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.