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Fire vs. Ice : The Debut of a Female Professional Paintball League, the "WNXL"!

Written by Quinn Nadu, Iconic PB |

Photo by MCPhotography19 | NXL Media

Photo by MCPhotography19 | NXL Media

New to the World Cup of Paintball this season is the introduction of an all-women's professional paintball division, being called the Women’s National Xball League or the WNXL for short. Paintball has always been a sport of inclusion where everyone has an equal and fair chance to play. However, the introduction of a women’s only league will hopefully create a larger demographic of professional female players in a sport that has been mostly seen men as the majority gender.

The WNXL will feature six brand new franchises for the 2022 season that will compete in events all over the country. The league unveiled five of the six franchises that will play in 2022, with a sixth unnamed franchise to also join the field. Players interested in playing on these teams during the 2022 season can showcase their skills this spring at the Women's Paintball Combine held at Paintball Fit in Texas. The teams announced so far are:

  • Dallas Vibe

  • Sacramento Diamonds

  • Boston Heroines

  • Las Vegas Destiny

  • Femme Fatales

Women have been critical throughout the game’s history

Photo by MCPhotography19 | NXL Media

In the sport of competitive paintball, there have been iconic female athletes over the 40-plus year history of the game. From highly skilled players such a Bea Paxson, Tami Adamson, and Keeley Watson, to critical members of the industry like Dawn Mills, Camille Lemanski, and Lauren Kelley, paintball has always welcomed all ages, genders, and types of people as competitive athletes in the game.

Females have been a critical part of the paintball industry since its inception as a sport in the early 1980’s. In fact, the second game of paintball ever played was attended by Debra Dion Krischke, a maverick of the paintball industry who was the first female player ever. Debra was a critical member to paintball as she helped grow the sport at a parabolic rate with her work on The Survival Game and the International Amateur Open. Arguably, the sport may have never grew to the size it has without the tireless efforts of players and industry members like Debra when the game was in its infancy.

Now, nearly 40 years after the first female paintball player walked on the field, on November 13th, the NXL held the inaugural exhibition match to introduce the WNXL to the professional stage. Some of the most skilled female players in the world all converged on the World Cup to battle it out in a 20 minute XBall style match. The teams were rostered by players from all the franchises planned for the 2022 WNXL season, who all came together to play on the two teams, Fire and Ice.

WNXL Athletes Shine During World Cup

Photo by MCPhotography19 | NXL Media

The exhibition match was an intense showcase of the top female players in paintball from the first start buzzer. The game was an Xball match, meaning the two teams would play for 20 minutes, with a 2 minute break in between each point; the team with the most points at the end of the match would win.

From the start, Team Fire was in control and they played a methodical and measured style of play the entire match. Although Ice was the aggressor throughout the game, making huge moves all match long, Fire was able to show a high level of poise. They reacted calmly to every major attack and worked together with strong communication.

Photo by MCPhotography19 | NXL Media

It was evident from early on in the match that these women came to play and showed the World just how talented they are. Brittany Wagoner looked really good throughout the match and she had arguably the best marker-skills of any player on the field. Female paintball legend, Tami Adamson of the Femme Fatales was also on the field again as she makes her return to competitive paintball; she didn’t miss a beat and played well from the back line.

During point three of the match, arguably the best move of the day came from Alicia Valdivia making a huge move off the break to the snake brick. She then bounced outside to the snake 50 and scored three eliminations for her team to win the point. Not to be outdone, her teammate Rozy McCurley followed up the next point with a dominant game that helped put Fire ahead early, a lead that they never gave back. Credit also has to be given to the back line of Team Fire; they were able to keep a strong guard throughout the match and counterpunch when needed.

Photo by MCPhotography19 | NXL Media

Team Ice fell behind 5-1 by the halfway point in the match and for a moment it seemed as if they may had been defeated. They refused to cede the game to Fire though, and they put up a valiant effort in an attempt to steal back the match. Ardreina Blanco was consistently making her spot on the dorito side for Team Ice during their comeback, and her teammate and sister Kary Blanco, applied pressure through the snake side as the two sisters attempted to carry team Ice back from the brink of defeat.

Photo by MCPhotography19 | NXL Media

Ultimately, the poise and calculated style of play from Team Fire was just too much for Team Ice to overcome. Fire was able to secure the victory 7-3 over Team Ice. The crowd was loud and excited throughout, as they cheered on the first official match of the WNXL. It was a great display of top female paintball players and they showed that they can be some of the best paintball athletes in the World.

The MVP of the match has to go to Brittany Vang. Every time she stepped on the field she made impactful plays at critical moments; like during point 5 when she scored multiple eliminations during a heated snake battle to pull out another point for her team. She is absolutely going to be on the radar of every WNXL pro team in the 2022 season and should make a huge impact in her rookie season.

Photo by MCPhotography19 | NXL Media

Players to watch for the 2022 WNXL season:

Kary and Ardreina Blanco:

The sister duo on Destiny is going to be incredibly effective on the attack in 2022. They both showcased their elite ability to make huge moves and get in the face of their opponents during the exhibition match. They will provide an instant top-level attack for Destiny and give us an early indicator that the Bea Paxson led team out of the Midwest will be fighting for a title.

Karla Andrade:

Maybe the most athletic player on the field during the match, Karla has been a staple in the paintball community for a number of years. She will be an athletic and speedy attacker for her team, the Femme Fatales, and should be watched closely as a potential Offensive Player of the Year for the 2022 WNXL season.

Photo by MCPhotography19 | NXL Media

Brittney Vang:

Going into this match, Brittney Vang quickly created a simple narrative; she very well be the most feared female snake player in the league next season. She was able to apply consistent pressure through the snake and seemingly always made the smart move. She is on the early watch list for a potential Snake Player of the Year Award in 2022.

Photo by MCPhotography19 | NXL Media

Rozy McCurley:

Rozy has paintball pedigree; she is the wife of one of the best pro paintball players of the 2010s, Brad McCurley. She has been on the competitive paintball scene for awhile now and has already proven she is a methodical and versatile player. She was all over the field during the exhibition match, and next season with the Heroines, she looks like the perfect candidate for Most Versatile Player of the Year.

Alicia Valdivia:

Alicia has already built herself quite the resume playing for the US Women's National Team and impressed immediately at the inaugural WNXL match. Her high paintball IQ was evident throughout the game, as she was a critical counterpunch player for her team. Her style is reminiscent of Alex Fraige and she should be on everyone's watch list for 2022.

Andrea Martinez:

Known affectionately as “Angry” to the paintball world, Andrea brings a level of experience and poise to the WNXL for 2022 that will be critical for the Femme Fatales. She had great marker skills on display all match long and was arguably the best support player on the field. She should be near the head of the race for Defensive Player of the Year in 2022.

Brittany Wagoner:

One of the best female players in the games history, Brittany brings a level of marker skill that will be near unmatched in the WNXL. She is a smart and methodical player who plays a similar role to Marcello Margott of San Diego Dynasty. She is also an elite, former Olympic level athlete and should be on everyone's list as a potential Player of the Year in 2022.

Photo by MCPhotography19 | NXL Media

Jenn Fulk:

Some players just simply pass the eye-test when they step on to the paintball field; Jenn Fulk is one of those players. She has a smooth and measured style and was diving all over the field during the exhibition match. She has great body control in the snake and her style is really similar to the way Alex Goldman plays. She makes her spot, and plays incredibly calculated.

The Future of the WNXL looks bright

The most important factor to take away from the inaugural match of the WNXL is this; the future looks bright for the women’s professional paintball league. The players on the field exhibited high levels of athleticism, paintball IQ, and poise and the 2022 WNXL season looks to be ramping up to be electrifying. For more information on the WNXL, visit the NXL website to learn about the league, its teams, and how to play during the 2022 season. The full match can be re-watched on & the GoSports YouTube channel.

Photos by MCPhotography19 | NXL Media


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