Man, oh man, 2021 was one hell of a year for Paintball! We watched titans fall and witnessed the rise of a new generation of talent. The layouts were nothing short of spectacular in providing action-packed matches and to top it all off, the World Cup threatened relegation for a handful of teams as well.
Typically, World Cup is an event when companies try to debut their new gear and markers. However, due to the shortened 2020 COVID year and supply chain issues, most companies were unable to provide brand new products. Even without a plethora of new products, there was a special aura about this year’s World Cup. It was the first World Cup since the pandemic that had a huge attendance. For many, it was the first time they had seen life long friends in years. Additionally, it was the first time that anyone was facing relegation in some time.
Relegation has always been something that bottom-tier pro teams feared. No professional team wants to work their way to the top just to underperform in the Pro Division and be knocked out in short order. However, there was speculation that some teams may be relegated with anything short of a stellar performance at World Cup. On top of that, the entire Paintball community anxiously awaited to see who would claim the coveted Pro spot in the Semi-Pro division as three elite teams were just a few points away from capturing the season title in the Semi-Pro Division.
Furthermore, rumors had spread by Saturday of the event that the TMG Outlaws' owner planned to sell their spot in the Pro Division to an unknown team from Latin America. This only increased the overall drama of relegation and the determination of which teams would have spots in the Pro Division for the upcoming season. The increased importance of the remaining matches caused viewership to soar as everyone was dying to see the drama unfold and see which teams would come out on top of the season-long standings. As per usual, this World Cup ended way above expectations as it came down to nail-biting situations and upsets that will cause ripple effects throughout tournament Paintball moving forward. Not only did the event end with an infamous rematch (pun intended) between Dynasty and X-Factor, it also brought on the relegation of the once great AC Dallas in the midst of a rebuild that ultimately came up short. This also led to the New Orleans Hurricanes entering the Pro Division after two dominant seasons and back-to-back titles in the Semi-Pro Division.
Now that the offseason is here, many questions remain unanswered. Will we finally be able to return to a full tournament schedule again? How will the New Orleans Hurricanes fare in the Pro Division? Who is this new Latin American team that is going to take the place of the TMG Outlaws? Only time will tell what the answers to these questions might be. With only 12 weeks until the beginning of the 2022 season, there is great anticipation heading into next year. I am personally excited to see how next season will grow this wonderful and chaotic sport we all love.