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The NXL Mid-Atlantic Major Event Preview: Slay the Dragon?

Article written by Quinn Nadu in partnership with Iconic Paintball

The Major League of Paintball is officially at the halfway point of the season, and the NXL is preparing for its third event of the year hosted in Royersford, just outside of Philadelphia. The Mid-Atlantic Major is one of the most pivotal events of the year for professional teams, marking the point of no return in the race for the season title. San Diego Dynasty has been dominant thus far in 2023, but Heat, X-Factor, and Xtreme can still make a run at the title with a win in the city of brotherly love. However, it won’t be easy with Oliver Lang once again returning to the Dynasty lineup, the legendary player often regarded as the best paintball player of all time.

Not to be outdone, the division season title races have been a tightly contested bout at the midway point of the season. The Semi-Pro division has been all PBFit thus far, but a second half surge from Blast Camp or one of the other top six teams in the style of 2022 Notorious could quickly change the landscape of the division. With less than 10 points separating many of the division leaders and the rest of the pack, the Mid-Atlantic Major will be a major checkmark on the season title hopes of any division team in the NXL.

The Layout and Venue:

Unique to the Mid Atlantic Major, the venue for the event is a long-term location for the Major League of Paintball; since 2021 the large property just outside of Philadelphia has been under the watchful management of the NXL. With one of the best natural grass surfaces in all of paintball, the event is often one of the highlights of the season when paired with the mild weather of the region during June. With over 200 teams signed up to play, it's looking to be one of the biggest of the year as well.

The layout

The field layout for each NXL event is unique to the specific tournament and is released just over a week before the event for teams to make preparations. After the first two events provided relatively balanced layouts with strong center attack positions, the layout for the Mid Atlantic Major looks to be one of the most aggressive snake-heavy layouts since Chicago 2021. The placement of a big brick at the 50 snake will likely lead to game-breaking moves, huge bites off the break, and intense battles on that side of the field. The dorito side also looks to be playing much more traditionally compared to the last two events where it was much more of a one-man island operation for most teams. Look for teams to take ground early in the snake, and close out points from the dorito side.

The Pro Division

The pro division thus far has been a heated battle to claim the spot of the second best team in paintball; complete dominance from San Diego Dynasty hasn’t left much room for error for the rest of the division. After winning the first two events, Dynasty is on a three event win streak and seven total wins over the last ten events. They are displaying a level of dominance not seen since their streak during 2003-2005 when they won 16 events without a major event loss. However, it's easy to argue that their current streak is more impressive, especially with how difficult it is to win in the modern game.

With three events left in the season, it may however be a bit too early to crown Dynasty the champions; X-Factor, Heat, and Xtreme all remain within striking distance of overtaking the Blue Wave by season's end. Houston is perhaps the strongest contender on paper to unseat San Diego as the year continues and the Mid-Atlantic Major has always been a strong statement event for Heat after winning in 2021, and placing second last year in 2022.

Pro Teams to Watch:

Player to Watch: Mike Urena #79

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

Dynasty is becoming a mainstay on the “Teams to Watch” list and for good reason; seven event wins over the last ten events and three season titles since 2020. The depth across this roster has culminated in arguably the most talented and diverse group of paintball players ever assembled and that is led by the ever-poise Marcello Margott and versatile Ryan Greenspan. The player to watch for Dynasty this event will be Mike Urena, who as of late has been utilized much more by head coach Kevin Bredthauer. With the snake looking to be ultra-aggressive, Mike Urena is perhaps one of the most exciting snake players in the league when it comes to his bullying and forward-moving style.

Player to Watch: CJ Canter #12

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

NYX has flourished so far in the 2023 season; after the departure of Haris Hussain this program has finished in the top five of both events this year. Much of that can be credited to the tight and disciplined offense that has been instilled by the coaching staff and led on field by Patrick Kraft Jr. They have learned to become poised and calm in chaotic situations and how to take advantage of gaps in the elite teams on the field. CJ Canter has been an ever steady presence for NYX and he truly ties this team together on the field. Keep an eye on CJ, especially in low body situations and closing out games on this back-line friendly layout.

Player to Watch: Billy Bernacchia #21

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

Speaking of emergence, San Antonio has begun to once again rememerge as one of the preeminent teams of the NXL pro division. After a shaky 2022 season, X-Factor has been a difficult team to overcome in 2023. One of the most tenured lineups in the league, X-Factor is led on the field by the potent offensive trio of LJ Parrish, Colt Roberts, and Billy Bernacchia. Billy is the player to watch for X; when it comes to aggressive snake players, Billy is perhaps best-in-class in the NXL. He will likely be a major point of focus for opposing teams, but the ease of taking the snake off break combined with a big brick at the 50 will make Bernacchia incredibly difficult to get off the field. Billy will likely put in an MVP level performance for X this event and is a must watch.

Dark Horse Team that may Surprise; Los Angeles Infamous

Player to Watch: Joe Barrett #50

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

Los Angeles was in a bad place in 2022, and after the departure of longtime team leader Cody Mickowski, many wrote off Infamous. However, in 2023 they have rediscovered their ultra-aggressive, high risk style and it has helped pave the way back to the Sunday club. Los Angeles is often one of the most exciting teams to watch any event with their callous disregard for playing a layout the “normal way”. They take huge bites off the break and punish opponents when they catch them off guard. Joe Barrett is the key behind their style and often grounds the chaos and links everyone together to remain cohesive. If Barrett is able to retain a high survivability and close out games for Los Angeles, they should make another run for the top four, just like last event.

The Expert’s Pick to Win: Dynasty over Infamous

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to bet against San Diego Dynasty in the NXL, and without a major jump forward by one of their peers, I imagine we will see them win this event. I think Infamous will make a strong run through the event and deep into Sunday to face off against the Dragon in a classic rivalry that stretches two decades. However, I see Dynasty clamping down behind the defensive mastery of Margott and a little Oliver Lang magic to win this event. Dynasty 5-1.” -Quinn @ Iconic Paintball

A View from the Divisional Field

PBFit Dominance in the crosshairs?

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

PaintballFit narrowly missed winning their pro spot in 2022 and have entered 2023 with their focus resolute. After winning both events to open the season, they are in control of their own fate to win the pro spot. However, the story almost parrots what we saw last year with Blast Camp, only to see the Midwest giant get overtaken at the World Cup by Austin Notorious. Will PaintballFit be able to continue their dominance, or will a close behind rival like Blast Camp or the Killers sneak into the top spot by year's end? A victory at the Mid-Atlantic Major will rapidly move the needle for PaintballFit, but a missed trip to the finals would quickly rearrange the standings.

The Closest Race in Divisional Paintball, DIVISION 2 is Heating Up!

Shut Up We’re Tying, Wrecking Crew, and Dynamic are currently in a tightly contested race for supremacy of the Division 2 X-Ball group. Separated by just six points, and each team boasting at least one finals appearance, it's hard to proclaim the current best program of the division. Both Wrecking Crew and Dynamic have an event win to their name in 2023, but the consistency of Shut Up We’re Trying has been the key to their first place standing. If they can find a way to make the finals yet again in this event, it will be enough to keep them in first place unless they face off against Wrecking Crew, a favorite at the start of the year to win the series title.

Can anyone catch NJ Bombsquad in D4?

Photo by Michael Candelaria | NXL Media, MCPhotography19

Outside of San Diego Dynasty, perhaps the strongest contender in their respective division is NJ Bombsquad. They currently hold the largest lead in their divisional title race, sitting at 17 points ahead of the next closest team. At the start of the season they were picked as the favorite and after two straight finals appearances and an event win, they look the part of a season champion. However, with double points at World Cup and a 3 event total score weight, teams like Austin Notorious and Tension are still well positioned to overtake Bombsquad if they show any signs of weakness.


With the Season at Stake, the Mid-Atlantic Provides Must Watch Paintball

With season title aspirations on the line for teams across all divisions, the Mid Atlantic Major is shaping up to be an event with massive implications on the fate of any season champion hopeful. In just a week, teams from all over the world will travel to Philadelphia to kick off the second half of the Major League of Paintball season. For fans unable to travel to the event from June 16-18, all the action will be live on GoSports, the leader in paintball media and streaming. NXL Live will also give an exclusive look into the Premier field featuring the best Semi-Pro teams in paintball. Follow @NXLPaintball for all the updates throughout the weekend!


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