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NPPL Chicago Open 2000
produced by Bad Boyz Toyz June 21-25
10 Man Professional
The NPPL action moved back to Chicago for the third leg of the 2000 series. At it's traditional location, the Badlandz paintball field in Crete, Illinois, just south of Chicago.
This year saw expansion of the field to accommodate the continued move of NPPL tournaments to more games on concept fields with the addition of a new Hyperball style field. The new field features a different field than the original Hyperball layout, leading to new break-out patterns. Two more Sup'Air ball fields, one belonging to PMI, and the other to JT were put into use in addition to a pair of wooded fields.
The night before the tournament, the skies opened up with a deluge adding mud traps to several key bunkers. Fortunately, the skies cleared, and the cooler weather with partially cloudy skies was much more comfortable than the typical heat and humidity.
The event started on Wednesday with the 5 player preliminary rounds. Schedule changes put the day off to a slow start, but it began picking up steam. Adding to the slowness was the smaller than expected reffing staff. The X-men provided cohesive reffing on Hyperball, but Texas Aggression was a no-show, so the remainder of the refs were gathered from various teams to fill in their place. As the games were initially scheduled to wrap up at 2:00 pm, it was not a problem for them to be completed later in the afternoon, allowing Thursday's games to start on schedule. More schedule changes kept the second day long as well.
With the BYOP policy of the NPPL, event sponsors sell various brands of paint on-site. With both PMI and Diablo Direct housing their main offices in Chicago, the two had a strong presence both with their decorated semis and amount of paint sold. TC Paintballs, out of Florida has been increasing their exposure, with more teams trying out their new paint, and with their factory team making the 5 man finals. National Paintball Supply in New Jersey grabbed a healthy share of the market at the tournament by selling their Team Colors 32 Degrees paint, and Zap Pro Series paint at a special event price of $20 per case of 2,000, and providing 32 degrees jerseys to teams that would agree to wear them through the whole tournament.
By Thursday afternoon the 5 man semifinals were underway with the overall top 8 Amateur A teams, and top 16 Amateur Bs going on. 3 games for each team narrowed things down to 4 teams in each bracket for the finals. Rabid Virus 1 entered in the top seat with 3 wins for a total of 172 points. They were comfortably ahead of TC Factory's 124 points which was closely tailed by Resurrection at 119. NVP (Aftershock players) completed the Amateur B finalists at 86 points.
Sharp Shooters Black took the top seat for the Amateur B teams with 176 points from their three wins followed by Team Spank, only 4 points lower, Team Cypress at 123, and Phantom Reign only 2 points behind that.
Midway through the finals, several members of Ground Zero who were on site to walk fields appeared in the parking lot with heavy duty squirt guns laying out a liberal dose of chaos on other players.
The 5 man finals games were completed in early evening, with Rabid Virus 1 taking first place in Amateur A, followed by Resurrection, TC Factory, and NVP. Team Spank grabbed the Amateur B title, with Sharp Shooters in second, Phantom Reign in third and Team Cypress in 4th.
Friday the weather warmed, but remained bearable. With the arrival of the 10 man teams, the vendor presence became stronger. Under the main tent Bad Boyz Toyz' crew was serving up food by the scoreboard. Smart Parts had a few tables with their various product lines, and Sandridge had a booth for their F5 electronic Autococker conversions. Airgun Designs factory techs provided support for AGD customers while WDP and Cobra Paintball Staff kept Angels in running order. Air America and Brass Eagle/Viewloader both provided support techs as well. JT's well known red white and blue trailer was surrounded by their colorful team staging tents.
A few teams changed up rosters this event. All Americans had picked up Bill Abel from Avalanche, but that went sour several weeks before the event. Steve Rabakoff, formerly of Ironmen, started with Avalanche in Pittsburgh and is now serving as their field captain. All As also picked up Jim Murray from Ground Zero as well as Chris Huffnagle and Kevin Ackmen of Jacksonville Warriors. New to Ground Zero's ranks are a pair of brothers from Sweden, Alex and Max Lundqvist.
Avalanche, Aftershock and Strange reffed the 10 man games, which got off to a smooth start Friday morning. As one would expect this season, Lockout came on strong wining their first three games, surely pushing to win a third NPPL in a row, which would combine with reffing points for Nashville to make them a shoe-in for the series title, even if they did not do well at World Cup. Bushwackers also won their first three. Naughty Dogs, won their first three, but got hit with a harsh hot gun penalty their second game. Fortunately, the prelim scores don't mater so long as they make the cut to the semifinals.
Wednesday and Thursday Bryon Benini of the SC Ironmen was on a mission - to place flyers and posters for the sneak preview of the video PUSH at almost every conceivable location on the field. There were posters on the tables, on trees, on poles, on car windshields, and inside the porta-johns. The effort paid off. The preview was held at a Pizza Theater in Lansing, which was completely packed for the first showing, and nearly as full for the second. PUSH has been a long time coming, with great amounts of work by Benini and Patrick Spohrer. Spohrer, an accomplished surf and ski film producer plays with the Family, and enlisted their help as well as another surf film producer to shoot hundreds of hours of video at the 1999 World Cup. Adding to that, he and Benini began following key teams to catch them off the field. The sneak preview of PUSH showed 45 minutes of their creation, with the explanation that another 40 minutes will be in the final edit. The video included artistic video montages with a wild film grain look set to cutting edge music. The emotion of the video came from the player interviews. The Ironmen, Avalanche and Aftershock were featured. The Aftershock segment followed the team at World Cup including their last game, after which Gary Noblett and "Spud" Jackson retired. The feelings of the team members came through on screen, and quite a few people in the audience were literally moved to tears. The preview was met with a standing ovation, with many players commenting on their anticipation of the final release of PUSH.
The weather held comfortably through the completion of the prelims on Saturday with a very light sprinkle at the end. Once the games were over, the skies opened up soaking the fields. Refs worked in the rain, taking down the field nets to prevent wind damage overnight, and the conditions led to a bit of horseplay in the mud, with wrestling, and sliding contests.
Lockout proved they are shooting for the season title by going into the semi-finals in the top ranked position, 12 points over Ground Zero. Addicted, with a past Chicago Open trophy in their closet topped the Amateur A bracket, followed by Boston's Own. Thought they didn't rank in the top, both Bushwackers and Naughty Dogs made the cut.
The Family fared better in the 10 player competition than the 5, completing the perlims as the top seated Amateur B team, followed by Sewer Rats and SOBs.
All of the pro teams managed no more than one win each in the finals, making the finish a close one. First and fourth place were separated by only 21 points. Lockout didn't get their win, they finished in 4th. They're still the leader for the season pro title that will be decided by their finish at World cup. With 15 more points, Rage finished in 3rd. Image grabbed second place, only 3 points away from the 1st place Ironmen.
Fusion took home the first place AmA trophy with a full 101 point lead over the KAPP Factory Team. Next in the finish were OBR, and Naughty Dogs.
The Amateur B bracket was topped by
The Family, who had members of Sharp Shooters filling out their core team
into a 10 man. SOB's took second with Ground Zero Silver and Team
Tippmann taking 3rd and 4th.