Saturday, April 5, 2014

Hired Guns

In a couple of recent interviews Damian Ryan made it a point to identify his team, Infamous, as a tight family there for each other as opposed, I suppose, to some other teams left unmentioned who might be viewed as a collection of hired guns. Which makes the fact that he gave one of those interviews to MSTV in France in the last couple of days while playing for ML Kings both ironic and amusing. Given that Ryan works for Empire it may be "guesting" for a Euro team is part of the gig. I don't know. But I am curious. Not just about Ryan but all the other (mostly) American pros playing for assorted European paintball teams. Not so much from the players' perspective--trips to Europe to play ball--who wouldn't want to go? But it's the teams I'm wondering about.
Years ago the European teams were mostly distinctly inferior to their American equivalent so bringing in a couple of American pros could quickly make a team more competitive. And the same likely holds true in the divisions below the CPL. (Which also makes me wonder why the MS allows it.) But training and consequently skill levels have improved across the board in recent years and the typical Euro baller is a much better player than he was a generation ago. So why continue to bring in hired guns? Particularly if it's one, maybe two short practices and then tourney time. Is there really any sustaining value in doing that?
Sure, maybe sometimes it's the sponsors helping to beef up a featured team but again, where's the value? If the best sort of team is made up of players committed to their team and teammates why do we still see all these hired guns? If the rapid rise of the Euro players means they are taking their game as seriously as the American players do why stick with the hired guns? Seems to me the weaknesses of the typical Euro team are the same weaknesses as a lot of U.S. teams--they know how to play as individuals but putting a team game together keeps eluding them.
Or maybe the Euros still need the boost of confidence an American pro brings just by showing up.


Anonymous said...

The whole "team family" concept is overrated in my opinion. The concept of playing for the better of the team is not. I believe they are similar, yet different in focus. I am not overtly fond, social wise, of my fellow employees. I do show up to work as part of a cohesive unit trying to do our best. Our mutual success is, well, mutually beneficial. Whether I think my teammate is a dink or not is largely incidental. Well, as long as we can both work together and recognize that we need each other to succeed, that is.

While not the "big show" of the PSP, I think Shooters and Looters proved this recently.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Except, a (great) paintball team is heavily reliant on split second decisions, and teammates following up on those seamlessly and instantly.

That is rarely the case in a workplace.

Unfortunately, it seems these days it's hard to keep a solid roster together for a prolonged period of time - the last that could was the 2nd generation of RL..... and coincidentally they were also the last team to be so convincingly better than everyone else, for a long period of time.

We have only had a few such teams in the history of our sport, and they ALL had very little roster movement in their prime years:

All Americans

The ironic part is, that it ought to be easier to achieve cohesion in this day and age, because teams practice so much more than they used to... but obviously not when your players are spread out all over the place.

Pete said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pete said...

Didn't two NA teams just win the MS opener?.

hijo de la vaca loca said...

Nick, What is your definition of "very little roster movement"? Depending, I could make a compelling argument that aside from the Ironmen of old and Dynasty, you're off on your assessment. The A's were constantly re-inventing themselves by bringing in new blood. Avalanche, well if I recall they were bringing in "all-star" players to their fold on a semi-regular basis (every season). RL, Alex, the blonskis, Xalo, Dan, mikko, etc. Hardly home-grown staples from the mother land. You failed to mention Trauma. Granted, never a "dynasty" those hicks dominated until they made the jump up and that core did, if I remember correctly beat RL at WC in 2006. Shock? Aftershock won something like 5 or 6 of the first 10 WC's....all mid west bar brawlers and convicts that were together for years. Damage. Damage were all home-grown guys that spent the majority of their playing time together. They won something like 19 or 20 matches in a row, all the while winning 3 events in a row, and WC in that mix if I remember correctly....something RL and Dynasty never did...on the NXL side of things...and lets be real....thats what mattered then and what matters now. Granted, I may be off on some of my figures...but unlike most, I lived these times, I wasnt a spectator, I was a participant. And of course, as prefaced this is solely dependent on one's definition of "player movement" and "convincingly better"

Nick Brockdorff said...

I just think we are talking about different times in the history of the same teams.

They all had 3-5 years where they were totally dominant - until the roster started cracking.

Either way, my point was that the difference between being a good pro team and a great one, is stability on the roster.

Anonymous said...

Damian Ryan is playing for FiveStar Lleida, not MLKings.

Baca Loco said...

Yep, thanks for the correction. It's Dynarats on ML Kings. :)

Anonymous said...

We call them "hobbits" in MLkings since we have 4 guys on our squad who are 6 ft 5 :)