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Challenge Cup 2001
June 2001

Naughty Dogs - First Place Amateur
Friction - First Place Novice

After a hiatus, the Challenge Cup is back.  The last time it was held, it filled a municipal stadium in Joliet, IL.  This year the location is the tournament complex at Challenge Park Xtreme. 

Challenge Park Xtreme, the replacement for Chicago's Challenge Park, is an Xtreme sports complex.  Activities include BMX, mountain biking, skating, and paintball.  The paintball fields for recreational walk-on play are some of the most impressive ever built - ranging from the downtown of a small city to a bombed out ghetto, frontier fort and Mayan temple.  Also on the grounds are the tournament fields.  Netted Hyperball and Sup'Air ball fields have a narrow feel to them, and are located a tram ride away from the field's paved parking and entrance areas.  The park's trams are converted school buses which look like something straight out of a Mad Max film.

At the time Challenge Cup was held, the tournament area was still under construction (as were some other areas of the park).  Tents were provided for vendors (Airgun Designs, WDP, and Challenge Park Xtreme food [Good pizza!] and photo service) and team staging.

Heavy gravel roads, and pea gravel on the fields helped prevent dust from getting out of control.  Challenge Cup allows sideline coaching, and spectators had access to both sides of each field.

With prize packages totaling over $250,000 and including over 100 paintguns, according to promoter Forest Brown, one would expect a massive draw for this event.  Being a week apart from the NPPL Chicago Open, and about a half hour's drive apart, put a dent in early attendance projections.  However, by the time the tournament was held 56 teams had registered.

The Challenge Cup game format is 5 man center flag.  Each game score consists of the total from two rounds, which are the same as standard games played back to back.  Since the teams swap sides of the field between each round, and advantage or disadvantage from lopsided fields or prevailing winds is negated.  The event was field paint only, with RP Scherer paintballs from PMI.

Preliminary games began Saturday morning.  The forecasted thunderstorms fortunately, did not appear.  Instead, there was solid, unmitigated sunshine, and players taking to the shade between games.  Farside, Fury and Division reffed the games, and they faced their share of surprises. 

Early on, Fury's Scottie Flynt chronoed a player off of the field, and discovered his paintgun was in full-auto mode, resulting in the forfeiture of all points the team had just earned in their back to back games - much to the anguish of his team mates.

One of the more entertaining games happened early on.  An Airgun Designs factory tech team had registered, but been disbanded a couple of weeks before the event.  JJ Brookshire, who was manning the Airgun Designs booth noticed "Airgun" on the scoreboard, and discovered, as they were being called on to the field, that he was expected to have a 5 man team.  He played the first game against Swarm solo - 5 to 1, before picking up 4 more players to fill out the team roster for the rest of the day.

The day was long, the last few games being completed after the sun had set, and final scoring completed at 8:30 pm.  Parking lot street lights on the fields provided ample illumination to continue the games. 

A source of frustration for some teams were the several teams that decided to leave during the prelims.  While one case involved a team unhappy with a penalty call, most were simply teams that didn't look like they would make the semifinals, and bailed out early.  The result of this poor sportsmanship was maxes given to teams who's games they missed, skewing the battle for the semis. 

The 16th Amateur slot going from prelims to semifinals was a tie between Nemesis Raven and WDP All Stars - a tie breaker gave that slot to WDP All Stars.  Naughty Dogs led the Amateur pack with a string of solid wins.  Friction was the top scoring of the Novice teams.  Out of the four Amateur semifinal divisions, the top in each division advanced, while the top two teams in each of the two Novice semifinal divisions advanced.

The Amateur finish had Ground Fire 1 in fourth place, Brass Eagle 3 in third, Strixeforce in second and Naughty Dogs in first after playing undefeated through the entire tournament.  Farside Kids finished Novice fourth, Backlash third, BAM second, and Friction in first.

A literal busload of prizes (one of the park trams) was delivered from the park office to the tournament grounds.  Prizes for the Amateurs went to first through 20th place.  Prize packages for first through 16th included high end paintguns, and with the choice of the particular type of paintgun going to the team (top finishers got priority in their choices).  Prizes were awarded to Novice first through eighth, first through fourth included E-Mags. 

The first place Novice trophy consisted of a wood base with a true cup.  The Amateur first place trophy was an engraved chalice made of 95% pure silver complete with a velvet lined wooden carrying case.

Except for the Bushmaster 2000 paintguns which were late in arriving at Challenge Park Xtreme, all prizes were awarded on site.  Shortly before the tournament, free entry had been offered to teams which compete in the CPSA and had not yet registered for Challenge Cup, to bring up the number of competing teams.  CPSA teams which had already paid their entry were given a bonus after the event of certificates redeemable for 5 cases of Severe paintballs.

With the award ceremony completed, teams packed their gear to head home.  Players from Naughty Dogs and some of the refs from Fury hit the fields to mix it up with the walk-on crowd.  They came off of the Bedlam downtown field with smiles and laughter.  "I've played paintball more than 16 years, and with a rental 'gun, and a half hopper of paint I shot three people and had some of the most fun I've ever had" said Scottie Flint.

Challenge Cup is planned to return to an annual event.  While Forest Brown vows that Challenge Park Xtreme will never be completed because it will continually be expanded and improved upon, the plans for the tournament fields and staging areas are still unfolding.

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