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DII/DIII Prelims

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PSP Northeast Open
 August 2005
Photos by Jim Riggleman

NXL Commissioner's Cup - Boston Red Legion
NXL Eastern Division Champs - Boston Red Legion
NXL Western Division Champs - Oakland Assassins

The Northeast Open came to pass after the separate event promoters joined forces to create Paintball Sports Promotions.  As the fourth tournament in the annual five event series, it had previously been held in venues including Atlanta, Nashville and Portland.  When PSP placed the event just outside Atlantic City, it drew strong response from teams in the NorthEast who were used to traveling west for two tournaments at the start of the season.  In 2004, the tournament found a new home at Nemacolin Woods, and drew very positive reviews. 

Unfortunately, a schedule conflict with a major golf tournament meant that although the Nemacolin site was available for 2005, there would not be enough nearby hotel rooms to support the players and spectators.  The new venue selected for 2005 was the Turner Valley Complex, a sporting complex with open soccer fields, located near enough to Pittsburgh, PA, to take advantage of the airport and city access.  While not too distant from the city, the location is out in rural Pennsylvania.  Todd Martinez of Dynasty described it as “Right next door to the Blair Witch’s house,” and added “There’s a mechanical bull at the field, so we’re going to have a hoedown.”

As has become the new standard for PSP events, games started on Thursday with the X-Ball competitions.  Five man teams were able to check the site and take care of registration while preparing for games that would begin on Saturday.

Games for the National X-Ball League held at the tournament took on a heightened sense of importance.  As the final event of regular season play, series ranking points earned by wins and losses at the NorthEast open would determine how the pro teams were ranked for the elimination based series finals at the Paintball World Cup.  A higher ranking would mean that their first games would be against weaker teams.

Thursday’s games started out with lower X-Ball divisions.  Eighteen teams competed in Division III, getting in their first round games.  Losing teams were re-shuffled into the left side scoring bracket, where another loss would send them home.  Winning teams advanced to the right of the bracket where one undefeated team would face a team with only one loss in the finals game on Sunday.

Division II, with 21 teams was a bit more full, and saw some expected wins.  Because of their top series ranking, Less Than Zero (LTZ) had a bye the first round, and got on the field in the second round facing Devious and defeating them 10 to 7.  The smaller Division I brackets had eight teams competing.  Top ranked X-Factor trounced Diesel 13 to 5 in the first round.  Doc’s Raiders fell to Gridlock 9 to 7.  Fusion took Jax Warriors 9 to 7 and DC Devastation edged out Hogan’s Alley Factory Team 10 to 9.  In the first round of left side games Doc’s Raiders knocked Diesel out of the tournament by handing them their second loss at 10 to 3.  Hogan’s Alley again won by a single point, taking Jax Warriors out of the running 9 to 8. 

The five teams competing in the open class X-Ball division would not take to the field until Friday afternoon.  For the NXL though, it was a different story.  The first match of the day was between Chicago Aftershock and the Oakland Assassins.  Chicago won the game by one point, finishing 10 to 9.  San Diego Legacy was defeated by Detroit Strange 18 to 5.  Boston Red Legion beat the Philly Americans 11 to 7.  New York Xtreme took down Miami Effect 10 to 6, and Baltimore Trauma tied with the Los Angeles Ironmen 10 to 10.

Friday’s weather held for the games with partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 90s.  Thunderstorms forecast for the weekend were threatening to shake things up.  The day saw the Division III teams whittled down through the double elimination process.  By day’s end San Diego Aftermath showed why they are leading the series.  They remained undefeated, and sat poised one tier away from the finals game. 

In Division II, Less Than Zero mirrored SD Aftermath’s performance, who had advanced to a position two tiers away from the finals by playing without loss.  Division I, while filled with fewer teams had no less decisive action.  X-Factor took down Gridlock 9 to 5 and DC Devastation defeated Fusion 10 to 9.  X-Factor and DC Devastation were then poised to play each other on Saturday morning for the right to play in the finals game.  In the afternoon Doc’s Raider’s sent Fusion packing by handing them their second loss 10 to 6. 

Open class was where the top divisional teams faced off in the afternoon.  Dynasty took down Infamous 11 to 5.  Excessive defeated Avalanche 10 to 6.  This put Dynasty against Excessive on Saturday.  Later in the day, on the left bracket Naughty Dogs, Inc. beat Avalanche 11 to 5 and sent them home.  Saturday afternoon the Dogs would face Infamous.  One team would be eliminated, and the other would go on the play the loser of the Dynasty/Excessive game.

The pro teams in the closed circuit of the NXL started the day with Detroit Strange falling to the Philly Americans 7 to 8.  Miami Effect was defeated by Baltimore Trauma 7 to 14.  In a game that surprised many, Los Angeles Ironmen beat Boston Red Legion 10 to 9.  Oakland defeated San Diego 13 to 6 and New York fell to Chicago 6 to 10.

In Saturday’s Division III X-Ball games Tippmann Effect upset San Diego Aftermath 7 to 6.  This put D III leader Aftermath onto the left side bracket and set up Tippmann to play in the finals game on Sunday.  On the left side East Coast Empire defeated Alliance 12 to 5, setting them up for a Sunday morning game against San Diego Aftermath.  The loser would go home, and the winner would advance to face Tippmann Effect.

Division II saw a similar upset.  In the morning division leader LTZ beat Team Speed 9 to 5, and Team Xtreme took down 10 to 7.  In the afternoon, Team Xtreme defeated Less Than Zero 7 to 5.  This sent LTZ to the left side bracket, where they were poised for a Sunday morning game against Team Speed, the winner of which would face Team Xtreme in the finals.

In Division I, XFactor continued playing undefeated and earned their seat in the finals game by beating DC Devastation 9 to 8.  On the left side bracket Doc’s Raiders sent Gridlock home with a 9 to 8 win.  Sunday morning, the Raiders would face Devastation to decide on the finalist that would face XFactor.

Open class is where the big boys played and Dynasty was knocked off of their undefeated run as Excessive beat them 11 to 7.  On the left side bracket Naughty Dogs beat Infamous 9 to 8, sending them packing.  Sunday’s action would start off with the Dogs versus Dynasty, deciding who would face Excessive.

Division II and III 5-man prelims finished up on Saturday.  Each team played eight games, with 100 points possible per game.  At the end of the prelims, teams were advanced based on their total points earned.  Lost Generation was the leader in Division III.  Out of 42 teams competing in the division, 16 advanced on to Sunday’s semifinals.  The cut was pretty wide, as the 16th ranked team, Encounter finished up with 498 points compared to 432 of 17th ranked Heavy Hitters. 

Division II, with only 26 teams competing moved 8 teams to the semis.  Naughty X nature was at the top of the pack with 746 points.  Tied in the 8th spot with 508 points were Full Throttle II and Drive.  The tie-breaker went in Full Throttle’s favor, as the two teams had played each other during the prelims, and Full Throttle was the winner of that game 96 to 8.

The remaining 5-man divisions, DI and Young Guns would play all of their games on Sunday.

The NXL’s professional X-Ball games for Saturday started with Boston Red Legion taking down San Diego Legacy 16 to 6.  The Philly Americans tied the Los Angeles Ironmen 8 to 8.  Miami Effect fell to Detroit Strange, but only by one point at 9 to 10.  Oakland Assassins bet New York Xtreme 11 to 6.  The final game of the day was a draw between Chicago Aftershock and Baltimore Trauma at 9 points each.

For the teams of the NXL, Sunday was the last day of 2005 regular season play, and what a season of changes it was.  Coming into the Northeast Open the league’s newest team, Boston Red Legion was dominating in the standings.  Not only had did they have the highest rank, but they were the leaders in points scored.  Even more impressive was their total differential score – the goals they had earned with the goals their opponents had earned subtracted from them.  A strong differential score shows that a team has both a strong offense and a strong defense, and Boston’s differential of 83 points blew away their closest competitor – Baltimore Trauma, which only had 35, the rest of the teams were lower, several into the negative numbers.  Trauma, which ranked second in the league heading into the Northeast Open was the leader in clean play, with the fewest penalties assessed against them at 20.  In contrast San Diego Legacy were poised as the league’s bad boys leading the penalty chart with 19 penalties assessed.

Sunday’s games started with the Philly Americans defeating Miami Effect 13 to 8.  Detroit Strange beat New York Xtreme 13 to 5.  The Oakland Assassins took down Baltimore Trauma 8 to 7.  This game was critical to Oakland in terms of their final finish.  They came to Pittsburgh tied in series points with Chicago Aftershock at 22 points.  Friday, Thursday and Saturday both teams had earned two wins (worth two series points each, but Chicago had pulled an additional tie (worth one series point.)  How the two played on Sunday would determine the Western Conference Champion.  The next game was between Boston and Chicago.  The Red Legion triumphed, defeating Aftershock 13 to 8, and putting in Oakland as the Western champs.  The Eastern Conference Champions were Boston Red Legion, and the Commissioner’s Cup, awarded to the top ranked team at the end of regular season play, went to Boston Red Legion.

For the NXL, the next stop is PSP’s Paintball World Cup.  The Philly Americans, champions of the NXL’s first two seasons will find themselves playing Miami Effect in a qualifying round competing for the right to get into the playoffs.  New York and San Diego will be the other qualifying pairing.  Like the playoffs and finals, the qualifying rounds will pit the teams against each other in grueling best two out of three X-Ball games.  These games will take place the first Sunday and Monday of World Cup, followed by a Tuesday break, and then the start of the playoff rounds.

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