Gee, this place sure seems familiar. Yep, I was back at the Austin-Tindall Regional Park for the second Minor League Paintball event of the year. Same place, new layout, new players, and totally different feel. This isn’t the first time the MiLP brought their event to the same location a week apart from the NCPA Nationals. Last year it was at the Central Florida Paintball location, this time the new venue just south of Orlando. It’s not the first time a local soccer park was used either. The past two years, MiLP has used Frank Brown Park in Panama City with similarly good grass and plenty of players and their families used it as an excuse to get their feet sandy before and after playing the event.
What’s fascinating is how much the feel of an event at the same location can change so much between one week and the next. Part of that is the change in layout. This time it was a fully mirrored layout from side-to-side and front-to-back so no distinct “snake” or “dorito” side besides whatever a team agreed upon. While in part this was fine by me in the sense that neither side was different so I could learn how to photograph the layout faster and staying on whichever side had some shade made less difference, it also meant that both sides felt the same and photographed the same. There’s a point in the day where I get comfortable with a layout, I know where my favorite angles are, where teams are likely to play, and where I’m likely to get shot more. This is good, but soon I get to a point where I’ve finished getting the best photos out of the day and I’ve seen all the layout has to offer. When the field is mirrored all around, that happened much faster and there wasn’t anything I could do about it because the other side of the field was exactly the same. I still did my job well and having just finished editing the team photos for the event I don’t see a decrease in the quality of the photos. It’s just a personal gut feeling at the time that the variety wasn’t there. I can only hope that future layouts don’t continue this trend.
The playing of the field was different than I expected. There were plenty of plays up the middle to the W bunker as should be expected given all the protection off the break, but not many teams capitalized on the “double snake” aspect of the field. I would have expected teams to push one side or another toward the middle of a game depending on the side that’s weakest in terms of bodies and pressure of lanes. Instead many teams were content to send a player up to the W, probably trade with the opposing teams’ player at the same spot, then sit back and gunfight until one side gains a double-body advantage. Granted I don’t have the playing experience that many of the players do and I have the benefit of being able to watch the games from the sidelines in a practically bird’s eye view, but what was it about this field that made it so attractive to slower play? I’d love for a few players to chime in and help me see where I’m wrong. It would be helpful to me to get a different perspective on this.
Event #2 is in the books. Event #3 is coming up June 11th and 12th in Panama City Beach with a return to Frank Brown Park. By the look of things, there appear to be a few D3 teams signed up. It remains to be seen if more will fill up the sheets and who will show up come game day. I’ll be there for sure, so if you want to get your team photographs contact me soon before I fill up.