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WNXL Mid-Atlantic Major Recap, Heroines Shine

Photo by Michael Candelaria, MCPhotography19 | NXL Media

The WNXL is at the halfway point of its inaugural year, and the season title race is heating up; the Heroines, Destiny, and Dallas Vibe are all in contention for the season crown with just a single point separating them. The Mid-Atlantic Major brought another intense battle of the best female professional paintball players in the country and after barely missing the finals in event one, The Heroines went undefeated all weekend to take the victory.

Taking place in Royersford, PA, the WNXL Professional Women’s Paintball Tournament featured the top six women’s paintball franchises from around the country playing x-ball style matches to compete for a coveted Sunday playoff spot. The second event of the WNXL season saw a clear group of teams begin to pull away from the pack, and fans could be seeing the start of the WNXL’s elite core forming.

The Prelims

Photo by Chris Shenton, Pb Scout Photography | NXL Media

The layout at the WNXL promoted balanced play, rewarded strong communication and field awareness, and was able to be won from all levels of the field. The wide variety of strategies helped to provide some of the most unpredictable and exciting play of the season so far.

The Heroines started their weekend with something to prove after narrowly missing a finals trip in Florida at the first event of the season. Something about this team feels like they are going to become a dynasty in the WNXL; they have arguably the two best players in the league, are building a strong culture, and have a top notch coaching staff. Jenn Fulk is rapidly becoming one of the premiere players in the division, and her play as an offensive dynamo throughout the weekend was a key element of the Heroines event two victory. While many teams approached the layout with caution, the Heroines consistently found their way into the snake off-the-break, and deep down the dorito side and were a constant thorn to opposing teams all weekend.

By the end of the preliminary round of play, the Heroines sat atop the division with a perfect 4-0 record. Now, the WNXL is still only part way into its first ever season, but it's hard to deny that this team feels like the WNXL’s elite. In four preliminary matches, they gave up just three total points to opposing teams and were absolutely dominant all weekend long.

Photo by Chris Shenton, Pb Scout Photography | NXL Media

Destiny is one of paintball’s historic women’s teams, with roots dating back nearly two decades in the sport. The Mid-Atlantic Major brought another weekend of top play from Destiny, with a 3-1 record taking them all the way to their second consecutive finals match. However, after falling just short of an event win for the second time in a row, Destiny may need to find a way to produce more offense going into event three

Many fans were excited to see Destiny bring the return of one of the games best female players of all time, Kat Secor. One of the leaders of the first-wave of women’s competitive paintball players, Kat made a name for herself on the Femme Fatales and traveled the world promoting the sport. She now returns and immediately looks to be one of the division's best; she is a poised and controlled anchor for the Destiny line and her gun skills stand out clearly.

Photos by Chris Shenton, Pb Scout Photography | NXL Media

The Semi-Finals

Photos by Chris Shenton, Pb Scout Photography | NXL Media

The Semi-Finals saw the Heroines face off against the Femme Fatales, and Destiny against Dallas Vibe, with each match winner earning a trip to the finals. The Femme Fatales had an interesting event, and had a few moments gone differently, they could have very easily left event two with a win. Although their 1-3 prelims records looked a bit weak on paper, it was a weekend of incredibly close games for the Femmes. In their three prelim losses, they lost each match by just a point.

The tone was set early, as the Heroines started off the match putting up their first point in less than a minute. Alexis Lazer aggressively pushed down the field and finished the point off by eliminating Tami Adamson as she tried to hold off the offensive charge of the Heroines. From that point forward, the Heroines were doing whatever they wanted on the field and were winning points down the center with Rozy McCurley, through the snake with Jenn Fulk, and down the dorito side very rapidly. The story of the Heroines this entire match is clearly the offensive firepower that this program has; it never felt close and the relentless pressure, even when up points, was impressive.

One of the best moments of the event came in the closing minutes of this matchup. Up 5-2, the Heroines had a tough breakout and quickly found themselves down to just Alex Del Mar in a four versus one against the Femmes. This is the sort of moment that can easily swing the match momentum back in the opposing team's favor. However, Del Mar displayed incredible poise and bunker awareness and pulled off the 1 vs 4 to ice the match and earn her team a trip to the finals.

Photo by Chris Shenton, Pb Scout Photography | NXL Media

Put simply, Kary Blanco is very good; and that sentiment was put on full display during the Destiny dissection of Dallas Vibe in the Semi-Finals. The snake on this layout was not easy to play, but Kary effortlessly made the snake off-the-break and asserted her will throughout the weekend. She set the tone early on in the semi-finals matchup, taking the snake and immediately pushing down the field to eliminate two players as her sister Andreina went down the dorito side with matching brutal aggression.

Destiny controlled the pace throughout the match, and although Vibe began to gain a bit of traction later in the match behind Brittney Vang, the backline discipline of Katie Kelley and Secor was too difficult to break. The zone control of this Destiny roster has been impressive so far this year and was a big reason that Vibe could not find any room to operate during a rather suffocating semi-finals matchup.

The WNXL Finals

Photos by Michael Candelaria, MCPhotography19 | NXL Media

The first horn of the finals matchup saw Destiny facing off against a brutal center attack from the Heroines led by Alicia Valdivia and Rozy McCurley. However, Kary Blanco of Destiny was able to make a quick fill into the snake and catch the Heroines sleeping in the center as they were forced to concede the first point to Destiny.

The second point of the match started off with a back and forth snake battle between Blanco and Valdivia, however the point quickly devolved into a backline trench war as Katie Kelley of Destiny looked to hold the Destiny lead. Destiny surprisingly ignored the snake zone and this allowed Alexis Lazer to move down to the 50 snake adjacent to Krista Titus in the center of the field as the duo chipped away at the Destiny backline to tie the score at 1-1.

It was at this point that the elite poise and closing ability of the Heroines backline of Alex Del Mar and Krista Titus began to truly shine. For the next four points, the zone control from the Heroines felt unbreakable, and relentless pressure from Alicia Valdivia clearly affected Destiny as the Heroines pulled out to a 5-1 lead. Krista Titus made multiple great moves to close out points and find openings in Destiny’s guard.

By this point, there was just too little time left in the match for Destiny to find any traction, and the Heroines were able to win the event behind their 5-2 dismantling of Destiny. When a team plays this dominantly throughout a weekend it can be difficult to choose just one player as the MVP; Jenn Fulk was a versatile offensive threat, Rozy McCurley moved at will through the center, and Alex Del Mar was a clutch closer. However, during all six Heroines match victories during the event, it was hard to deny the offensive impact of Alicia Valdivia. Her ability to find gaps in opponents zones, stay calm when deep down the field, and consistently eliminate bodies made Alicia our choice for the WNXL MVP.

Photos by Michael Candelaria, MCPhotography19 | NXL Media

A Season Title Race that is Closer than Ever

Photos by Chris Shenton, Pb Scout Photography | NXL Media

Now two-thirds of the way through their WNXL season, the title race to crown the best female professional paintball team is a tightly contested matchup of the division’s elite. The Heroines and Dallas Vibe sit tied for first place in the division, but Destiny is positioned just a single point behind both in what is the closest points race in all of paintball. With a long break until the next stop for the WNXL, skipping Chicago and focusing on closing out the season during World Cup, this is the point of the year that will make or break season title dreams. Who will be able to claim the title as the best WNXL team on earth in the inaugural year? Rewatch all of the event two action on the NXL Paintball Facebook page (WNXL Prelims & Semi-Finals) and watch the Finals matchup again on / GoSports YouTube channel.

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