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Simon "Manike" Stevens
Mayhem 2001 was hosted at Brighton in the UK. A popular cosmopolitan town on the South coast with great facilities even though it was a busy bank holiday weekend. This year’s event was held on very accessible Council football (soccer) fields which gave a fantastic flat playing surface. The staging area and car park were again sited on the open grassy areas and many people feared a repeat of last year’s mud bath should the clouds open up with their customary Mayhem Thunderstorm. Fortunately there was no rain all weekend and the site proved to be very good with proper toilet facilities and ample parking, although the staging area was a little cramped. Spectator stands were provided on the two main fields (adjacent to the long strip of vendors) and food facilities included sandwiches and healthier options as well as the obligatory burgers and chips. A nice touch.
One thing that left some teams unhappy this year was the playing schedule. Half of the teams (those playing the afternoon session) did not finish their games on the first day and so were required to play the remainder the next morning, before the reseed and second round of games. This meant that all teams had to be at the site first thing on the second day and some played a game first thing at 8.30am and then had to wait until 4.00pm before playing again! Then, they had to be at the site early on the third day to finish their preliminary games. Most players were confused as to why each day could not have been kept separate with a reseed or the players making the finals cut known at the end of each day. The on field schedule seemed pretty relaxed and ran to time with light still left over in the evenings after the games had finished. Rumour has it this schedule format will not be repeated.
Saturday started with glorious sunshine but this degenerated to cloudy and windy weather for the next two days (a little sunshine making it back out for the finals). Unfortunately the fields had been laid out along a valley and so when the wind blew it gave a huge advantage to the team playing from the ‘top’ end. Hindsight is a great thing but lining the fields up so that the prevailing wind blew across the fields would have kept it as even as possible.
There were four fields in use this year - four very large fields. The layout of the fields with large distances to the first level of bunkers meant there were two distinctive styles of play in use. Many teams decided to run their players into the bunkers as fast as possible and then play the game from there, whereas other teams had up to four players sweetspotting lanes from the break. Both styles saw advantages and disadvantages. Some teams choosing the sweetspotting technique had great results taking several players on the break before the sweet spotters walked to their barricades (sometimes even barricades on the 50!) Occasionally the tables turned and the sweetspotters who stood out in the open took heavy casualties. Banzai fell to this losing four of their sweetspotting players on the break to Jaguars novice team who then went on to win! Many teams were also making huge breaks down the centre of the field. The layouts of the Sup’Air and Ultimate Airball bunkers made it easier to break further down the centre than to break down the tapes. The layout certainly seemed to encourage teams to try outrageous breaks which often paid sound dividends.
A special mention must be made for the air that was provided, this is often overlooked but is so important to having a tournament run well. The people behind the air this year supplied a fantastic service with short queues [editor’s note: that’s “lines” for those of us impaired in the Queen’s English] all weekend.
This years Mayhem was full of the unusual and unexpected. Novice and Am teams beating Pros became quite a regular occurrence. Team SAD drew with Lockout with all players eliminated, previously Lockout had been playing some of the best paintball of the weekend.
The Russian Legion were not up to their usual solid game, losing players early and although they won their first game they lost their second two in a row. One game saw them convincingly beaten by the Amateur Team Vortex. The Russian legion lost three games on the first day, and although they rallied back with four maxes on the second day they still missed the cut by a long way. They took it like great sports though and I thoroughly expect them to come back with a vengeance in Toulouse.
Last year’s Millennium Series Champions, the All Americans had drafted in some European players to help their ranks and try to get a little ‘Euro Advantage’ but unfortunately this wasn’t to be and they were not having a good weekend getting convincingly beaten by the Kaotiks Amateur team. They were also maxed in less than two minutes by the Camp Tigers.
There was some great paintball played. The Ugly ducklings were rocking in the preliminaries with some fantastic displays of hard pushing paintball, not bad for what must be paintball’s tallest team! Unfortunately they slipped up in the Semis and so the European representation was left to Joy Division. Joy Division was looking good - helped in part by three of the SC Ironmen flown in to bolster the back line and only losing to the Beagles (an amateur team) in the prelims. It takes more than three players to win games and up front Joy Division was playing some great, tight paintball. Shockwave was looking good for a home country representation but missed out on the finals after some dubious marshalling. Ground Zero were in fine form with Nicky Cuba upfront working the snake well on field 1.
The pro finals came down to Joy Division as the only European representative with Image, Avalanche and Ground Zero making the cut. Avalanche seemed to be missing Travis Lemanski who had fallen breaking several ribs. Avalanche finished an unaccustomed fourth place (but still worn the Millennium series). Ground Zero rocked in the finals and in a spectacular showdown it came to Joy Division versus Ground Zero in the final game fighting for first place. Going into the game GZ had two 96 scores and Joy had one 96 and one 97 giving them a very slight advantage. The game started ferociously with players leaving equally from both teams until it was 4-3 in GZ’s favour. Chris Cole from GZ dived over the snake to try and get the advantage on Joy but unfortunately dislocated his shoulder in the process! After a significant period of trying to brave the pain the game was frozen so he could be removed for treatment. This left the game 3 on 3. Due to the confusion of the game freeze GZ didn’t realise how much time was left and so they tentatively made their way up the field onto the Joy back line. The remaining Joy division players knowing that a draw would win them the event played tight and held out to time. Thus Joy Division won the Mayhem Masters by a single point! A thoroughly deserved win, but sympathies have to go out for GZ and Chris Cole (hope you get better soon).
The Amateur bracket was very hotly contended and when the dust settled five teams missed the cut by less than 10 points.
Rushers were looking good for the Am bracket and the series but things went wrong with for them in the Semi’s were a bad marshalling decision may have cost them a place in the finals and thus put them into second spot for the series. To say they were gutted is an understatement. The top scoring team on the First day was an Amateur team the Enemy… maybe they are in the wrong division as with NBK who were on fine form and really look like they should be playing with the Pro’s next year after finishing the prelims in 9th and then winning the Amateur title. Scalps put in another consistent tournament and although they are yet to win a Millennium event, their consistent high placing gave them the Millennium series title.
The Terminators from the UK won the novice bracket in what was a tight competition. They won with a single max but managed more elimination points in their other games to take the title.
What was new at Mayhem? Well Planet was showing off a new Aurora finish on one of their Eclipse BM2K’s. This is a very unusual finish and really must be seen in the sun for the full effect which looks similar to petrol [Editor’s Note: More translation for us Yankees – gasoline] shimmering on water. It’s not known if it will be made available yet to the public and it was a love it or hate it finish for most people. It is certainly different!
John Bonich and John Sosta did a speed race in emptying a pot’s worth of paint from a new Ricochet loader and a Revolution loader. Using fresh batteries in each loader saw the rev just winning both times but only by a few balls. Not bad considering the Ricochet runs on one battery while the Rev uses two.
WDP was showing a new version of the Rocky Cagnoni Angel complete with ‘wings’ sight rail, polished and bead blasted anodising and the ‘over the top’ chain grip frame. It all added up to a very different gun. WDP also had a show of special custom Angel AIR compressed air systems with team Logo’s on the bottles. Avalanche had their own label as did the Ironmen and Joy Division were sporting some very stylish tanks with a leopard skin finish. Rumour has it WDP will provide this service for any teams converting fully to AIR systems.
London Paintball Supplies was showing a new approach to gun finishes and had several styles of guns painted with a special paint that changes colour depending on the angle at which it was viewed. They had a particularly special E-Mag that went from Purple to Green as you moved around it.
Mayhem had the UK unveiling of the RaceGun. This is an electro cocker conversion produced in collaboration with RaceGuns from Denmark and Belsales from the UK. While Keith from Belsales pointed out they were showing prototypes and that the trigger style would be updated and the software was undergoing enhancements, the prototypes they had on show were very impressive. They were showing some heavily milled and modified cockers as well as a standard gun running CO2. The performance was very impressive even though the electro pivoting trigger felt a little strange on a ‘cocker!
The conversion kit (grip frame all required parts for mounting to your own ‘cocker) is rumoured to sell for around $500, and is very well put together and a slim package. The front pneumatics and valve will fit under a standard shroud and everything else is housed in the grip frame. There’s no bulk anywhere and no big box placed under the grip. It was a very serious performer in the right hands and many people went back to the stand to keep trying the system again and again. It was even demonstrated how the grip could be connected up to a laptop computer to be configured and the future may even have it compatible with a palm pilot.
For all the great play and good things that happened at Mayhem this year, some will remember it for what went wrong. Unfortunately the marshalling was felt to be substandard by many teams. This was more just the usual complaining by teams who didn’t perform well. Many teams went away from the event feeling hard done by or even downright robbed by marshalling decisions or lack the of them. Since this was the final event of the Millennium Series it was very important to many teams and many felt they were unfairly judged, with little chance of rights being wronged. Costing them places in the event and the Millennium Series.
There were many instances where the Marshals appeared not to fully understand the rules or lacked the conviction to back their initial decisions (maybe Marshals should be tested on the rules before judging… and maybe they should get paid for judging also.) In some cases players were allowed to shoot and move on neutral players and arguing with a marshal could even get armbands put back on eliminated players.
This meant that many in the crowd started shouting comments from the sidelines and verbally abusing players and marshals who were on the fields. This led to an appalling incident where an AA player who was being sworn at by the harsh crowd in the grandstands, from very close quarters shot at the head of a spectator who was standing outside the field with his face pressed against the net. It is very lucky for paintball and the for the spectator involved that he wasn’t blinded. No circumstances can condone such actions. If our sport is to grow we need spectators and their will always be verbal abuse as well as cheers from the stands. The players on the field must be above such actions. There is nothing someone can do from the other side of a net that can justify such behaviour. The governing board of the Millennium Series is considering how to penalize the situation.
There was a lot of good at Mayhem and my sincerest congratulations go out to Joy Division for ‘finally’ winning a Millennium Event. My sympathies to the Rushers for not getting the Millennium series Amateur title.
Toulouse is the next event in the series
and if it’s anything like last years event it should be very special, but
currently everyone is talking about this years Campaign Cup. The Cup set
to be held at Crystal palace promises to be a huge event with serious television
coverage and outside participation, Niall Squires the man behind the event
looks to be creating a masterpiece and it’s certainly one not to miss!