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Guest Coverage by Assistant Editor
Joshua D. Silverman
of WARPIG.com Media Partner Paintball
Skyball returned to Toronto, Canada's incredible
Skydome facility on
March First and Second, promoted by Zap
Paintball. In past years, Zap had relied on promoters such as Jim
Lively or Focus to run their massive
tournament, but this year, in an unprecedented
step, Gordon and Steve Moore of Zap Paintball decided to do things their
own way, and run the 250 team tournament on their own. Chip Herbert
handled the hands-on direction of the event with assistance from Steve
Moore, the legendary Bill Cookston (in charge of the referees) and paintball
promoters such as Ben Toricelli of Millennium Paintball Productions and
Randy and Lori Baxter of Splat-1, who were also producing a video of the
event for Zap and coordinating the live camera work for the Skydome's massive
Skyball featured a professional division
for 2002 stocked with massive
cash prizes, which drew six professional
teams. As the Los Angeles NPPL event was only one week away, this
was a respectable turnout; Ground Zero sent two squads, the Jax Warriors,
All Americans, OBR and Strange also came to play. Many big names
came for the amateur and novice competitions too, such as Ron Kilbourne
and the Bushwackers, the Oh No's, Nate Greenman and the Brass Eagle All
Stars, Farside, the Iron Maidens and the Sharpshooters.
After a Thursday night captains' meeting,
games got underway early
Friday morning on six inflatable fields.
Five were Zap's custom Sup Airball fields and a sixth, temporary field
was an Ultimate Airball setup, used until Laurent Hamet of Adrenaline Games
could arrive with a sixth, custom Angel Sup Air setup for WDP, a major
sponsor of the event.
Upstairs on the concourse the trade show
bustled with activity and
contained a respectable number of vendors
including Tippmann Pneumatics, Crossfire compressed air systems, Action
Markers, M3, Vengeance Gear, Champions Paintball, the Canadian Military,
Exotic Sportz, Psycho Ballistics, Viewloader, Ronn Stern, Facefull magazine,
WDP and of course Zap, who introduced a new line call "Chronic."
Pink Chronic paint was used for the event and received good reviews from
nearly every player, as it flew straight, broke well and marked with an
extremely bright pink fill.
Games ran into the night Friday but ended
on schedule, an impressive
feat. Lines were present at the
small number of test chronographs and some players complained about the
officiating, but on the whole Friday ran well. While some complaints
about reffing were the usual losers' opinions, some were legitimate, as
many referees chose to remain on the sidelines rather than make quick calls,
sometimes allowing players with obvious hits to continue playing unabated,
sending some undeserving teams home early.
Scheduling difficulties Saturday confused
some teams and led to more of
the now-legendary Skyball forefeits but
by afternoon the playoffs were
beginning and the gorgeous WDP tubeless
Sup Air field had been erected for the professional semis and finals.
Lori Baxter conducted interviews with players and celebrities on the Jumbotron
before and during playoff games, which were televised for the large crowd
of players. The professional division was whittled down from Strange,
OBR, Ground Zero and the Jax Warriors to a best two out of three game showdown
between Ground Zero and the Jax Warriors for first and second place.
After a first game stalemate Ground Zero broke out
hard and defeated the Warriors to win
Skyball's professional division,
with Strange and OBR bringing up
third and fourth. The Sharpshooters defeated Farside to win the amateur
title; Boston Paintball's team took the third place amateur trophy.
TCP Extreme outplayed New York Vengeance for the novice championship, and
the Farside Kids won the rookie division over Dark N Dank. Tens of
thousands of dollars in cash, X-Boxes, Angels and more were given away
to the top teams, and Skyball 2002 was an unqualified success, described
by Zap's Gordon Moore as "the best Skyball ever." The hundreds of
teams certain to return to Skyball in 2003 certainly agree, and Skyball
remains paintball's greatest inroad into the world's major sporting venues.