Tournament paintball in general is on a cyclic downswing right now, due mainly to the economy. It’s very hard for people who already play an expensive sport to justify the per-player cost vs. value of tournament vs. spending roughly the same amount of money to compete in a PSP event or even NPPL event at a scenario game.
Doing an analysis of why things are the way they are right now would rate their own post, and to be blunt people like Paul “Baco Loco” Richards are doing a much better job than I could of analyzing the tournament side of things and what it would take to improve things. It’s a cyclical phenomenon that affects a lot of things, from global temperature to the state of the sport of paintball. So rather than trying to explain to people who do that for a living on what they ought to do, I’ll just list my observations from a stranger-in-a-strange land perspective.
Whoever at Disney that scheduled a martial arts tournament at Wide World of Sports the same weekend as a major paintball event should be beaten, then shot, and beaten some more. Obviously for the vendors (who had passes) it wasn’t an issue, but getting to the venue on Saturday flat out sucked. You had to park at a vacant lot and then get bussed to the actual event venue. I despise crowds in general, and getting packed into a bus with 50-60 other people isn’t pleasant, no matter how big the vehicle is. Fortunately on Sunday this wasn’t an issue, so we could park at the venue like high-class folk.
The usual suspects had their big event setups there in full force, like DYE, Custom Products, ProCaps, and PBNation, who had their “Skydeck” on-site. Looks like a nice way to spend $400,000 to me. Hater Paintball had a REALLY nice show setup going, plus a pair of drop-dead gorgeous, melt-you-in-your-shoes hotties hanging out there. Unfortunately, they were just about the only real ‘booth babes’ of note at the entire event. Now, don’t get me wrong…there was plenty of eye-candy floating around, but not nearly what it has been in the past, and nothing like what you’ll see at an NPPL event. I don’t know what it is about NPPL’s, but there’s ALWAYS tons of ridiculously hot women walking around
I had a meeting Saturday morning with Ron Goldblatt of Tippmann Sports, just to catch up and plan for Tippmann’s advertising on 68Caliber.Com for next year. We talked a bit about the theft of their prototype pistol, and while some might think it’s a media/PR stunt, I didn’t get that feeling from Goldblatt and the other Tippmann execs on-site. They were genuinely angry about the theft, and whoever it was that took the pistol posted up his own pictures on several of the Tippmann-oriented forums to show off what the pistol ‘really’ looks like. I would imagine someone’s kicking that idiot’s door down right about now and hauling his butt off to the grey bar hotel. Don’t drop the soap!
Immediately after leaving that meeting, South Beach Pimps John Navarro, Jay Murray, Mike Blanton and myself went to the Eclipse booth to have a meeting with Planet’s Ray Veasey. We got to see the 2009 line-up from Eclipse, talked a bit with Jacko and Ray, and hopefully we’ll make the grade with them to represent them for the 2009 season as a sponsored scenario team. Having the chance to work with a company like Planet is right up there on the cool-o-meter with ProCaps, DYE, and the other big boys in the sport. We have our fingers crossed!
At 12:30, we met up with Craig Miller and Dave Youngblood (of DYE Precision) to go to a PSTA meeting. The PSTA is the newest industry organization out there which is aspiring to be like other industry associations in other industries, but for some odd reason they never seem to work in the paintball industry. I have my own thoughts on why this is the case, but it’s not my place to make mention of them here. The PSTA seems to have a better chance than the rest, so I’ll reserve judgement on it. Time will tell.
This particular meeting was to introduce Paintball Extravaganza to the group, and to put forth some ideas to make the Extravaganza better for everyone, including the fields and stores out there who form the grassroots of the sport. For the sake of brevity I won’t go into names and personalities of the attendees at this particular meeting. Contrary to popular belief, the meeting wasn’t held in a smoke filled room, and nobody was snickering, plotting and scheming, or acting like the stereotypical “Captains of Industry” that people think of when they think of a high-level meeting between some of the bigger people and companies in the sport.
The one name I will mention is Dave DeHann of DYE Precision. I don’t know him very well, and vice-versa. He’s a rare combination of intelligence, assertiveness (without being obnoxious) and business acumen and presence that gives him the right stuff to be successful. There’s a reason DYE is as successful as it is, and Dehann is pretty much the reason why.
After that beast of a meeting, Jamie, Joe and I hit the venue again to take more pictures and talk to more people. We had a nice talk with Frank Connell, who was there in his capacity as one of ProCaps’ top sales reps, and apparently the apple of my wife’s eye.
One of the many reasons World Cup is still considered one of “THE” events to go to during the season is the setting. Kissimmee, FL is the main shopping/party mecca in the Orlando area, and Old Town is where everyone in paintball heads to blow off steam and indulge in adult beverages. Sun on the Beach is the main bar you go to if you’re a paintballer. It’s as much an institution to World Cup as Disney has become.
So who were the stars of the show? It was the general consensus that the “Floating Bar”, a fold out trailer that turned into a full-service bar was a huge hit with everyone. DYE’s Rotor was the talk of the event as well, and Planet Eclipse’s new Ego and GEO were dropping IQ’s and wagging tongues all weekend long as well.
A lot of people asked me about The Ford Report, and one executive asked that I sign up the president of the company for it because the president was tired of having to wait for it to be forwarded to him. Quite a few people asked me about 68Caliber.Com’s recent server issues, and all were happy that they’d been resolved and they could go and get their daily news fix again.
On the media side, TechPB was the undisputed king of the show. Mike, Willie and co. were EVERYWHERE, talking to people, shooting LOTS of video and generally doing the job. I just hope that these guys don’t get arrogant as they grow into one of the major players in the online media side of the sport. It’s happened elsewhere, and it eventually causes real damage for those who get too big for their britches. PB2X was on hand, and John Amodea continues to be the legend that he is. He’s all the more legendary for remaining humble, and staying focused on what he’s there for. I didn’t really see anyone else from the media side, other than Rich “PBJunkie” Struth, who’s of course one of the competent newcomers coming into the media.
All in all, this year’s World Cup was a success for 68Caliber.Com and The Ford Report. I was disappointed that Hard Corps Paintball wasn’t attending this year, and I was equally disappointed that Stiffi’s Naomi Tirado didn’t make the trip out this year either. We did get to talk a bit with Mike Spurlock of Hard Corps, who was on site taking care of some business, so at least Jamie and I got to hang out with at least ONE Spurlock this past weekend!
This coming weekend I’ll be heading up to Low Country Paintball’s “Assassin’s Greed”, which will give me the opportunity to play and try out some of the new gear I’ve been asked to review. After that, we have a wedding that Jamie and I have been hired to photograph for a paintball friend. Yeah, I know…didn’t see that one coming!