The UWL (Ultimate Woodsball League) is into its second year and this coming weekend there will be an event in Ft. Myers, Florida. [Not so fast. The event date has moved to the weekend of March 27th.] Tom Cole was generous enough to offer me (and teammates) an opportunity to play in the Florida game but unfortunately it is on a previously scheduled practice weekend. If you are unfamiliar with the format check out their website. The UWL is working some of the same territory as the SPPL. While over at the new and improved Big Bullet you can find info for a more traditional form of 10-man tournament woodsball with the NPL.
I confess I don't have a huge interest in traditional tournament woodsball--been there, done that, enjoyed it (mostly) at the time--though it would probably better suit what few worn out and tired skills I have left; slow, sneaky & experienced. But I do kinda like the sound of the UWL game. There's strategy, tactics, complexity and the opportunity to utilise the whole laundry list of paintball skills even if there is an emphasis (perhaps) on a more traditional skill set. Anyway, I wanted to mention the available opportunities in order to encourage anyone who thinks it could be fun to give it a try. With the trend in major league tourney ball to younger and faster it would be great to see a more diverse player base have competitive paintball options. Maybe one answer to where paintball is today--and where it will be tomorrow--is more choices, not just a change in primary industry attention.
I also wanted to pose a question or three, too. Is the UWL's target player normally a scenario player or an Old Skool tourney guy? Or, the likely answer, both? But even so is this a formula for growing competitive paintball? I'm not sure. On one hand the concept is planting seeds that might grow and spread. On the other it's drawing its target participant from a different niche with a nostalgia tour of sorts. It's called Old Skool for a reason. Don't get me wrong. I still like the game concept. I'm not a snob about different forms of competitive paintball. I'm glad it's out there and available--I'm just wondering if the current top down approach will ever produce anything more than a modestly attended handful of events. Of course it could be I'm dumping too many expectations on something that wasn't ever intended to be more than what it is. But maybe I'm not. Read this at the UWL website.
If the majority of the players are crossovers from scenario is that growth? Does it really serve to reestablish competitive paintball in a woodsball environment? Again, I'm not sure. It may very well prove to be aspirational but that's a pretty big leap. It seems to me if you want to build to a national level competitive woodsball series you also need to begin looking at where the growth will come from and how it will happen. Back in the day future major league 10-man team players started locally playing 3-man and 5-man. Just like most modern tourney players do. If competitive woodsball is ever going to grow and be a viable option don't potential (future) players need a place to start? Maybe something as simple as encouraging UWL host fields to offer introductory tourney woodsball events along with the big show when it comes to town?