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April 3-5, 2009
Huntington Beach, California
1st Place Professional
- DC Arsenal
Rising from the ashes of the concepts and teams behind the NPPL Super 7 World Series, the US Paintball League held its inaugural tournament at the same site where the Super 7 began – Huntington Beach.
Under the leadership of Super 7 founding former NPPL president Chuck Hendsch, the newly formed US Paintball League is structured as a team operated league, developed to offer eastern and western conference competitions in a national series. The core of the USPL is a group of 16 professional paintball teams, making up the league's pro division, and responsible in part for hosting and producing the league's tournaments.
Since 2003 when the first tournament was held at Huntington Beach, it has received overwhelming praise from paintball players and fans alike, as a unique venue. Games are played literally on the beach at legendary “Surf City, USA.” The tournament becomes infused with local beach culture, and trade-show exhibits offer sponsors the chance to show their wares to not only the paintball crowd, but the general public, due to the beach's regularly massive draw of swimmers, surfers, sunbathers, and people just looking to hang out and unwind after a busy week.
Unfettered of the debt load that hovered over Pacific Paintball, the company which had owned the NPPL for the last few years, USPL continued the Super 7 same game format with many of the same teams and a fresh new start. With a few minor updates, the 2008 NPPL rulebook was used for the USPL games at Huntington Beach.
The tournament started with the opening of the trade show in Thursday the 2nd, at which time teams were able to walk the fields, and team representatives were able to get the latest rule and schedule updates at the Captain's meeting at the end of the day. Part of the USPL structure included a plan for pro team members to act as mentors to amateur teams, walking the fields with them, and providing guidance in how to plan breakouts and moves based on the layout.
Games started off Friday April 3rd, with both the pros and amateurs playing. This was a departure from the latter years of the NPPL Super 7, where pro games were limited to the weekend, both helping ease travel budgets of the pro teams, and attempting to build a bigger spectator draw by putting only professional games on the “center court” showcase field. The round-robin preliminary games were played over the course of Friday and Saturday.
Fans at home were able to follow the action via a pay-per-view webcast, costing $3 per day, or $7 for the full competition.
Division III, the equivalent of the old-school “rookie” division was the most heavily booked division of the tournament. Twenty three teams registered and were split into two groups to play round-robin scheduled games. The real total of teams turned out to be 22, as GoArmy.com forfeited, giving the teams they would have played a bye, worth 95 points or the average of their other scores – which ever is higher. Each team played 8 preliminary round games, and then was ranked based on the total of their preliminary round scores. The top four teams in each of the two groups advanced to the quarterfinals. Topping the list was Sadistik, who, including their buy against GoArmy.com, played the round undefeated. Second ranked EFFECTS made it through the day with one loss and a tie, and was followed by Angel Army, HKNation, Impact Kids, Critical Wrecking Crew, SCP EDGE, and LA Crusaders.
Division II, which prior to 2003 was called the Novice division, had 21 teams competing. Here it was LA Endurance leading the group into the quarters, having lost two of their eight games. Endurance was followed by Fuzion, Arsenal Pedators, SCP Epic, Black Cell, Nurv, Caprisun Cougars, and Senate.
Division I, equivalent to the original Amateur division only drew eleven teams to Huntington Beach, so they played in a single round robin group – still eight games per team. The smaller division size meant that 72 percent of the teams competing would make it to the quarterfinals. Even teams that took a beating on Friday and Saturday stood a good chance of playing on Sunday. Heading on to the quarters were Arsenal Evolution, who played the two days undefeated, DYNASTY Entourage who dropped only their game against Arsenal Evolution, Rockstar Factory, VICIOUS, California Dream Team, Hollywood HK, Stoned Assassins and The Outfit.
The 16 teams of the pro division – most having been the teams of the NPPL Super 7 pro division - were split into two groups, but only given 7 games each – compensation in part for the larger quarterfinals they would play on Sunday. This group was led by Oakland Blast which one every one of their games, except that against Edmonton Impact. DC Arsenal fared as well, only falling to Los Angeles Infamous. St. Louis Avalanche finished the round ranked third followed by DYNASTY, OC Bushwackers, Tampa Bay Damage, Edmonton Impact, and Los Angeles Infamous. Not surprising to many, the teams that were newest to the pro division were among those what did not make the cut to Sunday.
In 2008, the NPPL added 5-man competitions to their tournaments, helping to fill fields and schedules at a time when the economy took a downturn and 7-man tournament attendance began to suffer. Five-man continues in the USPL and was played at Huntington Beach with two divisions – an Open Class consisting of 18 teams, and 5D-3. Open Class 5-man teams were split into two groups for round-robin prelims with 8 games each. The round ended with LA Hitmen.com on top, followed by Slow Moving Targets, Gat Products Factory, Chikun Nuggetz, LA Hitmen/Lew Life Fitness, Order of Seven, Flipped out Feat. Blowfish and Xandata advancing. Five-man Division 3's 13 teams were scheduled their prelims from a single group, and finished with Davis Excessive ranked first followed by Surgical Strike, Encore, 1904 Kids, Team RIP, Team Sick Individuals, Adrenalin Rush and the KGB MOB.
Sunday morning's action started with the quarterfinals. The 7-man divisional teams were paired up for a best two out of three game elimination round. Teams were paired within each division strongest against the weakest, based on their ranks from the prelims.
In Division III, Impact Kids lost their first game against HK Nation, but won the next two, and the right to advance. SCP Edge took out EFFECTS with back to back wins. Angel Army won their first game against Critical Wrecking Crew, but lost the next two, sending the crew on. Sadistik earned double wins against LA Crusaders.
Division II saw Black Cell dropping their first game to SCP Epic, but coming back with two more victories for the win. Arsenal Predators defeated Caprisun Cougars twice in a row. Fuzion lost their first game against NURV but won the next two, as did LA Endurance against Senate.
In D-I, California Dream Team won their first game against VICIOUS, but fell twice in a row thereafter and was eliminated from the tournament. Dynasty Entourage powered through Stoned Assassins, with a 87 to 9 win followed by a 100 to 0 max. Hollywood HK stumbled in their first game against Rockstar Factory, but recovered to win the next two games. While Arsenal Evolution extracted a 96 to 12 victory and a max from The Outfit.
The pro teams played a fuller quarterfinal round, competing as a round robin group of eight teams, each team getting in 7 games, and the top teams moving on. Here DC Arsenal and DYNASTY excelled.
The 5-man quarterfinals were also a knock-out round. In 5D-3, Team RIP took down 1904 Kids, Surgical Strike eliminated Adrenalin Rush, Davis Excessive put the KGB Mob out of the running and Encore fell to Team Sick Individuals. Five-Man Open Class Quarterfinals had Chikun Nigetz coming in victorious over LA Hitmen/New Life Fitness, Slow Moving Targets earning back to back wins over Flip Out feat. Blowfish, Lat Hitmen.com doing the same to Xandata, and Gat Products Factory taking double wins from Order of Seven.
Playing through the remainder pro knock-out round, and then to the semifinals, all remaining 7-man teams – four in each division, were paired strongest to weakest for another set of best two out of three game competitions. The semifinals did not eliminate teams however. Instead the winners of the semifinals pairings would play each other in the finals for first and second place, while the losing semifinals teams would compete against each other in the finals for third and fourth place.
Also taking to the fields were the teams of the National Collegiate Paintball Association. The NCPA division drew eight teams from California colleges – most from California State University campuses – to play a 7-game round-robin format tournament, and be receiving ranking solely on their totals from those games. Finishing at the top of the heap were the University of San Diego Toreros, the only college team to go undefeated.
In the 7-man finals the re-shuffled teams had Impact Kids taking third place from Critical Wrecking Crew, and Sadistik grabbing first from SCP Edge. In D-II, it was Black Cell going 1 and 2 for third place over Fuzion and Arsenal Predators taking first by beating LA Endurance in their first game, dropping the second, but winning the third.
Hollywood HK grabbed Division I third place from Vicious with back to back wins, while DYNASTY Entourage took the division trophy by beating Arsenal Evolution with a win, a second win (on points – no flag hang) and third outright win. For the pros, it was Oakland BLAST defeating Los Angeles Infamous for third, and DC Arsenal beating DYNASTY, losing to DYNASTY, and then beating DYNASTY for first place.
Like 7-man, the 5-man semifinals simply re-organized teams to their schedule in the finals where Chickun Nuggetz took third place from Slow Moving Targets with back to back wins, and LA Hitmen.com finished the tournament in 1st place 5-man Open Class despite losing their first game to Gat Products Factory. Five-man Division 3 finals saw Team Rip finishing third with a double-win victory over Surgical Strike and Davis Excessive tying on points with Team Sick Individuals.
The new series has a new champion at the start of its season, with DC Arsenal sitting at the top of the series rankings, followed by Dynasty, Oakland Blast and Infamous. The league's current schedule includes five more events – the next being the DC Challenge in may, followed by the Bay City open in San Jose, California this June, the New England Classic in Boston this July, the West Coast Open in a to be announced August location, and the World Championships, in early October, location yet to be determined.
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