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NXL comes to Dallas, Lonestar Major Paintball Event Preview.

The National Xball League makes its second stop of the competitive paintball season after the largest season opener in history. Dallas, Texas will play host to the world's premiere paintball league in just one short week from April 26th-28th  as teams from all over the country look to take control of the season points race. 

After one of the most improbable runs in recent memory, the New Orleans Hurricanes pushed San Diego Dynasty to the brink at the season opener. It took a heroic finals comeback victory for Dynasty led by Marcello Margott, Archie Montemayor, and Ryan Greenspan to close out Dynasty’s 4th event win over the last 6 events. However, the pro division is rapidly reshaping with a veritable changing of the guard on the horizon; event two plays a critical role in defining the path each team will take this season. 

Texas continues to be one of the country’s hottest regions in the sport of paintball driven by their large base of divisional and professional NXL players and once again the event is near capacity as teams from all over the world come to play in one of the World’s paintball meccas. 

The Layout:

Nearly 300 teams are signed up and preparing for the second event of the NXL circuit and will touch down in Dallas on Thursday to compete for crucial points in the season-long title race. After one of the most ambitious layouts in NXL history at event one, the NXL has released a much more traditional layout for the Lonestar Open. The layout, or the way the bunker obstacles are set up, plays a critical role in the strategy and pace of the teams competing. 

With a very straightforward 2-1-2 style layout, we should see teams attacking evenly across the snake side and dorito side of the field, but a potentially potent center diamond structure will see lots of late, game-breaking moves. On the snake side, most teams will look to enter into the long ladder snake through the snake corner, but more aggressive teams may choose to risk sending someone straight in off the break with the snake side tower providing pressure off the break to make it happen. 

On the dorito side, there are multiple blind spots in the layout that teams will utilize to improve their chances shooting off the break, but teams that get repetitive in their use of these spots may get caught and struggle to make their way wide. While the first dorito is very makeable off the break, it will prove a challenge when the home bunker dedicates their gun to that side of the field. Many teams may even choose to island the dorito side with just one player to focus on providing more pressure in the center off the break and late in the game. 

Regardless of what strategy teams choose to employ, a traditional layout should provide lots of heads-up gunfighting and reward aggressive and risky play heavily to those who can sneak through the lanes. 

Pro Teams To Watch:

New Orleans Hurricanes

Player to Watch: Jacob Searight

The Hurricanes have consistently proven over the last few seasons that they are one of the most dominant control teams in paintball. Their poise in high-stress moments and commitment to lane discipline has served them well as they have rapidly become one of the best teams in paintball. With a traditional layout like this, the Hurricanes will be an incredibly tough team to overcome; their ability off the break to drop shots into running lanes and their zone control will make this a team that will grind the best offenses in the league to a halt. Jacob Searight really elevated his status in event one, and he is the player to watch to see how he follows up that event; expect to see him in the snake side corner often. 

San Diego Dynasty

Player to Watch: Chris Schehr

After closing out an incredible comeback win in the finals, Dynasty returns to full strength with the return of Chris Schehr and Blake Yarber for event two after both players missed event one for personal reasons. Schehr is the sport's best dorito player and with a methodical dorito side like this, expect to see him put on the island often with Dynasty trusting him to win his side 1 vs 2 like we so often see. His ability to island frees up Dynasty to really attack the field at all levels and become truly dangerous offensively. If Schehr plays his style of paintball, Dynasty likely wins another event. This is a masterful team when Margott and Greenspan can float and make decisions on the fly, and this layout is ripe for that sort of play from the superstar pair out of the back line of Dynasty. 

ac Diesel

Player to Watch: Kyle Spicka

As a professional program, it can be tough to call when it may be over as a fan or analyst, but this feels like the pressure is seriously on Diesel for this event. They are competing on their home turf after vastly underperforming the last 12 months and need to prove they can play as good as they look on paper. Teams have been heavily isolating Diesel superstar Alex Goldman with success and the rest of this roster needs to step up to relieve some of that pressure on Goldman so he can get to work. Kyle Spicka is perhaps Diesel’s most versatile player and he may be the key for event two. Spicka should be able to pair with Goldman on the snake side in a traditional ladder like this and take some of the heat off Goldman. It's now or never if Diesel wants to show this experiment is worth the long term commitment. 

Picks to Win:

To Win Pro: New Orleans Hurricanes

This just feels like its the Hurricanes time. Two years of strong growth in this franchise and a constant upward trajectory has this feeling like fate to see this program become a deep Sunday regular. This layout seems like its going to be very heavy in the pocket by Sunday and this is perhaps one of the most disciplined teams in paintball when it comes to pocket ball and slow, grinding matches. I think we see an event one repeat in the finals with the Canes finally able to hold on and take down the Dragon 2-1.

Semi Pro: Too Close to Call

Photo Credit: arkadycmphotography

The Semi-pro division was wildly competitive in event one, with New Jersey Leverage coming out on top in Las Vegas. However, multiple other programs are right on their tail coming into the second event. The implications on the season title race will become much clearer when the dust settles in Dallas with teams like Leverage, Noobies, TJBastards, and RC Seadogs all looking dangerous and in position to take the title. Leverage played tight and controlled but with the big guns of the Seadogs and Noobies favoring a layout like this, the semi-pro games should be electric. 

Division 2: NJ Wolfpack

Photo Credit: Rob Moore

Wolfpack is a team built around some of the best veteran players in the New Jersey divisional paintball region; after a top five finish at event one they have bolstered their roster with the seasoned former pro Zach Bartlestone. Bartlestone brings a coaches mind to the roster to back up his versatile play style on the field and should make a big impact. Experience wins in divisional paintball and this team simply has the most, I think the Wolfpack has a fairly uncontested event and takes home the Division 2 crown to move into the lead in the season points race.


Division 3: Texas Titans

As a divisional program around Texas, the Titans have been a Sunday level team in Division 3 and 4 over the last few seasons. After surprising at the season opener and making a run to their first division 3 finals appearance against the EC Raptors, the Titans are poised and in position to take the top of the podium at event two in front of their home crowd. Although the top of Division 3 has a few other potential favorites like Jackpot and Outlaw Factory, the EC Raptors will be skipping this event, opening the door for the Titans to snag a win and take back the season point race.

Division 4: Houston Zone

Consistently the largest Xball division, Division 4 can always be a bit of a wildcard to call. Every event, regional teams come out of the woodwork to make surprise runs to the finals, and with Texas having such strong divisional teams, we could see just that happen. I like Houston Zone to take this one; they looked great at the season opener and lost just one match, a semifinals game to PAG Factory, on their way to a third place finish. They controlled the tempo of their matches and that sort of poise goes a long way in Division 4.

battle for Texas is imminent:

Don't miss your chance to come watch the NXL Lonestar Major in person from April 26th-28th in Dallas, Texas and elevate your experience with tickets to the VIP zone field-side at the pro field. If you can't make the event, all the action will be live on GoSports with full coverage from the pro field all weekend long, and the MLPB showcasing the premiere field semi-pro games. With the season title race truly heating up, will Dynasty continue their dominance, or will a new winner emerge in Dallas? Tune in to find out!

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