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First Place - Wizards
"But there's no paintball in Minnesota." That was a statement that Johnathan Palmersten and other organizers of the Polar Bear Circuit became tired of hearing. They set about to change things, and at their first event brought out 5 three man teams. That was four years ago, and now the Polar Bear Circuit is thriving. Five three man events per year bring players from Minnesota, Wisconsin and surrounding areas. The July 2001 tournament, held in Braderton, WI drew 58 teams to Paintball Games Inc. paintball field.
While the field boasts over 80 acres of playing area, the tournament was confined to a pair of concept fields. One was a mound field, built with wide horizontally aligned mounds and a wooden bridge connecting a pair of them in the center. The flag was suspended from the bridge, with most grabs being completed by players running underneath. The layout lead to a lot of lateral movement for players which was possible under full cover. The second field was a grass concept field with bunkers made from 50 gallon steel drums, plywood, and large fiber wrapped pressure tanks that were surplus from a water treatment system manufacturer. A wooden bunker with a window emulated the famous door field at the Badlandz in Chicago. At either end of the field, scaffolds held video crews working on the Paintpalooza video project.
Although the tournament did not start until Saturday, many players arrived on Friday night, opting to camp on site through the weekend - bonfires and parties lasting well into the morning.
Saturday started with the captains meeting and a review of recent rule changes within the circuit. While the circuit is planning to transition to the use of bag style barrel blockers rather than barrel plugs, players could not hang the bag from their paintgun while in use - this would and did result in elimination.
The weather proved hot and humid, but overcast skies helped mitigate the heat through the prelims. 126 games were scheduled to be played on each of the two fields, with Cypress serving as referees. Teams that had dropped out put a few byes in the schedule, but it still proved to be a marathon day for the referees. The head ref for each field stayed off-field, chronoing teams on and off, calling on-deck teams, and settling disputed calls while games progressed. This let the games cycle through efficiently meaning less wait time for the teams, and completion of the prelims in a single day.
By mid afternoon the remnants of the morning fog had burned away, and the sun bore down on the referees and the players. By the end of the day everyone was ready for a sound night's sleep.
Sunday morning came with dark skies and heavy rain. Lightning strikes proved to be a deterrent to play, and games were delayed with a wait to see how the weather would change. The 9:00 AM start instead turned into a social hour under the two vendor and staging tents with stories of games past being relived. The rain lessened to a drizzle allowing semifinal games to start by noon under a sky that cleared gradually until the weather was once again hot. The mound field had taken quite a soaking creating a mud bog on the west side which dried and hardened as the day went on.
Like the preliminary rounds the semifinals were spread over the two fields, but the finals moved entirely to the mound field which offered a better view for spectators. The addition of banners from Redz Comfort Gear and Viewloader onto the center bridge changed some fire lanes in the middle of the field.
In the Novice B class, both ? and Dumpster Divers tied with 100 points. Since ? was the winner when the two teams had played against each other, ? was ranked in third place which was impressive for their second tournament. Hazmat finished in second, and Blitzkrieg took first.
In Novice A, Throttle Up took third place over Paintpalooza, while Impulse and Throttle tied with 220 points. Again, the tiebreaking was done by looking at the results of a previous head to head game - Throttle was victorious.
The game between Impulse and Paintpalooza was partucularly noteable. Both teams spread out along their rearmost berm, as many teams did through the tournament. One Impulse player moved forward unnoticed and crossed the whole field in a low crouch while the other two held the corners of the rear berm exchanging shots with the three Paintpalooza players on their back line. The impulse player rounded the east end of the back berm and had three targets lined up in a row. He managed to take out all three players before they could turn and shoot.
In the Amateur class 8 Ball Red beat
Impulse Kids to grab third place. Frostburn One finished in second,
and Wizards took first place.