NXL Classic Paintball
The Competitive Paintball Season Kicks off In Florida at the '23 ICPL Sunshine Classic!
Article written in partnership with Iconic Paintball, Quinn Nadu
Over the last three years, the first ICPL event of the season has become synonymous with the kick-off of the competitive paintball season. Drawing the games top professional and amateur players from all over the world, and some of the sport's greatest legends, the world's premier 10v10 league has become a cross-generational proving ground on who the best to ever step on the field is. With an expanded season starting this year, featuring a list of additional affiliate events, the ICPL is on pace to be bigger than ever. Hosting events across the United States, the ICPL is rapidly becoming the most accessible paintball league in the country.
Florida has been a critical component to the International Classic Paintball League since its inception and has rapidly become one of the USA’s top paintball destinations across all formats of the competitive game. On February 3rd, Tiki’s Paintball Park located just outside of Tampa plays host for the first event and garners some of the sport's most diverse and aggressive playing fields, truly testing the versatility and skill of paintball players.
The ICPL sets another record for growth in 2023
With new professional teams joining the league franchise roster for 2023, this season will be the biggest yet in a modern day renaissance of one of the sport's oldest competitive styles. 24 professional teams and 32 amateur teams marks the biggest divisions in the ICPL’s history for a season opener, and continues the upward trend of the format's growth. The event will be played in a 10 versus 10 classic format; contrary to all other leagues, players utilize mechanical-only paintball guns, play multiple styles of terrain, and face off head to head in a fight to win it all.
The division has been largely dominated by major pro franchises like Los Angeles Infamous, KAPP Factory, and Chicago Aftershock, but with many programs adding more NXL pros into their rotation, 2023 looks to be the most exciting season yet. Across the last three years of the ICPL, there has never been this much talent in the pro division, and it should make the opening event in the battle for the season title all the more difficult to obtain.
The fast and Aggressive field layouts at Tiki’s Paintball
Tiki’s Paintball, the host field for the first ICPL event has a diverse offering of field layout types; the four being featured for the first event are their mounds field, hyperball field, town field, and hybrid field. Each field type brings its own challenges for players to overcome, but the recurring theme across Tiki’s Paintball is simple; aggression on the field reigns supreme.
The Mounds field at Tiki’s has a unique terrain style; rather than the overgrown and lush mounds in the Northeast, these mounds built from the sandy Florida soil are unforgiving when gunfighting. Hard edges and tight spaces makes this field play incredibly fast and aggressive. The largest layout at the event rewards huge moves off the break, but a dug-in back-line can make games difficult to close. The center 50 is a veritable fortress and typically becomes the highest priority spot on the field because of its ability to cut off wide lanes down the side of the field. Look for teams to heavily utilize the center and build strong back lines on the mounds field.
The hyperball field is a low and fast layout with a very aggressive snake side and center that typically become the elimination highways for teams. The tighter layout promotes lots of trade outs and faster paced points in comparison to some of the other hyperball fields on the ICPL circuit, but its unique setup promotes surprising results and big moves. Look for players to utilize the towering center structure in an attempt to slow down opposing attacks, and flood bodies down the snake side in a war of attrition to the last man standing.
This tightly packed maze of tall towers and blocky crates creates a slugfest style of play with constant trade outs, big run throughs, and bonus balling. Players and fans can expect this field to provide the fastest games of the day on the bump-and-go style field. Although the backline provides a solid defensive position, the ease for front players to move among the tall towers will make this a primarily offensive field.
One of the most unique field layouts of the ICPL season, the Town field at Tiki’s is a narrow and long field with tall buildings, a center thick with bunkers, and a classic ladder style snake on each side of the field. A truly balanced layout, the Town tests players gunfighting and patience and often rewards high IQ play and strong poise. Head-to-head gunfighting is the key element of the Town layout, and the pace will slow down on this field. The center 50 structure will see lots of early moves, but ultimately those who are patient down the tape sides of the field will reign victorious.
The Professional Division brings new faces and old legends
The top teams to watch:
When it comes to the classic paintball division, Los Angeles Infamous may very well be the kings of the format. Over the last two seasons, Infamous has gone on a historic run, placing in the top three in five events and winning 3 events, including every event of the 2021 season. A roster built from the best players from Infamous’ near two decades of existence, the team continues to be a powerhouse of the division behind their Infamous brand. With top current pros Harrison Frye, LJ Parrish, and Ryan Hall, and legendary players like Chris Lasoya and Travis Lemanski, they have a great mix of athleticism and paintball IQ that will compliment the more aggressive style of layouts at Tiki’s paintball. Harrison Frye is the player to watch for Infamous at this event, fans should get a steady dose of highly aggressive moves from Harrison and game-breaking run throughs.
Complete dominance; that is the only way to describe what KAPP Factory was able to do in the pro ICPL division during the 2022 season. After losing in the finals of the opening event in 2022, they went on to win the next three straight events of 2022 to win the ICPL Pro season championship by more than 200 points total. Built around some of the greatest players to ever come out of Southern California, this team is led on the field by the aggressive and highly experienced Roy Richard, and one of the best gunfighters in paintball history, Dave Bains. With one of the most dynamic rosters of current and former pro players in the division, KAPP is going to be incredibly tough for any team to face in Florida. They are a strout favorite to become the ICPLs first ever back-to-back season champion behind their best-in-class paintball IQ and poised attack.
AC Empire boasts a roster full of current NXL pros from the NXL’s biggest offseason team, AC Diesel. Led by Mark Johnson, AC is perhaps the most intriguing team in the classic paintball circuit. With an on field style much more akin to the modern xball format, Empire tends to dominate on the smaller and faster layouts, a perfect fit for the fields at Tiki’s paintball. Nico Hyde is the most interesting player to watch at event one; his roots as a pro started on the woodsball and big game, rec-style fields, so his experience on classic style fields should be a valuable tool for AC in the season opener. He is also making a return to the NXL pro division after a year long hiatus, and this event will give us a glimpse of his play as he makes his pro return. The bottom line is that their athletic and aggressive variety of front players should do well alongside Nico and Mark in this event and likely be a finals team.
Dark horse team that could surprise: Maple Leaf Chiefs
The Maple Leaf Chiefs are the league's newest professional franchise for the start of the 2023 season, and bring a dynamic group of players together to create a versatile roster of modern-style focused paintball players. Built around the core of the KC Missouri All Stars NXL team, the Chiefs should be a potent offensive team with their youth and athleticism. If they are able to remain poised against the more veteran teams in the circuit, they may very well make waves in their pro debut event. Todd Boyer, a fan favorite in the NXL, is the player to watch for KC; his gunfighting skills can go toe to toe with many in the division, and his high level of athleticism will make him a constant threat at the season opener.
Top Amateur Team to Watch: Killers
The Killers are perhaps going to be the most exciting team in the amateur division this year. They are loaded with talent from the NXL semi-pro division and their roster is balanced across all depths of the field. The core of players on Killers have been together for years, bringing a level of synergy and refined communication that is critical to success in the classic format. Offensive prowess is again the focus behind this team at event one, something they are known for well in the NXL; in the amateur division they are unmatched in that regard. With the expansion of the league season in 2023, it will be even harder to win a pro spot, but a team like the Killers is fully equipped to do so and is one of the favorites for the 2023 ICPL season.
A New Season brings new excitement in the Major League of Paintball
This weekend, the best classic paintball teams, both pro and amateur, will face off in Florida to kick off the 2023 Major League of Paintball competitive season on the first stop of the ICPL tour. With the most aggressive layouts of the season, it is sure to be a weekend long slugfest with some of the games biggest stars and most legendary players. Fans can watch in person February 3rd - February 5th, or catch the live stream on GoSports.com Saturday & Sunday. Check back for all the updates on the @ICPLPaintball social media pages.
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