The first official day of the NPPL Surf City Open kicked off today on a beautiful, sunny day here in Huntington Beach, CA. The Surf City Open, which is more commonly known simply as NPPL Huntington Beach, has become not only the event that has set the bar for all other tournaments to be judged, but also the flagship production for the entire NPPL organization. No where else in the United States can you head down to one of the most popular beaches in the nation and see professional paintball played right on the sand.
Over 130+ teams began their games early this morning, with the league utilizing three separate fields, including their main center court arena. On top of holding a number of divisional games, the center court field is where a total of 16 NPPL pro divisions started their competition using the new S7 tournament format. Large bleachers cover the entire centercourt field so that fans and spectators alike could watch their favorite teams take to the field, with an exclusive VIP area hanging above the grandstands, reserved solely for paintball's elite.
One of the biggest draws for this year's Surf City Open was the league's partnership with ESPN3, who is out in full force, filming the entire professional division competition. A live webcast of all pro prelim games were shown today through the ESPN3.com website, allowing players from all across the country to tune in and enjoy the tournament from the comfort of their personal computers.
On top of professional and divisional games, the NPPL, in conjuction with Guerrilla Air, also held a celebrity paintball game on the centercourt field, where a number of well-known faces from the sports, modeling and acting world came together for a one-of-a-kind paintball exhibition. The ESPN cameras continued to roll throughout this special event, which was also a huge hit with both the players and celebrities alike.
It also appears that the paintball recession may be officially nearing its end, as the Surf City Open vendor village is one of the most impressive setups that the NPPL has put together in its long history. Practically every major paintball company is represented here including Valken, Spyder, Bob Long Technologies, Custom Products and more. There was tons of foot traffic through the vendor area all day long, not something easy to accomplish on a Friday during the first day of a national paintball tournament when most paintball fans are either in school or at work.
As for the on-field competition, the professional teams were divided into four groups (brackets) for the preliminary games. In accordance with the new S7 format, the pro teams now play their opponents in a best two of a three match-up, rather than just once and then moving on to another team. This new concept worked very well with both Edmonton Impact and DC Arsenal, who won both of their games today. Chicago Legend, Indianapolis Mutiny, LA Infamous and St. Louis Avalanche all ended the day with one win and one loss, with Seattle Thunder and Portland Thunder going without a victory for the day.
Tomorrow is expected to be a madhouse on the sand, with potentially more than 100,000 people coming through the Surf City Open location. We recommend that you get there early if you want a decent parking space.
For more general event information and up-to-date scoring, visit the NPPL website.
Here's a recap of the day's activities from PaintBall.com media partner HK Army: