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Toulouse 2002
by Simon Stevens

Pro - 1st Place - Bob Long's Ironmen
Amateur - 1st Place - Check It
Novice - 1st Place - Zero Kewl

There is always something special about attending the 7 Man World Cup in Toulouse. It’s an experience that starts from the airport and the atmosphere builds as you drive through the city to where you are staying in preparation for the event. What’s so special? The fact that everyone knows why you are here! Paintball…

Toulouse is a town which has embraced and supports the fact that they play host to the premier event in the European paintball calendar. You see bill boards at the Airport and all the way through the city publicizing the event. Hotel Lobbies have huge (greater than life size) images of paintball players plastered around, and this year it’s the turn of one of the SC Ironmen to take over from GZ’z Pete Reilly as the poster boy. If you ask a taxi driver for the sports stadium ‘Peche David’ they are less likely to know where you mean (probably because of the unusual accents) than if you just say ‘Paintball’! The local paper the ‘Toulouse Metropole’ with a circulation of 300,000 is supporting the event. To mark the start of the even today they have a large spread describing what is to be held and explaining about the event with pictures of some of the more glamorous paintballers including Mimi from the ‘Evil Pigs’ one of the favourites to win the novice division. WDP also announced that Mimi is one of their expanding group of personally sponsored players. Over the next few days and the weekend the Newspaper will be running stories on paintball, letting the whole of Toulouse know how the event is going. No less than 4 TV channels attended to run slots on paintball and if last years event is anything to go by we can expect to see Paintball all over the television, on the news and with Tournament films being run to let people know what is happening.

The 7 man world cup in Toulouse is being held at the same stadium as the previous years. There had been some concern after a huge explosion nearby at the end of last year but the facility still stands (despite some rumours to the contrary) and is an excellent facility for paintball. This year there are five fields. Two are held in the stadium with huge stands over looking the play and three are outside on the training pitches. 

‘X’ marks the spot at the centre of field 1. This is the Draxxus field and sports some new style bunkers (to be expected since Laurent Hamet who organises the Toulouse event is also the person behind the development of the inflatable bunkers and SupAir!). Field 2 is a Raven field it has an interesting tape line right in front of the spectators where a long series of bunkers will almost allow crawling from one end of the field to the other. Since this event is being widely publicised you can see how the fields have been built to add entertainment for the spectators. It promises to be quite a spectacle.

Field 3 is the first of the outside fields and is the familiar Angel Field from WDP. This field is directly overlooked by the hospitality areas based on the high grass banks at one side of the field, including the famous ‘Heaven’. In an effort to continue the fantastic heaven from past years WDP have brought in a large amount of white sand and given the whole area a beach feel. Even down to a large paddling pool area and inflatables… I’m expecting that to be quite entertaining as the paintballers succumb to the sun, drinks and atmosphere… As ever the entrance is guarder by some ‘Angels’ who this year are taking great delight in the fact that they are ‘armed’ with water pistols. I don’t think the players on the receiving end mind though as it is beautiful hot weather here and the cooling effects are ‘almost’ appreciated.

Field 4 is the tomahawk field similar to Portugal and field 5 is the familiar black and yellow of JT. Players can watch these fields from the surrounding grassy banks. In an effort to keep the bunkers clear of paint and to reduce the mess that comes with paintball they have developed a whole new machine to help clear the floors. Last year this event pioneered the use of outdoor vacuums to suck up and remove paintballs but this year they have gone one step further. They have machines built especially for paintball which resemble ride on lawn mowers but which are designed to collect paintballs from the fields (without breaking them) leaving the minimum mess. As games finish you see a guy drive onto the field, lap around bunkers cleaning the field instantly and then drive back off. It’s remarkably effective and should help to keep the pristine football (soccer) pitches in good shape. This can only help the sport when trying to persuade Stadium organisers to let us play on their fields (or return ;) ).

This year there were two pro teams marshalling, the Ugly Ducklings from Denmark (field 1 Draxxus), and the Ton Ton Flingeurs from France (field 2 Raven) as well as three amateur teams, Redz from the UK (field 5 JT), the Headhunters from Germany (field 4 Tomahawk), the Ton Tons ACYD from France (field 3 WDP) and there is also a team from the Federation Paintball Sportif in France which is like a Pro series of marshals who also took care of all the scores for the event.

Between the two areas of fields are the trade village (very highly populated with vendors), it covers the full central grass area and the first level car park. The trade show here is probably the largest outside of the world cup and very well supported by the industry. There are some special touches here that help add to the atmosphere and keep the players and spectators on site rather than giving them reasons to leave. A great food and drinking area with full restaurant menu allows teams to get  food on site instead of worrying about having to leave in time to make it to restaurants and hotels. This is particularly important due to a very busy schedule. Game are planned to run until 9 0’clock each evening leaving little time afterwards for teams to get back to their hotels. The long schedule is in part to their only being 5 fields for so many teams. I think in the future there will need to be more fields to cope with such a large event. On the whole the schedule was met but a slight delay towards the end of the first day (of less than an hour) had some games being finished off in very low light conditions. It’s a testament to the organisation that such a huge event could fit into such a title schedule with so few issues.

In the centre of the trade stands is also a seating area and bar, here a huge number of people are just relaxing down and enjoying a drink and the atmosphere, and then over to the side we have the players staging area and chrono range. The air is situated on the walkway between the two areas of fields for easy access to and from the fields. The stadium provides proper toilets and a well netted seated viewing area. Today, Friday, is phenomenally busy considering it is still a working day and the first day of the tournament. Last year at the finals there were so many spectators that they had to open the back of the stadium and allow people to watch from the grassy banks, by the looks of it this year will have even more people in attendance.

The weather is holding and the event is in full flow. A series of bands will be playing live on a stage in the central entertainment arena and to fill the gaps there is a DJ keeping the atmosphere going.

On fields the games are running well and there have already been a few surprises. Dynasty are not looking to be on their usual dominating form they lost a game to a novice team in the morning when the grass, wet from the dew, allowed Oli Lang to slide out of the boundary and game. With two Dynasty players shot on the break and following a hot gun on another Dynasty player the game was lost. They continued on winning their remaining games but had a very tight and entertaining game with the Amateur Campaign Power team. Campaign Power came out with determination and a hard break. Pushing both tapes with multiple players ensured they got command of key bunkers. Dynasty lost a player on the break and very soon it was 2 dynasty players out to 1 Campaign player. Dynasty worked up the field and turned it around with two Campaign players walking out at the same time making it 2 v 3. Then Campaign fought back and exchanged 1 player for 2 of Dynasty levelling it at 4 v 4. Oli Lang got into the lay down JT’s on the stadium side of the field and starting working his way right up onto Campaign Powers side of the field. He lived a charmed life  when Andy ‘Super Scutty’ Scutt came over the top of his bunker and caught Oli off guard. Oli just managed to make it back into cover before the line of paintballs got to him. Campaign went down to 2 players and crossed up as Jamie (UK Xball team player) moved back to fill the rear corner. Scutty removed a dynasty player from the far teabag equalling the score and the game was very close to time as Oli lang decided he needed to make a move down field, he ran down a tape devoid of bunkers with Jamie screaming the move at Scutty across field and managed to take the centre and then Jamie from the tape. Dynasty ran the flag back with only two players and 25 seconds left on the clock.

Hardcore, who are one of my favourite teams out of Europe at the moment look to be playing well (they can be a little inconsistent) but today showed what is possible when they tore into Aftershock with great vigour. The crowd here gets behind the European teams and every eliminated ‘Shock player was met with a cheer as Hardcore went through to victory. If they keep that form up over the weekend they have a great shot at the Amateur Title.

Day two starts with a wake up call for adrenalin from the USA when they get beaten by Zero Kewl a scratch team out of Germany. Adrenalin had gone through Friday winning every game, including an excellent victory against NBK when Justin Owen broke open the right side of the field and mugged an unexpecting player out of the ‘maze’ of bunkers on the tape line.

NBK are doing well today and in a game which was tougher than the score showed they beat worms an excellent team out of France. On the Raven field the worms looked to have taken initial control and then all of  sudden were reduced down to two players who crossed up in the back corner ‘coke cans’ and streamed lines of paint across the field. It took a long time for NBK with 5 players still on the field to capitalise. They moved rapidly down their right of the field and then slowly down their left. Eventually the worms back right corner player was eliminated and then Kim from NBK came down to mug the last player. Realizing that every single point counts in the prelims Kim was careful about how to mug the last Worm player, he spent at least 10 seconds on the other side of the unsuspecting worms bunker until the worm guy started firing again and then Kim went around the ‘quiet side’ and ‘delicately’ shot him out of the game to cheers from the crowd.

In the Pro’s things are interesting as usual. Shockwave UK came up against JT USA (a team comprising of 4 Avalanche players and 3 Dynasty players) and started out with a huge group of sweet spotting players on the break before running players into their back line. A serious of rapid eliminations for Shockwave saw them 4 up against 2 JT players. Rocky Cagnoni uncharacteristically playing a back corner bunker and Johnny Perchank locked up the field and waited for the Shockwave to come. Shockwave should have cleaned up but unfortunately seemed to be acting more as individuals than a team and came down the field one at a time into JT’s paint. After two Shockwave players had been eliminated Jimmy ‘The Sponge’ came down and took out Rocky while getting shot himself from across field. This left a remaining Shockwave player hunkered down in the middle of the field who was totally unexpecting it when Johnny Perchank ran up field and mugged him out but unfortunately ran out of time before getting to the Shockwave flag.

Day two showed what was to come with excellent paintball on display from all divisions. There was a very tense game between Bob Long’s Iron men and Bad Company (who if they were to win would have had an extra $70,000 bonus added to their prize list!) A furious exchange of paintballs and eliminations at the end of their game on the Angel field left  a large amount of confusion after the remaining Ironman hung the flag with just two seconds remaining. Judges from a neighbouring field were consulted before a conclusion to the game was made.

Many of the pro’s dropped one or two games (often to amateur and novice teams!) and it looked like they were to need 8 maxes to get through to the finals. The semi finals were just a taste of what was to come. Ground Zero beat Joy Division after max Lundqvist made a great move and seamed to crawl through open territory to get into the 60 and a dangerous position for Joy division. When Magued from JD got a little too tight in the snake and actually pushed his foot under the bunker it was quickly lit up by Max, having removed that block Alex Lundqvist came down field and the brothers and Team quickly dispatched the rest of Joy Division.

Adrenalin had played some great games but also looked occasionally lost and it took them several minutes to realise they had eliminated all of the Element team opposing them. After a few confused moment they regained themselves to take the flag and win.

Ecstasy, a new team out of the UK and run by Phil Web from Smart Parts Europe, had been showing they could play ball and made it into the semi finals. A tough game against Nemesis had the last Nemesis player running full  sprint to try  and get a flag grab before time out. Unfortunately as he went to slow and grab the flag he slipped and went under the base station missing the flag and points by inches and going out of bounds to eliminate himself!

Malara came up against Hardcore to decide their place in the finals. Malara proved they were worth it after taking one Hardcore on the break and then dominating the snake to eliminate Hardcore’s centre. They finished off hardcore without losing a player and celebrated their move into the finals.

There are a lot of ‘little’ details and touches which make the difference between a good event and a spectacular one like Toulouse. Teams arrived to a box of fruit and drinks provided complimentary of Draxxus. All fields had separate chronographing judges so that the on field judges only had to worry about on field chronographing. This seriously sped up the whole process of getting teams onto the fields as the chrono judges could check every player and issue arm bands while the previous game was underway. This is such a simple thing but made a huge difference to game flow and the event in general. It certainly helped the field marshals and especially since some of them were working extremely long stints due to several judging teams pulling out at the last moment!

Once again there was a large TV presence although there were some issues and complaints about camera men and boom camera’s getting in the way and giving away  players positions and moves.

There was a prize draw and Kingman gave away a Smart car  to one lucky person. The rules were such that who ever was called from the Draw had to get onto the presentation field in under two minutes to collect the keys or forfeit the prize. The first name called out had a French man running as fast as he could across the field to collect the keys and car.

Now one issue which was a concern at Toulouse was boundaries. Often the field boundaries were extremely close to bunkers and were a chalk line on the grass which was rapidly obscured and not easy to determine. A very large number of players were eliminated from play, not by paintballs, but by running/sliding out of bounds. I see no reason or advantage to having bunkers close to the boundaries and don’t think such eliminations are how games should be won or lost. I think bunkers should either be a long way from such boundaries (which used to be required back in the days of woods games to stop players going around and getting an unfair advantage) or removed altogether as they serve no purpose in the modern sup air field formats. Often having the netted field edge as a boundary is more than adequate. It can’t be used to anyone’s advantage and it isn’t unfair or open to judges discretion on whether or not an infraction was made.

With such a high level of teams at Toulouse the finals were spectacular. The finals were all held in the stadium on fields 1 and 2 (Draxxus and Raven respectively). Once again this year there were too many spectators to fit in the stands so the surrounding grass banks were covered with people. Spectators were everywhere and even taking advantage of the top of the Diablo truck to watch. I estimate that there were several thousand people watching  the finals! And once again it wasn’t just paintball players. There were obviously a lot of people that were new to the sport and just out for the Sunday’s entertainment. It was the cleanest fields I have ever seen in a set of finals games. With the aid of the ride on ‘Greedy Guts’, a machine designed to pick up paintballs while being driven around the field there was a morphic transformation from a field covered in paintballs to lush green grass again. Also the marshals with brooms, buckets and sponges cleaning the bunkers, everything looked immaculate for the culmination of the event.

Zero Kewl (a scratch team made with four guys that normally play together and made up from American servicemen in Germany and one German player) got off to an explosive start against GPC. They broke hard and fast with two into the centre of the raven field and one on the tape next to the spectators where a series of three snakes ran the full length of the field. They took two GPC from the snake side on the break and this immediately allowed Scott on the tape to wrap around and start working the centre. Zero Kewl were 3 bodies up and then Chad Cochrane ran down the centre of the field, bunkering his first player from the middle of the field and then another from the back centre bunker. The crowd went wild and Scott from Zero Kewl though the game was over! He realised just in time and jumped back into cover as one of the remaining two GPC sent a line of paint down field. Scott worked his way back into the snakes and headed down field. He shot the remaining centre guy from across field and then moved down the corner of the field. The last remaining GPC player couldn’t survive due to wide angle of attack and soon succumbed giving Zero Kewl the first win of the finals.

In the second round of novice games the All Stars Beat Zero Kewl and GPC beat Aliens leaving the scores wide open with everything to play for. It all came down the last round of games. Zero Kewl new they had to win and did that quickly against the Aliens, they then turned to watch the other field realising their fate was in others hands. All Stars now had to beat GPC and it was proving to be a long and tough game as the clocked ticked down All Stars pushed harder and harder up field but the clock ran out with two All Star players on the 80. This stalemate gave Zero Kewl a deserved win.

‘Check it’ A team out of the USA had been looking impressive all weekend and steamrolled through Scalps in the first of the amateur finals. They took one scalp on the break and then quickly followed it with a player from the centre. Scalps looked to fill the crucial spot and was immediately mugged by Check it who then dominated the game moving down their right tape to clean up. At the same time a fantastic game was happening on field one between Vision and Malera. The game came down to an amazing display of ‘hide and seek’ around the maze complex on the spectators side of the field (a series of bunkers which had led to some of the best paintball of the whole weekend). Malara won the individual battle and came through to the vision side but in trying to work out the remaining Vision positions lost the battle when he was spotted and shot from one of the back bunkers. Vision made a quick dead box count and then stormed down the field to end the game.

Malara versus Check it was a battle of the snake dives with both teams going for it on the break. Malara won the diving competition on style points (the check it player hitting hard and having to compose himself) and the Malara player started his move up field. He got to the 60 before a check it player spotted him through a gap in the snake and with a great single shot took him out. Check it went on to another win and looked to be taking the title back across the pond. In Malara’s final game against scalps there was probably the biggest cheer of the event. The last scalp player though the game was over and was running the flag back for the win only to find a Malara player waiting for him at his flag station. The Malara player eliminated the remaining Scalp player inches from a flag hang and then ran both flags back for the win.

In the final game between Check It and Vision, Check It again made use of the snakes on field 2 and Rio Arroyo crawled down field, eliminating a player from the centre before shooting the lid off a pod in the final Vision players pack, eliminating him and spilling his paint to the floor. Undefeated in the finals Check it celebrated their win.

Bob Long’s Ironmen won Toulouse last year and they were clearly revelling in Toulouse. I think they were the only team to truly master field one and since they played a lot of games on this field it helped them into a truly impressive set of results. I believe they only lost 9 players all weekend! They had the complex maze bunkers down to a ‘T’. They worked out the blind firing lanes which eliminated or forced any opposition player into a specific point in the complex… and then they would go in and bunker him out knowing exactly where to expect him! Perfect play and very impressive to watch. Their first game was against RL and it was a tough game of attrition. The pace really slowed down as every one locked up and was careful about losing bodies. It looked like it might go to full time and then a back player from the Ironmen ran the full length of the field to bunker the centre and last RL players out.

The Russian legion hadn’t been playing with quite the same flair that saw them miss out on the title by one point in Amsterdam, but they were still providing some stunning games. In the semi finals they had stormed through the SC Ironmen in just a couple of minutes! The RL who are fantastic technical team had often been putting players straight to the maze complex on the break, and indeed this was how they had first beaten the SC Ironmen. When they met in the finals again RL changed strategy completely and only put one player to the spectator side of the field, foiling the large number of sweet spotting players from the Ironmens side. The only RL player made  it in safely to his back bunker (after taking a bounce) but unfortunately RL’s great strategy didn’t pay off. And as the SC Ironmen took control of the spectators side of the field they worked through the RL players one by one. To the disappointment of the huge RL fan base (and no doubt themselves also) they were unable to win any of their final games and were once again rapidly removed from the field by Strange in under 3 minutes (proving their win over the RL in Amsterdam was not a one off), but I have no doubt if they continue playing the way they do and regain the flair they showed in Amsterdam that it won’t be long before they get their first Millennium victory. There are more teams coming out of Russia and if rumours of the developing youth base there are true then I think there is a lot more to come at future events. 

The All-Americans Strange team (or rather Strange but so called to get their sponsors to bring them over to Europe) beat the RL in the finals but lost to both Ironmen teams.
The team of the event was by far Bob Long’s Ironmen and there were few moments their victory even looked in doubt. When the dust settled after their final games against strange they were clear winners having not lost a game all weekend!

Congratulations to Bob Long’s Ironmen, I bet they come back next year to try and make it a Hat Trick and set a new record.

What was new at Toulouse?

Lots. Since Toulouse is the biggest event in Europe many manufacturers use it to show new products.

WDP, were showing their Fly IR3’s and unveiled for the first time their new ‘opto’ trigger. This set up (as seen in the photo gallery) does away with the usual micro switch. There are apparently several reason for this as Owen explained to me. Firstly is the issue of reliability. WDP do not skimp on the quality of their components and have been searching unsuccessfully for a micro switch which was capable of reliably covering over a million activations (an activation being regardless of the marker being turned on or aired up). Apparently no-ones makes one so they came up with their own system called the opto trigger. This system used an IR beam on the board similar to the eye in a hopper. A sprung piece of  metal with a hole in it is pushed back and forth between the emitter and receiver to make and break the beam. Apparently this is 25% more repeatable than a micro switch (which Owen hastens to add doesn’t mean you can fire 25% faster) and this means you can much more accurately set the firing point of the marker down to 0.060mm! (that’s under two and half thousands of an inch) this is less than the width of a human hair which is approximately 0.1mm. An extra benefit of this is that it also completely eradicates switch bounce. The new board is encased in black plastic as compared to the usual clear plastic to eradicate and chance of stray light getting in and causing confusing results for the detector.

Race Guns were showing a whole new interface set up for interacting with their race grips, as well as some new smaller solenoids and smaller brackets which are more aesthetically pleasing and are due to come in the same colour and finish as the ordered frames. They also showed a new circuit board with a lever action micro switch instead of the dome switch they had been using. Apparently this helps users to shoot faster and eradicates any issues or concerns people had with trigger bounce. They had on show a whole series of Freeflow cockers with all the latest technology implemented.

Adrenaline Games were showing the ‘Greedy gut’ a ride on machine designed to pick up paintballs and keep the fields clean, they were being demonstrated all weekend in the stadium and certainly helped keep the whole facility much cleaner. Which is better for the organisers and for players who have less worries about being marked by paint on the ground. They were also showing another development of Sup Air bunkers which didn’t need fans and which were fully sealed so they could be blown up and then plugged and left. This is like the original Sup Airs were at first  and shows how the development has come full circle.

Extreme Rage were showing their timer grips which are new into Europe. They  also had several new Autococker designs in use by the Aftershock team. One gun with after shock milled deeply into the side and one which factory team emblazoned across it. Both were very light, with one being a full sized cocker and one being a mini cocker.

Brass Eagle were showing the new Evolution Two, set up with a warp feed to provide a demonstration of a continuous loop of paint circling through the system. It has a new rubber paddle to eliminate problems with fragile paint and is apparently good for a 17bps feed rate.

Arrow Precision were showing a new line of plastic hoppers in many colours and designed for the site market. They also had a new stock class Sterling prototype on show and it looks very likely that this  will go into production in the near future. All new STP’s come with a dialable hammer which can be adjusted with a tool through the front of the pump handle.

AGD had the first ever production C&C Extreme with Level 10 in use with the Belgian team Ora Pronobis. They are currently gearing up for production and should be available soon.

Diablo had one of the new Kapp flame style Matrix LCD’s on show at their booth and it was certainly quite an eye catcher. They were also showing the X-ball style jerseys.

SCI composites who manufacture tanks in California but also have a company in the UK set up a stand and were out to ‘meet’ their customers. They had a range of tanks on show and were gauging interest in different sizes and styles. It looks like they may be actually designing tanks to suit paintballers in the future and are recognising the large market  that paintball players are to them. Should be interesting to watch for in the future.

Stay tuned to for photo galleries from the Millennium Series.

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