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Photos by JJ Ontiveros, courtesy of Airgun Designs
June 6-8 2003
Place Pro - Naughty Dogs
The Super 7 series' second stop for the 2003 season was selected to be the Tweeter Center south of Chicago, Illinois. This site features a stadium that has been used as a venue for major concerts including Ozzfest, Lollapalooza, The Warped Tour, Kiss and Aerosmith. Just outside of the arena are large stretches of lush grass, just what is needed for a top end paintball tournament.
Fields were available for walking on Thursday the 6th, while the 128 competing teams checked in, reviewed their schedules and looked over both their competition and the site on which they would compete. The event trade show was open to allow players a chance to browse through the latest in paintball products before their attention was locked onto the field. Team captains were required to be on site at 5:00 pm for the mandatory captain's meeting in order to go over specific details of the competition.
It is funny how things work out in the world of paintball sometimes. After much deliberation and contemplation, we decided that the two people who run the WARPIG.com site would sit out the Chicago event after some unfortunate occurrences at the beginning of the season. We have instead decided to allocate our limited time and resources into areas where they are more appreciated by WARPIG's readers, and the players and promoters we meet with along the way. We'd made plans to have the event covered by a reporter, who at the last minute wasn't able to make the trip, so we sorted things out and lined up new reporters to relay news and photos from the tournament. Many thanks to Jason Moulenbelt, Dave Zinkam, Phil Dominguez, and JJ Ontiveros for their help and friendship.
The third leg of the new series saw sixteen professional teams, up one from Vegas and two from Huntington Beach. Ton Tons and Joy Division didn't return to compete in this event, but Image, who placed third Amateur at the PSP's Vegas tournament showed to play Pro as well as Lockout bringing up a sister team. Dynasty had two wins under their belt going into the Chicago event with Naughty Dogs close on their heels after finishing third and second earlier in the season. Bushwackers International had finished fourth at both of the other events, hoping for another top four finish here.
The Amateurs saw a loss of two teams after the 23 teams that showed for both Huntington Beach and Vegas with four new teams showing. Brimstone Smoke, recently having played X Ball at the PSP, Thunderstruck ranked 15th at the PSP, Shogun and Team Storm. KAPP Factory, still solidly leading the Amateur bracket for the NPPL after second and first place wins, they topped Evil by 17 ranking points after Evil's disappointing show in Vegas when they didn't make the cut to the finals. Coming out of the gates in Chicago, they were sure to hit the fields hard to regain that ground. Viewloader Allstars were not far behind Evil after a semi placement and second place followed closely by STP. Paintballgateway.com, Static and Fusion all showed after having made the final four, wanting yet another shot at the podium. Sharp Shooters, Boston, Maxim, and Eclipse Factory Red all hit the windy city in the hopes of improving after having made semi-finals at least once in the prior two events.
The Novice bracket had a big turnover of teams, which is fairly common for Chicago events. With over forty teams hitting the field, twenty-six of the teams who had played the NPPL events earlier in the season returned, while the other twenty-two teams were made up of new teams arriving to see what the event was about. Vicious was still leader of the pack for the novice teams after a first and second place wins, followed by Shockwave LA who made the semi's and won first in Vegas, closely chased by Boston Paintball Factory 2 who took second and hit semi's. Tippmann Effect also had a final four and a semifinal win to their name as well as Old School Hustle. Atomix Factory Red played in ninth place after their third place win in Vegas, hoping for the final four again in Chicago. Bushwackers CA, Twisted, Wicked, TCP Extreme, Aggression, Next Level and BK Dogs had all made the cut to semi's throughout the season and all showed to do it again.
The Rookies were split down the middle for returning teams and those new to the series, staying at the same number of teams after Vegas, 43 showed to play in Chicago. Twenty-one of them were returning teams, where 22 were new. The top 8 ranked teams returned to battle for the top ranked series spot. Team RM after two first place wins, Ballerz Inc. after a second spot and a miss of the final four, Moneyshot with third place and semi's. Ephect did the same after fourth in Huntington Beach at semi's in Vegas. Team G&C Electric had made the cut to semi's both events prior as well as Pusher Boys. Draco returned after their second place win in Vegas. Atomix Factory Blue and MR Paintball Factory both played in Vegas, making semi's and returned to the series, aiming for the final four.
Preliminaries began on Friday and were played under skies that got gradually worse through the day, with light to medium rain showers in the afternoon. Games resumed Saturday morning, and were played through the day, wrapping up in the evening.
Super 7 games are scored on a 100 point system. Each player of the opposing team who is eliminated is worth 3 points for a total of 21 elimination points. 1 point is awarded for each live player at the end of the game, for a total of 7 possible. Pulling the flag, whether or not it is the first flag pull is worth 32 points, and hanging a flag is worth 40 points. This scoring system, which is new to the 2003 season opens the door for teams to earn more points even while losing a game.
At the end of the preliminary rounds the teams with the highest total scores in each division (pro, am, novice and rookie) advance to the quarterfinals. Divisions with 32 or more teams would have 16 teams advancing, those with less would have 8 going on to the quarterfinals.
Dynasty, not surprisingly played the prelims undefeated to top the pros with 739 points, continuing their momentum from winning the first two Super 7 events. Also not surprising was the fact that the Naughty Dogs were hot on their tail. The Dogs who made the finals in Huntington Beach placed second in Vegas and have been training with the focused goal of knocking Dynasty out of that number one spot. Bad Company ranked third. They had made the finals in Huntington Beach but missed the cut in Vegas. The cut for pro was tight. Avalanche and Rage tied for eighth place at 602 points.
In order to break a tie for seating, the NPPL rules specify first that whichever team won in a head to head game would be higher. The two teams had not played against each other in the prelims. The next tie breaker specified in the rules is the least number of players lost during the round. Avalanche was given the 7th seat in the quarterfinals. They had lost 33 bodies in total during the preliminaries, versus the 36 lost by Rage. Had those two numbers tied, the teams would have been compared by the total number of opposing players they had eliminated. Getting edged out of the quarterfinals by a single point was Nexus with a total score of 601.
Boston Paintball and Static tied for the lead of the Amateur teams. Tiebreaker score analysis put Static in the number one spot. Fusion edged out the AGD lions by 10 points to make the eighth quarterfinal position. Total scores in the Amateurs showed more of a spread than the Novices, due to a change in the scheduling method that created many amateur versus amateur games and no games for the novice teams against amateur teams. Surprisingly absent from the quarterfinals was KAPP Factory, holding the top series ranking, a first place finish in Vegas and second in Huntington Beach. Also missing was Evil Factory which was ranked second in the series and first in Huntington Beach.
Next Level Factory team played the novice prelims undefeated, finishing out with a score of 779, a noticeable spread even from second ranked Old School Hustle at 709. More teams in the novice division of course meant a bigger quarterfinals group - 16 teams moving on. The cut there was tight as well though. Wicked ranked 16th with 511, beating out Evil Dominion's 510 point finish. Team RM lead the rookies at 699 points followed by TCP Factory and Ballerz, Inc. Nonstop made the 16th slot, and like the novs and pros, displaced the next ranked team, Rat Factory by a single point.
Quarterfinals began Sunday morning and moved at a brisk pace. Teams are broken up into divisions of four, and each team plays the other three teams in its division. The top two scoring teams in each division advanced to the semifinals.
Dynasty played again undefeated against Russian Legion, Brass Eagle and Rage. Bad Company was also undefeated, actually earning more points than Dynasty to capture the first ranked position in the semifinals. Ranking in third were Naughty Dogs and fourth Russian Legion.
Static, who missed the finals in Huntington, but made the cut in Vegas topped the amateurs, followed by STP, Sharp Shooters and Viewloader.
The novice quarterfinals were more vicious. Even though there were twice as many quarterfinalists, they were still only competing for four semifinal spots. With four divisions of four teams, only the top team in each division would go on to the semis. Atomix Factory Red ranked first, after playing their division undefeated. While they didn't play at Huntington Beach, they did play at Vegas finishing in third. Next Level beat the other teams in their division to take the second ranked spot. Third seat went to Twisted Factory and fourth to PBMegastore.com.
In the rookie quarters, Team RM beat all three of their competitors to rank first, TCP Factory did the same for the second ranked spot, Moneyshot grabbed third and Ballerz Inc. ranked fourth.
With the change to 7 man format in 2003 also came the change of adding quarterfinals and going to multigame semifinals and finals. In the semifinals the first ranked team plays the fourth ranked team for the best 2 out of three games. The second ranked team plays the third ranked team. The semifinals do not eliminate any teams, they all go on to the finals. In the finals, the winners of the semifinal matches play each other for first and second place, while the losers of the semifinals compete for third and fourth place. In Huntington Beach the finals were played in a best 2 out of 3 format, just like the semifinals. This format was changed for the Las Vegas event where the pro finals went best 3 out of 5, with scheduling to place all of the pro games on the NPPL field with its larger grandstands and Pure Promotions video crew. In response to team feedback from Vegas the Chicago tournament was scheduled back to the best two out of three format. While all of the pro games were kept on the NPPL field, the amateur, novice and rookie teams which won their semifinal games got to play their finals games there as well. Only the amateur, novice, and rookie teams which lost in the semis would play their finals on the Evil/PMI field. While this reduction in the number of fields made for a slightly longer schedule, it was still able to finish at a reasonable hour, and meant more media exposure for the winning teams in all of the divisions, not just pro.
Afternoon games were beset with both light and heavy rains as well as gusting winds which added to the challenge of competing. Since rain itself does not represent a safety hazard, the games continued, in spite of the weather.
In the 1990s, Bad Company was a major name in the NPPL, but then it faded away. In the past two years, the team has shown the results of a major rebuild and dedication garnering more wins against pro teams, and better and better series rankings. They defeated Brass Eagle two games in a row, ensuring that they would at least have a second place finish, and would have a shot at first. Who they played for first would depend on who was victorious between Dynasty and Naughty Dogs. In the first two rounds of the semis, each team won a game. That meant their position in the finals would depend on a single game. The team that won would go on to face Bad Company for first, and the loser would at best be able to finish third place if they defeated Brass Eagle.
In the amateur finals, Static defeated Viewloader in their first round. STP defeated Sharpshooters twice to move on to the winner's bracket.
Atomix Factory Red was defeated for two games by PB Megastore.com , meaning the dot com would head to the winner's bracket in the finals. Twisted Factory defeated Next Level twice in a row to move on to the winner's bracket in the finals as well.
For the rookies Team RM moved up to the winner's bracket by defeating Ballerz Inc., twice in a row, but TCP Xtreme and Moneyshot tied on their first game. Moneyshot won the next two and the right to battle Team RM for the first place trophy.
Naughty Dogs beat Dynasty in the third game, putting them in the winner's slot for the finals. This would be intense as Bad Company had defeated the Dogs when the two teams faced each other in the quarterfinals.
In the finals matches Ballerz Inc. posted a pair of wins over TCP Factory. This gave the third place rookie trophy to Ballerz Inc., and fourth place to TCP Factory. Team RM won their first game against Moneyshot, but it was tough going, both teams managed flag pulls. Total points didn't matter though, just the fact that Team RM won that game. They also won the second game, taking first place in the rookie division, Moneyshot placing second.
Atomix Factory Red won both of their games against Next Level Factory, similarly giving them third place novice over fourth placed Next Level. The Novice finals were on the edge. Neither Twisted Factory or PBMegastore.com managed to pull a flag in either game - both went to the clock. Twisted nearly managed a flag pull, but the buzzer sounded while it was still out of reach. Both games were won on elimination and live player points by Twisted Factory so they took home first place while PBMegastore.com took second.
Repeating the pattern Viewloader won both of their games against Sharp Shooters finishing third, with the Shooters in fourth place amateur. STP was victorious in their two games against Static and placed first Amateur, with Static in second.
Dynasty defeated Brass Eagle twice in a row, placing third over Brass Eagle in fourth. Naughty Dogs similarly grabbed two wins from Bad Company placing first with Company in second.
From Chicago, the next stop in the Super
7 Series is in the state of New York, August 8-10. Registration and
venue information will be announced on the NPPL web site when it is available.