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1998, they said it couldn't be done, but Focus International did it.
Skyball 98 was a fast paced arena style paintball tournament in one of
the most impressive venues ever, the Toronto Skydome. Skyball is
back and it's bigger than before with over 170 five player teams going
at it on three fields.
Making a presence at SKYBALL expo are: ZAP Paintballs, Leader, National Paintball Supply East, WDP, J&J Performance, Redz Comfort Gear, Paintball Encounters, Diggers, Extreme Rage Alternative Sports, Lively Productions, AKALMP Inc., Boston Paintball, Planet UK, Paintball Mania Supply, Scott, Bad Boyz Toyz, Champions Paintball, AirGun Designs, RLD, Exotic Sportz, Tippmann, Warped Sportz and Focus International.
The Toronto Skydome was recently sold, and speculation has been rampant amongst the players, as to whether this will be the last Skyball. Nothing could be further from the truth, as Focus International has signed a five year contract to hold Skyball every February. Skyball combines the level of professional production found at events like the Zap Amateur Open and Masters with intense speedball action in both amateur and pro divisions, and mixes ito one of the most impressive sports arenas in the world. Feelings of anticipation were high in the players waiting for the arena floor to be converted from basketball arena to paintball fields. "It's like Christmas." Said Rocky Mountain Warriors' Ryan Norton. "I'm so excited to be here, I don't think I'll sleep at all. And it's like Christmas morning, you wake up and the fields are set up. What could be better?"
Based on the success of the inner tube bunkers that were emergency replacements last year, Skyball is being played with "Cheap Shot" bunkers from Cheap Shot in Canada. The bunkers consist of stacked tire innertubes which have been wrapped in cloth sleeves. Three colors are in use, one on each field: yellow, red and blue.
The modified NPPL rules in use include the following scoring system: 10 points pull - 35 points hang - 2 points live player - 1 point per eliminated opposing player. Forfeited games result in either 55 points to the present team, or an average of the rest of their games - whichever is higher. In the morning division, at least one game was forfeited by a team not showing in time. Due to the large numbers of games to be played and the limited time available in the Skydome, on time team arrival is critical to the tournament being completed. If the paintball fields aren't off the dome floor by midnight, another day's rent gets charged for the Skydome - $25,000.
The fields are being reffed by
Many of the faces from last year are back. Team Internet is back once again making a go of it with stock class paintguns, with Rob Rubin stating "Well, at least we haven't been maxed yet." during their first morning games.
A number of interesting new products have surfaced here. JJ Brookshire of Brass Eagle has been playing with a 1999 Rainmaker as a member of Team Leader. The new version of the Rainmaker features the 9 volt powered select fire board that has been in limited distribution, and a much sleeker aluminum shroud with a rubber grip coating. Spring Winters of the Iron Maidens has been on field with a pre-production model of the Bushmaster 2000 from Indian Creek Designs. This compact electropneumatic paintgun features an integrated ram-bolt and a very light and crisp trigger pull. Bob Long has been using the Bushmaster's bigger brother, the Delta Defiant. The Defiant shares the basic features of the Bushmaster, in a higher end model with more receiver milling and decorative anodizing. Pro-Team Products new Millenium Series compressed air systems pre-production models have also been on display.
After the round-robin preliminary games finished, the final games began. The format were single elimination semi-finals, followed by a best two out of three final game. The entire action was displayed on the stadium JUMBO TRON screen, including special views from a roving on field camera and a referee head cam. The Jax Warriors topped the Scorpions to claim the Amateur title. The All Americans took Avalanche in two games - both of which included calls that the spectators did not agree with - which lead to a strong response from the stands.
Stay tuned for our Skyball Photo Galleries and PigTV coverage - as
well as commentary.
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