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Zap Skyball 2000
Toronto Skydome February 18-20

All Americans - First Place Pro
Bushwackers - First place Am.


SAMPLE FROM LIVE PIGCAM ON SKYBALL FIELD ONE.
 

In 1997 Focus International announced their plans to hold a paintball tournament in the Toronto Skydome.  The Skydome is the world's largest convertible stadium.  During the harsh Canadian winters its 56.5 million cubic feet of climate controlled environment are home to concerts and sporting events.  During the summer months, the roof is retracted for fun in the sun. 

Critics didn't think the first Skyball would happen, the venue was just too grand.  It happened, and Skyball was repeated in 1999.  Even during the 1999 event rumors circulated that it would be the last due to change in ownership of the Skydome.  At the award ceremony, Focus announced that they had secured a 5 year contract on the facility.  Skyball is here to stay.
will_k from Team Internet 2 with his Buzzard - Photo by Skirmish USA
In the past, Team Internet tried to make the point that it's the player, not the gun by playing Skyball with pump action paintguns.  Focus noticed the attention and cheers they got, and this year the amateur and pro 5 player competition is mated up with a pump class event.

As with the first two events, this year's lead sponsor is Zap paintballs, which are shot exclusively during the event.  The "skyturf" flooring is padded carpet.  This year, there are four fields rather than three to accommodate the growing size of the event.

Teams began arriving Thursday and quickly filling the rooms of the Skydome and neighboring hotels.  The Hard Rock Cafe, located inside the dome became a central gathering point for socialization, and it was harder to find a person in there who wasn't a player than was.

Due to scheduled professional sports events, this was the first year that the entire arena floor was available for paintball.  Four full size Sup'Air fields took up half of the real estate, while the other half was arranged with tables for the teams to stage their equipment.  The bunkers are the latest Sup'Air models with a vulcanized coating, making the fabric more durable, and stain resistant than the original ripstop nylon bunkers.  The props were also anchored to the carpet this year, preventing the "shuffleboard" effect of last year where players would slide into a bunker and hit it - bouncing it away and leaving themselves exposed. 

Multiple schedule changes and delays slowed the play of games on Friday (first day), getting the schedule behind by quite a bit.  The final Friday game was played at 11:55 pm, with an estimated two hours of game schedule moved to Saturday.  Saturday morning a slight change was made to the game format shortening the clock time from 5 minutes to 4 minutes in an effort to have the preliminaries finished in time for the finals schedule to coincide with work times of the Skydome video production crew and Jumbotron operators.

As usual, the trade show on the mezzanine has been a place for players to get a look at new products like the AKALMP Excalibur, Center Flag's electronic grip frames for the Automag and Spyder, and Pro Team's STO f/x Autococker.

Focus made a move from a traditional white board for score keeping to a computerized system.  Score sheets were filled in on field in triplicate, the teams receiving copies as well as the scoring staff (a definite plus).  Runners carried the sheets to the scoring pit where they were entered into a database that reported team progress in summary form (wins, losses, total points, etc.) rather than the traditional series of scores and total.  The scores were then scrolled on a large television screen for the players to view.  Unfortunately networking problems caused great delays, and during the Saturday morning games only 40 game scores had been entered into the system leaving some of the teams frustrated at not knowing where they ranked.
Vips, manike, ^lass^, ShockJock
Skyball 2000 was also the first event for Team Pigchat - a team that formed in the WARPIG chat room.  The players, most known in the channel by their on-line names of "ShockJock", "Vips", "Metolius", and "Deemer" came from across the US, and "Manike" came from the UK  to join in.  On Saturday morning "Metolius" took to the field for one game with a prototype of the Matrix - a paintgun soon to be produced by Diablo.  This was the first time a Matrix was used in a tournament.  Unfortunately a few teams had dropped out of the tournament, and that game started without opponents, so the group jogged down the field and took playful shots at each other before hanging the flag.

Another first at the event was the debut of the PigCam (pictured at the top of this page) - the first live web camera at a major paintball tournament.  A tiny camera perched on a mast provided a view of one end of Field one, updated once every 30 seconds.

Games ran more quickly Saturday morning with the shorter time limit.  The scheduled games went by more quickly than anticipated, and Friday night's unplayed games got tacked on later in the day.

The pro teams went into their single elimination finals, the games being displayed on the Jumbotron screen for the increasingly enthusiastic crowd.  Head to head games went on, with the losers going home.  It came down to the All Americans versus Rabid Virus.  The team's arsenal included Dennis Ashley firing an Automag with Center Flag's electronic trigger frame, and Randy Woodland shooting a custom Spyder from Colors Paintball. [Note this was previously incorrectly reported as one of the Center Flag frames for the Spyder being used].  The two teams now went for a best two out of three games.  The first game went quickly to the All Americans.  The second game they did not have the momentum, and the crowd roared and pushed them back for the win.  One of the amateur finals was played while the top two pro teams prepared for the final showdown.  That game started slow for both teams, but the All Americans pushed and brought the numbers to three on one before their final sweep getting the win.  This clinched the second Skyball first place trophy in a row for Smart Parts factory team. 

Randy Woodland of Rabid Virus later commented that despite the tournament's organizational difficulties "the reffing was outstanding and... all the teams were at their best, not saying that a heated word here and there weren't mentioned but there was nothing like last year.   Teams were helping each other out in the pits with everything possible."

During the pro finals it became apparent that there had been major failures in the scoring system.  Totals recorded in the computer system were not matching totals that teams had kept in their records.  As the system lacked a game by game score display it was not a simple task to simply look and see if teams had games that had not been reported.  After several attempts to rank the 32 teams to go into the amateur finals, the top 32 teams as recorded in the system were augmented with 12 more teams that had kept copies of score sheets enough to reasonably believe they should be in the finals. 

After the announcement of the 44 teams, while the finals games took place, players continued to dispute the choice of teams.

Due to the lack of definitively accurate scores, we have chosen not to publish the erroneous preliminary score tables.

With the additional delays it was decided that the novice division games would have to be canceled.

The amateur games came down to the Bushwackers vs. Canadian Express.  The first game both teams began defensively, playing a waiting game.  Bushwackers had the first loss, followed by an Express player.  Express grabbed the flag, and hung.  The referees had to settle a dispute over who had been hit first to verify whether the flag hang was legitimate.  The final decision was that the game went to the Bushwackers.

To paraphrase the classics; it was the best of tournaments, it was the worst of tournaments.  Many of the players who attended Skyball 2000 had a good time, getting to enjoy the full experience and party like atmosphere.  For many of the teams the scoring problems turned the event into an exercise in frustration.  What they took from the tournament depended on their outlook.


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