Three down. Hat trick. Three-peat. Thirst!
Event three was a bust and a hat trick! It is actually the sixth major event for me, but the third in line for both the NXL and Millennium Series events. While the Atlantic City NXL event wasn’t such a great outing again for the Dynasty squad, things quickly turned around for half the crew who showed up in London the following week with the old hat trick in the bag, or would it be a three-peat? Here is a quick recap of another lengthy stint on the road, starting out on the East Coast.
-Better odds at the tables…
Atlantic City; the East Coast’s version of Las Ve… er, lets say Reno. A town that is seemingly still stuck at the tail end of last decade’s financial crisis. With slightly more to offer than the likes of your local Indian reservation, this New Jersey gem is the third stop on the NXL circuit this season. This event happens to be the largest non World Cup event in the league’s history. I believe the team count was north of 200 teams which is GREAT for paintball!
Dynasty had a pretty tough draw which saw us, AC Dallas, Impact and Revo competing for the top two spots in the division. The top three teams, us Impact and AC, ended up in a messy three way tie after we all beat Revo and then each had a win against the other. The result of a peculiar rule in the NXL rulebook ended up with AC Dallas going home after losing the head to head tie breaker against us in a close match. However, the way the rules worked out, if AC had lost to us with a large point spread, it would have sent Impact home. This was an odd look at the rules and, if played properly, AC Dallas could have secured their spot into Sunday, but it would have come by deliberately losing to us which would have been a tricky play. Again, it was an odd circumstance and a bit difficult to explain but it ended in a prelim exit by an AC squad that was nipping the heels of a Sunday appearance.
We met a surgical Russian team on Sunday morning. We usually match up great against the Russians, but this time, they were ready and we were ill equipped to handle their game. Their captain, Kiril, says that we have “Dynasty magic” which is why we always end up beating them. This time, however, our magic had run dry. I think that we studied their game plans too in depth and the result was more of a worrisome approach rather than handling the game on our terms. We went down 0-4 before stepping it up and going on a three point run. With the tying point within reach, we seemingly ran out of steam and were caught on our heels trying to claw back into a game that we had lost control of. The end score was a tough 8-3 loss. I want to say that it didn’t really reflect the actual match as the last two points we had lost in around a minute, but it was a pretty good representation of how the match was actually. I hate going down on a team like that and then scrambling to get back in it, only to increase the margin of loss.
-Let’s call it a Hat Trick.
With all the victories I have experienced over the past couple of decades I have also experienced an uncountable number of losses. Dealing with victory is easy, learning from defeat is a bit tougher. Trust me, everyone in their career must learn to cope with both winning and losing so that you can move forward. This is relevant in all facets of life. With that said, let’s take another all too familiar trip across the pond to jolly ol’ England where the Expendables will continue our dominance over the SPL division and Team USA suits up for a three-peat!
I was asked by the head ref, Jabba, if I ever got tired of winning. I honestly don’t think that is really even a thing. This was after we had finished a semi final match in the SPL division. The Expendables had our sights locked in on the third win in as many events. A third win that, after our victory in the quarter-finals would all but lock up the series. This was a huge match and although we have a “stacked” roster, these games are no where near as easy as they seem, nor as easy as they should be. What a lot of people may not understand is when a team perceived to be the underdog takes the field, they play with nothing to lose. They play with the intent, not necessary to win the event, rather they play to beat the big dogs. Teams want to take us down, that is their goal. I have been in this scenario throughout my career, on both sides of the story in fact. You play no mistake paintball when you’re up against a team that statistical should beat you. Granted everyone will say they play at 100% no matter what, but there is a hidden percentage that little extra umf which some teams seem to conjure from deep within to bring to the table when they face us.
We were headed onto the main CPL field to match up against a team that had been making quick work of their opponents up to this point. Marcello pulled off some magic in point one with a 2-1 win. This followed up with some tight playing and great snake work from our two snake players Matt and Thomas. With Yosh Rau backing up our snake side players, it makes things a lot easier for them to do work.
We won the match 4-0, giving us our third win in a row. It is funny, maybe a coincidence, the trophy we were give read “Semi-Pro Division 3st Place.” An obvious type-o but somewhat fitting as it was our third first place of the season. I wonder if Paris’ trophy will read “4st…”
There was a slight bitterness in the air when we arrived in England for the Nations Cup event to represent the USA. The team had caught a bit of flack when we asked for help to fund the National team via crowd funding site gofundme. Perhaps it was taken a bit out of context, but some people took major offense to the team asking for, what some people considered, a nominal amount of money. I want to first start by thanking EVERYONE who helped to support our team by donating, sharing, or even just by being a fan of the team and its players. The great thing about the donation model is that you are not obligated to donate whatsoever. If you want to take part, then by all means, but if you don’t then you simply do not have to. Unfortunately some very misinformed and, quite frankly, ignorant people out there, whom I am embarrassed to call part of the paintball community, came out to shun our efforts to fund the event. They even went as far as to ostracize the supporters who helped fund the project. This could be compared to a work expense that countless people choose to cover on their own or to simply write off to be reimbursed by their companies. Unfortunately some people did not take into account how the US players came to take part in this Nation’s Cup. The US national team is singled out in these events, for some reason, and we are required to pay a much higher entry fee than any of the teams who enter. The reasons are a bit convoluted but, in short, there is no US governing paintball body, nor is there one sponsor, willing to foot the bill. The cost, is therefore handed down to the players who, because of our willing nature to grow the sport, have always handled ourselves. Some of us thought it would be a good idea to reach out to our amazing fan base and ask for a helping hand. This was to offset the some costs that are associated with the life of the pro players which many people may overlook and misunderstand. This also allows supporters to feel like they were part of the team in one way or another, and we all feel gracious for the support. I wholeheartedly support the decision to include the fans into the team by creating a community funded team. Everyone who supported the fund is part of the winning squad.
The gofundme account hit its goal and then some in just about TWO HOURS!!! The response from the paintball community was overwhelming and the positivity far outweighed the negativity. However, the people who chose to negatively defame the team and its donors should really think about their selfish and should not consider themselves part of our community, one that supports its players and pushes paintball into a positive light. I could go on about these trolls and how their views are very narrow minded. However, rather than digressing to their standards, I would like to continue with the event and how important it is to the success and future growth of our sport!
We used to have All Star events back when the PSP series was in its prime, those events and the chance to play with your competition rather than against them has fallen to the wayside. There are very few chances that I will ever get to play with Keith Brown or Sam Manville or Archie Montemeyor, and those opportunities are really unique. Marcello said it best, “Teaming up with players who are otherwise enemies on the field back in the U.S. is a unique experience and shows how powerful the feeling of a greater purpose can be.” Those words resonate and really show the importance of coming together as a paintball community.
Team USA, was in perfect form throughout the event. We dropped one point in the prelims and after that we tightened up and went on to beat the next best squad in the world represented by the Russians who were comprised of several players who had just come off a win the weekend before at the NXL event. The final was a slow match coming down to the wire with Archie and Chad fighting off the Russian’s last push in the dying seconds of the match to secure the win for the US.
This win is for everyone in the paintball community whether you supported the team in any fashion or if you tried to submarine our efforts online. We are a nation who stands up and fights for each other. We are a community of players who have seen our sport go through changes, good and bad and regardless of where you stand, the US national team and the top pros in this sport will always continue to fight the good fight. We will continue to do our best to make sure that this sport is brought forth in the best light possible for everyone.
With 50% of the season in the rearview, the NXL series is still up for grabs. The SPL title is all but ours after that hat trick in the Millennium Series and Team USA has asserted itself as the most dominant team in the world, winning nearly every Nation’s Cup event that we have been part of over the past decade. My body is feeling the toll of non stop paintball for the past six months. With a bit of a lull in the season before the next set of events take place, it is time to reset and rehabilitate. I know that this seems like an endless amazing vacation full of “free” paintball on every continent, but trust me, this does come a quite the cost. I have recently moved into a new house that I have managed to spend one night in over the past month and a half before jumping back into an airplane again. The endless budget hotel beds coupled with over 120,000 miles this year alone sitting upright in an airplane seat (most of the time), sprinkle all of that with an acute case of snake back and dorito knee and you have got a slight case of chronic stiffness greeting every morning. Marcello is down for the next couple of weeks taking some much needed time off to rest his knees as well as newly aggravated ankle. I am literally typing this text as I sit in another airport on my way to spend a week of finally resting in one place for more than a weekend. Eating healthy and floating in the ocean to give my joints and bruised body a well deserved break is top on my priority list at the moment. My next set of events kick off with back to back to back to back clinics spanning the globe from Clumbus, OH to Singapore then on to Atlanta, GA all before getting back with the squad to prep Dynasty for the Chicago Open.
I will see you there…