Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ivan Rickard Liow - First Singapore based player to referee in World Cup Asia 2009

Ivan the "Enforcer"... well, he is from the Special Ops Command...

Ivan with the Red Sevens... er... snake?

You might have seen him, you might have heard him... and you might be wondering who is this chinese looking "ang-mo" guy who speaks with a true British accent? Well, ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you Ivan Rickard Liow aka Liquid Snake, the suave paintballer that everyone just love... Last weekend, Ivan made Singapore history in becoming the first Singapore based player to referee in the Paintball World Cup Asia (WCA) 2009, the BIGGEST paintball event in Asia!!! We caught up with him to find out more about this fine gentleman. Oh yes, ladies, he is single...

Q: What makes you want to ref in the WCA?

A: Before we go into that, you’d need to know why I wanted to learn to ref at all. For the past two legs in MPOC, I’ve had a few dubious (‘bad’) calls by refs regarding ‘hits’ which was in fact just bunker smudge (really!). Then I got wind of a marshalling course that was going to be held at WCA, conducted by Mr. Junaidi Kalil and Mr. Ulrich Stahr, the head referees of the Malaysian Marshals and Euro Refs respectively. And so I decided to attend to see what marshals go through and if it was really that hard to make ‘good’ calls. It was definitely not the fact that I was going to get a C10 jersey, in ‘zipbra preents’ which was going to look supahstah agg. After the theory course, Big Ben and I approached Junaidi to ask whether I could ref some Div. 4 games, to which he kindly agreed. Don’t forget it’s also the largest paintballing event in the region…how could I not participate in one way or another?

Q: What makes it so special for you to ref in the WCA?

A: For a start, WCA is the first tournament I have ever refereed in. There are so many teams from so many different countries that it makes this extremely exciting to ref in. Prior to this I have never refereed ‘properly’ as I didn’t know most of the rules. So the night before I kept the rulebook with me wherever I went, because I wanted to memorize all of the penalties and eliminations so I didn’t look an idiot when I was on the field. I told this to Junaidi and I guess he knew I’d definitely missed out on some stuff because he quizzed me on the 16 non-hit eliminations just minutes before walked onto the field. Out of the 16, I only got like 5, he let me ref anyway…THANKS JUNAIDI!

Q: So what did you actually do?

A: I asked Junaidi if I could ref some speedball games before I had to ref the GI Milsim 10 on 10 recball game later in the afternoon. Initially, all the fields were full with 8 refs but I got lucky. At around 11.30pm, one the the refs on the Div. 4 field had hurt his ankle and they needed a replacement. Junaidi took me to Field 4 and asked me to see the Head Ref of the field. I introduced myself and said I was a ref from Singapore and he asked me to take up the place of the ref who was injured. If you know anything about paintball I did what all other refs would do at the beginning of a game, such as “Barrel socks off”, “10 seconds” and “Game on”. During the course of the game I would watch a player and would run and side slide to him if he asked me for a “paint check”. If he was clean, but had bunker rub/spray, I would clean it for him, tell him to “play on” then go back to where I was originally standing. If he was hit, I’d just yell “you’re out” or “OUT”, duh. When the players did run-throughs I had to be slightly faster to be in front of him so I could see if he got hit. At the end of the game I would do a “Player freeze for paint-check” on the remaining players who were alive and inspect him/her for hits. I was quite disappointed I didn’t get to give anyone a penalty for playing on as I was looking forward to giving someone a “YOU’RE OUT, 1 FOR 1”. I was also definitely looking forward to giving some of the Singaporean teams some 3 for 1 love, hehe, CK *cough cough*, Red West, *cough*. Just kidding ;)

Q: How do you think you can improve yourself better as a ref?

A: To improve as a ref I need to know what powers I have. And to know what powers I have I need to know the rulebook- what I can and can’t do, what the players can and can’t do. It’s pretty similar to being a Police officer. You are empowered with ‘special powers’ and you can enforce these powers when the elements that would constitute to an infraction have occurred.

To further improve, I also need to get back onto the field and ref more games because experience is key. You can only get better at doing something over and over again (think PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE). Something which I will be doing next time I ref is talk to the more experienced refs, regarding issues such as “hit or non-hit?” For me this is a must because I think I made a few ‘not so good’ calls during WCA.

Q: How do you think you can improve yourself better as a player?

A: Well again the most important thing is to play, get on the field and start working on what you’re not so good at. For me I’m still not very good at snap shooting, so usually when I go down to play I work on that a lot with Gerald or Paul. I’m starting to get back confidence in superman dives so I also practice that more often than I used to.
In games, I usually play the Snake and I’ve become too accustomed to the play style. When it comes to other bunkers, I’m not completely sure where I’m supposed to shoot as the play-style is very different. This is because when you’re in the snake, your goal is to move up into their side as quickly as possible and shoot everyone. Most of the time, no one knows what hit them so it’s pretty easy whereas on the Dorito side, people are constantly bombarding your bunker with paint as they know where you are and you’ve got to be a good gunfighter to work your way up.

Q: How were you first introduced to paintball?

A: I was first introduced to paintball back in Nov’ 2007 when I messaged the Red Sevens about attending their clinic. I was on the way back from Port Dickson and arrived at Octville Country Club where the clinic was to be held. There I met Arthur, Big Ben, Jane, Azlan, Small Ben Desmond, Kevin, Sean, Daryl and Jin Han. We played a few 3 on 3s and by the next week I had already bought my Empire Vents. This would be the start of my paintball career.

Q: Having seen the malaysia scene what do you think needs to be improved in singapore paintball?

A: In the Malaysian scene there are a lot more teams, and there is a lot more space. Players are able to train with many different individuals, allowing them to be more prepared for different styles of play. Teams there are also able to train more frequently, due to lower cost of paint and easier access to proper tournament-sized fields.

Now in Singapore, the SPF regulates the movement of paintball markers and lists them under ‘Firearms’. Land and paint is expensive, so it is hard to get tournament teams to train regularly locally. More experienced Singaporean paintballers are travelling to JB to play on cheaper fields. This hurts Singaporean paintball because a) by spending money overseas, money is not being spent on supporting the local field(s), which does not allow them to expand their services and b) the experience and mentoring from these players is not shared with the newer players who might benefit greatly from given advice.

Now in terms of improving Singaporean paintball, two things come into my mind. Price of paint, and a tournament sized speedball field. The price of paint is an obvious one, the cheaper it is, the more we can train, and inevitably the better we will get. Getting a tournament sized speedball field is also another obvious one. Teams in Malaysia are training on fields that have the tournament layout a week or so before the actual tournament allowing them to have a good idea of how the field will play. In Singapore, although we try our best to adapt the field to the layout, the dimensions (length and width) that we play in Malaysia and here are completely different, meaning that when we get to Malaysia all the angles are completely different. We need a tournament sized field train on, with a good flat patch of grass so that we don’t injure ourselves doing various slides or dives.

Q: Plans for 2010?

A: I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Come on Singapore!!!

Courtesy of our good friend, Artika from Sarawak

Something really really good...

I don't usually blog about paintball gears but I just couldn't resist sharing this with everyone who regularly visits this blog. Presenting to you... The SEED!

Yeah, the name doesn't really sound catchy and you can't really make out what actually a SEED is... but this small "thing" can actually make a big difference for you when you most need it. I have seen, tried and tested this "thing" in last weekend's World Cup Asia (WCA) 2009. Hands up if you were there playing WCA last weekend and you have problems with your loader not feeding, due to humidity or jam and simply not shooting... believe me, I didn't have this problem the whole entire tournament, expect when I dive into the 50's M and got mud into my loader through the speedfeed. Other than that, I didn't have problem with my loader. And by loader, I mean the Dye Rotor... one of the best loader in the world. Simple to dismantle, simple to use and simple to clean.

Adding the SEED chip into the rotor... you will be jam free for the longest time in your paintball career until someone else came up with something new. I first heard about this product a couple of months ago... didn't strike me that this product would be good and perhaps just like the usual chip available in the market. If that is the case, then what is it that is so special about this chip?

Auto anti jamming!!! Enough said. If there is a jam in the loader, the motor spins the other way and unjam the paintballs!!! Well... I dont remember the last loader chip that has this capability. Yes, I have heard before anti jam detection... but auto anti jam and spins the motor on the reverse motion? First time... really, you have to see it to believe it.

And you thought so what is so special about auto anti jam? Well... you keep shooting!!! Its that simple... No more stopping and taking out the cover, no more shaking of the loader aimlessly, no more trying to figure out why your loader is jamming.

Thanks Bruce for selling me this great product make my day!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dummies guide on how to play without your loader

Just for laughs... no pun intended...

Step 1: Do a good break... but look at your opponents. Careful the ground is slippery.

Step 2: Loader falling off... !@#$%^&

Step 3: Wait for the right moment... behind a bunker of course!

Step 4: Do a mad dash!!!! but keep low...

Step 5: Pick up the loader and go again for the kills again!!!! Mind thinking...SIBEI HENG AR!!!

Photos courtesy of Artika's friend, Knight,

Goodbye 2009... Hello 2010...

With the year end drawing closer, so is the season of paintball. The World Cup Asia (WCA) 2009 closed its curtains last weekend with a bigger bang as compared to 2008. Playing for the third time in this tournament, the WCA is still the ONE and ONLY paintball tournament that you cannot miss! (Paul, if you are reading this... coffee next time). With 4 playing fields and more than 120 participating teams from countries such as Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, India, Iran, Australia, UAE, South Africa, UK, Guam and host country Malaysia, this event is certainly the BEST that Asia has to offer.

Having played twice before, this WCA kept my team and I busy the entire weekend. For a start, it was the Singapore contingent which consist of 7 teams that made a whole difference. There were words of encouragement from everyone. The motivation to do well every time a Singapore team walks into the field was complimented with our nation's pride. Most Singapore teams made it through to the 2nd round of the tournament and as they say: "Made it to Sunday!!!".

Although there was an orgy at the air fill stations, things got better as the day goes by. For a while, I thought there was going to be a re-enactment of what happened last year when the compressor couldn't start due to a short circuit problem but this year, there were no such problems...

Don't consider yourself playing in a WCA event until it this has been a norm since 2006, so yeah... get dirty, get muddy and tell yourself that you have worked hard on the field when you see all the mud. I am sure everyone who were there enjoyed themselves. At the same time, I am sure everyone will be thinking... "If only..."

Drawing back to Singapore paintball... Paintball first started in Singapore about 10 years ago. However, the development of paintball didn't really kick off until March 2008 where Singaporeans were introduced to paintball as a sport. Almost close to 2 years from the time of introduction, there are now 7 paintball teams flying the Singapore flag in the WCA. Surely, anyone can tell you that there will be more teams in WCA 2010. Firstly... I don't think it will be hard for someone to make this assumption... however only if the formula is right unless the truth remains unfold.

Paintball is a growing sport in Singapore. When I mean growing, I am talking about people being more aware about game than before, people being more receptive to this teambuilding game, people wanting to know more about the sport... it is a growing game.

Like a growing plant, it needs to be nurture as it takes time to grow. I am talking about TLC (tender, loving, care)... yes! TLC for paintball! Water the plants everyday and see it grow. Stop watering and you will get problems with insufficient nutrients, weak stem, etc. In paintball, there are people who will "come and go" (that's a given)... and there are people who play the sport and continue to excel in it. There are also new players who are new to the game... for Singapore to continue sending teams to WCA, we will need a constant flow of new players with guidance of the older batch. Boys and girls who have been playing the game for a while needs to embrace these "young" players. With the end of the Basic Tournament Orientation (BTO), gone are the status of tournament paintballers in Singapore and everyone is just as good as anyone... We must be ready to pass on what we have learnt to new players so that the community continue to grow. Unlike recreational paintball, you will always get new customers... but for tournament games, its all about nurturing. We have witnessed many who gave up the fight even before the real battle begins...

Hello 2010... passing on the baton!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Paintball World Cup Asia 2009 photo summary

Division 3 Red Sevens from Singapore (Photo taken by Pito of PhotoKaki)

Photo taken by Pito of PhotoKaki)

Division 4 Team Red West from Singapore

Muddy muddy...

WTF!...lovers drink

Will work for paintball!!! Berg helping out to sell markers in WCA...

Asia Ref Officiating Course

Hmmmm....I think ar....

Division 4 Contract Killers winning WCA 2009 Div 4 1st Runner Up... Singapore's first medal in WCA.

Yeah... know your price...

History in making... First Singapore based player to referee in WCA event! Way to go Ivan!

Team Red Sevens

Peter Chow in WCA?

Best Nation Awards Trophy

With Philip from TNKD... Nice to see you again bud.

History in making - Singapore's first WCA official crew master!!!

WCA Players Party!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Good luck to all Singapore teams!

There was 1 team in 2007 and there were 2 teams in 2008 and in 2009, 7 paintball teams from Singapore will be playing in the Paintball World Cup Asia 2009 this weekend. We wish them all the best in this tournament and podium finish in their respective divisions.

Way to go Singapore!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ian the berzerk!!!

Ian Tang (third from left) with players from Team Hot Fuzz.

We featured Ian Tang, one of Singapore's earliest "tournament" player. Ian who was playing for Team Hot Fuzz in 2008 and later Team Evil Avengers share his bit about paintball in Singapore. I labelled him as Singapore's paintball media spokesperson simply because he is the first person who got Channel News Asia to feature paintball as a sport on TV and the man who got Straits Times and Today Papers to feature paintball in the sports column... and we know how hard that is when there are F1, soccer, golf... Kudos to you Ian...

Q: Ian... one of the pioneers in Singapore competitive paintball. Tell us how you got started in the game that we all love to hate?

I'm hardly one of the pioneers! I first played paintball during the Chinese New Year gathering organised by Red Dynasty in early 2008. Prior to that, I had only read about the game in books or watched it in passing on TV shows, and even that was enough to pique my curiousity in the game. So when my good friend and subsequent teammate Xuyuan invited me to join him at the gathering, I couldn't say "yes" fast enough. That one session was exhilarating enough to make me want more! That was followed by the formation of the Singapore Paintball Novice Series, which I have taken part in ever since its inception.

Q: You have played in 2 local teams, Hot Fuzz and Evil Avengers. Tell us how different are these teams from one another?

Well, one was born of harmony, the other from strife. Hot Fuzz was essentially a team of friends. The core was myself, Xuyuan, an ex-schoolmate and Lennat, a friend whom I knew from the local music scene. Subsequent members joined us through the forum. Much to our surprise, we synergised well with each other. What I remembered most fondly was that win or lose, we always never failed to have fun. The team disbanded after the last leg of SPNS 2008.

Evil Avengers was an attempt at a "serious" team after a collective unpleasant experience. It was an amalgam of members from the defunct teams of Hot Fuzz and Red Lords (Both "pioneering" teams in the SPNS). While the intentions were there, the drive to succeed gradually became eroded by the drudgery of real life, plus we got so caught up in our grand plans that we forgot to have fun. That being said, I'm glad I tried and had plenty of memorable times with this team, especially during the last leg of SPNS 2009.

I have since left Evil Avengers and am looking forward to either starting anew with another local team or contributing to the growth of the game any way I can.

Q: Are you looking forward to owning a personal e-marker?

Definitely! Having had the pleasure of being shot at by electronic markers during an overseas tournament and during training for the upcoming World Cup Asia, I would say that e-markers really force you to up your game as a player. To quote a song title, you have to be "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger", in order to stay alive and win the games.

Q: You are the only player who have played in all 6 legs of SPNS... you have seen the changes... So what's the report card grade?

Each leg has only grown bigger and better than the last! I am glad to say that SPNS has come a long way, from 3-man hopperball to a proper 5-man mechanical marker tournament. I liked how the organisers gradually introduced the changes in the format to finally conform to international standards for a Division 4 tournament. Each leg has seen increasingly better venues, better bunkers and especially better technical and logistical set ups. This is something that players have recognised and appreciate as well.
What I do very much hope to see is a rise or at least a consistency in the standard of refereeing. That is one aspect of the tournament that should be addressed, as it affects the outcome of the game. I don't mind losing, but I do abhor losing due to bad or slow calls.

Q: What are the problems that a local paintballer face?

1) Time. The perennial problem that anyone who is into a team sport will face. Carving out time from busy schedules is something that all ballers in a team have to be able to do. If you're committed to a team, you have to make time to train as a team, or at least spend time together as a team. I believe that speedball, above all, is a game where you have to be able to trust your team mates to do their job fully, and to foster that unspoken link between team mates. These qualities can only be honed as a team spends time with each other.

2) Money. It is always about the benjamins, baby. There's only so much dry drills you can do, a baller has to shoot paint regularly to know where he's at and the cost of training will always be a factor.

3) Passion. How do you keep up the passion? Paintball is a lifestyle, beyond "looking cool in new mask". A passion is best sustained when there is a group of like-minded individuals to share tips, tricks, quotes and inside jokes with. I think this is our one saving grace: that the local speedball community is pretty much easy-going and fun, good mix of ages and interests, best of all, always willing to share and learn from one another.

Q: You will be playing in the upcoming World Cup Asia. 6 other teams are joining you. How do you think Singapore teams will fare?

Considering the quality of teams that local teams will be facing in WCA, I think it will be a challenging tournament, one which can only open our eyes even more. Our Div 4 teams are very good, and I do expect at least one podium finish there.

Q: What do you hope to see in Singapore paintball?

Honestly, I think local ballers have truckloads of potential and our basics are good and consistently reinforced. Our teams are hampered by the fact that:

(A) training is either expensive or time consuming
(B) we can't train with our own equipment regularly or conveniently

Despite that, local teams have done consistently well, with 2009 being a gala year with two local Div 3 teams taking podium finishes in the MPOC, and a few Div 4 podium finishes in other tournaments. This is proof that local teams do have what it takes, just that we have to put in that extra time and effort to train over our paintballing friends from other countries.

So I hope that we can at least overcome (A) as a short term goal, and (B) as a medium term goal. Once both (A) and (B) are resolved, Singapore will be ready to take its place as a paintballing force in the region.

Q: Name me your best 5 players in the Singapore scene?

Wow you don't believe in easy questions huh. If I do have to give a personal take, they are:
a) Casey "sgb33f" Chew. He is a well-oiled (literally and figuratively heheh) machine when it comes to paintball. Basic stuff that most of us agonise with, snap shooting, movement, communication, RELOADING, he does with an ease that is second nature. Combined with his experience in the States, this is one guy I want to be a wingman to anytime ha!

b) Grant "houdini" Harrison. If I'm ever, ever short on passion, I just have to look at him and be recharged. He is really the epitome of putting his money where his mouth is. From offering free website design to SPNS winners, to shelling out S$500 to aid local teams, Grant holds nothing back when it comes to something he loves. He also has a good sense of strategy, which showed when he led Dark Militia to victory in Leg 3 of SPNS09.

c) and d) A tie between Gerald "The Kid" Lee and Ivan "Snake" Liow
Always exciting to see them play. Speed, skill and agility in an aggressive package!

Can't think of anymore! Here's to another great year for local paintball!