Hey guys I’ve been meaning to write this since last weekend but I’ve been crushed by class work and an exam so here it is now, better late than never right? Also this time I had not one but two LSA students edit my work so if it still reads poorly it’s just the engineer in me shining through.
We had our third conference tournament of the year last Saturday at Warzone Paintgames in Sylvania Ohio. After our disappointing finish in tournament two we were pretty fired up for this one and had been practicing and prepping consistently since the second tournament.
That’s where it got a little hairy. Three weeks before the tournament, just when our practices were picking up in intensity, the Michigan Snake Player Hating God (the snake is the series of long low bunkers on one side of the field) struck Mark Leemon. It was our very first game of the practice and we were all fired up and excited. The referee started the game and we all snapped to and began laning (firing at a spot where the other team is likely to run through, hopefully hitting them and getting a quick elimination).
Just as I reached my bunker, I looked to my right thinking “good Mark got to the snake safely this should be an easy game.” Moments later, I look back and Mark hadn’t moved. He was lying still on the ground. I immediately ran over to see what happened, we yelled to stop the game and started trying to figure out what went wrong. As Mark lay writhing in pain some pretty bad thoughts ran through our heads “what happened?, did he break his arm or shoulder?” We got to work getting him up and heading out to the local hospital with another couple of our guys.
I really can’t say enough about how well the Warzone staff handled the situation. It certainly didn’t hurt that the owner, Jason, has been a firefighter and EMS member for years. News reached us later that he’d been diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder, and would be in a sling for a number of weeks. *cough* sissy *cough*
Needless to say, we lost our focus for that day and practice probably wasn’t as productive as it could have been. However, we got in some good drilling and started making adjustments to not having our normal snake player. Practice the next week was rather uneventful in comparison. Our team captain, Sean Thompson, decided that it would be best if he filled in for Mark in the snake, and he began working with his back player Jon Tillman to get adjusted. The rest of our line was pretty much set, and we had a good practice and began feeling more confident about the tournament.
The morning of the tournament everybody got up around 6:30 or so to get down to the field early, as the captains meeting was at 8:30 and games started at 9:00 sharp. Most of us got to the field and began setting up our gear for the day. It was getting close to 8:30, and we were getting anxious to check in, pick up our paint, and make final preparations.
But Taylor Rowell and his car hadn’t showed up yet. With only 20 minutes until the first match, they walked in the door, unfortunate victims of an Ann Arbor policeman’s speed trap. With everyone accounted for, and all lines checked in, we geared up for our first game against Ohio University.
The tournament layout
Tournament structure and scoring in the National Collegiate Paintball Association is pretty complicated but here is a rough rundown. The tournaments are setup so that there are preliminaries, semi-finals and finals. Seeding for semi-finals and finals is based on winning matches (a best of three series of 5 minute games). If you win 2 games against the same team you’ve won that match and get the point. The team with the most points is seeded first and so on.
For our tournament there were 8 teams so the top 4 teams from preliminaries go to Semi-finals and then the top 2 out of semis play for the championship. Individual game scoring doesn’t matter that much and, honestly, is pretty difficult to understand. So I’m not going to get into it here; suffice it to say, if you eliminate the other team and take the flag to their starting box you win. The only important rule is if you are found to have been hit in the game before you hang the flag it’s called a dirty hang and the point for that game goes to the opposing team.
We won our first game of the day, but it wasn’t exactly in the most convincing fashion. We were all eliminated, but we won the point because Ohio University had a dirty flag hang. Our second game was against Northern Illinois University; we found our stride and ended up winning the point quickly, only losing two players to eliminations.
Our third game against Indiana University-Purdue University (We're from University!) at Indianapolis (by the way who in the hell came up with that name? I-Whip-Ee anyone?). The game ended up in a draw due to the Charles Woodsonesque skill from Jon having to face 3 guys by himself. He ended up shooting out 2 and was gunfighting with the third as time expired.
I believe it was in that game when the Michigan Snake Player Hating God struck again. Our Captain and fill-in snake player, Sean, got injured sliding into the snake. This resulted in a massive change to our overall strategy, forcing Taylor and Sean to switch roles. We lost our next game to Western Michigan in a bad way, losing three guys off break and only eliminating one of their players. This point ended the first round of preliminaries.
Next we defeated Ohio University again, ending that series with a victory for us giving us 1 match point so far. We then played NIU again and lost. Now we would go to a third game tie-break for the point.
Our second game against I-Whip-Ee was an outstanding success with only Sean getting shot out. We then lost to Western Michigan giving them the win in that match. So went the second round.
The tournament was getting tight at this point as we needed to win the next two matches to ensure we would advance to semi-finals. We faced NIU first and soundly beat them and then came the critical match against I-Whip-Ee. If we won we were in and the same for them. A solid performance gave us the win moving us into the semi-finals.
Winning the two matches against NIU and I-Whip-Ee put us tied with 3 other teams for first place going into semi-finals but we were the lowest seeded of the three based on the tiebreaking system. The four teams that advanced to semi-finals were Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Ohio University and us.
We played Ohio University in the semis and lost our first match convincingly, losing players off break and failing to deal with it effectively. After seeing their breakout plan, we made adjustments to our plan. We switched where people were shooting off the break, giving us the key kill we needed to break the game open early. The resulting win forced a Game 3 to decide who would advance to play for first.
The game started well with all of us making it to our bunkers alive and getting a quick kill. As the game progressed it eventually got down to Jon and myself against their last guy in the snake. This should have been an easy win, but I failed to swing wide around the field and run him down and he eventually shot out Jon. I eventually lost the one-on-one, meaning we would play for fourth place.
The terrible part is that one of our other players was filming and got video of the OU player getting hit in the leg by Jon and not calling himself out. Now he may not have realized he was hit, and the referees didn’t either. The referees considered the hit old when he was checked for hits as he was hanging the flag. I don’t put any of the blame on the referees or the player for losing that game, it was my fault for not acting aggressively enough to finish the game and knowing that I could have had us playing for first place hurt bad.
We played Central Michigan for third place in the finals and didn’t play focused or as a team. They defeated us in consecutive games and I don’t think they even lost a player. Western then defeated Ohio University for first place so at least the trophy stayed in the State of Michigan. We failed to get hardware for the second straight tournament and were pretty disappointed with ourselves.
Overall though it was a great day of play and the competition was fierce all day, there was also great camaraderie between all the college teams and even though we lost it was still great to play. I’d like to thank Warzone again for running such a great tournament for us; everything was run quick and efficiently with no major issues.
Our second line started strong, winning two of their first three games, but then managed to win only 2 more of their following 9 games. Overall they had a good performance with big improvements coming from many of the players. They won one point and dropped three, giving them a sixth place finish, quite good considering they hadn’t practiced with their entire line ever.
In other news we have decided to play a national-level paintball tournament as our big end of the year trip. We’re going to California to play in the National Professional Paintball League’s Huntington Beach event on April 1-3. We’re sending one line to compete in the Division-4 5 man bracket, which is for teams like us that don’t compete in anything but lower level tournaments.
Seven guys will be flying out on March 31, and we got lucky enough that one of the guys has family out there so we can forgo staying in a hotel. We’re beginning training for HB both physically and mentally, and we’re practicing with other teams going to HB so that we are as ready as we can be. I’ll be posting updates on how our practices are going for the next 9 weeks until HB.
The layout from Huntington Beach last year
If you read it all I applaud you I'll try to keep it shorter in the future.