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NPPL San Diego
Spyder Cup - Fierce
The final tournament of the NPPL Super 7 for the 2008 season was held in San Diego, California. This marked the fifth time the league played in the southernmost end of the Golden State, and was graced with a wide-open forecast of sunny skies for the three-day weekend, 80 degree temperatures and green fields at the Qualcomm Stadium.
The NPPL faced an upset this season with the loss of one of their venues, the Houston tournament, which had to be canceled due to a tropical storm, marking only the first time since their beginnings in 1992 that the original NPPL, PSP or new NPPL, Inc. has canceled a planned tournament.
This of course, caused an upset for teams that were hoping to gain additional series points toward the championship before heading in to San Diego. As it stood for the Professional teams, the Golden State Ironmen had it all but sewn up, needing only be in the top four to carry off the title, a task that no team other than Dynasty has achieved since the NPPL's new incarnation in 2003. With five years as reigning champions, Dynasty had a disastrous finish at the Jacksonville tournament, all but dashing their hopes of continuing as the only team to dominate the NPPL.
In the Semi-Pro bracket the fight for rankings was, if possible, even more heated as the top three semi-pro teams would be pushed into the Pro division at the end of the year, while the bottom ranked Pro teams would lose their status. Going into San Diego, Portland Naughty Dogs, Pittsburgh All Americans and Miami Rage were in jeopardy to lose their NPPL Pro qualification. In the top of the semi-pros going into San Diego, Arsenal Evolution looked in prime position to not only win the event, but were all but assured going pro for the 2009 season. Also leading the board heading into San Diego was Impact, Method of Destruction, Dynasty Entourage, and Phoenix United, each in contention to move up to the Pro division.
The D1 division saw Aftermath II in a solid lead after three tournaments, making the top four at each. Splat Kids, Hollywood HK, Arsenal Kidz, and NeX had good numbers, but going into it, Aftermath had such a strong lead, they'd have to fall down to not secure themselves the D1 championship. The number of D1 teams had dwindled throughout the season, with 27 teams hitting the field at the first event and just 14 playing in San Diego, each game would be even more critical since the smaller prelim group meant that only 8 teams would advance to the next round.
Division 2 would see just 27 teams hitting field, vying for 16 spots in the second round of games. Top of the pack, with a decided lead was Miami Rage with 142 ranking points. Following behind them were Go For Broke with 120 then LA Endurance with 112.
The D3 teams saw a big drop off throughout the season, going from 72 teams, to 37, to 50 to 40 in San Diego, just 16 spots would be available for teams to move on after preliminary games on Friday and Saturday. Heading the leader board were CS Union with a seemingly unbeatable lead of 146 points, NV with 100 and Black Cell as the next closest team with 72.
The 5-man format competition, which NPPL, Inc. added at Buffalo, the season's third tournament, helped to boost the number of attending teams in San Diego, a balance for the decrease in 7-man competitors.
Friday and Saturday saw intense games, bright sunshine and enough upsets to throw any prognosticator out on his ear. On the Professional field, the Ironmen finished the eight preliminary games at the bottom of the board, with just a single win to their credit. Also throwing off the balance was the Hurricanes poor finish with just two wins to their credit. The inconsistent performance of these two teams would throw Dynasty back into the running for the defense of their title and give them an opportunity to not only win the series, but the final event as well. Dynasty led the pack out of the Preliminary round with just a single loss in 8 games, earning a total of 695 points. DC Arsenal was just behind them with 605, Tampa Bay Damage with 599, Edmonton Impact with 581, Portland Naughty Dogs with 512, OC Bushwackers with 500, Jersey Authority with 447 and the final team to make the cut, Oakland Blast with 435. San Antonio missed making the grade in their division by just 15 points, knocking them out of contention for the series title, as they had been ranked third going into San Diego.
Of the thirteen semi-pro teams signed up, only 12 arrived, and just eight moved on to play on Sunday with Las Vegas LTZ taking the lead at 692 points and a loss mid-day on Saturday. Phoenix United, Impact, MoD, Arsenal Evolution, Dynasty Entourage, LA Bushwackers and Dssp8ntball joined them on the field Sunday to fight for the series title and event champion.
In the D1, the teams performed equally well, with thirteen hitting the field, Hollywood HK put their best foot forward with Aftermath II hot on their heels, still striving towards their goal. Arsenal Kidz, LA Hitmen, Splat Kidz, Rockstar Factory, Synergy and Nurv close behind. The surprise in the D1 group was definitely NeX not making the cut after five disastrous games for the team during Friday and Saturday.
Sixteen teams would move on from the D2 bracket out of the 27 that played in San Diego, with the competition heating up between the top three contenders for the series title. Go 4 Broke wrapped up their prelims with 644 points, Tombstone, ranked fourth with 608, LA Endurance, ranked third with 601 and Miami Rage, ranked first with 599. Not to be forgotten were the other twelve teams who would battle on Sunday, IB Aftermath, Asylum, Nasty, Destiny, EVO, Rockstar Explicit, Ground Control, ZJ Factory, Wiseguys, Fuzion, DC Monstars, and the Playground Hustlers who won a tie with the fifth ranked team, DC Arsenal Predators, allowing them to move on, sending the Preds home on Saturday afternoon.
Forty-one teams played in the D3 bracket with the highest scores showing up for Shogun with 774 points, the only team in the prelims to win each of their 8 games, and a top finisher in New York. Just behind them were All Out, a team who played just one event for the season, Topgun Factory won the tie with CS Lotus, CS being the main contender for the series championship in the D3 bracket. Farside Kids, Archon Army, Thug Life moved on while SCP Epic & Friends and Establishment, as well was Dark Riders and Chicago Wiseguys, and NV, LA Collision and Grey Area all had ties to break to seed them into the Sweet 16 round of games. Effects made the cut with five wins and a 516 score while NXN broke the tie over LB Bushwackers, sending the Bushwackers home with 515 points.
The five player competition wrapped up with two advancing in the D3 bracket out of the 5 teams that played. Rockstar Rebels took top billing alongside Freeagentarmy. In the D4 five man competition, twenty-one teams played, but just four would move on to games on Sunday. After winning all 7 of their games, On-Line Jerseys hit the field on Sunday alongside Paintballwebpages, Surgical Strike Lightning and Critical Wrecking Crew.
The teams moving into the Sweet 16 in the D2 and D3 brackets, would face sudden death games against a single opponent. If they win, they move on, if they lose, they pack up their gear and wait for the 2009 season to make a bigger mark on the world of tournament paintball. Adding to the appeal of the grandstands, the Professional teams would play more games during the Elite 8 round of matches while the Semi-Pro and D1 teams would play a best of three match against their competition during the Elite 8.
Heading into Sunday, Dynasty was assured of a top eight finish, while the league's highest ranked teams had been eliminated. Dynasty was the only team other than the Ironmen in a position to possibly win the series championship. First or second place in the tournament would give the series to Dynasty. A third place finish (losing their semi-final match-up) would tie them in series points with the Ironmen. NPPL rule 28.04 is a tie-breaker for series ranking and would give the victory to whichever team beat the other most recently - if followed that would be Dynasty for their victory in the preliminary round. Thus the only two teams in contention for the series championship on Sunday were the Ironmen and Dynasty, and the boys from San Diego would have to get knocked out in the elite 8 round or lose both their semifinals and finals games to give up their crown.
The D2 and D3 Sweet 16 games had the first ranked team against the bottom ranked team after the prelims, the pairings continuing in a like manner for the sixteen teams. This sudden death game would either move them forward into the Elite 8 round or back to the staging area to pack up. Go 4 Broke beat out Playground Hustlers, Tombstone beat DC Monstars, Fuzion beat LA Endurance, Miami Rage took down Wiseguys, IB Aftermath took ZJ Factory, Asylum beat Ground Control, Rockstar Explicit beat out Nasty and EVO beat Destiny to move on in D2. The D3 sweet sixteens saw Shogun take down NXN, Effects beat All Out, Topgun Factory took down Grey Area and CS Lotus beat LA Collision. Farside Kids beat out NV, Archon Army fell to Chicago Wiseguys, Dark Riders took out Thug Life and SCP Epic & Friends won out over Establishment.
The Spyder Cup ran their finale event at the NPPL in San Diego this year, with 6 teams hitting the field for their preliminary rounds. Fuzion had top billing with 850 points after 12 games with Fierce behind them with 790, the team who just won the World Cup D2 X-Ball division. This would pit the two three man teams against each other in the finals round, the best three of five games would win new vehicles for their team, three 2008 Mazda3 Hatchbacks. Fierce, a team from Central Florida, blew through the first three games securing for themselves the brand new transportation that would likely be sold to pay for the next season's paintball addiction.
The Elite 8 round of games for the Professional teams wrapped up with Dynasty in the lead again with 596 points after a possible 700, dropping their last game. Joining them in the next round of games would be OC Bushwackers, Tampa Bay Damage and Edmonton Impact. The Semi-Pro would see Dssp8ntball, Phoenix United, Impact and Arsenal Evolution moving on. The D1 saw Hollywood HK, Synergy, Rockstar Factory and LA Hitmen in top form. D2 saw Go 4 Broke, Tombstone, Miami Rage, and Asylum taking top billing and D3 saw Effects, Topgun Factory, Dark Riders, and SCP Epic & Friends in the next round of games. This would send all of the teams into the semi-final rounds where they would meet up against another team, the winner to move into the final's winner's bracket, aiming for first or second while the loser of the semi-final round would go to the loser's bracket to fight for third and fourth place.
San Diego Dynasty triumphed over Edmonton Impact in 2 games, not necessitating a third game between the two teams. This victory sent Dynasty to play in the finals winner's bracket and to the podium for their sixth consecutive series championship. Bushwackers and Tampa Bay Damage traded their first two games, the third game then made the deciding point to the Bushwackers.
Semi-Pro semi finals saw Dssp8ntball over Phoenix United to face off in the winner's bracket against Arsenal Evolution after their defeat of Impact.
D1 saw Hollywood HK over Synergy, LA Hitmen and Rockstar Factory faced off leaving the Hitmen moving into the winner's bracket.
D2 saw Go 4 Broke winning against Asylum, while Miami Rage continued their streak, winning over Tombstone.
In D3, Topgun Factory triumphed over Effects and SCP Epic & Friends beat out Dark Riders for a chance in the winnner's bracket.
The D4 5 man teams pitted On-Line Jerseys against Critical Wrecking Crew and Paintballwebpages against Surgical Strike Lightning.
The D1 winner's bracket finals saw Hollywood HK taking on the LA Hitmen in just two games, both going to HK with minutes to spare in both matches, giving them the win for the event while Synergy took third place over Rockstar Factory.
The D2 finals matches for the winner's bracket had the first game run down the clock with no hang. The second was a win for Go 4 Broke and the next had them stacking four players in the snake against Miami Rage for the win. Tombstone took down Asylum for third place in the loser's bracket of the D2 division.
The D3 brawl for first and second place saw SCP Epic & Friends over Topgun Factory, then Topgun turned it around when in the second match, an Epic player was called on a three-for-one, the unbalance giving Topgun an easy advantage for the win. The third game went back to Epic, giving them the first place win. The loser's bracket of the D3 saw Effects over Dark Riders for third place.
The Professional win was celebrated with much backslapping and high fives as Dynasty shut down the Bushwackers within two minutes in their first match and then a minute and a half their second. This gave Dynasty the title of the event as well as the series against all odds. Meanwhile the third and fourth place teams were decided after Edmonton Impact took down Tampa Bay Damage. The Semi-Pro teams saw Arsenal Evolution taking on Dssp8ntball with the first game going to DSS, however, the last two matches went to Arsenal for decided victories and a win for Arsenal for both the season and the event. Impact took third place over Phoenix United in the loser's bracket of the Semi-Pro division.The D3 5 man finals saw Rockstar Rebels on top over HKN Royalty. Then the D4 finals saw Critical Wrecking Crew in the top spot over Paintballwebpages.
With the sun setting during the final games, the event ran to a close. The 7 man teams would see an advancement of teams in each division, with the bottom ranked Professional teams dropping into the semi-pro bracket, the likely teams being the Naughty Dogs, Miami Rage and the Pittsburgh All-Americans, which would make room for Arsenal Evolution, Impact and MOD to step up into the main arena. Since it's innaugural season in 2003 the NPPL Super 7 annual championship has been dominated by a single team. Six years in a row, Dynasty has taken the league's highest prize and 2008 was no different. In spring of 2009 the cycle will begin again, and team after team will do their best to unseat reigning champions.