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Campaign Cup
by Simon "Manike" Stevens

Pro 1st Place - Dynasty
Amateur 1st Place - TonTon Acyd
Novice 1st Place - Spirit of Norway

The Campaign Cup is now the longest running UK tournament and itís been developing in size every year. This yearís Campaign Cup returned to the Crystal Palace Athletics stadium for the second year running. Itís a very impressive venue right in London. Last year the organisers learned a lot about how to use such a large stadium and came back with a whole host of improvements on the layout and use of the Stadium.

To contain everyone and bring up the atmosphere all of the trade stands were inside the main Stadium itself. They wrapped around 3 sides of the main arena holding fields one and two, with the third side being open to the grand stands for spectators to sit and watch (all be it a little far from the action maybe?). The far end of the trade stands along side the Angel Field was completely taken up by WDP, with their stand and private booths for their sponsored teams. Amongst the more familiar names of Dynasty and Joy Division were the Royal Rat Rangers. The Royal Rat Rangers are a team put together by Bee Geeís band member Maurice Gibb. Gibb, a huge paintball fan had even been talking on the radio about the event and was a very approachable and genuinely supportive person for paintball. I watched the RRRís play out at the World Cup Last  year and the team standard has certainly come on, even making it into the semi finals of the novice division!

The netting was very high with large well built scaffold towers supporting the corners and high tension wires strung across to support the netting. In essence this worked very well apart from a small issue just before games were about to start on the Finals day, but it was rapidly fixed and didnít effect the event at all.  Considering that the event team canít put huge poles into the stadiums playing surface, this system worked very well. Last yearís issues of small fields in the main arena with low netting (allowing some players to get shot from other fields) were completely eliminated with the high netting and new field lay outs. There were two fields, Angel and Diablo/Draxxus in the main arena, two fields in the main Astroturf pitch, Campaign Cup and Raven, and then a further 3 fields out on the training Astroturf pitch. Such a large number of fields were required to host the number of teams in attendance.

This years fields were in my, and many otherís opinions absolutely excellent. You can tell that the organisers had been listening to the players feedback on fields and really mixed it up giving a little bit of everything, from almost diamond shaped fields with little back cover through to the more conventional fields and fields with a lot more bunkers on the 50% such as the Raven field (absolutely superb!)  One thing they had in common though was width. The fields were almost (but not quite) as wide as they were long (approximately 45m by 55m), and this led to some amazing spectator paintball. Too often on long and narrow fields do teams find it very hard to move forward and get stagnate. With the wide fields teams could move sideways as well as forwards and it created a lot more movement and very, very few stalemate games. It also led to some spectacular running lanes as players would run out wide and then hook back in as they come to their bunkers. All in all it was a great combination of field layouts. The playing surface was also very high level, the two main fields were lovely flat grass and the rest were.  Astroturf (great for playing and sliding on apparently although it did tend to burn through clothes, pads and skinÖ)

The venue also boasts an enclosed bar and food area and numerous toilet facilities. On site food vendors consistent of the usual burgers and hot dogs as well as Chinese offerings of rice and noodle dishes, all good stuff but typical London prices (read expensive). Spectators could climb stairs to watch fields 3 and 4 from a raised gantry, this gave a new birds eye view of fields in play and was quite interesting. Fields 5, 6 and 7 were a little further away and not so spectator friendly.

One thing that helped keep the judges fresh was an excellent rotation system of the judges such that a team would get several half an hour breaks during a dayís play, I caught Tom Cole who, with Bad Company, flew all the way over to marshal the event during a break while lounging in the Raven tent. Cole remarked to me on how clean the players were and how nice they were to judge in comparison to some USA events they have marshalled. Tom commented on how surprised he was that players left the field when hit, didnít argue with the judges, and tended to Ďbonusí ball a lot less. Judging certainly seemed to be top notch here, with a lot of judging teams that were willing to enforce the rules and make tough decisions regardless of who was on the field. 

The event schedule timing went very well.  At one point on the Saturday, some fields were even slightly ahead! Good timing is becoming the norm at Millennium events and it makes the tournament so much more relaxed and easy to play for the teams. Sundayís finals even saw teams being allowed a sleep in!  One of the organisers remarked to me how so often on the finals day there is a huge break between the semiís and finals so instead they chose to start a few hours later. Iím sure the later start was much appreciated by the competing teams and those who didnít make it and were able to recover from the London nightlife in order to get to the field and watch the games.

The level of paintball being played in the Millennium series is really quite stunning. With the continuation of such great events and with the USA teams travelling over and more euro teams putting in the training time, the sport over here is just growing and developing very quickly. Although the top pro spots are still dominated by the USA teams and Russian Legion there are a lot of talented teams on their way up through the rankings. Certainly many USA amateur teams were not able to make the cut for the finals against their European competition.

The novice division is just as hard fought at the millennium events as the Amateur and Pro levels. There are some outstanding teams playing in this division such as if they played anywhere else they would be ranked significantly higher, itís just that the tough competition here leads them to be scrapping in the novice division. 

Kellyís found it hard going to get further than the semi finals. They had a tough and very close game against the eventual winners, Spirit of Norway (Norwegian paintball continuing to go from strength to strength) It came down to a 2 on 2 with the Kellyís centre player not realising that a quiet Norway player was still in the centre, just as the Kelly player wrapped around his bunker to shoot an open sided Norwegian player he was lit up over the top of the centre bunker.  The remaining Norwegian players sent one guy down for a mug who was eliminated before making his objective, but the final player for Kellyís was clipped out and the Spirit of Norway took the win.

Syndicate from Germany blew through the Jaguars, having 5 guys onto the 50 within seconds and all guns blazing from start to finish of the quick game.

The Royal Rat Rangers have improved significantly since I last saw them at the World Cup and beat JCS inferno convincingly with Maurice Gibb ďstaying aliveĒ for the flag hang (groan sorryÖ :) )

Home grown UK fun team Killer Clowns were out to play ball and have a great time at it. They made it to the finals and, as well as entertaining the crowd with their dancing skills, they also played hard. Fourth was still a victory for the guys and they celebrated with a large number of bottle of champagne! Escarmouche a team of guys from Ireland, Guernsey and Scotland (Big Sid) having been putting a lot into their paintball since last year when they stepped onto the podium in the  novice division when coming third. They managed it last year with no sponsors, but this year they stepped up to take second place with an impressive line of sponsors and looking very much like a team to be reckoned with in their all new DYE gear. They played some tough teams to get through also, a convincing win against the Bears with three players breaking onto the 50 showed that they meant to go out and play hard against any opposition. Digger playing up front has developed more confidence in  his game and with Johnís characteristic tape breaking play the team have really put some effort into this event.

The Rushers, a UK amateur team were looking good through the whole event and went all the way to the Finals to just get piped  in their last game by Ton Ton Acyd who took first place amateur. The Rushers had some great games though. They convincingly beat Malera (another top level Amateur team) without losing a player. Bowen made the first lay down cylinder on the break and then immediately crawled up to the second. Nick Trutter pushed up into the Middle as Colby broke down the far right tape into the snake and then suddenly 5 Malera left the field at once and the Rushers mopped up. Colby a relatively new addition to the Rushers and who has played for the Banzai Bandits looked to be in his element on the right tape. He showed aggressive play mixed with instinctive well timed and decisive moves. In a game against overdose in the finals Colby mugged out his opponent in the snake and then ran full length to the oppositions back corner, straight passed players on their own 30! Colby opened their back door and the rushers quickly closed the game. The Rushers have recently been extending and developing their squad and if this is how they are playing already then the future should be outstanding for them. A real tough game for the Rushers against the Ugly Ducklings was to decide whether each team would go through in their respective divisions (Rushers being Am and UD being pro). On the break Bowen and Duckling were shot out immediately, quickly the game went down to 2 on 2 as Nick Trutter opened the middle shooting out the Ducklings centre player, unfortunately he stayed up too long making the refs aware of his shot and  was also eliminated, but by then the Ducklings were on a back foot and the Rushers stormed down field to take the win and a place in the semiís.

Ecstasy was very unlucky not to make the finals. A relatively new team, they have gelled well and play hard. Up against the Swedish Team Powertrip both teams broke into the centre bunkers on the Raven field. The Powertrip player then snapped out by Scott Hardman from Ecstasy. Ecstasy lost the first player of the game, but no more and as Scott moved down the tape shooting out players from the centre they went on to win with no further body losses. Although getting the same score in the Semiís as Malera they didnít make it to the finals due to the result of their head to head game. Better luck next time.

The Pro division was as hard fought as ever. Surprisingly Bob Longís Ironmen didnít make it to the finals and nor did the AAís Strange who until the semi finals had looked to be the most impressive team with very  few point losses at all.

Avalanche, knowing they had already qualified for the finals came up against Russian Legion. The RL, aggressive as ever were quickly up at the 50 and then mugged out by Steve Rabackoff, who played some fantastic paintball at this event.  Rabackoff was counter mugged for the important position and RL held the lead. An RL player crawled the snake and then snapped out Lasoya.  In the final rush down field several RL players were eliminated but  not enough to stop their victory. Afterwards Travis Lemanski explained to me that they knew they had qualified and wanted to try some different tactics against the RL expecting to meet them again in the finals. True enough in the finals the result was different. The RL broke unusually down the left of their field and Avalanche broke wide and hard. Avalanche pushed their open side and lost a player, then Lasoya moved down the middle and Jeremy Salm came down the open tape. Salm shot the far corner player and moved to the RL corner getting hit in the process but at this point Avalanche was in control and it was game over for the Russian Legion.

The Russian Legion had huge support from the European crowd, but were once again just piped for first place, by a stunning Dynasty team. A second place for RL must soon become a first. I think their time is due. Dynasty though showed a significant amount of maturity in the way they played. At one point in the Semiís SC Ironmen were way up on bodies but Dynasty locked it down and played defensive paintball wearing down the Ironmen until victory was theirs. They certainly deserved first place from what in essence was some of the very best pro paintball to have ever been played in the UK.

What was new at Campaign?

A huge great scoreboard :) The athletic scoreboard was being used to tell spectators who was playing and on which fields. This was great and many (myself included) would see a team about to play on a field and move over to watch them. Iíd love to see this at more events. It also added some humour to the end of the day and pointed out the Sponsors of the event such as Niall Squires and Mrs Miggins Pie ShopÖ

It was the event to show off Electro cockers. Raceguns from Denmark were showing a new entry level frame for cockers. Based off their well known race frame, this new model is designed for the more budget conscious player. It comes ready to use 9 volt batteries, and this means the removal of some of the expensive components such as the rechargeable battery and charger, and connector block so that they can offer the frame at a significantly lower price. The grip uses the same frame and board as their higher level model and Morten from Race Guns confirmed to me that someone choosing to get started at the lower level could in fact upgrade their gun eventually to the ultimate race level, including rechargeable battery and interface port etc.

Planet Eclipse was showing their new e-blade frame for the cocker. It is not yet on sale but hopefully will be by the end of September.  This is a completely new electro cocker conversion. Using an optical sensor for the trigger (similar to the Angelís optoboard design) and a magnetic return they have engineered another product for all those looking to get more performance out of their cockers. The model on show was a prototype and more developments are expected as it comes to production. I heard Flash (one of the design team) halfway through the event saying that the gun had already done 140,000 cycles at the boothÖ

Halo Bís have hit the UK. The new belt driven loader from Odyssey was on show hooked up to a Warp on the Smart Parts booth to show itís very fast feeding capabilities.

Airgun Designs Europe had a whole series of production C&C extremes including some new prototype parts on John Sostaís and John Bonichís guns which they were using while playing for Storm. The UK has now found about the low impact level 10 bolt kit, designed to stop mags from chopping and breaking paint, and they were selling tremendously from the booth. On display at the booth also were some videoís showing what performance benefits players could expect from getting the level 10 installed.

Campaign Cup was the end of the Millennium season, final season standings should be available soon.

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