Written by: Quinn Nadu
The highly anticipated first event of the ICPL kicks off in less than a week and more than 600 professional and amateur paintball players from all over the country are ready to converge on OXCC Paintball park in Maryland for a chance to be named the best team in classic paintball. The International Classic Paintball League Old Bay Classic focuses on re-creating a classic format of competition paintball dating back as far as the 1980s. This 10 vs. 10 format uses mechanical markers in a capture the flag style of game-play in a series of games, culminating in a round-robin finals match with the top 3 teams of the event. Offering both a professional and an amateur division, the league is accessible to all types of paintball players.
Tom Cole, the head of the NXL and the ICPL, has recaptured something special with his classic format league. Focusing on using sound strategy and teamwork over all else, the ICPL has become one of the most beloved leagues in recent history in the sport of paintball. Although Tom has been a crucial figurehead of this re-emergence, he was quick to credit those who were also important for the movement of classic paintball. “I love woodsball and 10 Man and I am super excited that others are enjoying the format I love so much. Many others have done a lot to grow classic paintball; Robert Anderson, Spencer Durden of Fight Club and most importantly, Tim Montressor and Russel from the ICC (Iron City Classic)”
The ICPL features athletes from some of the top professional NXL paintball teams from around the country, long-time veterans of the sport, and an array of former and current world champion paintball players. Last year, the ICPL hosted two major tournament events in Chicago and Florida that saw the powerhouse team of KAPP Factory take home the season title after a second place finish in Florida and a first place finish in the Chicago season finale. However, their claim to the throne of the ICPL is under threat, as super-teams such as Infamous and Darkside are rallying to take down the kings of classic paintball.
Top Professional Teams to Watch for:
KAPP Factory is once again one of the top teams to watch for in event one of the 2021 ICPL season. Their roster is loaded with some of the top current professional paintball players in the world, as well as retired, multi-time World Champions like Dave Bains, Glenn Forster, and Rodney Squires. KAPP Factory’s unique blend of these high IQ veterans, mixed with elite, current pro NXL athletes such as Chad George of Houston Heat and Tyler Harmon of team Dynasty, make KAPP Factory the odds on favorite to win the event. Tyler Harmon will be a versatile attacker for KAPP and added this, “Everyone should try playing as many different formats of paintball as possible. You learn something different from each variation of the game. I started playing paintball in the woods and it holds a very special place in my heart”
It is easy to look at the Infamous roster and identify, arguably, some of the best professional NXL athletes in the world; Archie Montemayor, Harrison Frye, and Ultimate Shootout 1v1 Champion Cody Mickowski, but this roster is so much more than that. It also includes some of the most legendary players to ever step onto a paintball field. Chris Lasoya, widely regarded as the best player ever, is the heart of the Los Angeles Infamous roster. As far back as the 1990s, Chris has brought his fiery and aggressive style to every team he has played on, and multiple world championships across three decades are all the proof he needs on why this team is dangerous. Don’t sleep on the rest of the roster either, made entirely of current NXL professional players, as well as long-time pro, and current head coach of Infamous, Travis Lemanski. In a typically slower paced ICPL format, Infamous brings an unmatched level of aggression on the field and are an instant favorite to win the event. Their relentless attack will be hard to stop by most of the teams in the pro division, and it will take some seriously high IQ strategy to overcome this top level team.
Darkside is a unique team, in that they combine amateur and professional players to create a roster that can wear down almost any team in the league with their slow, grinding style. Hailing from New England, they are comprised of the professional NXL core of Baltimore Revo; Henry Sentz, Frank Antetomaso, and the highly under-rated Stephen Omara. Their play style is very typical of Northeast paintball teams in that they are a grinding style of team. They have a high level of skill with their markers, and utilize an elite level of communication to grind a team down, one by one, until they come out victorious. If Darkside is able to play consistently throughout the weekend, it will be no surprise to see them in the top three on Sunday at OXCC on the finals field. The only question we need answered, is what will their amateur players bring to the table that will help this team win?
Amateur Teams to Watch out for
One of the most unique aspects of the ICPL paintball league is their wildly popular amateur division. While most sports keep amateur and professional leagues separate, the ICPL hosts divisions at both levels. These teams are anything but amateur though, featuring some of the most talented and fiercely competitive players from around the world. These players are all playing for the chance to win the division, and earn a spot in the 2022 ICPL Professional League as their prize.
With more than 30 amateur teams ready to play the event, there are more than a few that stand out on paper, but perhaps none more so than Image. This name will be immediately familiar to almost any paintball player in the world, and yes, it is that Image. Image has a roster for the event that is reminiscent of the team that won multiple World Championships in the late 1990s. Now returning after almost two decades away from the sport, Richie and Tommy Maliszewski are no strangers to the classic game. They redefined what modern paintball was to become in the 1990s and early 2000s, and are household names to nearly every competitive player that has stepped on the field in the last 20 years. Their return to the sport is a part of an exciting trend that the ICPL has made a reality; the return of paintball’s most legendary players. Tom Maliszewski said “I do get to see some of the legends come out and the woodsball format is perfect.” A sentiment that was echoed by many other players throughout the sport.
Another team that instantly jumps off the page in the amateur division is ThunderHorse. Featuring players from the United States and Canada, this hybrid line of pros and amateurs has come together to create one of the most talented rosters in the division. Led by Baltimore Revo pro Tom Guest, as well as some former players from old-school fan favorite Tippmann Effect, expect Thunderhorse to be in the finals on Sunday. Veteran leadership carries a premium in the amateur division, and this team has plenty of it to go the distance.
A Wild Weekend is ahead of us
As we approach the first event of the ICPL, fans can attend the event to see all the action as it happens, or they can catch the event recap videos that will be on GoSports soon after the event is over. In addition, daily coverage will be provided to give recaps after each of the three days of competition until a champion is crowned.
By the time the sun sets this Sunday in Chesapeake City, Maryland, new heroes will have been made, and plenty of great memories and stories will be written. Above all the competition and big name players, remains the fact that the ICPL has re-created a unique format that has made the game of paintball fun for all ages and types of players. Whether you are just starting your paintball journey, or reigniting an old passion, the ICPL offers a competitive league in which any player can be the hero for their team.