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With Tobi at the NXL – Viva Las Vegas!
Tuesday June 2, 2020


In this issue, too, Tobias Martens from the Paintball Channel, AKA Kress, was on the road again as a freelance reporter and brought us a fat event report from the opening tournament of the NXL in Las Vegas. In addition to lots of cool pictures, there was also considerable tournament sport to admire again. But now read for yourself what Tobi experienced on site…

I was on my way to the opening event of the American NXL, somewhere near Barstow, when the first fields opened for training. I've wanted to film the Las Vegas Open for years. This year the time had finally come. I stopped and checked my camera gear. I had my GoPro 4 Black with an external microphone for vlogs, my Sony AX53 for the highlight videos and interviews, a Sony RX10 that can film 1000 frames per second for super slow motion, a DJI Mavic Mini drone and my little DJI Pocket gimbal camera So I was well prepared in any case.

The venue for the NXL Las Vegas Open was in the north, about 9 miles from the Las Vegas Strip and all its colorful and noisy casinos, in the middle of a beautiful park. The entire event area includes 6 division fields, a 10-man field and the pro field with its two grandstands and the covered VIP area. The trade show was well stocked with 20 exhibitors, two food stalls and various drink stands. A total of 261 teams want to shoot balls around their ears in the next few days, which means a lot of paint is needed. With ProSHAR, GI Sportz and HK Army, three of the absolute top manufacturers were available for the trained paint gourmet. All manufacturers offered their various varieties for sale in refrigerated trucks, and people lined up at the counter. But let's get to the exciting and important points of this event. There are 20 teams in the Pro Division, all aiming for the top. A lot has happened over the off-season, with numerous players changing teams. I took Nick Slowiak aside and asked him about it. In the 2019 season he still played for X-Factor, had several podiums with them and also won the NXL overall ranking with the team. He told me that he was a little surprised when he was dropped from the team at the end of last season and was then enjoying a relaxing off-season with his family when suddenly a call came from California and Todd Martinez asked him if he was in wants to play for LA Ironmen this year. Since three players have left the team and a total of four new colleagues are in the squad, they first tried to build up a real team spirit. And it seems to me that they did it very well, losing only one game in total this weekend. And I can also tell you that their balance sheet on Sunday was only positive. But more on that later.

The NXL doesn't just mean pro paintball but also paintball for everyone. There is something for everyone in 15 divisions, whether X-Ball, 10-man, 5-man or 3-man formats, even pump players and mechanical classic divisions are represented. And you too can gain experience here, except for the Pro Division, all classes are open, and you can simply play with your team at an NXL event in the USA. Or you play in one of the numerous US teams as a "mercenary" and come to the States alone, like Joana did, for example. She put out feelers via the internet in advance and found a team she could work with. For example, a team that always welcomes paintball enthusiasts is Team Destiny, if you can handle playing on a mixed team. Destiny has teams in many divisions and can therefore assign you to your player level. And no matter what happens in the end, you will carry this experience with you for the rest of your life, and I believe it is worth every euro. But now let's jump back to the Grand Finals of this first NXL event in the USA. Ironmen fought their way through the group stage with flying colours, beating X-Factor 8-6 and Baltimore Revo 7-4 on Sunday. – Against Revo they had previously suffered their only defeat up to that point on Saturday with 5 to 8. And so they suddenly found themselves in the final, against none other than the top Russian team “Red Legion” from Moscow. A team that is one of the best both defensively and offensively. Of course Ironmen had 99.8 percent of the viewers on their side, after all the USA plays Russia on US soil. The Ironmen managed to take a 3-0 lead in the first four minutes, but that doesn't mean anything in the final, especially against the Russians, who are known to take a point in nine seconds and are known to do so they play even better with their backs against the wall. With just 2:21 remaining, the Los Angeles team was 7-3 – so far so good, a 4-point lead looks pretty good in the final. But is it enough against Red Legion? These last few minutes were pure fireworks of emotions for everyone present, a rollercoaster ride that no one will soon forget. In the end, the final should be 7 to 5 and Ironmen finally win a pro event again after more than 11 years – quite a long dry spell from the PSP Atlantic Open in April 2009 to the NXL Las Vegas Open 2020. I'm sure, we'll be seeing more of LA Ironmen this year.

Conclusion: What a great event, what a great experience for me!? I can only recommend everyone to plan their vacation around the NXL Las Vegas event or the NXL World Cup in Florida. It doesn't matter whether you just want to watch or play yourself. There is nothing comparable anywhere else in the world. If you want to see more about the event, you can find tons of videos and vlogs from the event on my YouTube channel. I would be happy if you stop by.

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