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World Cup Fields
Note: It was intended that field layout photographs would be available on WARPIG two days prior to the start of the tournament. Unfortunately, a number of circumstances - including being stranded 20 feet in the air on a broken man lift conspired against that goal being fully achieved, layout photos of fields 1-5 are available.
NPPL World Cup 2001
October 22-28, 2001
World Cup is back with a vengeance. The 2001 season has been a rebirth year for the NPPL. While the league has continued to grow every year of its existence, the 2000 season, especially World Cup, left many players wanting. Many of the criticisms of the final event blew small details out of proportion (in some cases due to political motivation) but that nit-picking was an indicator of the true problem from which the event suffered - poor presentation. Netting blew down causing games to be postponed while it was repaired, air fill lines were long, and the site layout left players with lengthy walks between the fields and the air fill stations and rest rooms.
Through the 2001 season the league began the process of restructuring itself, while the newly combined group of promoters born out of a negotiating strategy at a start of season meeting proved to be a powerful combination with each bringing their unique strengths to the table. NPPL President Chuck Hendsch referred to the promoter's merger as "the best thing that happened this year." World Cup 2001 stood poised to be the flagship event for the "new" NPPL. The lessons from 2000 were learned, and 2001 World Cup sprang up on a beautiful tournament site.
Construction began weeks before the tournament, with things truly taking shape the week beforehand. Netting was a big issue in the past, and netting a field right takes time and hard work. Wooden telephone poles stretched tight steel cables soundly supporting the 20 foot nets used to separate and protect the staging areas from the fields.
very impressed with what they were able to accomplish here."
On the Saturday before the Monday start date most major trade show exhibitors were already busy setting up their encampments. "Booths" is no longer the right word - the tournament vendor's tent has been eclipsed by the major companies sponsoring the site's 10 concept fields. Each of these field sponsor's compounds is typically nearly as large as the main vendor's tent. National Paintball Supply North America is no longer the only company with a huge custom display semi trailer. DYE Precision turned heads with their new black rig and accompanying tent, while NPS brought a pair of matching regional tournament support 5th wheels to compliment their famous T2 trailer. DYE's field was the one Hyperball style field at the event, while the remainder were inflatable. PMI's paint trailer was flanked by player tents, and next door to Shocktech's tent which featured a backlit photo wall of Aftershock, huge display walls with Shocktech custom paintguns, and a mirrored display rack with a waterfall cascading over the mirror behind highly polished paintguns. Smart Parts tents were next to their field which featured a huge Smart Parts target logo shaped Sup'Air bunker in the center. Diablo's compound of tents pumped out a steady rhythm of music. Next door JT's newly repainted bumblebee yellow and black 5th wheel stood next to their matching player support tents. KAPP's inflatable field was flanked with the latest in KAPP products. Ultimate Air's red white and blue patriotic field was one of the two Ultimate Air fields (the remainder were Sup'Air) the other being the Raven field in which the Ultimate Air bunkers were each designed after the flags of different nations. Raven/Kingman's display area brought a true feel of civilization - with portable air conditioned buildings displaying and retailing their product line. One portable building was dedicated as the Raven chill lounge where players could relax in the cool air, play Sony Playstation games, and watch satellite TV.
The layout of the site was changed significantly from the previous year. The fields were arranged as a letter J with the vendor's tent, air fills, rest rooms, and player staging tents right in the middle - as equidistant as possible from all of the fields. Additional vendors and sponsors set up displays in the center of the site. TC Paintball's compound took on a tropical theme with tiki torches and palm front shade shelters, Worr Games Products displayed the latest Autocockers and BOSS paintguns. A $2,000 prize stood to be awarded to the fastest two person team who could assemble a completely disassembled Autococker while one was blindfolded, and the other gave only verbal instructions. XTC had a comfortable player lounge with inflatable couches and their innovative line of clear accessories.
Parking would prove to be an issue with the largest tournament ever - especially since local press was finally promoting the event - encouraging people to come and watch the games, giving a donation to disaster relief rather than paying an admission price. A new parking area was set up north of the tournament complex, and various parking passes issued for different areas. Enforcement was heavy, down to utilizing a tow service to move improperly parked cars. This left the core of the complex facing a minimum of heavy vehicle traffic. Pedestrians and golf carts ruled the site.
Riding the current revival of patriotism in America, American flags were prominent at World Cup. The main road through the site featured a row of 20 foot high flag poles, and PMI even topped several of the netting poles on their field with American flags. A number of vendors had special items such as t-shirts, and stickers from which the proceeds were donated to various disaster relief agencies. The United We Stand barrel blocker bags organized by Mark Knopp and Rick Mackey were sold out in the first hour they were available. WDP produced shirts with angel wings on the back, one featuring a British flag, the other an American, Cobra paintball had American flag splat stickers, and these were just a few of the items used for fund raising.
A new face on the paintball scene - Community Fire Equipment brought a trailer with a completely self contained, licensed DOT hydrotesting facility inside. According to company president Stephen Gallagher, Community plans to attend other paintball events over the coming months allowing the players the convenience of testing and recertification of their compressed air tanks (federal law requires this check every 3 year's of a tanks' service life - 5 years for some newer models) on site. Midway through the tournament Gallagher commented that he now additionally recommends testing after major impacts - multiple tanks had been discovered to have regulators so weakened that they sheared off while being unscrewed from the tank for inspection.
WDP which had not been at World Cup 2000, was back on the scene again, with their full compliment of techs, and products.
Saturday afternoon a number of pro teams practiced on the Ultimate Air field - as it was not planned to be used in pro games. Members of Ground Zero, Russian Legion, Avalanche, Jax Warriors and more took to the field through the afternoon. Avalanche's Ed Poorman ended up on the injured list after sliding without knee pads. Twenty-some stitches later, he planned to play a back position during the tournament.
Intermittent light rains fell on Sunday as vendors continued to arrive, and players gathered to walk the fields in preparation for the five man. Bill Cookston held the captain's meeting in the afternoon, going over changes in rules that had been made during the season, as well as how rules would be enforced. When a player is suspended from playing, his/her team will have to play one player short unless the offending player is removed from the team for a minimum of one year. Player suspensions will carry over from one tournament to the next, but the team will only need to play a player short during the event of the infraction. Five player games will now be scored on a 100 point system, rather than a 60 point system. Playing with a paintgun not locked into semi auto mode would result in a six game suspension. As seems to be the standard at World Cup, players migrated from the fields to the open air bars at Old Town Kissimmee for an evening of fun before the action would begin in earnest early the next morning.
The 5 man competition kicked off on Monday morning with the games starting nearly on time. Paintball Sports Promotions' new air system proved once again that it is up to the task. At 7:30 in the morning the air fill stations had a line about 30 players long. Within minutes of the time fills began the line was gone. Tom Rogenski of Jacksonville Warriors Amateur commented on the lack of lines, "It takes longer for them to check the date on your bottle than it does to wait to fill it." A number of paintball industry persons commented on concerns that the layout of the new system allowed players to carry their 3,000 psi air systems over to a 4,500 psi station and overfill them. This was remedied by segregating the stations with a fence and the having the staff members who check the bottle certification dates direct players to the side with the proper pressure. Ted Mikrut from Air America suggested a further safety measure - Kevlar bags mounted to the fill tables. These bags, with drawstrings would contain debris in case of a component or burst disk rupture, as well as protect the paintgun from the possibility of falling off of the table.
so much better than last year. The difference is obvious."
The weather proved mild with partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the upper 80s with high humidity. Varied slow-downs bumped the last of Monday's games into Tuesday morning. The games were refereed by members of Adrenalin, UK Cougars (they made it in late due to airport security delays but were happy to have flown safely), Jacksonville Warriors Am B, and 303. At the end of the day Monday, Ground Zero Bedlam, Ironkids and Ton Ton Flinguers were the only pro teams to remain undefeated, with Ironkids holding the highest total score. Strage Black, Strange Red, Consilium Dei 2, and Boston Paintball were the stand-outs in Amateur A. In Amateur B the scoreboard made it appear that Ravage was leading strong, but the refs neglected to indicate the '2' on the score sheet resulting in a mis-post on the Monday evening scoreboard. Brimstone Smoke and Dead Men were also front runners. The Novice category, is technically Amateur B under the NPPL rules. However, there are so many Amateur B teams at World Cup that the less experienced AmBs are entered as novice. Team Wrecks was the leader of the novice teams. Though they had completed more games than most others at that point, they were running on an undefeated string of wins. Time would tell if it would hold through the completion of the prelims on Tuesday.
Monday afternoon Mark Born of team Fat City out of Atlanta, GA caught his foot in the grass while sliding into a bunker. His momentum twisted his ankle inward resulting in a severe injury requiring emergency transport to a local hospital. This led to an afternoon of conjecture as to whether or not he hit a stake or a depression in the grass (he slid near a stake - multiple eyewitnesses confirmed he did not hit the stake). After much heated discussion between representatives from National Paintball Association (the tournament insurer), Paintball Sports Promotions (the event producers), and Ultimate Airball (manufacturers of the bunkers on that field) a number of bunkers were restaked tucking the stakes underneath the bunker, and all were double checked and adjusted as needed to ensure that the stake heads were below the level of the surrounding soil so they would not represent a hazard to players. All parties in the discussion agreed that the league's move to concept fields from wooded fields has meant a much safer game in terms of trip-and-fall type of injuries.
Tuesday morning full overcast skies and bits of fog were the weather as games started, but the sun managed to warm things up and the skies were soon mostly cloudy again. Catch-up games from Monday's schedule were taken care of on Tuesday with all of the prelims finishing well before sundown. Ground Zero Chaos lead the pro pack, with the Ironkids hot on their heels, both teams undefeated. The top three Amateur A teams were separated by only 4 points - Naughty Dogs Black, Shocktech and Strange Red all being undefeated. ESP Eclipse Black lead the Amateur B teams, also undefeated leading Brimstone Smoke by 73 points. First Strike was the first finisher in the novice prelims, followed by Total Anarchy and Hawaiian Homegrown.
The semifinals took place Wednesday morning. Ground Zero Bedlam didn't make the the finals due to a scoring error. Their flag pull was credited to the wrong team on the score sheet and those 20 points would have covered their 4 point gap behind 4th ranked Ton Ton Flinguers. Unfortunately, both teams had signed the score sheet, and by the time the mistake was discovered, the score had already been posted. Ultimate Judge Bill Cookston ruled that the error was not of a mathematical nature, and therefore the NPPL rules said that the score could not be changed.
The front runners in the Amateur A semifinals looked like the prelims. Brass Eagle Allstars was edged out of the number four slot and advancement to the finals by a mere two points. The Amateur B leaders saw some changes. European Union 1 ranked first followed by Static, and Rebellion and Ravage. Due to the number of Amateur B and Novice teams, their semifinals were more dramatic. There were 16 semifinalists in each - but only the top four would advance to the finals. Of the Novice semifinalists Team NME finished in first and was joined in the finals by Hawaiian Homegrown, Wrecks and Static AKA.
The finals finished in early afternoon. Some trophies went to the expected favorites, while others went to surprise teams that don't play the full NPPL series. Aftershock claimed the first place pro division followed by Ground Zero Chaos, Ton Ton Flinguers and the All Americans. Strange Red placed first in Amateur A. Strange Black took second, Shocktech third and Naughty Dogs black fourth. Ravage topped the Amateur Bs, followed by Static, Rebellion and European Union1. Static AKA grabbed the first place novice prize. Second went to Hawaiian Homegrown, third to Team NME and fourth to Wrecks.
Thursday was scheduled as a break in the action. It gave 10 man teams a full day to walk the fields (NPPL rules require that the fields be available for inspection a minimum of four daylight hours prior to the tournament) and acted as a buffer in case the 5 man ran behind schedule. It also turned out to be a busy day for the vendors and sponsors with both 5 and 10 man players milling about the tournament site most of the day. Perhaps it was the busiest day for paintgun thieves. A number of paintguns were stolen from vendors as well as players, and four suspects were arrested in the early evening after being literally caught in the act.
The 10 man competition began Friday morning, and the roughly half hour late start cascaded through the day, but was small enough that the day's games were able to be finished with sunlight remaining. Presiding as referees were Ground Zero, Strange and Lockout. Aftershock, Avalanche, Dynasty and All Americans were early favorites on the scoreboard, but by the end of Thursday had played more games than many of the other pro teams so end of day totals didn't give the whole picture. Russian Legion, in their first US pro appearance was not only the subject of much discussion, but a lot of cheering from the sidelines during some of their wins. Amateur A teams Naughty Dogs, Farside, Trauma, Addicted, Bushwackers, Boston Factory, Shocktech, Adrenalin, Element, Consilium Dei, and Team Nasty made it through the first day undefeated. In the Bs this was achieved by Exile, Outta Control, The Family, Nemesis DYE, Justice, Sonic Rage, Hurricanes, and Worr. None of the novice teams made it through the day's games unscathed.
The weather cooled a bit on Friday, and was actually unseasonably chilly for central Florida as the games resumed on Saturday morning. It proved a welcome change from the heat and humidity to which many were unaccustomed. The weather was predicted to remain comfortably cool through the weekend.
With assorted delays, the preliminary rounds were still finished with ample sunlight and players rushed the score tent looking not only to find out who made the cut to the semifinals, but who they would play on Sunday. For the pro teams, the cut was tight. Out of 800 possible points, they needed to make about 600. Avalanche finished the prelims ranked first followed closely by the All Americans who had a bit of a lead over Aftershock. Making the semis was important for Aftershock, putting them a step closer to clinching the series title. Coming into World Cup, Aftershock had 183 series points. A fourth place finish would give them 223 points, more than the other leaders, Avalanche and All Americans could achieve by taking first place at the cup. Simply making the cut from semifinals to finals would lock in the series title to Aftershock.
Naughty Dogs finished the preliminaries as the only undefeated Amateur A team. With 20 teams in the Amateur A bracket, 8 advanced to the semifinals. Outta Control lead the Amateur B division, followed closely by Nemesis DYE and Exile, all three of which were undefeated. Static AKA lead the Novice bracket with 16 others into the finals.
Sunday morning the weather started with the same chill which continued through the day. The semifinals got underway quickly. For the Ironmen this World Cup represented the end of an era. Marty Bush, having been with the team since its early days, has chosen to retire from tournament paintball. Bush will still be involved in the sport, teaching player clinics, and popping up at a tournament here or there, but he will not longer be devoting as much of himself to the tournament scene. "It was a good time, to retire" he said "I've won pretty much everything there is to win in paintball over the years."
For brackets with 8 teams in the semifinals the top two teams in each division went on to the finals - for those with eight, the top team in each division advanced. Bob Long's Ironmen led the pros into the finals, followed by Bad Company, Aftershock and Dynasty. This locked in Aftershock as the 2001 NPPL series pro champions. Naughty Dogs were the highest scoring Amateur A team. Farside ranked second, Trauma third, and All Americans 2 fourth. In the Amateur B semis, Outta Control ranked first, Warped Kids second, Nemesis DYE third, Mox Nix fourth. In the Novice semifinals the top finishers were Nonstop, VIP, Mortadelos/Kaya and Static AKA.
The finals were described by P8nt Magazine's Chris Jones as "Drama, drama, drama..." For the pros, the battle for first place came down to Aftershock's game against Dynasty. As players were eliminated, the game came down to Shock's Ronnie Simpkins being the sole remaining player. Simpkins was shot in the pack and penalized for continuing to play after being hit. With the last player penalized the flag hang was awarded to Dynasty automatically. Aftershock questioned the correctness of the penalty call, claiming that Simpkins did not shoot at other players after being hit and therefore did not play on. Representatives from both teams signed the score sheet which indicated 92 points for Dynasty and 16 for Aftershock.
That score would have placed Aftershock in first place and Dynasty in second. As the score sheet was enroute to the scoreboard Dynasty protested noting that when there are no players left to pull as a "one for one" penalty, point penalties are assessed. After roughly 20 minutes of debate with the involved parties ultimate judge Bill Cookston ruled that the 12 point penalty listed in the NPPL rules should be applied to Aftershock. Cookston also ruled that since the rules state that once a score has been posted on the scoreboard it can not be changed except to correct a mathematical error, the scoresheet would be altered to reflect the 12 point penalty, and then the score posted on the scoreboard. With the twelve point deduction Aftershock finished 10 points behind Dynasty, rather than two points ahead as they had initially been told by the field referees. Their victory was literally snatched out from underneath them after they had started to celebrate it. Bob Long's Ironmen and Bad Company finished in Third and Fourth places respectively. While receiving their trophy Company's Tom Cole pointed out that they had been shooting Kingman's Spyder Xtra paintguns.
Amateur A was also a nail-biter. Trauma finished first but did so with a lead of a mere 2 points. This put Farside in second place, Naughty Dogs in third, and All Americans 2 in fourth place. In the Amateur B division, first place went to Warped Kids. In addition to the tournament prizes they received a $10,000 check from JT USA as part of the Cash Money contingency program for winning the tournament with selected JT products. Outta Control finished in second place only seven points behind the Kids. Mox Nix came in third, and Nemesis DYE in fourth. For the Novice teams VIP came in first place, Non Stop in second, Mortadelos Kaya in third, and Static AKA in fourth. VIP, hailing from Puerto Rico received a solid round of applause at the award ceremony as top finishes by Caribbean and South American teams are not common.
2001 NPPL series champion trophies went to Aftershock for pro, Strange for Amateur A and Warped Kids for Amateur B.
Laurent Hamet awarded Ground Zero their trophy for winning the 2001 World Paintball Series. The series combines scores from NPPL tournaments (US), Millennium Series tournaments (Europe) and select major tournaments such as the Mardi Gras Open in order to rank teams on a global scale.
After the awards were given out, sponsors thanked and credits given to those responsible for making World Cup 2001 happen, the crowd quickly thinned, some players noting that finishing before nightfall has been a rarity in World Cup history and was a testament to efficient production. Without a doubt in the 2001 season the NPPL has grown both bigger and better. The league has been reformed as a legal corporation, and new president Chuck Hendsch is taking steps to return toward the original format of teams becoming corporate shareholders. Under the umbrella of the NPPL, the Professional Reffing Organization (PRO) is being built to provide professional, independent referees to not only the NPPL but other leagues and tournaments as well. 2002 promises new growth and new features.
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