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Portugal Millennium Series 2002
April 20-22, 2002
Lisbon, Portugal
Story and Photos submitted by Simon "manike" Stevens

The second leg of the 2002 Millennium series is being held in Lisbon Portugal. As you fly into the city airport you can actually see the paintball fields down below. It’s a short ride from the Airport to the Marriott Hotel and the playing fields. Usually the teams will be in many hotels but the Marriott here is big enough to hold every single one of the players from the sixty plus teams in attendance and there is definitely a feeling of one big paintball community. The hotel is also within walking distance of the fields, which is a benefit but actual parking at the fields is almost as far as the hotel and the walk in this heat with all the paintball kit is one issue players are finding to grumble at.

Hot. Paintball in Portugal is a ‘winter sport’. We are here in Lisbon at the end of April and this is towards the end of their Season. Apparently it gets too hot to play after May… Well most of the people attending this leg of the Millennium series are feeling the heat. Not just the temperature though but also the high level of teams here and some of the new rules which are being enforced strongly. 

There are five fields in use here and each is very obviously showing it’s sponsors. They are large fields, with some significant open areas, and it’s often not enough to have your back players stay in their same bunkers. They need to work up the field to give the support required. The First field is the ‘Tomahawk’ field with Tomahawk being a new brand of paint. There are new style bunkers shaped like totem poles and a huge ‘TeePee’ arrangement in the middle of the field with what looks like a series of ‘drums’ arranged around it. The WDP Angel field is field two and has been arranged with a large amount of bunkers many of which are at a lower level right on the ‘50’. This has led to a lot of fast breaks and then sneaky low level crawling around the centre. Who said crawling was just for the woods? There is a lot of crawling here and it is paying dividends for some teams. The JT field is set up similarly with very few stand up bunkers in the middle of the field. But they do have a very large ‘house’ stationed on one tape I think the reasoning being maybe just that they didn’t want Diablo, with the huge ‘Diablo Arch’, to have the largest bunker on their field. The fourth field is with ModulR bunkers and a little sparse of bunkers making it more open to play. The 5th field a little off the side of the other four which are stationed in one long line side by side, is the Diablo field. The usual Diablo Arch is here along with a new shape of ‘sub’ bunker on the tape and a lot of Tombstone style bunkers emblazoned with ‘RIP’. The fields make quite an impacting visual image, especially from the Air as we flew in, and how long can it really be until we have a field just of coke cans or Budweiser bottles, we need to see more outside sponsorship and the use of brand icons as the bunkers has to be the way forward. 

Each field is set up with netted areas for the marshals as a safe zone where they can remove their goggles and clean up without the desk and all marshalling equipment being liable to the usual stray shots, this allows the field of play to be a totally goggles on area, no-one is allowed on the field of play before or after a game without wearing goggles. It’s a great move to increase safety and get away from the tendency of players and marshals to not wear their goggles until immediately before play and to remove them as soon as the whistle goes at the end. The main Chrono station and set up area is simply a Skip turned on it’s side and is fully netted off to avoid any of the stray joggers that kept circling the field and were rather bewildered to see all the paintballers. The Skip being of a very solid construction doesn’t get destroyed by the repeated shootings like many netted chrono stations, and it also captures a lot of the paint in the bottom of it. Had it been angled up just a little more I think there would have been significantly less mess to clear up… The on field chrono stations are also a step up from the usual waste bin (trash can) with net in the end which always eventually end up being shot through. Here purpose designed paintball ‘catchers’ break the calls in a funnel system which then deposits all the residue through a hole into bins below, making it easy to clean up and take care of the usual mess that comes with any chrono station. I think the addition of a grill on the front of the trap to break the balls before they smack into the back wall would result in even less splash back and a cleaner site still.

The Millennium series has been looking at ways to handle eliminated players until the end of the game, including measures to prevent them seeing their teams finish the games. This caused a lot of unrest and although it cut down on the after game aggravation many players felt it unfair that they couldn’t continue to watch their team play. The situation now at millennium events is a ‘dead safe zone’ which is a small netted off area at the side of the field. Eliminated players are required to place their markers outside the zone in a taped box and then enter the netted area. Here they can remove their goggles and relax and continue watching the game, but with harsh penalties if they step out of the box before allowed by the marshals. Most players feel this to be a progressive step forwards to the problem and were very happy with it’s implementation.

The field set up here is in part of a sports complex, it’s definitely the way paintball is moving. There are some parts of this set-up which are fantastic and some which are just a little lacking. On the first day of the tournament at the other end of the sports complex is a ‘5 a side’ football (soccer) tournament. There are a huge number of young players here and you would think it an ideal opportunity to try and tempt them down to watch and learn about paintball, and yet there are no posters pointing out the event or what Paintball is and no people handing out flyers and persuading people to come and watch. It looks to me like a glaring opportunity missed. The layout of the four main fields in a line down the centre is excellent with the Trade stands all set up along one side and facing onto the fields of play. This makes it great for people watching in that they can do so while browsing the stands… It also means the people working the booths get chance to watch the action while they play. I’m currently sat out of the heat (as far as that’s possible) in the WDP booth watching games, listening to music and just enjoying the excellent atmosphere. (Special thanks to WDP for their hospitality and I apparently need to point out that Magued from Joy Division is definitely the best player in the world, blah blah blah…maybe I have heat stroke…) 

On the other side of the fields (and there is a central walkway to help access) is where the teams are staging, there is a huge long tented area providing shade and it’s located right next to a concrete block offering decent toilet and shower facilities as well as a Cafeteria serving hot and cold food and drinks. Players wanting a little more can get ice creams or beer from on site vendors. There is good viewing access to all the fields but a surprising lack of stands for the spectators, in this heat spectating becomes quite difficult and the inclusion of some covered stands providing shade would have been extremely welcome. With the lack of stands many spectators are making use of the high banks around the outside of the fields and getting a birds eye view of the action.

Unfortunately for some crazy reason the air fill station is at one corner away from the staging area and this along with the parking difficulties are the only two issues lacking when it comes to the layout, I don’t think it’s such an issue but the heat is making any extra effort more of an issue. The only shade available to players who want to be able to spectate the fields is at the set up area which is an excellent series of tables labelled for each team and under a large marquee.

The Millennium series are making a strong effort to crack down on equipment cheats and people pushing the rules with the set up of their equipment. It has been shown that it’s really too easy for people to cheat and seriously endanger safety by running hot guns. The ease of cheating with the modern electronic paintball markers is one issue but by no means the only one which is being targeted by a new series of rules that are being strongly enforced. The small yellow handheld chrono’s are being used to bring velocity checks to where it counts, at the start of, and during the game. The biggest advantage to be gained from shooting hot is often right at the start of the game. So now sometimes just when a team thinks a game is about to start there are sudden and total team chronographings, this is after the normal ‘chronoing on’ before the start of the game and literally just ten seconds before a team thinks they are about to play. It’s amazing and quite worrying how many people are getting caught! It’s a regular situation to see teams start a gun or two down. There is no excuse for teams to not check their guns before they start play and those complaining about the hand held chrono’s giving different readings from the red table top setting up chrono’s are reminded that paintballers should always check their gun against the field chrono that will be used to judge if they are hot or not. Now whether all of these hot guns are intentional or accidental is not the only issue, it is showing teams that there is no sense in pushing the rules especially when it comes to safety. 

Some teams have complained about the chronographing and it was maybe overzealous on the first day, but if this is what’s required to stop hot guns which are ultimately a safety issue then it needs to be done. Players were penalised if they even went one fps over the limit… It’s nice to see players being forced to stay within the rules for a change. If we don’t have strong penalties and enforcement for such infringements then players will not take notice. It is important though that the marshals understand the difference between trying to catch safety issues and actual cheats but don’t get in the way of the flow of the game, they also need to be sensible in how they test the guns before the start of a game to see if they are hot, it did seem as though some were maybe a little over zealous. There have been occasions when a player makes it to a bunker unseen and then gets given a chrono check highlighting his position to all of the opposition. I do believe it is a good rule that needs strong implementation but it also needs to be implemented with a large amount of common sense with out leaving the teams discombobulated about it’s purpose. 

Players who are found to have a hot gun before play commences lose the use of the gun but are allowed to stay on the field. This has lead to some rather amusing plays with guys running up the field without markers. In the Avalanche Vs Rushers game Avalanche found themselves two guns down from the start. They chose to swap guns around and thus left both front players Rocky and John Richardson without markers. John made a great break to the 50 Dorrito and Rocky found himself right up in the middle of the field on the lie down JT bunkers. Rocky made his way up the middle of the field strategically dropping full pots for any members of his team who may make it to those bunkers and need extra paint and at one point Rocky was seen to actually get up and bunker a guy… although obviously he had no marker! His comment after the game was ‘If I’d had a gun I could wasted those people’. Avalanche two guns down from the start went on to win none the less although in their next game lost out to the Jaguars, an Amateur team from France who just stepped up from playing novice last year, who celebrated wildly. The high level image of Avalanche does often mean that they are the one team everyone aspires to beat and that can’t make it easy for the players. Avalanche aren’t the only big name teams here finding it a little tough in the heat. Bob Long’s Ironmen got systematically swept from the field by Kellys’ a team from England registered as Novice, although if you looked at the Kellys player line up maybe they should have been in the division above there certainly are a lot of players there that are not novice in my opinion… 

The Russian Legion have been playing some fantastic paintball… both before and after they were found to have two guns capable of shooting in ‘full auto’. It was outstanding to see them make it into the Semi finals after playing 5 of their preliminary games against full teams with only 5 players! In this case the Russian Legion fell foul to the regulations of what is acceptable trigger operations or not. Many players (from all teams) are pushing the rules and setting up their trigger pulls to be so short and so light that the vibration of the guns shooting actually makes the trigger bounce and the gun keep firing. Now although this is not a Full Auto board or FA software this is not allowed under the rules and is classed as FA. Full Auto is not just about the software running a gun but it’s operation. If the gun is firing more shots than intentional pulls then it counts as FA no matter what it is that makes those extra shots, be it an FA board or a trigger designed or set up so short that the vibration of the marker causes more shots. Any player using a gun that shoots like this knows full well and it is their responsibility to make sure their equipment stays within the rules. In the Millennium if a player is found to have a marker capable of FA then they are banned from playing for the rest of the event. This meant the Russian Legion continuing with just 5 players. Most teams would find that difficult but the Russian Legion are still playing excellent paintball and stepped up the challenge admirably and continued ripping teams apart while two men down from the start! It certainly hasn’t reduced their attacking style of play. Ground Zero initially found the going rough. They lost their first three games in a row on the Saturday afternoon session  and were not their usual selves playing without their usual flair and style. Jerry Braun, owner of Ground Zero, told the guys to relax and have fun… GZ came back and won their last game on the Sat and then stormed through everyone in the Sunday games, with 7 max’s they qualified into the semi’s and then went on to make the very tough finals. Certainly the team which are impressing over here are Dynasty, at the moment no-one seems to able to step up their game enough against them, Dynasty front players are tearing down the field and giving an excellent display of paintball. Dynasty never lost a game in the whole tournament! Brutal Deluxe are rarely in the limelight but can really pull out some great paintball when required, they overcame Shockwave in a hard fought and very aggressive game on the Tomahawk field.

In the Amateurs Hardcore are a team to watch, they are definitely ‘this years NBK’ and out of all the teams I watched this weekend I would believe they are one of the few teams Europe has that could develop in the style of Dynasty and give the Americans a run for their money. They definitely come out fighting! In their game against GZ they put together tactics specifically designed to counter GZ’s impressive breaking of two players into the 50 at the Big TeePee on the tomahawk field. They had people sweet spotting into the centre lane from both sides and they sent a runner to bunker from the start the two people they expected to be there… Unfortunately Jerry and the GZ guys knowing how aggressive Hardcore can play changed tactics and stayed away from the centre barricade this time, leaving the runner to find an empty barricade and a wall of paint awaiting him! Syndicate were looking good along with Scalps who always have a certain flare to the game and great ability. Cyclone from Finland were on form at this event, playing well as a team and also in the Nations Cup where many of the players represented Finland with huge success.

The Nations Cup is just that, teams are put together with players from all represented countries. Finland an underdog but with a good reputation after similar events put out the USA to great cheers from the European Spectators, and then beat the Russian team on the Angel field to make it into the finals. The other semi finalists were previous winners Sweden who took down ‘Canada’ (who had a little help from across the border…). With great play and help from the Lundqvist brothers, who having been playing a huge amount across the pond with GZ, took down Canada in style. Max Lundqvist ran the flag back along the crowd side just keeping within the taped boundary… deja vous set in when Max did exactly the same thing in the Finals against Finland after he again mopped up the remaining Finland players. Certainly the players of this weekends event seemed to be Max Lunqvist and Oli Lang, both of whom were seriously on form.

The finals were very tough in all categories and with a little light entertainment due to a streaker wearing nothing but a pair of goggles (the heat and 200 Euro’s got to him…) the Portugal leg concluded. Metralhas a home team from Portugal were the eventual clear novice winners. All Stars Red from Germany just pipped the French Evil Pigs into third. Fourth place was taken by Paintball Voodoo from Finland. Finnish paintball was really very well represented here and Scandinavian Paintball continues to be the biggest potential in the Millennium series quest to take on the Americans.

The Amateurs saw some really outstanding paintball being played. It was a seriously tough line up with quality games, any of the teams in the final four would have stood up well in the Pro Division. Hardcore from Norway really were stunning, they have an aggressive ‘do what needs to be done’ attitude. Their tactical play is also developing well and they are my bet for success this year. I’m just waiting for them to start rolling over the American visitors, it will happen... They have a style that reminds me of Dynasty and I bet it won’t be long until it really pays off. Hardcore won but only just pipped Syndicate from Germany into second by four points. Showing just how tough the amateur bracket was Scalps from France took third place from Finnish Cyclone by 2 points! The guys from Finland can be really proud of their achievements especially those that also represented their country in the nations cup.

In the Pro finals what else can be said other than Dynasty absolutely deserved their first place. They were stunning. From their first game to their last. They didn’t lose a single game and rolled straight through the finals, even breaking between the bunkers on the Angel field (is that allowed?) to break to the 60 in the oppositions half! On the Saturday they were even giving away and signing Posters at the WDP stand in preparation for their Victory! They looked and were unstoppable all weekend. The next three places were so tight for points that only two points separate the second to fourth place! The All Americans were on form, many shooting Impulses with a new front reg lpr modification and Adam Gardner especially working well up front playing good aggressive paintball they took second place. Ground Zero and Bob Longs Ironmen tied for third position on points but because GZ won in their head to head game they took third. GZ who were shooting their new ‘Ground Zero Intimidators’ had been expected to go home after losing their first three games in a row but rallied well to come back, making the semi’s and the finals. Bob Long’s Ironmen took a hard fought fourth in what was again a tough finals.

What was new at Portugal? Well actually very little technology and gadget wise, the trade stands were a little lacking in that department. Some new style Sup Air bunkers on the JT and Tomahawk field were received well with players looking for new challenges under the Supair style playing format. Smart Parts were showing Halo hoppers and new playing gear. WDP had many IR3’s including some new dust fade styles and there were even several Brand New Dark IR3’s from Warped Sports in use by two members of Impact UK, How they got their guns before Avalanche is anyone’s guess, but rumour has it Avalanche will be shooting all black Dark IR3’s by the end of this week. They should look good in Las Vegas. WDP were also showing their ‘Cash Money’ and ‘American Flag’ A.I.R. tanks including some very nice 45ci bottles which are available separately (along now with 68ci and 88ci tanks). Diablo along with having some nice different bunkers in their field were also showing some custom Matrixes including the new LCD version, the best feature of which is the LCD display going ‘Pow!’ when ever the gun was fired… well I liked it anyway.

Next on the Millennium trail is the Mayhem Masters which this year is going to be in Amsterdam, Holland. Amsterdam well known as Europe’s ‘Party Town’ is set to be an amazing event and quite an experience.

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