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NXL Readies for 2005 Season
By Bill Mills - Jan 2005
WARPIG File Photos By Dawn Mills





The NXL is gearing up to produce its third season as professional paintball league.  During the early 2004 season when the league lost the members of Miami Effect to team Infamous (which is not an NXL franchised team) a photograph of a car that had just lost its wheel, with an NXL logo superimposed on the door was circulated by e-mail to many in the paintball industry and press.  Losing a team, did not turn out to be a de-railing event for the NXL however, as the Miami franchise changed hands and a new roster took to the field.

As the cap to the 2004 season, nearly two years of planning and negotiations led since summer 2003 by Dick Clark and his company, Olive Productions, culminated in the last finals game between the Philly Americans and Detroit Strange appearing on cable television.  According to NXL commissioner Mike Ratko the show aired twice on ESPN2, with the ratings for the second show time doubling from the first.  Additionally the tournament was shown three times on ESPN Latin America, and four on the Canadian sports channel, RDS.  An impressive landmark for paintball on television was that the air times were network scheduled, rather than based on the show’s producers buying the broadcast time from the network.

While plans are still being prepared for 2005’s NXL television coverage, the ESPN2 ratings are now part of Dick Clark Productions’ negotiations arsenal.  Commissioner Ratko stated, “We’re moving ahead with the momentum from the first airings.”

Like the 2004 season, 2005 is preparing to start out with expansion of the team.  Internet message board rumors that teams incensed with how the 2004 finals were handled would leave the league turned out to be only rumors.  All nine teams from the 2004 season are gearing up to take to the field in 2005, and to face an all new challenger – Boston Red Legion.  Russian Legion has been in the paintball media spotlight for the last several years, well known for their relentless and regimented training.  While they were getting press, they weren’t coming home with the top trophies in the Millennium (Europe’s major tournament circuit) NPPL or PSP.  In 2004 that changed, Russian Legion was posting wins over top teams on the X-Ball fields of the PSP.  Now taking the name of a US city for their franchise, Russian Legion will be playing in the NXL as Boston Red Legion.  With major sponsorships from a Russion corporation, National Paintball, DraXxus, Empire and Custom Products, the Legion is stepping into a league where they can fire their customized ICD Freestyles at Strange, Aftershock, the Assasins and the Americans.

Scheduling for the 2005 season puts all ten teams playing regular season games at the 2005 PSP venues – the Los Angeles Open, Orlando Open, Chicago Open and Northeast Open.  After regular season play, the playoffs and finals will be held at the Paintball World Cup, in Orlando, Florida.  The playoff rounds will pit the 7th and 10th ranked teams against each other, and the 8th and 9th ranked teams against each other, for the best in two out of three games.  The winners of each of these two match-ups will get to take the bottom slot in the quarter final round, where 8 teams will be narrowed to 4, followed by the semifinals that will pick the two teams for the finals match-up.

New rules will also be in place for 2005.  The coach’s boxes are being relocated from underneath the scoreboard on the staging side of the field to actually be in the staging pits.  This will give the coaches more flexibility in overseeing team prep between points, and during play, as well as to yell out to their players on the field.  A rule change likely to pass (voting by the team owners will close at 5:00 pm on January 26th) is that anyone in the pit area will be allowed to yell onto the field during a game.  Previously yelling to the field was permitted only from the coaching boxes and from the audience side of the field.  This change would make rule enforcement simpler, because referees would not be required to constantly monitor the pit to make sure that only the coach was communicating with players on the field.

The coaches will now have the option of calling one time out per game half, not just per game as was the limit in the 2004 season.  Another significant rule change involves penalties assessed during the last 90 seconds of a game.  Because X-Ball penalties are assessed by holding a player in a penalty box for a set period of time, teams can be driven to break the rules near the end of a game, knowing that if there are only 20 seconds left on the clock, a 3 minute penalty means almost nothing.  To combat this the new rule gives one point to the opposing team, in addition to the time in the penalty box for infractions which occur during the last 90 seconds.

The NXL 2005 season kicks off at the PSP Los Angeles Open in Pomona, CA on February 17th.
 
 
 
 
 

 


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