First off, sorry for not posting sooner as I have had internet problems this week. Second, I was walking down one of the busiest downtown streets in Madison after work still in my work attire: purple stilettos and a dress, rolling my duffel with my mask clipped to the outside carrying a box of pods. Let me tell you the odd looks I received… Gotta love the unexpected.
Next, I attended Chicago PSP this weekend and am certainly glad I did. I originally planned to only go on Saturday but ended up going both days when all the teams with people I know made finals. So initial thoughts on PSP: Well-organized and run event. It was at CPX Sports in Joilet, IL. It is a nice facility that looked to have some awesome rec fields I would like to try. Surprising to see something with this many people keep to schedule so well and even ahead of schedule in some instances. Also, it certainly draws an eclectic group: people with lots of tattoos, some odd piercings and hair, small children and even cute little Grandmas. It was nice to see all of these people (for the most part) be respectful to each other. Every now and then you will find there is a bozo who wants to yell for no reason other than to start a fuss, but any issues I was witness to came from coaches/spectators and not from the players themselves. I was also impressed with the Refs. That’s a tough job. People are never going to 100% agree with your calls but there were only a few instances where I completely disagreed and it was more whether something should be a minor instead of major penalty. The one dude in a kilt was awesome. (I will post some pictures between paragraphs to break it up a bit but I will preface with photographing outside the net is relatively disastrous. I took none the first day and only took about 100 the second day because I was asked to.)
Biggest surprise of the day: coaching. I did not realize how important coaching is during these games. The tournaments Purdue went to did not allow coaching so this was the first time I saw it in action. There is only coaching from the Snake side (hence all the pictures from that angle, poor Dorito side never gets any love). The players prep area is on the opposite side, which makes sense but kind of sucks as far as actual interaction and seeing people goes. Teams without coaching were at a serious disadvantage and I even saw a team I was hoping would make it further (no names here) get tripped up by a coach who said 1 player was left when there was 2. Serious downfall to the team and you might say it did them in. It is funny to see people get SO into the coaching: screaming at the top of their lungs until they lose their voices, using code names for the different bunkers, quite a sight. Worse than 1 bad coach though is 3 or 4 bad coaches. I think the saying there are too many cooks in the kitchen applies here. Players are trying their best to be alert and listen and when multiple people are yelling different things at the same time it turns into a bit of a CF. Coaching proved crucial to the pro players as well, with the Russians receiving direction in (shockingly) Russian, and Dynasty using huge signs to track where opposing players moved.
Going into the day, I had primarily come to watch Fury not realizing so many people I knew would be playing for various teams. That was a nice bonus and luckily none of them played each other so there was never a conflict of interest. Fury did amazing the first day. I only cheered for them because they wear black and green though… JUST KIDDING. Although their jerseys do look slick. They went in to Finals ranked first in D4. I believe they only lost 1 game up to that point. They were moving quickly and they seemed to conquer the other teams with ease. More than once I was left going, “Well that was quick.” Fury Gold, which is the second team, also made it to finals in 5th place. They seemed to be a bit more equally matched with the teams they played but were able to hold on in every game and out strategize their way to finals. What an awesome start to the weekend!
Sunday didn’t go quite as well as Saturday. There were some strong teams in D4 who definitely stepped it up during finals. I would not say either team played poorly, they simply got outplayed which is certainly the better way to lose. Fury placed 9th and Fury Gold placed 11th. Both teams making finals is a huge accomplishment though and I know they have a taste for blood and have no doubt they will place even higher at the next PSP event.
An additional disappointment was Team Betrayal. Those boys played hard for sure. The start of finals they essentially had no coaching which did not help their cause. Then they kept getting hit with penalties which I think made the Refs more strict looking for penalties moving forward. They were down 1, tied the next game, then in the final game ended up with a major penalty that appeared simultaneous with the flag capture. Without the benefit of the doubt on their side, the Refs gave the point to the opposing team leaving Betrayal playing for 3rd or 4th instead of 1st or 2nd. They finished strong in 3rd but it was disappointing to see them come so close to an overall win. Finally, Rapture and Hustle did not move on past the first round of Finals. I got to watch Rapture play and again this was another instance of being outplayed. Still loved to see my friends make it that far.
A few random thoughts throughout the day: First everyone assumed I was someone’s girlfriend and didn’t play. Valid I suppose seeing as I think I saw 2 girls play the entire day and I clearly wasn’t playing myself. I was hit with a rogue paintball when the net blew up (very windy day), and my black tank was quickly turned yellow and I swear everyone thought I was a delicate little flower who was going to cry. No, it was no big deal and didn’t even hurt. More comical looking than anything. I even called myself out from outside the nets (no accusations of wiping here, harhar). Also there seemed to be some issues with the buzzer and timer on the fields. The clock would hit 0 but there was a 1 second delay until the buzzer went off. The beginning of the day, this definitely threw people off, and then it seemed by the afternoon people were delaying too long expecting the discrepancy.
I enjoyed watching the professionals play, but less so than I assumed. I guess I have been spoiled by watching some really good players because while the pros were definitely a bit quicker, a bit better in strategizing and certainly knew how to shoot with amazing accuracy, I was not SO in awe. Still fun though to see the crowd rally behind one team or another, especially when it came down to Boston and Dynasty. Coming up on the 4th of July weekend, I could say I felt the need to support Dynasty, but really the decision was arbitrary (isn’t the quote “America F- yeah!” or something like that?). Most of the crowd seemed in support of the Russians. It was a very exciting last few minutes for sure when it was all tied up. Another surprising thing to me is that pros cheat. Maybe I don’t have the eyes for it, but I didn’t see it happen. Someone told me a player is known for wiping and did it on the field. You would think at this level of play that wouldn’t happen but I suppose that’s a strategy… I want to know how I can get the job of the Ref who lays in the middle of the field with a walkie talkie the whole time. Seems pretty sweet.
I am proud to say that the Purdue guys (both current players and alum) were all over the place this weekend.
Windy City Rapture: Zach
Chi Town Fury: Joe, Mark (who we’ll adopt as Purdue for all intents and purposes)
Team Betrayal: Alex, Rob, and 1 more person who I don’t know. A video by Social Paintball of them playing can be found here.
St. Louis Hustle: Andy
Assisting with Dynasty: Jake, Elliott, Javi
Moral support: Pan and I
Well hopefully this super long post has made up for my delay in writing. If you actually read the whole thing, you get a personal kudos from me!