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The Ultimate Madness

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The Ultimate Madness 2001

On-Scene coverage with PigCamtm live web-cam

Amateur - Naughty Dogs
Novice - Diamond Cavaliers
Rookie - Gang Green
Women - DYE Girls

Three player paintball is a format that has been gaining popularity in recent years.  Three player is easier to organize and coordinate for new teams, but three player tournaments tend to be smaller, local events.  That was true, until The Ultimate Madness, the largest 3 player tournament held to date, and one of the largest indoor events.  The location - West Virginia's Huntington Civic Arena. 

Huntington, WV has welcomed the tournament with open arms.  Local businesses began passing restaurant and pub discount coupons to the players, and early top gun games were broadcast via live TV news.  Not to be outdone each of the other local stations also sent out a crew to cover the event.  The local newspaper, the Huntington Herald-Dispatch reported on the tournament providing a background on the sport of paintball - and even referred people to for more detailed coverage of the event [editor's note: Thanks Herald-Dispatch :-) ]

Inside the Arena 6 Ultimate Airball fields stood, surrounded on the top and sides by netting.  With the new trends in actually testing netting to make sure it stops a paintball (while this seems a simple and logical concept, it is one that has been largely ignored by field owners and tournament promoters until this year) Madness promoters Milt Call and Paul Bolenbach made sure there would be no safety problems by double netting the sides of the fields, the areas that would take the direct hits from paintballs.  Additionally, barrier tapes kept a 5 foot boundary for spectators to prevent the all to common instinct of placing their face on the net, a practice that negates its protection. 

All 6 Ultimate Airball bunker layouts were identical, and symmetrical.  Sandbags anchored inflatable barricades in place on the heavy felt floor surface which proved to be very effective.  Another small but important touch - signs clearly marked each field and goggle on/off areas.

The action started off with a one-on-one tournament held Friday, the grand prize being an 5 man Ultimate Airball inflatable bunker set.  Rather than the traditional single elimination format typically used for top gun competitions this event used a standard paintball tournament format, including points for flag pulls and hangs, with round robin games.  The 44 competitors were split into 5 divisions.  The top 3 players in each division, and 3 wildcards (based highest scores overall) advanced to the semifinals which culled the field down to 4 players who competed for the best score.  The finish was Martin Pettway fourth, Santos third, Aftershock captain Todd Adamson second, and Brian Ravenel of the Naughty Dogs in first.  Ravenel and Adamson actually tied in their points, but because Ravenel had been the victor when the two went head to head in an earlier game, he finished with the top rank - and the Ultimate Airball system.

On Saturday, 3 player games began at 8:00 am, and quickly got ahead of schedule due to a combination of efficient reffing and the three player format.  The 109 teams competing played a total of over 325 preliminary games on Saturday, with an hour long lunch break, and finished by four o'clock in the afternoon, with the last few prelim games scheduled for Sunday morning to be followed by the semifinals and finals. 

The live PigCam (top right picture, this page) kept an eye on the game action from the back tape of field six, updating pictures each minute.

As many of the competing teams were newer to tournament paintball, the vendor's display offered a chance for them to see and learn about new products.  Diablo's semi trailer was indoors providing the event paint as well as a look at all of the products Diablo Direct distributes, with staff from V-Force on hand to show their goggle line.  Airgun Designs booth had techs busy installing Warp Feeds - over 90 in the first day.  The AGD techs formed a team and won one of their games despite the fact that Rob Hoover had left his paintgun off the field (all for want of a hex wrench to tune the velocity).  National Paintball South's booth was packed, even though it held only a small sampling of the products they distribute.  Rose Griffith from Unique Sporting as usual had her line of packs and equipment as well as Paintball Junkies clothing. 

Bambi Bullard - Action Pursuit Games and Paintball Magazine reporter had a booth unveiling her new product - paintball strategy clip boards.  These standard clip boards feature a dry-erase surface and come imprinted with field layouts for drawing game tactics and are also available with custom designs, including player photographs next to the diagram.  Smart Parts booth featured the new Freak Factory customized Impulse paintguns, the impulse anti-chop eye, and a preview of the lighter and more compact Max Flow regulator.  Extreme Rage's packs proved popular with the crowd.  Owner Todd Adamson, who had missed the Top Gun by a tie-breaker spent much of his time coaching his wife Tami, and other members of the Dye Girls.  AKALMP's booth featured the Excalibur, the company's low pressure electropneumatic paintgun, the first to use entirely modular components for fast parts swapping during a tournament. 

A real head-turner was Tippmann's booth.  The much anticipated electronic trigger upgrade for the Model 98 and M98 Custom was unveiled.  Tippmann's new trigger has taken two forms.  One version uses a low pressure ram to trip the M98 sear and is the style seen in web and advertising photos.  The second style replaces the mainspring and hammer with a new striker and a ram, functioning similarly in concept to an Angel, Impulse or Bushmaster 2000.  Both carry a suggested retail price of just under $300, putting an electronic triggered paintgun into player's hands for around $400, a definite price breakthrough.

The 3 player competition was refereed by the All Americans II, Brimstone, and the C.O. Paintball Factory Team.  Adding to the reffing staff were Rocky Cagnoni of Avalanche, and Waldo from Last Word.  The preliminary rounds finished on Sunday morning.  Top teams in each division went to the semi-finals, while the top women's teams, having only a single division, advanced to their finals round.  A standout in the rookie division was top ranked Team Unknown from Columbus, Oh.  Each member having been a player for only a year, and coming together as a team only six month's prior, the Madness marked their second tournament.  They will be playing the OCPL 5 man series through the rest of the year, and are building a 5 man team. 

Into the semifinals, and more noticeably the finals, the style of player tended to become more defensive.  Many teams remained at the event after having been knocked  out of the running, to coach friends who had made the cut.  While the Ultimate Madness used modified NPPL rules, audience cheering and coaching was not only permitted but encouraged.  At the captain's meeting Bolenbach was questioned about the reason for this rule, and his two point answer received a solid round of applause.  First he cited his experiences playing paintball in the woods, with no crowds compared to the first time he attended the Splat 1 Indoor National tournament which allowed coaching.  Suddenly wives, girlfriends and family of players who had previously been alienated from the game were now taking an active part shouting to players, guiding them on the field.  Secondly, he cited that every other major mainstream sport has cheering audiences, and if paintball is going to grow to that level, with mainstream corporate sponsorships it needs the cheering  and jeering crowds as well.

The women's division - designed to encourage female players in the sport - consisted mainly of female players who normally play on coed teams.  Some played both in the women's division and other divisions at Ultimate Madness.  Fourth place finish went to High Maintenance, third to the Iron Maidens, a long established all female team, second to the Devil's Angels, and first to the Dye Girls.

The rookie division, being the largest of the tournament, with 44 teams, was bestowed with the largest prize packages as well.  The sportsmanship award included three Air Tech E-Matrix paintguns.  Finishing fourth was Team Unknown, with Lethal Injection Red in third, Toasted Oatmeal in second and Gang Green in first.

The Novice bracket finished with Crow Dawg Black in fourth place, House of Pain Blue in third, Farside in second, and Diamond Cavaliers in second.  Centerflag, a name that is becoming well known this season finished fourth in the Amateurs.  Tippmann Effect finished third, Farside in second, and first place went to the Naughty Dogs.

"This is the best tournament I have ever attended," and "all tournament promoters should aspire to this level." were common comments at the closing ceremonies.  Truly, the Ultimate Madness proved to be a top quality event by which others will be measured. 

The location proved excellent.  The city of Huntington, welcomed the event.  Not only the local businesses such as the hotels located within a block of the arena and the all too popular Wild Dawg nightclub (complete with separate country & western and hip-hop dance floors) across the street, but many local residents came out to watch the tournament and learn about the sport.  The Herald-Dispatch reported on the tournament all three days, with color front page photographs in the Saturday and Sunday editions, hailing the event as a success for the community. 

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