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PSP Chicago Open

June 23-26, 2011 - CPX Sports - Joliet, IL

Pro First Place - Boston Red Legion
D-I RaceTo5 First Place - Hurricanes
D-II RaceTo5 First Place - Grad Moscow
D-III RaceTo4 First Place - Detroit Action
D-IV RaceTo4 First Place - Imperial
Open RaceTo2 First Place - Total Greif
D-III RaceTo2 First Place - CRU LT
D-IV RaceTo2 First Place - Revo II

For Paintball Sports Promotions, the Chicago Area is home turf. In the days when the original NPPL tournament series included the Chicago Open, it was produced by Renick Miller's Bad Boyz Toyz, and Miller went on to become a founding partner in Paintball Sports Promotions. With various venues over the years, the BBT or PSP produced Chicago Open has been in the woods at Miller's own Badlandz paintball field, in an urban horse racing track, a suburban recreation complex, and now at CPX Sports paintball field just a few weeks after the same venue hosted the NPPL's Chicago tournament. For midwest teams, this scheduling provided a unique opportunity to compare and contrast two different tournament series at the same location, and for Chicagoland paintball fans, it also meant they'd have the chance to see some action from the top teams in both leagues.

At least there would have been a straight-up comparison if weather hadn't intervened. PSP and the event promoters who formed it are no strangers to severe weather. In 1999, the Paintball World Cup got off to a late start because Hurricane Irene, slowing down to tropical storm wind speeds, came through Central Florida, delaying set-up of the fields. Game schedules had to be adjusted for a later start, and even then field flooding caused more delays resulting in a heavily criticized event. In 2005, World Cup again faced the wrath of a hurricane's remnants, this time it was Hurricane Wilma, that blew through mid-tournament, causing re-scheduling of mid-week games.

This year, a super-cell storm rolled through the Chicagoland area, spinning off tornadoes and bringing rain with winds reaching hurricane speeds, just a day and a half before the Chicago Open was due to start. Not surprisingly, field netting and pop-up gazebos that were left set-up didn't fare so well against the heavy wind loading. Seventeen of the steel poles which hold up the field netting were broken or bent permanently out of shape, while a large number of the team pit tents were heavily mangled. With no small amount of effort both on the logistics and manpower sides of things, the site was cleaned up, rebuilt, and games were re-scheduled to run longer hours on 5 fields instead of the original six. Unfortunately, as a result of the changes, the Tactical Race 2 division was cancelled. As is often the case in events like this, it wasn't just the paid staff from PSP that labored to bring the site and fields back together, but also volunteers - players looking forward to the competition and wanting it to be the best it can be.

Despite schedule shuffling there was no shortage of action on the fields. The Race To 2 (traditional 5-man center-flag format) competition was played in three skill levels - D4, D3 and Open. Forty-eight teams turned out for D4 Race To 2, a larger showing for just this division than most local tournaments see. For the preliminary round, each team played four match-ups. Each pairing resulted in 2 or 3 games, as the teams played for a best two out of three in order to be considered a win. Ranked based on their total scores, lower ranked advancing teams played on match each in the Top 24/32 knock-out round, the winning teams having the chance to face the upper ranked prelims teams in the OchoFinals, another knock-out round, leading to the quarterfinal round where the 8 remaining teams once again played a single knock-out game leaving the final four. As in all of the tournament's divisions, the final four teams played one match each (2-3 games) with the highest ranked teams facing each other, and the middle ranked teams facing each other. In this round, the losers were not knocked out. Instead, they were paired against each other in the finals, where the winner would take third place, and the loser fourth. Similarly, the winning semifinalists would play for first and second in the finals, and that's what they did. Atlanta Breakout Gold lost their first game against Mac Daddy All-Stars, but won the second two for the division's third place trophy. Revo II took down Syndicate twice in a row for first place.

Division 3 Race To 2 saw 22 teams coming out to compete, also with four match-ups in their preliminary round. The top four teams went to straight to the Quarter Finals where they were matched against the top four teams that survived the Ochofinals (teams 5-12 from the prelims). The final four teams moved on through the semis and into the finals where Last Call fell to Team Betrayal for fourth place, and CRU LT defeated Seek and Destroy in two games for the win.

The smallest competition, the Race To 2 Open division had 5 teams competing, meaning that the preliminary round simply knocked out two teams, with the second and third ranked teams playing off for third and a shot at the finals. In the finals Total Greif defeated Dallas Notorious in two straight games for first place. It's not surprising that a total Greif squad finished first, since three of the 5 competing teams were Greif squads, but this also marked a double-win for the crew from St. Louis, as they also took the pump title at the NPPL's Chicago Open tournament just a few weeks before.

In the Race To 4 format teams played a true repeating score game that ends with the clock running down, or one team hitting the race-to score, Division 4 was another small competitive field, with eight teams. Here the top four teams from the preliminary round advanced to the semis and finals. In the finals MOmentum fell to North Texas Shockwave 3 to 4 for fourth place, while Imperial's 3-2 win over Central Florida Paintball gave them first place.

Division 3 had a larger showing with 34 teams, playing 4 games each. The top four teams went straight to the quarterfinals, while the next 8 went to the ochofinals, paring down to produce the next 4 quarterfinalists. The winning teams from the single game quarterfinals advanced to the semis and the finals where Annihilators Edge defeated Rapinas 4-3 for third place and Detroit Action's 4 to 1 win over Boom II gave them the division's first place trophy.

Stepping up to Division 2, the teams were playing Race To 5 format, where each game ends after the clock runs out or they have scored 5 flag hangs. Seventeen teams played four games each in the preliminary round with the top 8 going on to the quarterfinals where a single game knocked out half the teams. The final four were re-ranked by the semifinals and in the finals DOW Warberg took third place by defeating Distortion 3-2, and Wolfpak fell to the winning team, Grad Moscow 5-4.

Division 1 had 11 teams playing in its preliminary round. The top two went straight to the semifinals, while the next four played a single game quarterfinal knock-out round. The semifinals re-ranked the final four teams for the finals where Assault finished in third place by beating upTon 187 cRew, and the Hurricanes took the game to the clock beating the New Jersey Jesters 3 to 2.

As always, the central attention was on the pro competition, with teams playing in a race to 7 points. Chicago had the opportunity for even more people to watch the pros with the return of the PSP Webcast. Production of live multi-camera streaming coverage of PSP tournaments is far from inexpensive in terms of both manpower and equipment, and the webcast was dropped for the PSP's first event this year. However, following no small amount of lobbying by both players and fans, it is back, and both the PSP and teams benefit with the sponsors that support them being exposed to a much wider audience than just those attending the tournament.

The pros played in two divisions of 5, playing 4 games each. The top two teams from each division moved on to the semifinals where Boston Red Legion defeated Edmonton Impact 5 to 2, and Dynasty took out the Los Angeles Ironmen 7 to 2. This led to the finals game where just like at the season opener in Galveston, Dynasty was facing Boston Red Legion. This game didn't go in Dynasty's favor like the previous tournament, and it wasn't easy, either. Red Legion took the first two points, but Dynasty rallied and came back. Red Legion made the tie-scoring flag hang with just two seconds on the clock, sending the game into sudden-death overtime. Each team whittled away at the other until only two players were left on the field. Red Legion got the final elimination and the flag hang for the win.

From Chicago, the PSP road show heads to Top Gun paintball in New Jersey, August 12-14.

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