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First Place Pro - Miami Rage
First Place Semi-Pro - Impact
First Place DI - X Factor
First Place DII - XSV Influence
First Place DIII - Air Assault Factory
In 1999, Bad Boyz Toyz and DYE jointly produced the first Boston NPPL tournament at S.L.A.M. Paintball in South Yarmouth, MA. The tournament was played on two wooded fields, a Hyperball field and a Sup'Air field. Thirty-eight ten-man teams competed at Boston in 1999, with one of the most infamous games between the All Americans and Aftershock ending with allegations that Shock player Mike Bruno had gone out of bounds to get behind the All As, while wearing one of their Renegade camo jerseys.
The NPPL Super-7 Paintball World Series is a whole new ball game. The new Boston NPPL tournament was produced by Pure Promotions and drew 209 teams out to play at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA just south of the city of Boston, where they would compete on five Sup'Air fields. The massive sports venue is home to the New England Patriots NFL team and Revolution MLS team.
Paintball weather in the East can by a dicey proposition during the Atlantic hurricane season, and Boston was no exception. As teams headed to New England from around the world, so did Tropical Storm Beryl, as it moved north from the Mid-Atlantic. Fortunately, it stayed mainly off-shore, and moved on through the night before the tournament began Friday morning under clouded skies with little wind. In its wake, the storm left a body of warm tropical air, which meteorologists expected would draw in a storm front from further west and deliver scattered thunderstorms through the weekend.
For divisional teams, games started on Friday morning, for the pros the action wouldn't begin until the weekend. When XSV, the series leader with two wins under its belt would be defending its position from the 17 other professional teams. NPPL Action Turf fields outside of the stadium made for smooth, even playing surfaces from field to field.
By Saturday afternoon, the Semi-Pro and Division I and II teams had completed their eight preliminary games, and the younger teams of Division III were still working on the remainder of their schedule, along with the pros.
Fifty-one teams in Division 2 had played for sixteen available quarterfinal positions. At the end of their games Redz Organized Chaos was at the top of the heap. Tying their score was TCP Machine – both teams had won all of their prelim games. Dynasty Entourage and Rock-It Kids were next in the group, and Warped Ninjaz slid into the 16th slot. Ballistic, holding the top ranking towards the 2006 series championship finished the prelims in fifth. East Coast Empire missed the break to the quarters by a hair – just two points.
SD Aftermath topped the 34 teams in the Division I prelims, with their first place Tampa win and top DI ranking fresh in their minds. They beatout Redz OA Mayhem and Voltage for the number one position in the quarters. Bringing up the rear of the DI quarterfinalists was Paintball Mart Factory team, which edged out Capitol City Momma's Boys and Sin by two points.
In the smallest open-entry division, semi-pro there were twenty teams battling for only eight quarterfinal slots. Despite the smaller quarterfinals size, the smaller division size greatly increased the odds of playing on Sunday. A Team showed themselves to be an un-stoppable force, and a favorite to go pro at the end of the year. They took first place in both Huntington Beach and Tampa before reipping through the Boston prelims with only one loss. Impact and BC Infamy were next on the list followed by Ca Bushwackers, Miami Raiders, Dynasty Dynamics, Trauma and Las Vegas, LTZ. United was bumped from the Sunday action by LTZ's thirty-point lead.
Division III wrapped up their games on Saturday. As the rookie bracket, their cut was the hardest, winnowing 66 teams down to sixteen quarterfinalists. By the end of the prelims Drama was the pack leader. Like second ranked AB Reckless, they suffered no losses in their opening eight games. The DIII series leader and Tampa winner, SD Aftermath wasn't in Boston, neither was Huntington Beach winner Critical Paintball. DIII can be less predictable, as many of the younger teams aren't able to play the full season.
It was the Professional prelims that were full of surprises. After a long absence, drama and uncertainty had made a comeback in professional paintball. Boston proved that the winner of an NPPL tournament was not a foregone conclusion.
The pro teams had played in two separate divisions of nine teams each. Playing each of the other teams in their division, every team competed in eight preliminary round games. The top scoring team at the end of the round was New York NRG, despite taking a loss on their second game. Los Angeles Infamous ranked second and St. Louis Aftermath third. New England Hurricanes ranked fourth, Portland Naughty Dogs fifth, Chicago Evil sixth, Miami Rage seventh and Stockholm Joy Division in eighth. In the first division, Rage beat out XSV by 15 points, and in the second it was Joy Division that made the break over Anaheim Sedition by 39 points.
The lineup went against the oddsmakers predictions. In the NPPL Super 7's inaugural season, 2003 Dynasty won four out of the year's five tournaments, and even two Millennium Series tournaments that counted in the NPPL pro rankings. In 2004, Dynasty traded event wins with Infamous, though XSV ranked second in the series, as they finished more consistently than Infamous over the season. The following year, Dynasty again rocked the NPPL, winning all but one event. The Denver trophy went home with XSV, which took second place at the four other tournaments. While Dynasty was on top as series champions 3 years running, XSV had locked tight onto their heels and showed no signs of letting off.
The 2006 season kicked off with an upset. For the first time ever, Dynasty didn't win Huntington Beach – that went to XSV. XSV won Tampa as well. They joined Dynasty as the only team to ever win more than one NPPL Super 7 tournament, as well as the only other team to do it back to back. The trouble with winning streaks is they eventually end, or at least are interrupted. Neither Sacramento XSV or San Diego Dynasty made it past the preliminary round in Boston. In fact, Boston marked the first NPPL Super-7 tournament where Dynasty didn't progress past the preliminary round.
XSV's Saturday finish put them in 9th place for Boston, earning 10 out of a possible 26 points towards the 2006 Championship, while Dynasty's 12th place brought in 7 points.
On Sunday the teams hit the fields for the quarterfinals. Division III teams were split into four groups, each team playing the other three in its grouping. Based on total scores from the round, the top teams in each group were selected to advance to the semifinals, where they were ranked by quarterfinals scores. For DIII, Air Assault Factory finished up with the highest score. They were followed by Friendly Fire Factory, TPA and Recluse.
Division II saw XSV Influence in their top ranked slot after the quarterfinals. They were joined by Ballistic, Torment and Warped Ninjaz. Division II was topped by NE United with Carolina Gridlock, Votage and X Factor also moving on to the semis. The Semi-Pro division, being smaller, only had eight quarterfinalists. Still needing four teams for the semi-finals, Semi-Pro quarterfinals were not as harsh as the other divisions, only knocking out half the teams. Their quarters were played in two groups, with the top two teams from each advancing. This put Trauma, Miami Raiders, Impact and the CA Bushwackers in the semifinals.
The professional quarterfinals were packed with games, playing a different tournament structure than the rest of the divisions, each team played seven games, with the top four based on score going on to the semifinals. The quarterfinal round knocked out St. Louis Avalanche, giving them 5th place for the tournament. New England Hurricanes finished 6th, New York NRG 7th, and Los Angeles Infamous in 8th. The remaining four teams went on to the semifinals where Portland Naughty Dogs would face Chicago Evil, and Miami Rage would play Stockholm Joy Division. The winners from that round would then play in the finals to determine first and second place, while the losers would similarly compete for third and fourth.
The following round was the semifinals. The semifinal round did not eliminate any teams, instead it simply re-ordered the top four teams for the finals. Teams were paired, and played for the best two out of three games. Air Assault Factory beat Recluse in their first game. While neither team got the flag before time ran out in their second game, Air Assault took the game on body count, so they could play for first in the finals. Friendly fire did the same to TPA.
XSV Influence Beat Warped Ninjas in their first Division II semifinal game. They lost the second game, but won the third. Ballistic fell to Torment twice in a row. Division I semifinalists were more evenly matched. NE United posted a win, loss and win over X Factor, as Voltage did over California Gridlock. For the Semi-Pro teams Trauma fell to the CA Bushwackers in their first game, but one the second, and lost the third. Impact took Miami Raiders twice in a row.
In the Pro semis Portland Naughty Dogs went through Chicago Evil twice in a row. Miami Rage lost their first game against Sockholm Joy Division, but won the second two, pitting Rage against the Dogs for the first place trophy.
From the semis, games progressed into the finals. Recluse lost their first game against TPA, but won the next two, for a third place DIII finish. Similarly Air Assault Factory dropped their first game against Friendly Fire, but turned it around and won the next two, bringing home the trophy for First Place DIII. Division II saw similarly hard fought finals. Ballistic dropped their first game against the Warped Ninjas, but won the second. The Ninjas took the third game and finished in third place. The final match for DII was even closer. XSV Influence and Torment ran to the clock, and tied on body count for their first game. Influence won the second game, and Torment the third. This took things down to a one on one tiebreaker, where XSV Influence came out on top, coming in first place for DII, with Torment in second.
NE United won their first game with Carolina Gridlock, but Gridlock took the next two and the third place finish for Division I. X-Factor headed straight to the podium after back to back wins over second place Voltage. In the Semi-Pro finals, Miami Raiders dished out back to back victories to Trauma, finishing in third place. CA Bushwackers beat Impact in their first game. The second game ran to the clock, but Impact took it on body count points 21 to 13. The third game went ti Impact, giving them a first place finish.
The last action of the tournament was the big pro show-down. The first pairing was Evil and Joy Division going to decide third and fourth place. Chicago Evil won the first game 94 to 18. The next was called by the clock running out, but there was no hang – Stockholm Joy Division took it on points before decisively winning the third game. The tournament culminated with the finals game between Miami Rage and the Portland Naughty Dogs. The Naughty Dogs' last NPPL Super-7 tournament win was at Chicago in 2003. Rage's last NPPL win pre-dated the Super-7 – it was at the DYE Precision NPPL Las Vegas Open in 1998. The first game of the pairing went to the clock, not a hang, but Rage played defensively and picked up 12 points to the Dog's 12. Naughty Dogs took the second game 98 to 6. The third went to Rage 95 to 15, making Rage the first place Professional team at Boston.
The finish in Boston didn't disturb the top two positions in the 2006 Pro series rankings. Sacramento XSV still held the top slot with 62 series points. Dynasty was still in second with 53 series points, but XSV's lead had increased slightly. Rage's win moved them up from number 7 to number three, displacing New York NRG down to fourth, while the Naughty Dogs moved up from 9th to 5th. The bottom three teams, those in danger of being bumped to Semi-Pro if they didn't move up before the season was over, consisted of the OC Bushwackers, London Nexus and the Philadelphia Assassins.
For the teams of the NPPL Super-7 World Series of Paintball, the next stop to earn series points would be Los Angeles, California, in September.