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Chicago Open
 June 2005
Photos by JJ Ontiveros

Open Class X-Ball First Place - Dynasty
Division I X-Ball First Place - Doc's Raiders
Division II X-Ball First Place - Less Than Zero
Division III X-Ball First Place - San Diego Aftermath

Open Class 5 Man First Place - Evil Factory
Division II 5 Man First Place - Legend
Division III 5 Man First Place - Lost Generation
 Young Guns 5 Man First Place - Explicit Content Kidz

The Chicago Open marks the midway point through the PSP season.  Of all the seriesí tournaments, one can argue that it holds the most tradition, having been held at the Badlands paintball field for all but two years.  In 2003, coinciding with PSPís move to sports arena type venues, the tournament relocated to Maywood Park, a harness racing track in the Chicago area.  For 2004 the tournament returned to its origins at the Badlands, and for the 2005 season it landed in an all-new venue, the Bolingbrook Recreation and Aquatic Complex. 

The BRAC is a multi-sport activities facility in driving distance from both of Chicagoís major airports.  Its open grass space and parking combined with nearby restaurants and hotels marked it as a prime venue for Paintball Sports Promotions.  With weather projections in the 90s with humidity, the facilityís water park with pools, river and waterslides may give the site added appeal.

The National X-Ball Leagueís regular season games were among the first to be played in Chicago, kicking off with the Philly Americans competing against Boston Red Legion.  While the games provided a basis to rank the teams for their elimination format round at the end of the season, they also formed a showcase for some of the most intense action, with some of paintballís most experienced professional level players.  The NXL has continued to be innovative, and Chicago was no exception, as the league planned it as the first to feature remote rate of fire measurement. 

Ever since the league added its rate of fire cap, work has been underway to develop technology to better enforce the rule.  Doppler radar gun style chronographs proved effective for measuring velocity on players from across the field, when they are less likely to realize they are being spot checked. 

Unfortunately, it proved difficult to measure rate of fire the same way.  PACT acoustic shot counters, the most common tool used for measuring rates of fire at major tournaments track timing well, but must be placed very close to the paintgunís muzzle in order to take a proper measurement.  If a player is going to cheat with an illegal rate of fire boost, itís not going to happen when they know they are being watched.  Over the past several months, NXL commissioner Mike Ratco worked to combine the acoustic counting technology with directional microphone technology so that playerís firing rates could be checked from the sidelines while they are shooting in the game, on field.  Tests with a computer based parametric equalizer conducted during the 2005 Orlando Open proved that the technology was viable, provided that key frequency bands were filtered out to reduce background noise.  In the off-time between events, Ratco and his crew worked to package the technology into a portable solution, which was then tested and verified, ready for its first use in Chicago.

Divisional X-Ball was set up for more action, with intensely competitive teams battling for top positions.  In the Open Division Dynasty stacked up back to back first place finishes in Los Angeles and Orlando.  This put them at the top of the heap in series rankings.  Hot on their heels was Excessive with a strong finish in LA, and reffing points from Orlando which equal a first place win.  Avalanche and Infamous were also contenders followed by Naughty Dogs Inc.  The Dogs did not fare well in Los Angeles, but picked up steam in Orlando.  Points earned in Chicago could make a major difference in their ranking position.

In Division I, the top rankings were also close.  X-Factor held the seasonís top seat with Mommaís Boys only 6 points behind, bolstered by reffing points from Orlando.  Twenty points further down the list was Fusion.  A 100 point win or reffing bonus could easily re-organize the top of the D-I charts.  Jax Warriors hadnít finished strong in LA, but their first place win in Orlando placed them in reach of the top slot.

Division II had Less Than Zero heading into Chicago as the strong leader, 32 points ahead of PunishersPB.com and Team Speed.   In Division III San Diego Aftermath headed in to Chicago as the undisputed king, the only team besides Dynasty to have taken home first place trophies in both LA and Orlando.  East Coast Empire was hot on their heels, with Tippmann Effect not far behind.

In the five man competitions Diesel was the odds on favorite, having won in LA, and earning a total of 192 ranking points, compared to second ranked Spectrum PRís 102.  The top two teams being the only two which had played both LA and Orlando stood head and shoulders above their competitors.  In DII it was Team Splatball at the top of the pack.  Despite not having a first place finish yet, their consistency in two high finishes earned them their position ahead of LAís winner Bad Boyz.  In the third ranking position was Hollywood Sports Parkís home squad of Naughty X Nature.  Division III 5 man had four top teams which had competed in both of the seasonís first two events, top ranked of which was LAís first place winner, Punishment.

The Young Guns division, first added to the series at the Orlando Open had but one eventís track record, ranking DBS Kids in the top. 

X-Ball games started on Thursday, with 5 man kicking in on Friday.  In Open Class X-Ball, the action got off to a good start with a match-up Naughty Dogs Inc., and Infamous.  The Dogs brought their game and took out Infamous 7 to 5.  Avalanche, having recently returned to their former gun sponsor WDP, pounded Ultimate 11 to 4.

The first round of D1 games saw some close matches and some lopsided pairings as well.  Florida based Docís Raiders nearly doubled the score of San Diego Ravenous, defeating them 10 to 6.  Jax Warriors, the first place team from Orlando, more than doubled the score of Atomix Factory at 13 to 5.  Gridlock devastated Protégé 14 to 2, and Diesel brought in an 8 to 6 win over DC Devastation.  X-Factor played their first game against Docís Raiders, but fell 5 to 6.  Hoganís Alley Factory team jumped in, turning things around on the Jax Warriors with an 8 to 6 win.  Gridlock took down Fusion 8 to 7 and Diesel devastated the Mommaís Boys 11 to 3.  Through the day, the first rounds of DII and DIII games were also under way, sorting teams between the winner and loser brackets of the tournament schedule.

The NXL had a heavier schedule than usual.  With rain delayed make-up games from Orlando, the NXL field was booked with 6 games a day instead of the usual 5.  This also caused the planned schedule to be reshuffled to avoid back to back games for some of the teams.  The first game, between the Philly Americans and Boston Red Legion saw a solid win for the Legion at 3 to 16.  This was a very impressive game for a team so new to the league to take down the two time champions.  Detroit Strange lost a match by a single point to Baltimore Trauma 5 to 6.  Miami Effect fell to New York Xtreme 5 to 13.  Oakland Assassins tied with Chicago Aftershock 7 to 7.  As the teams accumulate season ranking points a win earns two points, a tie one point, and a loss no points.  The afternoon seemed fit to be tied as San Diego tied with the Los Angeles Ironmen 8 to 8, and Baltimore tied 6 to 6 with Oakland. 

Friday, 5 man paintball was added to the mix.  As they ran through their first four games of play Rogue held the lead for Division IIís 30 teams, followed by Atmosfear, both teams playing undefeated.  In Division III, it was RUKUS leading the pack with Lost Generation, Pursuit, Jersey Ranjers, Asylum Extreme, Detroit Hyperactive, Emerge, Legend Kids, H8 Factory, and neworleanspaintball.com all having played undefeated.  This end of day ranking was made possible by the size of the division, with 90 teams competing.  Historically, the Chicago Open has been the 5-man hub for PSPís tournaments in terms of attendance, second only to the Paintball World Cup, and during years when not all of the events in the series featured 5-man.

In open class X-Ball, Dynasty played their first game against the Naughty Dogs and won with a score of 8 to 5.     Excessive also came in for their first game and beat Avalanche 9 to 8.

Friday marked the start of the loser bracket games for Division I, where teams who had lost a single game, but were not out of the running, faced each other.  Mommaís Boys beat San Diego Ravenous, eliminating them 7 to 5.  Fusion dominated Atomix Factory and took them out 13 to 0.  Jax Warriors kicked out Protégé 9 to 7, and X-Factor removed DC Devastation 11 to 4.  Back on the winnerís bracket, where the teams playing were undefeated, Docís Raiders fell to Hoganís Alley 5 to 7, and Gridlock beat Diesel 10 to 2. 

The big show was, of course the pro games of the NXL, where Chicago Aftershock bested the Philly Americans 8 to 7.  Detroit Strange shook the Oakland Assassins 13 to 5.  Baltimore Strange defeated San Diego Legacy 13 to 6.  Miami Effect fell to the Los Angeles Ironmen 4 to 16.  New York Xtreme was defeated by Boston Red Legion 16 to 6.  The final game of the day, between San Diego and Philly finished 5 to 10, in favor of the Americans.

On Thursday and Friday, the weather had already taken its toll, as a handful of players who hadnít kept properly hydrated found themselves facing heat exhaustion, a serious concern with the marathon pace of X-Ball play.  Heading into a weekend with warmer temperatures, and even afternoon thundershowers, would prove a challenge for the teams in Chicago.

Fortunately Saturdayís predicted thunderstorms didnít materialize, and the only weather conditions the players and referees had to contend with were heat and humidity. 

Five man preliminary rounds drew to a close on Saturday, selecting the teams for advancement into the semifinals.  In Division II, an eight-team semi round on Sunday meant 22 teams were going home.  Atmosfear finished prelims at the top of the heap, followed by Asylum Factory and Rogue.  One Step Closer brought up the rear in the eighth slot, edging out Connecticut Turmoil by ten points.

For Division II five-man the cut to semifinals was more ruthless.  Out of 90 teams, only the top 16 were advancing to the semis.  H8 Factory finished first, having gone undefeated for their eight games.  H8 was followed by Neworleanspaintball.com which was also undefeated.  Third ranked Justice League suffered a single loss.  Sixteenth ranked TPA beat out Emerge for the last advancing slot with a ten-point lead.

In divisional X-Ball both Divisions II and III played their way through double eliminations to filter down to the teams that would be playing in the last rounds on Sunday.  Division I saw some critical games.  X-Factor defeated Jax Warriors 12 to 5, knocking the Warriors out of the running.  Docís Raiders eliminated Fusion with a 10 to 6 victory.  Diesel cleared X-Factor by one point, with a score of 8 to 7, sending X-Factor home.  Gridlock defeated Hoganís Alley Factory Team 8 to 7, which earned their spot in the final match on Sunday, and sent Hoganís to their second chance in the loserís bracket.  Docís Raiderís took out Diesel 10 to 2, lining themselves up for a match with Hoganís alley.  The winner would take on Gridlock for the trophy.

In the Open class division, Avalanche faced Infamous, with former team-mates on opposite sides of the field.  Avalanche won the game 8 to 5, handing Infamous their second loss, and sending them home.  Naughty Dogs ripped Ultimate 14 to 3, taking them out of the running.  Dynastyís 11 to 9 victory over Excessive earned them a spot in the finals, and sent Excessive to their second chance game.  That game would be against Naughty Dogs, due to their 10 to 5 win over Avalanche.  The winner of that game on Sunday would face Dynasty in the finals game.

In the NXL the day started with Los Angeles falling to Detroit 7 to 11, followed by San Diego being defeated by Chicago 6 to 11.  Boston steamrollered Miami 16 to 3, followed by Baltimore devastating New York 13 to 2.   Philly fell to Oakland 4 to 13, and Detroit beat Chicago 7 to 5.

Sunday morning, while some of the 5 man teams were tearing into their preliminary round games.  Open class, Division I, and Young Guns teams started out play late, meaning that they could sign up at the last minute.  For Open and DI, this meant that teams who got knocked out of the X-Ball brackets had another way they could be playing on Sunday, and a shot at a different trophy.

Division II 5 man started the day off in two divisions of four, playing semifinals.  The top two teams from each division would advance to the finals.  From the first division High Tech Factory team was undefeated, and Legend lost only to High Tech.  From the second division, Asylum Factory and Rogue finished similarly.  Division III 5 man, with 16 semifinalists was broken into four divisions, with only the top team from each advancing.  These were Neworleanspaintball.com, Lost Generation, Legend Kids and Ruckus.

The 5 man Young Guns, with only 8 teams competing played a preliminary round of 7 games, rather than the usual 8.  This allowed them to play every other team in their class a single time.  With only 8 teams, the young guns bypassed semis and sent the top four teams, ranked by score straight into their finals round.  In the finals Explicit Content Kidz won all three of their games for a first place finish.  Love crew lost only to Explicit, and placed second.  Third placed Primal Urge posted a win over fourth placed Pandemonium Young Guns.

Sunday morning, some of the 5 man teams were just tearing into their preliminary round games.  Open class, Division I, and Young Guns teams started out play late, meaning that they could sign up at the last minute.  For Open and DI, this meant that teams who got knocked out of the X-Ball brackets had another way they could be playing on Sunday, and a shot at a different trophy.

Division II 5 man started the day off in two divisions of four, playing semifinals.  The top two teams from each division would advance to the finals.  From the first division High Tech Factory team was undefeated, and Legend lost only to High Tech.  From the second division, Asylum Factory and Rogue finished similarly.  Division III 5 man, with 16 semifinalists was broken into four divisions, with only the top team from each advancing.  These were Neworleanspaintball.com, Lost Generation, Legend Kids and Ruckus.

The 5 man Young Guns, with only 8 teams competing played a preliminary round of 7 games, rather than the usual 8.  This allowed them to play every other team in their class a single time.  With only 8 teams, the young guns bypassed semis and sent the top four teams, ranked by score straight into their finals round.  In the finals Explicit Content Kidz won all three of their games for a first place finish.  Love crew lost only to Explicit, and placed second.  Third placed Primal Urge posted a win over fourth placed Pandemonium Young Guns.

Division I 5-man saw 9 teams competing, so everyone except the 9th ranked team, Team Aggressive advanced to semifinals. 

Open class 5-man had 5 teams competing.  While the PSP 5/10 man rules (rule 2.6.1) specify that teams be given 8 games in the preliminary rounds, the Open class teams were scheduled to play four games, one against each of their opposing teams.  Even that proved to be a bit much.  Evil Factory, a team consisting of Chicago area players used to the weather in the region maxed Team Crowley 100 to 0.  According to Robert ďRosieĒ Rose, PSPís ultimate judge, the other teams were overwhelmed by the heat and forfeited their games.  This left Evil with five more points in total than Team Crowley.  Rather than advance four teams to finals, first place was awarded to Evil, and second to Crowley, making Chicago 2005 5-man open class the shortest competition in PSPís history.

In X-Ball Division III, Sunday morning still had several games in store, with three rounds to complete before heading into the semifinal and final games.  Starting with the single loss bracket, Gridlock PBC defeated Firestorm 6 to 1.  This pitted them against the Palm Beach Vipers who the beat 13 to 3.  Tippmann Effect topped Old School Hustle 10 to 5, only to be knocked out in the next round by Gridlock PBC 6 to 5.  On the undefeated side SD Aftermath beat East Coast Empire 11 to 2, sending Empire to face Gridlock in the semifinal game.  That game went to Gridlock 8 to 7, putting East Coast Empire in a third place finish.  The finals game was won by San Diego Aftermath.  They beat Gridlock PBC 6 to 4, finishing first with Gridlock in second.

Division II had a similar number of games to complete in the morning.  On the winnerís side Less Than Zero beat ICU Rattlesnake 9 to 6, earning their spot in the finals game.  On the loserís bracket Smart Parts Factory beat RockItKids 14 to 6 and Team Xtreme beat Panic 12 to 3.  Xtreme then beat Smart Parts Factory 9 to 3, earning their semi-final match-up against ICU Rattlesnake.  That game went to ICU 10 to 4, giving Team Xtreme third place.   In the finals game LTZ proved why they are the top-ranked DII team.  They beat ICU Rattlesnake 9 to 1, taking home the first place trophy and putting ICU in second.

In Division I X-Ball there were only a semifinal and final game to play.  Docís Raiders faced off with Hoganís Alley Factory Team and beat them 8 to 4.  This put Hoganís in third place and Docís in the finals game against Gridlock.  Here, the playerís practice conditions may have paid off.  Gridlockís lineup hailed largely from Georgia and the Carolinas, compared to Docís players who see little but heat and humidity through spring and summer practices in central and south Florida.  The game with to Docís Raiders 9 to 2. 

Open X-Ball started with the Naughty Dogs versus Excessive.  That game went to Excessive by just one point, putting the Dogs in a third place finish, and sending XSV to face off with Dynasty in the final game.  There, Dynasty pounded Excessive, winning 15 to 3 and finishing first with Excessive in second.

The NXL had a relatively light day on Sunday with itís typical five game schedule, no make-up games.  The top level pro action started with an intense game between the Los Angeles Ironmen and New York Xtreme, which ended in a tie score of 8 to 8.  This was followed by Boston Red Legion beating Baltimore Trauma 7 to 3.  Miami Effect fell to the Oakland Assassins 5 to 9.  The Philly Americans beat San Diego Legacy 8 to 6.  The final game of the event for the NXL saw Chicago Aftershock beating Detroit Strange 7 to 6.

With Chicago wrapped up, the teams of the PSP are looking forward to an unknown.  The fourth leg of the annual 5 tournament series has in years past been called the redheaded stepchild of the league.  It has been held in various cities including Atlanta, Lebanon (a suburb of Nashville,) Atlantic City, and last year, the Nemacolin Woods Resort in Pennsylvania.  Nemacolin was a very positively received venue, and was planned for 2005.  Unfortunately schedule conflicts with a major golf tournament meant that finding enough hotel rooms to host the competition during the planned weekend of August 10th through 14th would not be practical.  PSPís planning team has been surveying alternate venues as well as the possibility of shifting to a different date.  PSP press coordinator Keely Watson expects that final dates and venue will be announced in early July.  They will be listed at pspevents.com and WARPIG.com.

 


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