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Story by Jeff Oliver
Photos by Jeff Oliver and Vince Grey
1st Place Amateur
- TKO Snakes
The fourth leg of the 2004 Xtreme Paintball Sports League (XPSL) started today under a cloudless blue sky in Keizer, Oregon. The tournament is being held at the new Warpaint Paintball Park, located right off Interstate 5 about 30 minutes south of Portland. For the XPSL, its home offices in Oregon, this event is on home turf.
As usual on the first day of an XPSL tournament, just the Amateur and Novice divisions took to the fields. The Amateur bracket is made up of nine teams, including the top three teams leading the season’s point race. Each team will play eight games, with the top eight teams advancing to the quarterfinals. After playing 5 games on Friday, the three series leaders were at the top lead by TKO/Snakes, who have one loss thanks to Mafiapaintball.com. Mafiapaintball.com has a few of the Naughty Dogs helping them out this weekend. The XPSL uses modified NPPL rules, which allow a limited number of higher ranked players, like the professional naughty dogs, to play on a lower ranked team without. This format encourages team growth by bringing in leadership and experience to younger teams. Current series leader, and champions from the season’s first three tournaments, ACI – Splat Factory is next – also with one loss coming from TKO/Snakes. Urban Quest 1 ended Friday’s action in the third position.
In the Novice division, 14 teams were battling it out for the eight spots in the quarterfinals. Series newcomer Savage set the pace, followed by Phat Performance and Cent Cal Paranoid. The Novice teams would finish their preliminary play with three more games each Saturday morning. The Novice division saw two instances of the XPSL refs cracking down to enforce the modified NPPL rules. Tilt was disqualified for one game for a ramping gun, and a player on Nurv was suspended for three games for throwing his gun. Nurv entered the event fourth in the series standing, but would now face a struggle to make it past the preliminaries in this event.
Several vendors set up on site, including Paintballfirst.com, Custom Products and Stiffi. WDP and Rocky Cagnoni set up a booth as well. Rocky spent his time signing autographs, and has stepped onto the fields a few times to help ref.
In addition to the continuation of play in the Amateur and Novice divisions, Saturday would see the start of play in the Rookie division, and the Young Guns.
A summer sizzler – at least hot by Oregon standards at 90 degrees - greeted players and fans on Saturday. The day’s action saw preliminary play in the Amateur and Novice divisions wrap-up, preliminary action get under way for the Rookie division, and complete play for the Young Guns.
The four teams advancing to the Amateur semi-finals were TKO / Snakes with the top seed, followed by MafiaPaintball.com, ACI – Splat Factory and FlossinMagazine.com. The teams will play three games each to determine seeding for the finals. There the teams will battle off in best-of-three series for the tournament championship.
Savage-WA, Ground Control and Cent Cal Paranoid took the top three spots in the preliminary round of the Novice division. The will be joined in the quarterfinals by Rikter 7, Total Chaos, Team Rip and Street Hustlers. Nurv edged out Solid Reign by seven points for the eight and final spot in the next round.
The 24 Rookie teams entered in the event were broken up into three eight-team divisions for preliminary play. The teams played 5 games today, and will play three more games tomorrow morning to set the field for the quarterfinals. The top four teams from each bracket will advance. Team Rip, Thunderkids Black, Smoke Brake and Naughty Dogs Kids are posed to take the quarterfinal spots from their division.
West Coast Pimps currently lead their bracket, but just 21 points separate the next four teams – LA Extreme, Ballerz Inc 2, Skurge T&J Paintball and Bring it on Paintball. A good race is shaping up in the final Rookie bracket with Turbulence and Ballistic currently tied for first place. Finale won’t be ending their play soon as they appear headed to the next round. Predator Paintball Reloaded trails Element Gold by eight points for the fourth spot.
What is often the most exciting division of the XPSL series, the 3-player Young Guns competition was also played on Saturday. 13 teams went up against each other on small Mantis fields, with almost half the field comprised of teams from the Pacific Northwest. It was the California teams though who ended up at the top at the end of the day. After preliminary play, Urban Quest took the top seed into the finals followed by Dysfunction, Thunder Kids and Inflict Kidz.
The Thunder Kids knocked off the Inflict Kidz to take one of the spots in the finals, while Dysfunction pulled the upset over Urban Quest in the other semi-final. In the best-of-three finals, Dysfunction easily took the first game over the Thunder Kids. In the next game, both teams were down one player each when the player Dysfunction was pulled by a referee. Although the player was never hit, the call had to stand and the teams were heading towards a third and decisive game.
Both teams had a player knocked out early in the final game and it was two on two. The back player for Thunder Kids made a move up the 50-yard line, while his teammate made it into the snake. The Thunder Kidz were in great position to take home the tournament title since the two Dysfunction players were still at their back bunkers. Dyfunction’s fate looked even worse when the back left bunker came unstaked by the wind and blew down exposing the player behind it.
The Thunder Kids could have taken advantage and hit the player from Dysfunction while his bunker was down, but in a great show of sportsmanship they held back while the bunker was brought back into position by a nearby referee. Eventually it came down to one on one – the Thunder Kidz player in the snake against the Dysfunction player in the middle rear bunker. Both players sat on their position for a bit with the occasional snap shots until the Dysfunction player caught the Thunder Kidz player peeking out of the snake and caught him on the goggles. With that hit, Dysfunction won the tournament title. Urban Quest brought home the third place trophy.
Teams in the Rookie division were the first to hit fields Sunday morning as they wrapped up their preliminary games. 12 of the 24 teams would advance into spots in the three four-team quarterfinal brackets. Unfortunately many of the teams who were out of the running for quarterfinal spots didn’t show to play their games, so many of the teams who woke up early and were ready to play received forfeits.
The top three Rookie teams advancing from the preliminaries were Team Rip, West Coast Pimps and Ballistic, respectively. Those teams held down the top seed in their quarterfinal brackets and were joined by SmokeBrake, Finale, Predator Paintball, LA Extreme, Naughty Dogs Kids, Thunder Kids Black, Turbullence, Skurge T & J and Bring it On.
As scores from the morning Rookie games were being tabulated, teams from the Amateur and Novice divisions were preparing for their next rounds. The XPSL follows a modified set of NPPL rules, and among those modifications is the format of how teams are matched up in preliminary play, and how they advance into the quarterfinals. Unlike NPPL, teams in the XPSL only played teams in their division during preliminary play.
The Amateur division was made up of nine teams and under the NPPL rules, eight of the teams would have advanced to the quarterfinals. However, since in the XPSL the Amateur teams only play other Amateur teams in the preliminaries, the advancing eight teams would advance into brackets full of teams that they had already played. As a result, the nine Amateur teams were boiled down to the top four and those teams were placed into a best-of-three finals bracket. The four Amatuer teams moving on were TKO Snakes with the top seed, followed by MafiaPaintball.com, ACI-Splat Factory and FlossingMag.com.
In the semis, TKO Snakes took out FlossingMag.com in two fairly easy games to reach the final. In the other match-up ACI Splat Factory -- the defending champion of the last three XPSL events, and series leader entering the Portland event – was upended by MafiaPaintball.com.
After ending the streak of tournament wins by ACI Splat Factory, MafiaPaintball.com’s luck ran out in the final as TKO Snakes brought home the first place trophy. The win will help TKO Snakes close the gap between them and ACI Splat Factory for the series lead, and make for an exciting series ending finale in October in Las Vegas. TKO Snakes took home a prize package valued at more than $8000, including gas powered scooters for each team member.
In the Novice division, Nurv went home on Saturday by just sneaking into the quarterfinals in eight place. Much of that was due to a player suspension earlier in the tournament that forced the team to play with just six players for three games. Once that player was reinstated, Nurv went on a roll and took the top seed for the Novice semi-finals. Joining them was Street Hustlers, Team Rip Novice and Rikter 7.
Team Rip Novice defeated Street Hustlers in their best-of-three series, and would face Nurv in the finals after they took out Rikter 7 in three games. For the third place, the Street Hustlers dominated Rikter 7. In the final, a series of stalemated games gave Team Rip Novice the tournament victory over Nurv based on the number of eliminated players.
Games concluded with Ballistic winning the Rookie bracket over Team Rip Rookie, while Naughty Dogs Kids defeated Turbulence to finish third.