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Skyball 2002
Toronto Canada
Guest Coverage by Assistant Editor Joshua D. Silverman 
of Media Partner Paintball 2Xtremes Magazine

Skyball returned to Toronto, Canada's incredible Skydome facility on
March First and Second, promoted by Zap Paintball.  In past years, Zap had relied on promoters such as Jim Lively or Focus to run their massive
tournament, but this year, in an unprecedented step, Gordon and Steve Moore of Zap Paintball decided to do things their own way, and run the 250 team tournament on their own.  Chip Herbert handled the hands-on direction of the event with assistance from Steve Moore, the legendary Bill Cookston (in charge of the referees) and paintball promoters such as Ben Toricelli of Millennium Paintball Productions and Randy and Lori Baxter of Splat-1, who were also producing a video of the event for Zap and coordinating the live camera work for the Skydome's massive Jumbotron television.

Skyball featured a professional division for 2002 stocked with massive
cash prizes, which drew six professional teams.  As the Los Angeles NPPL event was only one week away, this was a respectable turnout; Ground Zero sent two squads, the Jax Warriors, All Americans, OBR and Strange also came to play.  Many big names came for the amateur and novice competitions too, such as Ron Kilbourne and the Bushwackers, the Oh No's, Nate Greenman and the Brass Eagle All Stars, Farside, the Iron Maidens and the Sharpshooters. 

After a Thursday night captains' meeting, games got underway early
Friday morning on six inflatable fields.  Five were Zap's custom Sup Airball fields and a sixth, temporary field was an Ultimate Airball setup, used until Laurent Hamet of Adrenaline Games could arrive with a sixth, custom Angel Sup Air setup for WDP, a major sponsor of the event. 

Upstairs on the concourse the trade show bustled with activity and
contained a respectable number of vendors including Tippmann Pneumatics, Crossfire compressed air systems, Action Markers, M3, Vengeance Gear, Champions Paintball, the Canadian Military, Exotic Sportz, Psycho Ballistics, Viewloader, Ronn Stern, Facefull magazine, WDP and of course Zap, who introduced a new line call "Chronic."  Pink Chronic paint was used for the event and received good reviews from nearly every player, as it flew straight, broke well and marked with an extremely bright pink fill. 

Games ran into the night Friday but ended on schedule, an impressive
feat.  Lines were present at the small number of test chronographs and some players complained about the officiating, but on the whole Friday ran well.  While some complaints about reffing were the usual losers' opinions, some were legitimate, as many referees chose to remain on the sidelines rather than make quick calls, sometimes allowing players with obvious hits to continue playing unabated, sending some undeserving teams home early. 

Scheduling difficulties Saturday confused some teams and led to more of
the now-legendary Skyball forefeits but by afternoon the playoffs were
beginning and the gorgeous WDP tubeless Sup Air field had been erected for the professional semis and finals.  Lori Baxter conducted interviews with players and celebrities on the Jumbotron before and during playoff games, which were televised for the large crowd of players.  The professional division was whittled down from Strange, OBR, Ground Zero and the Jax Warriors to a best two out of three game showdown between Ground Zero and the Jax Warriors for first and second place.  After a first game stalemate Ground Zero broke out 
hard and defeated the Warriors to win Skyball's professional division,
with  Strange and OBR bringing up third and fourth. The Sharpshooters defeated Farside to win the amateur title; Boston Paintball's team took the third place amateur trophy.  TCP Extreme outplayed New York Vengeance for the novice championship, and the Farside Kids won the rookie division over Dark N Dank.  Tens of thousands of dollars in cash, X-Boxes, Angels and more were given away to the top teams, and Skyball 2002 was an unqualified success, described by Zap's Gordon Moore as "the best Skyball ever."  The hundreds of teams certain to return to Skyball in 2003 certainly agree, and Skyball remains paintball's greatest inroad into the world's major sporting venues.

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