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XPSL Los Angeles
Story By Jeff Oliver
Photos By Jeff Oliver and Vince Grey
The third event of the 2004 Xtreme Paintball Sports League (XPSL) gets underway this weekend at the new Outlaw Paintball Park, which is approximately 45 miles outside of Los Angeles next to Redlands, CA. While the name XPSL is new it stands on a long tradition, as the latest evolution, previously known as Pan Am and Great Western Series. In addition to the new name this season, the XPSL has affiliated with the NPPL, switching to the 7 man format to act as a feeder to Super 7 events.
Outlaw Paintball opened for business less than four months before the event, but the partnership-trio of owners have already built a facility that has begun drawing upwards of 150 players for weekend play. The park sits in a valley north of the City of Redlands, with a fantastic view of the Big Bear Mountain Range to the north. The complex includes a shotgun shooting range, and the paintball fields are actually located on old shooting lanes that are no longer used.
Outlaw Paintball Park is outfitted with four fully netted tournament fields – three airball and one pipe – but plans call for 15 or more full tournament fields as the park grows.
The XPSL was the first tournament ever hosted at the park, and will utilized the existing airball fields, plus the pipe field augmented with a series of airball bunkers. An additional field was set up for the 3-man Young Guns division.
With the park is still in its infancy, much of its advertising has been by word of mouth via players in Southern California and tournament organizers. As Ray Miramontes one of the field owners described their approach, he sees Outlaw Paintball Park as paintball’s equivalent to the Iowa baseball field portrayed in Hollywood’s Field of Dreams. “With the XPSL coming here, it shows that if you build it, they will come,” said Miramontes.
Preliminary action among the 96 seven-man teams in the Amateur, Novice and Rookie divisions started on Friday at 8 a.m. The top teams would then advance to the semi-final and then final rounds. On Saturday, 16 three-man teams in the Young Guns division were scheduled to begin their competition.
Phil Dominquez, ultimate judge for the NPPL Super 7 Series also served as ultimate for the XPSL event. While the position of ultimate has been handled by Randy Wood in recent years, Dominguez is no stranger to the series, having competed for several seasons with teams from the northwest. All on-field referees are certified for tournament play by the XPSL. Promoter Dan Bonebrake explained the reason for the change, "We are looking to bring uniformity to paintball, and with the experience and success of Phil and the NPPL, we are excited to have him here with us." With the XPSL acting as a feeder series to the NPPL, Bonebrake cited the goal of keeping the series officiating as consistent with the NPPL as possible.
In addition to the action among the bunkers, players and spectators had the opportunity to browse through the product offerings from a variety of vendors who sponsor the XPSL series including AKA, Dan Bonebrake Airsmithing, JMJ, Mantis, Kingman, 100th Monkey, Paintballfirst.com, Paintball Junkies & Phat.
Friday’s games were played in the heat, with temperatures again expected to hit triple digits over the weekend, a typical summer in the east side of the Los Angeles basin. Battling the heat, on-site concessions did a brisk business in shaved ice, helping players and spectators alike to keep their cool, while hot barbecue kept their stomachs full.
Fortunately, the weather didn't hamper any of action. All the fields Played their games on schedule, and most teams were pulling out of the parking lot heading to their air-conditioned hotel rooms by 4 p.m., many of the players eagerly awaiting the use of the hotel pools.
Day One's action was comprised of games in the player Amateur and Novice divisions. One of the differences in the NPPL and XPSL formats, is that XPSL teams play separated preliminary rounds, rather than intermixed. This allows all the rookie matches to be scheduled during the day on Saturday, making travel and work plans a little less complicated for the less experienced players.
The Amateur division has 18 teams split into two team brackets. ACI Splat Factory and Reign were the leaders for the first bracket by the end of the day, while Urban Quest I and Snakes / TKO pace the other. The top four teams from each bracket will advance to the semi-finals.
In the Novice division, 32 teams were competing in three brackets. A good race in the D bracket shaped up between Central California Paranoid and Black Magic, as the two teams swept their five Friday games undefeated.
In the morning, the 7-player Rookie division got started with 46 teams in 4 brackets. Among the teams playing in the Rookie division is Less Than Zero (LTZ,) they decided to play the weekend’s double-header. This team competed in the 5-man competition at the PSP Chicago Open on Wednesday and Thursday, earning second place and then flew back to the West Coast, arriving in the morning just in time to hit the fields at the XPSL.
In addition to the 7-man teams, the 3-player young gun teams started their games on Saturday morning as well.
Saturday afternoon saw the top teams separate themselves and advance to the quarter-finals in the seven-player Amateur and Novice divisions. The change addition of the quarterfinal round is a new feature in the XPSL series this season, echoing the pattern of the NPPL tournaments. The top teams from the preliminary rounds advance to the quarterfinals and the top quarterfinalists advanced to the semifinals. The semifinals do not eliminate any teams, but rather rank them for the finals.
Temperatures again hit 100 degrees, but the players prepared themselves for the heat. Outlaw Paintball helped stave off heat related problems by placing coolers of drinking water throughout the park.
The top seed in the quarter-finals for the Amateur division was no surprise. ACI Splat Factory topped their bracket with a lead of more than 100 points. A win in Los Angeles would mark their third consecutive tournament victory in the 2004 XPSL series.
In the Novice division, 16 teams reached the quarter-finals, headed by Urban Quest II, Central California Paranoid, Thug Life and ACI Korrupt Factory.
On Saturday, the tournament's three-player Young Gun champion was crowned. Thunder Kids outlasted Dysfunction in the division's final. SCP Kidz finished third followed by Exodus Kids.
The final day of the XPSL's LA event saw an expected winner, four tournament disqualification's, and prizes in boxes so big that two people were needed to carry them away.
ACI Splat Factory defeated Snakes / TKO in a two game sweep in the Seven-player Amateur finals to bring home the tournament championship. Their trophy will sit on the mantle next to their first place trophies from the 2004 XPSL Las Vegas and San Jose events. The third consecutive tournament victory would give ACI Splat Factory a commanding lead in the points race for the XPSL Season Championship.
In the Rookie Division, Team Less Than Zero (LTZ) continued their winning ways by taking their two remaining preliminary games Sunday morning. They also won all three of their quarter-final games and earned the second seed position for the finals. Entering the finals, the only game the team lost all weekend was in the finals at the PSP Chicago Open on Thursday.
LTZ was in the middle of a season schedule that requires travel comparable
to most professional sports franchises. The XPSL LA tournament was their
16th stop on a 33 event schedule for the year. They have already gone to
the East Coast four times, traveling approximately 30,000 miles through
the air. Another 2,000 to 3,000 miles have been trekked on the road, which
was how the team arrived in L.A. The team caught the latest flight out
of Chicago on
Unfortunately, Team LTZ's weekend abruptly
ended during their semi-final match-up against Team Rip. During the
game, one of the referees suspected an illegal gun being used by one of
the LTZ players. Ultimate Judge Phil Dominquez was brought to the field
and loaded a pod of balls. With one pull of the trigger, the entire hopper
emptied. Whether it was an intentional modification of the gun's board
or not, rules called for LTZ to be disqualified from the tournament. Team
Rip won the game, and eventually the tournament's Rookie Championship with
a finals win over Epic. Before semi-final
The prize package for the first place teams in the Amateur and Novice divisions included Sony home theater systems with DVD players. Teams had to make several trips to haul all their loot, with many teams needing two players to each to carry the box containing the entertainment system. In all, the prize package for the winning teams in the top two divisions at XPSL events was valued at around $800.
Top Eight Finishers from each division