Well folks, I’ve just returned from the first ever Woodsball World Cup tournament at the legendary Paintball Sports NY field and I am totally and completely exhausted.
I’ve only got time to give you all a summary right now as I’ve still got something like 150 video clips to edit, over 200 photos to edit and other publications to coordinate with (Rene Boucher of Paintball News was there as well and we split some of the coverage duties. Right now I’m holding the scoring information hostage until I can get my hot little hands on a pic of Jerry Braun and I together…)
The promoters of the event – Jerry Braun, Paintball Sports NY, the National Pump League and 68Caliber – were initially hoping to have 14 or so teams in attendance. (You may not know this, but the first ever World Cup – held at the same location as this one – had 16 teams attending. Over the years that event grew to several hundred teams.)
As it was, the event ended up with 7 teams. One would normally say “only” 7 teams, but in this particular case we’re dealing with promoters who have nearly 30 years with the game, know how these things work and are planning for the long haul. Which brings up the first announcement:
WOODSBALL WORLD CUP 2011 will be held the weekend of September 9, 10 & 11.
It’s already scheduled, it’s already going to happen and there will be more than 7 teams.
The decision was made a few short weeks before the tournament to drop the cut-off down to 8; that way, the event could be held on a single field. This decomplicates scheduling, reffing AND, perhaps most importantly of all, insures that all of the teams become familiar with the terrain and are on an absolutely fair and balanced footing when it comes to field draws.
The field used for the event was the legendary CHALLENGER field (thanks to Ken Heferle for the correction). (A very famous game involving my team – the Werewolves, Freddie Schultz’s Constant Pursuit team and a lightening storm took place on that very same field nearly two decades ago.) If you could look at a cross-section of the field, it would look like an inverted ‘U’ – or something like this –
If you’ve never played woodsball before, the variation in terrain was a completely foreign element to you, which only served to make things very interesting, as well as a great learning opportunity for those players and teams who were giving this style of play its first go round.
I’d like to personally thank the teams that did attend: they took a chance, stepped off into the unknown and, as personal accounts and the pictures you’ll see tomorrow will show you, they all had a fantastic time.
In many respects, this event reminded me of the first ever NPPL tournament in Dallas TX. Everyone was having a great time and there were smiles all around – regardless of whether you were winning or losing.
So, a big shout out to: Team Low Key, the Magic Men, Upstate Hate, the Misfit Militia, Highland Skulls, Long Island Caretakers and Ground Zero.
I’d like to mention Squid Boy and Team Low Key here for a second. This team showed up with four or five of their original players and filled out with free agents, borrowed players and even some walk-ons who were playing their first paintball ever. This is a young team – both in team and player years – and they were the epitome of what tournament woodsball is all about: they came, they ignored the odds, they played hard every single game, they gave and got respect all around and even brought some new folks into the game, people who had a great time and will absolutely be back to play again.
The same can be said for every team that was in attendance; you’ll be seeing a special piece all about the event from one of the Magic Men players; they also had a disappointing event so far as the scoreboard was concerned, but they have a lot of heart and they put every bit of it out onto the field.
Personally, it was a wonderful experience to see some of the greatest people I have ever known gathered all in one place again after two decades: the Ground Zero guys (every single player a world tournament champion btw – what other team can say that?), my old teammate Phil Martucci who reffed, the LI Caretakers (I have their patch!); hanging with the Highland Skulls who have the dress code down and are working hard on the field skills (these guys are going places – they’ve got absolutely the right attitude: getting your butts kicked and coming back for more is the only way to get good at this game)!
The staff and refs – omg, what a legendary crew – from Jerry Braun, to Kevin Donaldson, Ken & Kevin Heferle, Matt Orenzo, Dan Masonette, Robert Choniok, Greg Cunningham, Chris Massi, Phil Martucci and Andy Sanchez – any tournament in the world would be begging to have these guys officiate their event if they could see them in action!
I also want to thank Carmen and Tennessee from Valken for coming out and representing; Guerrilla Air for sending some awesome gear out, Tippmann and Empire Paintball for the thought (they wanted to participate but due to logistics were unable to do so), PB Sports NY and to 68Caliber which sponsored a bunch of teams and players. (Yes, I will resort to patting myself on the back when called for.) Barney for bringing his purple self, everyone who brought old-time gear by (we had a great display, including a one-armed bandit!)
The Jersey Titans for an awesome b-b-cue (great food AND great people – you’ll be seeing them next year as well) – and – to anyone who I should have but haven’t mentioned; it’s entirely due to exhaustion and I will be happy to make corrections if you’ll send me along a small note.
I should also mention that everyone took a minute of silence at the minute and hour of the 9/11 attack to honor the memory of those who died, and we also paid homage to two men without whom tournament paintball would not be what it is today – Richie RT Travis and Jim Anderson, who are still with us in spirit if not in the flesh.
Scores? You want scores? OK. The prelims ended as follows:
Low Key 7th
Magic Men 6th
Highland Skulls 5th
Misfit Militia 4th
Upstate Hate 3rd
L.I. Caretakers 2nd
Ground Zero 1st
The semi-finals ended as follows:
Misfit Militia 4th
L.I. Caretakers 3rd
Upstate Hate 2nd
Ground Zero 1st
and the finals ended with
Ground Zero 1st
Upstate Hate 2nd
On the field the play was a joy to behold – each and every bit of it. From watching Bobbie Rose getting his groove back and dominating the ridge line (you’ll be seeing a video of that soon) to the folks who were new to the woods learning how to crawl, find targets in the trees and realizing that a 30 foot run just means you’ve got a heck of a lot further to go, it was like turning back the clock twenty years. You could smell the old style game, feel the history creeping up behind you and whispering in your ear – this is the way you’re supposed to play paintball.
Conversations with the players was gratifying and encouraging, so far as the future of ten player woodsball is concerned. One player who was very demonstrative about it was Pat ‘Church’ Mauro, who’s played a lot of arena ball. I think I heard him saying that he had a great time and was thinking maybe he might just play in the woods from now on…
To be serious: a lot of players who’s only experience with tournament play has been the arena were absolutely thrilled by how much they didn’t know, how much they had to learn, how cool it was to be able to crawl, run really far, shoot at all different kinds of ranges, communicate in code across the field, shift people around, back up and re-set – all of the things that we used to be able to do. As GZ player Corey Berke said “it’s an entirely different game – and so much fun!”
Much more tomorrow – much, much more: an introduction to the teams and players that attended, some more game descriptions, an inside look from the Magic Men, videos and pics!