World Cup Champs!
November 3, 2008
To many people, the month of October marks the World Series of Baseball, but to every competitive paintball player, the World Cup! Just like the World Series, the World Cup is the biggest tournament of the year. Every professional team wants to win this event, and it shows, because the level of play is that much better. Over the years the World Cup has been ruled by teams like Aftershock, All-Americans, Ironmen, and Dynasty. This year was no different; the Ironmen and I won the World Cup two years in a row!
I would like to say that I’m surprised by such a feat, but this team set out to repeat our last year’s results. This team is filled with winners and we hadn’t won an Xball event all year. We were extremely hungry for a big win and more importantly wanted to defend our crown. The way it broke down was we were already in the top 8, because of a first round bye. We earned this privilege by finishing in the top 5, in the overall series. The bottom teams had to play a grueling round robin to advance to the top 8. Those preliminary games can take a toll on a team, especially ones without deep rosters.
The prelims were over, and the matches were set. It would be Dynasty vs. Impact, Russian Legion vs. Infamous, Xfactor vs. Philly, and we would be playing Damage in a best 2 out of 3 format. The Damage games were probably not very exciting to watch, because of how slow they played out. The field was great for defensive teams who could hold lanes, and wear teams down. Not to take anything away from Damage, because they were playing great, but we wanted it more. We would win the points that mattered, and found a way to put 1 or 2 more points on the board than they did. We took down the Florida kids in two straight games, and advanced to the top four. The other teams to make it out, were the Russian Legion, the Philly Americans, and the team who upset Dynasty and surprised the tournament, Impact.
I thought about it during the tournament, and I came to the conclusion, that the World Cup is one of the easier tournaments to win if you get the first round bye. To make it to the finals, you only play 3 teams. I figured if you have those 3 teams’ numbers, and know what there doing, then you have a fairly easy time, to cruise threw the tournament. This seemed to be the case in the next round. We played Impact, who played almost identical, to the team we faced in the previous round, Damage. The games were once again very slow and drawn out. In the first game, going into half time the score was only 2-1, which is almost unheard of. We traded points in the next half and came out on top by a few. I felt it was very important to win that first game, just to take the wind out of the sail, that was Impact. They were playing on a lot of heart, and seemed ready to win a World Cup.
The next game was a little different, mostly for the fact that we lost. In the middle of the match, Impact pulled ahead by 3 points. They were playing the center of the field very well, and it took us too long to adjust. With 3 minutes on the game clock, we were still down by 3, and things didn’t look good, but like true champions we fought. We played two difficult points, and won each, but there was only 22 seconds on the game clock, and we were still down by 1. Just to make it a little more interesting, Oliver got a penalty (Which he blames on me for shooting him, haha) and had to play with 4 instead of the normal 5 guys. The next 22 seconds seemed to go in slow motion. I ran to the snake, got up, shot two guys, went for the flag, and ran towards the box hoping everybody was dead. I hung the flag with two seconds left and forced an overtime point. The overtime point didn’t go as well as our 22 second point (haha). We lost and had to play a game 3.
This was the true test to see if we really wanted to win this tournament. Both teams were looking at elimination, and it was going to come down to who wanted it the most. The Russian Legion and the Philly Americans were also battling it out in a 3rd must win game. I knew we were going to win the last Impact game, but I would have never guessed how it would have gone down. In the 2nd point of the game, Impact received two major penalties. They would have to play 3 bodies on 5. Like a wounded animal, we smelled blood and went on the attack. Quick points after quick points were scored. The game ended before half time, with a score of 9-0. It was a perfect confidence booster to enter the finals. On the other side of the tournament, the Philly Americans defeated the Russian legion, in an overtime point.
The stage was now set, for a championship match on Sunday, between the Ironmen and the All-Americans. If you’ve been reading my journals, then you’ll know that we always play the All-A’s, and this would be a perfect finale. We were extremely focused, and the thought of winning another World Cup, had everybody excited. The team was truly coming together, and looking strong. However, I knew Philly wanted it, just as bad as we did. They have been working hard all year, and finally had some good results. The first game started, with Tim Montressor of the All-Americans getting a major penalty. It’s unfortunate that they got a penalty in the finals, but that’s not our fault. We took advantage of the situation, and ran a 9-3 score. The next game proved to be much more difficult.
There was a two hour break in between games, so we knew Philly was going to go back to the drawing boards, and correct their game plans. Since we’ve been in this situation before, we knew we couldn’t relax. We immediately started talking about what worked and what didn’t. The entire team also sat around and enjoyed each other, which was probably one of my favorite highlights of the weekend. Before we knew it, the buzzer was sounding, and we were playing the second match. It was very apparent, that we were playing a completely different team. The All-Americans came out with fire, and took it to us. They pulled ahead, and just like in the Impact game, we drilled our way back. Unfortunately, our efforts failed, and we lost the second game. We would once again be going into a 3rd game, but this time, it would be to dictate the 2008 NXL Champions.
I’ve learned a lot over the years about winning, and the one thing I can promise you, is it’s never easy. When you get two teams in the finals, that equally want to win, it’s going to come down to the wire, and this year was no different. There was once again a break in between matches, and we got right down to business. Philly had really been hurting us on the dorrito side, so we decided to put our best gunners, to slow them down. The one major difference in our game plans, over the All-Americans, was that we always ran to either the snake, or snake corner. Our minor adjustments and risk taking seemed to do the trick, because we beat the All-Americans 9-4, and once again, won the World Cup.
The feeling of winning never gets old, and to win World Cup two years in a row was incredible. Just to show how competitive we are, as we were celebrating the team was already talking about winning the NPPL series. There’s only 1 seven-man event left, and we’re leading the pack by 10 points. In 2 weeks, we can make history by being the first team, to win both the PSP and NPPL series. The season is just starting to heat up and get good…
- Brandon Short.