RED DYNASTY ROOKIE CHALLENGE 2010
SINGAPORE, Sunday, 31st January 2010 – It was like a day out for some newbies at one of Singapore’s most fledgling extreme sports – Paintball. Recognizing the shortage in avenues for beginners to get a feel of Speedball, more commonly known as Tournament Paintball, without having to suffer humiliating defeat at major international tournaments, event organizers at Red Dynasty Paintball Park took on the role of creating more opportunities for rookies to gain some valuable game experience under their belts.
The Red Dynasty Rookie Challenge 2010 is aimed at encouraging newcomers to cast their inhibitions to the wind and take their interest in the sport above the line, a step closer to joining the big boys already firmly acquainted with the sport. A total of 6 teams registered for the opening leg of the Rookie Challenge. Only rookie players above 14 years of age were eligible for the mini-tournament. The format of the day was a 4-vs-4 hopper ball game. This meant that In contrast to the rules and regulations followed in conventional tournaments, only 4 players were fielded at a time, with each player equipped with only 100 paintballs for an each 5-minute game.
Altogether, teams played five qualifying games in a round robin format, followed by the semi-finals which were played by only the top 4 ranking teams based on the accumulation of Match Points (MP) and Elimination Differences (ED) at the end of the first round. Upon successfully qualifying for the semi-finals, the format then turned to a best-of-three, knock-out scenario, which essentially made it anybody’s game. Having been ranked at the top for the qualifiers would come to mean nothing if teams did not give a show of consistency or perhaps even game endurance.
The morning started out great with no hint of a storm brewing anywhere or threatening to foil a fantastic day for Paintballing. All teams arrived way before the stipulated time to get warmed up and mentally prepped for the grueling day ahead. While some teams came freakishly prepared, with their own private tents, beverage coolers and even what looked like a chess board of play dough bunkers set atop a gridded cutting board for enhanced visualization, some teams psyched themselves up with thunderous yet amusing war cries and then there were others that took to the more come-what-may approach of appearing calm, cool, collected and really, nothing more. Despite the obvious differences in disposition, there was no real sign of a dominant team right from the start.
The first game commenced with Black Aces Team 2 going up against Raving Lunatics Team 1. Even as the first game of the tournament, this was a game to watch as both teams had been gearing up steadily for this day more than a month ahead. So serious about their first-ever tournament was the former that for practice, the Black Aces, captained by Mohamed Hasnon, 33, had brought their own self-constructed “mock markers” to facilitate the practicing of their break-out patterns from the starting frame. These guys had even spent a good portion of their Saturday evening at the competition site, walking the field – a must-do for all seasoned Paintballers prior to competition day. Yet, in spite of their pre-event vigilance, the Black Aces found it difficult staying alive in their first game. Team 1 of the Raving Lunatics on the other hand had found their footing quite early in the qualifiers to swiftly take out all 4 men on the opposition’s team, coming away with one sole survivor. It was a good start for the latter and it seemed to have been that way all throughout the first round of the Tournament.
Unlike their brethrens in Team 1, Team 2 of the Raving Lunatics did not have as much of an easy time for most of their games during the qualifying matches. Against their first opponents, Phobos & Deimos, it seemed as though the Lunatics had exited the field without so much of a modicum of knowledge of what had hit them within their few short minutes on the field. Compared to their highly aggressive opponents, the Lunatics looked clueless on the field, unaware of the enemy coming point-blank at them. Yet, it could also have been that Phobos & Deimos’s very unexpected and offensive style of play so early in the game that had thrown them off a little more than they had expected.
The Heartbreakers, a team comprised of very energetic, young men and led by Captain, Kenny Leow, 21, had also come away with a good start during their first match against the Daredevils. It was clear that the former had a game plan right from the start, which they were disciplined enough not to veer away from, even if most of the other teams were inclined to use the first round of games as a test-drive. Over at the other camp, the Daredevils, the only team with a female member tried their best to weather the storm paintballs that were mercilessly showered on them, cleaning them out in under 2 minutes.
By the end of Round 3 of the qualifiers, the specific styles of play for each and every team had become quite apparent. With Phobos & Deimos winning 3 straight games with nothing but ease, it was clear they were going for the gold. Their consistent offensive style of play had worked extremely well for them. A general sentiment on felt amongst the participating teams was that Phobos & Deimos being the most aggressive team at the tournament, was definitely not to be trifled with.
The guys from Raving Lunatics also had much more to show than the sheer numbers that had accompanied them that day. Having won the most number of games during the Qualifying Round, Team 1 proved they were game for some good competition. At one point in their winning streak, the Lunatics had eliminated every single member of their opposition in less than 30 seconds. They clocked the fastest match time for the tournament having returned to base with the opposition’s flag in 44 short seconds.
It was definitely not all roses and butterflies for all the teams at the Rookie Challenge. By the end of the qualifiers, only 4 teams had made it to the semi-finals – Raving Lunatics Team 1, Heartbreakers, Phobos & Deimos and Black Aces Team 2. Sufficient recognition must be given to Team 2 of the Raving Lunatics and the Daredevils for their perseverance and will throughout the Tournament. While the teams might not have boasted the correct fundamentals of the sport, they had great sportsmanship and seemed to take each win or loss within their stride.
For the Semi-Finals, Raving Lunatics Team 1, which had topped the ranking chart with a total of 12 MPs was up against Black Aces Team 2 in Semi-Final 1. The Heartbreakers on the other hand, were up against Phobos & Deimos in Semi-Final 2. At this juncture, it was down to which team wanted it really, really bad. Having won 4 out of their 5 qualifying rounds, many would have expected the Semi-finals matches between the Lunatics and the Aces to be done quite swiftly. However, within minutes of the first semi-final match between the two teams, all pre-match guesses and predictions had been tossed into disarray. Within the opening seconds of the match, the Aces, had taken 2 of the formers’ core members out, leaving the other members stranded and helpless. The game had ended in 1:25 minutes, with the Aces still 3-men strong. For the second match, with the end looming scarily near, the Lunatics were all fired up and sure that they would even the score with the Aces. And that they did, when they too swept the field clean of enemies with exactly the same MPs and EDs. It was now dead even and the final game between the two teams boiled down to just sheer will and determination. The third and final round of Semi- Final 1 had been drawn out for a much longer period of time compared to the earlier two games. However, fatigue must have set in at the worst time when a momentary lapse of concentration caused the Lunatics the win. Semi-Final 1 ended with Black Aces Team 2 entering the Finals while Raving Lunatics Team 1 were invited to compete in the 3rd-4th playoffs.
Unlike the initial situation in Semi-Final 1, the semis between the Heartbreakers and Phobos & Deimos looked as though it was going to be anybody’s match. It seemed like not enough strategic planning had gone into ensuring that the Heartbreakers would not meet the threat that Phobos & Deimos was going to pose. Having suffered a previous defeat in the qualifiers, however, the Heartbreakers were not about to allow themselves to face a second defeat. With that in mind, the boys dominated the game right from the first second wiping out every single member on Phobos & Deimos’s side within 1:14 minutes and with no lives lost. To secure their entry into the Finals, the Heartbreakers had no intention in going easy on Phobos & Deimos in their second game. While the latter put up a good fight, the former quickly captured the opposition’s flag to bring it all the way home. The Finals was to be played by the Heartbreakers and Black Aces Team 2.
Having got off to a shaky start, Black Aces Team 2 was dubbed by tournament officials as the dark horse of the Tournament. While they had lost their first game, they had quickly picked themselves up to win the next game for themselves. And just as their spirits were reignited, they suffered yet another unsettling defeat against Phobos & Deimos. At the end of the Qualifying Round, the Black Aces had won but 2 games, were tied against the Heartbreakers and lost another 2 games. At this point in time, they were either in or out. In spite of their inconsistency, Head Referee, Muhammad Fadzri Bin Abdul Rashid, 23, cited how the team must have had the “best form of communication as they took commonly used terms [in Paintball] and made them their own, using these terms differently as codes that only they would understand.”
While the Black Aces were the underdogs of the tournament, the Heartbreakers on the other hand were slated to win. Perhaps, the preconceptions had come from the fact that though the team had been comprised of inexperienced players, most of these players are also Part-time Employees at Red Dynasty Paintball Park that happened to have fallen in love with the sport. It was much like playing on home ground for them. Even so, it appeared that it was not familiarity that had helped them through the qualifiers but good strategic planning done mostly by one guy, Benjamin Leong. Unlike the other teams, the Heartbreakers had a game plan for every match they went into. Other than being the most disciplined team in terms of zealously committing to the game plan, Muhammad Fadzri being at the heart of all the action also commented on how they had the “best field awareness and dynamic style of play – They used a defensive style of play when the situation called for it and conveniently switched to an offensive style when the time was right.”
However, not all was perfect for the Heartbreakers as they incurred some severe penalties during what most would consider a critical point in the tournament – the Finals. During the first match, a 1-4-1 penalty was warranted as a member had continued playing after being hit, and later, the team suffered an even heavier 2-4-1 penalty, resulting in not just a draw game but also a nail-biting situation. Without a firm standing in the finals for either of the teams, both the Heartbreakers and the Black Aces fought hard to bring the win home during the second round but it was the Heartbreakers that lady luck smiled upon for that split second giving them the short-lived lead. One might say that the Black Aces sure had some serious game endurance as the team kept the good fight going. It was practically deja vu for the latter as once again, they were in for a tie by the end of the third round of the Finals as both teams had finished with the same MPs, which meant only one thing – a 1-vs-1 sudden death match.
Sending their best man forward, the Heartbreakers nominated Leong to take the heat, while over at the other camp, it was up to Timothy Joshua Chen to bring it home for the team. The start of the intense final game began with both players crouching low at their bases ready to make a dash for the nearest bunker. But at the sound of “Game On”, while Chen sprinted ahead to take cover, Leong simply fired what could almost have been 5 warning shots to his opponent. Cocky as it might have appeared, slowing the pace down to think about his next move may have been the best tactic. While the Leong resolved to stay passive for a few moments, Chen trudged up steadily to the 50s line treading deeper and deeper into enemy territory. With good timing and pace, Leong made a quick foray into the left corner bunker directly ahead and remained there briefly before hearing footsteps on his left. Ready for the offensive, Leong wrapped the right of the bunker he was at, only to find a startled Chen who clearly had not anticipated the find. With a few instinctive reaction shots, Leong managed to mark his opponent well and good to bring home the Championship in under a minute.
When asked to comment briefly about the Tournament, Head Referee, Muhammad Fadzri said that he liked what he received from the teams. Teams like Black Aces Team 2 who not only showed great sportsmanship but also embodied the spirit of the Tournament especially impressed him. On the whole, he mentioned, there was a positive vibe from all participants and there was a great deal of good sportsmanship displayed by everyone whether they had won or lost.
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