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July 16 - 20, 2003
3 Man - Ground Fire
Young Guns - TCP Factory Kids
Big Butler Fairgrounds saw the return of paintball enthusiasts and spectators again for the second year in a row. The facility certainly fit the bill for the larger venue than the International Amateur Open's previous location at 3 Rivers Paintball in the woods of the nearby township of Cranberry, PA. With nine fields on location for the 3 man, 5 man, and 7 man competitions as well as a large vendor area, the fairgrounds had the parking that would service the many vehicles and players. In addition to the competitions and one of paintball's largest trade shows, the IAO features the industry's largest conference for field and store owners and this year is adding a scenario game with a paintball tank parade and a weekend custom truck show geared toward drawing in more local residents to watch the paintball competitions and visit the trade show.
Wednesday saw the start of the 2003 event after a gorgeous sunrise, partly cloudy skies and breezy weather graced the Pennsylvania landscape. Five man teams took to the fields first, a larger contingent of rookie's playing this year with 72 teams in the competition as opposed to last year's 48. The Novice five man teams stayed about even with 26 teams playing but the Amateur bracket took a hit, losing half the number of teams from last year. Perhaps a sign of amateur teams branching into the PSP and NPPL competitions. Young Guns would take to the field later in the day on Wednesday, 60 teams competing in the group, about the same as last year's competitions. While the field was full of action, paintball business owners were networking and learning at the industry conference held in nearby Mars, PA at the Four Points Sheraton hotel.
Team Unconformed Red and Enemy finished up the seven preliminary games after winning each game. Joining them into the semi finals were Attitude Check, Doc's Raiders, Great Balls o'Fire, Erie Rage, Lock N Load and Team Teel who rounded out the novice group of eight teams going on at 482 points. Because there were a larger number of rookie teams, 16 teams would move onto the semi-finals. Doc's Raiders Black and 5 Men Out tied after preliminaries with 674 points, Doc's winning the tie breaker putting them into first. Malefactor, Team Flash, Outkast Blue, Dragons, Rogue II and Intensity made the cut. Hail Storm, Overload and Poo Poo Heads tied at 516, the tie breakers made by counting how many bodies they had each lost throughout the preliminaries. Outkast Blue, Ohio Turmoil, Ballistic Amish also joined them into the semi-finals, followed up with 15th and 16th placed teams, tied at 492, Evil Empire and PBX Factor who were sorted into their placements by comparing number of bodies lost.
the afternoon waned into the evening, the three man teams took to the field
for their preliminaries. Twenty-two of the sixty teams competed during
the afternoon and evening of Wednesday, the other 38 teams due to start
on Thursday along with Amateur five man preliminaries. The three
man young gun teams started their preliminaries with the seventeen teams
playing four back to back games to play what amounted to 8 games.
Young Guns wrapped up their games shortly before 8 pm, sending four teams
onto finals from preliminaries. Team Intensity, Balls Out, Locked
Out and TCP Factory Kids would face off on Thursday for their final round.
The remainder of the three man teams hit the fields on Thursday morning joined by the Amateur five man teams who were in essence, playing semi-finals. Under clear blue skies, the fields were active, though several of the fields were empty for 7 man teams to walk. The three man competition was quite tight for the 60 teams involved since only 16 of them would advance to semi-finals. Teams were hovering around the scoreboard, figuring averages and planning games based on what they'd need to do to make the cut into the semis.
Shortly after noon, the three man games wrapped up their 4 back to back preliminary games with 16 teams advancing to their semi finals that were slated to start at 2:00 pm Friday. Crazy Paint brought up the first place slot with 782 points joined by Team Shadow, Ground Fire, Outcasts, Uprising, Team Backwoods, Team Intensity, Pink Fluffy Bunnies, AGD Kidz, Doc's Raiders Red, Bucktown Bandits, Oh No's, PBX Reaper, Outkast, Amox-X, and Asylum Cash Bash wrapping it up at 551 points.
Meanwhile, the five man amateur games wrapped up their preliminary/semi-final round, taking the top four teams onto the finals that would be played at 9 am on Friday morning. AGD Kidz, Tippmann Effect, Ground Fire and Aruba Madness would face each other early the next morning before the 7 man competition started.
The Butler Fairgrounds buildings were packed with paintball vendors and manufacturers showing products as was an additional tent and the sides roads were lined with show trailers from various manufacturers.
Three man games progressed with quite a few delays and irritations for players when games were bumped and skipped to put teams on field as they showed up to play during the semi-finals. As was standard at the Amateur Open, 3 man and 5 man ran at the same time, even though teams frequently played both competitions. Bracketed to take the top team out of each division, the sixty teams whittled down to sixteen were further taken to four when Team Shadow, Ground Fire, AGD Kidz and Oh No's moved onto finals that started at about 6 pm Thursday evening.
The five man novice and rookie teams completed their semi-final games during the afternoon, also bracketed to take the top team from each bracket from the rookie division and the top two teams from the two brackets in the novice division. Rookie teams Rogue II, Poo Poo Hedz, Dragons and Hailstorm moved onto the finals that started after 5 pm joined by Novice teams Lock-N-Load, Team Teel, Enemy and Doc's Raiders who started their games at the same time.
Young Guns started their final games at 6 pm Thursday night, facing off in the Arenaball fields under the netting.
Poo Poo Hedz took first place after the Rookie bracket wrapped up their final rounds in the five man division. Winning each of their games, two of them maxes, they were followed by Dragon, then Hailstorm and Rogue II who tied at 104 points. The tie breaker in the final rounds determined by the winner of the head to head game.
Novice five man finals were taken by Doc's Raiders after two wins and a draw followed by Team Teel, Enemy and Lock-N-Load.
Young Guns were won by TCP Factory Kids, Team Intensity took second, Lockout Out third and Balls Out in fourth.
Three man finals wrapped up just after 8 o'clock on Thursday night with Groundfire taking first place, AGD Kidz in second, Team Shadow in third and the Oh No's in fourth place.
Friday morning started out under cloudy skies that threatened to rain, but held off, keeping the temperatures nice and comfortable for the wrap up of the five man event. The Amateurs hit the field for their finals, Tippmann Effect winning by a margin of just two points over Groundfire. Aruba Madness showed up in force this year, taking third in the amateur bracket, a well respected victory for the team from the small island off the coast of Venezuela. AGD Kidz brought up fourth place after finals finished up Friday morning about 10 o'clock.
The schedule for Friday was unusual in comparison to most tournaments. The college teams of the NCPA were slotted to play Arenaball during the morning and would play during the afternoon at the same time as 7 man which was due to start at noon. Arenaball, which had its debut at the Ultimate Madness earlier in the year is a 3 player format competition in a fully enclosed field with music blaring, spectators screaming and fast action. Commentated by Garrin Clark from Brimstone Smoke, the College teams faced off against each other inside the tight confines of the Arenaball structures. Games were fast, the welts were big and the refs brave! The eight college teams faced off, fighting for top flag hangs, best out of seven matches for each group. Purdue led the day solidly, winning all of their matches during the course of the day. Four of the teams would advance to semi-finals, the first place team to play the fourth placed team, second and third facing off, the winners of those two games facing off in finals.
Purdue finished first place, playing against MSU who wrapped up preliminary games in fourth place, beating them 4-1. University of Illinois finished preliminaries in second place, facing off against Rutgers who was in third, U of I winning 4-1 as well. Rutgers took third place, MSU in fourth overall. Purdue and University of Illinois faced off for first place, Illinois posting two points in the first two matches. Purdue took the third game, leaving them 2-1 in the quest to four. Illinois took another point in the fourth game, despite an early start and tag back by one of their players. Both teams started the fifth game aggressively. Some heated words were exchanged between not only between the players but the spectators as well. Purdue earned their point, keeping the game going on 3-2 in favor of Illinois. The sixth game settled up the score, Purdue scoring again, evening things up 3-3, the next point determining the winner. With the crowd assisting, screams of 'Dorito!' from the sidelines, Illinois pulled the win out with 4-3 giving them first place in the first Arenaball exhibition tournament.
Seven man teams hit the field with 42 Novice teams and 10 Amateur teams competing against each other. The novices would be broken down to 16 of the top scores after preliminaries wrapped up on Saturday afternoon. The Amateur's, because there were only ten teams, would go straight to finals with four teams advancing.
The weather held until the Tank Parade took to the trade area, equipped with several tanks which would be used in the scenario game on Saturday, a custom built motorcycle ridden by Bud Orr and a drag racer from J&J Performance. When the parade was about half-way over, the skies opened and dumped out buckets of rain on the girls throwing candy from the turrets of the tanks as well as the 7 man players still on the fields. Thankfully, the shower was brief and games did not get behind schedule.
The afternoon games progressed without many delays as the seven man teams battled it out. Many of the three and five man teams who were not competing in the 7 man division returned to the Butler fairgrounds to attend the players party scheduled for later Friday evening.
Saturday started off with warm, clear, blue skies, dotted with small clouds. Activities on site picked up with more local residents arriving to see the tournament and the connected Slam and Jam truck show. While the 7 man teams were going at it on the main fields, the open speedball field, sponsored by Dick's sporting goods was available for free walk on paintball play. That field, which had been used the year before for the Nation's Cup, was a fully netted grass concept field with Ultimate Airball bunkers. Local television and sports celebrities were amongst the players, as were members of the Philly Americans NXL team, and others who wanted to jump in on the action. Loaner guns, goggles and jumpsuits were available for those who were getting their first taste of paintball.
In a completely new addition to the IAO, Divine Craft paintball produced a scenario game on Saturday. Scenario paintball notables Patrick "PacMan" and Dianne "Mother" McKinnon of MXS, and Ben Toricelli of Millennium Productions took key roles. Mother noted that it would be their first time playing against Ben in many years, just like "back in the good old days." While scenario and big game paintball is a major market sector in paintball, few recreational events have trade shows to rival major tournaments. The addition of the scenario event to the IAO was designed as an activity that would give scenario players a chance to meet and talk to factory reps at the IAO's trade show. A second tank parade was held mid-day, graced with much better weather than the first. One of the paintball tanks, designed as a miniature Hum-V, had lost a front wheel, but still appeared in the parade, riding valiantly on 3 wheels with two players sitting on the opposite roof corner as counterweights.
Seven man games wrapped up about 3 o'clock in the afternoon on Saturday with 16 novice teams making the cut, the Turtles taking top placement with 3 points to spare between them and Outkasts, then Emanon, four points behind them, Team Flash following in fourth one point later. The next grouping of the 16 were more spread out in points, Rough N Ready, Bohica A, Total Anarchy, Tainted Saints, Absolut, Team Tempest, High Rollers, Mental Division, Oh No's, Dazed and Confused, Bohica B and Chain Reaction joining them in the semi-finals scheduled for Sunday morning. The amateur bracket of seven man would go straight to finals on Sunday, AGD Factory Team, Rush, Tippmann Effect and PBX Reaper moving on.
Semi finals games started for the 16 seven man teams at 9 o'clock on Sunday morning under gorgeous blue skies and cooler temperatures. The players were hyped, despite having fewer crowds to watch their games. In the first division of Novice teams, Turtles showed themselves victorious again, winning all three of their games. Outkast took the second division, winning two games, dropping their first match and skipping into finals by 6 points over Bohica B. Total Anarchy had missed the cut of finals in the second division by 9 points, all three teams winning two games, dropping a third, to be the tightest division in the semi-finals. Division 3 and 4 were tight within two teams in each division. High Rollers and Dazed & Confused were close in points going into their third game, High Rollers winning the last game and putting them into the finals. The fourth division was tight between Rough N Ready and Oh No's. Oh No's lost their game against the Rough N Ready crowd, only gaining a body in the match, sending the Ready guys onto the finals.
Final games were scheduled to start at 1 pm on Sunday afternoon between the four novice teams, Turtles, Rough N Ready, High Rollers and Outkast as well as the amateurs, AGD Factory Team, Rush, Tippmann Effect and PBX Reaper.
Finals were played on two fields in the afternoon, Tippmann Effect taking top placements after winning three games, PBX Reaper right behind them in second place after one loss, Rush took third and AGD Factory fourth. Novice teams ranked out the same as they went into the finals, Turtles in first after three wins, Rough N Ready in second after a loss, High Rollers in third and Outkast in fourth.
Vendors were busy packing up their gear after their tradeshow displays. Many were frustrated by the entrance fee that was charged for the public to view their product and were packing up early on Sunday rather than waiting for the end of the games.
Sportsmanship awards were given out to Ohio Turmoil, Kamakazi, Freaks of Nature, Team Skull Monkeys, Intensity, Team Inversion, Team Flash, Kaos, State College, High Rollers, Outkasts Blue, Attitude Check, Kaos Gold, Hailstorm, Surreal, Oh No's Red, Bohica A, White Shooters, Sabotage, Pink Fluffy Bunnies, Genocide, Fallen Angels, and Steely Eyed Gunmen.
Personal thanks to the folks who do so many things to make the difference. Joe Porter, you are missed buddy, get well soon! Nik from Tippmann Effect for the water - thanks for keeping me from dehydrating buddy! Kevin from Smart Parts for supper, Paul from Gen E for supper, CJ for the lollipop - you're a sweetie, Freaks of Nature for Trogdor! Super huge thanks to Kim Heretick for her hard work in photographing the 7 man so I could focus on other things. The players and teams thank you, girlie. And especially to Eric Sollenberger for being the best friend a person could ever have. Thanks for taking time away to spend time at the event with us and the tremendous hospitality! Big thanks to all the teams who sport the WARPIG.com stickers.
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