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Orlando Open
 April 21-24, 2005

Open X-Ball - Dynasty
D1 X-Ball - Jax Warriors
D2 X-Ball - Team LTZ
D3 X-Ball - San Diego Aftermath

5 Man D1 - Runnin Wild
5 Man D2 - Hi Tec Factory Team
5 Man D3 - TPA
5 Man Young Guns - DBS Kidz

March 20th through 24th, the Orlando Open marked the second leg of the PSP 2005 season.  The event was located on the green manicured turf of Disney’s Wide World of Sports.  The site, now home to two PSP events each year had been set up a week early and used for the National Collegiate Paintball Association’s annual Championship event.

Following the NCPA, the fields next saw action with the X-Ball games of PSP divisional X-Ball as well as the NXL professional games.  The move to drop 10 man competition in 2005 put PSP events on a more compact time schedule than in past years.  X-Ball games ran from Thursday through Sunday, and 5-man games from Friday through Sunday.  While shortening the time competing teams would need to be on the road, one significant addition made its first appearance at Orlando – the Young Guns competition.

While it has not been uncommon to see Young Gun divisions at large stand alone events like the International Amateur Open, or the very successful regional Young Guns series in the Pan Am, the addition of the division in the PSP marks the first time there has been a national youth oriented tournament series.  Limiting the competitors to the age of fifteen years and younger put many of these newer players on a more even footing with the teams they were facing.

Another new feature at the event was a printed program.  In past years, World Cup has been the only event in the PSP series to include a glossy color printed program.  More than simply being a guide to what fields are where, and a schedule of games, the Orlando Open program included advertising from a number of local restaurants who were offering discounts to anyone showing an Orlando Open ID card.  Paintball Sports Promotions is working to increase this type of cross-promotional tie ins at future events.

The bulk of the first day divisional X-Ball games were for divisions one through three.  The Open Division with its smaller grouping of 5 teams saw only one fist day game.  Naughty Dogs, Inc. took down Ultimate 8 to 6.  XSV was notably missing from the schedule, but they weren’t no-shows, they were busy on the fields working as refs. 

While divisional X Ball played, the NXL played their pro games as well.  The NXL scheduled in 6 games per day, to make up for games lost to rain-outs during the Los Angeles Open.  The opening pairing was between San Diego Legacy and Chicago Aftershock.  Shock took that game 11 to 5.  Chicago fared even better against the Los Angeles Ironmen, defeating them 14 to 8.  Boston Red Legion bested San Diego Legacy by a single point, 10 to 9.  Detroit Strange topped New York Xtreme 10 to 9.  Baltimore Strange took down the Philly Americans 12 to 8, and the Oakland Assassins beat Miami Effect 17 to 5.

Spectators and paintball enthusiasts were able to see more than just the paintball games.  The tournament’s trade show included display trailers from major names in paintball including National Paintball Supply, PMI, Shocktech, DYE, CP, Worr Game Products and JT, Smart Parts, Empire, Tippmann, Proto and more.  A number of smaller companies set up show tents, or took booth space inside a vendor display tent. 

The second day of competition, Friday saw the divisional X-Ball games continuing and the start of the 5-man prelims, as well as more NXL games.  In the NXL, Philly defeated Miami 10 to 9.  New York fell to San Diego 7 to 13.  Baltimore defeated Chicago 13 to 8.  Boston beat Los Angeles, also with a score of 13 to 8.  Oakland toppled Detroit 11 to 8, and Baltimore posted a 14 to 7 win over Miami.

In Division Open X-Ball Naughty Dog posted their second win, this time against the top ranked Dynasty 13 to 8.  Avalanche took down Infamous 8 to 7

Saturday, the third day of the tournament the otherwise perfect paintball weather took a turn for the worse.  In the late afternoon rain showers dampened the field.  Fortunately they were only heavy in short bursts and did not inhibit game play as they did during the LA Open.  While the X-Ball games ran smoothly, the refs on the 5 man fields worked to catch up games that were running late. 

An unusual scheduling method was applied to the 5-man preliminary rounds in order to allow teams that were knocked out of X-Ball in the first two rounds, the opportunity to compete in the 5-man.  In order to do this some teams were scheduled to play four of their preliminary round games on Friday, and four on Saturday.  Others, including those who came over from X-Ball were set to play all eight of their games Saturday.  The change in the way the games were scheduled also came in the form of how they were scheduled.  Rather than the 8 games described in rule 1.1.1, Division 1 five-man teams were given a total of 10 games.  Consistent with the LA Open, and unlike past seasons, the 5 man teams only played within their own divisions.  This meant that for the 6 Division 1 teams 10 games allowed them to play every other D1 team twice, avoiding the chance of a “good draw” or a “hard draw.”

While this new format was well accepted by the teams who wanted the one-day prelim option, changes made to the Saturday schedule on Saturday night meant that some teams who expected to play in the afternoon were needed on site in the morning.  Delays in getting teams where they needed to be on time meant other games ran behind schedule.  Despite the delays, the 5 man prelims were still able to finish on Saturday in preparation for their semifinals on Sunday.

Saturday’s Open X-Ball games started in the single loss bracket.  Infamous posted a strong win over Ultimate 11 to 6.  The next match between Naughty Dogs and Avalanche ended in a strong win for the Dogs – 10 to 5.  Then Dynasty knocked Infamous out of the running by a single point, 6 to 5.  This meant that Dynasty would face Avalanche on Sunday to see who would battle with the Naughty Dogs for the title.

Open division X Ball didn’t have the corner on the action market.  The Lost Angeles Ironmen came out strong in the morning, defeating New York Xtreme 12 to 8.  Boston Red Legion topped Baltimore Trauma 8 to 6.  The Oakland Assassins beat the two time NXL champs, Philadelphia Americans 13 to 8.  Detroit Strange fell to San Diego Legacy 10 to 9.  The last NXL game of the day was between Miami Effect and Chicago Aftershock.  Shock took the match 12 to 4.

Sunday morning Dynasty pounded Avalanche 13 to 4, winning their position in the finals game.  In the afternoon they faced the Naughty Dogs for the trophy.  Dynasty won the game, edging out the Dogs by one point, 7 to 6.  In Division 1, the Jax Warriors had played through their first three matches undefeated, and an 8 to 5 win over Fusion on Saturday put them in line for the finals game.  On Sunday they faced X-Factor, which had earned their spot in the final game by beating Fusion 8 to 6.  On Sunday afternoon the Warriors soundly defeated X-Factor 13 to 5, bringing home first place.

Division 2 saw Team Less Than Zero beating Disaster 10 to 2 when both teams were undefeated.  Bumped to the left side of the bracket Disaster played Team Xtreme and lost 1 to 7.  This put Xtreme up against LTZ in the finals match.  Division 2 was won by Team LTZ with a 10 to 3 game.  In Division 3, San Diego Aftermath trounced East Coast Empire 10 to 3, securing their spot in the finals game.  With their first loss, East Coast Empire was bumped to the left side of the bracket where they faced that side’s winner, Tippmann Effect.  Empire defeated Tippmann 8 to 5 and found themselves back on the right side of the bracket system, in the finals game.  San Diego Aftermath finished the tournament in first place by defeating East Coast Empire 8 to 5.

The 5-man prelims finished out Saturday evening, and the top teams moved on to semifinals – except for Division 1.  With only 6 teams, the top four finishers were advanced straight to finals.  This knocked out fifth ranked Spectrum Puerto Rico, and sixth ranked  The 44 teams of Division 2 were stripped down to the top 16.  Big drama came for Drive and Industry who tied for the 16th position at 498 points.  The PSP 5 man rules break ties by first advancing the team that won, if the two played head to head in the current, or previous rounds.  Drive and Industry had not played each other, so the next tie breaker was invoked, a comparison of total live players (which the rules refer to as having received the fewest eliminations).  Out of 8 games Drive finished with a total of 8 live players.  Industry on the other hand finished with a total of 16, and went on to the semifinals.

The 56 teams in Division 3 5-man had the most drastic cut, trimming down to 16 semifinalists.  Both first ranked Punishment and second ranked TPA finished the prelims undefeated. 

The 5-Man young guns didn’t start their preliminary games until Sunday morning.  With none of their games on a school day, travel was easier for the 15 year old and younger players.  While the PSP 5-Man rules (rule 2.6.3) specify that a preliminary division with less than 31 teams, but more than 8 will send 8 teams to semifinals, the 12 young guns teams were not a part of the standard competition.  Instead of semis, the top four teams, Ranch Road Paintball, Kids with Gatz, SoFla Army and DBS Kidz went straight to finals.

For divisions 2 and 3, the teams were divided into four divisions of four.  Each team played the other three teams in its division and the top team from each division advanced to the finals, ranked by total scores from the semifinal round.

The finals on Sunday afternoon were the games where the prizes were on the line.  The top four teams all played each other, and their total scores after those three games each determined the final four rankings for each 5 man division. 

In Division 1, Runnin Wild won their first two games, but lost their third to Diesel.  It was no matter, they still finished in first place.  Diesel finished second, The Other Fury third and Fury fourth.

Hi-Tec Factory Team similarly won their first two games in the Division 2 finals, but dropped their third to Wildfire.  Despite the loss, they had accumulated the points needed to edge out Team Splatball for first place.  Wildfire finished third, and Oh-Nos GNR in fourth.

Division 3 had a more solid win, as TPA beat all three of their competitors for a first place finish.  Lost Generation dropped only their game against TPA, finishing second, and Villain came in third, ahead of Punishment.

The Young Guns 5-man finals had a similar strong finish for DBS Kidz, who won all of their games.  Their prelim game against Kids with Gatz was their only loss in the tournament.  Finishing second was Ranch Road Paintball, followed by SoFla Army and Kids with Gatz.

While divisional X-Ball and 5-man were finishing, the NXL, just kept on rolling through their regular season games.  San Diego Legacy fell to the Oakland Assassins 13 to 6.  The Philly Americans beat Chicago Aftershock 10 to 6.  Detroit Strange tied with the Los Angeles Ironmen 10 to 10.  Miami Effect was beaten by Boston Red Legion 4 to 14, and New York Xtreme was served a 6 to 13 loss by Baltimore Trauma.

In addition to the game action on field, other moves were afoot in the NXL.  Through the event, NXL Commissioner Mike Ratko successfully field-tested a system to isolate the sound of a single paintgun firing on the field from the scoring tower.  A highly directional parabolic microphone homed in on the sound, while a computer based programmable parametric equalizer removed frequencies that carried background noise.  The result was a clear and clean signal of individual guns firing. 

Having proved the concept sound (pun intended,) Ratko plans to incorporate it with a real-time counting and timing system to soon be able to read a player’s rate of fire in game as easily as sighting them with the microphone.  This would represent a significant step forward in enforcing the on-field rate of fire limit used in both the NXL and PSP.  The present enforcement method involves a referee holding an acoustic timer just below the barrel of the suspect paintgun.  When referees are able to spot check players remotely, the players won’t know when they are being monitored, making the chance of activating a rate of fire cheat much more risky.  According to Ratko, he expects to have the new equipment fully operational in time for the next event.

As the sun set over Disney’s Wide World of Sports and the 2005 Orlando Open, plans were already underway for the next event in the PSP season, the Chicago Open in June.

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