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'23 NXL Mid-Atlantic Major Recap

Photo by Chris Hummert, Iconic Paintball

Written in partnership with Iconic Paintball, Quinn Nadu

The National Xball League paintball season just crossed the halfway point of the year at the Mid-Atlantic Major in Royersford, PA (Just outside of Philadelphia) and it was a spectacular event. With every competitive level from Professional down to Division 5 (and Youth) all in a tightly contested race for their respective season titles, the incredible venue just outside of Philadelphia provided a more resolute picture on how the rest of the year may pan out.

In the professional division, there were fresh faces in the finals after San Diego Dynasty got eliminated in the semi-finals round by X-Factor who would face off against Damage. Jacob Edwards was the hero for the day after an intense match resulted in the second victory over the last 12 months for Tampa Bay Damage.

On the divisional fields, more than 200 teams competed across a dozen ranked classes of play with season championships hotly contested across the board. Paintball Fit secured their third straight event win over Blast Camp and took the lead in the race to win the coveted pro spot given to the semi-pro season champion.

ROYERSFORD is Quickly Becoming the Premier Venue in the Major League of Paintball

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

The venue for the NXL’s midway event of the season has truly become one of the premier paintball venues in the World. After Major League Paintball took over long-term management of the grounds in 2021, it has flourished with arguably the best natural grass playing surface in the sport. The event layout immediately immersed fans and players into a paintball paradise with the sports biggest companies, best players, and biggest moments of the year so far.

The vendors row at the event featured a who's-who list of the sports biggest names and hottest products; there were even some rumors of new products being tested and new releases, but we will get to that later.

Pro Division Prelims

Photo by Chris Hummert, Iconic Paintball

The professional division entered a critical moment for many of the season-title hopefuls in the sports premier division; who would be able to take down San Diego Dynasty and inch closer towards stealing away the season title as the best team in paintball? After two grinding days of play, the picture began to get a bit more clear as 20 teams competed to win one of 10 coveted spots in the Sunday playoffs for the event.

In Bracket A, San Diego Dynasty was in full control, as the only team with more than two wins. They posted a perfect 4-0 record with six-point margin wins over the Bears, LVL, and NRG, and a narrow 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay Damage. Damage was the only other team to make it out of the bracket after posting a 2-2 record and making the cut over LVL who they beat head-to-head. The Bears and NRG Elite both only posted one win and did not make the cut.

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

It was all the New Orleans Hurricanes with a somewhat surprising result in Bracket B. While the Hurricanes were expected to move on to Sunday once again, Houston Heat barely squeezed into Sunday after posting their worst prelims record in nearly two years at 2-2. A day one loss to the MLKings followed by a 3-4 loss to the Hurricanes on Saturday put Heat on the bubble. The MLKings needed to just post a 2-2 record with a better win margin to move on past Heat. However, a 5-2 loss to the Hurricanes and a narrow victory over the Ironmen wasn’t enough to push their margin past Houston. In an incredibly surprising moment, rookie team Austin Notorious were able to steal away the wildcard spot from the MLKings with a 2-2 record because of their head-to-head win over the MLKings on Friday. After a roster shakeup prior to the event, the Ironmen went 0-4 and didn’t look competitive throughout the weekend.

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

Bracket C was highly contested throughout the first two days of prelims, with ac Diesel finally turning in a good performance and posting a 3-1 record. It seems bringing in Mike Hinman as the new coach for the team made a major impact for Diesel and they looked much more cohesive and dominant in their wins. Their only loss came to Red Legion, who had nothing to lose, sitting at 0-3 and playing ultra high-risk in their final game. San Antonio X-Factor secured the other playoff spot for the bracket, with a 3-1 record with their only loss coming to Diesel. Los Angeles Infamous fell apart on Saturday after they sat in first place after day one and missed the wildcard cut. Uprising and Red Legion both went 1-3 and are beginning to be at risk of relegation after another poor showing.

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

In the final prelim bracket, New York Xtreme continued their incredible season with yet another 4-0 prelim record punctuated by a dominant 6-2 win over Edmonton Impact on Saturday. This team is so incredibly poised and disciplined this season and they are becoming a serious threat in the pro division. Impact took the other playoff spot with a 3-1 record, and Revo squeezed in on the wildcard behind two high margin wins on Saturday. Aftermath went 1-3 and the Saints once again posted an 0-4 record as they continued their path to relegation from the pro division. Another 20th place finish puts them at a very high likelihood of that scenario.

Sunday on the Pro Field

The Sunday Playoffs in the NXL Pro Division continue to shuffle with the division being more competitive than ever. After years of the league being dominated by a handful of professional teams, parity is more alive than ever with new franchises appearing on Sunday every event of the year thus far.

The opening Wild Card round saw rookie team Austin Notorious make their first Sunday appearance against Houston Heat. Unfortunately they quickly were brought back down to Earth and shown just how hard it is to beat the top teams in the division. Heat was in control throughout the match and notched a 6-2 victory over the rookie squad to move on to the quarter finals. The other side of the Wild Card was a dominant, uncontested 6-0 win for Tampa Bay Damage over Revo; Keith Brown and Raney Stanczak were an unstoppable pair.

The quarter-finals round immediately kicked off two tense matches between New York Xtreme and San Antonio X-Factor with San Diego Dynasty vs. Edmonton Impact on the other half of the card. Xtreme was able to take an early lead against X-Factor and take control behind Will Hennessy in the snake. However, Billy Bernacchia was a revelation for San Antonio as they mounted their comeback. Billy was taking the snake off the break at will and ruthlessly eliminating Xtreme players off the field and eventually they were able to tie the match 3-3. NYX took a very defensive stance in the overtime point and lacked any cohesive snake presence as X-Factor chipped away to win the match 4-3 and move on to the semi-finals.

Photo by Chris Hummert, Iconic Paintball

Dynasty vs. Impact was arguably the best match of the weekend; after quickly going down in the match 4-1, Dynasty was facing their first major adversity in over a year on the pro stage. In just four minutes, San Diego was able to mount an epic comeback behind absolutely stellar play by Archie Montemayor in the snake. In the overtime point, Dynasty made the high risk decision to go with an empty home breakout with five players running and gunning wide. They trapped Impact in the pocket and Chris Schehr penetrated deep down the dorito side to snag a three-pack to close the point and move Dynasty on to the semi-finals.

Tampa Bay Damage quickly took control of their quarter finals bout against the surging Hurricanes and played that trademark style of Damage paintball. They controlled zones tightly and waited for the Hurricanes to move and take advantage. They were in control from the start and won the match to move on to the semi-finals 3-1.

The other side of the split-deck match saw Heat face off against a refreshed ac Diesel team playing their best event of the year so far. Diesel had been able to find success throughout the weekend after a rough start to the season, however Houston Heat was able to contain Alex Goldman and the rest of Diesel in a high scoring match. Tyler Harmon played a critical role linking the field together from the back-line with contributions coming from the entire depth of the roster. Heat stayed in control and moved on 6-3 to take the last spot in the semi-finals to face off against Damage, while Dynasty would draw X-Factor.

The Semi-Finals

Photo by Chris Hummert, Iconic Paintball

No one would have guessed that when the final horn sounded on the semi-finals round that San Diego Dynasty would not be returning to the finals for their fourth straight event. Both matches of the semi-finals would be decided by a single point, and were back and forth battles of the true elite in the NXL pro division.

X-Factor came into this match having seen many of their recent Sunday exits at the hands of Dynasty; today would be different. Billy Bernacchia continued his stellar weekend in the snake and from the first point was immediately a problem for San Diego, quickly pushing the score to 1-0 Xfactor. After Marcello Margott scored an elimination off the break in point two, Mike Urena made a deep push down the snake to quickly end the point and tie the score at 1-1.

Photo by Chris Hummert, Iconic Paintball

X-Factor found themselves with an issue to solve; Mike Urena once again bullied his way down the snake and eliminated three players to push Dynasty ahead another point and San Antonio would find themselves down 2-1 with 11 minutes left. Billy Bernacchia would be the answer to stop the surging Mike Urena; over the next two points Bernacchia would claw San Antonio forward with brilliant play in the snake, notching critical kills in both points to push X-Factor ahead 3-2. Urena answered back the next point down the snake to tie the match at 3-3 and fans were getting a true back and forth slugfest in the snake. Neither team found an edge in the next point and the game would go to a sudden death overtime point.

When the overtime horn sounded, Dynasty took control as the aggressor behind yet another snake side punch by Mike Urena. After losing Bernacchia and Colt Roberts on the snake side, it didn't look good for X-Factor, but Meter Ninios was able to sneak in a shot on Urena and counter punch into the snake. A run through on the dorito side to eliminate Chris Schehr would cement the point for San Antonio and send Dynasty home for the first time in four events.

Dynasty had changed their lineup style dramatically this event and moved back to the two-line rotation they attempted last season, it certainly caused a bit of disconnect and it seemed X-Factor leaning into their best five played a big part in keeping Dynasty at bay.

Photo by Chris Hummert, Iconic Paintball

The other side of the semi-finals match was just as exciting with Houston Heat taking on Tampa Bay Damage. The first point started off as a bit of a defensive battle, but after a few quick trade outs in the snake, Keith Brown was left in a one versus two against Konstantin Fedorov and Mishka Kniazev. Keith caught Fedorov with a ball as he tried to launch down the dorito side; Brown tried a quick head check over the top of the 50 snake and caught a single ball from Mishka to lose the one on one and give Heat the early 1-0 lead.

Houston went on the offensive the second point and pushed Ryan Moorhead and Fedorov down the field; Damage however dug into their spots and did their best to weather the storm of offense. Keith Brown once again found a seam on the inside of the snake and made a brilliant move to eliminate Tyler Harmon, Ryan Moorhead, and Fedorov to end the point and tie it 1-1.

Damage would see their dorito side immediately get blown out to start the third point and it put Keith Brown and Raney Stanczak in a tough position to try and salvage the point for Tampa Bay. With Ryan Moorhead pressuring from the 50 snake for Heat, Raney made an incredible shot which opened the inside lane for Keith Brown to close out the point and take the lead 2-1.

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

With their backs against the wall and tournament lives at stake, Heat attempted to punch into the stout defensive back line of Damage with just three minutes left. Tampa picked off each Heat push until Houston was forced to concede with 40 seconds left in the match and make the score 3-1 Damage. Heat would make a desperate push in an attempt to stay alive in the tournament, but Damage dug in and moved on to the finals 3-2 to face San Antonio X-Factor.

The PRO Finals

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

San Antonio X-Factor (Left) | Tampa Bay Damage (Right)

The NXL Pro Finals would see X-Factor making their first trip to the finals since last season, and Tampa Bay in their second finals matchup of the season. The best word to describe this match would be grind; both teams are some of the best in the world from a defensive posture and tight zone control resulting in a nuanced back and forth battle that would be defined by a single moment.

The first point saw Damage take a big risk sending Keith Brown to the snake two off the break where he chipped away at the X-Factor backline to push Damage ahead after just one minute had expired from the clock. Damage again came out the second point with a brutal amount of pressure being applied from their back line and scored again in just 40 seconds to go ahead 2-0 with X-Factor having no answer early on.

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

X-Factor would set up a heavy snake push for point three with Meter Ninios pulling off a huge move, delaying at the home and going right into the snake. Bernacchia would follow up right behind Ninios with Colt Roberts trapping Raney Stanczak in the pocket allowing Bernacchia to close out the point and pull San Antonio back within one point.

Photo by Chris Hummert, Iconic Paintball

No one could have guessed that these two teams would kick off the finals with four points played in less than six minutes of play, but stellar breakshooting from both teams forced quick counterpunches for both sides and the score was tied at 2-2 after another fast point.

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

As he had done so many times this event for San Antonio, Bernacchia checked in once again and shot three more players for X-Factor in the next point to push X-Factor just six minutes away from their first event win since 2019. X-Factor would go on to dig in and grind off almost the entire six minutes in the longest point of the finals, but Jason Edwards was able to fill the snake late in the point and close out for Damage to send the game to overtime.

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

Both teams would take a defensive posture off the break, but after eliminating Chad Busiere on the dorito side, Billy Bernacchia began to put on the pressure in the snake. Colt Roberts opened up the field by running through the snake and eliminating Keith Brown and it started to look bleak for Damage. However Jacob and Jason Edwards would dig in on a crossed up defense to eliminate Bernacchia. Both teams would push the time limit and the Pro Finals would go to one on one sudden death.

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

X-Factor had many solid options on who to send out and chose Tom Guest; It wasn’t even a question who Damage would send out as Jacob Edwards walked out to the box. Both players came out looking for gun dominance but the aggressive approach of Jacob Edwards turned out to be the catalyst that would push Damage to win the event after clipping Tom Guest over the top of the snake side temple.

Photo by Chris Hummert, Iconic Paintball

Edwards would go on to win the event MVP after one of the best single performances of the season for Tampa Bay Damage.

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

Photo by Christopher Shenton | NXL Media, PbScout Photography

Photos by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

Divisional Teams Pull Ahead in Season Title Race

Semi-Pro Dominance from PBFit

The semi-pro division continues to be one of the largest in the NXL during the 2023 season. With 25 teams in attendance at the Mid-Atlantic Major, and 6 teams in serious contention for the season title race, the premier field provided exciting paintball throughout the weekend. The entire event was even streamed live, for free, by NXL Live on

Through the prelims, PBFit, Blast Camp, Noobies, and Killers emerged as the most dangerous teams of the event. With Blast Camp and PBFit taking the top two seeds, there was once again the scenario in play of a third consecutive finals matchup between the two high powered programs. However, they would both need to face off against the other top two teams of the division, the Noobies and the Killers to force that match once again.

PBFit would draw the Noobies in their semi-finals match, and while it started out closely contested, PBFit was able to dig in a start to chip away at the Noobies offense behind truly incredible communication and poise from the PBFit starting five. They continuously stopped an aggressive push from Carl Markowski, Weston Kurtz, and Damian Vazquez of Noobies and would win the match 6-3 in one of the higher scoring matches of the weekend.

The other side of the semi-finals on the premier field would be less competitive; throughout the weekend the Killers were playing an aggressive, counterpunch game but they had no answers for Blast Camp and the Midwest powerhouse program was able to notch a mercy rule win to move on to the finals against PBFit for the third straight event.

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

Paintball Fit would roll out behind the stoic gun of their captain Colt Luckau and leaned into their best five to open the finals. Fit would play a pocketed style, only really risking only Jonathan Chavez to the dorito side and leaned heavily into their best-in-division gun fighting to pressure zones across the field. Blast Camp would easily win the second point, and after a major penalty in point three, PBFit was left in a one versus two; Jonathan Chavez answered with incredible poise and wore down both players head to head to put Paintball Fit up, 2-1.

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

Again, after another quick, back and forth set of points, the score was 3-3 with just one minute left on the clock. Colt Luckau made an incredible effort slashing through the middle of the field with just seconds left, but three eliminations wasn’t enough to score the point and fans would once again get an overtime finals match in the semi-pro division. Paintball Fit wouldn’t even let it be a contest and their backline cut down Blast Camp one at a time as they cruised into their third straight semi-pro event win of the season.

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

Division Two Cinderella Run

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

Just two teams emerged from the Division 2 prelims with a perfect 4-0 record, New York Wrecking Crew and Malicious. However, after a surprising 2-1 loss in the first round of the Sunday playoffs, Wrecking Crew would be sent home by the AG Knights. The Knights had a rough start to the event after losing their first two matches of the prelims, but got better as the event went on and would find themselves matched up in the finals against Malicious.

Malicious was on fire all event, going a perfect 6-0 through the prelims and Sunday playoffs, but the AG Knights would give them their first tough match of the event. After the Knights quickly pulled ahead, Malicious just couldn’t find a way to break the attack and the Knights would win the finals 3-1. Evan Eames helped to support the AG Knights' vicious snake attack from the first point and played a critical role anchoring the Knights throughout the finals.

Division Three Season Title Race Shuffle

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

The Division 3 finals was a face off between DBS Factory out of Washington State, and Underground hailing from Greensboro, North Carolina. Underground found themselves down bodies to start the point, but WNXL Pro Jenn Fulk made an aggressive push down the dorito side for Underground to score three key eliminations; Brenden Reid shut down the attack from the snake side to help DBS take the 1-0 lead. Underground would chip away at DBS over the next 4 minutes to tie the score back at 1-1, but DBS would dig in and score two quick points staving off the desperate attack by Underground to win the match 3-1 and take the D3 crown.

Division Four Sees Another New Event Winner

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

Division 4 brought a matchup of the Baltimore Braves taking on the Immortal Kings, a back and forth battle that would be decided by a single point. The Braves opened the match quickly eliminating three players from the Kings and dug in to go up 1-0. The Kings would lean into a heavy snake attack led by Shandy Tam to tie the score at 1-1. A drawn out third point would put the Braves ahead 2-1, and they were able to play a controlled game and suppress the Kings somewhat muted attack to win the D4 finals 3-2.

Rewatch all of the Pro matches PLUS Divisional Finals only on GOSPORTS 👇

Rumors from Vendors Row

Photo by Chris Hummert, Iconic Paintball

The Vendors Row at the event stretched nearly the entire length of the venue and featured dozens of NXL Platinum/Silver sponsors along with a ton of other industry vendors encompassing all the biggest companies in paintball. One of the best parts about any NXL event is the ability for fans and players to interact with the sports best pro players, the newest products, and even catch a glimpse of secret products being tested.

Dye Precision unveiled the first major change to the Dye UL barrel system since its inception more than 20 years ago; an insert driven UL-I barrel back that offers a quick change system to precisely bore paint to their barrel for optimal accuracy. The product marks a major shift for Dye and the way they build their barrels and could signal more innovation coming from Dye in the future.

Also being talked about around the vendors area was the announcement of the Planet Eclipse CS3 mechanical frame. After debuting the CS3 late last year, the long-awaited mechanical conversion frame for the marker is on the way. It will bring more features in the newest generation release with built in game clocks, more adjustable trigger, and a bluetooth loader connection.

Hormesis Paintball was the busiest booth of the weekend, and for good reason. Each event they have been creating an immersive experience for fans and players and offering never before seen, limited products at the events. However, one of the most unique parts of their booth was hidden behind it through a narrow entrance to their “Oasis” area, a bit of a nod to the “WDP Heaven” of the old days. Alex Fraige was on site chatting about an ambitious, secret video project from Hormesis that will be one of the biggest productions in paintball history.

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

NEXT UP: NXL Windy City Major, the final test of the year before the World Cup

With just two events left in the Major League of Paintball NXL season, the picture of the season title race is becoming more clear. However, each division is highly contested with multiple teams in position to capture the season championship. The longest break from the NXL circuit is now in effect and the season will resume at the Windy City Major in September in Chicago, Illinois. Tune into to relive all the action from the Mid-Atlantic Major and follow @NXLPaintball on social media to stay up to date on all the mid-season news leading into the back stretch of the year.

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