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PSP Orlando Open
Dynasty - First
Place Division I X Ball
The second event of the 2004 PSP season found a new venue that was not new to PSP. For the last two years, the number two event has been held in Las Vegas, Nevada. While Vegas has the benefit of being an inexpensive flight destination, it has historically been a difficult area in which to find a quality arena for a large paintball tournament.
With the success of the 2004 World Cup at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida Disney's management was after PSP to hold more events at their Wide World Of Sports Venue. A quality location, combined with inexpensive airfare from most anywhere in the US, and a large player base in the southeastern US led Paintball Sports Promotions to the decision to use Disney's site twice in the same season. For Disney this is cementing their name into the major paintball tournament scene, hosting two PSP events and the NCPA finals in Orlando, and a Millennium series event at EuroDisney.
The Orlando Open, not being quite as large as the World Cup, was set up with three fields for the 5 and 10 man competitions, three for divisional X Ball matches, and one for the NXL's professional X Ball matches.
Prior to the event's start, 5 man teams, the first to compete, were able to walk fields and plan strategies during the day Tuesday while tournament sponsors set up their trade show displays. Major vendors on site included DYE, National Paintball Supply, DraXxus, JT, Worr, Odyssey Dragun International, Smart Parts, Custom Products, Shocktech and others. Generation E was sporting their new show trailer, a 5th wheel model purchased from DYE's fleet which gives their staff more space for tech support, and less time needed to set up and tear down displays.
Clear skies and comfortable temperatures made Wednesday a great day for the start of the 5 man competition. Twenty five rookie and fifteen novice teams took to the fields, showing larger attendance than the LA Open's 15 and 8. Three of LA's final four made it to Orlando, first placed Team Savage, second placed NebraskaPaintball.com and third placed Panhandle Allstars.
Bad Boyz was the early novice leader, winning their first four games by mid-day. Close behind was Hi Tech Factory team with 5 wins and an average score that was just 2.4 points behind the Boyz. Panhandle Allstars, Rogue and Spectrum PR, the Puerto Rican team that surprised Strange in the 2002 Aruba Open finals all got off to similarly strong starts. Nebraskapaintball.com had a rough beginning, dropping their first game, but following it with wins. These teams were competing to be in the top eight teams going to semifinals, so by the end of the first day 7 would be going home.
In the rookie division it was Evil Empire that was at the top of the mid-day heap. AWOL and Team Spray Paint were close behind in the pack of teams most of which hadn't competed in Los Angeles. With less than 32 teams, the rookies would also be competing for 8 semifinal slots, so the cut would be more difficult. Sixty eight percent of the teams would be knocked out of the competition by the end of Wednesday's games.
Playing centerflag format five man games on the same fields used for 10 man meant plenty of room for runs off the break, with the 50 being a long haul from the starting box. Luke Mansberger of Thomasville, GA, playing for AWOL was one of the first players to make the 50 off the break during the event. In AWOL's game against Team Xtreme, Mansberger not only made the 50, but went past it to eliminate 4 members of the opposing team before being hit by friendly fire.
At the end of the day Wednesday, the Rookie teams completed their preliminary rounds. Team Spray Paint was the top ranked team with 602 points. Immediately behind them were Evil Empire at 588, Kamikazi Kids with 520 and AWOL with 514 points. Joining those teams in the semifinals on Thursday would be AeroSpark, Steel Gold, Connecticut Turmoil Blue and Dark Side Out.
For the novice teams it was Spectrum PR in the lead with 694 points. They were followed by Hi-Tech Factory Team at 688, Panhandle Allstars at 686, and Bad Boyz with 612 points. Ranked fifth was Team Savage followed by Zumbro Factory, Rogue, and Anger Management.
The 5 man finalists were scheduled to take to the field Thursday morning which would also be the start of Divisional X Ball matches.
Thursday morning, the 5 man semifinals cut in half the semifinalists to move the remaining four teams in each class on to the finals. In the rookie class Evil Empire and Connecticut Turmoil Blue ranked first and second, and were the top two teams in their division, so they advanced. The top two teams in the other division were AWOL and Steel Gold, which advanced in third and fourth place respectively.
In the novice semifinals it was the Hi-Tech Factory Team on top with three wins. Team Savage from the other division ranked second, a mere 6 points behind Hi-Tech. Spectrum PR ranked second and Zumbro Factory ranked Fourth. Panhandle All Stars, who had placed third in Pomona were eliminated at this cut.
In the finals, Steel Gold started with a max, gaining 100 points from their match against Connecticut Turmoil Blue. Evil Empire then defeated Steel Gold. In the second round Evil Empire posted win number two against AWOL, while Turmoil was defeated by Steel Gold. In the third round, Connecticut Turmoil Blue defeated Evil Empire, but didn't have enough points to beat them in the totals. This gave Evil Empire first place, and Turmoil second. AWOL defeated Steel Gold taking third, and Steel Gold placed fourth.
In the novice finals it was Hi-Tec Factory beating out Zumbro Factory 100 to 0, and Team Savage taking down Spectrum PR. Round Two saw Hi-Tec defeating Spectrum and Zumbro falling to Savage. Spectrum PR won their third game, handing Zumbro Factory team their third defeat. Hi-Tec Factory defeated Team Savage bringing their total to 272 to lock in First Place. This put Savage second, Spectrum PR third, and Zumbro factory in fourth place.
Thursday also saw the start of the tournament's X Ball competitions, both with the open entry divisional X Ball and professional NXL games. 48 teams came to compete in the double elimination X Ball backets, which were broken down into three divisions. The event's referees cracked down on equipment - pulling players for paintguns that were firing in anything but true semi-auto mode. In the X Ball rules an illegal gun results in the player being ejected from the game, and from the next game if the penalty occurs in the second half, but the team does not play a player short. Additionally the team faces a 5 minute penalty during which they do play a player short.
In division one, Dynasty defeated Excessive, despite being one of the teams hit with a single game player suspension for an illegal gun. Avalanche came out of the gates strong with a 13 to one victory over the Naughty Dogs. For the Dogs, Orlando would be bittersweet, mourning the recent loss of team mate Andrew Robertson. Paintball Sports Promotions dedicated the Orlando event in Drew's memory. Nasty X defeated Evil Factory by a single point while also being one of the teams to have a player pulled for an illegal gun.
Games progressed through the day for Division 2 and 3 as well, while the skies went from clear in the morning to overcast and muggy in the afternoon.
On the NXL field the first X Ball game was played between the Los Angeles Ironmen and Chicago Aftershock. The boys from the Windy City came home with a victory at 15 to 6. New York Xtreme then bested San Diego Legacy 16 to 6. Miami Effect fell to Baltimore Trauma by a single point 9 to 10. Oakland Assasins posted a 13 to 7 victory over Detroit Strange. The last game of the day was between Philly Americans and San Diego Legacy - Philly earned 14 points to San Diego's 10.
Friday morning meant not only the continuation of X Ball but also the start of 10 man, what used to be “the big show.” With the growing popularity of X Ball in the PSP series 10 man has seen a decline, but Orlando saw a noticeable jump in 10 man rookie and novice attendance compared to the LA Open. The rookie attendance was a testament to the availability of teams in the southeastern US. Seventeen teams signed up to compete in that division compared to the five rookies in LA. Three of the five teams competing in LA, also backed their bags for Orlando – Cartel Kidz from the northwest, Goodfellas from New York, and Florida’s own Femmes Fatale Rookie squad. These teams ranked first, second and third respectively in LA.
The novice bracket swelled by a single team from 19 teams in LA to 20 in Orlando. Here a majority of the teams had also competed at the first event of the series on the West Coast. LA’s first place Momma’s Boys and second place RockIt Kids came to Orlando as did fourth place Mantis Factory Team, but third placed Nor-Cal stayed in Cal.
While the 10 man rookie and novice divisions grew, Pro Am saw a decline from Los Angeles. 9 teams registered for the Orlando Open, compared to 12 in LA. The top four teams from LA, Diesel, Justice, Bushwackers and Cartel all came to Florida to compete. Arsenal and Fusion, Shockwave Canada, were the only three other teams to play both events. Notables like Brimstone Smoke (Smoke did appear on field, but as refs) and Diesel were no-shows in Orlando. Rage, Nemesis and ViewLoader All Stars made their first PSP 10 man appearances of the season.
While games progressed smoothly in the morning, one of the 10 man fields getting a full half hour ahead of schedule, that would not be so for the rest of the day. The overcast skies and humid but not too hot weather gave way to a Florida thunderstorm, with lightning causing game delays. After a break in the weather and a re-start games once again were called to a halt, this time by the Disney staff. Refs and the PSP staff worked to get through as many games possible in the available time.
On the NXL field Detroit Strange beat Baltimore Trauma 11 to 8. The Oakland Assassins defeated San Diego Legacy 17 to 6. Chicago Aftershock came out on top over New York Xtreme 14 to 11 and the Philly Americans managed a single point victory - 9 to 8 against the Los Angeles Ironmen. The final NXL game of the day was between the Oakland Assassins and Miami Effect. Miami held a single point lead with a score of 6 to 5, when due to weather the game was called to completion with a single half.
Weather brought an early end to Friday's competition, with completion of only the games scheduled up to mid afternoon. Saturday's games were then adjusted to begin at 8:00 am where they had left off on Friday.
Saturday started as a catch-up for Friday. For the 10 man fields the task seemed not so great as for X Ball where the longer game can't be caught up when teams hang flags early. In anticipation of a late day Saturday, PSP's staff arranged with Disney's support crews to have portable floodlights with generators on standby to make night play a possibility. While the open events worked on catching up, the NXL faced delays, starting behind schedule due to a scoreboard technical problem.
Division I X Ball hummed along, delivering a major surprise. Naughty Dogs, who have been the top dog of the division were knocked out by their game with Excessive. On the other side of the bracket Dynasty had defeated Avalanche and Jax Worriors were victorious over Nasty X. This put Dynasty against the Worriors to compete for a slot in the finals game.
Division II X Ball's field of competitors thinned out as the event progressed. Fury's victory over Oklahoma Legion and Doc's Raider's defeat of Team Ultimate matched Fury against the young players from Jacksonville on Saturday Afternoon. Similarly Xtreme Sports Factory's victory over Ignition and Ground Zero Silver's defeat of Hogan's Alley Factory Team meant that GZ would face Xtreme Sports. The winner's of these two games would go on to face each other to decide which would play in the finals game.
By mid day Saturday the Division III winner's bracket had narrowed down to games between East Coast Fury and the Rodents, and another between Team CDR and X Factor. The winners of each would face the top team from the looser bracket in the final game.
In the rookie 10 man Cartel Kidz and Reflex had secured spots for themselves in the semis by mid day with the remainder of the 15 teams fighting for 8 positions.
Momma's Boys had done the same in the 10 man novice, having won all of their games. The 20 teams would be competing for 8 semifinal positions, the cut being more harsh than that for the rookies.
For the Pro/Am 10 man teams, only one would be knocked out by the prelims - the nine teams were shooting for 8 semifinal slots. By mid day, average score rankings put ViewLoader all stars at the bottom of the list - but they had only played five of their eight games, and winning the remaining three could easily put them ahead of other teams including Rage, Fusion and Bushwackers.
Through the event, both on NXL and open X Ball fields, match suspensions for illegal paintguns drew far more attention than previously in the series. While PSP events are still relying on judgement of the referees rather than a mechanical testing system, closer attention by the refs test firing player's guns immediately after flag hangs resulted in stronger enforcement of the equipment rules.
Ten man prelims finished up with sunlight to spare. Cartel Kidz, Digital Paintball Factory West and Reflex led the rookie bracket while the Momma's Boys, Fox 4 Darkside and Havok led the novice. In the pro-am division, it was Bushwackers that got bumped, with ViewLoader Allstars edging them out by seven points.
In X Ball Dynasty defeated Jax Worriors pitting the Worriors against the winner of the upcoming Avalanche/Excessive game. Dynasty would play the winner of that game as the final match on Sunday at 3:00pm.
Despite a later than planned start the NXL completed all of their planned Saturday games. The first one between the Detroit Strange and Philly Americans went to Philly 9 to 5. Baltimore Trauma came out on top 19 to 5 against San Diego Legacy. The Oakland Assassins defeated the Los Angeles Ironmen with a single point 9 to 8. Miami Effect took down New York Xtreme also by a point, 10 to 9. Chicago Aftershock defeated San Diego 17 to 4. Sunday's NXL action was originally scheduled to begin at 9:00 am with a game between Oakland and Baltimore. The schedule was shifted a half hour, starting at 9:30 to avoid conflicts with an inline skating marathon being held in the morning.
Sunday began with beautiful clear skies, clouds moving in during the morning. With a 50 percent chance of rain, weather threatened to disrupt the last day of the event.
The Rookie 10 man semifinals were topped by Cartel Kidz, after defeating the three other teams in their division. Team Abbey's leader in the other division ranked second, and CPD Factory Team ranked third. Excalibur was the last team to make the finals cut.
In the Novice semis Rock-It Kids pulled ahead of Momma's Boys to rank first. Enemy ranked second and Fox 4 Darkside fourth. In the Pro/Am 10 man, it was ViewLoader All Stars - the 8th ranked team heading into the semis, that came out ranked first. Justice also came with them as did Nemesis. Team Rage tied with Arsenal in points. In the semis the two teams had played each other, neither managed a flag pull or hang - the final score was 18 to 20. Two points in that game made the win for Rage, and having won in a head to head game, meant Rage won the tiebreaker and made it into the finals, guaranteeing they'd finish the tournament in at least fourth place.
Saturday afternoon, in Division one X Ball Excessive turned it up a notch, defeating Avalanche 7 to 6 and Jax Worriors 6 to 4. These victories knocked out both Avalanche and the Worriors, as their second losses. This put the Worriors in third place for the tournament and sent Excessive to the final game with Dynasty. Dynasty defeated Excessive 12 to 3 in the first round of the tournament, the final game looked good for the boys in blue. However, Excessive's performance through the remainder of the tournament showed they'd definitely picked up speed, and would provide a serious challenge for Dynasty. That game went to Dynasty 7 to 5.
In Division II, Fury had defeated Doc's Raiders and Xtreme Sports Factory Team had taken down Ground Zero Silver. Sunday morning Xtreme Sports defeated Fury 9 to 6, putting themselves into the final game. On the loser's side, Team Ultimate faced Fury, defeating them 5 to 4. In the final game Team Ultimate defeated the Xtreme Sports Factory Team 9 to 3 for the first place win.
Division III saw Rodents post a 10 to 2 Victory over Team CDR on Saturday afternoon. This poised them to play in the final game Sunday afternoon as well. CDR defeated DC Devastation 11 to 5 in the loser's bracket, which sent them back against the Rodents. This time Team CDR defeated the Rodents 10 to 4, winning the tournament.
Back on the 10 man fields where the finals were taking place, Cartel Kidz dropped their first game to Excalibur, but won their remaining two. Excalibur won their first two, but dropped their third against CPD. By a mere four point lead Cartel Kidz took home the first place 10 man rookie trophy. Excalibur placed second followed by Team Abbey's and the CPD Factory Team.
Momma's Boyz won all three of their finals games, securing themselves first place in the novice 10 man division - almost a foregone conclusion considering their track record over the last year. Rock-It Kids, proved once again that they are a solid novice team with their second place finish, and Enemy and Fox 4 Darkside finished third and fourth respectively.
On the 10 man Pro/Am scoreboard, it was Justice posting three consecutive wins and taking home the first place trophy. Rage pulled into the second place slot, after having lost their first game to Justice but defeating both Nemesis and the VL All Stars. Nemesis finished third, and the ViewLoader All Stars fourth.
The NXL games progressed through the day, teams gaining points in the annual series, rather than competing for an individual event title. Oakland tied against Baltimore 11 to 11. This earned each team a single series point, as opposed to two points for a win. Philly beat Miami 11 to 10. Detroit defeated San Diego 15 to 5. New York came out victorious over Los Angeles 12 to 5, and Chicago beat Philly 9 to 8.
With the Orlando Open completed, the next stop for the PSP 2004 series would be the Chicago Open, historically the second largest event in the five stop circuit, with a heavy draw of midwestern US teams. From Chicago, Denver was the next city on the list, a new location for PSP, though a venue had not yet been secured in that city. At the end of the year the series would return to the Sunshine State, and Disney World.
Series registration information can be found on the PSP web site, pspevents.com.