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Story and photos by Joshua
The Carolina Field Owners Association, presented by National Paintball Supply, promoted the second event of their 2004 season March 27 and 28 at Ultimate Paintball, near Atlanta, and delivered a smash hit in their first trip to Georgia. After turning the heads of the paintball industry with a 116 team event at NewGen Paintball the preceding month, the CFOA was riding high, but tentative about their first trip so far south. However, as registrations rolled in it became clear to the promoters that the event would be a prodigious follow-up to their first event, with nearly as many teams in attendance. When registration closed and the league converged on Ultimate Paintball, 110 teams came with them and skeptics who mused that the first massive event was a fluke were silenced forever.
Nestled into the hills outside Atlanta, Ultimate Paintball provided a beautiful facility for the second event of the CFOA calendar. Already a widely known and respected paintball park in the Atlanta area, Ultimate's facility provided plenty of space for the hundreds of players, referees, spectators and family that made the trip to the event, as well as hot food, cold drinks, an air conditioned field house and store, fully netted fields with plenty of room for spectators and a clean, family-oriented atmosphere that welcomed players and spectators of all ages. Four of Ultimate's fields were used for the competition, and included two Ultimate Air Ball fields, one Ultimate XBall field and one Hyperball field augmented with Ultimate Air Ball bunkers. The three Ultimate Air fields were small and intense, favoring the aggressive teams willing to live and move behind their paintball guns, while the massive Hyperball field was more reminiscent of a ten-man field and offered dozens of bunkers for aggressive players, and ample opportunities for a stalemate for more timid players and their teams. Teams refereeing for CFOA series points were led on each field by professional, paid referee, including members of National X-Ball League franchise team Trauma. These refs were unafraid to enforce the rules and make the necessary calls. Other NXL players participated in the weekend's festivities behind a paintball gun, including players like Tyler Humphries from Trauma who played alongside Machine and, in a pleasant surprise, birthday boy Eric Dearman of the Philadelphia Americans, who joined the Demented Kids for the event. As in most tournament series, the CFOA allows a limited number of higher class players on the roster of a team, as in this case, where pros played on amateur teams. This format allows more experienced players to lead a team on the field.
Saturday morning weather was chilly but as the over sixty rookie teams took to the fields for their five-man event, the sun warmed the countryside to a pleasant mid-seventies perfect for paintball. The rookies moved slowly out of the blocks on the Hyperball/Ultimate Air mix, many games stalemating throughout the day, while on the rest of the fields games were fast and play was aggressive. Due to the large number of stalemates the schedule fell behind for a few hours, but sixteen teams moved on to the semifinals by mid-afternoon thanks to the dedication of the referees, who tirelessly made calls and pushed games through, while the paid scorekeepers on each field had teams on-deck and ready to play as quickly as possible. As the sun began to sink into the Georgia hills, the finals concluded on the Ultimate X-Ball field and the LA All Stars, who traveled to the event all the way from Louisiana, proved unstoppable and won the event in convincing style, taking home prizes from rookie division sponsor Mantis, along with gear from Dye and Proto. Der Der Productions, on-hand for the event to videotape and produce a CFOA DVD, also generously provided prizes for the event including t-shirts and 300 Feet Per Second DVD's.
The novice and amateur teams stepped onto the fields Sunday morning as the weather again warmed up, this time into the eighties. For the second day, companies including Mantis, Reactive, The Angel Guy, Paintball Central, Paintball Kingdom and Barrel Buffer showed off their products in a professional trade show environment while games were played on the nearby fields. The pro players guesting on teams pushed their amateur teammates to fast wins on all the fields they played. After a mixed preliminary bracket in which amateurs and novices played against one-another, teams divided into novice and amateur semifinal rounds to determine the four teams who would play for the massive pile of cash and prizes donated by CFOA sponsors including National Paintball Supply, DYE, Mantis, Diablo, Powerlyte, Southern Paintball Concepts, Der Der Productions, Custom Sports Gear, Bunkerking, Hammerhead, the Ultimate Madness, Aruba Madness, Eclipse, Crossfire, Draxxus, VForce, Ratco, The Angel Guy, Flagpull.com, Reactive, Onlypaintball.com, Barrel Buffer, FON, Airgun Designs, Paintball Kingdom, Paintball Central, Kalibur, Ronn Stern and Xtreme Sports Fulfillment.
The novice finals saw the Ultimate Army play strong in front of the home crowd and win the event in convincing style. Complaints about a home field advantage were silenced for good when CFOA promoters Larry Motes, Jon Morrell and Josh Silverman reminded the players that all of Ultimate's fields had been completely redesigned before the event. Dynamic, formerly Dungeon, played some of their hardest paintball in recent memory and returned Sunday afternoon, taking second place. The Mid-Knights brought up third place. In the amateur division, the combination of Eric Dearman and the Demented Kids was too much for the rest of the field to bear, and they took home the gold trophy. After a strong first place finish at NewGen the month prior, Overload came back and took a strong second, with Runnin' Wild returning to form with a well-played third place finish.
The CFOA will take its show back home
to North Carolina in April, coming to the Carolina Paintball Park in China
Grove. For the latest information, photo galleries, online registration
and much more, see the official CFOA website online at www.thecfoa.com.
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