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Click field photos for full size images.
Field photos by Devon McKeown, courtesy Shocktech
NPPL Chicago Open 2002
June 19-23, 2002
10 Man Winners
5 Man Winners
After a split and a rejoin, Paintball Sports Promotions and the National Professional Paintball League are back together in time for the 2002 Chicago Open. The Chicago Open has long been one of the anchor events in the NPPL annual series, typically only surpassed by the Paintball World Cup in attendance. Following the lackluster Las Vegas Open, the pressure (and a new list of event requirements imposed by the NPPL as a condition of sanctioning the event) was on PSP to make sure that Chicago was a quality event.
The tournament was held at the Badlandz paintball field, which is the home field to Aftershock. As has now become the standard for the NPPL, the use of inflatable bunker fields and modifications made to hard bunker fields just prior to the tournament (with no teams allowed to practice the fields before the event) minimizes home field advantage. The layout of the site was changed somewhat from previous years. As with 2001, woods fields were no longer used. The tournament was all concept fields with 20 foot tall tightly strung netting separating the fields on the west side of the park from the spectators and staging area.
The netting used was a new product from Warrior Sports Gear. At the request of Robert "Rosie" Rose, who oversees site preparation for PSP, Cossio Enterprises produced a hybrid net. The bottom 12 feet of the net is woven at 60% density to give it the strength to protect against direct paintball shots at close range. The upper 8 feet, which will only get hit by glancing shots, and isn't in line for a direct shot between a player and spectator is set at 20 percent density. This combination provides spectator protection, but undergoes much less strain from wind loading. Additionally, the netting has grommets pre installed on both the top and bottom edges. This allows the bottom to be rapidly staked, and the top to be attached to its supporting cable with quick link connectors which are like a climbers carabiners. The use of the quick links along the top, and locking rings at each pole means the netting can be set up much faster than the older method of using zip ties, and it can be taken down, stored and transported much more easily. "This netting is a dream to work with." said Rose. "I know there are fields that will want it, but I've already pre ordered a lot more so it may be hard to get for a while."
Rose, who lead a site construction crew which included Rage's Danny Bonura and Aftershock's Ryan Williams is still recovering from a hand injury sustained while taking down the netting in Las Vegas. Rose has had his right hand in a brace since the accident, and is undergoing physical therapy to restore proper movement to his fingers - he may or may not be ready to play when Ground Zero takes to the field at the next NPPL tournament in Atlantic City.
The main vendor's tent and registration table was moved further south. A narrow road down the center of the site and heavy enforcement helped alleviate some of the parking problems the tournament has had in the past. Newly graveled walkways and a larger tent improved the air fill station.
A Wayne Dollack 24 hour scenario game had been scheduled to be held on the wooded portions of the Badlands on Saturday and Sunday during the end of the 10 man prelims and during the finals. Ideally this would have given a chance for both the tournament and scenario players to see the displays in the trade show, and brought some of the scenario players to the spectator stands during the finals late Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, Dollack had to cancel the scenario game on short notice citing a family health emergency that needed his immediate attention.
The tournament started with 5 man games on Wednesday. Chicago is usually one of only two NPPL tournaments each season to feature a pro 5 man division. This year would be an exception, as the 5 man went from rookie through novice to amateur.
With 60 teams scheduled on 5 fields, all 5 man games were able to be scheduled in a single day, to leave the fields completely open for 10 man teams to walk the fields and plan for their prelims after the 5 man finals on Thursday. Partially overcast skies and warm humid weather are the norm for the Chicago Open. The 5 player games were reffed by PRO professional referees and Brimstone Smoke. Further expansion of the PRO program is planned by the NPPL in the remainder of the 2002 season and on into 2003.
The large numbers of novice and rookie teams meant that the amateur 5 man teams played primarily against weaker teams in the prelims. By mid afternoon on Wednesday most of the amateurs had won every game they had played. The semifinal cut would only trim away one team with 8 advancing. Templars lost their second third and fourth games, which pegged them early on as the team that would be eliminated.
In the novice and rookie ranks, both Team RIP and Hostage turned out to be no shows leaving their scores zeroed out across the board.
5 man teams are seeded into their schedule in alphabetical order, unlike the 10 man teams that are seeded by rank. In the 10 man, upper ranked teams predominantly play lower ranked teams during prelims, the philosophy being that if you want to play at the top you have to earn your way there - winning one tournament can affect how hard your next tournament will be. With the alphabetical system the teams have a more even mix in the prelims.
Vendors began setting up under the main tent on Wednesday. Paintball Sports Promotions had the score table and Bad Boyz Toyz concessions supplied hot food and cold drinks. Custom cylinders displayed their growing line of barrels and new paintgun stands. Bauer compressors had their fill stations on display with crated compressors getting ready to show. Paintball Junkies apparel was on display and Air America had their product line out and was providing tech support while Airgun Designs was behind them setting up for full display on Thursday. Outside Mantis had their own tent and NW Paintball had an RV set up with a display table of their accessory line. ACI's eastern US trailer was set up along the main roadway through the site while JT's set up flanked one field, and Worr's trailer was alongside another. DYE's semi sat behind the bleachers next to one of the pipe bunker fields, and next to them was Smart Parts along an Ultimate Airball Field. Chronic/Zap's paint semi was surrounded by small tents as was PMI's RP Scherer delivery truck. National Paintball Supply's T2 trailer featured tents extending from both sides. One was set up as a sales display area with products distributed by NPS while the other was lounging space. Nearby the players tent, about the same size as the vendor's tent offered covered staging tables for the teams. WDP's displays and Avalanche's also began going up on Wednesday. In all, the trade show area was much larger than it had been at any Previous Chicago Open, an event which in previous years had been focused solely on the competition on field.
The 5 man prelims went smoothly and to schedule. Scorekeeper Sue Cookston attributed this in part to sound control. Unlike the last several PSP produced events, only one public address system was operated at the tournament site. While it played music most of the day, it was used for announcements that could be heard through the staging area and out to the edges of many of the fields, since it was not competing with music from other sound systems. Teams and players and staff were able to be paged to where they were needed, and this helped deal with game delays before they impacted the rest of the schedule. Another factor contributing to the prelims going well was the schedule. After the schedule problems in Las Vegas the Chicago 5 man schedule was checked and re-checked. In order to fit all of the games in one day, it did give several teams games that started within an hour of their previous game which is not allowed in the NPPL rules. However according to league commissioner Bill Cookston the schedule did conform to the spirit of the rule, as there were breaks of two games between times a team would be up on the field - the shorter time in the schedule reflected the shorter clock run on the 5 man games compared to 10 man.
In the amateur ranks, things changed up at the end of the day. Templars pulled themselves out of the fire, and passed up Force Of Nature leaving Trauma NJ as the number nine ranked team while the remaining eight moved on to the semifinals. Shocktech Dumber was top seated followed by Shocktech Dumb and Boston Paintball.
The novice prelims were much more drastic. 8 of the 23 teams went to the semifinals. Ground Zero Silver finished in the top seat with Team Dread and Tippmann Effect close behind them. Similarly only 8 of the 28 rookie finalists advanced to the semifinals. Total Control and Templars, IL tied with 666 points. After an analysis of their preliminary games it was found that they had not played head to head, but since Total Control had lost fewer players during their eight games they would be ranked first with Templars, IL ranked in second, and Demon Extreme ranked third with 611 points.
During the semi finals more and more teams fell to the dreaded stalemate, where at the most teams eliminated a number of each other and may have managed a flag pull but didn't finish the game with the hang. This meant teams who generally have the ability to close a game shot themselves in the foot so to speak by not garnering the total points available. In the Amateur bracket Boston Paintball and ECX Factory Team nearly stalemated, but with a technicality of an ECX player checking in live after he had been hit they were penalized - Boston received the pull and hang. The two teams were tied in points at the end of the semis. Their head to head game became the tie breaker moving Boston Paintball on to the finals. Coming into finals with Boston were Shocktech Dumber, Shocktech Dumb and Warped Army in the top slot.
"For Chicago this is great. It's
clean and there is enough parking and it ran on time. The new air
system helps. Team's can't sit around and blame being late on the
air, plus we won and that helps."
Semi-final Novice bracket saw not one team winning all three of their games. Like the amateur bracket stalemates were common. Phalanx saw themselves on top with Aces Wild, Tippmann Effect and Absolute joining them for finals.
Rookie division actually saw one of their eight teams posting all wins. Demon Extreme had two maxes and a win with a 96 total in the top of the bracket. Total Control had one stalemate, Templars II one loss and Da Boyz with a stalemate and a loss hitting the finals.
The rookie finals started with Templars II playing a perfect game against Total Control, taking them down 100 to 0. Da Boyz then beat Demon Extreme 78 to 24. When Templars II played Demon Extreme, they won 78-24 and Total Control beat Da Boyz 90-12. This put Templars II in a solid lead and locked Demon Extreme out of first place. Unless Da Boyz were smoked on their last game, they would take it. Da Boyz won the game versus Templars II 96-8. This last game put Da Boyz and Templars II in a tie for total points, but since Da Boyz won their head to head, they were declared the winners. Templars II took second, Total Control third and Demon Extreme at fourth.
In the Novice finals Tippmann played their first game with Aces Wild winning 78-24. Absolute won their first game against Phalanx 98 to 4. Turning it around Tippmann continued their winning streak beating Phalanx 94 to 12. Aces Wild won against Absolut 76-28 with points only - a near stalemate. Phalanx beat Aces Wild 70-32 another stalemate. With Tippmann Effect playing and winning their last game against Absolute 72 to 36. Three wins put Tippmann Effect solidly in the lead with a 82 point lead. Absolut followed with a 162, Aces Wild in third at 132 and Phalanx at 90 points for fourth place.
Amateur finals had Shocktech teams facing off against each other. Dumb prevailed over Dumber 96-8 while Boston beat the Warped Army with a stalemate of 38-12. Dumber then beat Warped Army 90-12, jeopardizing a high finish for Warped. Boston beat Dumb 92-16, while Dumber had a stalemate tie with Boston at 16-16. This stalemate lost the first place slot for Dumb and allowed Boston to take home second, Dumber in third, Warped Army in fourth and Dumb taking home the first place trophy.
The five man games finished 6 minutes after their scheduled time - the whole event never having gotten behind the schedule by more than an hour at it's worst point, with the fields staying synchronized. As with any tournament, player opinions of the referees varied - often depending on how the most recent call went. In general however, satisfaction with the judging was good, and a number of players who had been playing in the league for years commented that Chicago Open 2002 had one of the best 5 man NPPL events ever held.
At the 5 man awards ceremony, Paul Sattler was introduced to hand out the trophies as a "new PSP partner." With little public attention, Sattler who has been involved in Diablo Direct, Generation E, and the operation of the Cousins Paintball stores and connected fields in the New York area has bought into Paintball Sports Promotions to become an owning partner. Sattler did not buy anyone out, but rather purchased a small portion of the company from each of the existing partners. When asked about his new business partner Renick Miller said "I'm really excited about it and I know Dave [ Youngblood ] is too." Miller said he was looking forward to the business organization and planning skills Sattler will bring to the group.
After crowded field walking times on Wednesday afternoon, the 10 man teams started their games on Thursday morning. The weather remained consistent, if not a little bit warmer in the low and mid 80s.
After a rough showing in Las Vegas, the All Americans have brought back a couple of faces from their past both on and off the field. Frank Connell who left the team at World Cup 2001 and played for Jax Warriors in LA and Vegas is once again in the red and white shooting a Smart Parts gun. Darryl Trent who played for the original Ironmen, went with the SC Ironmen when the team split, and then played for the All Americans before retiring is back with the AAs, but in a new capacity. He is acting as a coach, approaching the game with the same methods he has used for coaching football. From the sidelines he was armed with a clipboard and field layout photographs. For each game that he watched - not just of the All As but of their competitors as well - he would lay a plastic sheet over the field picture and map out player positions on the break, and where they moved.
"3,000 percent better than Vegas!
Chronoing in the pre-field area would speed up games. I am actually
Avalanche's Rocky Cagnoni surprised many when he showed up to the event with his trademark shaggy hair cut very short. Why did he do it? "I was sitting on the beach one morning, drinking some coffee," he said, "when I just decided it was time for a change."
"The old Rocky is coming back, and he's a killer," said team-mate Chris LaSoya. Cagnoni stopped wearing his piercing jewelery last season, also wanting a change, but no one is expecting him to show up to tournaments in a jacket and tie anytime soon.
With the larger crowds present for the 10 man, more vendors had set up in the main tent. Airgun Designs had brought in the rest of their display and gave a first look at the soon to be released level 10 upgrade that greatly softens the impact of the bolt on the ball when firing. Eclipse set up their line of accessories and Tanel 360 sport cleats. The National College Paintball Association booth provided information about their organization and the programs they have running to promote paintball as a collegiate and high school sport. Crossfire's booth had their line if fixed output compressed air systems. Wicked Impulse set up their steel cage booth for their jerseys and clothing, and Custom Products made it in from Arizona to show their barrels and accessories. Facefull magazine and Sup'Air had the latest issues of their magazine and bunkers. Across from them, Traumahead Sports videos were for sale while producer Jeff Galatin was out on the fields shooting games with his crew. Indian Creek Designs provided tech support for B2K users, and showed their new BK0 low cost electro. P8NT Magazine, giving further credibulity to their recent comeback. In the opposite corner from PSP's booth the National Professional Paintball League offered player memberships and NPPL licensed shirts. Camile Baker was also signing up team captains for the league meeting to be held on Saturday night. With the restructuring of the league in the previous year, and reincorporation it has become more important than ever for team representatives to attend these meetings and communicated with the steering committee members who represent them, in order for the NPPL to function properly as a player owned and controlled league.
The referees for the 10 player competition included Aftershock, Rage, Ground Zero, Shocktech and PRO.
In the 10 Man morning division, Sonic Rage showed themselves to be well prepared for the event. This tournament they brought young 18-21 year olds from home in NY where they practice and rolled through their first 4 games against Full Breach, Fatal Swoop, All Americans 2 and professional team, Dynasty. The cohesion of the All Americans and Strange is seen by the sharing of players who typically had played with All A's showing up on Strange's roster. Ironmen have brought in a new player, JT Bouchard from California. He looks to be a bright addition to the team. Wishes for a happy birthday also go out on the 21st for retired Ironmen player Shane Pestana - we miss you buddy.
"This is the best looking tournament
the NPPL has had in three years. It's because they checked, double
checked and triple checked everything. You're supposed to play at
two o'clock and you play at two o'clock."
An interesting name change happened in Chicago. Long time Illinois team, X-Men, led by Ron Petrucci changed their name to Industry. The name X-Men is a registered trademark of Marvel Comics. According to Petrucci, Marvel had given him the green light to use the name about five years earlier, provided he stayed within certain restrictions, such as only listing themselves as X-Men of Illinois. Some new sponsorship opportunities have come up for the team which would have been difficult to do within those restrictions so the team is now known as Industry, and Petrucci can rightfully be called a captain of Industry.
Just prior to the Chicago Open PSP signed contracts on a venue for the Atlantic City Open. The tournament is to be held on a fairgrounds that feature a stage, flush toilets and other amenities that promise to make for a good tournament.
The schedules for the event were created by hand using a new method developed by Jerry Braun that led to a very efficient schedule, and made it easier to create by hand without errors such as teams playing games back to back. This new system is already being worked into the software planned for scheduling of future events.
- Good idea Kimmo!
The weather warmed up a bit - nearly hitting 90 degrees by mid day, and the heat noticably took it's toll on many. Bad Boyz Toyz concessions stayed ahead of the demand with ice cold drinks chilled fruit and fresh cooked food.
"This event is awesome. They got
the parking down, they got the schedule down, they got the staging down,
and the reffing is awesome."
For the amateurs with 22 teams competing, the prelims were critical. With only 8 teams advancing to the semifinals (if there are 32 or more teams in a class the semis get expanded to 16 teams), more than two thirds of the teams would be going home Saturday afternoon. The Family turned a lot of heads when they defeated the Naughty Dogs. For the Dogs, that was their last prelim game and their only defeat, so they were still in a good, solid position to move on. When Jax Warriors faced off with Avalanche they came out on top finishing the prelims posting only a single loss. Dynasty, with a loss early on could not afford to drop one of their pro games. When they played All Americans they were on fire, taking two All A's on the break, and another a moment later. Since those players were in key positions, Dynasty stepped on the gas and moved across the field fast, in a game that was over surprisingly quick. Fortunately for the All As they were undefeated previously, so they were still in a good position to go to the semis.
By Saturday evening the scores were in, and teams were ranked for seeding into the semis. The top team was Bob Long's Ironmen who finished their games undefeated. The second ranked was SC Ironmen with only 7 less points. The real excitement was when All Americans, Avalanche, and Bad Company all tied at 601 points. Two of these teams would advance and one would go home. In order to break the tie without having had the benefit of head to head games, the scores were analized to count how many live players each team had in total at the end of their games. This ranked All Americans in 7th and Bad Company in 8th. Avalanche got the short end of the deal, missing the break by two live players in all of the preliminary games, and did not advance to the semifinals.
Trauma finished their prelims undefeated ranking first among the amateurs. They were followed directly by Farside, Naughty Dogs and Shockwave CN. For the Ams, the break to the semifinals were more harsh. Out of 22 teams, only eight were able to go on. Another three way tie existed in the Amateur bracket between Family, Addicted and Boston Paintball and was solved in the same manner as the Professionals, ranking Boston 5th, Family in 6th and Addicted in 7th. Warped Kids wrapped up the Amateur bracket with a high cut of 591 in 8th place.
The novice bracket, with 65 teams was similarly difficult, though 16 teams would advance because the total number of teams was greater than 31. Legacy was the top team, while Justice and Strange B ranked second and third. With 600 points each, Splat Factory WGP and Sonic Rage were tied - score analysis put Sonic Rage in 5th and Splat Factory WGP in 6th. At 599 points, Twisted Image and Cartel were tied. That tie breaker put Cartel in 8th and Twisted Image in 7th.
The rookies, with 22 teams, were fighting for 8 semifinal slots. Static AKA grabbed the top position with PaintballNW Factory and Team Fraction close on their heels.
Wrapping up semi-final games showed Dynasty, Bobby's Men, Ironmen and Strange taking to the finals fields for the Pros. Trauma lead the ranks into the Amateur finals, followed closely by Farside in a strong showing, Naughty Dogs and Warped Kids sliding into fourth. Novice whittled down the 16 semi-finalists to Cartel, early expection, Static, another early pick, Justice, yet another and Naughty Dogs Silver showing well from the west coast. The Rookies ushered in Ultra Ego, Team Fraction, Blind Aggression and Static AKA.
Sunday - Finals
The first pro game was Dynasty against Strange. Stange are the "new kids" on the pro block and both teams have been playing well at recent tournaments, so many were looking forward to this game which was won by Dynasty 98 to 8. SC Ironmen went up against Bob Long's Ironmen and won 94 to 12. This put Dynasty and SC Ironmen neck and neck, Dynasty having a two point lead, and meant that the SC/Dynasty game would be critical.
The first round of amateur games pitted Trauma against Warped kids with Trauma winning 97 to 6. Then Naugty Dogs beat Farside 94 to 14. In the novices, Naughty Dogs Silver and Justice had the wins of the first round, and Blind Aggression and Static AKA had the rookie wins.
Ultra Ego then took down Blind Aggression 95 to 10 putting the two teams only one point apart in total score. Team Fraction then fell to Static AKA 98 to 4, putting Static AKA in a 90 point lead.
Justice took Cartel 97 to 6. Naughty Dogs Silver beat Static 93 to 14, this gave them a 6 point leag over Justice going into the third round.
Trauma took down Naughty Dogs 98 to 4 with a call that was new territory for the refs. A Dogs player had his hopper fall off and out of bounds. He couldn't go out of bounds to retrieve it, and couldn't get 5 feet away from it without being eliminated. It was decided that he had to be pulled because any part of a player or their equipment extending out of bounds is grounds for elimination. This gave Trauma a solid lead.
SC Ironmen beat Dynasty 92 to 16. That game was all drama. Both teams lost a player off the break on field one (The Badlandz' original Hyperball field). Dynasty was not as aggressive on the break, only taking up to their thirty while Ironmen's Andy Kopcok made the 50. Dynasty knocked Micah McGlocklin out of his position on the right 40, and Yosh Rau out of the diamond moments later. With the Ironmen right tape folding Rich Tellford moved from his center 20 position to the back right standup, where he stayed for the rest of the game. Dynasty's Alex Fraige held the 40 rocket despite several bounces. Dynasty did a quick double bunker leaving Alex and Ryan Greenspan on the Ironmen's 30, and Rodney Squires on their 40 against Rich Telford and Matty Marshall who were pressed in the two back corner stand-ups. The Ironmen stayed tight and shot calmly taking out the Dynasty players in a few seconds. Telford pulled the flag and ran it in for a hang with only about 20 seconds left on the clock. Bob Long's Ironmen stalemated with Strange 16 to 16. This put SC Ironmen in a strong position - 27 points in their last game would give them first place even if Dynasty played a perfect game against Bob Long's Ironmen.
In the Rookie division things wrapped up with Static AKA undefeated in all three of their games, losing only 12 bodies. Ultra Ego in second with two dropped games and one win against Blind Aggression 94-10. Blind Aggression took the third position one point behind Ultra Ego with Team Fraction taking fourth.
Novice finished up Naughty Dogs Silver taking home the first place trophy with two wins and a stalemate with Justice. Justice was right behind them just 5 points away in second, aso with two wins and the stalemate. Cartel and Static took third and fourth with a win for Cartel and two dropped games.
Amateur finals ended in the same ranking of first through fourth coming in from semi-finals. Trauma at the head with two wins, Farside with a win and two drops, Naughty Dogs with another win and two drops and Warped Kids taking fourth place.
Professional Ironmen won the day with two wins, losing 24 bodies throughout the finals. They were followed by Bobby's Men, Strange and Dynasty.
The 2002 Chicago open arguably had the
best 5 man event the league has ever seen, and the overall event - 5 and
10 man - was well received by players as one of the best NPPL events in
recent years. The Chicago Open continues to rank as one of the world's
largest paintball tournaments.
WARPIG.com would like to extend our thanks to the sponsors who made the Chicago Open possible, the teams and players who showed the love by sporting WARPIG stickers (Ironmen, All As2, Warped Kids, Texas Storm, Legacy & Cartel), Sue Cookston for being such a great scorekeeper and making my job such a joy! Renick and his concessions crew for keeping us hydrated with cold water - Ren you are the wind beneath our wings - not our hero :-)
Stay tuned to WARPIG.com, the originators of on scene tournament coverage for more news and photos from the 2002 NPPL Chicago Open.