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NPPL Commanders Cup
San Diego Dynasty - First Place Pro
The NPPL Commander's Cup, named in honor of music superstar Sir Maurice Gibb who played tournament paintball before his untimely passing, has alternated between East Coast and West Coast venues each year since its inception.
The fourth season of the NPPL Super-7 Paintball World Series culminated with the Commander's Cup in an all new venue – the Orange County Fairgrounds. With a site encompassing more than 150 acres of paved and grass land in the heart of Southern California, the Orange County Fairgrounds and Exposition center offered up one of the things most critical to a large scale paintball tournament – space. In addition to being right next to the John Wayne International airport, its close proximity to LAX and other Southern California airports makes it an easy to reach destination for traveling teams.
For all of the teams in the Super-7, Commander's Cup would be the big event of the season. Not only was the tournament trophy on the line, but placing in Orange County would determine how teams ranked for the season. For the pros especially, this tournament was critical. At the end of the year, the bottom three pro teams would lose their professional status, while the top three teams would have the option to advance to semi-pro.
Coming in to the tournament, Sacramento XSV stood as the favorite to win, with San Diego Dynasty hot on their heels. To snatch the gold, Dynasty would have to finish the tournament high, and do it ranked 4 points above XSV (such as finishing first with XSV in third or lower.) Third ranked Miami Rage would have to win the tournament, and have XSV miss the semifinals, and Dynasty finish third or lower to come in on top, while winners of the most recent NPPL tournament, Stockholm Joy Division, bringing home the crown would require Dynasty to finish below 5th, and XSV below 6th – in addition to winning the tournament.
Looking at the bottom ranks, Philly Assassins would have to make it to the finals in order to keep from being bounced down to semi-pro, and OC Bushwackers, Anaheim Sedition, London Nexus, Pittsburgh All A's, Chicago Evil and DC Arsenal all came to Orange County in the danger zone.
Games started on Friday morning with the preliminary rounds. In the Super-7 format, each 7 player team plays eight preliminary round games, earning points for live players at the end of the game, eliminated opposing players, pulling the flag, and hanging the flag. Total points at the end of the prelims ranked the teams for the quarterfinals on Sunday. The pro teams would not begin playing until Saturday, concentrating their games on the weekend for greater spectator access.
The starting level for teams is Division III, and this category drew out 42 teams. The top sixteen of these teams would advance to the quarters. By the end of games on Saturday, Recluse was the D-III leader. Having lost only one of their games, they earned a total of 694 points. They were followed by Misfit Militia and 1 Up Kids. Freaks of Nature made the cut in the 16th slot, edging out Turbulence Of Velocity by 5 points – less than two eliminated players.
Forty-seven teams played in Division-II where XSV Influence topped the chart at the end of the round. Eight games with no losses garnered them 778 points. With 16 teams advancing, Clockwork rode the bubble into the quarterfinals with 522 points, 2 points over Vatos Locos.
With only 18 teams competing at the Division I level, a smaller quarterfinals group was called for. Even so, with only 8 quarterfinals positions up for grabs, the odds were better – barely over half the teams would be cut at the end of the prelims. Naughty X Nature finished in the first spot despite losing a game. Their total of 689 gave them a solid lead over second ranked SD Aftermath who finished the round with 621. The LA Hitmen just missed the cut – tying on points for the 8th slot, but being bumped by tie breaker criteria.
The Semi-Pro division saw as many competitors as D-I, and similarly, the top 8 of its 18 teams moved ahead to the quarterfinals. A Team played an undefeated round to top the group, followed by Trauma, Dynasty Dynamics, Arsenal Semi Pro, Impact, California Bushwackers, Miami Raiders and Phoenix United. A 50 point difference separated United from 9th position Studio City Icemen.
The pro division played a different format for the prelims. The 18 pro teams played in two groups of 9 teams. Each team played a game against each team in its divisions. In Group 1, Stockholm Joy Division, New England Hurricanes, Sacramento XSV and Chicago Evil were the top four that would play the quarters. In Group 2 it was San Diego Dynasty, New York NRG, London Nexus, and Portland Naughty Dogs moving on.
The end of the prelims meant that series ranking points were already set for teams that didn't make the cut – and this locked in the points for an even bigger cut – the season ending demotion of pro teams. By making it into the quarterfinals, London Nexus guaranteed that they would bring in at least 11 series points from the Commander's Cup, and that pulled them out of the danger zone, securing their pro status for 2007. Three other teams were not so fortunate. Finishing the tournament in fifteenth place gave the Philadelphia Assassins 4 ranking points for a total of 13 in the season – making them the lowest ranked pro team. OC Bushwackers finish at 16th earned them 3 points, placing them in the second to the last series finish with 22 points. Finishing the year in the third from the bottom slot with 30 points was Anaheim Sedition. Seven of those points came from their 12th position finish in the tournament.
Sunday started with the games of the quarterfinal round while the rest of the event – the trade show, live music and crowds continued around the fields. Division III quarterfinals consisted of four groups of four teams each. Playing through their full group, each team faced three games, shooting for the best total score at the end of the round. The top team from each group would go on to the semifinals. These four were SCP Epic, Friendly Fire Factory, Splat Kids and Misfit Militia.
In Division II it was Torment leading the way into the semis, followed by XSV Influence, Dynasty Entourage and TCP Machine.
Division I, with only 8 quarterfinalists was divided into two groups, the top two teams from each advancing. Naughty X Nature was the high scorer there, with Addicts Factory, Faction By I-5 and SD Aftermath advancing with them.
The SemiPro division also played in two groups. Impact was the leader, with Dynasty Dynamics, Miami Raiders, and A Team going on with them to the next round.
The pros had a larger round. All eight teams played a full round-robin, with seven games each. San Diego Dynasty rolled through the quarters, winning every single game for a total of 683. Stockholm Joy Division was right behind them with two losses, at 506. Portland Naughty Dogs at 409 and Sacramento XSV joined them in advancing to the semifinals and would make up the tournament's top four place.
For the remaining teams in the group, the quarterfinals were the end of the line. New England Hurricanes finished the tournament in fifth place. New York NRG was in sixth, London Nexus in seventh and Chicago Evil, in eighth. These teams had earned their points toward the series championship. The Hurricanes took home 17 series ranking points, putting them in eighth place for the year. Thirteen points to London Nexus put them in 14th place for the series. Ironmen and New York NRG both finished with 68 points, provisionally giving them the 5/6 positions, but their final rank would depend on how the Naughty Dogs finished in the finals.
The next rounds of the tournament were the semifinals. Playing a best two out of three games, the semifinals would re-shuffle the top four quarterfinalists for their games in the finals. No teams were eliminated in the semifinals round.
In Division III, SCP Epic tied in their first game against Misfit Militia, then won the second and lost the third. A one-on-one tie-breaker game decided the tie, and SCP went on to play for first in the finals, while Misfit Militia would be playing for third or fourth place. Splat Kids won their first game against Friendly Fire Factory, but the second game ran down the clock. Even without a flag hang, Splat Kids won that game on body count, and went to face SCP Epic in the finals.
Division II saw Torment falling twice in a row to TCP Machine. Dynasty Entourage took down XSV influence in their first game, but lost the next two. In D-I it was SD Aftermath winning back to back games against Naughty X Nature, and Faction By I-5 doing the same to Addicts Factory.
In the Semi-Pros, teams were fighting for points that would give them the chance to move up to the pros in 2007. Impact beat A Team twice in a row, and Miami Raiders also posted double-wins over Dynasty Dynamics.
Boston NPPL winners, Stockholm Joy Division brought their A game with them, and played a perfect game against the Naughty Dogs, scoring 100 to 0, and beating them again in the second round. The top two ranked teams in the series, San Diego Dynasty and Sacramento XSV faced off with Dynasty triumphing. This meant that Dynasty and Joy Division would be facing off for first place and the series title would not be decided until the finals.
In Division IIIs finals, Misfits Militia beat Friendly Fire Factory in their first finals game, but dropped the next two, finishing the tournament in fourth place with Misfits in third. Splat Kids took down SCP Epic twice in a row to finish the tournament in first place.
Dynasty Entourage beat Torment in their first Division II finals game, but the second went down to the clock with Torment winning on eliminations/live players. The third game also was ended by the ref's stopwatch, but this time Dynasty Entourage had the lead in body count so they finished the tournament in third place. XSV Influence beat TCP Machine two games straight for a first place finish.
Moving up to Division I, Naughty X Nature beat Addicts Factory in their first game, but dropped the second. The third went to the time limit, but Addicts took it on body count, earning third place. SD Aftermath posted back to back wins against Faction By I-15 for first.
In the Semi-Pros, A Team and Dynasty Dynamics were evenly matched. The first game went to A Team. The second ran to the clock and tied at 21 points. The third game went to the clock as well, but Dynasty Dynamics won 12 to 8. Third place was settled with a one on one game. Miami Raiders beat Impact twice in a row, grabbing first place. The first place finish also was what they needed to be the 2006 semi-pro champions. The final rankings placed Miami Raiders, Impact and A-Team as the top three semi-pros who would be the newest three professional teams in the 2007 season.
For the pros, Sacramento XSV took down the Portland Naughty Dogs two games in a row, finishing the tournament in third. Dynasty battled with Joy Division for first place winning the first game, but losing the second. The third game went to Dynasty, sending them home with the first place trophy.
Second place pro is worth 23 series points, which brought Stockholm Joy Division to 89 total and third place for the year. Sacrament XSV finishing the tournament in third place garnered 21 series points giving them a total of 98. In three seasons of the NPPL Super 7's four year history its final tournament, the Commander's Cup was won by Dynasty. This year's win earned 26 series points for Dynasty, putting their total for the year at 100. For the fourth year running, Dynasty remains the NPPL Super-7 World Series professional champions. Under rule 26 of the NPPL rules, the entire team will be sporting a new set of series championship rings.