Friday, December 19, 2008

What is loyalty in paintball?

Today, I learnt it the hard way.

It is quite irony as I was chatting away with a friend from Penang about loyalty in paintball. I have seen people who displayed loyalty in paintball, I have seen loyalty being displayed over my short experience with paintball. But nothing beats me to think about loyalty so hard today.

Somebody once told me "Your loyalty will not last long..." Well, my reply was simple "I have come so far to be loyal to people in paintball... and I am doing fine, so let's stay that way" BULLSHIT! There is no loyalty in paintball! Why? People are always out to get the best deal, so SHOO emotions, SHOO loyalty. Its all bullshit!

I have heard stories...many stories. Stories that I dont like to hear, stories that make you look at someone from a different angle. Someone who doesn't care about loyalty. I was naive, very naive. Yes, the feeling of being betray is no good. But THINK THINK THINK! Dont just commit without thinking!

For all those out there who preaches loyalty like I do. Let's stay that way....for as long as we can. For those who are unloyal to people...or doesn't regard loyalty, just watch your steps. Words go around, so just be very careful. Paintball is a small world, its a small industry.

Treat everyone equally, treat everyone with respect, treat everyone with loyalty!

Politics in paintball... so who's the winner eventually?

Politics...its everywhere. Go to work's there. Go to school today... it's there too. Go play sports... it's there waiting for you to be involved. One thing is clear, we can never eradicate politics. It is in our culture to have politics lurking around our lives. In paintball... there are MILLION if not ZILLION issue with politics...just to list some that you might have already experienced:

1) This can happen anywhere in paintball, from teams going against one another to paintball field operators fighting the shit out of one another to offer the best paintball rates. Reduction in prices and VIOLA a price war is created. Who will reap the benefits whenever there is a price war? Surely the end consumers... I am not a business student, I have never been taught any lessons on business but surely I do understand the meaning of using quantity to overcome the lower earnings (I am sure there is a term to this). In simple terms, it means selling things cheap but make higher sales. A good strategy. In return, you make more money by getting loads of customers and everyone is out there to get the best deals. Can this really work? Yes, if there is more demand than supply.

But price war is never good. You can never win with a price war...nobody wins from a price war, not even consumers (well at least for paintball in Singapore). Why? Simple. Land cost in Singapore is hefty, land don't come cheap. Field owners need to earn some dough to pay for rental. There is only a handful of paintballers in town thus little demand. And soon, fields that are unable to last will throw in the towel and call it quits. Near to Singapore, we have the most classic example, how many paintball fields are there in JB? When I first started playing paintball, there was none. Now? We have so many fields, just JB alone. The pie is small, shared it with all and you might end up with peanuts. Can you make a living if you are only paid with peanuts? Well, can, surely for the first year...2nd year? 3rd year? make a living out of this? Hmmmm....let me consider again.

In my first Penang MPOC, there were only 2 paintball fields. One is ran by Mr. H and the other is by Mr. S. Only Correct me if I am wrong...but I think there are 8! 6 more new fields in a short span of 1 year? So who can last longer? We'll see...

I was talking to Arthur Chang from Taiwan who frequents LA. He told me that more and more fields are folding in the states, simply because there are lesser players out there. Which leads me to my second point.

2) Look at yourself, look around you... after picking up paintball for quite a while, where are you now? It is like making a self assessment of yourself in the organization that you have worked for after spending 5 years there. What have I achieved? Where am I going? Have I improved? The same goes for playing paintball. Where are you now?

Okay, let's do a recap. You were introduced to paintball by so and so (most probably a friend who wanted to do some shooting over a weekend) and you were hooked to the game after playing once. You called yourself a noob and go onto the internet to find ways to improve your game, check out the new gears, come up with a wishlists of the things you want to buy. You go to your local field to find like minded people, people whom you called noob and start forming a noob team. You find time to practice, you find time to get yourself involved in the game, you play more and more. You get yourself into the politics of paintball (though you never meant to start it that way but you are somehow always trapped by oncoming news). So you took part in tournament and you started playing competitively. After you have done all that, you try to look back and look around you. And you realised something:

a) First, those who are already playing paintball are already playing paintball. If you have been playing long enough, those who were there when you first started playing are still playing paintball.

b) There are lesser people picking up paintball. I am saying this because you hardly see any new teams or newcomers playing or competing. Well, once in a while, you will see some...but the process of forming one is slow and thus you don't see many new start ups.

So what has this got to do with paintball politics? It does...especially in Singapore paintball. Why? Here's why... I was told by my teammates that I am an outright farmer. A farmer who farms seeds (setting the interest of paintball to newcomers) but never be able to harvest the fruits (teams that are ready for the bigger show). It truely makes sense. From not knowing how to play paintball, to playing paintball competitively... we are only involved in the building process. Its like a bird will always be with the mother bird until they learn how to fly...that is the situation of Singapore paintball. And it is with this...that we will need to find time to refine if tournament paintball is the way to go. A farmer that doesnt harvest fruits...hmmmm. Not a very good investment. Is this the reason why there are many paintball fields in JB? Maybe...maybe not. But I am sure...some will contribute to make the war stronger there. Politics...well yes.

So field owners from around the world...Is it important to focus on the harvesting and not on planting seeds? The answer is no. It is a cycle that never ends. You just have to get more people to play paintball. Don't stop because the minute you stop doing will be out of business soon. Its a cycle so remember.

I have recently received an unknown letter from an unknown individual...Never write any name on the letter, even took his time and effort to type our address on the envelope before sending us the letter. Well, its not the first time that we have received letters from someone who dares to send but never dares to identify. Perhaps staying in the dark is better. The first letter was addressed to a higher authority to complain about my team. Seems funny...but the cat is always out of the bag. We know who you are... so take care bro. The second letter was aiming at our MARK policy. Seems funny that someone would want to address a complain on the MARK policy (surely not from the players), so who's left? for thoughts. Politics? Surely its funny that instead of working together, someone wants to ruin other people's plan. Heard of the word consortium? Bundle of sticks are harder to break.

I know I shouldn't be saying this....but paintball is all revolved around politics. NPPL vs PSP, MPOC vs NPL, ISSC vs World Cup, etc. See what I mean....? At the end of the day, there is only so much in the pie, not everyone gets a bite on the strawberry. But what about eating half of the strawberries than not eating one?

Asia Paintball Invitation Tournament (APIT) 2008 - Team Ku (Japan) and Red Sevens (Singapore)

What a weekend in Taiwan!

Met the nicest people from the Taiwan paintball scene with superb company, a superb tournament and superb hospitality. The photographs from the previous entry says it all, a wonderful weekend. Spent most of the time travelling from KL to Taipei, from Taipei to Taichung, from Taichung to Kao Hsiung, travel travel travel...but hey, I am not complaining simply because the travelling group was fun to be with. Khaine from Team Ku always got something up his sleeves...talking about girls, looking at girls, admiring about girls. Look at those roaming eyes!!! Team Ku is no stranger to the regional tournament scene, a regular of the PALS series, a regular of the World Cup events, we have seen them in action, we have greeted them during events but this is the closest we got to them since knowing them.

As Dye sponsored teams, Red Sevens and Ku is somewhat similar in some ways: 1) we have "ang mo" playing in our team, 2) we have a female player in the team (Elle and Michiko), 3) we are always short of people to play. But when it comes to paintball skills, we are no where near them. But that's besides the point, the point is....through this tournament, we have foster an excellent relationship with one another. It does help that we have very good friends in Taiwan who were able to bridge our language barrier.

Allow me to introduce our 3 "foreign imports" of the tournament:

1) Arthur Chang - Just 3 letters to describe this guy, "ABC". Looks chinese, speaks chinese...but when you hear him speaks English, you know he is an American, strong accent. Wonderful guy who hosted Ku and us at his place, cooked (well his maids actually...) us nice porkchops, bought us nice bubble tea and helped us to oversee lots of logistics and adminstrative issues both on and off the field. If there is one thing that we have learnt from this trip, it will be adopting Arthur's ability to plan for game strategies and game lineup. Can you imagine waking up at 5 am to type the team's lineup so that everyone is aware of when they are playing? For get an "A" grade.

2) Fonjen - Pronounced as "Kite" in mandarin. Initially, I thought what a good nick... but it turns out that "Kite" is his real name. So lame... Anyway, this is the second time I have seen this guy. The first time was from the Ollie Lang clinic in Taiwan. If I can remember correctly, I did not speak to him back then...but hell I should! This is one of the most approachable guy... Talk to him about anything in the world and he will surely share his own personal views. But that is not the most amazing this about this guy... when I attended Gary Shows Hybrid Paintball Clinic 2 years ago, there is this famous saying from him "Always have 2 of everything when you are competing" The idea is to always have a spare equipment, just in case the primary one is faulty or having what we always call "a paintball period", one minute it is working and the next minute it goes faulty.

Fonjen not only has 2 of everything...he has TONS of everything. When I mean by that, this is just a list of things he brought to APIT: 10 squeeges, 5 markers, 7 HPA tanks, 2 harnesses, 70 pods. That's basically the equipment needed for a 5 man team! But that is just the beginning, he has in total more than 40 over markers and 80 over barrels...He is the army!

3) Pony - Dubbed as one of the best front player in Taiwan. Pony plays for Team Shocker in Taiwan. When I first heard that Pony will be playing with us, I was very excited because the last time I saw him snapshoot, it was thinking "Does he ever gets tired?". At the age of 37, Pony doesnt look anywhere near his he can be, versatile he is... I was playing his back during the tourney and in all the games that we played, I will surely asked him at the starting frame "Pony, where are you going?"...and he always reply..."It depends". Can you imagine backing someone who has no intended direction? That's how versatile he minute, he is playing as a back player, and the next, you will see him in the dorito... it was a challenge for me to play his back as I am always on a lookout of where he is. Pony gave me his Shocker jersey at the end of the was a good gesture and I certainly look forward to playing with him again.

So there you go, 3 of our "foreign imports"... Respect!