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Millennium Series
Amsterdam 2002
Submitted by Simon "manike" Stevens

Mayhem has a huge history as part of Tournament Paintball’s development in Europe. It was always seen as the number one tournament to attend from the earliest days of paintball up until ’96 when it missed being held for a year and let WDP stage the first ever Hyperball event, which was the launch of the original Angel V6, and WDP, into the future of paintball.

After it’s year off Mayhem came back, but this was a time of huge change in paintball, and with the development of Hyperball and then Sup’Air things were changing and Mayhem never found it’s feet as again as the premier event in Europe. There were just too many great paintball events being put on. Toulouse led the way and was followed in England by the Campaign Cup which was the first of the then two big UK events to really embrace the concept fields and stadium formats which is now the norm in European paintball. With the Millennium series being a truly European series it was thought to be a little unfair to hold two of the major legs in the UK and thus another venue in Europe was sought.

There have been rumours of a big event to be held in Amsterdam for quite some time but this year saw the reality. Amsterdam is infamous as an entertainment town in Europe with relaxed laws governing many forms of adult entertainment. It also means it’s a town welcoming tourists and very capable of handling the influx of paintballers from all around the world. In a style reminiscent of Toulouse there were even poster boards around the Town centre advertising the event - a nice touch which really makes you feel that you are part of something big and special.

The facility used for the Mayhem Masters really is ideal - it’s an outstanding venue with a huge number of benefits to the players on site. Although not very easy to find without maps (a few signs or arrows would have been extremely helpful) the site was easily located on the ring road around Amsterdam.  This turned out to be quite important as a flower festival being held at the same time meant that many hotels were fully booked.  Paintball players found themselves staying quite some distance away in some cases.

The venue is normally a series of football (soccer) pitches and came with immaculately groomed and level playing surfaces. I think it was the nicest, grassiest and flattest playing surfaces on which I have ever had the pleasure of playing.  Holland is a very flat country and much of it is actually below see level which means the ground has plenty of water and really lush green grass. The venue boasts a raised club house with a full service bar and facilities. They served hot and cold food as well as drinks in a friendly environment. This was also where the organisation and scoring was set up. It was a little unusual to be walking into what was essentially a ‘pub’ atmosphere to return a score sheet but was great and relaxing for the teams to just hang out in.

The six fields were laid out in a ‘C’ shape, all fields were of a good size with very, very high level netting surrounding them.  This was done with the intention of making the central trade area very safe.  This was and idea that would have worked if it wasn’t for the other thing for which Amsterdam is famous.  Being very flat means Amsterdam is very windy (the place is covered with Windmills) and the high netting in conjunction with sponsorship banners placed on some of the towers led to some very dangerous and scary circumstances indeed. The Mayhem tournament, whether in the UK or Mainland Europe, has always been infamous for the weather conditions. 

I’ve never known a Mayhem not to have a thunderstorm or two. Here the weather and namely the wind caught the netting and actually pulled over some of the huge scaffolding towers. One only just missed crushing the Smart Parts tent and I was under one tower by the Angel field when it got blown over. By a small miracle no-one was injured by the falling towers (although being smothered by the netting was a very surreal and scary experience with the sights of the towers falling!) It took some time to brace the towers with sandbags and guy ropes before the event could be continued safely. The wind also caused some entertainment during the finals when it took the JT temple from the centre of field two and blew it down to one end… exposing players on the way! The game was halted until the marshals managed to replace the bunker and the game could get under way again.

If the scaffolding towers hadn’t been blown over it would have been one of the most impressively netted and arranged sites I have ever seen. A few lessons learned from this year’s tournament should see this site becoming quite a venue in the future. Indeed a discussion with one of the promoters gave an insight to his intentions of making a solid field boundary construction 6m high with raised walkways 3 m high for photographers and judges. The Promoter, Marco from DMA, has huge experience in putting on festivals and indeed runs one of the largest Nightclubs in Amsterdam called the Kremlin. He is hoping to bring much of this experience to paintball to really develop the venues and make the most of the tournaments. His ideas are certainly looking to the future of paintball and I hope to see more of them really materialise in future events. There were a few things he was trying at this event which due to unfortunate circumstances did not come off, but are real nice touches, rather than spoil the surprise I think we will just have to wait until next years event to see it unfold to it’s full potential.

The players area was set up in one corner with a walk in and out past the air station. This made it very easy for people to get fills on their way back in or out and meant there were no lines all weekend. The guys that provide air for the millennium series really are providing a great service and often go as unsung heroes - a big thanks to them. The actual staging area could have been so much better with the use of some additional covered areas. Teams arrived to tables set outside a hanger with the intention of moving inside if or when it rained.  In typical mayhem style it did rain, and then the players found out there wasn’t enough room in the hanger for everyone!  After a tight squeeze eventually all of the teams managed to get their gear inside.  If only there had been some more tents and covered staging space outside the hanger then everything would have been perfect for the staging area.  There were even conveniently placed toilets for the players, which is a rarity at many tournaments. One thing which worked well in Portugal was labelling the tables with team names.  This kept teams from spreading out and taking up more than their share of space.  It would be nice to see this adopted by the whole Millennium Series if possible.

The central trade area was well laid out with a refreshment centre in the middle and a huge VIP covered stand with two levels and a covered bar watching the main ‘number 1’ Diablo field. It was a very impressive stand, covered with ‘Draxxus’ banners and with integral bars/refreshment stands. It offered a bird’s eye view onto the fields which gives a whole different perspective to the game. It was in great demand for the finals games.

In all, the venue was really quite excellent and the potential of what the site can become with a few lessons learned from this year is huge. The weather did cause some issues (one of which being a power outage) but this is nothing new and the event organisers should have been prepared for the rain with more covered staging) and the wind (with better net bracing).  I do however think there were some sides of the DMA event that let it down from what it could have been. The organisation on the Millennium side seemed to be very lacking from has been seen at other events in the series. 

The running schedule had problems and as soon as it was handed out to the teams people saw that it would cause issues and yet changes were not made to remedy it. Apparently there had been a computer crash on the Thursday which lost the schedules (why there were none yet printed or any back ups or spare computers for an event of this size is crazy!) and so several people put their best efforts into trying to make something workable (Big thanks to them, but they should never have been put in that position!). Unfortunately although they did manage to arrange all the games the time between them was unworkable. Most teams had many slots where there was only one game time slot between their schedules games, this gave a team 13 minutes in which to clean up, get air and paint sorted between games! If that wasn’t hard enough many teams had back to back games.  In theory this gave them just 3 minutes to get turned around and to the field for their next game. Obviously this was not possible and the millennium rules themselves state that there should be 45 minutes at least between games. This boiled down to the fact that no team could be penalised for being late to a field - games just had to wait. This lead to a huge delay and some teams played their last game just before 10pm on the Friday. All teams were due to play 10 games as a minimum which is a great number, but with the difficult schedule some played 3 games on one day and then 7 on the next. It was common for some teams in the same division to have played three games before another had played their first.

On the Saturday it was common to see refs and teams taking things into their own hands to try and get teams that were ready onto the field to play their games even if they weren’t in the right order. It became real chaos and a difficult situation to play under. 

Also the tournament lacked a scoreboard. While the officials were keeping track of the scores, the teams couldn’t see how they were doing or who was leading. A score board only became available at the end of the event via a projector system which was impractical because the text was small it could not show all of the scores at the same time. What was usually a centre of activity led to a lot of people being uncertain as to whether they had qualified or not. Some teams only found out that they had qualified on the morning of the finals.

Despite such difficulties the teams got down to playing some good paintball. The team of the tournament, and who eventually missed winning by just a single point, had to be Russian Legion. They were awesome in so many respects. I’ve never seen such implementation of game plans in paintball. They had players moving around the field like chess pieces to open new lines and hold down specific players to allow key moves. It was stunning to watch - a real team effort and not just a lot of individual stars, which is more commonly seen on the American teams. At one point a player for Russian Legion would move out to a difficult tape bunker and just hold down one line of fire down the field, as soon as he put his opposition player in, the next Russian Legion man would move up to a key bunker and then the original player who had moved wide to lay down the cover fire would move back into the field and take on another role. It was really quite inspiring to watch, and it and paid off all the way through the prelims and semi’s as Russian Legion just ripped teams apart. And to top it off, they did this with great sportsmanship as well. At one point as they were finishing off a team one of Russian Legion’s back players came up behind one of his own front players and saw what he thought was a hit on his own players pack. He actually called a judge over to check his own player!  This was done much to the amusement of the crowd who really got behind Russian Legion at this event. It’s a real shame that they were almost a victim of their own tactical play - in my opinion that’s why they lost the event by just a single point.

During the finals the Russian Legion were able to watch the other final games being played. They watched the SC Ironmen beating Avalanche and saw what they thought were three Avalanche players shot out. This meant that in their game against Strange they only needed to eliminate two players to win the event outright. So being tactical they changed their usually very aggressive playing style and sat tight just looking to take out two strange players. Strange played a stunning game.  They put two players into the 50 on the break and then followed up with three more players onto the 50 line within a few minutes. A stunning game by Strange saw them taking the sitting Russian Legion down… with a loss of two players! Russian Legion thought they had won, but it turns out that only two Avalanche players had actually been shot out by the SC Ironmen and thus Russian Legion needed three players to win! Ouch. There was a lot of discussion at the end while scores were counted and checked.  The final result came out with SC Ironmen winning by a point! My congratulations to them but huge commiserations to Russian Legion, how long can it be until they do win an event? I look forward to seeing them play in Toulouse that’s for sure!

The fields again adopted separate tented areas for players and marshals including gun boards to place guns safely off the ground and out of harms way. That was a nice touch.

The pro finals were not played by only American teams, Ground Zero uncharacteristically failed to qualify.  NBK who had just moved up to pro from the Amatuer class, and were sporting their new Racegun sponsorship did make the finals cut as did the Banzai bandits from the UK (well played to Jack Wood up front who played some great paintball, if only his team had stayed in behind him!) Enemy also qualified and they are one of the teams coming out of Europe who do have the ability to take on the Americans. Strange (in place of the All Americans) came in third followed by Avalanche in fourth.

The amateurs had many of the usual subjects in contention and with so many teams at this event there were a lot of team in the semi finals. The eventual winners were a little known team called Overdose who rumour has it are made up of many players from ‘Silent Kebab’ a Swedish team of some previous success. Hardcore, having made the finals were not on their usual aggressive form and missed out on the semi’s. Taz pulled in second with All Stars in third and Powertrip in fourth.

The novice division is very hard fought in the millennium series with a lot of good teams. Evil Pigs were once again on form and clear winners in the division, they were followed by Northern Connection and then by two English teams Impact UK and Shockwave 3 (Shockwaves’s novice team). It was certainly nice to see some English teams in the finals, maybe next time it won’t just be the novice division? ?

What was new at Mayhem? 

Again WDP were showing their innovations to the masses. They were promoting a new tournament paint called V-Comp and had the dynasty marshalls on the Angel field wearing V-Comp marshalling tops. 

Chris Lasoya was using and showing off his new “CLASS” IR3.  It is a very nice and cleanly milled marker. It was actually quite amazing to see so many IR3’s in use at Amsterdam considering how short a period of time the marker has been available - it certainly has been quickly adopted by the European tournament scene. They were also showing some of the new colours, one of which aptly named ‘Champagne’ has to be one of the most stylish colours yet. Very nice in dust finish also!

Raceguns from Denmark had a booth showing their Race Frames and offering tech support. They were also showing their ultimate version of the Autococker called the HalfBlock (see photo gallery), which is a cut down version of the ‘Cocker similar in concept to the Micro Cocker but designed around the Race electronic frame with maximum speed, minimum weight and size as priority. It was certainly a very impressive marker and one of the first was in use by Shockwave 3 who took it all the way to the finals with them. The new marker has a specially designed front block which houses a smaller electronic solenoid in an enclosed aluminium box which is integral to the block. It’s a very nice and compact design allowing for the smallest set up and shortest hoses (helping cycling time). This gun also sports an electronic eye and is a very compact and effective set up with a lot of nice details such as quick strip bolt and a hammer lug in the block which picks up the hammer and thus reduces wear.

In all Amsterdam promises to be a great venue for the tournaments of the future and I look forward to returning next year. Next on the Millennium series tour of Europe is Toulouse, quite widely regarded as the most outstanding paintball event in Europe and maybe the world.  Last year’s event was the highlight of the year and It has been getting better and better year after year.   I’m looking forward to it already!

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