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March 13-16, 2008
NXL - Oakland
Professional level paintball hit Arizona for the first time as the Paintball Sports Promotions event staff organized the first of five events for the 2008 season. Held at the Glendale Youth Sports Complex at the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, Arizona, the Phoenix Open hosted the professional teams playing in the NXL as well as the amateurs in Divisional X-Ball games and 5-man. An added competition for Sunday's schedule included the NCPA sanctioned JT Sports Southwest College and High School Regional Championships. Five man college teams readied themselves to compete in an effort to move ahead in the national rankings while 3-man high school teams aimed for a trip to the High School National Championships to be held later in the year.
The 2008 PSP season lineup include tournaments in Phoenix, then in May the league returns to the PBC Sports Park in Rock Hill South Carolina for the Mid Atlantic Open. The Chicago Open will be held in June as it has been for over a decade. The Northeast Open returns to Pennsylvania in August at the All-American Paintball Park in Smart Parts' backyard in Greensburg, PA. The final competition of the series will return to Disney's Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida this October, a traditional Mecca of paintball fans and players alike.
The NXL is a closed league, with its teams either playing under franchises (owning a stake in the league) or by invitation, based on performance in PSP Open Class. Moving up the PSP ranks to the NXL this year are four new teams. San Diego Aftermath moves up after winning the 2007 PSP Open Class series championship. Joining them are Tampa Bay Damage, Edmonton Impact and 2007 World Cup Open Class winners, Saint Louis Avalanche.
The NXL tournament schedule uses the 2007 rankings to pit the lowest four teams against the top four teams in the opening matches of the NXL on Thursday, meaning the Los Angeles Ironmen, Boston Red Legion, Dynasty, and Seattle Naughty Dogs all get to face the new blood. Also playing in the NXL in 2008's first event are X-Factor, Chicago Aftershock, Oakland Infamous, and the Philly Americans. Not appearing in the fresh 2008 lineup debuting in Phoenix were 8 teams with the weakest finish to the 2007 season - 9th place Detroit Strange, 10th ranked Jacksonville Raiders, 11th place New York Hurricanes, 12th place Sacramento XSV, 13th ranked Baltimore Trauma, 14th ranked Ultimate, and 15th and 16th ranked Las Vegas LTZ and San Diego Legacy which pulled out of their bottom slots before the River City Open in 2007.
Divisional 1 X-Ball games were scheduled to be played though out the four days of the Phoenix tournament with the goal of a $10,000 purse for first place. Division I plays a race to 7 game, in which a score of seven points, or completion of the 15 minute game clock ends the match. D2 X-Ball gets a cool $8,000 prize for first place with the same race to 7 points and a 15 minute game time. Division 3 X-Ball has a lower point limit, just 5 points will win a game in a 15 minute period, the winner receiving $5,000 for first place. Five man prizes of $2,500 for the first place winner in D3 and $1,800 for D4 would be decided by a round robin format of games, the best of two of three games making the decision for who would move on to the next round of matches.
Thursday's NXL games showed not only the top professional teams in today's paintball, but the hunger in the newest teams to have joined the league. Los Angeles Ironmen, top of the league last year dropped the first NXL match to Tampa Bay Damage with a 7-2 score. Boston Red Legion beat out Saint Louis Avalanche with a 7-2 score as well. The Seattle Naughty Dogs beat San Diego Aftermath 7-5 and Edmonton Impact took down Dynasty 7-1. X-Factor took Philly Americans 7-3, then Oakland Infamous beat Chicago Aftershock 7-1. Los Angeles Ironmen pulled their game back together in their second match, beating San Diego Aftermath 7-5. Boston Red Legion took home their second win of the day with a 7-3 score over Edmonton Impact. Naughty Dogs likewise won their second game, beating Tampa Bay Damage 7-5. In the final game of the day on Thursday, Dynasty came back from their morning game to win over Saint Louis Avalanche with a 7-5 score.
Friday's games continued on the X-Ball fields in both divisional play as well as on the NXL field. In the NXL, the Los Angeles Ironmen won over Philly Americans 7-6 while Boston Red Legion took down Oakland Infamous 7-1. Seattle Naughty Dogs lost to X-Factor 4-7 while Dynasty lost to Chicago Aftershock 5-6. Tampa Bay Damage beat San Diego Aftermath 7-6 while Edmonton Impact scored the same over Saint Louis Avalanche. Los Angeles Ironmen lost to X-Factor 4-7. Boston Red Legion continued their reign with a 7-3 win over Chicago Aftershock. Seattle Naughty Dogs handed Philly their third loss with a 7-4 score. And the final game of the day was Dynasty beating Oakland Infamous 7-3. Saturday would see the NXL continue on the field with ten games scheduled as well as the start of the 5-man action in the X-Ball format.
Saturday showed the five man teams hitting field with 17 D3 teams and 33 D4 teams playing for spots in the next round of games. Out of the seventeen D3 5-man teams, only 8 would move on on Sunday. Of the 33 D4 teams, 16 would move on.
On the NXL field on Saturday Philly Americans beat Tampa Bay Damage 7-4. Oakland beat Avalanche 7-4 and then X-Factor beat San Diego Aftermath 7-2. Chicago Aftershock dropped by one point to Edmonton, with the final score 6-5 in favor of the Canadians. Ironmen beat the Naughty Dogs with a 7-1 victory. Boston suffered their first loss of the event to Dynasty, the final score 7-6 to the boys in blue. Philly Americans continued their winning trend 7-5 over Aftermath. Oakland Infamous beat Edmonton 7-4 while X-Factor scored the same over Tampa Bay Damage. The final NXL game of the day went to Chicago Aftershock with a 7-4 win over Avalanche.
Division 1, 2 and 3 teams took to the fields on Saturday to play their quarter finals. Of the 11 D1 teams, just four moved on to play each other. Damage in first place would play fourth ranked Dark Legion. Vicious in second place would play Palm Beach Vipers.
In D2, just twelve teams made the cut, being split into two divisions. Then in D3, the twenty-three teams were culled down to the top twelve.
Sunday would see six NXL teams moving on to play in two divisions. X-Factor, Oakland Infamous and Seattle Naughty Dogs would play each other. Boston Red Legion, Los Angeles Ironmen and Edmonton Impact would take the second division, facing off against each other. Games would start at 8:00 on Sunday morning with X-Factor taking on the Seattle Naughty Dogs with games running throughout the day with the final game set to start at 4:00 p.m.
Sunday games would also be the start for the college and high school teams, a competition that alot of the fans were eager to see.
With the quarter finals complete for the divisional X-Ball teams, only four from each division would play on into the afternoon on Sunday. From Division 2, TPA Revolution was slated to take on the New Jersey Jesters, while Fierce woul play DBS Kids. In D3, Total Karnage was facing off against Ghetto Smurfs and DSSP8ntball was battling with Qualityttr.
On the five man fields, Division 4 went to Ocho finals whittled down to just 16 teams from the original 33 teams. Meanwhile the D3 5 man waited for quarter final matches. In two divisions of four, the 5 man teams took to the fields once again for three games in the quarter finals. The top four teams then moved on to the semi-final round with D3 teams JFK, Stinger Factory, No Limit, and PBrack facing off. The D4 teams heading into the semi round were MPS, NY Status, Texas Threat and RNT Kidz. The semi-final round was best two games out of three against one team. Top of the pack JFK battled with PBrack, the fourth ranked team and beat them after an inital game loss. Stinger Factory and No Limit had a similar battle, with No Limit coming out on top. In D4, MPS took on RNT Kidz, but dropped their first two games, giving RNT two perfect games. Texas Threat and NY Status traded games, the victory going to Texas Threat.
The finals matches for the 5 man teams were of similar structure. Top team JFK took on fourth ranked team Stinger Factory and was on top but forfeited the last match giving them a third place finish, Stinger in fourth. No Limit dropped their first game against PBrack, but pulled out the second game and had a max in the third giving them first place, PBrack in second.
D4 final games saw NY Status and MPS battle and after an inital dropped game, NY Status came back for third place, MPS in fourth. Texas Threat lost to RNT Kidz in the first game of their three game final, but came from behind to take first place, giving the Kidz second.
Divisional X-Ball teams saw RNT Allstarz in first of the D1 bracket after their victory over Damage. Vicious beat out over CDR for third place. D2 TPA Revolution scored over Fierce, which secured first place for TPA, Fierce in second, DBS Kidz in third and New Jersey Jesters in fourth. In D3 Total Karnage won the big game over DSSP8ntball, while the Ghetto Smurfs took home third place and Qualityttr took home fourth.
Sunday's NXL games had X-Factor taking on the Seattle Naughty Dogs in the first game, winning 7-3 over the Dogs. Second game was Boston Russian Legion against Edmonton Impact 7-5. Oakland Infamous took on the Dogs and won 7-3, then Edmonton took down the Ironmen 7-4. Oakland, finding their stride took down X-Factor 7-6 and Boston took down Ironmen 7-4. Finals were pitched with Oakland Infamous taking on the Boston Red Legion with only 7 men on their roster for the event, but still managed to come out on top, 7-6 over the Russians for a 2008 Phoenix Open victory.
Next up for the PSP would be the Atlantic Open in South Carolina in May.