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Tuesday July 9, 2019

The in-depth pro player interview with Ryan Greenspan

Kress: Hi Ryan, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. To start, I would like to talk to you about the beginning of your impressive paintball career. In the year 2000 you won a Ford Mustang in a Spyder Cup, such prizes have not existed in paintball for a long time, how would you describe that time?

Ryan: In 2000 I was already playing paintball for three years, I was 18 years old and still very young, it was really a different time in paintball. Things were much – I don't want to say easier, but it was already very different, there was hardly any internet, information took much more time. Playing in Asia or at events with awards like the Mustang was very high profile and good for the whole scene.

Kress: How did your parents react? Have they always supported your paintball career?

Ryan: That was very difficult for me at the beginning. I didn't have much support from my mother, she didn't care that I play paintball, for her school was the most important thing. Also, every dollar I spent on paintball I had to earn myself one way or another. But once she helped me a lot. For my birthday she gave me a paintball marker, that was something special. We played a lot of tournaments and then used the prize money from the tournament to fund the next tournaments. We had real sponsorship for the Spyder Cup in Asia. But other than that, there wasn't really any help from home until I won the car. After I won the Ford, my mom was a little more excited.

Kress: What happened to the Mustang you won back then? do you still have it

Ryan: No, unfortunately I don't have it anymore, I sold it a long time ago. I drove it for maybe three or four years. It was pretty cool and not many people can say they won a car.

Kress: After a truckload of 1st places in almost every tournament series on the planet, what are your ultimate paintball moments of happiness?

Ryan: I guess one of those ultimate moments of happiness was winning the car. That was a really big thrill for me. But actually every tournament that I have won with my boys is such a moment. In the end, the most important thing is your friends and what you have experienced with them. When we won a lot of tournaments in one season, we really had fun. But what's always really special is the moment when the spectators are really excited, the energy that comes onto the field via the net – I mean, those are the most impressive moments.

Kress: Neither of us are getting any younger and playing paintball at your level requires a high level of fitness. How do you keep fit for sports?

Ryan: It's funny you saying that, I've been dealing with injuries to my body a lot lately. Like you said, we're not getting any younger, but I'm just trying to stay as active as possible. I surf a lot, I swim a lot, I run and I do sprints a lot. I don't spend much time, or rather no time at all, in the gym. But I try to keep myself as fit as the teammate next to me or sometimes in better shape than the player next to me. I think it's a good motivation for a lot of people that you should always be better than the guy next to you.

Kress: After 20 years of paintball at such a high level, in which area can you still improve?

Ryan: There's a lot I'm struggling with right now. You can always get better. I think Marcello Margott said it best in the last Pro School: "As long as you need more than 5 paintballs to mark 5 opponents after the breakout, you have to keep working on yourself", and somehow that always resonates. It's very difficult for Dynasty at the moment because we don't have our own home field, so we don't have a practice ground. In fact, we as a team can only train together right before the events, only then can we see whether our lines are correct. I find I'm not as "on point" with my balls anymore because if you can actually drill on the layout, this field is a perfect example. If I had actually trained on this layout before, I would be much more accurate. And I think that also shows why the Russians are playing so well right now, because they have the opportunity to practice certain tactical situations and also to be able to practice responses for certain situations, while I can't do that in the USA at the moment.

Kress: Finally, I would like to talk to you about your experiences in the national team. The World Cups here in Europe and Asia are special in their own right, but how does it feel to play together instead of against your American counterparts?

Ryan: I love the opportunity to represent my nation in any way. Paintball may be a very small sport in the eyes of many people, but for many others, myself included, paintball is something very significant. I think it's something very special to be able to represent your country and to play and win against other nations. The really fun part of it is that I'm able to play with guys that I've either never played with or have been on a team with a long time ago because a lot of players have played with Dynasty, and it does just fun to take that little step into the past every now and then and play with them. All these guys are really cool, everyone accepts everyone, there is a high level of respect in the team. For example, I've never played with Tampa Bay Damage's Jacob Edwards before. But it was great fun playing with him, seeing and comparing the different styles of play. Everyone is very easygoing and having fun. I really enjoy that kind of thing. It's a great honor to be able to represent the USA and my country, but it's also a lot of fun.

Kress: The next Nations Cup is planned for the NXL Prague Open. Will the US team form in Prague or is there already a squad?

Ryan: The US team doesn't even train beforehand, it's actually a big disadvantage of the US team. Most of the teams have already played together, as you can see with the Russian Legion or some other teams. Ronholt Blast from Norway were surprisingly strong two years ago as many players came from the same team.

Many of the TONTON guys from France are already on the same team in the current season, they already know what's going on and what needs to be done, while the US team played the layout for the first time at the event. When we go out on the field we ask, "Which side do you want to play on and is the position ok for you?" We try to alternate positions, but sometimes it just doesn't work out, then you realize that we don't train together.

The advantage is that we're among the best in the world, so it's easier for us as a team to spot mistakes and opportunities. Together we will get better from point to point and you can see a good learning curve until we reach the final.

Kress: Thank you Ryan for the interview, I wish you and your team all the best and look forward to seeing you again in Prague.

Ryan: Thank you Tobi, it was really fun. "See ya at the Prague Event".

Ryan and his team, the Golden State Kings, aka San Diego Dynasty, finished second in this event. Despite little training before the event, the team made it to the finals thanks to a great team effort and experienced individual players. There, however, they lost to the very well-prepared Russian team Moscow Red Legion with a very narrow 4:5. So the final conclusion is that talent is not everything, only those who regularly train together as a team will make it to the top of the podium in the end. Anyone who would like to see the pro players live can do so at the next NXL Europe event in Prague. From Friday, July 19th until Sunday, July 21st will be fought for the next tournament victory in the Czech Republic.

For all tournament paintball fans, Tobi has edited a highlight video of the final for you on his YouTube channel. Just scan the QR code on the right.

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