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NPPL DC Challenge
Aug 6-8, 2010
Pev's Paintball Park - Aldie, VA

Pro - First Place - Tampa Bay Damage
DI - First Place - Arsenal Preds
DII - First Place - One 18
DIII - First Place - Noobies
5-Man - First Place - Iron Legion
Pump - First Place - Vigilante

From Chicago, the NPPL took its show on the road to our nation's capitol, or just a stone's throw away from DC, at Pev's Paintball Park in Aldie, VA. An anchor field to the Pev's Paintball store chain, Pev's Paintball Park is built for ballers by someone who knows the game inside and out. Mike Peverill is an old school paintballer who's seen the game as a player, tournament competitor, magazine publisher, store owner, field owner and wholesaler. Pev's Paintball Park was designed with modern tournament play and practice in mind, as well as accessibility to the population centers of the Eastern US.

The DC Challenge got underway with fieldwalking Thursday and the amateur teams starting out the preliminary rounds of the 7-man competition on Friday morning.

Historically, the 4th tournament of the NPPL's 5-tournament annual series was the runt of the season, but with the league cutting back to only four tournaments a year, that image has fallen on the third tournament - in this case, the DC Challenge. Thirty-eight teams turned out for the 7-man World Series of Paintball, with another 9 playing 5-man and 7 teams playing 5-man pump games.

Those 7 pump teams were given 6 games each through the tournament's preliminary round. Their scores from each game were totaled, with the top four teams advancing. Those were Vigilante, Blind Aggression, Top Gun FP&P1 Scrubs and Milwaukee Throwback.

In the five man competition, with 9 teams competing that meant only one would be left behind on Sunday. That team turned out to be New England Invasion who finished the prelims not entirely devastated, they had two wins to their credit.

In the seven-man competition, Division III was the largest of the tournament. Its fifteen teams battled it out for 8 chances to move on. When the music stopped, it was Chicago Vipers Red left without a chair - their 428 total prelim points fell one point short of eighth ranked East Coast Crises. Literally shooting out one more player would have kept them in the running.

Division II seven-man had things easier, with only ten teams playing for 8 chances to move on. It was Marine Team One and Farside Kids that didn't make the break.

Division I, which in the days of old would have been top-level amateur competition had only three teams competing, all of which would advance.

The professional teams, scheduled to create more spectacle, played in two separate divisions of 6 teams each, playing six games instead of eight. In each division the two lowest ranking teams were knocked out at the end of the prelims. For the first division, that was ARsenal, which played through with 3 wins and three losses, and XSV which met defeat every game. In the second division, the knocked-out teams were Avalanche with 3 wins and Vendetta with two wins.

An extra showcase event, the NPPL 2010 All Star game, sponsored by Empire Paintball pitted some of the best pro players from the Western United States against some of the best of the East. Many have said that Southern California is the cradle of tournament paintball, with some of the world's best players making the scene on SoCal fields. That image was only reinforced with the all-star game, played in a best 3-out-of-5 format, with three wins in a row going to the West.

On Sunday the top four pump teams played an NPPL semi-final, where teams are not eliminated, but simply re-ranked before the final round. In the finals Blind Aggression fell to Milwaukee Throwback, finishing fourth, while Vigilante beat Top Gun FP&PL Scrubs for first place.

In the five-man competition, with 8 teams surviving the prelims played an elite eight knock-out round where the lowest ranked teams were matched against the highest for a single game. That didn't go so well for top ranked Blackout which fell to eight ranked Iron Legion. The surviving four teams were re-ordered by the semifinals before they met again in the finals where TCP H8 Factory defeated PB Warehouse Factory for 3rd place and Iron Legion bested Justice Kidz for first place.

Division III, the entry level for 7-man competition also played an elite eight round, narrowing the field to four teams. Moving through the semis into the finals, Wiseguys beat Minions for third place and Noobies defeated Tlords for first.

Division II's elite eight round also knocked out half the teams for the semifinals which re-ranked them into the finals. There, it was Infamy over Paradox for third place and One 18 beating Obnoxious for first place.

Division I with its less than stellar turn-out went straight to a single game semi-finals round where Warped Army defeated Dogs Silver, leaving the Dogs with a third place finish. In the finals game, Arsenal Preds defeated Warped Army for first place.

The pro teams moved on to a full quarterfinal round where each team played seven more games and the top four teams moved on to the semifinals for re-ranking before the finals. In the pro finals it was the Naughty Dogs fell to Dynasty, finishing fourth, but proving that it's not just Southern California with strong players, the Northwest is in the game as well. The top pro finals pairing saw Tampa Bay Damage winning over Infamous for first place.

In years past, national level competitions drew out literally hundreds of paintball teams for intense levels of competition. That simply showing up with an entry fee in hand is now all it takes finish third place in the highest amateur bracket of a national event is a sad statement on the decline of tournament paintball. However, diehard fans and competitors alike can take heart in the knowledge that the US economy is recovering, and tournament paintball is likely to rebound with it. At least on a smaller scale, they can look forward to the NPPL season finale in Las Vegas, sure to draw in both more teams and more spectators in the quest to determine the best of the best.

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