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Toulouse 2001
Submitted by Simon "Manike" Stevens

Novice 1st - JAGUARS ELFES
Amateur 1st - NBK

The Toulouse Leg of the Millenium series is again sited at The Stade Baran, a football (soccer) stadium on the top of a hill just outside Toulouse. A great venue with flat playing fields, toilets and stadium grandstands. It was hard to see how this years event could better the 2000 Toulouse Tournament which had set new standards for the millennium series in the last year.

The wet weather that greeted teams as they arrived was a worry with non stop drizzle and overcast skies. It could have been a problem but the organization had sensibly sited the teams staging area on the hard tarmaced area. Hopefully reducing the problems teams and site would face as players staged and went to and from from the fields even if it were to rain. In fact it only rained once… and what a downpour, the heavens thankfully waited for the Friday morning session to finish and then as lunch was being taken they opened. Anyone unlucky enough to get caught in the open was drenched in seconds and as the lunch break drew to a close the event was postponed to wait for the torrential rain to stop, which thankfully it did in the next half an hour or so. The rest of the weekend saw great weather with warm overcast days regularly breaking into hot sunshine that the many regulars to the Toulouse tournament expected. Teams of organizers worked with gravel on the most walked paths to keep the site in as good condition as possible. And what a team there was! Laurent had over 100 staff working at the event including marshals. A staggering number of people and in an effort to ensure the smooth operation of a Tournament which a huge number of people from all over the World were confident to say was the best event they had ever attended. 

There were many things that made this event special.. Not least the co-operation with the City Of Toulouse and the Local Mayor. Players arriving at the airport were greeted with an information desk offering advice and maps. Huge posters advertising the event were immediately on show and not just in the Airport. It was stunning to drive around Toulouse and see that every other BillBoard had a picture (an excellent one at that) of Peter Reilly from GZ on it. Toulouse 2001 really took paintball to the public eye and it was almost impossible for people in the City not to know what was going on. Players in their hotel rooms turned on the TV to see paintball videos being played and regular showings on the local news. This is just what paintball needs and it’s bringing the sport further forwards every day. At the field there was an amazing atmosphere. TV crews were avidly interviewing players and filming the fields. The JT field even had a camera car set up with a huge boom that allowed them to roam the camera over the field. And watch the action up close. A few closed minded individuals complained that it occasionally got in the way, but many saw the opportunity for the future and took their chance to be TV stars. Although the less said about bunkering empty bunkers the better…

That one rainstorm was the only glich in what was otherwise a stunning event. And even then it made things interesting as teams took to sliding (often belly down) huge distances into their bunkers on the excellent grass playing surface. It was strange to see how as the sun dried the fields players could slide less and less until the were stopping dead when diving to the ground and had to quickly crawl a few yards into their bunkers.

There was a great attendance of vendors from all over the World, Kingman have made a move into Europe and had a large tent showing off their new Java range and Raven products at good show prices. Dye was in attendance and trying desperately to not sell the only pre-production set of LCD Angel stickies that was on show (pics in the photo section).  WDP had a lot of new products on show and also provided one of the best Angel ‘Heaven’ events I have ever attended. Many other manufacturers including Armson, Planet, SmartParts, Airgun Designs, Proball,  Redz, Slam Jack and Diablo had a great presence and had new products on show (more in the what’s new).

Thursday had a nasty drizzle as teams turned up from the airport and walked the fields. What an interesting set of fields it was this year also. 5 fields were in action this year (one more than last year and in an effort to keep up with the large number of teams entered). Three smaller flelds out on the practice pitches and 2 in the main  soccer stadium. The Sponsors of the fields were making a big show, with bunkers designed to represent the brand images of the relevant sponsors.  Diablo was on field 1 with a huge Diablo arch in the center of the field and some great Y bunkers on the edges where the center of the Y had a large Diablo ‘head’ complete with horns. This was a great field to watch with many opportunities for rapid advancing and close ‘in your face’ paintball. JT took over field two with a very complex JT maze in the middle that led to several games where players chased each other around the complex barricade. The use of this barricade and the possibility of paint coming through many of the gaps between the letters made it quite interesting. At the same time large barricades in the middle of the fields were making it hard to see from corner to corner of the field.

Most notably the third field the `A` field  was sponsored by WDP, the theme is as many A shaped bunkers as possible including a huge triple A complex in the middle of the field and 2 large laid down ‘A`s at each side on the 50`s. The back of the field being much more sparsely populated with smaller inverted T bunkers with narrow tubes triangulating the corners. As per Mayhem teams were often unsure whether to break hard and fast or to shoot lanes. The sparse barricades at the back of the field meant teams were forced to move into the center early to start eliminating the opposition. Many players said how much they enjoyed playing this field.

Fields 4 and 5 were smaller than last year and with more bunkers. Field 5 being the only field with a snake and in this case it was placed across the center of the field instead of along the tape in the more usual manner.

As well as the competition on the paintball field there appeared to be a new breed of competition going on… The competition of the hospitality stands! Field three (the Angel field) had the Diablo VIP area watching it complete with tables and chairs, then the FaceFull area (a new magazine… more later) and then finally but definitely not least the Angel Heaven hospitality area. Hats off to the WDP guys, Heaven truly lived up to its name. As well as chairs and tables and the usual silk fluttering in the breeze there were also huge padded blanket areas complete with plenty of silver cushions. It was an amazingly relaxed and social atmosphere helped in no small part by the Angel girls coming round regularly providing free bottled water and beer for those who wanted it. Fresh fruit (including melons for Magued from Joy Division) was on a never ending supply. Many teams took full advantage of the hospitality and left in the evenings more than a little worse for wear. The only problem with the hospitality being the squabbles over who had to drive back to the hotels… ? Rumours of the Heaven at The Joy Masters in Sweden have already started, it should be an amazing set up… I’m sworn to secrecy but don’t forget to pack your swimming costumes if you are coming to Sweden… ;)

This event also brought the implementation of some new rules. On field chronographing was taking place thanks to the small hand held RADARchrons now available.  While some players felt it unnecessary and didn’t like the idea of it getting in the way of their ‘flow’ others hailed it and felt it was a great leveler for those they felt had previously been playing on the black side of the rules. The team break out areas were set up with very high banners/billboards which players were unable to see over. Teams broke out from behind the boards but were not allowed to start firing until passing the base line, with the high boards in place many players felt the rule of needing to pass the line was unnecessary and saw the only complaints about marshalling in that it was difficult to justify how some players were eliminated for shooting too soon. It was felt that since the players couldn’t see the opposition anyway until the horn had gone and the game started it was an unnecessary rule and subject to marshal interpolation. It was the only grounds of complaint about the marshalling that I heard. Many players went out of their way to say how good they felt the marshalling was, Phil Ham even claiming “it’s the best marshalling I’ve ever seen at an event.”  The marshalling was tough but fair and this proved to be greatly appreciate by players who would rather know where they stand early on than get into debates at the end of a game due to weak calls or unenforced rules. Another great use of the high break out barriers was that eliminated players had to go and sit behind the barrier and face away from the field of play, this idea rumoured to have been thought of by ‘el presidente’ Niall Squire meant that eliminated players were not subject to shouting on field or giving their many varied views of events, any discussions were subject to the people involved and this made marshalling cleaner and easier without sideline views being thrown into the affray. An excellent addition to the rules and one I hope to see used throughout this series and maybe all tournament play?

Friday started out overcast and the very flat football (soccer) playing surface was slick underfoot. As the day moved on the Sun burst through but found it hard to hold off the clouds. The lunch time rain burst did nothing to dampen spirits as the teams played hard for the prelims.

Russian Legion looked to be playing well, as ever playing a very clean and honest game they came out against Demonium and lost a player from the break. Demonium broke hard just short of the huge Diablo arch in the middle of the field and then proceeded to work the arch and the smaller cross next to it. Demonium looked to be in a strong position until a Russian Legion player made a huge 5 metre belly slide on the slick grass to get into the Y barrier at the side of the field unseen. This allowed him to take the center guy who had no clue he was there, then he shot the second middle player before snap shooting his back tape man. The remaining Demonium player then came in for a mug eliminating both players in the process and allowing the Russian Legion an excellent win.

Saturday is when things started shaping up. Unfortunately due to huge air fair prices from the States many American teams were unable to attend at short notice. This left the Pro division with just 12 teams and the pro’s soon realized that to make the cut body count was very important. It looked possible to get 10/10 maxes and still miss the cut… Pro teams suddenly become very conscious of losing players. Shockwave who had been playing some great paintball fell to the harsh cut, maxing 9 games they didn’t get enough points to qualify and what had been the UK’s best hope didn’t make it into the semi’s… The Gauntlet was taken up by the Mayhem Tigers, who having had difficulties in previous events qualify (so often 9th) were playing fantastically. With 10 straight maxes they qualified in fourth place through to the semi’s. In the finals they stormed through Russian Legion and Joy Division but then came up against Bob Long’s Ironmen, unfortunately they lost four players off of the break and the Ironmen took a great win. This meant they missed out on the Finals by just 8 points. An excellent result by any standard but it still left them disappointed for not making the final four.

The Scandinavian teams were making a huge showing. It should be interesting at the next Millenium event to be held in Sweden and I expect many more good Scandinavian teams will be competing for prizes. Playing some very fast and aggressive paintball they were giving excellent displays to the crowds. Did I mention the crowds? Wow. I’ve never seen so many people stay to watch games. And it wasn’t just the teams playing and tempted to stay on by the two bars on site, it was families and people just out enjoying the sun. The sides of fields 3-5 were always being watched by crowds but the amazing thing was the grandstand fields 1 and 2. During the prelims the stands were almost constantly full with spectators and when the finals came they had to open the other side of the stadium and allow people to sit on the grassy bank to watch. The grassy area was covered by people enjoying the weather, the paintball and shouting encouragement to good play on the fields.

There were many good teams in this years event and making the finals in any of the divisions was not easy. Campaign Power fresh out of some major practicing and filming for a new Bravo TV series on paintball were looking good. Qualify 1st in the Prelims and first in the Semi’s they were confident going into the finals. However, again the Scandinavians come into play their first game against the Wikings saw them lose a player off the break. The Wikings moved up field to take the teabag (Dorito) and then eliminated the Campaign back players. Jeff for Campaign held the teabag in check until a Wiking player moved down the middle of the field eliminating him. As the teabag player wrapped around to shoot at the center of the field the middle Wiking player moved down the middle and mugged out the last two remaining Campaign players. None of the Novices gave a poor account of themselves and with the teams looking very equal the dust settled with the Jaguar Elfes in the lead followed by a very deserving Wikings and then a somewhat disappointed Campaign Power team who after their good showing in the prelims had anticipated better for themselves. Fourth place went to the Ball breakers who had beaten the Jaguar Elfes in the finals showing how close all the teams were.

The Amateur finals showed the promise coming from the Scandinavian teams. 3 out of 4 teams were from Scandinavia. The Icemen were playing well and were the only team that beat Norway’s NBK, in a game that started very slowly and cautiously with the Icemen losing a player on the break the Icemen worked hard to get a player into the teabag, losing the first player who attempted it they finally got a man in and then as NBK concentrated on this threat the Icemen moved up the middle of the field. With some great team play by the Icemen zoning out the NBK back players they then opened up the field and ran down to eliminate the remaining two players. 

One team that had looked fantastic in the Prelims was team Hardcore, also coming from Norway (and some Swedes) they had been playing some of the most impressive hard breaking play of the weekend. Even breaking players to every single ‘50’ barricade on the Angel field. This style of play continued with them into the finals. When they played NBK, NBK broke a player into the ‘50’ rocket who was immediately mugged (bunkered) by a Hardcore player who had been breaking for the other side of the same bunker. Hardcore continued to push hard and taking another NBK middle player but as they pushed up the left of the field a stand off ensued, Hardcore ran a back player all the way across the back of the field in support and then pushed through the center arch to the ‘X’ on NBK’s side of the field. As time began to run short all three remaining Hardcore players got up and went for bunkering moves, but the NBK back line played well and only one of their players was eliminated at the loss of all the remaining hardcore players. NBK then ran the flag back just in time.  A fantastic set of finals for the Amateurs saw the Gravediggers from Portugal pushed into fourth place with Hardcore in a well deserved 3rd, then the Icemen with NBK on top of the podium once again.

The Pro Finals were tough. After the dust settled on the Semi’s the final four were Dynasty, Bob Long’s Ironmen, Ground Zero and once again Joy Division keeping the European hopes alive. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be Joy for Joy Division as they lost all three of their final games. Ground zero were on Form with ‘New Skool’ ‘does an electro need charging?’ Nicky Cuba  and Maximus ‘mugging empty bunkers is easy’ Lunquist playing some great ball up front backed by the rock solid Rosie and Fritz cleaning up the aftermath. Dynasty who had overrun Joy Division convincingly were playing fast and furious ‘in your face’ paintball. They were right up on GZ in their ‘90’ bunkers but got a little crazy at the end and the experienced GZ back line mopped them up to take a win which had looked unlikely moments earlier. Dynasty have some of the most promising young talent in paintball at the moment and it can’t be long until they take a major title. Bob Long’s Ironmen had looked good all weekend and were playing very aggressively in the finals. Breaking hard and seaming to keep moving forwards they were a great team to watch and deserved to win the Title. 

Rumour has it that GZ may be marshalling a leg of the Millenium series which should give them the Series Title already! And put them in good stead to take the World Paintball Series Title.

The whole of the finals was put on as a great show, complete with a set of cheerleaders (complements of Sport Attitude) who would come out and keep the crowd entertained between games. It was also impressive to see how many people were present to see the Prizes given out at the end. It’s not uncommon for losing teams to leave before final presentations, but here the Grand Stands were packed with teams and spectators. The atmosphere was fantastic with Champagne being sprayed and buckets of ice getting thrown over the winners. Winning teams took to throwing pieces of equipment and shirts into the crowd. The ensuing stampede was immense as people clambered to get t-shirts and in some cases even Dye Barrels! It felt as if the sport was actually coming of age and the people in the crowd were enjoying every moment.

In all, this Years Toulouse has gone down as the ‘Best Event Ever’ yet… It’s going to be an extremely hard act to follow. Congratulations to all the staff who worked so hard to make it the resounding success it was. A special mention to the fantastic marshalling and to the excellent supply of air which kept everything running so smoothly. Next stop on the tour is Stockholm Sweden and is set to be the ‘party’ leg of the series.

Whats new? There was a huge amount of new stuff at Toulouse. To start with a new Magazine ‘FaceFull’.. A very different approach to paintball magazines from what we have currently, this magazine looks set to be the type that you would leave on your coffee table and hope friends would pick up as an introduction to paintball. It’s a more fashion/mens magazine look on paintball and the way of life behind it (think Maxim style on paintball). A huge magazine (my arms ached while reading it) it is full of glossy pictures and articles to read. It’s certainly not a magazine that you can pick up and read in 30mins, the first copy having over 210 pages! Set to be a bi monthly production it got great appreciation from the paintballers that went to the opening presentation… it needs a little more work on the proof reading (many players rapidly getting new nicknames from the Typo’s) but such huge potential, I eagerly look forward to seeing the second edition.

WDP had a huge array of new products on show, from the Polaris tool kit which gives you all the tools required to tune your angel (but not affect the velocity on field) and which fits in place of volumisers. They even sport a smart little lpr gauge which is constantly on the gun and can let you see your LPR pressure from the front (? A little dangerous maybe...) and from the side ( a better idea I think). Also on show from WDP were their custom tank finishes, a whole new set of prototype triggers and some new colours and finishes that were part polished part dust style. 

Planet were showing their new ‘Blade’ Pivot triggers for the cocker which were selling well. A demonstration gun on their stand saw plenty of use over the weekend as people wanted to try it out.

AGD Europe were showing a new line of Aluminium E-mag bodies. Designed as a replacement for the rail, body and site rail of the current E-mag, this modular body kits looked extremely impressive. The breech module which is held in place by screwing in the cocker threaded barrel is available as center feed or as a module for direct feed from a warp set up. This leaves the top of the gun clear to site down and makes a very clean looking marker. The battery pack is more rounded than the than the original E-Mag, and features a sliding on/off switch.  Rumour has it there will be specially milled versions of the body available… They were also showing a new delrin style bolt which is significantly lighter than stock.

Chris Cole from GZ was sporting a new signature series gun called the VooDoo Autococker, and also had a new LCD bolt on show with a different type of face pattern.

A new (to most) style of Custom guns called the ‘Meteor’ range was also on show, this is a whole series of guns from Autocockers through Sterlings to Impulses milled and annodised in very bright colours.

Armson were showing their new line in straight rifled barrels. Apparently the design comes from some significant testing to establish the most efficient barrel length. A barrel was taken and slowly cut down to find the length at which velocity was highest (i.e. gun being most efficient) for the first stage, and then a second stage was added and the process repeated. An interesting development process which has lead to the first stage being approx 8”, significantly longer than many other two piece designs on the market.

Dye had a set of new style LCD stickies on show, in a dark smoke colour these grips were significantly harder in feel than current stickies and also have an integral port cover for the LCD grip.

BunkerKing was present in full force and many players were quick to get some of what is definitely the new hot fashion to be seen in. Some excellent headware (head bands are the hot fashion statement of the moment) and T-shirts with innovative slogans were just part of the products they had on show.

Smart Parts were showing off some new accessories for the Impulse including bullet style ball detent and front valve covers. They also had some new style milled Max Flow regs which looked very good on the Rushers Vision Impulses.

Proball were showing their new Sovereign II’s with a different style body milling. They were also showing the new RPScherer Advantage paint made with a different shell. They left a bowl full of paint out in the open and during the weekends weather which went from humid and raining to hot sun there seemed to be little difference in the quality of the shell. It felt exactly the same as paint fresh from the bag.

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