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NPPL - Tampa
Dynasty - First Place Pro
In 2004, NPPL, Inc. and Pure Promotions brought the Super-7 World Series of Paintball to the grounds of Raymond James stadium in Tampa, Florida for the first time. The venue proved so successful, that like Huntington Beach, it has become a permanent part of the NPPL calendar – while the other locations have shifted from year to year.
Located immediately next to the stadium which hosts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the location's practice fields offer plenty of parking, mowed natural turf for the game fields, and a park-like area with paved walkways and well-established shade trees for a comfortable trade show.
With the weather for year-round paintball play, the southeastern US has an abundance of paintball teams – making Tampa an effective location to draw a large group of D3 and D2 competitors, and the spring timing keeps the tournament in the south before the Atlantic Hurricane Season begins. Weather would still come into play however.
While much of the state of Florida is covered in grasslands and forests, a season of reduced rainfall has meant conditions that are ripe for forest fires, with the National Forest service reporting 12 large fires in the state, and another 6 in Georgia. While the stadium itself was not in danger of combustion, winds carried smoke laden air into the area leading to a heavy, sooty overcast. In some sections of Florida the smoke was thick enough that sections of highway had to be closed due to poor visibility. The Pinellas County health department warned the general public in the Tampa area should pay close attention to public safety alerts, and remain indoors when advised. They also warned that the paper dust masks commonly available through hardware stores offer no protection against lung damage from smoke. More winds brought welcome fresh air and clearer skies before lunchtime on Friday.
While the fields were warmed up by the divisional teams on Friday the big guns would come out Saturday when the pro division played its first games. At Huntington Beach Oakland Blast and the new Edmonton Impact faced each other in the pro finals – and last year it was XSV that took home the trophy for Tampa, all three would be fighting hard for the trophy – not to mention San Diego Dynasty – the team that has won every NPPL Super-7 World Series championship since its creation.
Saturday, the trade show got into full swing with locals free on the weekend to come browse through what the vendors had to offer, as well as watch the pro games. Free admission allowed visitors access throughout the event, though an entry fee was required for the grandstand seating or VIP area with a view of the center-court field. All teams played finished up their eight preliminary games by the end of the day Saturday.
Division III had 44 teams competing, with the top 16 advancing to the “Sweet 16” (octofinal) round. Leading the division were Xclusive, Air Assault Factory, and Titan Paintball – all three getting through their 8 games undefeated. Xclusive and Air Assault Factory finished with tied scores of 775, but tiebreaker criteria ranked Xclusive first.
There was a larger draw for Division II, with 51 teams competing Here it was SCP Epic on top, with G4H as the only other undefeated prelim team. In 16th place, Fierce edged out Method-X to the next round by a mere 5 points.
In Division I, there were tougher teams, but a smaller pool of competitors. More than half would be around to play on Sunday. Rock-It Kids took top slot from the prelims, followed by Dynasty Entourage and Nurv. None of the D1 teams made it through the first two days without losing at least one game.
The Semi-Pro division saw series leader San Diego Aftermath on top at the end of the prelims with OC Bushwackers close behind. With 26 teams competing, only ten were knocked out by the round, the remainder would be in the Sweet 16.
The pro teams played in a different format, in two groups of 9, giving them 8 games each, with the top four teams moving on. In Group 1, Jacksonville Raiders finished in the top rank followed by the Ironmen, Chicago Farside and St. Louis Avalanche. In Group 2, top ranked San Diego Dynasty was the only pro team go go undefeated. Edmonton Impact, Sacramento XSV and the Los Angeles Ironmen were the other three teams to advance. Oakland Blast was hit with a hefty penalty in the prelims giving them a -100 score after a player's marker was demonstrated by a referee to fire in a full-automatic mode and then reset itself to semi-auto by the time the game had finished.
In the Sweet 16 round, teams were paired to play one match-up in the best of three format. Two wins were needed to advance, and losing teams were eliminated, to narrow the teams from 16 to 8. Performance in the prelims is more important than ever with the new Sweet 16, because the teams are matched strongest to weakest. The top ranked team plays the 16th, the second ranked plays the 15th, etc. The better a team does in the prelims, the easier the time they will have in the sweet 16. Being a knockout format, it is guaranteed that of any two teams paired up, only one will see the next round.
For D3 it wasn't surprising that first ranked Xclusive took down 16th ranked McAllen Paintball Assault with a pair of back to back wins – but fourteenth ranked FYT proved they had what it took to beat third ranked Titan Paintball. Their first game was a draw – as of this season flag hangs are required for a win in NPPL best of three rounds – followed by a win for Titan, a win for FYT, and then FYT winning in the one on one tiebreaker game.
In Division II First ranked SCP Epic took out 16th ranked Fierce, and second ranked G4H beat 15th ranked Authority. The first “unraked” upset for this division also happened with the third ranked team, Method of Destruction falling to fourteenth ranked Redz Organized Chaos.
Division I saw an impressive upset as 16th seated Tombston beat top ranked Rock-It Kids in a paior of consecutive wins. This loss shows what some teams may find a disadvantage of the Sweet 16 round – despite Rock-It Kids probably being able to fair better than the 8th place team to advance out of the round, the would be sent home, unable to compete in the Elite 8. With the Sweet 16, it is more important who a team is matched up against, than it is just to be one of the strongest 8 teams in the round.
San Diego Aftermath lost their first Sweet 16 game against 16th ranked Trauma, but won the next two. Similarly, OC Bushwackers took out Tampa Bay Damage with a pair of back to back wins, and SE X-Factor was the only third ranked team of any division to make it through the Sweet 16, when they beat Phoenix United.
In the Elite 8 round, the surviving teams took to the fields. For the divisional teams this was another paired up knock-out round, while the pros played a round-robin quarterfinal allowing all the teams to play each other so truly the strongest could rise to the top.
Xclusive lost their first Elite 8 game against FYT, but won the following two, knocking out FYT. Air Assault took out Titus in a pair of back to back wins. Nightcast defeated Senate, and NYC Revolution traded wins with RNT Head Hunters before the final win that knocked the Head Hunters out.
In D2, SCP Epic dropped their first game against Redz Organized Chaos, but took the next two for the win. 187 cRew had double wins, eliminating G4H, Destiny won, had a draw and then another win over the Predators, and Miami Rage D2 traded wins and losses with B&D Factory, winning the third game.
Dynasty Entourage rolled through Tombstone in two games straight, clearing the D1 Elite 8 round. TCP Machine traded wins with Naughty by Nature, but won the third game. Misfits had a pair of wins over Stoned Assassins, and Miami Devious won, lost, then won against HK by PBFashion.com.
In the Semi-Pro Elite 8, SD Aftermath dropped their first game against SA X-Factor, but won the next two. OC Bushwackers took down LA Faction with a pair of wins. Bad Company OS had a draw game against SE X-Factor, followed by a loss and a win. The two teams went into a one-on-one tiebreaker game that was won by X-Factor. Impact SP beat A-Team in their first game, but A-Team turned it around for the next two, sending Impact SP home.
The pros played a full eight game round, each team getting in a whole lineup of games against every other team. At the end, the teams were ranked by total points earned, with only the top four going on to the semifinals. Ironmen was at the top of the heap, only dropping one game, followed by Avalanche, Impact and Dynasty. Infamous would end their competition there – finishing the tournament in 5th place, followed by Chicago Farside in sixth, Sacramento XSV in 7th and Jacksonville Raiders in 8th.
The semifinal round took the remaining four teams in each division played each other, best two out of three. The two losing teams in the semifinal round would then play for third and fourth place in the finals, while the winners would play each other for first and second.
In Division III, NYC Revolution fell to Air Assault Factory in the semis, as did Nightkast to Xclusive. Air Assault posted double wins over Xclusive for first place D3.
For Division II's semifinals Miami Rage D2took down Destiny, and 187cRew fell to Epic. In the finals, SCP Epic took the first game, but the second was won by Miami Rage D2. In their third game, Epic took strong positions off the break, and mid-way through Miami lost a player to a playing on penalty, but still pulled through, winning the game and first place for D2.
Dynasty Entourage and TCP Machine were the D1 semifinals winners. In the finals Dynasty Entourage won the first game quickly. While the second game went longer, it was again Dynasty Entourage victorious for a first place D1 finish.
The Semi-Pro Semifinals saw A-Team and OC Bushwackers winning to face each other in the finals. Bushwhackers took the first game, as well as the second for a first place finish.
The big money was the pro showdown. In the semifinals Ironmen were defeated by San Diego Dynasty and St. Louis Avalanche was taken out by Edmonton Impact. This put Impact in a powerful position in terms of the series title, they had already finished in second at Huntington Beach and were now assured of at least a second place win in Tampa, meaning that no matter what the outcome for the tournament they would be sitting pretty when it came to annual series championship points. Impact defeated Dynasty in their first finals game, but Dynasty turned it around for the second game, grabbing that win. The tournament pro trophy was riding on the third game. The tournament pro trophy was riding on the third game, and that went to Dynasty.
With the last game played, fields were already being taken down and cleaned, as the whole cycle started over again to start gearing up for NPPL Boston.