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Kingman Spyder Cup
If nothing else, Kingman International is an innovative company. Kingman broke the $200 price barrier for semi auto paintguns with metal receivers. Kingman paid to place paintball magazines in high school libraries, and provided college scholarship programs in 1999. Kingman raffled off a Jeep to increase awareness of their products. In May of 2000, Kingman backed a tournament with one of the largest prize packages ever - 5 Ford Mustangs for the winning team - a total value of $88,000.
The prizes didn't stop there. Second place had an $8,000 package including projection TVs, and paintball gear from Raven and National Paintball Supply East with prizes all the way down to 7th place - 5 Aiwa portable stereos and more paintball gear totaling $1,7400. All in all over $117,000 in prizes were awarded. To top it all off, teams didn't need to be top tournament teams to compete.
The event was limited to teams with amateur status. According to entry forms, half of the players entering had never even played in a tournament before, making the Spyder Cup, a predominantly Rookie event.
To organize an event of this scale, Kingman International's president, Arthur Chang sought the assistance of Team Effort Events and Debra Dion Krischke, who produces the Zap Amateur Open and its related trade shows and conferences. The tournament was held at the same location as the Amateur Open - Three Rivers Paintball in Pittsburgh, PA.
There was one catch making the Spyder Cup different than most tournaments. The only paintguns allowed were Kingman Spyders with mechanical trigger systems (no electro-conversions).
Another event sponsor was Raven Paintball, with their jerseys becoming a more common sight everywhere. The Spyder Cup was the debut event for Raven's long anticipated NUVIS-1 goggle and face mask system.
National Paintball Supply East - a major distributor of the Spder as well as a full line of paintball products, and the new 32 Degrees Team Colors Paintballs was also a supporter of the event as a major sponsor.
In addition to the tournament games, Shelly Tolo with the Children's Hospital and KDKA Sports commentator Thor Tolo helped organize the Children's Hospital Celebrity Challenge. Several members of the Pittsburgh Steelers came out and played in the challenge match, and Kingman International donated $10,000 to the Children's Hospital on behalf of the winners.
Bill Cookston presided as Ultimate Judge while NPPL President Tom Cole consulted on field layout and scheduling. Reffing on the fields were Bad Company, the Green Dragons, Sonic Rage, Lockout and the All Americans II. With the heavy prizes at stake, these teams had prepared themselves to combat heavy cheating. According to Krischke, they didn't need it, she stated that it was one of the cleanest competitions she had ever seen, most penalty points arising from hot guns, simply because many of the players were new and had not yet learned the ins and outs of your equipment.
Despite heavy rains - including a record breaking 2" downpour on Sunday - 99 teams played through the preliminary rounds quickly winnowing down to 17 which advanced to the two round semifinals. The first semifinal round cut the number in half with OBR I, Farside, P&L Factory Team, Machine, OBR II, KAPP Factory Team, Pandemonium and Team Strange playing the second round in two divisions.
Entering the finals were the KAPP Factory Team, Team Strange, OBR I and Machine. Strange and KAPP won the first game, starting them in the lead, but in the second and third games the field narrowed. KAPP took first place by a 2 point lead over Strange, followed 30 points lower by OBR I, and finally Machine.
The KAPP Factory team, supported by their major sponsor, Kick Ass Paintball Products, was made up of players who have played for KAPP, Iron Kids, and Lofty in the GWS, NPPL and other west coast events. The members were Brian Cole, Ryan Greenspan, Alex Fraige, Kenny Chamerlain and Yosh Raul. While they are used to shooting Angels, Cockers and other high end guns, they adapted to the rate of fire provided by Spyders set up for them by Action Paintball in Southern California, using DYE Boomstick barrels.
"It was so exciting," said Brian Cole. "When we played the last game, all the cars were on the edge of the field. When we won, they set off all the alarms and lights, and it was really cool! I still can't even believe it. We won't be able to believe it until they get shipped home. I didn't stop smiling the whole time. I was in shock."
The team stayed in Pittsburgh the day after the event to arrange shipment of their new cars out to California. The 5 Mustangs came in a rainbow of colors - silver, red, black, blue and green, which had to be sorted out amongst the team. Straws were pulled for the green one - which went to Cole.
Despite some rough times with the weather,
with scheduling and getting brand new players where they needed to be when
they needed to be there, Krischke considered the Spyder Cup a huge success.
In the start of the 2000 season several well known promoters have expanded
their series to nation wide events. Some of these new tournaments
have seen dismally small attendance - from 17 to 30 teams despite locations
that should draw 50, 60, or more. Many in paintball have said that
the tournametn market is becoming oversaturated. With nearly 100
teams competing at the Spyder Cup, and a massive prize package, it is clear
that Kingman and Team Effort have found a new niche in tournaments that
was ripe for growth. Plans are already underway for the Spyder Cup