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Dynasty wins the Sunshine State Major behind MVP Performance from Marcello Margott

Photo courtesy of Rob Moore, Iconic Paintball / Flock House Fotos

Photos courtesy of Michael Candelaria, NXL Media / MCPhotography

Article written in partnership with Iconic Paintball, Quinn Nadu

The opening event of the Major League of Paintball NXL season has concluded and Dynasty is once again on top of the pro division. Getting major contributions from their off-season pickups, Harrison Frye and Chris Schehr, with MVP level performances from Marcello Margott and Blake Yarber, Dynasty posted a near perfect record throughout the weekend capped off by a dominant 4-2 finals victory over Tampa Bay Damage. With their 7th victory over the last 13 events, Dynasty is truly on their greatest run as a professional program with no end in sight.

The venue in Kissimmee, Florida provided fantastic fields and weather all weekend long on a layout that resulted in a very nuanced and technical style of paintball as the tournament progressed. A new era was established at the start of the event with the debut of the Major League of Paintball, the governing organization over the NXL, introducing their new player database, player insurance, and expanded media coverage. With yet another stellar start to the NXL season, the league should see continued growth behind the strong leadership group headed by NXL president Tom Cole.

A View from the Pro Field

Photo courtesy of Rob Moore, Iconic Paintball / Flock House Fotos

With a field layout that started more loose and aggressive, Friday saw teams playing more offensively and posting larger margins on the first day. However, as the weekend went on, the field evolved into a nuanced and technical layout where teams played an incredibly disciplined style through zone control and heavy laning.

Photo courtesy of Rob Moore, Iconic Paintball / Flock House Fotos

In Group 'A' of the pro division, San Antonio X-Factor was in complete control in one of the toughest prelim draws of the weekend. After capping off a 4-1 win against San Diego Dynasty in the final game of the bracket, X-Factor looked to be on their way to a deep Sunday run with the number one seed of the preliminaries. Dynasty escaped the bracket at 3-1, good enough for the 4th overall seed, while Infamous just squeezed into Sunday behind a 2-2 record, with narrow losses to both Dynasty and X-Factor playing a very offensively-centered style of paintball.

Group 'B' saw Houston Heat continue their usual trend of dominating preliminary rounds. With the addition of Conner Kelley to the lineup, Heat looked very dangerous scoring solid wins over the Hurricanes, Diesel, Ironmen, and Revo. The win over Diesel was the start of an unexpected trend for the season opening event of the NXL’s newest superteam. After adding some of the games biggest talents in the offseason, ac Diesel struggled to find consistency and went on to post a 1-3 record and miss the Sunday playoff cut. The New Orleans Hurricanes were able to show their rookie year wasn’t a fluke, going 3-1 and playing a very balanced style of play. The brilliance of Head Coach Mike Bianca is really starting to become evident and he is making a case as one of the best strategic coaches in the pro division.

Photo courtesy of Michael Candelaria, NXL Media / MCPhotography

It was all Edmonton Impact Group 'C' after they posted a perfect 4-0 record in games they were never in danger of losing. There were alot of questions behind how Edmonton was going to utilize their incredibly deep roster of offensive talent this season, and they played an assertive yet controlled style on the field that no team could figure out until they were stopped by Damage in the semi-finals. The Brooklyn Bears, formerly Seattle Thunder, came into the first event with a revamped roster of Northeast players and impressed; starting the weekend off 2-0 with wins against the MLKings and Columbus LVL, they were able to make Sunday behind solid play across the roster. The MLKings just missed the Sunday cut at 2-2, while Notorious went 1-3 in their first event as a pro team.

Photo courtesy of Michael Candelaria, NXL Media / MCPhotography

Perhaps the most wild storyline that emerged from the event came from the final prelims bracket; NYX, after losing longtime captain Haris Hussain in the offseason, went on an absolute tear, going 3-1 and scoring a major win against Tampa Bay Damage. Pat Kraft Jr made a big impact in the center of the field and the snakeside combo of Will Hennessy and Jerry Caro created a potent offensive weapon for Xtreme on their opening event run. They are playing a new, disciplined type of paintball we haven’t consistently seen from New York in prior seasons, and they could make a run this year. Damage also posted a 3-1 record to secure a spot in the Sunday playoffs and NRG Elite found a way to make Sunday with a 2-0 record on day two.

After two days of intense games, and a few surprises along the way, the Sunday playoff round saw familiar faces such as Dynasty, Heat, Impact, and Damage, and some new entrants to the NXL’s elite round of play like NYX, Bears, and Infamous.

Sunday brings faces new and old to the playoff bracket

Photo courtesy of Rob Moore, Iconic Paintball / Flock House Fotos

The opening rounds of the Sunday ocho-finals featured a split-deck match featuring Infamous vs. Hurricanes, and the Bears vs. NRG. As soon as the first horn sounded, it was evident that teams were ready to slow down the pace of play on the field and transform the games into nuanced battles of precision lane control, communication, and mistake-free play.

Photo courtesy of Rob Moore, Iconic Paintball / Flock House Fotos

The New Orleans Hurricanes played very tight early on in their match against Infamous and were able to whittle down Los Angeles while burning off nearly 10 minutes of game clock to force an Infamous concession. In the remaining five minutes of play, Infamous launched a massive attack through the center of the field, but behind multiple eliminations from Drew Bell, the Hurricanes contained Los Angeles and moved on to the quarter finals 1-0.

In the Wild Card matchup between the Brooklyn Bears and NRG Elite, the Bears were the early aggressors, attacking through the center and down the snake side. However, behind a brilliant and poised counter-offensive led by Travis Trawick, NRG was able to contain and neutralize the attack to go up 1-0 early in the game. It was once again the Bears in point two applying pressure to NRG, and from the snake side of the field they quickly cut down the defensive stance of NRG and tied the game 1-1. After two more back and forth points the game was sent to overtime and NRG would fall to the offensive onslaught from the Bears and Brooklyn took the match 3-2.

The Quarter-Finals

Photo courtesy of Rob Moore, Iconic Paintball / Flock House Fotos

Impact faced off against a surging Brooklyn Bears team making a legitimate run through the Sunday playoffs; it ended with Edmonton. After a 6-2 beat down where the experience of Impact was put on full display, Edmonton moved on to the semi-finals. Impact really showed all weekend why discipline and communication are the key factors of any great team and even an aggressive posture from the Bears wasn’t enough to make them falter.

New York Xtreme would once again shock fans and handle the New Orleans Hurricanes 3-2, while Dynasty got revenge on their opening round loss to XFactor behind a shutout 3-0 win over San Antonio to move on. This event saw Dynasty take a bit of a departure from exclusively running their starting five on Sunday, and San Diego saw huge contributions across the entire roster.

Photo courtesy of Rob Moore, Iconic Paintball / Flock House Fotos

In the last quarter-final game, it was perhaps the best match of the event in a back and forth slugfest between Houston Heat and Tampa Bay Damage. A 1-0 lead from Damage was quickly nullified by Ronnie Dizon in game two and punctuated by a double bunker run-through led by Tyler Harmon to close out the point. Damage continued to play more defensively and Heat turned up the pressure to take a 2-1 lead, but the score was quickly tied again through an offensive center punch led by Chad Busiere and Raney Stanczak for Tampa Bay. In less than 60 seconds, Heat scored one of the fastest points of the weekend to push the score to 3-2 with just 3 minutes on the clock. Raney Stanczak once again had a brilliant game and was able to send the match to overtime.

In the overtime point, Heat had a disastrous start, losing two bodies quickly; Raney Stanczak found a gap through the center of the field to push through the 50 and produce multiple eliminations to send Houston home 4-3.

The Semi-Finals

Photo courtesy of Rob Moore, Iconic Paintball / Flock House Fotos

The semi-finals produced arguably the most technical games of the weekend, with the remaining 4 teams, Dynasty, Impact, NYX, and Damage all unwilling to make the first mistake. NYX against all odds took a 1-0 lead, beating Dynasty at their own methodical game behind a great point from Patrick Kraft down the dorito side. In point two, NYX was able to burn off nearly the entire remaining 8 minutes of the game behind stellar control from the backline; it looked as if Dynasty would finally be taken down. A last-second center push led by Ryan Greenspan and Blake Yarber was enough to tie the score and send the match to overtime. After both teams dropped two bodies early in overtime, the game became a tense lockup with NYX in superior position with the clock ticking down.

Truly defining moves are made in the biggest of moments, and locked out in the doritos with the game slipping away, Marcello Margott could feel the energy building. Margott charged through the center of the field, cutting down all three NYX players with one of the most fluid moves in NXL history to send his team to the finals once again.

Photo courtesy of Rob Moore, Iconic Paintball / Flock House Fotos

Impact and Damage brought two of the most experienced rosters in pro paintball into a clash that played out like a fine game of chess, each team calculating every move with precision and care. After more than 10 minutes burned off the game clock, Matt Jackson nearly saved the point for Impact in a 3 vs 2, but a mad dash to the buzzer from Chris Horn would ruin any late point heroics from Impact. The second point was a back and forth game of trades until just Bryan Smith of Damage and Brandon Cornell of Impact remained in a 1v1. Cornell put heavy pressure on Smith forcing Smith to defend his own buzzer from the snake 50 and was able to eliminate him to tie the game 1-1 and go to overtime. Chris Horn once again checked in for Damage, streaking down the dorito side of the field to end Impact’s event and win the match 2-1 to meet Dynasty in the finals.

The PRO Finals

Photos courtesy of Michael Candelaria, NXL Media / MCPhotography

Throughout the 2022 season, Dynasty slowly returned to their classic formula of heavily leaning on their top five players during finals matches; 2023 thus far has brought a new recipe to San Diego’s success on the field. Utilizing the entirety of their roster depth during the first finals match of the season, Dynasty was able to apply relentless pressure to Tampa Bay Damage from the opening horn. With major contributions coming from the newest additions, Harrison Frye and Chris Schehr, a deeply rostered Dynasty team should be feared by all in the pro division in 2023.

When the first buzzer sounded, Dynasty immediately took control of the match, quickly pushing the score to 2-0 in just a few minutes; consistent breakshooting and control of the field provided a stout challenge to Tampa Bay early on. Damage would begin to show a bit of life in point 3 after Jason and Jacob Edwards, left in a 2 vs 4, were able to whittle down the Dynasty defense and pull off the clutch, making the score 2-1 with just over seven minutes remaining.

Tampa Bay then threw a Jared Lackey sized grenade in the center of the field in point 4 and were able to push four bodies past the 50 to tie the score at 2-2. Dynasty began to look like they would let the event slip away, however Archie Montemayor would turn in a huge point for Dynasty that ultimately sealed the match and would force Damage into a corner with time dwindling down. Dynasty would go on to win the match 4-2, and with it, their seventh event win over the last 13 events.

By far the best moment of the event came as the final buzzer sounded. Nearing 100 career event wins as arguably the greatest player the sport has ever seen, Ryan Greenspan wouldn’t be celebrating for himself, but embracing Chris Schehr and Harrison Frye congratulating them on their long awaited pro win.

Photos courtesy of Michael Candelaria, NXL Media / MCPhotography

WNXL : Destiny finally captures victory

Destiny earned this win; for more than a year the WNXL has seen Destiny make the finals of every single event, only to fall short of hoisting the event trophy. Since the inception of the WNXL just over a year ago, there has been one absolute in the women’s professional paintball division, Destiny in the finals. However, just as consistent has been a Destiny finals loss, with the franchise falling just short on three occasions in 2022.

2023 is a new season for Destiny though, and they started the year off by breaking their finals curse and securing the event trophy after taking a difficult road to the finals. After posting a 3-1 prelims record to start the weekend, Destiny would face their first major challenge in the semi-finals against the number one seeded Femme Fatales; Destiny however didn’t get the memo and rattled off a 4-0 demolition of the top seeded team of the Sunshine State Major to earn yet another trip to the finals, their fourth straight.

Destiny would meet the Cheetahs in the last match, who were coming off a 4-2 win over the 2022 season champion Heroines. From the first point, Destiny immediately took control of the match, and after securing a 3-0 lead they were on their way to finally securing a finals win. The Cheetahs made a strike back to make the score 3-1 but with just 2 minutes left, Destiny burned away the remaining time and won the event, breaking a 3 event losing streak and taking the early lead in the season points race.

Photos courtesy of Michael Candelaria, NXL Media / MCPhotography

Semi-Pro, PBFit steals away the gold

The Semi-Pro Division was a tightly contested battle throughout the weekend as expected, with the heavy hitters of the division like Blast Camp, PBFit, Noobies, and Padres all giving difficult tests to the rest of the division. To start the year, there are more than a dozen new teams added to the semi-pro ranks and it has grown into the largest division in the NXL as of event one. This event showed that 2023 may bring the most excitement and the most talent to the division we have seen since the NXL’s inception in 2015, with dozens of current and former pros bolstering some of the best amateur rosters in the world.

After an intense finals battle capped off by an epic overtime win, PBFit was able to secure the win. PBFit was able to come out for the first point and looked dominant, taking the early 1-0 lead; however after a two point surge from Blastcamp, PBFit was scrambling to tie the game against arguably the best defensive team in the division. Content with burning away the remaining 8 minutes in the match, Blast Camp sat on PBFit and burned five minutes off the clock. It took a huge move from Trenton Mason cutting through the center of the field and eliminating two players for PBFit to tie the score. Both teams played defensively in the final point of regulation and forced the game to overtime.

The overtime point started with an early death for Blast Camp, but after a back and forth game that saw body after body trade out through the center and the snake side, it came down to a 1 vs 1 between Trent Mason and Nathan Aboulhosn with less than 30 seconds left. Mason took control and gained dominance over Aboulhosn and with just seconds left on the clock he scored the elimination and hit the buzzer to win the event for PBFit. Mason was awarded the divisional MVP of the event for his stellar play and rightfully deserved it.

Photos courtesy of Michael Candelaria, NXL Media / MCPhotography

Division 2, Dynamic dominance

Photo courtesy of Michael Candelaria, NXL Media / MCPhotography

Division 2 has once again seen strong growth over the last few seasons of the NXL, and 2023 is looking to be another year of brutal competition for the season title. After starting the event with two wins and two ties in the prelims, Dynamic looked like an unlikely team to make a run at the finals. However, after beating TPP Totem in the quarter-finals and taking down season favorite New York Wrecking Crew in the semi-finals, Dynamic found themselves facing off against Shut Up We’re Trying in the finals. A back and forth match would see Dynamic secure the win 3-2 to take the first event of the 2023 season.

Division 3, GG Factory caps off first event with a win

Photo courtesy of Michael Candelaria, NXL Media / MCPhotography

GG Factory has seen a rapid expansion into the NXL in 2023. Behind the support of Dustin Loeffler, the owner of GG Sports Park, the organization has teams across multiple divisions and looked competitive from semi-pro down. However, no team looked more polished than GG Factory D3. After a shaky 2-2 prelims record, they were able to notch four straight wins, capped off by a 3-0 shutout finals match against TPP Crew to take the Division 3 crown.

Division 4, NJ Bombsquad goes undefeated on way to first place

Photo courtesy of Michael Candelaria, NXL Media / MCPhotography

NJ Bombsquad is already looking like the favorite to win the division 4 title this season. A perfect 7-0 record in the first event where their match points record was 22-2, they were nothing short of dominant. The young program out of Quickshot Paintball in New Jersey got major contributions from Chris Valle and Alex La and are certainly looking like the team to beat this year in Division 4.

Vendors Row brings new companies and new concepts for 2023

The NXL launched an expanded roster of vendors for the 2023 season, seeing multiple new entrants to the platinum sponsor level and over three dozen on-site vendors composed of some of the largest paintball companies in the world. With the most diverse group of paint sponsors ever, players could choose from four different major paint vendors, and the competition brought some of the best quality paint the NXL has ever seen.

The Hall of Icons was also unveiled at the Sunshine State Major, a project led by Ryan Greenspan of San Diego Dynasty and Quinn Nadu of Iconic Paintball focused on honoring and enshrining the games greatest legends. Some of the greatest players in history were in attendance for the award ceremony, with players like Shane Pestana, Tom Cole, Billy Ceranski, Todd Martinez, and Matty Marshall all dotting the list of the first 20 entrants to the Hall of Icons. The project will continue to grow and induct new players each year.

Preparations begin for event two, The Lone Star Major: April 28th - 30th

With the shortest break of the Major League of Paintball season between events, in just a few weeks players will return to Texas for the second leg of the 2023 NXL season. On April 28th-30th, teams across the world will continue the season-long fight to earn the right to be called champion in Round Rock, Texas for the Lone Star Major. The entire 2023 Sunshine State Major can be re-watched on and the NXL Live Facebook and Youtube. Check back with @nxlpaintball on social media to get all the updates and stories heading into event two!

Competing in Major League Paintball (MLPB) is an incredible opportunity to challenge yourself and climb to the top of the world paintball ranks. From rookies to seasoned veterans, players can compete against the world's best paintballers, pushing their skills to new heights. MLPB will ensure that high-caliber competition is accessible to all paintball enthusiasts. Whether cheering from home or competing on the field, joining MLPB is a chance for everyone to experience world-class paintball in a whole new way.

@nxlpaintball |

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Leo Queen
14 may 2023

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