Email This Page
Smart Parts NPPL Pittsburgh 2000
May 5-6, 2000
WARPIG on-scene coverage
takes First Place in 10 Man Pro
Pittsburgh has long been known as a "wet" tournament for the NPPL, due to seasonal rains. In 1998, downpours left some areas of the fields submerged with term "SCUBA-ball" emerging. In 1999 Smart Parts - producers of the second tournament in the NPPL's annual series moved their event to Dallas. The new location provided easier access for west coast teams, and hopes of nicer environmental conditions. Another deluge - complete with lightning and tornados.
There is something to be said about the NPPL that does not seem so strong in other series - the determination of the players. There is no calling the event for rain - mud, water, whatever - it's just an obstacle to overcome on the way to the finals. Teams don't drop out because of weather - they just get dirtier.
This year, Smart Parts brought the event back to Urban Assault in Pittsburgh only to be treated to beautiful weather. The famous "mounds" field saw games, though a seasonal growth of weeds and grasses has changed it somewhat - with more visual cover to screen movement. The mound ridges still make a good vantage points for the All Americans and OBR who are reffing to look down upon the players, and the wide lateral movements possible under complete cover meant a lot of surprise close encounters. The mounds are complimented by woods fields, and the now expected Sup'Air field on open grass.
Rules change again - the NPPL block on Turbo and other enhanced trigger modes lasted through the Los Angeles Open, but at Pittsburgh, enhanced modes, were once again allowed with the 9 ball per second limit used during the previous year.
Among new products surfacing at the event was Brass Eagle's new muzzle chronograph. Two of the first production models were brought to the event. Approximately 6 inches in length, and two inches in diameter the devices attach via a cinch connector, to the muzzle of a paintgun. The chrono can be used to spot check a gun, or simply left on the barrel for continuous measurements. An LCD readout has separate modes to act as a shot counter or chronograph, giving the velocity of the fastest shot fired. While some players cited problems with occasional ball breakage testing the chrono, Brass Eagle's staff pointed out that designs were not final, and fit and mounting adjustments should prevent ball breaks altogether.
Also new and on display was Smart Parts' Impulse paintgun. The design concept is the now popular structure of a bolt linked directly to a hammer below it which is driven into a valve by an electropneumatically controlled ram, firing from an open bolt position. Smart Parts' implementation of the idea involves large volume gas chambers and passages for low pressure operation. Due to the low pressure, much like with the Shocker, CO2 becomes a very viable power source. A base model Impulse is set to retail for $500 complete with Smart Parts progressive barrel, and Max Flow CO2 regulator - just add a loader and CO2 tank, and it is ready to go. Add one more "standard" to the list - the Impulse uses its own thread pattern.
The 5 player competition was almost a non-event for anyone but the teams playing and reffing. As is often the case with NPPL events the majority of publicity centers around 10 man play. A number of players were surprised when the topic of 5 man came up, not even aware that Pittsburgh included a 5 player format, and one magazine reporter commented that it would not be covered in print. All 5 man games were played on a single Sup'Air field a bit separated from the 10 man fields by a stretch of woods, where 30 teams competed. The 5 man finals included Elite Force in fourth, Philadelphia Eclipse in third, Highlanders in second, and a team resurrected from the past - Navarone - in first.
54 teams competed in the 10 man games, narrowing down to 8 teams each for the pro, and amateur a, classifications. Due to their larger number 16 amateur b teams went to semis. The top four in each group went on to the finals.
Sonic Rage headed into the amateur b finals in the second seat, but finished out in fourth place. Last word finished ahead of them in third place, while second went to Exile, and the first place trophy went to Strange from Florida.
Ground Zero Gold matched their professional counterpart's fourth place position in the amateur a bracket. While Naughty Dogs, had finished first in Los Angeles, they ranked third in Pittsburgh. Second place was grabbed by KAPP Factory Team, while first went to Bushwackers who had taken a first at Skyball (non NPPL) earlier in the season.
Ground Zero finished in the fourth place pro position with Rage in third. Avalanche finished second. Finishing with their second first place win this year was season leader Lockout.
Despite dire predictions of thunderstorms the weather held through the whole weekend, complete with heat and humidity added to the mix.
From Urban Assault in Pittsburgh, the
next stop in the series is the Badlandz for the Chicago Open.