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Friday November 18, 2022


In today's post on the topic of paintball tournament sport, we would like to take an open, honest and critical look at the development of the German paintball tournament scene. The scene has been shrinking for years. There are many reasons and unfortunately there is currently no end in sight to the downward trend. For today's contribution, we spoke to those responsible for the league at the DPL, were at the ICS as players and got different voices and opinionsbelongs to the scene.

Anyone who has been on the tournament fields of the republic in the last few weeks and months has realized relatively quickly that paintball tournament sport in Germany is not necessarily the best. The current tournament landscape has lost a lot of its glamor and is in large parts only a shadow of itself Spread food for thought for the future. Not everything is bad, but many things may simply have to be rethought if you want to save paintball tournament sport in German and bring it back to its former glory. To do this, we looked at the different league formats and series that currently exist, spoke to those responsible for the DPL and, as players, simply asked around about the mood in the scene. The external impressions for the current state are very complex. Corona played a hard part on the entire tournament scene. Similar to many an employee who had to give up or change his job due to the corona virus, many players have also looked elsewhere. In addition, there were increased living costs, the retirement of some players and a lack of planning security due to recurring lockdowns and restrictions.

There have also been major changes within the paintball industry. While Europe was dormant in lockdown, the US market revived thanks to far more liberal restrictions. The industry then focused on the domestic market in the USA and reduced its presence on the European continent, in some cases significantly. In addition to less attention for the European and thus also the German tournament scene, this meant significantly less sponsorship and support. Another big problem for many pro teams. Let's turn the wheel back a few years. At the peak of the DPL, in 2015 and 2016, the German Paintball League was at the top of the world with well over 400 teams. A country like Germany, which is insignificant in paintball sport compared to the USA, the paintball motherland, had managed to organize and successfully operate the largest league in the world with the most participants. At that time, in addition to the DPL, there were even other tournament series and local events all over Germany, all of which were well attended. Today, only about six years later, we are unfortunately miles away from this splendor of the old days…

Unfortunately, the current situation is very different. After the DPL had carried out several votes on the further course of the season last season, it was initially clear that the players absolutely wanted to return to the old season format. Most recently, the season had been played year-over-year from summer to summer. That changed after the vote, and the old system of spring through fall season was overwhelmingly voted back. That presented the DPL with the next problem. – What to do with the rest of 2022?

The idea was to start a so-called "Sprint Season" in which only two instead of four game days are held. The concept, which was initially celebrated by the players, cracked relatively quickly when the DPL wanted to start the split season with another Bundesliga entry fee increase. This was viewed extremely negatively by many players and it happened that some teams immediately withdrew their starting commitment for the DPL Split Season. Other teams saw the new regulation as an opportunity to take a break and decided to simply let paintball rest in the second half of 2022. More than half of the teams had already disappeared from the scene and the DPL had to completely cancel the Bundesliga for 2022 due to a lack of participants. “We have had many discussions with all teams in this regard and are in lively exchange. The majority of the teams that are still active have already announced that they will be fully involved again in the coming 2023 season, when the DPL will be held again from spring to autumn within one calendar year."

It is to be hoped that he is right. Because the DPL is currently very thin. There is no national league, only a regional league in the West area, a premier league location in Hildesheim and just three state leagues in Hildesheim, Mönchengladbach and Karlsruhe. The district league, which has always been of particular importance as a beginner's league for recruiting young people, is not represented at a single location. "Yes, those are frightening numbers, we don't need to sugarcoat anything. We did expect a significant decline in the second half of 2022, but we were a little surprised by this development ourselves.” Sven Reimann is self-critical. "But as I said, we are already in talks with the teams and are also setting the course in the background to create an attractive DPL offer for the teams in 2023," he adds. We are excited to see how the DPL will continue. Let's hope that they have learned from the mistakes of the past and can now finally turn a few screws for a positive development of the tournament scene.

In another corner of the republic, namely in the Berlin area, the ICS (Independent Club Series) was raised for the first time this year and was a good deal larger than in previous years. ICS organizer Kevin Hegend, from the Berlin tournament location "Sundays Club", had already decided last winter to no longer compete in the DPL with his team because there was no offer in the 3rd Bundesliga North. Instead, it was then decided to let the in-house event series grow. So they teamed up with the playing fields Battlefields Hildesheim and the Paint Park Wöbbelin to jointly organize the big ICS tournament series with four days of play at three locations and with two performance classes. The whole thing should be specially tailored to the wishes of the players. Inexpensive, simple structures and lots of fun and paintball. The implementation went very well and the ICS Pro was already well booked with eight teams after a short time. However, ten teams were originally planned here, so that one has to admit that there are simply not enough teams to fill the leagues and series in the current time. A total of 14 teams competed in the amateur division at the Berlin and Wöbbelin locations. This makes the ICS a comparatively small league with "only" 22 teams, but it already has half as many teams as the DPL in its current structure. We were there at the Sundayclub for the ICS final and had the opportunity to talk to Kevin personally about the season. – Kevin, your conclusion on the ICS 2022 please. Kevin Hegend: “First and foremost, of course, we are happy that we were able to grow so enormously this year and that all the teams took part in the ICS. The feedback was really positive from all sides and of course that makes us a bit proud as the organizer and motivates us to keep going.”

It sounds like we can look forward to an Independent Club Series with Kevin and his team in 2023. For us, the ICS is a successful construct and an inexpensive and, above all, entertaining alternative for tournament sports. We also took an active part in the ICS Pro as players and can therefore report first-hand. The whole thing just fits, feels good and has a solid foundation. Sure, it doesn't always have the highest level of play, but that's not what the organizers are about either. In the end, everyone should have fun at the tournament paintball and have a good time. In any case, we had it. Furthermore, we do not want to ignore the other events in tournament sports at this point. In the east, more precisely in Gera, the X-Series is still held. The X-Series was once, next to the DPL, the second largest paintball league in Germany and had a good 100 teams. Unfortunately, the X-Series has also lost more and more substance in recent years due to a wide variety of circumstances. Today it is only held at the Gera location and takes place there on five match days in the novice (for beginners) and amateur/challenger (for stronger teams) classes. With only 10 teams, spread over the two divisions, you are unfortunately far from a real league operation.

At the same time, with the core event series by Felix Müller, aka Flexi, from Ramstein Instinct, and a planned series of events at the paintball field in Uffenheim (P.Uff), two other tournament formats are springing up that want to claim their place in the paintball tournament circuit in 2023. So the offer for the tournament players is definitely there. On the one hand, this is good, but it also raises questions and risks.

On the one hand, there is the danger that the individual organizers will have to fight among themselves for the remaining teams in order to fill their leagues. This usually ends in discount battles and price dumping to lure undecided teams. But this also simply results in a falling standard. In the end, unfortunately, it just takes money to finance and keep alive the paintball tournament sport. The fields have to pay a lease, every one to two years a new NXL field costs several thousand euros and, last but not least, the marshals and field operators also want to be paid for their work. Unfortunately, all of this is often forgotten by the players when it comes to saving a few euros here and there in the budget for the season.

At this point we simply hope that the operators will focus on the sport and put their differences between themselves to rest for the benefit of its development. Only together can the paintball tournament sport grow and develop again, so that in the end we all have more of it. Above all, more events, more fun and more paintball.

Presumably no one knows exactly where the journey will take us in the future. The fact is, the future of tournament sport is on shaky ground. We ourselves, who have been doing this sport with a lot of love and dedication for years, are on the one hand afraid but also full of expectation and just hope that a rethinking will take place. The organizers of the leagues and event series, but also large parts of the industry are now asked to make the right decisions in order to steer paintball tournament sports in Germany back on the right track together…

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