A Photo Finish
What a weekend! Last weekend we had our second ever outing in the NXLE Pro Series at the British Invitational. It was absolutely unreal, with the NXL and the CPPS completely delivering the best event we have ever attended. It was great to see the universally positive reaction of our fellow professional teams to our home field, validating the hard work that has gone into the site and the competition’s effort travelling over.
The weekend for us started on Thursday afternoon where we trained on the field against Ronholt Blast, Manchester Firm and Gladiatori Unicusano. This was less about rehearsing exact plays, instead getting the cobwebs out the system, and getting into the paintball mindset so we could start on the front foot in prelims. A fast start was essential as we had on paper our hardest prelim games on the Friday, and with a tough group we knew we needed to win at least one of those games to progress into the knockouts.
Our first prelim game saw us faced up against reigning NXLE champs Camp Pendleton Raiders. Despite a slightly different roster and some notable Covid absences we still knew this would be a challenging game for us and that Raiders would be in their element if it slowed down. Knowing this we decided to stay aggressive and keep the points fast, consistently pushing the bags and the snake, both on the break and during the points. The plan worked, after a couple back and forth points early we quickly built a large lead and took a 6 – 1 mercy win.
Next up was the legendary French team Toulouse Tontons. After a strong showing against Raiders, we all felt confident we could give Tontons a game and take a win if we played up to our potential. The plan was the same, stay aggressive, but the first point slowed down into a 5 minute 2 on 3 in Tontons favour. A clutch gunfight win from Clint Moore, and a ‘ring around the rosey’ from Mason Hinds dragged it back into a 2 on 1 in our favour which they closed out a massive first point win. Off the back of a scrappy first point we were able to put up a couple quick points and take a commanding 4-0 lead. Firmly in the driving seat Tontons fought back hard and after trading a couple points, we closed out another mercy win, 7-2.
Following a hot start on Friday we had just two more games to play on the Saturday against Fivestar and Section. While on paper easier games than our Friday opponents we knew we had to give each game our all to ensure we didn’t land in any deep water. Fortunately, we were able to build off the momentum from the previous day and secure two more mercy wins. This meant we moved into Sunday as the top seed with 4 wins and a +20-point difference.
Sunday morning saw us matched up against Gladiatori Unicusano in the quarter finals. This was a rematch of our Sunday morning exit in Germany, and we were keen to make up for our previous final second loss. We started strong, staying aggressive we quickly built a 3-0 lead. However, with some strong break shooting and key gunfight wins Gladiatori were able to answer back and put up 3 unanswered points to tie the game. With a couple traded points to make the game 4-4 with just 4:29 to go we knew this was a real test of our composure in the pressure situations. Some strong break shooting and an aggressive snake side push from Ethan Levy and James Green let us put up two quick points to take the score to 6-4. A clutch 2 on 1 win from Clint Moore put the nail in the coffin and we took our first ever Sunday win.
The win put us through to the semi-finals where Paris Camp Carnage was waiting for us. Carnage had been doing an excellent job of playing defensively on this layout, a style that clashed with our aggressive gameplan and. Expectedly the game slowed way down with the first two points coming down to long low bodies situations resulting in a 1-1 score and 7 minutes of burned game time. The pace of the game subsequently picked up and after trading points back and forth the game was tied 3-3 with 3:25 to go. After we lost a body on the break the game settled into a long, drawn-out point with Ethan Levy and Clint Moore up the middle to impede any progress from Carnage. With less than a minute to go everything looked set for overtime until a combination of Clint, Ethan, and Koffi opened the game up through the middle to score the winning point with just 12 seconds to go.
We were through to the finals where we were set to face a red-hot Breakout Spa team. Breakout Spa are very familiar for us, having travelled to train against them numerous times this season, including for this event specifically. The first point went exactly to plan, playing aggressively down both sides of the field to take a quick 1-0 lead. The following points were traded points back and forth, each coming down to crucial decisions or gun fight wins in low bodies situations. With 4:55 left on the clock the game was tied at 2-2 and Breakout put us under a lot of pressure on the break and during the mid-game, scoring 2 quick points to make the game 4-2 with 2:39 to play.
At this point in the tournament, it was clear we liked to play fast so we knew we had plenty of time to comeback. We just needed to execute our play properly, and with some minor adjustments we were able to get key kills and rattle off a couple points to tie the game 4-4 with 1:12 to go. Whoever took the next point would take the game, and the tournament. Our breakout was prefect getting two key kills of the bag side but Breakout showed their experience and managed to hold up against our push, the point quickly devolved into a 2 on 2 that in the scramble Breakout were able to steal with just 8 seconds to play as players from both teams sprinted to the buzzer. Despite our best efforts we were not able to come away with a win this time.
We would like to say a big congratulations to Breakout Spa that won their first ever Pro event after 20 years of competition. They played amazingly and deserved to win, even if it was at our expense.
We would like to thank everyone involved in both the NXL for the incredible event and the CPPS for phenomenal venue. We would like to thank all of our sponsors that make competing at these events possible. We really would not have this kind of success without their fantastic support. Gi Sports for the paint, that was ridiculous this weekend, Planet Eclipse for the markers that were flawless, Jersey Clinic & Carbon paintball for ensuring we have the best gear to play in, Beyond for keeping us mentally ready to play, and last but not least Paintball.de for their continued support when we travel. Finally, we would like to thank the crowd. It was so great seeing so many of the British teams and players up on the mounds. It really did give us a boost and was something many of our players have never experienced. Thanks all, and we hope to see you again soon.