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In 1992, paintball was still a fledgling sport. Few outsiders would have thought that a 16 team tournament put together in New York would eventually grow into not only a behemoth of an event in terms of paintball, something that would even rival or dwarf many mainstream sporting events.
“I lost my shirt,” promoter Jerry Braun said of that first Paintball World Cup. With determination, Braun kept the event alive, and by its third year it was drawing teams in from as far as Europe. The Paintball World Cup soon quickly tied in with events around the US, some of which Braun also produced after the planned producers backed out. In 1994, the World Cup moved from New York to Kissimmee, Florida.
Kissimmee, part of the greater Orlando metropolitan area is host to numerous tourist attractions and blessed with both a plethora of inexpensive hotel rooms as well as relatively low cost flights from major cities around the world. The relocated cup was moved on the calendar, from July to October. As the anchor event of the 5 tournament series, the World Cup was held at Paintball World, a commercial paintball field operated in the woods behind the Old Town restaurant and gift shop complex. At this location the World Cup began to change the face of US tournament paintball, bringing it out of the woods a step at a time with the first US Hyperball and Sup’Airball tournament fields.
As the games of World Cup grew, so did the trade show and events surrounding it. Braun says that at one point he totaled attendees and discovered that the Paintball World Cup came in at about 1/3 the size of the Olympics.
Paintball World would not be the last stop for the World Cup. In 1999 it relocated again to nearby ranchland used for cattle grazing and heavy equipment auctions. It was at this location that eventually the woods were completely abandoned for the World Cup (with the possible exception of Ground Zero Gold vs Avalanche in 2003) a trend that was soon followed by all of the other PSP events and the NPPL, Super 7 events to later come as well as the International Amateur Open. In 2002 Walt Disney World got their first taste of hosting world-class paintball as an X-Ball exhibition tournament was held the day after World Cup at the Disney World Wide World of Sports complex. That demonstration worked well and in 2003, the World Cup, then produced by Paintball Sports Promotions, a partnership formed by previously separate tournament promoters, relocated once again – to Disney World.
The 2003 World Cup was so impressive to the staff of Disney World that before the event was over they were discussing multi-year, multi-event contracts with Paintball Sports Promotions. The result has been that in 2004, and 2005 the PSP 5 tournament series has played a tournament at the Wide World of Sports in the spring – the Orlando Open, and another in the fall – the Paintball World Cup.
Two-thousand and three also saw other changes for the Paintball World Cup. It held the birth of a new league – the NXL. Eight of the top ranked pro teams that had been competing in PSP/NPPL events joined the closed NXL league to play professional X-Ball. Tying into the trade show and event size of the PSP tournaments, the NXL has held all of its competitions at and during PSP tournaments. Also in 2003, X-Ball was added to the PSP series’ 5 and 10 man tournament formats, and quickly displaced and replaced 10 man paintball.
To the teams of the NXL, the World Cup is a final showdown. Four times a year, the teams come together to compete in regular season play. Each win earns them two league points, while a loss nets them none, and a tie garners a single point. At the end of the season, the teams were ranked based on these points. The top six teams earned their way into the playoffs to be held at World Cup. The bottom four would have to play in qualifying rounds for the right to compete.
Looking at regular season play, Boston Red Legion, playing their first season in the league finished with the top ranking at 26 points. Close behind them were Chicago Aftershock and the Oakland Assassins both tied with 22 points, followed by Baltimore Trauma at 20 points.
Boston not only held the top spot, but as the leader in both goals scored (154,) and fewest points against (71) they have shown their strength in both an offensive and defensive game. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Miami Effect, an old name for a newer team of players finished the season without winning a single game, having scored 66 points against their opponents, and having had 154 points scored against them.
San Diego Legacy, the league’s first expansion team proved to be the bad boys of the NXL. For 2005 they led the league in penalties with 39, an average of 2.6 per game. Baltimore Trauma were the goodie two shoes, facing only 20 penalty calls, comparable to Detroit Strange’s 22 and Philly’s 26.
This means that the first NXL games seen at this year’s World Cup will be Miami Effect playing against the two time league champions, the Philly Americans, and New York Xtreme playing against San Diego Legacy. These, like the rest of the remaining NXL competition will be grueling best 2 out of 3 X-Ball matches. From there the two winning teams will join the top 6 in single elimination quarterfinals. This will pare down the field to four semifinalists – half of which will be eliminated to determine the two teams that will fight each other for the championship in the finals on Sunday, October 30th, the last day of World Cup.
The Cup is the last battleground for PSP teams each year. Fighting for series championships, the teams earn points based on their finishes at the LA Open, Orlando Open, Chicago Open, Northeast Open, and World Cup. Some years, teams have locked in their championship titles, by dominating the series and reffing at World Cup (working as referees at one event earns as many points as winning it – teams are limited to reffing one event in the series.) But that is not the case this for the top teams this year.
In open class X-Ball, the division that sees the teams playing at the pro level, World Cup 2005 will be a showdown between Dynasty and Excessive, but more likely than not, Dynasty will walk away the champions. Heading into Cup, Dynasty is positioned with 292 points, versus 372 for Excessive. While Excessive got off to a slower start in the season than Dynasty, they made up for it by reffing at the Orlando Open, and the two teams have been running neck and neck in both the PSP series and the NPPL Super 7 series. For Excessive to win the series championship they will not only need to win the World Cup, but Dynasty will need to finish in fourth place to tie, or lower for Excessive to win it outright.
With Dynasty most probably finishing first in the series and XSV second, third and fourth look likely to go to the next two ranked teams, Naughty Dogs and Avalanche. Where their rank will depend on their finishes. In 2005, Avalanche has been stronger in the NPPL and the Dogs stronger in PSP. Looking at trends in PSP performance, Naughty Dogs have improved, while Avalanche has been on a decline.
Looking down to further divisions, X-Factor has a strong lead in D1, as does LTX in DII. Similarly in DII, SD Aftermath is looking good as a favorite as the top ranked team with three first place wins under their belt.
In the five man competition, a format that has always been huge at the World Cup, but often lagged at other events in the series, Diesel has already locked up the title. With first place wins in LA and the Northeast Open, as well as second place at Orlando and Chicago, their 110 series point lead over second ranked Spectrum PR means that they’ve already taken the title before stepping on the field at World Cup.
In DII things are much more dicey. Team Splatball has only a narrow lead over Hollywood Sports Park’s home team Naughty X Nature. Punishment holds a stronger lead in Division III and their wins at LA and the NEO speak well with of their chances to rank high enough at World Cup to be champions. For the Young Guns division, which started with the Orlando Open, DBS Kidz are in the top slot, but next behind them is Primal Urge. While Primal hasn’t done was well, they’ve played in more of the events, garnering more points.
World Cup 2005 is scheduled to run from
October 24th through the 30th. With more than 370 teams scheduled
to play on eleven tournament paintball fields, and more than 50 product
manufacturers and vendors (some producing several product lines) at the
Wide World of Sports, Paintball World Cup 2005 will be a massive event.
Onsite registration will begin on the 24th, as will the NXL qualifying
rounds. Divisional X-Ball play and 5 man competition will be starting
on the 25th. The 5-man finals will be held on the 26th.
Divisional X-Ball and pro NXL games will continue on through the 30th.
Spectator admission both for watching the games, and for attending the
trade show is free, with no charge for parking.
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