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PSP Philly Open 2003
Philadelphia, PA August 2003
The City of Brotherly Love was chosen as the 4th stop for this year's PSP 5 man, 10 man and X Ball series. In past years the 4th event has been the redheaded stepchild of the league. It began improving when Bad Boyz Toyz and DYE Precision teamed up to produce it, and took another step up in respectability when the individual promoters joined to form PSP. The all new venue chosen for 2003 was Fairmount Park, a rolling track of woods, lawns, memorials and gardens on the edge of Philadelphia proper.
Not only is the event within the city limits, and in a city park, but several city streets were closed down with police barricades to allow a ring of trade show trucks and tents as well as room for players to walk freely between the fields and staging areas without causing a disruption to vehicle traffic.
The center of the tournament site is a now unused fountain sitting in front of the grand, statue covered Memorial Hall. In the streets surrounding the fountain trade show booths were set up, and 3 fields were set up to the west for 5 and 10 man paintball, as well as 3 to the east for Division 1 and 2 X Ball, as well as NXL competition. Each of the fields were assembled on lush, green, somewhat weedy grass, surrounded by tall wide shade trees. Being in such a public area in a large city, expecting many spectators a new feature was planned for the tournament - a walk on paintball field, where spectators could try their hand at the sport of paintball. Also planned for Thursday night during the tournament was an NXL press meeting where announcements would be made about the schedules for the remainder of the season, and the league's plans for television in 2004.
The morning play got off to a slightly late start for the five man teams under intensely humid skies. The grass was quite wet after a night of sultry weather which made for some interesting bunker moves when footing was lost by the players. Refs were in high spirits, the JT field in particular starting games with 'Giddyup!' instead of the traditional 'Go!'.
Five man novice teams showed up with the top teams returning. The winning team of Chicago, AGD Kids didn't return to the PSP 5 man event this month though, they chose to compete in X Ball instead.. Momma's Boys and Nebraskapaintball.com the other top finishers of Chicago didn't come back either. Though some teams didn't make the trip for the fourth event, thirteen teams did show up to make Philly their first event of the season. Rookies also saw Method and Adrenalin Rush skipping the play at Philly event though both of them have seen the podium twice in 2003. Seventeen new rookie teams showed up to play the Philly event which is great for the competition, facing off against new teams.
With less than 32 teams in either bracket, the rookie and novice teams fought to be the top 8 teams after the eight preliminary games were tallied to move onto the semi-finals that would start on Thursday.
Games wrapped up off schedule which worked out fine for lighting on the fields and for the majority of teams, finishing up late was not a problem. For a couple of teams, the three fields were staggered just enough to create a cascading effect where they needed to be on different fields at the same time. At the end of the day, the score staff and the media who waited were held up at the field over the loss of the last score sheet of Cross and Demonic Stranglers.
Doc's Raiders finished out the novice preliminary games undefeated with 768, Reflex, Cross, and Twisted Factory all joining them after dropping a game each. Leftovers and Dedicated Paintball both dropped two games during prelims and Warped Aggression and Organized Crime dropped three each making the cut 522.
Reality Check wrapped up the preliminaries with a drop and a near draw with 664. Team Ultimate, Killswitch, Team RUSH, Docs Raiders, Dedicated Paintball 2, Untouchable Kidz, and Flash joined them for the semi-finals setting the cut at a high 500 points.
Five man semi-final games started off Thursday morning under overcast but clearing skies, while Division 1 and Division 2 X Ball games started on the opposite side of the tournament site.
In the 5 man semis, Docs Raiders Black continued to show themselves to be a powerhouse team by topping the novice semifinalists with 232 points out of their three game run. Twisted Factory, Cross and Reflex joined them heading into the finals. For the rookies it was Untouchable Kidz in the lead, followed by Team Ultimate, Flash and Reality Check.
In the rookie finals Untouchable Kidz dropped their first game, but won the next to securing them the first place trophy, and excellent showing for their first PSP tournament. Ultimate finished in second, Flash in third and Rush in fourth. All four finalist teams finished the tournament in the same order the were ranked going into the finals.
Novice finals saw Doc's Raiders finishing solidly, just missing the perfect 300 by a technicality on the field where a dead player touched live players. Cross came out second after a near draw, a win and a loss to Doc's. Twisted took third and Reflex followed in fourth place.
Wednesday morning, Paintball Sports Promotions finalized a series ranking points system for Division 1 and Division 2 X Ball. The system grants 100 points to a team for a first place finish, 80 for second place, 60 for third place, 40 for a team that makes it to the 4th cut, 30 for making it to the third cut, 20 for making it to the 2nd cut, and 10 for being eliminated in the first cut. Additionally reffing an event would earn 100 points, the equivalent of a win, and because 2003 was the introductory year for X Ball, teams that switched from 10 man to X Ball were able to bring their 10 man ranking points over to the X Ball series. When transferring, points were doubled to adapt between the 50 point and 100 point ranking scales. This drew criticism from teams that felt they were pushed back in the rankings by teams who didn't have the dedication to play X Ball from the start, as well as from teams who had thought they had a higher ranking because of where they had been seeded in previous events - not realizing that series ranking of the teams had not been done previously On the other side of the coin, teams that had chosen to change formats, either from 10 man to X Ball or from X Ball to 10 man felt the cross-over credit was the only fair way for them to not suffer for trying out the new format.
Naughty Dogs came into the Division 1 competition on the top of the heap, with their Chicago and Las Vegas wins, as well as their carried over 10 man win from Pomona. Strange was close on their heels with a reffing credit, a win in Pomona and a second place finish in Chicago. The Worriors came into the event ranked third - they had a reffing credit, and a second and third place win. With only a 60 series point spread between the top three teams, Philly could see any of these three teams on top heading into World Cup.
In Division 2, it was Twisted Factory and Strange 2 in the top two slots only 20 points apart. Twisted was on top without having earned any reffing credits, or bringing in any 10 man transfer points - this came from their two second place finishes and a first place win in Chicago. Strange 2, at 240 points had 100 reffing points, backed by their win in Pomona and 4th cut finish in Chicago. Next in line were the P&L Hurricanes at 190 points with a 3rd place Pomona finish, a win in Vegas and 3rd cut finish in Chicago.
Division 2 matches were the first to be played. The first match was between PB Fanatic and NCPA Allstars, 10/2 in favor of the .com team giving the college boys their first loss. Drive dropped to Chaos in a closely matched game. Total Eclipse beat Tempest solidly 11 to 1. And Team No Name beat Pinnacle Woods 7 to 4. Ignition beat out Rattlesnake, 11 to 1. Affordablepaintballsupply.com and AGD Kids faced off, 6 to 4. Ground Zero Silver beat Demonic Factory Kids 13-2 and TKO beat Hood X 11 to 3. Mayhem and Next Level played 9-5 and P&L Hurricanes beat Tough Crowd 11-4 in the first round of games. In the first matches of the Division 1 games All Americans beat Shochtech by a point 7-6. Strange beat their sister team Nasty 11-2. Worriors and Legacy faced off in a tight match with much controversy over penalties and rule interpretation ending in favor of Legacy 6-5. Naughty Dogs then faced Demonic on the field, ending in a 16-0 win for the puppies.
Two second round matches were played late Thursday, Mayhem and Total Eclipse faced off after their first game wins, Mayhem winning with one point, 6-5. Team No Name took their first loss against TKO 6-3.
On the NXL field Oakland defeated Miami 10 to 6 in the morning followed by a Los Angeles Ironmen victory over Detroit Thunder 12 to 6. Chicago Aftershock took down Baltimore Trauma 10-7. Miami beat NY 10-7 and Oakland Assassins played their second match of the day against the Philly Americans who were victorious 9-4.
Leading up to the Philly tournament it had become public knowledge that Todd "Cash Money" Martinez had parted ways with Chicago Aftershock while remaining on good terms with the BBT/Shocktech crew. NXL rules stipulate that if a player leaves a team and continues to play in the league, the lowest ranked team has first option to pick up the player. Where Martinez would go, at least in the immediate future was a subject of online debate and speculation, but was answered in the rosters for the Philly Open. He stayed with X Ball, but not the NXL, competing in Division 1 X Ball with Team Strange, a team with whom he has made guest appearances in the past.
Thursday evening an NXL player's meeting was held, followed by a short press conference. Both meetings went over the NXL 2003 playoff format and the schedule of events for NXL competition at the PSP World Cup in Orlando. The 2003 NXL competitions held at the Mardi Gras Open, and PSP series events would be used to rank the teams for the playoff tournament at Disney's Wide World of Sports during the cup. As if the intensity of a full X Ball match were not enough - the teams would be competing for the best out of three matches in the playoffs. Additional announcements were made that television production and representation rights for the NXL had been contracted to Dick Clark Productions. While this is not the same as a closed network deal, it was represented as a positive step in that direction, as Dick Clark Productions has a strong track record in seeing productions through from concept to air.
Ten man teams hit the three playing fields an hour late on Friday morning after the reffing squad was trapped in rush hour Philadelphia traffic. Once games got going, the fields ran smoothly without much drama. The skies were crystal clear, the sun quite warm but the humidity was diminished a great deal making it seem cooler. The staging areas were equipped with individual team tents that have become the norm for the PSP events, but most of the players were utilizing the huge shade trees to gain some respite from the sun. Trying to acclimate to the humid, warm weather, it seemed to be the limiting factor to the individual performance of everyone at the field.
Missing from the ten man competition were several teams who have made the switch to X Ball. Naughty Dogs, Legacy, Shocktech, Demonic Factory, Team No Name, Mayhem, Affordablepaintballsupply, Ignition, Total Eclipse, and Hood. Following Chicago's event, attendance was up for the amateur bracket, from 10 to 12 teams playing. Novice and rookie teams were down by a couple of teams each. What is most striking is the difference between 2002's Atlantic City Open and the 2003 Philly event. In 2002, the NXL didn't exist and 7 professional teams competed. Twenty-four amateur teams hit the fields and a whopping 52 novice teams joined them. Rookie teams have actually increased in number since 2002, a good sign of positive growth for the league and paintball in general for the country.
Second round matches for Division 1 and 2 teams in the X Ball competition continued on Friday morning with one notable problem for a team. Rattlesnake was due to play at 8:00 am against AGD Kids but due to a miscommunication, they thought their game start time was at 5:45 pm. When they didn't arrive for the game, their game was forfeited, giving them a ride home after what amounted to two losses. AGD Kids took the win from the forfeit and continued on. Rattlesnake arrived later in the day to a scoreboard that read 'Forfeit' next to their name, and after conferring found the source of the confusion. After deliberation, Lane Wright, team liaison for the PSP handled the situation and reconciled with the team who were remarkably calm and very professional for what was a tremendous mistake on the part of the scorekeeper giving out the wrong information. Later Friday morning, Pinnacle Woods beat out Demonic Factory Kids for their second loss, sending them home 8-1. Tempest beat Hood X 9-3 giving Hood the walk as well. Ignition beat Affordable 12-2 while Next Level won over Drive, sending them home. NCPA Allstars lost to Tough Crowd, their second loss, 7-4. P&L Hurricanes beat PBFanatic.com 10-2, where Ground Zero Silver beat Chaos giving them their first loss 12-3.
Division 1 teams Shochtech and Naughty Dogs beat the teams they faced off against. Shock hit Demonic giving them their second loss 13-2. All Americans fell to the Dogs 5-1, giving the All A's their first loss. Nasty lost to Worriors, sending them home 6-5, and Strange and Legacy faced off, the men from Florida, Strange winning 12-3.
The third round Division 2 teams started mid-afternoon with Hurricanes dropping to Mayhem giving them their first loss 2-8. Twisted and Ignition had a close game 7-6. Affordablepaintball sent Tempest home with a 9-5 win. The last game of the night was one fraught with controversy. Ground Zero Silver against TKO had several calls made after the points were made, penalties assessed and points removed, then put in after arguments. The game ended in overtime, GZ winning 7-6 giving TKO their first loss.
Ten man games wrapped up nearly on time after the refs fought to gain back the time lost in the morning when games started late. Most teams played 4 games on Friday, facing the remainder of the games on Saturday to determine the top 8 ranked teams in each division.
NXL teams had a very tight day on Friday, all but one of the games ending with either a tie or a point off from each other. LA faced Philly, the home town boys winning 9-8. Chicago and NY tied at 8 points each, then Baltimore triumphed over Detroit by one point 8-7. Oakland and LA tied 9-9 and the upset of the day was Miami dropping to Chicago 11-6.
Beneath overcast skies X Ball and 10 man games kicked off under slightly cooler weather than the day before. In terms of spectators, Saturday was expected to draw the largest crowds. Not only is FairMount park visited heavily by locals on normal weekends, but Q102, a Philadelphia radio station found at 102.1FM set up a live remote broadcast from the tournament site, promoting not only the chance to watch NXL and PSP teams compete, but to also try tournament style paintball on Empire's 3 man sized walk-on field.
The morning progressed more people began filtering through the central are of the tournament site. A large memorial fountain in a grass quad sat as the centerpiece, while the three city streets surrounding it became a carnival of paintball activity. Event sponsors and vendors set up their booths and display trucks in a giant U shaped formation starting with Evil, Shocktech, JT, ViewLoader, Custom Products, Generation E, Traumahead Sportz, Demonic, and moving on to National Paintball Supply (National's staff spearheaded much of the site selection and arrangements for PSP), Empire (NPS's new show trailer for their Empire line,) Smart Parts, WGP, WDP, Mantis, FaceFull magazine and Sup'Air, DraXxus and DYE. Sitting as a backdrop to this trade how was the grand Memorial Hall with giant statues in front, and statues surrounding its copper patina dome. Only a few paintballers noticed and took advantage of the public pool off to the side of the hall, barely more than a hundred yards from the NXL field. Also located inside one wing of the Memorial Hall were the offices of Fairmount Park's administration and police force. Fairmount Park police officers were prominent on the site both in their cruisers and mounted on street legal motocross cycles.
Shortly after noon, a light rain began which brought with it much welcomed cool air, and was light enough that it did not disrupt play. After a half hour the rain picked up its pace a little, though it remained fairly light. By 2:00 the rain had lifted, but it had taken its toll mainly in the form of thinning out the crowd of spectators. The sod base in Fairmount park was strong enough and drained well enough to prevent the fields from turning into mud pits.
NXL teams faced off against each other, most of the games closely matched as they were on Friday. NY was a point ahead of Detroit 7-6. Baltimore beat out Philly 8-6 and the upset of the day was Miami's 14 to 6 win over LA. Chicago hit Detroit 9-7 and the last game of the day saw another single point win with Baltimore over Oakland 9-8.
Amateur teams in the ten man came out with 8 teams on top, the expected crew of Static setting the cut at 693 with a single loss in preliminaries, Addicted, Brimstone Smoke, Shockwave Canada, Nasty, ECX, Cartel and Robinhood brought up the final eight of the amateur with 584 with two losses. Novice teams too saw the teams who've proved themselves strong this season. Mantis led the pack at 687 followed by Justice, Momma's Boys, Havok, Bad Karma, Atomix Factory, Outcast Black and Outkast at 502 for the novice cut with three losses. Rookie teams saw favorites Rock It Kids at 605 and two losses, Misfit Toys, Outlaws, Precision, Outkasts, PNL Underground, Dominion V3, and Hogans Alley with 339, a remarkably low cut and five losses heading to semi-finals on Sunday morning.
The first few games of the morning on Sunday were played on very wet grass but under sunny skies. Static and Shockwave Canada both beat out Nasty and Robinhood, Nasty pulling in 3 bodies off of Shockwave and Robinhood took 9 men from Static. Mantis dropped 3 bodies to Outcast while Havok took Bad Karma with only one man lost. Justice and Momma's Boys won with 4 and 3 bodies respectively against Atomix and Outkast Black. Rock It Kids beat Hogan's Alley with 8 alive, then Precision beat both Outkasts and Hogan with six and three men lost. Misfit Toys and Outlaws both won with 7 alive against PNL Underground and Dominion V3.
Three games of semi-finals and the shakedown of who would move on from each division was clear. Outlaws, Rock It Kids, Misfit Toys and Precision would hit the fields for finals in the rookie division after two wins and a loss for everyone other than Outlaws who won all of their games. Novice teams showed Justice, Momma's Boys, Havok, and Outcast with two wins and a loss for each team. Amateur's
By the close of Saturday, the Division 1 and 2 X Ball teams had distilled themselves down to a small core of contenders. As the tournament progressed, each round knocked out half of the remaining teams. Ground Zero edged out Mayhem by a single point, and then Total Eclipse knocked Next level out with a 7 to 3 win. Ignition gave TKO a technical knock out with a 7 to 6 match. That meant that Sunday morning Mayhem got to face Ignition. Both team had suffered a single loss, so when Ignition fell 7 to 9, that put Mayhem one step from the finals round. Total Eclipse earned 10 points to Twisted Factory's 5 sending Twisted home and pitting Eclipse against Mayhem. Total Eclipse won that match 10 to 5 which gave Mayhem third place for the tournament and meant that Eclipse would face GZ Silver to play for first place.
In Division one, it was the All Americans that knocked out the Worriors 5 to 3, and Shocktech that took out Legacy 13 to 4. The Naughty Dogs fell to Strange, but kept on pace for the finals match by defeating Shocktech 10 to 2 after Shocktech had knocked the All Americans out of the running with a 5 to 3 match. The Dogs would face Strange for the finals match - something many were eager to watch. The Naughty Dogs have had tremendous momentum in 2003, with wins in both the NPPL and PSP, but they were defeated by Strange in X Ball just the day before.
Ten man finals wrapped up for the rookie's first. Rock It Kids won their third event of the season after taking Vegas off with 206 points, winning two games and dropping their last after shooting 8 bodies of Outlaws. Precision missed first, after their first trip to the finals ever by 3 points. Outlaws were close behind them at 196 points after a loss to Precision and two wins. Misfit Toys had a rough finals match, losing all three of their games in finals though this was a good showing for them, this second tournament.
Novice teams hit the field with Momma's Boys in first after a steady progression of improvement throughout the season. They made semi finals in Pomona, then 2nd in Vegas, first in Chicago and again in Philly with a 206. Justice trailed just behind them, 6 points separating the teams after two first place wins and second in Chicago. The competition between Justice and Momma's Boys would be a big contention for series rankings at World Cup since there would be only 20 series ranking points separating them. Outcast and Havok took third and fourth after two losses and a win each.
Amateurs faced off, Cartel winning their fourth trip to the podium this season after two trips to semi finals and a second place in Chicago. ECX Factory won two games and dropped a third for a second place win followed by Static and Shockwave for third and fourth in amateur 10 man.
The finals match for Division One went to Strange, but was hard earned with a score of 6 to 5. That put Strange in first and the Naughty Dogs in second place. Final match in Division Two went to Total Eclipse 9-4 over Ground Zero Silver.
NXL final games for the event were an upset for several teams. Oakland's performance for the event was jumpstarted, beating NY 13-4. Philly and Chicago tied 9-9 while another close game was caught by Detroit against Miami 12-11. LA had an excellent day against Baltimore 15-4 and NY brought it back to win 10-5 against Philly in the last game of the day. Mike Ratko, Commissioner of the NXL said that the final rankings of the series would be available soon, but as it stood, it looked as though Oakland would take first, Philly in second, Chicago in third, NY in fourth, a tie for fifth and sixth between Miami and Baltimore, LA in seventh and Detroit in eighth.