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The Saviours of UK Paintball ?????

Discussion in 'Paintball News' started by Robbo, May 2, 2017.

  1. Robbo Owner of this website for my sins ....

    Jul 5, 2001
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    I had better apologise up front for the length of this article - I always try to keep the number of words down but I never seem to have much luck in that department and so regardless of how long this article is, here goes:-

    One of my favourite films of all time, the cowboy epic, The Magnificent Seven, has an interesting anecdote in it which is surprising because it’s a classic Western and not known for any philosophical insights.
    However, there’s a scene in it where an old timer shares a cautionary tale - he tells of a man who lives on the second floor of a tenement block in the city - one day, the man heads over to the window and looks out toward the town before him - just then he notices someone who’s obviously just jumped from one of the floors above and is now plummeting past his window - not to appear unsympathetic, the man asks the jumper, ‘How’s it going mate’?
    The response came quickly …………… ‘
    So far so goooooood’ !

    I‘d hate to think paintball has gotten to the ‘So far so good’ stage in our time-line but there are some worrying indications lurking ominously in the background.
    UK paintball is facing the possibility of losing one of its limbs … if fate decrees we manage to avoid that loss, then a lot of us will owe a huge debt of gratitude to a few people, 2 people to be precise, Ainsley and Dylan of the CPPS.
    As to why?
    I'll explain ....

    However, just to quell any fears - the limb that paintball is in danger of losing isn’t its dick, we’ve already got rid of barnett last year - the limb I now refer to is UK paintball’s Air-Ball tournaments.

    And to paraphrase Winston Churchill’s most famous quote, and relate it to our situation:-

    ‘Never in the history of UK paintball might so much, be owed, by so many, to so few’ …..

    As we all know, paintball is split into two distinct factions, those being, the rec/scenario game, and the tournament playing scene with the latter being further divided between woodland tournaments and Arena Air-Ball events, specifically the CPPS.
    My fear is, the UK Air-ball tournament could well be heading in the direction of the dead-box if we ain’t careful.
    However, to confuse matters somewhat, in the UK, there’s been a recent resurgence in woodland tournaments but these guys cannot be regarded in the same way as Air-Ball players because the woodland demographic is populated by a completely different player from the CPPS/Millennium guys - So much so, that the average age of the players at these woodland events is sometimes 20 years older than their counterparts in Airball tournaments.
    I’m not sure how long that trip down Nostalgia Avenue is gonna last for those older players in the woods but it’d be hard to make a convincing case for this resurgence coming to anything more than a brief flirtation with the past …..
    If you were to scratch below the surface of this woodland renaissance, I’m afraid it doesn’t run deep.

    Moving on ….

    Unfortunately, there are times in life when we end up realising something too late - I’m hoping this isn’t one such occasion - our problems originated when we failed to identify the real reasons behind our sport’s major growth period, from about 1998 - 2007.
    It was a decade of conflicting and ultimately confusing indications - it was also a period that oversaw our migration out of the woods over to the open arena formats that modern-day Sup’Air tournaments are played in.
    It’s hardly surprising that people viewed this massive growth in our sport/industry as confirmatory evidence that our sport was heading in the right direction … Surely the evidence showed as much?

    This transition from woodsball to arenaball was seen by us all, player and industry alike, as a natural development in our sport’s evolution - the tantalising prospect of mainstream TV only added to that confusion but back then, it all seemed so, so promising.
    The connection made between our migration out of the woods and the fattening of our industry’s bank accounts was deemed to be causal when in reality, this association wasn’t causal at all, it was incidental.

    As company turnovers were increasing year on year, significant investments were understandably directed toward new products, new markets and higher production runs - reinvestment was rife - and understandably so.
    If perhaps we’d been a little more vigilant, we might have realised this rapid growth phase wasn’t
    because we had come out the woods into arenas, it was in spite of it !!

    I will, for the purposes of this article ignore what’s happening Stateside/Europe - their situations may well be inextricably linked to ours but only time will tell if we are to negotiate different paths.

    Modern-day tournament paintball has now been condensed to a ‘Wham Bam Thank-You Mam’ flurry of paintballs and armbands that’s in danger of being little more than a multi-coloured, over-inflated hole in your wallet.

    But before I continue, I need to clarify something quickly, I’m obviously aware of the astounding success of the CPPS in the last few years or so which of course tends to run contra to any idea that Arena tournaments are in danger but I’ll hopefully be able to explain my concerns even though the CPPS success story does tend to contravene what I’m suggesting.

    It’s certainly no secret that tourney-ball, especially Air-Ball tourneys are expensive to play.
    I readily acknowledge that the CPPS is a lot more affordable than the Millennium but it’s also fair to say the CPPS is fundamentally different from the Millennium because the latter promotes events all over Europe and has associated costs that don’t apply to the CPPS.

    Up the M1 and beyond …

    Last year at the Millennium in Basildon, I met Ainsley for the first time - we gas-bagged for a half hour or so before he invited me to his CPPS event to have a look around.
    I’d already heard a lot about what Ainsley and Dylan had achieved these past few years with the CPPS and so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.


    Ainsley to the left .... and me, who's always right !

    I also knew some friends of mine in the industry would be attending the CPPS and so it was gonna be a pretty good opportunity to get pissed at some unsuspecting hotel bar somewhere swapping war stories from days of old.
    Ainsley had kindly sorted out a hotel for me deep in the northern wastelands of Domino-shire and so I headed up the M1/M6 wondering if I’d get past immigration control at the hotel.

    Anything five miles north of Watford is ‘Injun country’ to me and upon seeing the inevitable black-pudding on the breakfast menu at the hotel, it confirmed the need to resist talking anything like Bob Hoskins.

    The prospect of being beaten to death by a bunch of Peaky Blinders wasn’t an attractive proposition and so I decided not to get too pissed at the bar that night lest I attract too much attention - leastwise that was my plan.
    At my hotel on Saturday night , I'd met up with Twizz, Jamie Beadle and his GF Kelsey Cain who I'd known since she was a baby in arms, and so the chances of me staying sober were a big a fat zero .... I didn't disappoint that night at the bar as the third vodka and lemonade slid past my tonsils - I'm an absolute lightweight when it comes to drinking but thankfully, I didn't upset or clump anyone and so from my point of view, the evening was a resounding success.

    Whenever I go to these events, I always ask my friends in the industry how things are going [business-wise] - I pretty much get the same response every time I ask and so I don’t really know why I bother asking but I feel obliged since I’m supposed to be in the media business:-
    We’re doing fine, thanks’ is the usual response - however, this time one of them surprisingly departed from their stock answer, and ventured:-
    Pete, Everyone’s waiting for the first one to blink’ ….
    On the face of it, that response doesn’t seem all that important but it possibly captures the current climate in the financial corridors of our beloved sport.
    His answer implied that our industry are all sitting there waiting for the first company to metaphorically throw their cards in and leave the table.
    I'm no financial expert but even I know that's not such a healthy statement of affairs ....

    And just to clarify what’s at stake here ….
    I’m not suggesting paintball as an industry will die, that’s not the case because paintball will always be around in one form or another but UK Air-Ball events could be lining up an appointment with the dead-box.

    When I arrived on site, I took a brief stroll around the vendors on site, most of whom were friends of mine anyway and so it was a good opportunity to touch base with them and work out which hotel bar we were gonna pissed in that evening.
    As I went from one vendor to the next, I chanced upon a loader ….. no flashing lights, no 4k displays, it just looked like an everyday loader to me.
    I enquired how much it cost …… when told, my jaw hit the floor like an anvil made out of a neutron star - TWO HUNDRED AND TEN FUKKIN QUID !!!!!
    WTF !!!
    Since when did a blob of plastic with a fukkin big hole in it cost over 200 quid??
    Alright, I might be unfairly describing the loader as a blob of plastic but jeeezaloo, surely, that’s a bit steep?

    Still reeling from that loader price-tag, I then picked up an incongruous looking back-pack .. nothing fancy-looking, just a few pouches and a couple of slices of Velcro slapped on …..
    ‘How much’, I asked nervously …. 80 quid came the unashamed reply!
    You have got to be fukkin kidding me????
    80 quid for a bit of stiff cammo-cloth with four holes and four piss-flaps hanging off it????

    And if that weren’t ridiculous enough, I was then told the cost of a high-end marker followed by a somewhat ominous prediction that:-
    ‘it wouldn’t be long before we begin to see markers sold for two grand’.
    TWO GRAND ?????
    My Mrs wouldn’t feel too grand if she'd found out I’d spent the equivalent of half a new kitchen suite or yet another twenty-five
    driving lessons ... on a frikkin pellet-pusher - And we wonder why our sport isn’t growing like we want???

    That last comment was a bit of a cheap shot I know but come on, surely we’re all waiting for the Emperor’s New Clothes to be revealed by a dissenting voice amid the crowd somewhere, uttering:-
    These prices, they're taking the piss, right’ ?…

    Look, lots of sports are expensive to kit yourself out when you first start playing them but after that, most are a lot less expensive than paintball - we have to keep paying silly big-bucks to play - we all accept that as ballers but surely there must be a limit that bears some form of allegiance to common-sense otherwise we’re practically inviting the ‘So far, so good’ stage in our time-line.

    Now, the retail market is maybe placing a disproportionate amount of pressure on our players but redemption is at hand in the form of the CPPS.
    Domestically, the CPPS provides the aspirational focus for all serious tournament ballers in the UK but we’ve been unbelievably lucky in who we have running it.
    And in a sense, the Ainsley and Dylan show is a promotion that could prove to be the key to our survival but a couple of ‘tweaks’ [Ainsley and Dylan] ... need tweaking ….

    Before I continue, I just need to make something perfectly clear, I ain’t in nobody’s pocket but my own, and I ain’t trying to ingratiate myself with Ainsley, Dylan or any other fukkah for that matter - I’ve got bigger fish to fry than to do someone a favour who I’d only met twice in my life - you’ll maybe understand why I’ve felt the need to qualify this after you’ve read the remainder of this article.

    I’ve been to many hundreds of tournaments over the years in many different countries and I can honestly say, the CPPS is a unique animal, so much so that as I was travelling back down the M1, I realised I just had to write something about it.

    The way Ainsley and Dylan have created and managed the CPPS should be a route-map for any aspiring promoter but I wanna flesh out a little more detail before I get to the bottom-line.

    After I arrived at the CPPS on the Saturday, Ainsley was kind enough to give me the guided tour - And during that guided tour he took me to see the Elite field he and Dylan had created for the ‘pro’ teams - it was pretty damn impressive as I’m sure a lot of you players can testify.

    Now, Ainsley ain’t the sort of person to give it the Billy Big Bollox and boast about the things he’d done - from what I’ve heard, everyone speaks highly of him - come to think of it, I’ve never heard of one negative word said about him which is nigh-on unique in paintball … in fact, I can only think of one of other person in our sport who’s universally liked by all who meet him, and that’s Ledzy - And if
    you don’t like Ledzy then there’s something wrong with you.
    Ainsley is out of that same mould …. He’s just a few pounds lighter, he’s a Ledzy-Lite.

    As Ainsley was describing what it took to get his Elite field up and running in the way he wanted it, I was trying to keep mental tabs on how much he must have spent on it.
    I didn’t ask him exactly how much he’d laid out on the Elite field but I had a pretty good idea.
    He must have spent well over fifty grand on that field, and yeah, you heard right, that’s fifty grand, fifty fuhkin grand !!!!

    And if I’m out on that guesstimate then the error-bar is plus or minus five grand, not much more than that - It is the correct order of magnitude, I know that much !!

    And so, what of it, who gives a flying fuhk what he spends on it?
    Well, I care .. and so should we all because in all of my years in paintball, I have never heard of anyone investing that sort of dosh on just one field ….

    Come to think of it, I'd never heard of that sort of money being invested on an entire site let alone one field for the pros.
    What should this tell us?
    At the very least, it’s obvious Ainsley/Dylan value their customers and are both acutely aware of what they need/want.

    If that Elite field investment is indicative of Ainsley’s outlay on his site as a whole then I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned up to the next CPPS wearing a red and white suit with a long white beard and a team of fuhkin reindeer towing his car - I’ve no doubt Dylan will be running close behind with a set of antlers shoved up his ass …

    On top of that investment in the Elite field, he then adds he’s assigned ten refs to those games played on that field.
    Now, even though my tutorial days in mathematics are long gone with the advent of the steam engine …. but to me …. that looks suspiciously like one ref for each player on the Elite field.
    I’ve never ever heard of that scale of investment in reffing staff in my entire paintball life, not even close.

    Is it Overkill?
    Nah, he’s just giving the players what they value/want/need ….
    Customer service?
    You bet your ass it is …
    It beggars the question, WTF is motivating Ainsley/Dylan because it ain’t making loadsa money that’s for sure.
    Very rarely in life do we come across people who do things for the love of something other than making money - there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making money but as we all know, when an individual such as someone like barnett is let loose in any sport/industry, there will be financial casualties, and with barnett, there were a whole slew of them.

    But if ever there was gonna be a polar opposite to someone like barnett, then Ainsley is about as close as you are ever gonna get.
    And as much as barnett’s fate was embedded in his greed - Ainsley’s destiny could well be written in his generosity.
    I know what teams/players have to pay but surely this CPPS vehicle has got to make money somewhere along the line but all I kept seeing was expenditure after expenditure.

    A lot of people in the business world are self-serving as$holes which is a trait that comes in handy in the ‘dog eat dog’ world of business but there are others who love what they do and don’t necessarily nail a price-tag on everything they provide.

    Every now and then in life we meet people who are just too nice, too nice for their own good.
    As far as I can tell, Ainsley/ Dylan are two such people … the danger is, they really need to start taking more money out ,and to achieve this they need to address their pricing structures.

    I’m not for one second suggesting the CPPS is financially unstable, it self-evidently isn’t but I’d feel a lot more comfortable if Ainsley and Dylan made a bit more money for themselves thus securing their financial stability and maintaining their personal interest in our beloved sport - do that and all would be well.

    Punch Line …. Finallyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy :)

    The bottom line to all this is - the CPPS needs to increase entry fees.
    I realise that’s not gonna go down too well with players/teams and it probably ain’t gonna be met with open arms by Ainsley/Dylan - after all, I’m practically telling them how to run their own business but there’s bigger fish to fry here.
    The reason I’m advocating this is not because Ainsley and Dylan are nice guys, self-evidently they are but if these guys weren’t around doing what they’re doing, how long would it be before the proverbial straw broke the paintballer’s back especially when we factor in just how much it costs to be a paintballer these days with the retail costs of loaders, packs and markers etc.

    All the time the CPPS is up and running, Ainsley and Dylan are effectively bankrolling UK arena paintball.
    That may sound somewhat dramatic but it’s true - Nobody would begrudge Ainsley one damn penny of any price-hike and so I can only hope they take a bit more out.

    I’d also hope Ainsley knows me better than to think I’m being intrusive/inappropriate here, I’m not but what I am doing is to try and ensure we do all we can to hang on to someone whose like we’ve never seen before in UK event promotion.

    I don’t know how much each vendor pays for their stands at his events but going on what I’ve seen Ainsley charge his playing customers, he probably pays the vendors to come …. Ok, maybe not that far but that man is generous to a fault.

    The fate of UK arena tournaments is anything but certain at the moment and one of the reasons is because the CPPS is effectively picking up the slack - retail prices are through the roof as the loader and back-pack I mentioned can testify - The CPPS is like an oasis whereupon customers go to do their thang and enjoy our sport in its purest form without having our wallets raped in the process.
    I feel as though as I should bell the Queen next week and see if she has a couple of MBEs floating about ….
    All of us involved in the UK tournament scene, players, vendors, media etc ... we owe a debt of gratitude to Ainsley/Dylan - the irony is, they’re probably fuhkin oblivious to what they’ve given us all … I hope that one day, they wake up and realise !
    And so, from myself, I’ll say a big fat morbidly obese ‘thank-you’ to both of them - And long may they endure !!

    Moi ....
    Last edited: May 2, 2017
  2. onasilverbike I'm a country member!

    Jan 21, 2006
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    Pete, your visit to CPPS V2.0 was well overdue, I know you went to the site when Rich Harris was at the helm, but, as you experienced, the new management have upped the game considerably!

    Unfortunately, due to business, family, life and, I'll admit it, age, I have had to take a step back this year. I wholeheartedly agree the retail prices are ridiculous, when guns got to the £1,000+ mark, we were still topping them with sub £50 pieces of plastic, £200 is ludicrous. £80 for a backpack that you could buy something very similar on Amazon for £15 minus the "branding" and the special barrel pocket! Paintball is a small industry that survives by overcharging its customer base, if one blinks, and others follow, who will remain with the monopoly to charge what they like!

    As for the CPPS entry fees, yes, they are artificially low for the quality provided! What you don't say is that there are virtually no other airball tournament series left. most have fallen by the wayside due to lack of support. Why would you support a local series when, for some extra petrol money and a couple of hours more in the car, you could be assured a quality venue and an excellent level of customer service, all the major companies represented and technical support on hand, not to mention trained referees?

    If you cast your mind back to the Federation days, I believe it was one (or possibly more) of the Green brothers who promoted the idea of half a dozen local tournament series as the basis for a strong UK scene, now ask yourself, when we could be if we had that up and running today?

    Finally, just to make it clear, I have no beef with, or any axe to grind with Ainsley, Dylan, or any of the CPPS staff, I think they have done amazing things over the past few years taking on an average venue and turning it in to something exceptional, but I do lament the passing of many of the other series that the CPPS has eclipsed. Series, that had they been allowed to survive and thrive, may have helped to keep tournament paintball alive in the more far-flung regions.
  3. Robbo Owner of this website for my sins ....

    Jul 5, 2001
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    Hi Pete, thanks for the response.
    I'm pretty sure it was Ged Green alone out of the brothers' Green - As we mostly know, he's always pushing to expand our sport's horizons and that sort of mercurial talent is lying pretty thin on the ground in the UK.

    I agree with what you are suggesting in that the CPPS being the only game in town [not including the Millennium here] but rather than see the glass half empty, I'd readily acknowledge the CPPS being the only real option but at the same time, if there ever was a market/need for a more regional network of events, who better than the Ainsley/Dylan franchise to promote them?
    They're perfectly poised to take the UK to its next level should the need arise.

    Mind you, if I was Steve Baldwin of the Millennium, I'd be looking over my shoulder toward the CPPS, and thinking, 'Now who could I get to run the Millennium if I ever want to take a back-seat'?
    Steve's earned his stripes big time in UK ball and I'm sure he'd want to leave his Millennium legacy to someone he can trust 100% ....

    Ainsley and Dylan fit that bill and are the perfect stewards for Europe's premiere tournament series ..... Steve's baby would be in safe hands.
    I don't know the financial details surrounding the Millennium but there could be no greater assignment in paintball than to ask the CPPS guys to take over the Millennium.
    It would have to take the form of a buy-in shareholding scheme of some description but Steve knows that territory well enough so as to make it an attractive proposition for Ainsley and Dylan.
    In one fell swoop, Steve could pass on the Millennium Air-Ball tournament baton and be safe in the knowledge he could have given it to no better concerns.

    It's a deal from heaven guys ..... think about it for awhile ... pretty please :)
  4. Dusty Don't run, you'll only die tired....

    May 19, 2004
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    Paintball prices are going the same way the housing market did and look what happened there? The same will happen in paintball, people will simply hold on to last years gun instead of buying this years Supashooter 17xyz. Especially when they realise it's exactly the same as last years in a different colour.

    I've never been to the CPPS to my shame, I just never had the opportunity when I was playing but there are a few lads from Dublin who travel over on a regular basis so I may pop my head over with them at some point if only for a looksee and a walk down memory lane :)

    It's a crying shame that we don't have the infrastructure to nurture tourney ball any more.

    Great write up by the way Pete, as the ladies say, it's never too long ;)
  5. Hansel So Hot Right Now.

    Mar 13, 2007
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    Ainsley and Dylan have a vision. If you would like to make a donation of grass seeds, they would be gratefully received.

    But seriously, I've played & reffed the CPPS from the early days - when Rich was at the helm - to now. You won't find a better tournament to play in the UK.

    It offers an opportunity for teams to climb the divisions - they run 8 Divisions over 2 days, and teams are voting with their feet - they have over 120 teams there over the weekend, every event. Even on none event weekends, you can find some of the UK's top teams there training.

    Nick at Skirmish Notts also runs a Supair series, supported by GI. The seeding system for the Supair events are based on CPPS ranking (so there's cooperation right there), and the events offer excellent training for the CPPS & MS. Urban Paintball in Bassetlaw offer excellent value tournaments and cheap training also.

    Nick also runs a Woodland series, again supported by GI. This, in conjunction with the Woodland Masters, is rejuvenating the Woodsball scene.

    I've played all these, and they offer excellent value for money. I'd say the Tournament scene is better than ever, as we no longer have the greedy organisers of a few years back putting on as many events as they could at both ends of the country. Then, there were too many events. Now, it is just right.

    Some of the top teams in the UK - Sandbaggers, Jags - use the events at Nottingham to train for the CPPS. Teams that compete in the MS train pretty much every weekend at CPPS and use the tournaments there as further training.

    In summary, the infrastructure is there. You just have to go to these events to see it.

    If Ainsley & Dylan were put in charge of the MS, I believe the first thing they would do is reduce entry fees to attract more teams.

    Why do Ainsley and Dylan do this? Like the rest of us, they love the game and enjoy seeing their friends.

    As for kit prices - have you seen how much second hand gear costs these days?

    Geo 3.1 - £260
    Rotor - £35
    Grillz - £35

    We've never had it so good.
    Last edited: May 3, 2017
    Spikerz likes this.
  6. Spikerz Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2014
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    @Dusty Some of the guys come down from the North as well. There's about 6-7 of us that fly over for the majority of the events. Which is pretty awesome! I've played CPPS the past 2 years, and it's been great. TBF the weather did not cooperate with the folks last year but every event was as well run as anything can be. Top notch scoreboards and buzzers were added to the last 2 fields this year, and each day you'll see 5-6 fields in full use. It's really encouraging. I played a full sunday (5 games), and trained for 2 hours on Saturday, for the grand total (including paint) of 106 pounds. That's pretty amazing.

    It will be interesting and exciting to see what Ainsley does as El Presidente of the EPBF :)
    Dusty likes this.
  7. onasilverbike I'm a country member!

    Jan 21, 2006
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    You beat me to the fact that Baldrick/Laurent have entrusted the chair of the European governing body to Ainsley.
  8. Robbo Owner of this website for my sins ....

    Jul 5, 2001
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    I wonder why :)
  9. onasilverbike I'm a country member!

    Jan 21, 2006
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    Either a fantastic opportunity for progression, Ainsley after all, is as close as anyone on the board to the grass roots player base, or a poison challace!
  10. Robbo Owner of this website for my sins ....

    Jul 5, 2001
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    I think any possibility there being a poison chalice will be soon eradicated if the reins were handed over to Ainsley - new lawn-mower, new lawn !!
    I'm not suggesting or hinting any of this is gonna happen but it'd be a great exit option for Steve should he wish to step aside some time later.
    All the boxes are ticked if Ainsley takes over and it wouldn't take him long to put right what might be wrong - And ironically, the Millennium would probably make a lot more money under his stewardship.
    That's not a reflection on Steve and Laurent by the way, they've done a unique job for European paintball.

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