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March 19-21, 2004
Dynasty - Pro First Place
Bonebrake Factory - Div 1 First Place
STP Severe - Div 2 First Place
Organized Chaos - Div 3 First Place
The NPPL Super 7 Series produced by Pure Promotions kicked off itís 2004 season by going back to the beach. Now in itís second year of operation the series is starting for the new year at the ground breaking venue that hosted one of the most talked about tournaments of 2003.
With the new year come new changes. While the tournament is still on the beach, Pure Promotions chose to combat the sand with artificial turf. Low pile outdoor carpeting manufactured to the NPPL's specifications, laid across the beach meant less sand related mechanical problems for players as well as better traction, and less fatigue from running on a shifting surface. This meant the promise of faster action on the fields.
Another major change for 2004 came in the league structure looking into the future. Like the latter part of 2003 entry at events for 2004 is limited to pre-set figures. Over the years, many tournament promoters have allowed teams to sign up almost at the last minute, meaning schedules and field set-ups were in constant flux, and sometimes fields were over-booked for events causing games to run late into the night. By limiting the overall number of teams, Pure Promotions is able to hold to more reasonable schedules, and focus on quality over quantity.
Taking that concept a step further, with the idea that the pro teams should represent the best the tournament series has to offer, the NPPL Super 7 pro division is still open for any team to play. The 2005 season however, is planned to have a pro division that is limited to 18 pro teams, and entry is based in part on past performance in the series. Going pro will mean more than just paying an entry fee, it will mean teams earning their way into the division. While the cut-off has not yet been determined, a certain number of lowest ranked pro teams will get bumped out at the end of the season to make room for those moving up.
The rest of the team classifications, have been renamed to Divisions I, II and III, following the nomenclature used in the PSP X Ball series. For the Huntington Beach event, an additional division was added. In cooperation with the National Collegiate Paintball Association, a 16 team college tournament was scheduled to be played on Sunday culminating in a final game to be held on the eventís showcase field allowing it to be featured on the next season Fox Sports NPPL
Like the year before, the park adjacent to the beach sand became a trade show for the Super 7 Series sponsors. A notable new face here was National Paintball Supply with big rigs on site for both National, and their Empire brand line, as National is now a Platinum Sponsor of the Super 7. To many this was a surprise, as NPS is a shareholder in Paintball Sports Promotions.
The team lineups for 2004 looked familiar, with some subtle changes at the top. Dynasty dominated the Super 7 its first season, but because the team was owned by the NPPL President, and its main sponsor was the parent company of Pure Promotions, teams that fell in Dynastyís wake made accusations of biased reffing. In late 2003 the team parted both with Chuck Hendsch and WDP, giving their opposition one less excuse in the 2004 season. The Naughty Dogs, hot on Dynastyís heels in the Super 7 in 2003, and defeating them at the two PSP events where they competed that year, are poised as the other top team to watch in the series for 2004. A new name in the pro bracket, with familiar faces is XSV (Excessive.) This largely California based team is made up of players who recently departed from the Los Angeles Ironmen, Chicago Aftershock, and other teams. Stepping out of the restrictions imposed on NXL teams, players like Rich Telford, Micah McGlocklin, Matty Marshall, and Nicky Cuba have the freedom to compete in the Super 7 and Millennium series events, as well as PSPís Division 1 X Ball.
Friday morning as the first games of the prelims began, Dynasty and Brimstone Smoke were the standouts in the pro division, the only two out of 11 morning division pro teams to win all of their games.
In Division I, The Edge was the only team to be able to make it through the morning unscathed. For Division II, ACI Splat Factory, and Formula were the undefeated leaders, and in Division III, StormFront was the only team to make it through the morning undefeated.
In the afternoon games Redz Hurricanes and Naughty Dogs joined the list of undefeated pro teams, as did Hostile Takeover, WGP Nitro and Bushwackers USA in Division 1. Formula and United played their first four games without loss in Division II, and Div III had only Stormfront undefeated when the first day's games drew to a close.
Naughty Dogs captain Rocky Knuth commented that the NPPL's new Action Turf made the games go faster. "It's really fast," he said. "It's different... I'd much rather be playing on this than sand."
The last games of the day were scheduled to start at 6:45 pm, trailing past the 6:03 pm sunset. Lights were brought in to the site to allow games to continue once the sun had dipped below the waves of the Pacific ocean.
Saturday would see the completion of the 8 game preliminary rounds, and each division would then be ranked by total score for advancement into the quarterfinals.
Through the morning haze, into the day and then into the night, the teams finished the 8 preliminary rounds after sundown on Saturday.
Under the new advancement rules enacted mid 2003 season 12 of the 22 pro teams advanced to the quarterfinals round which would take the top team in each of 3 divisions plus a wildcard - the next highest ranked team overall. By the end of the prelims every pro team had suffered at least a single loss. Dynasty topped the rankings tied in points with European powerhouse Joy Division. They were followed by Rage, Smoke, Arsenal, the Ton Ton Flingeurs, Avalanche, Nexus, Redz Hurricanes, Bushwackers International, and Brass Eagle. With over half of the teams advancing, it would be the quarterfinal rounds making the big play or go home cut, narrowing down to one quarter of the teams by mid-day Sunday. In the quarters Naughty Dogs arguably faced the strongest division, but were the standout team, as was Dynasty in their division. In division two Joy Division was on top - they have talented players and good on field coordination, but their performance in the states isn't always as strong as in Europe. Brimstone Smoke is a team that is on fire at times, seemingly unstoppable, and other times just does not gel. Even if stopped at the quarters, they made a good showing, clearing the prelims on their first event as pros. Avalanche has started the year out well, looking as if they are recovering from their internal collapse at the end of 2002. Bushwackers International is a team that manages to hold their position on the edge, with a history of trophies, but usually not making it to the top slot. Ultimately it would come down to who played best on Sunday, but the second division looked harder to estimate, and because the teams were more evenly matched, would likely produce the wildcard.
In Division 1, it was the Dog's sister team, Naughty Dogs Am that topped the charts, followed by Hostile Takeover, Bonebrake Factory Team, Evil Odyssey, Evil, Psycho Circus, Team Function, and Bushwackers USA. In all, 16 of the 34 Division 1 teams advanced to the quarterfinals where they would compete in 4 divisions of 4, the top team from each division going on to the semis and finals.
Division 2 was topped by United, ACI Splat Factory, Arsenal Kidz, and Formula, with 16 of those 58 teams also going on to the quarters. Division 3 with 46 teams sent their top 16 to quarter finals. These teams were led by Less Than Zero, Complete Paintball, SF Paintball Center and Stormfront.
In the quarterfinals on Sunday, Avalanche put the pedal to the metal and won all three of their games. The wildcard team did not come from their division after all, but from Division 1 with Dynasty. Naughty Dogs topped their division, and the four teams went on to the semifinals to vie for their positions in the finals.
The division 1 quarterfinals advanced the Bonebrake Factory Team, Team Function, Naughty Dogs Am and Arsenal A Team into the semis. In division 2, it was STP Severe, Mox Nix, Arsenal Kidz and ACI Splat Factory that advanced. Division three promoted Just Paintball, Stormfront, Shooters and Looters, and Organized Chaos into the semifinals games.
Avalanche defeated Arsenal in two semifinals games. Naughty Dogs versus Dynasty went the first game to Dynasty, the second to the Dogs. The third game decided the teams' fate with the win going to Dynasty. This meant that Avalanche and Dynasty would vie for first and second in the finals, and the Naughty Dogs, even though they might be able to beat Avalanche in a best two out of three, would be battling with Arsenal for thrid place.
In Division 1, Bonebrake Factory defeated Arsenal A Team in two games. Naughty Dogs Amateur won their first game against Team Function, and lost the second. They won the third game to compete with Bonebrake for first place.
STP Severe posted a pair of victories over ACI Splat Factory in Division two, as did Mox Nix over Arsenal Kidz, arranging the four teams for the Division two finals.
In Division three it was Organized Chaos defeating Just Paintball in two games, and Stormfront losing a game, tying a game, then winning a game aginst Shooters and Looters. With a total score of 131, compared to Shooters and Looters' 51, Storm front was advanced, because each team had a win and a tie.
While the open divisions played so did the National Collegiate Paintball Association's College division. These eight teams played in round robin format, accumulating total points - with seven rounds, each team was able to play every other team in the competition. Suffering only one loss was the Illini Orange squad, one of two teems fielded by the University of Illinois. The Louisiana State University Tigers finished the 7 games in second, and the University of Georgia Bulldogs finished third.
In the Division Three finals Organized Chaos was pitted against Stormfront for first and second place. Chaos won two games in a row for victory. Just Paintball won two games against Shooters and Looters, ranking the two teams third and fourth.
In Division Two the third and fourth slots were up for grabs between ACI Splat Factory and Arsenal Kidz. ACI's team grabbed third with a pair of wins. STP Severe lost their first game to Mox Nix, but won the second. The third game in this set went to STP Severe for first place.
Division One finals had Arsenal A Team and Team Function competing for third and fourth place rankings. Function took third with two wins in a row. Bonebrake Factory team defeated Naughty Dogs Am 95 to 14 in the two team's first game. The second game didn't end up with a flag hang for either team, but with a score of 22 to 15, Bonebrake had their second win, and took home the first place trophy.
In the Pro Division, Naughty Dogs defeated Arsenal in their first game, but Arsenal turned it around for the second. Naughty Dogs took the third game and third place in the tournament leaving fourth for Arsenal. The big face off was between Avalanche and Dynasty. Dynasty won both games with sound 99 to 3 and 98 to 6 victories, taking first place, and putting Avalanche back on the podium again in second.
For Avalanche, a team that struggled through rebuilding in the 2003 season a second place win in Huntington Beach shows that the pond formed by the previous year's leage split is starting to be stocked with a few more big fish.
For Dynasty, having grabbed first place
in X Ball at the PSP Pomona tournament, and first in 7 man at Huntington
Beach it's a solid start to the year. "It's incredible. Both
tournaments we really had to... come together as a team to win. It's
not just good individual playing, but teamwork." said Todd Martinez who
recently returned to the team. "And I love WARPIG. And I love