games against Miami Effect, the first 14 to 7 and the second 12 to 9.  Similarly the Philly Americans defeated Chicago Aftershock two matches in a row, 12 to 7 and 10 to 6.  The top two ranked teams from the regular season ended up as the finalists.  Oakland and Philly would face each other on Sunday, to go best 2 out of 3 matches to claim the first NXL season title.  For each round of the NXL competition, field layout was changed.  Some of the smaller bunkers, including the unusual one-foot diameter vertical tubes were relocated as the matches progressed from quarterfinal to semifinal and then to final rounds. 

Ten man games wrapped up on time after games ran at least 15 minutes ahead of schedule all day.  Static won the amateur break with 772 points and Fusion brought up A8 with 608 points.  Novice took took eight places with Justice at 776 and Havok bringing up the last placement at 594.  Rookie's, because there were over 32 preliminary teams, took 16 to the semi-finals in four divisions of four with Texas Torn in first at 673 and Aballardes Puerto Rico in at 433.

By the completion of the Saturday morning session the field of remaining X Ball teams had grown significantly smaller as teams suffering their second loss were knocked out of the competition.  Division two was shaving itself down to the strongest teams.  Ground Zero Silver fell to the Hurricanes by two points, while Mayhem took down Velocity 12 to 4.  Total Eclipse defeated Twisted Factory 11 to 4.  This was Twisted Factory’s first loss, so they were next matched with Mayhem, whom they defeated 10 to 8.  Similarly, Underworld took their first loss from Xtreme Sports Factory 6 to 10, and was sent down to play the Hurricanses.  Hurricanes defeated Underworld 7 to 5.  Total Eclipse beat Xtreme Sports Factory 11 to 5.  This win finished the prelim round for Total Eclipse, putting them in the final match for Div 2.  Xtreme Sports Factory on the other hand was sent down to face the winner of Hurricanes versus Twisted Factory.  The winner of that match would face Total Eclipse in the final match.

A match between PAG and Full Throttle ended 11 to 8 in favor of PAG, sending Full Throttle to the loser’s bracket and PAG to the Division 3 final match.  On the left side of the schedule, B*SLAP defeated Aruba Madness 13 to 6 to face Hogan’s Alley Factory Team, who had just defeated Downpour in a solid 16 to 2 match.  These two teams would play each other for the right to face Full Throttle – the winner of that match going on to play PAG in the final match.

In the Division 1 winner’s bracket, Strange defeated Dynasty 13 to 10.  That win put Strange into the Final match.  Dynasty was sent to the loser’s bracket, where they would face the Naughty Dogs who had just defeated Legacy 12 to 8 for the chance to see Strange in the final round.

At the tournament, Ronn Stern announced the Ronn Stern Paintball camps had teamed up with Splat Brothers’ Paintball to plan “World’s Biggest Paintball Game” on Sept 4, 2004.  Paintball fields across the US that participate in the game will donate $5 from every entry fee collected on September 4th to the Muscular Dystrophy Society.  Already National Paintball Supply has agreed to be the event’s hosting sponsor, and Stern says projections predict that the paintball community should be able to generate a half million dollar donation to the charity. 

The last X Ball matches of the day finished out under lights.  The final match would undoubtedly be an east coast versus west coast competition, but the question was whether it would be So Cal or the Northwest on that finals field.  Dynasty defeated Naughty Dogs 11 to 7.  This put the Dogs in third place for the tournament, and sent the boys from So Cal on to face Strange.  Regardless of who won the tournament, this finish locked Strange in as the 2003 Division 1 series champions, with Naughty Dogs taking second in the series and Jax Worriors in third.  Whether they finished first or second at the tournament, Dynasty would rank in tenth out of the 19 teams that had played Division 1 this season, which isn’t bad considering they only competed in one event.

Division 2 saw the Hurricanes defeating the Xtreme Sports Factory Team 11 to 4.  The Hurricanes would next face Total Eclipse for the final match.  As with Division one, the Division 2 series title was decided before World Cup was over.  The Twisted Factory Team garnered enough points by surviving to the fourth cut at World Cup, to guarantee themselves the first place Division 2 series trophy.  Second and third place would be decided by the winner of the Division 2 final match.  The Hurricanes and Total Eclipse were within 6 series points of each other, so the 20 point difference between a first and second place win would decide their season rank.

Division three, devoid of series points, wrapped for the night with B*SLAP tied 8 to 8 with Full Throttle when the clock hit 0:00, so the game went into sudden death overtime, where B*SLAP scored a hang, taking the match, and securing their final match against the PAG Factory Team to vie for first place.

SUNDAY

The last day of the tournament was when it would all come together.  Ten man teams started their semifinals, the X Ball final matches were scheduled, as was the best two out of three showdown between the Oakland Assassins and the Philly Americans.

Ten man wrapped up semi-finals with the 32 competitor teams hitting the field at 8 am with a staggering upset in the norm of both the Pro-Am and Novice brackets.  Both top ranked teams in the series, Static and Justice, failed to make the cut from semi finals to finals.  Static earned 44 points in the semi-final round giving them 26 ranking points, bringing their total up to 208 points.  Cartel made the cut to finals, but with 157 ranking points, the most they could hit would be 207 points if they won first place at the Cup.  It was some solace to Static, but of course, they would rather have played finals.  Justice, likewise dropped and missed the final match with 135 points in semi-finals giving them 30 ranking points to add to their 192 bringing them up to 222 points.  Momma's Boys hit the finals running, poised to tie up with them with 172 points, they were capable of tying them for series first place.  Rock It Kids in the Rookie division  solidified their series championship by making the finals with 150 ranking points going into World Cup and since Outlaws missed the cut to finals, earning themselves 32 points, giving them a total of 184 points for the series and giving them second place in the series.

By the afternoon, open class X Ball finals had finished.  In division 3 PAG Factory defeated B*SLAP 12 to 7 to claim first place.  In Division 2, it was Total Eclipse coming out over the Hurricanes by a single point - 10 to 9, to grab first place.  The eagerly awaited Division 1 match between Dynasty and Strange was won by the season champions, Strange with a score of 14 to 12.  With 3:36 left on the clock Dynasty scored a point tying up the match 11 to 11, but Strange would have none of that.  They took a point at 2:14, and got Dynasty to throw in the towel for another point just 11 seconds later on the clock.  Dynasty made another hang at 1:16, and then Strange solidified their lead to two points with only 11 seconds left on the clock.

The first NXL Finals match went to the Philly Americans by a single point, 9 to 10 over the Oakland Assassins.  The second match also went to Philly, giving them the inaugural NXL season championship.  Celebration immediately ensued, with buckets of broken chrono paint being dumped over player and team co-owner Adam Gardner, as well as team coach Darryl Trent.

The two days of second annual National Collegiate Paintball Association X Ball Competition matches culminated in the selection of for semifinal teams.  Of these four, Purdue beat Penn State 10 to 5, and Illinois beat Iowa 10 to 7.  In the final match, Purdue defeated Illinois 11 to 7, to take home the title in what is now the world's oldest annual X Ball competition. 

Finals hit just before noon on the Empire field for the ten man teams.  Rookie's faced off first, Rock It Kids playing tough against Anarchy for a 97-6 win.  Texas Torn dropped to Fat City with 8 bodies shot, 92-16.  Novice teams went into their first round of playing with Atomix taking it to Vicious Shoch with five alive for a 95-10 score.  Mommas Boys defeated Bad Karma in their first finals match 94 to 12.  Pro Am team Addicted took down Brimstone Smoke 96 to 4, and Cartel defeated Shockwave Canada 97 to 6.  The second round of Rookie's saw Anarchy against Texas Torn, the top ranked team into finals.  Texas dropped all of their bodies in the match, earning just 12 points to Anarchy's 94.  Rock It Kids turned it around for their second match and took it to Fat City Hangover 95-10.  Bad Karma took down Vicious Shocktech 95 to 10.  Brimstone Smoke defeated Cartel 98 to 4.    Momma's Boys won their second game 92-16 againt Atomix.  Then Addicted dropped to Shockwave Canada 97-6.  The third round of Rookie's saw Anarchy win over Fat City in their third games, 95-10.  The last game in the rookie division was against Rock It Kids and Texas Torn.  Rock It Kids won it with 3 live bodies, earning both the World Cup win as well as the series championship.  Anarchy took second, Fat City Hangover, third and Texas Torn fourth.  The last  bout of Novice scores saw Momma's Boys against Vicious Shocktech with 92-16 giving Momma's Boys the win for the Cup as well as tying them with Justice for series champions.  Atomix won over Bad Karma 96-8 to put Atomix in second place, Bad Karma in third and Vicious in fourth.  The last two scores in amateur was against Cartel and Addicted, the boy from the Northwest winning the event again and securing the second place seating for the series, putting Addicted in fourth.  Brimstone and Shockwave Canada stalemated with 20 points each, earning them 123 and 122 points to give the Canadians second, and Brimstone Smoke third.

The 2003 World Cup drew to a close with X Ball and 10 Man award ceremonies.  World Cup has grown larger and more diverse than ever before.  The PSP tournament series and NXL sit at a point of change, with TV deals in the works for the NXL, and the 5 and 10 man competition video taped for exclusive broadcast on the Outdoor Live Network.  The management of Disney's Wide World of Sport complex was pleased with the event, and has already opened negotiations with Paintball Sports Promotions for a multi-year contract to host future events.  Post season bargaining and deals will determine what shape and formats the series will take in 2004.
 


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