Paintball is truly an interesting sport, full of diversity. At this one national event, it was reported that there were over 250 teams across all divisions and countries playing over the weekend. Prelims for most divisions started on Friday. The action continued into Saturday with all the playoffs and 10-man events happening on Sunday.
The event itself started a couple of days before I got there, practices included. The practice days were filled with rain that turned the fields into a mudfest that tested the grit of the players before they even began the trials ahead of them. The fields stayed a muddy nightmare throughout the entire event.
When I first got there, it was a lot to take in; the sights, the smells, the sounds. For someone who has never seen so much paintball at one time, it was a little overwhelming. Everyone I met was extremely nice. Not a single person from any team that I talked to said no to an interview. Most of them had no idea who I was but I had fun with each and every guy I interviewed.
I was down on the Semi-Pro, Division 3, 4, 5, and the 5-man fields. Each field was sponsored by another paintball related company such as HK Army or Dye. I went searching far and wide to try and meet as many teams from as many places as I could. Paintball is diverse in that sense.
By the time I arrived on the second day, teams had begun recognizing me. A few of our hometown Boston Paintball teams also made the trip. Unfortunately Boston Paintball teams didn’t have the best weekend down there.
Pro players are all over the place walking around. It’s the only sport that I can walk down to a field and see the professional players watching the upcoming semi-pro players in the pits with everyone else. I was able to catch up with Brett Messer of LA Infamous and Ryan Greenspan of San Diego Dynasty. Those interviews will both be up later in the week.
After talking to many teams it became extremely clear that Blue Bell, PA was a much better venue choice than Atlantic City, New Jersey. Not much in terms of food options at the field but the one that was there was amazing-Maddog Morgan’s Food Truck. I didn’t go to the event in New Jersey but I have heard from others who did go that this venue is significantly better.
I thought that the events at Boston Paintball would have prepared me for this event. I was wrong. The play style here and the play style for the NXL event are extremely different. Tempers ran high as the heat climbed. One of my favorite teams to watch and listen to in the pit was a team called Clutch. One of the first matches I actually got to watch was them against HVP Wrecking Crew. Things almost got out of hand towards the end.
One of the HVP guys walked off the field and dumped his hopper while staring down the Clutch pit. As I learned, this is a sign of disrespect to the other team, as well as taunting. The Clutch guys were ready to throw down. This was a side of paintball I haven’t seen yet. It gave the sport that extra bit of passion and excitement that I didn’t know paintball had. Everyone is passionate about the sport they play, but these guys took it an extra step all weekend. Clutch lost the match, and went of to finish 3rd in Division 4 X-Ball.
San Antonio X-Factor beat out Moscow Red Legion in an exhilarating final that went into overtime in the Pros. For the rest of the X-Ball finals, Toulouse TonTons won Semi-Pro. Blastcamp Revolution won Division 2. Paintball Fit won Division 3. Baltimore Nasty X took Division 4.
This weekend in Philadelphia opened my eyes to what Paintball is really all about. The camaraderie that everyone showed was beyond anything I have ever seen in any other sport. As one of my photographers said, I’m hooked on the sport for the foreseeable future. I’m invested in the teams and I care about who wins.
All Photos by Nick Fornal of Game Changer Sports Network
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