How different is paintball? To be honest, anyone can be as good as anyone in paintball. Meaning, you can just pick up paintball last weekend and start to formed a team and call yourself a division 1 team. Nobody is going to stop you from doing that... just get ready for the bruises. Teams will still play you and you will also get the biggest shock of your life.
There are paintball leagues in Malaysia that has a promotional format. Meaning if your team do well the entire season and clinch a few finishes on the podium, there could be a likelihood that you will be "promoted" to the higher division upon the request of the organizers. But this is not the case for all paintball tournaments. I have seen a Division 1 player playing for a Division 3 team and went on to win medals and nobody questioned about eligibility. I have seen a few (and I quote again, a few) Division 2 players playing for a Division 3 team and yes, nobody questioned anything. I have recently seen a ex-Division 1 player who guest for a new Division 4 team!!! So in summary, you can play in any division that you wish to. However, not all leagues are the same. My-NPL for example, do not allow players from higher division to play in the lower divisions.
As a guide, here it goes (based on the Malaysia Paintball Official Circuit, MPOC):
Division 4 - Usually for newbies who just picked up paintball using housed mechanical markers. Organizers will provide markers for the tournament but you can also use your own. Personal marker accessories such as loader, barrel and tanks are allowed. M5 format (5 versus 5)
Division 3 - Participants will need to have their own personal marker and accessories. Games will be played as M5 format. Mode of fire will be semi automatic with rate of fire capped at 15 balls per sec.
Division 2 - Same format as Division 3 except for a change in the mode of fire, which is ramping mode capped at 15 balls per sec.
Division 1 - Same as Division 2 except for X ball format (some refer it as the M7 or P7 format) in a race to 3 game. Time duration is 10 mins. A 2 mins game interval for every game where players exit the field to top up gas, paintballs, wipe clean, etc. For this division, you will need a good coach and 3 crews who can assist to coach from the sidelines.
There are a few Singapore based teams who are playing in the Malaysia paintball scene and they are:
MPOC - Red Sevens Division 3
MPOC - Team Damnation Division 3
My-NPL - Karma Division 4
My-NPL - Seekers Division 4
In addition to the above teams, the following teams will be participating in this year's Paintball World Cup Asia 2009:
WCA - United Nations
WCA - Contract Killers Division 4
WCA - Red West Division 4