Tuesday, August 17, 2010

MAO Day 3

Sunday began early for some of us under overcast skies. The low slow-moving gray clouds might have been ominous under other circumstances but were overall a welcome sight as they kept the temperature down and promised, rather than threatened, the possibility of cooling rain. The fulfillment of that promise did drench a D1 match-up on the pro field and teased another match or two with sprinkles but otherwise held off as the final day of the tournament ran its course.

The pro quarters began at 8am with Aftermath meeting Entourage. This was a first for Entourage who had played well if somewhat scattershot paintball throughout the prelims. The characteristics that make Entourage fun to watch and dangerous to play also tend, on occasion, to be self-destructive. In some respects the two teams mirror each other in style, youth, energy and capacity to harm their own cause. Given a little time and a little maturity they will both get better. This time around Aftermath came out on top only to be rewarded with a semifinal against the Red Legion who carried the only perfect record into Sunday.
In the other pro quarter Damage played Impact in a rematch of the Phoenix final. By this stage of the tournament Impact was, more often than not, playing a dorito wire heavy game and Damage, for whatever reason, continued to struggle to get on track. One of the intangible qualities of this year's Impact is a collective unwillingness to get rattled or give up. Point after point they continue to fight. It's similar to the Ironmen mantra of "bloody knuckles" which I take to mean they are ready, willing, able and determined to make every match a brawl if that's what it takes to win. Damage got two majors on the second point and started the next two points down 3 on 5 but it was only two points because they managed to burn off both penalties while only giving up two points. Down 1-3 it felt like a fresh start in the Damage pit but the penalties kept coming. In the end Damage was assessed 4 majors and 2 minors and lost to a confident, consistent Impact team.
In one semifinal Aftermath went all out to challenge the Red Legion and scored some early points. They were bold and unafraid but over the length of a Race 2-7 match they were also no match for the Legion. Beginning on Friday the Legion were playing hard, precise, fast and elegant paintball. The layout suited their talent and they were impeccably prepared and executed their game plans like the Russian Legion machine of old. For anyone who appreciates and understands what xball can be to watch the Legion play the MAO was a thing of beauty.
The other semi, Impact vs. Ironmen, was a battle; no quarter offered, no quarter given. Where the Legion was paintball blitzkrieg Impact versus the Ironmen was trench warfare. Back and forth, move and countermove, a combat of attrition. It was the kind of game the Ironmen had been playing all tournament long. Tight close matches, multiple overtimes. Frequently not pretty paintball but that's not really the point. Despite the tough year to date and all the roster moves the Ironmen that showed up for MAO earned their name and proved they will be a team to be reckoned with come World Cup. The only blemish on their semi loss to Impact was some controversy at the final call of the match which swung the point in favor of Impact. Ask any ten people what happened and odds are you'd get at least half a dozen different answers. The Ironmen protested but it didn't matter, they were out and Impact would face the Legion for a second time. First time around they'd lost 7-1 in the prelims.
We decided to call it an event and pack up when the rain started coming down hard before the pro final. After getting knocked out early it was either hang around the event or hang around the hotel and the team had split on their preference so I'd stayed with the group at the field. Those hours are among the few I have at tournaments to chat with friends and enjoy paintball. Even so I'd rather not but there it is. As we readied to leave Gary Baum of Paintball Photography asked me if I wasn't staying for the final. I told him I already knew the outcome--barring act of God or the officials--and since it's Tuesday you know how it turned out, too.


papa chad said...

excellent write-up.

I have mad faith in Damage come World-Cup.

Reiner Schafer said...

"excellent write-up."

Agreed. Now I don't have to go anywhere else to get the inside scoop on the Pro Game.

Seriously though, good writing.

Don Saavedra said...

I'm sad I didn't get to see the Russians play. Sounds like they put on quite a show and only a lucky few got to see it.

Gary Baum said...

Yes it was one of the most impressive victories I have ever witnessed in paintball and yes Mr. Baca not only did I agree with your prediction on the out come of the game but I also correctly predicted the final score and that Impact would go up 2- 0 before the Russians awakened and scored 7 unanswered points to win. It went down exactly as I predicted and you missed quite a show

Anonymous said...

So what happened in your eyes during the Ironmen game Sir Baca? I wasn't there, so the more detail the better.

Baca Loco said...

Drop me an email and I'll be happy to pass along my take.