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Joy Masters 2001
Submitted by Simon "Manike" Stevens
The Joy Masters is being held for the second time as part of the Millennium series at a site just on the outskirts of Stockholm, Sweden. Held on an open recreational area the Joy Masters is following on from Toulouse and putting paintball as much into the general public eye as possible. What is usually an open sports area with cycle and footpaths has been taken over for this year's event. As the fields were being set up, on the Thursday, many curious people were coming over to ask what was happening. Cyclists, dog walkers and many office workers on their lunch break took time to stop by and ask about paintball and promised to return at the weekend to see the full event in action.
Three of the fields are sited along a main road and the traffic slows to watch the paintball games being played. Many cars even pulled over at the side of the road to get a closer look. The site is huge and very spaced out over the green playing fields of a sports centre normally used to Football and Soccer players, again continuing the excellent playing surface which has become a common feature of this years Millennium series. Pride of place field goes to WDP's Angel field with a very large grandstand set up next to it for a bird's eye view of proceedings. WDP really is putting money and effort into the sport of paintball, rumours of them developing a professional marshalling staff for the benefit of the sport are very impressive [Editor's note - some staff has already been hired - a professional ref corps may not be very far away]
This year's event is being used as a Millennium Series guinea pig for testing a new way of creating divisions. A system developed by Jerry Braun, and already seen in Chicago, means teams play more competition of their own level with just a few games against teams from the other classifications. It's an interesting system and Jerry took time to explain it's workings… erm yes… ;)
What it does mean is that with teams playing more of their own level competition it's much harder for all levels and many feel a much fairer competition level. There had been concerns that this system will not give such opportunities for Novice and Amateur teams to play their Hero's and possibly less memory building games. But on the first day of play the new system was greeted with great praise. The pro players feeling it makes them work harder and learn more in the prelims and also as Chris Edwards from Shockwave pointed out "it means you won't be missing qualification on just body count". Here the pros are playing hard each and every single game to ensure they make it through. Amateur team Bouja who although not having a good tournament were also quick to say how they felt this new system upped the level of games they had to play. Making it much harder work for all concerned.
The new system has definitely resulted in some excellent games in just the first day's play. With many more Pro V's Pro games and Am V's Am games we are seeing games in the prelims which would normally not be seen until the semi-finals. Few teams are finding the going easy. In Toulouse it was possible for teams to have maxed all or most of their games and still not make the finals, but here teams are regularly dropping a game and so teams are watching carefully to see what effect this will have on the cut off line to make the semis. The new system meant teams knew which session would they have for the two days of prelim games, making each team get a morning and afternoon session, a much simpler and easier going set up for everyone (helps for organising the nights out...)
There have been some great games played on the Friday. Shockwave V's Russian Legion saw the Russians back on form and taking a very solid win off the British boys. But the Brits came back hard and beat Avalanche on the Diablo field. Enemy, who are probably one of the very top amateur teams, came out hard against Avalanche. Both teams breaking for the 50's saw Avalanche lose two players off the break! With Travis Lemanski's gun down this left Enemy in a very strong position. They pushed the tape taking the 50 Dorrito on their left, the 50 Diablo Arch on their right and then they pushed the centre taking Avalanche's 40 'X'! Steve Rabakoff from Avalanche claimed afterwards that it was a 'money move'. The crowd was going crazy as Enemy pushed harder and harder onto Avalanche. And then Chris Lasoya stepped in. He snapped the player on the Dorrito, and shot the 'X' player in some great moves which turned the game around for Avalanche. As Chris looked to move up field he was taken, but he had done enough to let LB and the rest of Avalanche move up their left of the field and win the game.
The Am's are seeing some great games also. There are so many good Scandinavian teams on show here, and nobody is taking them lightly. Aggression came over from the states and found themselves up against Hardcore. Both teams broke players hard and went for the centre rocket on the break, as the players ran into the rocket they eliminated each other and also managed to send the rocket flying out of play! The bunker set lose from it's pegs would sit up and lay down depending on how the wind blew. Russ from Aggression moved up to the rocket only to find it wasn't as good a cover as it should have been when pegged down. Although Russ was eliminated Aggression went on to win a great game. Certainly there is a lot of top level action already and these are just preliminary games!
Saturday Started wet, with one major down pour and a light drizzle all morning. But it didn't put a damper on the player's spirits. The level of competition has been very high and teams have been varying their tactics to try and not give anything away to their opposition. Teams are not going to be sent home on body count. Here winning games is what matters and there are very few teams getting straight maxes. On Friday only one team Brutal Deluxe managed to max all five of their games! This is virtually unheard of in the Millennium series where often pro teams are more worried about losing players than games… the points are usually that tight. Every pro player and amateur player I have spoken to are much in favour of the new division system. Paily from the Banzai Bandits stating that 'normally a pro team not making the cut would play maybe two other pro teams before going home, Here they play at least 7 and each game is tough so the team gets to learn more'. The new system in place here is making the competition so much harder that teams are doing everything they can just to win games. Throwing players forward as required but worrying more about the game than final body count. Teams that usually break hard have been cutting short and making major secondary moves a few seconds later rather than risking the long breaks straight into lines of sweet spotting paint.
As it's the weekend the stands have been full of spectators, many obviously just seeing paintball for the first time and just getting into all the on field action. Players are doing the right thing and I've seen many instances of players and marshals explaining the game and tactics to spectators and the many children wondering around in awe.
Later in the afternoon Simon Applethwaite (Silent Kebab) steals the microphone and starts commentating on the WDP field. Jeering the crowd up and making his own comments on the play... It all adds to the entertainment level here at the Joy Masters. The Joy masters has a reputation for being the Party stop of the Millennium series. Players that left after the finals last year and before the Sunday evening party have been kicking themselves all year and many people booked late flights out of Sweden this year to make sure they could stay for the party and other 'hospitality' on offer.
Ground Zero who were brought over to Marshall this leg (the first ever US team marshalling in Europe?), in order to put them in an almost unbeatable points position for the Millennium series have been in entertainment mood all weekend. Taking to the theme of events they have all been wearing Viking Horn helmets and swords. Impromptu sword fights broke out at regular intervals to entertain the crowds during the game breaks. One excellent point about GZ's marshalling is that every Marshall is using a field radio, so communication around the field is excellent without refs running all over and across the field. Jerry Braun himself has been in action Marshalling! Other teams Marshalling are Joy Division and NBK.
The Sunday cut saw Pro teams making it in with just over 600 points! Where as before 10 maxes was almost always needed for a pro team to qualify here a pro team could drop four games and still qualify! The level of points required by an Am team was the same as usual but for Novices since they were also mainly playing on their own level, higher scores were required. The cut off scores for all levels to qualify being quite similar reflects that teams are playing more of their peers in much more even games.
The prelims saw some top teams finding it hard to qualify. Avalanche had to beat Brutal Deluxe to make it through. Both teams broke hard on the WDP field with players hitting the deck early in the centre of the field when running to the lie down 'A's to avoid the paint and then crawling a good 10-15 metres into their barricades. On the break one Brutal Deluxe player was taken and quickly followed by Avalanches Chris Lasoya. The home crowd were going crazy supporting the Scandinavian team. Todd Martinez broke up to the side 'AAA' bunker unseen and then took down the centre player and far tape, Brutal Deluxe had no chance to react as the rest of Avalanche piled down and ensured their team a place in the semi-finals.
The semis continued the great play of the pre-lims. In fact the new format led to what I believe is the best three days of paintball I have ever seen. Games were harder fought when the teams were playing on the same level.
Shockwave the Amateur team from Canada were playing some great paintball and fully deserved their win. In one game against Centreflag Europe the left tape player for shockwave broke to the 40 and then quickly moved up to the 'maze' complex on the tape, and then he crawls to the Centreflag's end of the complex. From there he shoots the back tape guy and then his opposite tape player as the middle player tries to fill the hole he gets taken also. He turns and looks inside shooting two players out of the same middle bunker in seconds and then shoots the player out from the far tape. As the shockwave player gets up to move down on the last Centreflag player he is eliminated but shooting out six of the opposition is enough to make it easy for his team to clean up and win the game.
The Pro Shockwave team from the UK were also storming. Having played some great paintball throughout the weekend they found themselves in the finals up against the Ugly Ducklings, Russian Legion and the All Americans. The shockwave Ducklings game was good to watch. Chris Edwards moved into the centre A on the field and in doing so lost his hopper. The crowd went silent, then cheered and laughed as Chris ran back out of his bunker picked up his hopper then made it back in safely. Unfortunately he also broke the reg off the front of his gun so was unable to take much part in the rest of the game. A stunning game with eliminations from both ends, the Ducklings played very well and it came down to a one on one. The last shockwave player realising there was only seconds left and how important the points were to his team worked his way down field and then in the last ten seconds ran for a flag grab, just getting it in time and giving Shockwave vital points…
Since the Duckling had drawn 1 on 1 with the All Americans it all came down to a bone cruncher of a game between the Russian Legion and the All Americans. If Russian Legion won then Shockwave would take the Trophy. If the AA's won then they would take it. And the Russian Legion won the game in huge style!
The AA's had been playing good aggressive paintball all weekend, often choosing to break 3 guys to the 50' bunkers on the break. This game was no exception, they did the same but broke two guys to the maze complex, unfortunately unlike before this time it didn't pay off for them and both guys were taken on the break! This put the Russian legion in a huge advantage and in a clinical display of paintball they took the All Americans to pieces. A Russian Legion player moved up to the centre 'A' and then up to the All American's side of the field. Another Russian legion player pushed the tape and diving in superman style through the maze tubes landed and crawled up into the AA's half of the field, the crowd cheering such a stylish manoeuvre. As the Russians also took the far 'AAA' (anyone else think there are too many A's in this part of the report? :) everyone waited for the inevitable. As the All American players left the field, the huge British and European support went crazy, and Shockwave UK celebrated their first ever Millennium series title as the Russian Legion shot out the last All American player. Truly a competition of nations was held at Stockholm.
The Millennium series this year is made up of a series of events that, although part of a series, are all individual and special in their own right. The Joy Masters being billed as the party event of the series also showed some of the best paintball of the series so far. An excellent system for developing the playing format coupled with some amazing teams from around the world produced a most outstanding weekends paintball and entertainment.
This series is going from Strength to strength, what's next? an event at one of the World's major Capital cities held in a huge sports stadium?… could it be possible? watch this space!
What's new at the Joy masters?
Lots of Impulse goodies on show. Banzai's Ledz is playing with the only Eclipse Impulse (pictures in the Gallery) in Europe at the moment (others having been sent to the US for the ZAP IAO). Smart Parts are showing of some very impressive Freak Factory Impulses and the Rushers are playing with guns with a new mod designed to take air straight from the reg instead of from the valve, they say this is greatly improving the air flow to the solenoid resulting in much greater consistency when firing. They were using them to good effect also, beating the AA's in a storming game on the Angel field. Mark Toye breaking to the 'Triple A' on the 50 and proceeding to snap shoot out 4 of the AA's before being taken just as his team mates mopped up the last remaining AA player. An excellent game with the Rushers being particularly happy at having beaten their sponsors…
WDP is great at producing new milling styles and accessories. As well as having their modular tool kit and LPR tool kits available they are also showing a whole new Angel milling style. Very reminiscent of Angel wings down the sides of the gun they were showing it off in satin 'Dust' black (remarkably nice) and 'Dust' silver (Pics in the gallery), the very deep milling although probably being very difficult to clean (who cares?) looks stunning and really complements the lines of the Angel. Also on show are some new style drop forwards for the Angel air, as well as the whole new range of trigger styles. WDP are also showing Lasoya's new Element Angels with deeper milling on the guns and some deeper 'swirl' style milling on the Feed tube and regulator bodies.
Also on the subject of Angels but not from any official source, Finland's team Twilight was showing off a whole series of Angels… running on CO2! The collection including an early LED serial number in the late 400's and a brand new LCD 2001 (see the photo gallery) were said to have been conceived by Marrti Gronfors under the influence of Finish Vodka but also seemed to be performing very well for the team!
The Joy Masters party on Sunday evening was a very quiet affair with nothing untoward happening… yeah right! WDP again put a huge amount of effort into hosting an Angel Heaven event. Held at a nightclub in Town the event attracted a huge number of baller's and anyone wearing the Traditional Joy Division leopard skin clothing was allowed to jump the queue. Inside the event was decorated with Huge Angel Heaven banners and black lighting. Outside in the Garden was a 'dance arena' where 'Angel's could be seen dancing all evening. At one point there was even 'Tina Turner' in the arena singing for the crowd. The dance arena quickly got taken over by the 'Joy Girls' and GZ who took every opportunity to strut their stuff.
Downstairs heaven was laid out with
silk sheets and a multiple maze of rooms. Different DJ's playing in different
rooms meant there was always something for everyone's tastes. The WDP Angels
were dancing in certain booths all around the club and lounging above the
stairways as if on cloud 9! Although the concept of going 'down' to heaven
was a little unusual there is no doubt the event was a great success.
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