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Friday August 18, 2023


T he Father's Day weekend was again all about paintball this year. The third edition of the United Big Game took place in the East German town of Mahlwinkel and once again all expectations in terms of the number of players and the size of the event were exceeded. However, this size also brought with it one or the other logistical problem. We were there all week at the event and would like to take this opportunity to tell you first-hand how the UBG 2023 went from our point of view, which was really good, but also critically question what we might still be able to do next time have to do better. Enjoy our event report from the United Big Game 2023.

After about a week of preparation, we headed east on Monday morning, May 8th, bag and baggage. The anticipation of the United Big Game in Mahlwinkel was once again huge. The whole team was fully motivated and had been looking forward to this major event for weeks. On site, construction began straight away. The entire crew worked for a total of two and a half days on setting up our large UBG store on the event site's marketplace. Assembling trusses, hanging up banners, bringing goods to the walls, installing lighting, etc. It's a new challenge every year, but in the end you stand once more in front of the finished stand and are satisfied and also a little proud of the result.

But now to the event itself. The United Big Game was launched three years ago as the successor to the Euro Big Game under new management. After starting the first event three years ago with only 250 participants, the following year there were already well over 700 players on site. This time, in the third year of the event, the magic limit of 1000 players was finally broken. So we're talking about growth of around 40% compared to last year's event.

Yes, there are currently larger events in Europe, such as the ESG or SBG at the Battleground, but these are ultimately limited to around 1200-1300 players due to the capacity of the facility (campsite, etc.). Anyone who now spins the thought further with the development of the number of players at the UBG will quickly realize that the UBG will in all likelihood develop into the largest European event in the next one to two years and thus displace the previous top dog in the long term. A look at the Dark Emergency Airsoft Event, which always takes place a week before the United Big Game on the same field in Mahlwinkel, clearly shows us the potential of the location. In the previous week, no less than 3,500 airsoft players had arrived and fought an epic battle for terrain gains, flags and points on the approximately 500,000 square meter playing field.

But all of this is still purely theoretical, because the UBG crew has to do their homework first. While at the first event with 250 participants you were at times quite bored and didn't really know what to do, last year you had a lot to do with 700+ participants. Nevertheless, the event was the perfect size for the capacities of the organizers and so 2022 was a really groundbreaking good event. (we reported on this in issue 03/2022 last year). In 2022 everything was just right. The storyline was fresh and original, the ProShar Paint offered on site went really well, the sanitary facilities were in top condition and the supporting program, such as the varied stage show and the extensive catering offer, also ensured an excellent atmosphere. In our opinion, this extreme success last year was one of the cornerstones for the excellent development in player numbers this year, but unfortunately not everything went as planned in 2023… The UBG crew was by no means less prepared than last year. They had done their homework and prepared for the new event and the increased number of visitors in a structured way. Unfortunately, however, one obviously underestimated how big the leap from around 700 players to now over 1000 players really is or was in the end. What ran absolutely smoothly last year has now become problematic again and again with around 40% more participants. There was a power outage across the entire facility several times over the weekend. However, this was not necessarily the fault of the organizers. One or the other smart guy thought they could charge their e-car using the event infrastructure. The result was a massive blackout. However, other important areas were also affected by failures. The toilets and showers were closed several times during the two main event days, Friday and Saturday, and could not be used. The reason was blockages in the pipes or simply a lack of fresh water. We cannot say at this point who was to blame and where exactly the problem lay, but these basic requirements must simply run smoothly at an event with 1000+ players, otherwise you will have problems with the participants on site.

The paint was "OK" this year, but unfortunately not as outstanding as last time. ProShar Paint was again offered in two different varieties on site. Unfortunately, the otherwise much harder field paint was a bit too brittle for many of the blowback markers like the Tippmann and First Strike models. E-pneumatic players had significantly fewer problems. It should also be said here that nobody really wants to shoot stones. A paint that breaks well is always welcome, but it should also come out of all markers intact and only burst on the opponent. The catering offer was again very good. From doner kebab to varied daily specials in the catering tent and morning coffee, everything was on site. Unfortunately, there is a small "but" here too, because the selection, for which many players had really praised the event last year, was not quite as wide this year. In addition, the catering providers on site were probably not quite prepared for the number of participants of 1000+ players. The food was good, but many of the dishes from the large catering provider at the entrance to the market square were often sold out in the early afternoon. Unfortunately, a real breakfast or little things like sweets were completely missing this year. Very unfortunate from the point of view of many participants.

The supporting program on stage also had a noticeable number of gaps this year. Where last year someone was on stage at almost any time of the day or night, this year there was often yawning emptiness or at least one or the other very long break between the individual stage shows, announcements and arrangements. Nevertheless, several hundred players gathered night after night on the marketplace to celebrate together and to watch the various shows from the hot chilli contest to strip shows and the live heavy metal band on Saturday evening. Unfortunately, we can't really say much about the games on the field at this point, because we simply had too much to do ourselves. In addition to our large event stand, which was open daily from around nine in the morning until almost midnight, we also had a tech stand where we offered marker repairs, service and maintenance. Then there was the rental of around 20 Dye Rize CRZ equipment as part of our promotion and last but not least the 3-man supair tournament as a side event, which was held on Friday evening with 10 teams and created a great atmosphere among the spectators and the participating teams worried.

Nevertheless, we heard a lot of good things about the game, but also some negative things. The missions and storyline were once again well done and built on the story from the previous year. The UBG team had again put a lot of time into the preparation. However, the problem here was again the large number of participants. If in the end not everyone pulls in the same direction, then that causes problems. After a short period of play, one of the two teams usually had a fairly strong majority on the field, which unfortunately severely hampered the further flow of the day. Then there was the fact that the generals of the Red Legion faction (Team Red) did not manage to bundle and focus their forces properly. The Blue World Order (BWO, Team Blau) had a much better hand and was thus once again declared the deserved winner of the event. BWO General Ken told us during a break in the game, for example, "My snipers did a brutally effective job out there all day today." Seems like the man had a better grip on his troops than the other team. The Red Legion now has until the coming year to rethink their strategy, to gather new strength and perhaps recruit one or two capable players in order to hopefully finally be able to turn the tide in 2024. The bottom line is that the United Big Game 2023 was another mega event that set new standards in many ways. Even if our honest criticism may sound harsh in some places, it wasn't that bad in the end. The event was definitely not a flop, but unfortunately just not as damn good as last year's event. In 2022, the UBG organizers had set the bar so extremely high that everyone expected this year that they might even be able to go a step further. Unfortunately, due to the small problems here and there, this further progress did not materialize and felt like a step backwards in places.

Before we left, we had the opportunity to talk to Robert, Steffen and Mike from the organization. All three were visibly exhausted, but also very self-reflective and recognized and accepted the problems. This is the first big step for what we hope will be an even bigger and more successful United Big Game in the coming year. In any case, we would be very happy if it continued like this and we would be very happy to take part again next year. We look forward to seeing you at the next UBG in 2024.

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