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PSP Chicago Open
 June 22-25, 2006

XSV - First Place NXL
Gridlock - First Place DI
East Coast Empire - First Place DII
RipTide - First Place DIII
ECE Factory Team - First Place DIII 5-ManX-Ball
Paradise Kids - First Place DIV 5-Man X-Ball
Air Assault Young Guns - First Place Young Guns

Photos by JJ Ontiveros and Mark Jovic

With the coming of summer and June drawing to a close that means one thing in the world of Tournament Paintball – time for the Chicago Open.  Historically the Chicago open has been one of the biggest legs of PSP’s annual series.  In 2005 it drew over 2,000 competitors from around the world.  For 2006, the Chicago Open settled in the venue picked for the previous year, the Bolingbrook Recreation and Aquatic Complex. 

A multi-sport facility with open grass fields located in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, the BRAC was well received the previous year, and poised for mid-season action.  As the third event of the 2006 series approached questions loomed as to who would win.  With the infusion of new teams into the NXL, 2006 was unfolding as an unpredictable season at the professional level.  The series opener in Texas saw the Philly Americans bring home the trophy.  In Vegas it was Boston Red Legion. 

The effect of Chicago on series standings won’t be the same as it has been in years past for one major reason – for the first time, there are six tournaments in the year, rather than five, so there are more possibilities for teams to earn annual ranking points towards the championship.  A single win doesn’t go as far as it used to.

Games started on Thursday morning with X-Ball teams from the NXL through Division III taking to the field.  Five-Man X-Ball teams would wait until the weekend to get rolling. 

Fifty-five teams came out for the starting level of competition, Division III.  For the preliminary round these teams were divided up into groups of 5 and scheduled to play four games, one against each of the teams in their group.  Division II drew out thirty teams, also distributed into groups of five.  The smallest group, Division I consisted of seven teams, and played with a divisionless schedule that gave each team four games.

On the NXL field, after a rain delay pushed back Russian Legion’s game against New York Xtreme, the Philly Americans beat Ultimate 10 to 7.  Baltimore Trauma topped San Diego Legacy 9 to 7.  Sacramento XSV’s first match up was against Less Than Zero from Las Vegas.  XSV took LTZ 10 to 4.  Detroit Strange was victorious over the Naughty Dogs, 8 to 5.  Chicago Aftershock fell to the Oakland Assassins 5 to 14.  The Los Angeles Ironmen beat New York Xtreme 12 to 4.  In the last game of the day Dynasty rolled over Ultimate 15 to 3. 

Friday saw the divisional X-Ball fields getting through the rest of their games. 

Day two’s, pro games started with Miami Raiders falling to San Diego Legacy 4 to 11.  Boston Red Legion defeated LTZ 11 to 4.  The Philly Americans got their teeth into the Naughty Dogs for an 8 to 6 victory.  Baltimore beat Oakland by the same margin, at 9 to 7.  The Ironmen faced XSV and got the better end of the deal, finishing up with a score of 9 to 8.  Dynasty edged out Detroit Strange by just a single point, 7 to 8.  When the Miami Raiders went up against Chicago Aftershock, Miami took the game 10 to 6.  Then it was LTZ against the NYX.  New York made the win by a point with a score of 7 to 6.  Naughty Dogs beat Ultimate 9 to 6.  Legacy stepped up against the Assassins, beating them by a single point, 9 to 8.  Boston Red Legion versus XSV was an anticipated game between strong teams and did not disappoint.  It to was a one point win with Boston winning 9 to 8.  The Philly Americans fell to Detroit Strange 6 to 9.  The rain delayed game between Boston and New York was finished up with the Red Legion winning by a solid 15 to 5.

At the end of the day, the official NXL scoreboard for the tournament listed the Night Pandas with an average score margin that would rank them tenth.  This wasn’t a new NXL team, however simply a scoreboard error listing games which had actually been played in Division III, and had no impact on the NXL team advancements.

Saturday saw the 5-Man teams jumping into the action.  Five-man grew in the late 1990s, drawing large numbers of teams at Chicago and the World Cup before becoming a part of the full series.  For 2006 traditional 5-man was replaced with the new 5-Man X-Ball format.  Five-Man X-Ball plays teams for the best two out of three Centerflag 5-man games.  Their top two scores from those two or three games are added together and used to rank the teams to advance from the preliminaries to the next round.  In Chicago Division III drew out 40 teams, while seventy showed for the new Division IV.

Five-Man X-Ball teams played their games through the day on Saturday, including the second prelim round for Division IV.  Due to the number of teams in that division, the top preliminary round teams were placed into the second prelim round which served essentially as hexadecafinals, a round to determine ochofinalists.

Divisional X-Ball teams finished up their preliminary round games.  Division I, with its small group wrapped up, ready for their semifinals on Sunday.  Divisions II and III however, were sorted for their quarterfinals, which Division II was able to finish on Saturday and Division III would start the following day.

For the NXL, Saturday was the push to complete the preliminaries and split the teams up for Sunday.  Baltimore Trauma fell to Chicago Aftershock 5 to 6 in the first game of the day.  Then the Ironmen rolled through LTZ with a devastating 17 to 3 game.  The NXL rankings as teams advance to the next round are based on total wins, but teams with tied numbers of wins are ranked by their differentials – how many more points they have earned than were earned against them.  Such a strong win could definitely help the Ironmen.  When Dynasty came up against the Naughty Dogs, the Dogs took the win 9 to 7.  Miami took down Oakland 9 to 5.  XSV rained down powerfully on the New York Xtreme taking the game 17 to 2.  The day of one sided games continued with Detroit Strange devastating Ultimate 16 to 3.  San Diego Legacy racked up another win, something they’ve had trouble with in the past – a good sign that the team is coming together.  They defeated Chicago Aftershock 10 to 3.  Boston Red Legion pushed back the Los Angeles Ironmen by a solid 12 to 3.  In one of the more balanced games of the day Dynasty defeated the Philly Americans 6 to 5.  Miami Raiders took down Baltimore Trauma 8 to 4.

The NXL Quarterfinals consisted of four games, and was a single elimination round.  Winners moved on to the semifinals, and losers were out.  Boston Red Legion took down the Philly Americans 8 to 4.  San Diego Legacy beat the Miami Raiders 9 to 3.  The Naughty Dogs fell to the Los Angeles Ironmen 6 to 11 and XSV took down Strange 14 to 3.  The semifinals round pitted Legion against Ironmen and Legacy against XSV, the winners would go on to play each other in the finals for first and second, and the losers would play for third and fourth.  For Legacy this was a major showing, moving from one of the lowest ranked teams in the league over the 2005 and 2004 seasons to a final four finish.

Clouds breaking up the sun helped keep the day cool, in the mid 70s, while divisional X-Ball and 5-Man X-Ball teams kept slugging it out.  The divisional X-Ball quarterfinals ran in four groups of three teams each for both D-II and D-III.  This gave each team two games to play, with the top team from each group advancing to the semifinals.  In the Semifinals, these eight teams were joined by the four Division I semifinalists that had come straight from the prelims.  In the semis, the top ranked team played the lowest ranked team, while the middle two played each other.  This selected the order of play for the finals where the semifinal winners would play against each other for first and second, while the losing teams competed for third and fourth places.

In the Division III semifinals, Rip-Tide ripped into No Limit, winning 5 to nothing, VM Alliance defeated East Coast Killers 5 to 1.  Voltage beat Static 7 to 3 in Division II, and East Coast Empire took down Team Speed with a score of 6 to 2.  In D-I, it was the Jacksonville Raiders defeating San Diego Aftermath 7 to 3 and Gridlock beating X-Factor 9 to 2.  These teams would next see each other in the finals.

The finals round saw East Coast Killers falling to No Limit 3 to 4, putting the Killers in fourth place for D-III, and No Limit in third.  Rip Tide took VM Alliance 5 to 1 for first place.  In division II with no points earned a victory was declared for Static over Team Speed, for third place.  East Coast Empire bested Voltage by one point at 7 to 6 for first place.  In D-I, San Diego Aftermath beat out X-Factor fir third with a score of 9 to 3 while Gridlock pulled a first place win over the Jacksonville Raiders 7 to 6.

In 5-Man X-Ball the quarterfinals were played with each division’s 8 quarterfinalists split into two groups of four, playing the three other teams in their group, and passing the top two teams from each into the semifinals.  In the semis, Punisher Punks beat two games in a row, and Paradise Kids did the same to Groundfire Blue for Division IV.  Division III saw Zero Effect beating KC Impact three games in a row – a third game being played after the second was won on body count with no flag hang.  ECE Factory Team posted back to back wins over TX Justice League.  The young guns teams due to their limited number went straight from their prelims into the semifinal round.  Here Young Punishers beat N2 Kidz twice in a row.  Air Assault Paintball YG won their first game against Outbreak 2, but lost the second and won the third.

Re-shuffled, the winners from the semifinals were matched against each other to play for first and second in the finals while those that lost battled for third and fourth places. beat Groundfire Blue in their first game, but lost the second.  The won the third game, finishing the tournament in third place.  Paradise Kids took it to Punisher Punks 1 twice in a row and went home with the D-IV 5-Man X-Ball first place trophy.  In Division III KC Impact finished third with back to back wins over TX Justice League.  ECE Factory Team won against Zero Effect Twice in a row for first place.  Air Assault Paintball YG had two wins and a loss against Young Punishers, finishing in first place for the young guns, and Outbreak 2 did the same against N2 Kids finishing in third.

The NXL semifinals saw the Los Angeles Ironmen beating Boston Red Legion 8 to 4.  XSV posted a 9 to 8 victory over San Diego Legacy.  In the finals the two losing teams faced each other.  San Diego Legacy took down Boston Red Legion by one point at 8 to 7 finishing in third with Boston in fourth.  That led to the big game – the winning teams’ final match up.  XSV took the game with 8 points for first place, against the LA Ioronmen’s 5 for second.  The finals determined the places of the top four teams, but the remaining teams were ranked based on their playing record through the tournament.  This meant the Naughty Dogs were in fifth place, Detroit Strange in sixth, Miami Raiders in seventh, Philly Americans in eighth, Baltimore Trauma in ninth, Dynasty in tenth, Oakland Assassins in eleventh, Chicago Aftershock in twelfth, New York Xtreme in thirteenth, Less Than Zero in fourteenth and Ultimate in fifteenth. 

With three remaining events in the 2006 NXL Championship season, and different teams having won the three played so far, the championship rings are far from secure.  The next bid for points will come at in mid August as the series heads back west to Southern California. 

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