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The ultimate judge Focus Paintball hired for this event is Bill Cookston, the ultimate for NPPL events. After the teams came and registered Friday night, Bill briefed the referees for the event. He reviewed the NPPL style rules, and the hand signs to be used (the same as at the Indoor National Paintball Championships, where he also served as ultimate). Also important were the extreme limitations on where paintguns could be fired. This is the first time a paintball tournament has been held in such a major mainstream sports facility, so the impression the players, and the staff make will set precedents for the future. Discharging of paintguns in any area other than the game fields, the chrono station or tech area can result in players and or teams being ejected from the tournament. The ref crew comes from "Not A TEAM" from Canada, Untouchables from Montreal, Lockout from New York, Masters Of Mayhem (MOM) from Toronto, Wassaga Beach, and a number of individuals.
The Skydome is rented out for 48 hours, for a 5 man tournament of more than 120 teams, and a 3 man tournament! To pull this off, very tight time schedules are being laid out, with only 1 minute and 30 seconds between games for changeover of teams (most games won't run to the end of the clock, so there will be more time). As with most tournaments things don't always go as planned, and some schedules have had to change to accomodate different situations, however things are moving smoothly along, and the arena wide PA system is being utilized to make certain that teams and refs are where they need to be, when they need to be there. Friday games ran late enough that some of the days scheduled games were moved to Saturday morning. This really puts the heat on the Skyball staff, as all games must be finished by midnight, or the dome will need to be rented for another day. They are quickly adapting the schedules to take advantage of any open time. Behind the scenes, Mike Ratco and Gordon Moore from Zap Paintballs (one of the tournament's major sponsors) have been observing from the vantage point of the press box, and helping coordinate staffing via radio.
Team Internet is making an interesting showing. TIP members including Rob "Tyger" Rubin, Matt "Shives" Shively, Kennedy How, and Steve from Eon Apparel, are entered as North American Team Internet (NATI). They are playing the tournament with stock class paintguns. As to be expected they are taking a beating in the scores, but they are getting making eliminations, and having fun doing it. Hats off to Black Venom who took up the challenge, and played with stock class paintguns in their game against NATI. On Saturday, and even bigger surprise came, as some NATI players upgraded to the "High technology" of direct fed pumps with Airgun Designs 6 pack plus 12 gram quick changers, and beat a team armed with semi-autos.
And it's not just the games. There is a player's party, paintball trade show, and even the debut of a paintball song by a New York rap artist on the schedule. The Skyball staff Focus International has assembled is huge, and they have a lot of work ahead of them. Truly as one walks into the loby of the Skydome Hotel and looks down into the arena to see the paintball fields, it is very obvious that this event is something special. The local media coverage has been intense. Reporters and photographers from every major paintball publication are here, as well as local newspapers. "The Edge" one of the largest radio stations in Toronto, has been broadcasting from the stadium, and even spent a half hour taking live calls with Bob Long of Bob Long's Ironmen, and Jim Frenshaw of The UK Firm. A private video crew has been shooting for a program which may eventually air on a national sports network in Canada, and spent time interviewing WARPIG's own Dawn Mills about the role of women in the sport.
Many of the Skydome facilities crew got their first taste of paintball watching the tournament while on the job, and were interested in playing. Nathan Greenman of Brass Eagle provided Extreme Vision masks, 200 round loaders, Tiger shark pumps and 9 ounce CO2 tanks for 20 employees who took to one of the side fields while the finals were being played on the center field. Not only did they get their first game of paintball, but they got to keep the gear as well!
Stay tuned to this page for more Skyball post event coverage with more pictures, and episode 2 of Skyball PigTV.
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