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The NXL Windy City Major Plays a Key Role for Season Championship, Event Preview

The longest break of the 2023 Major League of Paintball season has concluded, and the Windy City Major is just a short day away, with the season title race in the balance across all divisions of the National XBall League. After Tampa Bay Damage was able to end the Dynasty streak of dominance last event, the pro division standings have shuffled, and San Diego is in its first real danger of losing their top spot all year. San Antonio X-Factor and Tampa Bay have rapidly closed the gap on Dynasty and strong performances at the Windy City Major could place them in position to steal the season title at the World Cup.

The Windy City Major will return to Chicago Gaelic Park for the third straight season, one of the best venues on the NXL circuit. Sitting just outside of Chicago, the event is traditionally known for its mild weather, incredible grass playing surfaces, and historically strong paintball history. For nearly two decades, the competitive paintball region of Chicago dominated the U.S. as it’s top producing region; today the competition is still as high as ever with local teams like Blast Camp in a strong position to earn a professional spot this season.

Historically, the event held in Chicago has been a critical indicator in season championship hopes, with three of the last five Windy City Major winners going on to win the season title since 2017. Furthermore, a top three finish in Chicago has been on the resume of every season champion since 2017; so to say this is a critical event would be an understatement.

Change of Pace in the Layout

The layout brings a stark change when compared against the previous layouts from this season; a true stand-up snake corner, open center, and progressive dorito side will likely reward early aggression. Teams who are willing to take risks early will likely be able to consistently eliminate the opposition from the corners and trap teams in the back pocket.

Expect to see a more classic approach to the snake with true one-two combos in the corner and the snake working together to win their battle heads up and then close out games together. The snake corner especially will be a critical spot in regulating the snake, but it will be extremely tough to stay alive in; this spot should see a mix of top support players like Tyler Harmon and elite pace-snake players like Archie Montemayor playing it. The second knuckle of the snake provides key shots inside and on the wrap and will be utilized heavily.

However, there are a lot of bunkers obscuring shots into the dorito side, and crafty players will be able to get lost in that side and score plenty of eliminations by surprise. Top players like Chris Schehr, Chad Busiere, and Sam Silberg should be able to consistently make this side off the break and quickly make methodical bumps to the 50 bunker that will play a huge role in offensive production.

The home bunker and the dorito side tower are the two wild cards of this layout. Both of these spots will be utilized heavily off the break and play a key role in breakshooting; however both will also have massive utility and flexibility from these spots to fill around the field to either stem the bleeding or to press the attack. Traditional big guns off the break like Jason Edwards will feast from the home, but a player like Raney Stanczak who has elite versatility at multiple levels of the field will be a major problem for opposing teams when starting at these spots.


San Diego Dynasty enters the fourth event of the season with a 76 point lead in the season standings; while not insurmountable by any means for other top programs like X-Factor, Damage, or Heat, San Diego has secured a podium finish at all three events this season including two event wins. If Dynasty simply keeps pace they will become the first four-peat season champion in NXL history; but two teams in particular are in strong position to end the streak in Damage and X-Factor.

For being in second place overall, X-Factor has been having a relatively under the radar season. They opened the year with a 5th place and have improved their finishes each event since, narrowly losing the final in Philadelphia to Tampa Bay. Consistency is the measure of a great team, and XFactor has been one of the best-in-class when it comes to consistent play and top finishes this year. The same can be said for Damage, although a little less consistent, this program is built to win behind the best player in the World under 30 years old, Jacob Edwards, and will be a staunch contender for the season title.

Pro Division Teams to Watch

Photo by Michael Candelaria Jr. (NXL Media | MCPhotography19)

Player to Watch: Mike Urena

Mike Urena has been one of the most underrated snake players over the last three seasons. He has been a critical offensive weapon for the best team in paintball during that time and a ladder snake like this could see a heavy rotation of Dynasty’s top two snake players in Montemayor and Urena. Dynasty is looking to podium once again and all but lock up their fourth straight season title prior to the World Cup, but it will take a great event from the offensive front of Dynasty to do so, and Mike Urena will be a must-watch wrecking ball down the snake side.

Photo by Michael Candelaria Jr. (NXL Media | MCPhotography19)

Player to Watch: Ceelos CorteS

New York Xtreme has been the surprise of the season; they have been one of the best prelims teams and tough in elimination games on Sunday so far in 2023. After having their best start to a season ever, New York has added the incredibly dangerous Ceelos Cortes to their lineup after his departure from Baltimore Revo a month ago. Cortez has been under-utilized the last season since his stints with the Saints, Damage, and Revo, and NYX could provide an offensive platform that Ceelos can shine on. He is a hyper-aggressive and versatile attacker who will also bring more experience to the NYX pits and should be a must-watch this weekend on his new team.

Photo by Michael Candelaria Jr. (NXL Media | MCPhotography19)

Player to Watch: Greg Turton

The Latin Saints are not having a good season, two 20th place finishes and an 18th have put them in a dangerous position of being relegated. With 107 points separating them from the 19th place team, Seattle Uprising, the Saints will be all but mathematically eliminated with another 20th place finish at Chicago barring a miracle at the World Cup. They have to come into the Windy City ready to perform and play like their professional lives are on the line, because they are. Greg Turton is the leader of this team and if anyone can inspire the Saints roster to rise up and steal back their season, it is him.

Dark Horse Team to Win it All: ac Diesel

Photo by Michael Candelaria Jr. (NXL Media | MCPhotography19)

Player to Watch: Jesse Stephens

If you were told at the start of 2023 that Diesel would be sitting in 10th place with no finishes in the top five, it would have been hard to believe. However, after three events that is the reality for the star-studded lineup, although the situation today is much different than just a few months ago. Philadelphia saw a change with long-time coach Greg Pauley; Mike Hinman was brought in to try and right the ship and save the season with some of the very players he brought up in the game more than a decade ago. Now the team is playing better and their newest pickup of Jesse Stephens from X-Factor will add a ton of offense to the Dorito side of the field. If he gets substantial playing time, he will likely provide a ton of eliminations and vastly improve the pacing on the dorito side for Diesel.

The Picks to Win from Quinn @ Iconic Paintball

Photo by Michael Candelaria Jr. (NXL Media | MCPhotography19)

“Chicago is so critical for season title hopefuls; if history is any indicator I would say Dynasty is the easy choice for this event. The long break from Philadelphia will have been restorative for the veteran roster, and there is no team more dangerous than a Dynasty team coming off a Sunday elimination. I think we see a perfect 4-0 prelims on the way to an event win from San Diego behind an MVP performance from Chris Schehr.

In Semi-Pro I like Blast Camp to finally find their pace and get a revenge victory over PBFit to keep the title race hot. Give me NY Wrecking Crew in D2, Tropic Thunder in D3, and NY Bombsquad in D4 for the division field. For WNXL, you have to take the Heroines to win the event until someone consistently proves they can beat them otherwise”.

Divisional Storylines are Heated

Semi Pro:

Photo by Michael Candelaria Jr. (NXL Media | MCPhotography19)

The Semi-Pro division in 2023 has been nothing but domination from PBFit; three straight finals trips against Blast Camp, three straight wins behind the big gun of Colt Luckau and the incredible poise of Trent Mason. Fit is on pace to have arguably the greatest division season ever, a title they accomplished just a few years ago in Division 3 when they won four events behind a season match record of 35-2.

This team is very polished, but the title isn’t quite wrapped up yet; three second place finishes for Blast Camp only puts them 12 points out of first place, and the Killers and Noobies are both within about 40 points of the top spot as well. The double-points awarded at the World Cup will play a massive role in who earns the pro spot this season and if PBFit cannot win the Windy City Major, this division will provide absolute fireworks to end the year.

Division 2:

In arguably the most unlikely scenario of the season, the current Division 2 leader has yet to win an event in 2023, and two of the event winners from this season aren't even in the top six of the standings. Both Dynamic and the AG Knights had dominant wins this year but sit 100 points out of first place.

This division is full of potential season title winners and the early season favorite, New York Wrecking Crew, is starting to get dialed in; three top five finishes and an event win were strong early season drivers. After most of this roster just went to the World Championships to play for the U19 World Championship US team, they will be more than motivated to take the season championship.

The WNXL Returns from a Long Break

After their longest break of the season, the WNXL Pro Division returns to continue their season in Chicago. After many of the top players in the division came together a few weeks ago to secure their second straight World Championship in France, they will once again return to their respective teams and become competitors.

The season opener in Florida for the WNXL was full of surprises with the reigning champion and season title favorites, the Boston Heroines, missing the finals. Destiny finally snatched their first event win after playing second fiddle all year long in 2022 and is playing an aggressive style of paintball that is leading the division. With just three total events for the WNXL in 2023, the Windy City Major could give major implications on the season title with so few points separating the top three programs Destiny, Cheetahs, and the Heroines.

Photo by Michael Candelaria Jr. (NXL Media | MCPhotography19)

Team to watch: Destiny

Player to Watch: Kary “Tata” Blanco

Destiny dominated the opening event of the season, handling the 2022 WNXL Champion Heroines in the prelims, and then completely shutting down the Cheetahs and Femme Fatales on Sunday to win it all. Kary Blanco has been one of the best offensive players in the WNXL over the last two seasons, and she may be the best in 2023. She attacks down the field at a pace that is unmatched in the league and will be a key element to another win from Destiny in Chicago.

The Penultimate Event of the Year is Nearly Underway, Don't Miss a Second OF ACTION!

In just 24 hours, the Windy City Major NXL Pro Division will be live from Chicago exclusively on GoSports in the most critical event of the year for season title hopefuls. Fans can also watch the highly contested Semi-Pro Division and WNXL Women's Pro Division live on the Major League Paintball YouTube Channel for free all weekend long! Don’t forget to follow the NXL and Major League of Paintball for exclusive updates, interviews, and more throughout the weekend as the games play out.


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