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NPPL San Diego
Photos by Matt Dawson
San Diego Dynasty
- 1st Place Pro
On the fourth stop of the 2005 Super 7 Season, the NPPL hit San Diego like a whirlwind. The Pure Promotions crews set up the tournament playing fields in the parking lot of Qualcomm Stadium, home of the Chargers and Padres.
Gone are the days when paintball tournament promoters talked about a great future when paintball tournaments would be played in major sporting stadiums, because major tournament series like the NPPL have outgrown the small playing areas in those types of facilities. Instead the practice fields and parking lots that accompany the stadiums are taken over and used for their size which can handle both the crowds that attend and event as well as the game fields, player paddocks and trade shows. NPPL action turf converted the ground to a playing surface while cable braced steel poles secured netting to protect spectators.
As the next to the last stop for the Super 7, San Diego saw teams, especially those in the pro and semi-pro divisions taking their game that much more seriously. At the end of the year, the final series ranking points would be the determining factor to see which teams get cut out of the pros, and which semi-pros get to move up to the big time.
As with a number of the past Super 7 tournaments, San Diego was paired with a music festival. The Live Music Tour set up with almost thirty bands scheduled to play Friday through Sunday. Like general spectating at the tournament, the tour was admission free, with attendees only needing to pay ten dollars to park on Saturday or Sunday. NPPL grandstand seating and VIP lounge access was set up as a premium ticket admission.
As is the prevailing schedule format, divisional teams hit the fields first on Friday after an opportunity to walk the fields and examine bunker layouts on Thursday. The pro teams would not begin their games until the weekend.
Division III is the starting block for teams jumping into the NPPL. Formerly called the rookie division, it took on a new, numeric title with the formation of the Super 7 World Series. Sixty-three teams competed under the DIII classification in San Diego, making it the most popular category. At the end of play on Saturday each of the D III teams had played eight games of 7-man paintball, against DI, DII and D III teams.
Each gameís score comes from points earned for players eliminated from the opposing team (3 points each,) remaining active players on their own team (1 point each,) being the first to pull an opposing teamís flag (32 points,) and for hanging the flag which ends the game (40 points.) A perfect game yields a ďmaxĒ score of 100 to 0.
Out of the sixty-three DIII teams, only the top 16, based on total preliminary round scores would play on Sunday in the quarterfinals. Assylum, Circle Factory and Extreme Planet were the leaders of this group, while SoFla Kidz pulled through in the number 16 slot. Heaven & Hell, the DIII Series leaders pulled through in the number 12 position. Number two series ranked Atomix Nation surprisingly did not finish high enough to make the quarterfinals in San Diego, although their league ranking had received a boost from their participation in the NPPL sanctioned International Amateur Open.
The Division II teams played against Semi Pro, DII and DIII teams. These fifty-three teams also sent 16 on to the quarterfinals on Sunday. SD Aftermath D2, Fate and Sin were the top three ranked at the end of play on Saturday. LTZís Destiny brought up the rear at 16th, tied in points with 17th ranked LA Exodus Kidz. As neither team had played against each other, the way points had been accrued (total numbers of live and or eliminated players) had to be used as a tie-breaker. The undisputed series leader, Less Than Zero, with a record of first place trophies at every 2005 NPPL Super 7 Series tournament to date, made their way into the quarters, finishing the prelims in fourth place.
In Division I, the chances of getting into the quarterfinals were much better than in the lower divisions. Only 28 teams were competing for the 16 slots. Under the original NPPL rules, a division of 32 teams would have meant only 8 positions in the next round, but the newer rules mean more action on the fields Sunday morning. SD Aftermath finished the prelims on top, followed by HK By Paintballerz.com and Naughty Dogs Div I. Vendetta brought up the rear at 16, edging out the Boys from Illinois, Farside. That end to the prelims was a surprise to many, considering Farsideís position as the top ranked DI team in the league. This event gave a strong likelyhood to a change in the pecking order, putting Naughty Dogs D1 into the top rank after San Diego was finished.
The Semi-Pro division had more teams competing than DI, impressive considering that over the season leading up to San Diego, only 32 teams had competed in that class, compared to 45 in DI. Legacy, Ironmen and Justice led the pack of 16 quarterfinalists emerging out of the prelims. Redz Infamy snatched the last slot away from Atomix by 6 points, a difference as little as shooting two more players over the two days of competition.
And then there were the pros Ė playing all of their prelim games during the day on Saturday. The 18 pro teams played in two divisions of 9 teams each, playing once against each of the other teams in their group. Out of Group 1, San Diego Dynasty, Oakland Empire, Stockholm Joy Division and DC Arsenal moved on. Group 2 sent Miami Rage, Sacramento XSV, San Francisco Avalanche, and the Portland Naughty Dogs. With only three series ranking points separating XSV from the top ranked boys in blue, competition between the two teams would be fierce for the first place trophy in San Diego.
Under fair skies teams took to the fields Sunday morning for the completion of NPPL San Diego 2005. In addition to the quarterfinalists, six college teams played against each other in the National Collegiate Paintball Association division. The NCPA, which organizes events between college teams nation wide worked with NPPL, Inc., to include a college division in San Diego, as had been done in Huntington Beach earlier in the season. The top four teams, ASU Gold, ASU Maroon, UCI Blue and USC advanced to the collegiate semifinals, leaving behind NAU and UCI Gold.
Meanwhile, divisional teams played their quarterfinal games. Division III played in four groups of four, with the top team from each group going to the semifinals. These included Oklahoma Impact, The Outfit, Icon and SCP Epic. Surprisingly, LTZ did not advance past the quarterfinals, making San Diego the first Super 7 tournament of the season where they did not finish in first place.
Division II similarly advanced X-Factor, NTK, SD Aftermath, and Total Chaos. In Division I it was SD Aftermath, Texas Storm, Triple Tap and Urban Quest moving on. Shock led the semi-pro pack from the quarterfinals into the finals, followed by All Americans, Docís Raiders and Dynasty Dynamics. The pro teams played a different format of quarterfinals. Since they had played in two separate divisions in the prelims, the eight quarterfinalist teams faced double sized quarterfinals. The eight teams played seven games, one against each of the other quarterfinal teams. Sacramento XSV picked up the most points in the quarters, and trailing close behind them Oakland Empire, San Diego Dynasty and Miami Rage headed to the semifinals.
The semifinal rounds placed the first ranked quarterfinal team against the fourth, and the second against the third, to play for the best two out of three games. The winning teams would then face each other for the best two of three in the finals, receiving the first and second place trophies, while the losers played against each other to determine the third and fourth place finishes.
The College division came down to USC beating ASU Maroon twice in a row for first place, while UCI Blue posted back to back victories over ASU Gold for third.
Double wins crowned The Outfit as champions for division III over second placed SCP Epic. Icon similarly beat Oklahoma Impact twice to grab third place.
In Division II NTK finished first with double victories over X-Factor, while SD Aftermath did the same to Total Chaos, placing third.
SD Aftermath took home the first place trophy for Division II, with double wins against second place Texas Storm. Urban Quest won their first game against Triple Tap, but lost the second and won the third for third place.
In Semi-Pro the All Americans dropped their first game against Dynasty Dynamics, but won the next two, and finished in first place. Third place was determined by the same pattern, a loss and two wins with Docís Raiders prevailing over Shock.
Just as they have been through the season, Sacramento XSV and San Diego Dynasty stood toe to toe in the finals. XSV took the first dame but Dynasty took the next two and the first place trophy, strengthening their position as series leaders. Oakland Empire took it to Miami Rage twice in a row, garnering third place.
From San Diego, the NPPL Super 7 World Series will be leaping cross country to its final stop of the year, Miami, Florida. Bicentennial Park, in the heart of downtown Miami, and right on the lagoon waters that bring in cruise ships from the Caribbean. With the nightlife of South Beach, and the tropical ocean breezes, the Commanderís Cup in Miami will be the final showdown, determining 2005 series champions and which teams will make up the pro division for 2006.