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Deep in the Heart of Texas, Dynasty Extends Historic Run


Photo courtesy of Michael Candelaria | MCPhotography19, NXL Media


Article written in partnership with Iconic Paintball, Quinn Nadu


The second major event of the 2023 Major League of Paintball season has concluded, and the NXL Lone Star Major marked a subtle shift in the tides in the Pro Division. The royalty of the NXL like Dynasty, Heat, and Damage still have a firm hold of their fates, but increasing pressure from the former vassals of the league’s elite are rebelling against the established order of the world’s elite paintball division. Young teams like the New Orleans Hurricanes and San Diego Aftermath are starting to take control behind their unique styles of play, and overlooked franchises like New York Xtreme are redefining their placement in the hierarchy of the NXL.


Ultimately it was San Diego Dynasty that once again raised the Lonestar Major crown at the end of a high octane weekend of play on the second stop of the Major League of Paintball NXL circuit. Major contributions from Ryan Greenspan, Chris Schehr, and Yosh Rau helped push Dynasty past Houston Heat in a tense overtime finals match and the blue wave continues to roll.



The Field and Vendors Area


In what played like the quintessential traditional paintball layout, the field at the Lonestar Major offered a highly varied and versatile style of play across the pro division. Leaning heavily in favor of the teams with high reactivity and communication, the balanced style of the field offered exciting play with highly effective varieties of plays being called all weekend long.


Offering truly balanced play, teams were able to fully utilize the snake, doritos, and the center of the field at all levels from the backline to the fifty and found creative ways to attack and react. The snakeside proved to be incredibly damaging early on in the event, but as teams tightened up their lanes, it was the dorito side that became the critical point of offense for many top teams.


The vendors row leading into the playing fields just outside of Austin, Texas featured the biggest companies in paintball all offering a wide variety of products and on-site product support for their sponsored players. Thousands of players and fans were on site throughout the weekend enjoying the diverse mix of products and sponsors brought together by the NXL.


Pro Prelims Brings a New Wave of Playoff Teams


Photo courtesy of Joseph Pacenka | @smiley.joe.photos


Twenty professional teams across four preliminary brackets clashed in the early morning on the first day of competition, with major Sunday playoff implications on the line. Posting a record of 2-0 would mean an easy road to Sunday, while dropping the first or second game meant a long path to making the cut. After winning the first event of the season with authority, San Diego Dynasty was the favorite to once again lead the prelims, however a first match loss to Los Angeles Infamous was just the first of many upsets and surprises in the world's most elite paintball division.


In Bracket A, arguably the hardest bracket of the event, Dynasty, Infamous, and Heat all faced off to secure the coveted top seed in the bracket. After a game one upset win over Dynasty utilizing a fast-paced offensive surge, Los Angeles Infamous went on to secure two more wins against Notorious and Uprising to take the top seed in the bracket. Houston narrowly won their head-to-head against Infamous in the final match of the bracket by a 2-1 margin, and gave a strong message that Houston was ready to break their event losing streak behind strong play from Tyler Harmon. Dynasty also posted a 3-1 record after winning all their Saturday matches and three of the top six seeds for Sunday ended up at 3-1.



Photo courtesy of Joseph Pacenka | @smiley.joe.photos


Although both Damage and Red Legion came out strong on day one, it was the New Orleans Hurricanes who continued their wild upward trajectory over the last six events, firmly placing themselves at the top of Bracket B at 3-1. Damage also made the cut, but not without dropping a match 5-1 against the Hurricanes on Saturday. Red Legion narrowly missed making Sunday with their 2-2 record and ac Diesel had yet another poor performance behind their all-star roster to the surprise of many fans. Most assumed the first event was an outlier for this talented squad, but teams don’t win on paper, they win on the field and Diesel needs to find a way to quickly turn around the season.



In Bracket C of the pro division, Aftermath was a massive upset surprise. Built around a team of rookie pro players, a new coach and owner, and a ton of heart, Aftermath cruised to a dominant 4-0 prelim record with massive wins over division powerhouse teams XFactor and Impact. The pro division is truly starting to become one of parity, with young and hungry teams displacing the royalty of the NXL so far in 2023. XFactor posted a 3-1 record and Edmonton Impact narrowly squeezed in as the wild card behind a 2-2 record with losses to XFactor and Aftermath. NRG Elite went 1-3 and the Latin Saints went 0-4 for the third straight event, firmly taking the role as the most likely team to be relegated at the end of the season.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Pacenka | @smiley.joe.photos


The final pro division bracket saw New York Xtreme once again emerge as the bracket’s best behind a 4-0 record. Since parting ways with longtime captain Haris Hussain, NYX has been on a tear, placing third at the season opener and once again taking hold of a top Sunday seed at event two. Their level of discipline has been incredible and strong coaching has helped lead this team to emerge as one of the best of 2023 thus far after narrowly avoiding relegation in 2022. The MLKings also secured their Sunday spot with their only loss coming to NYX. The Brooklyn Bears went a surprising 0-4 in the prelims after making Sunday their first event under their new team ownership and structure. LVL also once again struggled to find traction after being one of the best young franchises in the NXL over the last two seasons.


With the brackets set, the layout producing electric games, and the most diverse mix of Sunday teams to date, the Pro Division was looking to produce one of the most thrilling event playoffs of the young season.



Sunday on the Pro Field:




The Wild Card Round

Photo courtesy of Joseph Pacenka | @smiley.joe.photos


The wild card round opened up with Tampa Bay Damage taking on the Edmonton Impact and San Diego Dynasty going up against the MLKings. On a layout that was otherwise playing fairly quick, both games were slowed to a crawl, turning into a delicate and nuanced battle for control of the ever critical snake side of the field. Tampa Bay was able to take the first point against Impact, but Edmonton answered back to send the match to overtime at 1-1 with just seconds left in regulation. In the overtime point, it was Dalton Vanderbyl clocking in for Impact to push them past Tampa Bay and into the Quarter-Finals.


Dynasty’s game plan against the MLKings was simple and they executed it perfectly; they took the key backline spots, sent Chris Schehr into the doritos, and rolled their guns. A clinic in zone-control against the aggressive MLKings led to a 2-0 victory for Dynasty to move on. Yosh Rau continued to shine for Dynasty in the center of the field and was one of the best defensive players of the event. His ability to completely lock off the snake side and save games filling the snake and center was critical for Dynasty.



The Quarter-Finals

Photo courtesy of Joseph Pacenka | @smiley.joe.photos


San Diego would come into the quarter-finals to take on the New Orleans Hurricanes, one of the best teams of the prelims; they would easily handle the Canes and win the match 5-1 to move on to the semi-finals. The rest of the quarter-finals games would not be so simple.


In the matchup between Impact and Infamous, it was a back-and-forth exchange of points to start the match, but with their tournament lives on the line, Infamous took charge facing a one point deficit. Brilliant play in the snake from Zack Patient led to two straight points for Los Angeles to win the match 3-2 and move on.


Photo courtesy of Joseph Pacenka | @smiley.joe.photos


Houston Heat would face NYX and struggle a bit in the first point; when the season started we predicted Jerry Caro would have a big year for NYX and he certainly had a big first point against Heat, helping push Xtreme to an early 1-0 lead. Heat would tighten up and take control to tie the game up 1-1 with Ryan Moorhead slicing through the center. Moorhead would follow up with a three elimination move in the third point and it was enough for Heat to win the match 3-2.


In the last quarter-final match, the youngest team in the NXL, San Diego Aftermath, would clash with one of the league’s oldest teams in San Antonio XFactor. Aftermath made a valiant effort but it was the poise and experience of X-Factor that would help push them to a 3-2 victory over Aftermath. It is worth noting the incredible progress Aftermath made in this event; the division's youngest program has found a strong, cohesive group of players that show the future is bright for the SoCal based franchise.



Semi-Finals sees the NXL’s royalty face off


Photo courtesy of Joseph Pacenka | @smiley.joe.photos


Houston Heat, led by a surging and dominant Tyler Harmon took on Los Angeles Infamous in the Semi-Finals round. It looked like it would be a match of offensive heavy hitters clashing head to head in a race to the 50s each point. However, the game came to a halt as soon as the first horn sounded.


Both sides quickly met at the 50 snake and then locked off the field, neither willing to cede a mistake. However, Zack Patient was able to capitalize on the briefest of windows in the 50 snake battle and eliminate Chad George. A run through by Kali Rudolph took the first point down to a two versus two, but Tyler Harmon was able to close out the point after nearly 10 minutes had elapsed to take the 1-0 lead for Heat.


Houston took a strong defensive posture in the second point, simply looking to burn away the clock and earn a trip to the finals. Chad George was once again critical with his ability to make the snake off the break to keep pressure on Infamous from a defensive posture. They chipped away at Los Angeles and forced a concession to go up 2-0 with just a minute remaining. Infamous was able to score a point in just 40 seconds, but ultimately it wasn’t enough and Heat earned yet another trip to the finals.


Photo courtesy of Joseph Pacenka | @smiley.joe.photos


San Diego Dynasty entered the Semi-Finals against San Antonio X-Factor and quickly took the early body-count lead in the first point; Ryan Greenspan went to work in the snake with Chris Schehr once again providing a bulletproof defense from the dorito side on an island by himself to give Dynasty the early 1-0 lead.


In the second point, X-Factor was able to eliminate Archie Montemayor off the break and after a huge run by LJ Parrish to take the dorito 3, X-Factor was in good position to tie the game. However, as we have seen so many times, the Blue Wall defense of Dynasty activated and Marcello Margott held off the dorito attack from Parrish and TJ Danner to void their advantage and give Ryan Greenspan his opening to fill the snake. Greenspan caught Meter Ninios trying to go up the center and it resulted in an immediate point concession from XFactor Head Coach Ryan Brand.

Both teams lost two bodies off the break in the third point and Billy Bernacchia charged down the snake with support from TJ Danner to steal back a point and bring the score to 2-1 with just over two minutes left in regulation. Dynasty quickly answered back in the next point and Ryan Greenspan was able to shoot Billy Bernacchia off the break, but a penalty on Chris Schehr flipped the momentum and Colt Roberts took advantage for San Antonio and suddenly the score was 2-2.


Photo courtesy of Joseph Pacenka | @smiley.joe.photos


Dynasty would take a risk and Mike Urena took the snake off the break and charged down the field with just seconds left on the clock. After a few key eliminations he made a mad dash for the buzzer but arrived just a tenth of a second late and the game would go to overtime.


Dynasty would take the advantage in overtime, shooting Billy Bernacchia off the break; Mike Urena once again pushed into the 50 snake and two key eliminations from Marcello Margott was enough for Dynasty to win 3-2 and move on to face Houston Heat in the finals for the Lone Star Major crown.



Old rivals, historic implications; the NXL Pro Finals


Two of the most successful professional programs in NXL history, Houston Heat and San Diego Dynasty are no strangers to the finals field. In fact, the two programs have stood on the Finals field a staggering 19 times combined over the last 37 events. If you’re at a major paintball event, chances are that one of these teams will be among the last standing.


We haven’t seen both teams face off in the finals against each other since the 2022 Mid-Atlantic Major, an event in which Dynasty captured a mercy rule win against Heat. Despite recent history however, Heat would prove a much tougher test for Dynasty when the first horn sounded on the 2023 Lone Star Major Finals.


Photo courtesy of Joseph Pacenka | @smiley.joe.photos


The first point started with an even five on five break, once again Dynasty trusted Chris Schehr to play on an island in the dorito side of the field and mounted an aggressive attack down the snake. After a quick trade out between Chad George and Mike Urena in the snake, Ryan Greenspan would fill the snake and score eliminations against Tyler Harmon and Ronnie Dizon to let Blake Yarber close out the game to put Dynasty up 1-0.


Photo courtesy of Joseph Pacenka | @smiley.joe.photos


Houston Heat would answer back in less than 30 seconds after a penalty from Chris Schehr allowed Heat to rapidly close out the point to tie the match at 1-1. Tyler Harmon would be critical in the third point, helping to eliminate Mike Urena and Ryan Greenspan off the break. What looked to be a momentum swinging run-through by Blake Yarber resulted in a major penalty and would end the point to put Houston ahead 2-1 with Dynasty starting the next point down a body.


Once again however, Dynasty found a way; a penalty off the break for Chad George gave Dynasty a one body advantage. After a clutch elimination by Yosh Rau to shoot Ryan Moorhead surging down the dorito side, the game was tied again at 2-2.


Photo courtesy of Joseph Pacenka | @smiley.joe.photos


In the fifth point, another brutal major penalty early from Dynasty saw a concession from head coach Kevin Bredthauer, and once again Dynasty would go down. Dynasty scored a quick kill off the break in the next point however and two more rapid eliminations from Mike Urena and Ryan Greenspan put Houston on their heels to tie the match at 3-3.


With just under four minutes left, the intensity was palpable, both programs making every adjustment to gain an advantage. Even the smallest mistake may mean a tournament loss with so little time remaining. For San Diego, that adjustment was the activation of Alex Fraige in the snake to get Chad George off the field. After a trade out from Fraige, Tyler Harmon and Ryan Greenspan would meet up head to head once again in the snake. With two of the best players in the world facing off with the event on the line, a nuanced back and forth battle over the next two minutes resulted in regulation time winding down and the game would be sent to overtime.


Houston would open the overtime point by shooting Mike Urena off the break, but a brilliant call from coach Kevin Bredthauer to send Chris Schehr to the dorito 3 off the break would pay off and see Schehr eliminate Ryan Moorhead to even the body count. An elimination from Blake Yarber on Chad George and a cross-field elimination from Greenspan on Ronnie Dizon would help seal the point and give Dynasty the victory.



Photo courtesy of Christopher Shenton | PBScout Photography, NXL Media


Chris Schehr would earn the Finals MVP; Marcello Margott also was a major contributor although he was asked to play the sometimes overlooked role as the defensive anchor for Dynasty. Margott’s reactivity to corral the Houston offense played a major role in extending the Dynasty streak.


The win marks the second straight of the season for San Diego and extends their historic run to eight wins over the last 14 events, a run of victories that has never been seen in the history of the modern game.


Photo courtesy of Joseph Pacenka | @smiley.joe.photos


Photos courtesy of Michael Candelaria | MCPhotography19, NXL Media



View from the Divisional Fields

Photo courtesy of Joseph Pacenka | @smiley.joe.photos


Are we in the midst of the greatest Semi-Pro season ever?

Photo courtesy of Michael Candelaria | MCPhotography19, NXL Media


The Semi-Pro Division of the NXL often has some of the most exciting storylines of the year. Every team is focused on the singular goal of winning the season points championship, and with it, a coveted invitation to join the pro division. This is a division full of players who truly just love to compete and play the sport.


After the first event seeing heavy hitters Paintball Fit, Blast Camp, and Noobies take the early advantage in the points race, it was Paintball Fit who secured a slight advantage after winning the event over Blast Camp. The game mirrored the same finals matchup from event one; a tense back and forth match that Paintball Fit ultimately was able to outlast with poised play and strong gunfighting. Colt Luckau continues to be one of the best non-pro players in the world for Paintball Fit and is truly the key to this program's success.


Now sitting in first place by a margin of 8 in the season points race, they have the clearest path to winning the pro spot, however with a target on their back, the rest of the divisions top teams are narrowly following behind searching for a chance to steal the lead.


Division 2: Competition for the Season Points Race is Fierce


Photo courtesy of Michael Candelaria | MCPhotography19, NXL Media


Two undefeated teams would face off for the Division 2 title at the Lone Star Major after New York Wrecking Crew and Shut Up We’re Trying went 6-0 on the weekend. Both programs have a reputation as some of the fiercest franchises in divisional paintball and the match would have major implications on the points race after both teams had strong showings at event one.


Wrecking Crew was the first to strike, taking a 1-0 lead, and after a drawn out match Wrecking Crew was facing a 2-1 score with just a few minutes left. With SUWT in better position and up on body count in the fourth point, the match seemed all but over. But, a brilliant move by Conal MacFarlane with just 40 seconds left down the dorito side saw Wrecking Crew tie the game and send it to overtime. Wrecking Crew shot three bodies on the break in the OT point and won the match 3-2 to claim their first win in Division 2 and take over the season points lead.


Division 3: TPP Crew becoming a familiar franchise


Photo courtesy of Michael Candelaria | MCPhotography19, NXL Media


In the Division 3 finals, TPP Crew would continue their streak of finals appearances to face off against Competitive Edge, who were 6-0 in their matches throughout the weekend and posted an impressive 22-3 match point record along with it. TPP was able to decisively beat Competitive Edge in a finals match that was never close at a score of 5-1.


Over their last three events, TPP Crew has appeared in the finals every time and is starting to become a familiar face playing on the center stage of paintball. The win gives TPP a 6 point lead in the standings and the advantage heading into the halfway point of the season.



Strong Division 4 Programs Emerging as the Next Rising Stars of Divisional?


Photo courtesy of Michael Candelaria | MCPhotography19, NXL Media


NJ Bombsquad, after their event one win, would come back to the second event of the season and initially struggle, barely making it into the Sunday playoffs. Although Bombsquad didn't show any signs of weakness over the rest of the weekend notching three straight match wins, Austin Notorious D4 would prove to be too much as they defended their home state event. Austin’s 5-2 win over Bombsquad would be their seventh straight of the event to go a perfect 7-0 on the weekend.


It is worth noting that the New Jersey Bombsquad franchise is rapidly emerging as the best-in-class program of Division 4. If they can secure another win at their hometown event at the Mid Atlantic Major in June, it would all but wrap up the season points race. This team should be watched closely as the next potential up and coming program out of divisional paintball.


Sponsor Spotlight: Spot Insurance

Photo courtesy of Joseph Pacenka | @smiley.joe.photos


After creating the biggest news story of the offseason, the Major League of Paintball officially rolled out their newest membership program and benefits to NXL players all over the world. Backed by national insurance provider Spot Insurance, players with valid NXL ID’s are now receiving $25,000 of health insurance coverage for any injuries or accidents related to practice for Major League Paintball events, or accidents at the events themselves. Pioneered by MLPB President Tom Cole, direct insurance coverage to players are a first of their kind in competitive paintball and create a new road to player benefits never before seen in the sport.



The inclusion of Spot Insurance brings one of the biggest non-paintball partnerships in paintball history. Spot offers arguably the most seamless application and initiation of insurance coverage for both personal and business policies in the country. GetSpot.com offers a flexible and easy-to-use application to get insurance for business or personal coverage in minutes. Spot’s high level of support for customers brings ease of mind and simplicity to any level of coverage so policyholders can focus more on their lives and business, and less on complicated policies.



With the Lone Star Major concluded, the most critical event of the year for season championship hopefuls is approaching with the NXL Mid-Atlantic Major. With Dynasty in a firm lead in the Pro Division, the next event will be critical to keep hopes alive in the pro division race. In the Semi-Pro Division, multiple teams are in an embattled race to decide who will win the pro spot for 2023, and a win at the third event of the season will be paramount to stay ahead. The entire Lonestar Major can be re-watched on GoSports.com, and be sure to follow @nxlpaintball and @majorleaguepb (www.majorleaguepb.com) to get all the updates heading into the rest of the season.


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