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PSP Mid-Atlantic Open 
Sept 21-24 , 2006 
Photos by Dawn Mills

Eastern Conference - NXL All-Star Winners
Jacksonville Raiders - First Place DI - First Place - DII
Team Spray Paint - First Place - DIII
TX Justice League - First Place - DIII5ManX - First Place - DIV 5ManX

For its fifth tournament of the 2006 season, Paintball Sports Promotions headed to the Atlantic seaboard, placing the Mid Atlantic Open next to Charlotte, North Carolina. 

In some ways the event was a return to tradition. In the 1990s and the first few years of the new millennium, the promoters that came together to form PSP staged most of their events at existing paintball fields. It was only in recent years that the tournaments have outgrown what most paintball fields can handle, and required temporary set-ups at open grass venues. In contrast, the Mid Atlantic Open found a home at PBC Sports Park in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The field, being purpose built for tournament paintball under the guidance of Baltimore Trauma owner Rob Staudinger was envisioned as a modern tournament park, and has already seen use in CFOA competitions as well as walk-on and team practice in its first fifteen months of operation.  The field's location with easy access to local hotels and roadside visibility make it well suited for hosting tournaments.

 In addition to a new venue in a new region, the tournament had a new division, or conspicuous lack of one. As the National X-Ball League professional X-Ball schedule has been built around 5 tournaments a year, PSP's addition of a 6th tournament left the league with a choice between playing six or sitting one out. Something of a more creative middle ground was found and the first NXL All Star game came as a result. The MAO was planned with divisional X-Ball games, but instead of full NXL play, there would be three games, pitting some of the world's top paintball players against each other with the all-star players from the Eastern Conference taking on those from the Western Conference. When X-Ball was first introduced to the world in 2002 with the Nation's Cup at the International Open, the teams were all-star teams representing their countries, and the mix of players on Team USA proved interesting. Players who were normally against each other were side by side. The All-Star game was designed to give paintball spectators from the east, their chance to catch their favorite players all in one game, and to follow a pattern seen in other traditional pro sports. 

Both Thursday and Friday saw the preliminary rounds for divisional X-Ball play.  Division III had 30 teams competing in six brackets of 5 teams each, meaning the top team from each bracket would be a quarterfinalist, along with two wildcards to fill out the quarterfinal round.  Division II was more unusually structured, running 6 teams per bracket, while PSP X-Ball rule 2.3.1 requires prelims to be played with brackets of 5 teams each.  However as put into practice, expanding bracket sizes allows for an even division of games without having to turn away teams that would create a total not divisible by 5. Like D-III the D-II teams played four games each over Thursday and Friday, except in their case, due to the extra teams they did not play every team in their bracket.

Division I, which is limited to 15 team in total, saw 9 competing.  These teams were split into two divisions, one of 5 teams and one of 4 teams.  D-I had an unusual twist, as a few NXL players who were not playing in the All-Star game became eligible to guest on Division I teams.  As the division that skips quarterfinals, D-I's final four were decided on Friday.  Gridlock finished the prelims ranked first, after four wins, one of which was an 11 to 0 shut-out against Quiet Storm NY.  Lucien Blackburn and William Tinker from Baltimore Trauma guesting on their team helped them into that position.  San Diego Aftermath headed to the semis in the number two position, with Tippmann Effect (plus three Philly Americans) in number three, and number four taken by Jacksonville Raiders (fortified by three Miami Raiders.)

Off field, the tournament trade show gave players from around the Carolinas a chance to look at products and talk directly to manufacturers.  Booths and trailers included displays from Virtue, Sup'Air, National Paintball Supply, Archon, Proto, Planet, Nelon, Derder, Hybrid, Smart Parts, Custom Products, Mighty Paintball, Paintball Fury, DraXxus, Lucky Paintball and Action Village.  While most manufacturers were holding off until Commander's Cup or World Cup to show new products, there were a few exceptions.  Smart Parts display trailer had examples of several new team guns, including the Dynasty Shocker and Ion, Russian Legion Shocker, Shocktech Ion and Tremor Shocker.  The Shocker NXT also made its official debut at the event.  Across the thoroughfare Planet had the brightly colored new Bushwhacker Ego on display. Hybrid had new colors for their Suicide 3-Piece HALO shell, and National Paintball Supply had their recently released Reloader B2.  The new model of the Reloader B features magnetic lid closure, and electronics with adjustable setting for both loader tension and sensitivity of the sound activation system.

Saturday afternoon, the grandstands of the PSP field filled to capacity and spectators began standing along crowd control barricades, getting ready for the 1:00 start of the NXL All-Star Game.  Far more than during the previous divisional play, fans were on their feet cheering impressive moves, as the first game in the three game series finished with an Eastern Conference victory, 12 to 8 over the West.

Meanwhile, on the other fields, the 5-Man X-Ball teams started up their preliminary rounds in the morning, with Division IV kicking off first, and finishing up, freeing fields for D-III, and for the X-Ball Division III Quarterfinals. 

Split into four brackets of three teams each, the X-Ball D-III quarters went by relatively fast - teams only had two games each to complete, with the top team from each bracket being selected for the semifinals.  These teams were East Coast Killers, Data Support Systems, Team Spray Paint and Triad.

Like the first all-star game, the second had the grandstands once again packed with shouting fans. Also like the first, the second was won by the players of the Eastern Conference, but with a smaller margin at a final score of 10 to 8.

The D-II Quarterfinals yielded, East Coast Empire, 93 Bulls and Gridlock-PBC as their semifinalists.

The D-II Quarterfinals yielded, East Coast Empire, 93 Bulls and Gridlock-PBC as their semifinalists.

When the remaining 5-man X-Ball teams had completed their preliminary round, the 38 teams playing in Division IV were narrowed to 16 ochofinalists, that played in four brackets of 4 teams each. The round winnowed the teams down to eight quarterfinalists. In the 5-man quarterfinals, both D-III and D-IV had eight teams each, playing three games per team in two brackets. The top two teams from each bracket became the semifinal and finalists. In the semifinals and finals the format was best two out of three games, with the winners and losers being paired for their finals games.

Division IV of the 5-Man X-Ball competition drew to a close as DBS Kidz beat ECE Kidz in their first game, but fell in the second and won the third for a third place finish. beat Sin City Paintball twice in a row to claim first place over Sin City. D-III5X ended finished out with Runnin Wild taking down ECE Factory Team twice in a row for third place. TX Justice League also posted back to back wins for first place over Ginxed who finished second.

The X-Ball quarterfinals had produced four semfinalists for each division. These teams played each other based on rank with the winners moving on to fight for first and second in the finals, and losers going to battle for third and fourth.

In division III Data Support Systems beat Triad 4 to three, capturing third place, and Team Spray Paint's 5 to 4 win over East Coast Killers put them in first.

Gridlock PBC hammered 93 Bulls 7 to 1 for third place in Division II. The DII trophy went to after they beat East Coast Empire 10 to 4.

Gridlock rolled over Tippmann Effect 7 to 0 for third place in Division I. First place for that division went to Jacksonville Raiders, following their 10 to 4 victory against San Diego Aftermath.

The third round in the NXL All-Star competition also played out on Sunday. Despite two wins securing the fame for the Eastern Conference, the mix of pro players not usually seen together made for exciting paintball to watch. Sunday's game ended with a single point victory for the west at 10 to 9.

For Paintball Sports Promotions, the 6th and final tournament of the year still lies ahead. Rather than its traditional date in October, the Paintball World Cup will be held later in the year, reducing the risk of interference from tropical hurricanes. November 8th through 12th, teams will converge on Disney's Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida as the divisional and NXL teams make last bid for the 2006 championships.

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