Thursday, January 7, 2010

Secrets of the Red Legion

Hey! That one got your attention, didn't it?

For a while--until I get bored and/or sidetracked--I thought I might do a few posts on playing the game. What with everybody feeling all shiny and new and ready for the upcoming season now is the perfect time to grab your attention and put a stop to that sort of Pollyanna-ish nonsense. (Just kidding.)

Today's post will be about lane control. And, yes, I will be relating Legion philosophy as it applies to lane control because it is (in my never to be considered humble opinion) the cornerstone of how they teach and play the game. But first a brief definition: Lane control is an established position of dominance that allows a player to (ideally) deny movement through or past the narrow zone or lane actively observed by the dominant player. In this context when I say lane control I am including edge control as well. Edge control refers to the capacity of an opposing player, either a mirror or other line-of-sight position, to contest for dominance and thus, lane control. It is a fundamental feature of the modern game and happens numerous times during each and every point played.

Nor is it a static situation. It is one in constant flux and this is where Legion philosophy and training come into play. Simply put the Legion's first rule is 'Never give up lane control.' Their second rule is 'Don't die.' And that's pretty much it for rules about lane control. With only two rules it should be a piece of cake (um, cake) but it actually turns out to be a bit more difficult in practice. Let's expand on the rules some, shall we? The typical scenario is what is commonly called gun-fighting or gun battles. The term carries with it a connotation that the process is a back and forth battle for edge and lane control--with opposing players taking turns being in control--and as it is commonly played that is precisely what happens most of the time. But that is not how the Legion do it.

One of the key reasons for the Legion's rise to dominance of the NXL in the past was their absolute adherence to the lane control rules. (With a few Americans--who bring unique skill sets to the table--and a slightly less rigid team structure than in the past--the current Legion isn't quite as unyielding on this score as they used to be but if you watch them play you will still see what I'm talking about.) But more than anything we are talking about an attitude. Lane control isn't lane control if it's only effective 50% of the time. It follows that what is required for real lane control is that it be maintained uninterrupted and if or when it is contested the opponent must be eliminated or pushed off their edge. Even if you die in the process. (See rule #2) In order to do this effectively you must maintain discipline and provide the smallest target profile possible. The techniques can be taught and learned--the will can only come from within the player.

The result is instead of gun-fighting for control lane control becomes a game of chicken and technique. There is no back and forth. No snap shooting. No in and out. No lightning reflexes. No real contest of all around ability. No rolling the dice. In this scenario technique dominates--and remember, technique can be taught and developed.

But even for the Red Legion perfection isn't possible so here's a little trick that should help. Most of the time you can give up edge control and still maintain lane control. Remember, your purpose is to deny movement thru the lane or gap you are attempting to control. Too often players over adjust when pushed off their edges. If you are forced off your edge don't move all the way back behind your bunker, don't switch sides, don't move your gun out of a shooting posture. Move only as far as it is necessary to move to avoid being hit. In a mirror situation that often requires no more than pushing into your prop. But in any event the idea is to move the minimum amount necessary while maintaining a line-of-sight somewhere within the gap or zone you are supposed to be controlling. Better yet, roll your gun and get some paint going thru there. (If you're uncertain as to why we'll get to that next time.)

Now that you know how it's done--a far cry from doing it I might add--take a minute to think about how you transition from what is mostly thought of (incorrectly) as a defensive posture--lane control--and make it a fundamental element of your attack. That's next time too.


Don Saavedra said...

Excellent read! I love the nuts & bolts stuff.

SSRoman said...

mmm baiting. one of my favorite techniques

Miller_Fierce said...

Yes. More please. I like the industry info and speculation,but this is the kind of stuff you cant get in other paintball websites. You're the thinking man's paintball coach. Now if I could only learn to think while I'm playing instead of running around with my eyes closed...

Missy Q said...

Lane control is essential in the PSP. if done correctly you can get free entry, whatever schedule you like, and free fishing trips to Mexico....

see what I did there...?

anonachris said...

I was actually just thinking that this is what paintball is really lacking...

People need to be able to go online, read about some cool, but understandable paintball theory (And not too long winded like a lot of your stuff)

And dream about the next time they go to the field to practice it.

Skating has this. Skiing/Snowboarding. There is tons of this stuff out there in other sports.

But we're really lacking the content mecca (and we all know it), but I'm just thinking about how much it hurts the sport/industry.

All we have right now is infighting, speculation, whining, bashing, etc.

So big props for raising the bar, and I wish this vision could be carried over and supported with a broader reach in the industry. Paintball needs people dreaming about the next paintball outing -- not fighting over their favorite products and brands.

Marcus said...

Superb post! Great read! Two thumbs up!

Baca Loco said...

You're on a roll.

Alas, not all of us are equipped for lane control. ;)

Mark790.06 said...

I remember when I invented this technique ;-) I held someone off with a cocker and he had a impulse. His frustration with my persistance eventually became his un-doing.
Miller, not every player was meant to think.
Maverick: "If you think you're dead."
Crash Davis: "Don't think, it can only hurt the ball club."
LoPan: "Shut up Mr Burton, you were not put upon this world to 'Get it!'"

Reiner Schafer said...

Interesting. Doesn't sound like the kind of thing I would pay much to go watch though.

Also doesn't sound like the kind of thing I'd spend all my expendable income to learn either. But obviously there are others that will. Just how many though?

anonachris said...

The russians are the most graceful and exciting team in paintball to watch. If only they would work on their post-game antics it would be the perfect combination. I think we need some crazy russian dances like yelstin pulled off a few years ago after every point. Then would you watch?

Baca Loco said...

Did those bad boys steal your lunch money when you were a little tourney baller?

Anonymous said...

"But obviously there are others that will. Just how many though?"

Just enough to ruin paintball for you it seems, considering how much you cry on everything speedball related.

Reiner Schafer said...

Just calling it the way I see it from an outsider persective. But hey, I could be wrong. Maybe watching someone with perfect technique shooting a string of paintballs non-stop at one point in space is interesting for some to watch.

I know in hockey, the NHL has tried to do more and more over the years to turn the game into a more offensive game, because they realize they need to do that to prosper. It's not that a defensive game (under the old rules) was not affective (actually it was quite affective), it was just not exciting to watch. Not exciting to watch equals less sales for the NHL. In paintball, it's not going to make much difference (how much money is tournament paintball really making off viewership?), so my point may be moot.

As far as the lunch money issue goes, believe me, I have not missed many lunches, but probably should miss a few, so the bad boys might have done me some favors. haha.

Reiner Schafer said...

Anon, I assume that was meant for me. I don't cry at everything speedball related. On the contrary, I would like to see speedball flourish more. I need places for players to go that want to go beyond what we offer at our (recreational) field. I was a big advocate of the BCPPL here in British Columbia when it was trying to get off the ground, eventhough I no longer played speedball and had no intention of taking part.

I encourage anyone at our field that wants to branch off into the world of speedball to give it a try. Please don't read things into my posts that aren't there.

Baca Loco said...

Another thing that isn't in your posts on this subject is an understanding of context. And while you may object I don't see how anyone who has read your comments regularly can avoid picking up your disdain of so-called speedball, protestations to the contrary not withstanding. Which is fine. I'm just saying.

Reiner Schafer said...

Baca, I guess I will need to be more careful with my wording then. I have no disdain for speedball, just a belief that a recreational paintball field will have a greater chance of success if it keeps speedball from its premises (or at the least in seperate parts of the same property). And as an extention, the paintball industry would be better served to seperate the two more than they do. Semantics? Maybe.

I disagree with the general concept of "we are all one big happy family" and should be playing side by side.

When I point out something like I did in my original post, it's not because of a dislike for the sport, it's merely an observation from an outsider (more or less) and what their perception may be. Do with that what you will, but sometimes when one is immersed in something for a long time, it's difficult to see the viewpoint of someone on the outside. If it's not importance to them, fine, but if it's something that may affect, in this case, viewership and future interest of parties to enter the sport, perhaps they should be at least a little interested.

Baca Loco said...

"--but if it's something that may affect, in this case, viewership and future interest of parties to enter the sport, perhaps they should be at least a little interested."

That was my other point. You are passing judgment here without any idea what you're talking about. And I don't mean that in any pejorative sense, I mean it literally.
Can a tourney game or point be boring? Sure but that's a function of the players not an explanation of an isolated technique that most teams and players don't use. :)

Missy Q said...

Reiner, I'll say it for you:

"You speedball guys should just stay in your bouncy-castles, screaming like man-children with your tackle caught in your zippers, and bitching about having to pay for anything.

Been there, done that, went back into the woods to earn some $$'s off grow'ed-ass adults"

There, it's said.

Baca Loco said...

She said tackle. hehe

Anonymous said...

actually as one time outsider, who has seen RLegion and others live, i'd say this post exactly tippifies what drives me away from tournament paintball.

its not that this doesn't work; it helps you shutout teams 7-0. I just don't love playing it. I enjoy it; don't love it. It works tho, and I love winning...

But I guess I'll never play for Baca or RLegion.


Baca Loco said...

Check out the follow-up post. You might like it better. ;)