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PSP LA Open 2004
March 3-7, 2004
Photography by Dawn Mills

The 2004 PSP Pro/Am season kicked off with the Los Angeles Open at the Pomona County Fairplex in Southern California.  2004 marked the tournamentís second year at the venue, taking advantage of the grass infield in the complexís thoroughbred racing track.

Every year there are changes, and 2004 was no exception.  Initially plans had been made to leave netting and poles on site at the end of the 2003 tournament, as a permanent paintball field.  However, deals fell through and Paintball Sports Promotions packed up their gear at the end of the tournament and moved it on to Las Vegas.  Instead of a paintball field, half of the racetrack infield was used for motocross racing between the paintball tournaments.  In preparation for the 2004 LA Open, the Pomona County Fairgrounds leveled the berms and jumps of the track, and re-planted the area with grass.

Unfortunately, when PSPís site preparation crews arrived on site to set up for 2004, they found that while the newer grass looked as nice as a golf course, the young root structures of the turf were not enough to hold together ground that had just taken a soaking from several days of rain.  The decision was made to set up fields only on the half of the infield with firm, solid turf.  This led to a tight, but effective layout of fields with the green fluffy goodness that was the hallmark of the tournament the year before.  The rain that led up to the event was replaced on the first day of play with what was essentially perfect paintball weather.  Clear blue skies afforded a grand view of the snow capped mountain peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains in the Los Angeles National Forest, while the temperatures held in the 70s. 

PSP listened to the five and ten man teams who were displeased with the hike from last yearís staging area to the game fields.  This year these teams staged on the infield.  The available space limited where staging could be placed, and it was done in tents with tables over dirt rather than grass, but in close proximity to the game fields.  Divisional X-Ball and NXL teams, of course staged in the team pits attached to their fields, which proved to be in better shape on the turf.

New changes in game format were in place as well, with a new set of PSP tournament rules released at the captainís meetings for the event.  The scheduling system used for five and 10 man competitions was changed as well.  For the last several years, a cross-divisional system had been used in which each teamís draw was unique, and based upon their rank.  According to PSPís Lane Wright the major drawback to this system was that due to its complexity, it was extremely difficult to explain to teams who were unhappy with their placement in the schedule.  In point of fact, it was only fully understood by only a handful of people.  For 2004, PSP has returned to division based scheduling, in which teams are placed in groups of 9, and each team plays all of the other teams in its division.  This is the scheduling structure used prior to 1999, its chief drawback is that if the number of registered teams is not evenly divisible by 9, teams playing in a division with only 8 teams get a bye.  This change came as a surprise to some teams including the Femmes Fatale who had both their novice and rookie 10 man teams in the same division playing not only each other, but the exact same line-up of competitors.

The 5 man competition, which began its preliminary rounds at 1:00 pm on Wednesday afternoon drew out 23 teams, growing from the 20 teams that competed the previous year.  Owing to the stadium lighting at the Fairplex, the 5 man competition, like the rest of the games were able to be scheduled later in the day, and played into the night under artificial lighting.

Rookie teams wrapped up their preliminary games and started into the semi final games with 8 teams on Thursday afternoon.  Team Misplaced took top seating into finals with two wins and a stalemate.  Darkside Out took it with two wins and a loss for second place.  SCP went in third to finals and Kamikaze Kids hit it with just 6 points to spare.  Novice teams went straight to finals from preliminaries with Team Savage on top after finals with three wins. took second with a loss.  Panhandle Allstars went third with a single win and Virus brought up fourth place.  Rookie finals were won by Kamikaze Kids after two wins and a stalemate followed by SCP with a single win, Darkside Out followed them with only 4 points difference and Team Misplaced took fourth with a stalemate bringing them up to the cut at 108.

NXL teams faced off about an hour and a half behind schedule on Thursday with Chicago Aftershock and Philly Americans taking the first spot.  The game went to Philly 11-8.  Oakland Assassins hit Detroit Strange hard in the second game 15-7 setting the stage for San Diego Legacy's first NXL match against Baltimore, the match going to Trauma 17-7.  New York Xtreme defeated the Los Angeles Ironmen 15 to 5, and Miami Effect defeated Detroit Strange 11 to 3.

Division 2 games went about an hour behind schedule throughout the day.  B Slap beat out Asylum Factory 9-8, where Outlaws hit Ignition 9-8 themselves.  Rat Factory beat Thunderstruck 7-6, and Tippmann Effect took Team Xtreme 6-5.  ICU Rattlesnake was the first game to go more than a single digit in scoring difference against Impact, 8-4.  Hostile Kids took OK Outlaws 6-5. 

Division 1 and 3 played throughout the day as well, though their scores as well as the remainder of the Division 2 scores were not posted by the close of the day.

Friday started off with the NXL playing their first match starting at 11:00am between the Philly Americans and Baltimore Trauma while 10 man and divisional X-Ball games began on time at noon.  Thursday's X-Ball score were made available at the scoring trailer Friday morning, allowing teams to check their match-ups for the day on the double elimination bracket charts.

In the remainder of Thursday's Division 2 X Ball games Twisted Revolution took down Fat City 9 to 3, and Method was defeated by Xtreme Sports Factory 15 to 9.  Hogan's Alley Factory Team had a solid victory over Albany Power 11 to 2.  Team Ultimate triumphed over TKO 6 to 4 and Fury beat Southside Empire 8 to 6.  OK Legion beat Pinnacle Woods by a single point at 6 to 5.  ASI Revolution fell to Doc's Raiders 3 to 8.

In Division 3, 11 teams were seeded into a 16 team bracket leaving quite a few byes in the first couple of rounds.  Gravity devastated Empress 14 to 1, and Team CDR delivered a 6 to 4 victory over DYE Kids.  East Coast Fury defeated the Rodents 9 to 4.  This put them up against Breakout who they defeated 11 to 2.  Gravity played 7 Below, which had a bye in the opening round, and fell with a score of 4 to 7.  Demented Kidz were defeated by DC Devastation 4 to 8, both teams coming into the tournament in the second round. 

Division 1 had some highly anticipated matches - 8 teams were seeded into a 16 team bracket.  This gave a bracket with all byes in the first round and another round of byes for the first losers.  While this arrangement looked unusual, but the matches were numbered to assign them to rounds as if they were drawn up in a bracket of 8.  Naughty Dogs defeated SD Ravenous 11 to 2, and Evil Factory fell to Dynasty 9 to 5.  This meant that the Dogs would face Dynasty in the second round.  Newcomers to X Ball, Avalanche defeated Storm 10 to 4.  Excessive, also new to Division 1 posted a victory over Jax Worriors, but fell to Avalanche 9 to 8 in the next round.  The Naughty Dogs were victorious over Dynasty 11 to 4.

As with the previous year, a trade show was set up in the fairgrounds adjacent to the racetrack.  Major companies like DYE, WGP, National Paintball Supply, Shocktech, Smart Parts and PMI had their full size show trailers set up, while long roof open sided shelters were home to smaller manufacturers and displays from local store owners.

On the NXL field Trauma pulled off a single point victory over last year's champions, Philly with a score of 7 to 6.  The Los Angeles Ironmen topped San Diego Legacy by 3 points with a score of 13 to 10.  Oakland Assassins took down Miami Effect 12 to 8, and Detroit Strange tied with New York Xtreme 8 to 8.

Saturday saw a continuation of excellent weather during the day with the NXL starting up at 11 am and 10 man and divisional X Ball at noon.  Teams switching between afternoon and evening sessions found themselves faced with very different playing conditions.  After dark, the stadium lights provided enough light to see, but cast shadows and glare onto goggle lenses on the edge of fogging in the cooler evening air.  The temperature and humidity differences even affected paint choices.  Some teams shooting more brittle paint exposed it to the air for a while to soften it up to reduce breaks in the gun at night.

Some well known players who had retired a few years ago showed up in Pomona.  Gary Noblett, arguably one of the best back players to have ever played the sport was in Chicago Aftershock's pit area helping and advising the team.  Marty Bush, known for his snap shooting came to help Shane Pestana coach the Los Angeles Ironmen.  "LD" Dickinson who had played for Image and various teams before retiring reappeared at World Cup as a ref and is now working for PSP doing site preparation and set-up.

On the NXL field the same crew that officiated the 2003 season was back at it, putting in long thankless hours.  Saturday's matches pitted New York against Oakland, the Assassins taking the match 13 to 7.  Miami defeated San Diego 17 to 9.  Chicago Aftershock took down Detroit Strange 14 to 5.  Baltimore Trauma posted an 11 to 9 win over the Los Angeles Ironmen.  The Philly Americans defeated Miami Effect 14 to 9.  By the fourth day in to the second event of the season it was clear that the two teams that were new to the league - Strange and Legacy had their work cut out for them.  Several of the matches had point spreads that were significantly wider than those of the previous year.

In Division 1 X Ball Naughty Dogs handed Avalanche their first X Ball loss 6 to 4.  This put the Dogs into the final match - which many were expecting to be a re-match against Dynasty.  The boys in blue were cheered on by their mascot, a blue and white dragon who would take to the field to rally the crowd during half time and time-outs.  Evil Factory defeated Excessive 9 to 5, earning a match against Dynasty.  That match ended in a massive 14 to 1 victory for Dynasty, giving the team roughly an hour to turn around before facing Avalanche to vie for the finals match against the Naughty Dogs.

While the full moon rose over the game fields on Saturday night, the 10 man teams wrapped up their preliminaries under the not so popular lighted fields.  Cartel Kidz took top seating into the rookie finals.  With only five teams in the bracket, they would take four teams straight to finals, bypassing the semi-final round entirely.  Goodfellas, Femmes Fatale Rookie and Explicit joined them in the finals round.  Nineteen novice teams hit the fields in Pomona for the ten man competition, Mantis taking the first into the semi final round with two divisions.  The top two teams from each of those two divisions would move onto the final round.  Momma's Boys were behind them in second place, Nor Cal, Rock It Kids, Enemy, Chaos, Sin and Fox 4 Darkside joined the pack of 8 to move on with a cut of 425.  The cut for Pro-Am was substantially higher with the 12 teams.  Justice took first placement into the semi final round with a 765 followed closely by Arsenal, Diesel, Addicted,  and Bushwackers with a 673.  Brimstone Smoke hit at 6th into semi-finals with a 599 along with Cartel and Naughty X Nature at 512.

Dynasty pulled a 10-4 victory over Avalanche, pitting them against Naughty Dogs on Sunday afternoon.  Crisis beat out DC Devastation 11-7 putting them into the Sunday bracket against East Coast Fury who also beat out DC Devastation 8-4 for the spot.  Team Ultimate beat Atomix factory 6-3 giving them a shot at the Sunday bracket, but lost to B-Slap 5-4 later in the evening, putting B-Slap in on Sunday alongside GZ Silver who beat Ignition 6-4.  That winner would meet Xtreme Sports Factory later on Sunday to be followed by a match with Twisted Revolution to settle the deal as the last game of the day for their bracket of X Ball.

Sunday started out with clear skies that once again placed the San Gabriel Mountains in view to dominate the skyline.  With little restriction, the sun bore down creating many a sunburn on player and spectator alike.  During the morning, the seemingly limitless parking lots of the Fairplex filled to with an ocean of vehicles, as the fairgrounds were also host to a car show and swap meet.  A section of the parking lot set aside for the tournament, providing room for teams as they arrived mid-day.

Ten man teams hit the field at noon with Novice team Nor Cal coming out of their division in first with a 276 after three wins during semi finals.  They were joined by division mate Momma's Boys with 2 wins and a loss to Nor Cal.  The other novice division sported Mantis in third to finals with Rock It Kids making the fourth place spot.  The Pro Am teams also had eight teams going to finals, division top to Justice with three wins, followed by Cartel with two wins and a loss, Diesel who had a similar fate and Bushwackers into finals in fourth with a max, a win with 2 bodies and a loss.

Ten man finals wrapped up first with the Rookie division.  Cartel Kidz took home the win with all three games won, losing only 13 bodies throughout the final round.  Goodfellas came in second, followed by Femmes Fatale Rookie in third and Explicit in fourth.  Novice teams Rock It Kids and Momma's Boys vied for first place in their games, Rock It Kids posting their win against Mantis to give them a 206.  Momma's Boys would need to produce at least 8 bodies for the win.  They came in with 18 points against Nor Cal putting Momma's Boys at first place with a 210, Rock It Kids in second, Nor Cal in third and Mantis taking fourth place. Pro-Am teams Justice and Diesel tied for first in scores for the 10 man top place.  The winning factor would be the head to head game, which Diesel won giving them the place.  Justice took second, Bushwackers in third and Cartel in fourth.

Division 3 X Ball East Coast Fury faced off with Crisis first thing with Crisis taking home the win 8-6.  Division 2 teams GZ Silver and B Slap played for the spot against Xtreme Sports Factory later in the day with GZ taking the game 7-3, then winning against Xtreme Sports 4-3 to match in the final round with Twisted Revolution.  A tough day for the boys from New York that caught up with them in the 6-4 game against Twisted for the win to Twisted.  As was almost a forgone conclusion, the Division 1 X Ball tournament came down to Dynasty and the Naughty Dogs.  In 2003, when they met at PSP events, it was the Dogs who were victorious, and Dynasty grabbing the titles when they played in the Super 7.  A repeat looked to be in order for 2004, when the Dogs beat Dynasty early in the tournament.  This would not be the case, however as Dynasty defeated the Naughty Dogs in the final match with a score of 8-2, claiming first place for the start of the PSP X Ball season.

Detroit met with San Diego on the NXL field Sunday in a 16-5 game for the two new kids on the block, then Oakland took it to Los Angeles 11-7.

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