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NPPL World Cup 2000
October 2000, Orlando, FL
Series Champion - Professional - Ironmen
Once again the teams of the National Professional Paintball League have gathered in Kissimmee, just south of Orlando, Florida for the final event of the NPPL tournament season. More is at stake than just a single tournament - the series titles are decided at this tournament.
Tournament promoter Jerry Braun placed the event on the same location used successfully in 1999, with expansion to handle this massive tournament. Prior to the event crews from Team Ground Zero, Aftershock, TC Paintballs, PMI, National Paintball Supply South and New Jersey, Diablo, Brass Eagle, Extreme Rage, JT, and more descended on the site to build the 10 concept fields used in the competition. Hyperball, Sup'Air and Inflate-a-bunker fields were put to use with many new bunker shapes ranging from company initials to farm animals, creating interesting new field codes. TC Paintball's field featured a giant TC at each end. PMI's field had a PMI as the center bunker, with big blue Piranha bunkers. Some of the new Sup'Air 2000 standard bunkers include a big blue sheep, a long narrow pig [editor's note: We can only assume it was inspired by the name of our web site] and an arched tunnel which many players nicknamed "the carwash" - convinced that their opponents had gone in with a hit and come out clean on the other side. Unilke the pipes on Hyperball fields which are considered off-limits for safety reasons (the interior surface gets very slick with paint) players can go inside the Sup'Air 2000 tunnels, and more than one surprise elimination was made with a shot through a tunnel.
The long snake from the Badland's new Hyperball field which saw so many amazing moves in the 2000 Chicago Open was duplicated in Kissimmee with similar results. As the 5 player teams gathered, a few schedule changes were made to the massive list of teams, to compensate for some needed team substitutions and game times. A surprising announcement was made that due to limited parking, only one vehicle per team would be able to park on-site, and no spectator parking was expected to be available. Fortunately, things worked out, and spectators were on hand to witness the first day's play.
While the current World Cup site is ideal in many ways, it suffers a limitation in that it is not available for permanent construction. All of the telephone poles and steel pipe poles used to hang field netting must be installed beforehand, and removed after the tournament. The wind bore a terrible strain on these structures. Bending of poles and tearing of netting caused game delays on Monday. The main problem with small delays in such a large event (over 170 teams - the largest 5 man outdoor tournament ever) is that a team playing late on one field slows the next field where they are expected to play. Use of Diablo's public address and music system and coordination between field refs and the scoring staff helped prevent the game delays, which exceeded an hour and a half at some points, from snowballing far as they could have.
The Pro, Amateur A, Amateur B, and Novice teams competing in the 5 man event were separated into divisions by alphabetizing their home state or nations. This helped emphasize the international nature of the event. Teams were pitted against competitors they were not likely to face while playing local or regional tournaments. The exceptions to this rule were Florida teams, due to the large number which entered. Additionally games were placed in morning or afternoon shifts. Teams playing the morning the first day, were scheduled the afternoon of the next, and vise versa.
With the game delays, not all of Monday's games were able to be completed by sundown, so remaining afternoon games were bumped to the next morning.
The referees for the 5 man were composed primarily of members of Rage, Bad Company, Fury, Villian, and Farside. In heavy use on the fields were the new Paintball Radarchron chronographs, as well as the larger traditional radar chronographs. Several refs commented on the advantages of the new handheld units for checking players while games where in progress, and a few teams were using them to set up their paintguns, but the larger chronos seemed more practical for quickly chronying players on and off the fields.
Tuesday morning, Monday afternoon's game's were sorted out quickly, and the action progressed right into the scheduled Tuesday morning games, and then into the afternoon. When teams were available, some games were played out of order, to help catch up closer to the schedule. Catching up was not achieved, but by sundown on Tuesday, all of the prelim games were done, allowing the ranking and scheduling for the semifinals to begin Wednesday morning.
The NPPL rules specify that for each classification of team (Pro, Amateur A, Amateur B) a maximum of 16 teams will advance to the semifinals. The NPPL does not officially have a Novice classification. Due to the number of Amateur B teams competing for the limited prize slots, World Cup Promoter Jerry Braun split Amateur B into Amateur B and Novice for the one event to increase the odds of an Amateur B team coming home with prizes.
The semifinals went smoothly, closer to schedule and progressed into the early afternoon finals. The eight pro semifinalists were narrowed to four finalists. The Ton Ton Flingeurs who had traveled from France to compete finished fourth, Aftershock Dirty third, Lockout second, and the All Americans in first. Live Wire finished fourth in Amateur A, beat out by Bushwackers in third, Naughty Dogs in second and Consilum Dei in first. Readers following the score updates from home may have been surprised by the sudden appearance of the Swiss team in the score tables. That is because they changed their name mid tournament from their initial registered name, TC Factory Team. C-Ya brought home fourth place for the amateur B teams, topped by third place Exile, second place Gunmen Grey, and first place Team Strange. Live Wire Novice finished in fourth place, ESP Nitro third, Ravage second, and Team Strange's novice squad took first - a pair of 5 man wins for the Florida based team.
Thursday was the slack day in the tournament schedule, 10 man teams began walking the fields in preparation for the competition to come. While the fields were quiet, the vendors and sponsors shared their products with players. Thursday also saw the Sheridan sponsored one-on-one top gun competition on a specially laid out Ultimate Air bunker field.
The main vendor's tent was arranged like many paintball tournaments, and was host to many new products including the Angel Air digital compressed air system from WDP, Pro Team mount kits to put AGD Warp Feeds on various paintguns, Smart Parts' Freak barrel system, Worr Games Products Worr Paint, and much more. Outside, other companies set up what could best be described as corporate compounds. At the north end of the tournament site where Bad Boyz Toyz tent and trailer were set up, hamburgers, hot dogs and drinks were served up along side paintball gear. Across the thoroughfare Extreme Rage and Kick Ass Paintball Products' combined forces to provide a lounge, beach volleyball court, and luau buffet. DYE Precision's tents supported the full line of DYE gear, including new packs, and a continuously running promo for the new video PUSH. Warped Sports kept up with the extreme sports image by bringing a piercing and tattoo artist on site, to offer players a permanent reminder of World Cup 2000. PMI set up player support tents and two semi trailers to supply paint, near to National Paintball Supply, New Jersey's now famous T2000 tournament support semi, and lounge. JT's fifth wheel trailer was set beside a tent and a small inflatable bunker field being used to debut a new 3 man game format called scramball in which teams moved bunkers to their own unique placements, hidden by a center curtain before the start of each game. TC Paintball's trailer was parked next to their staging area, and a short row of tents made up the combined V-Force and Diablo areas. V-Force made it's official product unveiling at World Cup showing their new paintball goggles with curved, optically correct lenses. Also new under the Diablo tent was the E-Matrix making its debut not only to the world, but in use on the fields. To the west, National Paintball Supply South's trailer and tent with roll-out flooring provided one of the most comfortable and clean areas from which to watch games. Additionally, both ACI and Scott had large trailers with storefront sides on site to support their sponsored teams and help acquaint players and dealers with their product lines.
Friday and Saturday the 10 man teams hit the fields under dry and sunny skies. Staying perfectly to schedule at the world's largest tournament once again was not to be.
Friday night came the long awaited premier of the documentary film, Push. Bryon Benini of the SC Ironmen and Patrick Spohrer of The Family began shooting video for Push at pre World Cup practices in 1999. Production continued through the 2000 season and a sneak-preview showing at the Chicago Open was well received. Damon's, a sports bar near the World Cup site, was closed for the evening to host the premier of Push, showing the film on the large indoor screens and and outdoor projection screen. Push follows several pro teams both on and off the field as they talk about what it is like to compete at the top level of the NPPL. The interviews are combined with fast paced game action set to hard hitting music. The restaurant was filled to standing room only, and the showing ended with a standing ovation.
Some of Friday afternoon's games were bumped to Saturday morning, and the prelim's finished on Saturday just before the sun set completely. The prelims proved happy for Fury, making the NPPL semifinal cut for the second time since going pro. Sunday was not so kind to them. The 8 pro semifinal teams were filtered down to the four finalists. The cut that decided who went on to the 4th seated position in the finals was a surprise to many. Rage looked to be the solid contender, but in an Avalanche vs Bob's Ironmen semifinal game, Chris Lasoya was the last remaining Avalanche player and was penalized with a one for one. Since there were no remaining Avalanche players to pull, the flag hang automatically went to Bob Long's Ironmen, which edged out Rage into the final cut by four points. The finals included a face off between the Bob Long's Ironmen and the Southern California Ironmen. The two played in the finals as polar opposites. 3 losses for Bob's team placed them in 4th, while three wins placed the SC crew in first. The finish where points were close was the break between second and third. Image grabbed second place from Aftershock by a 19 point lead. Much like World Cup 1999, first place pro came down to a game between Aftershock and SC Ironmen. The score of that game was pivotal, and Aftershock came home with the trophy. This year the pendulum swung the other direction. The two teams faced off in the finals and SC Ironmen won the game that clinched the tournament for them.
Finals finish was also important when considering the series titles. Lockout was the favorite coming into World Cup - they had won two tournaments, and would get reffing points for World Cup. SC Ironmen were among the other contenders. The only way they could win the series was by placing first at the cup, which they did.
The Amateur A finish had Adrenalin in 4th place, KAPP in third, Farside in second, and Detroit Fusion brought home their second NPPL first place trophy of the season. X-Men took fourth place Amateur B, with Hooligans in third, separated by only a single point from the second place Exile. With a dominating 178 point lead Team Strange finished World Cup as the series Champions as well as 3 first place trophies - 5 man AmB and Novice, as well as 10 man AmB. In the Novice category (actually a second AmB group) Justice placed fourth, Adrenalin's novice squad grabbed third, Live Wire second, and Static took first.