Written by: Zack West
The University of Akron club paintball team has reached the halfway point in their season after competing in two events this fall.
The club was officially recognized as a university club in Feb. 2011, and they have since participated in five events per year, including two trips to Lakeland, Fla. for the National Collegiate Paintball Association tournament.
In competitive paintball, there are two divisions that teams can compete in: Class A and Class AA, which is comparable to Division I and Division II in NCAA sports, said president of the UA club Josh Layman.
For the past two years, the club has competed in Class AA competition, mainly because of travel costs and tournament entrance fees.
In April 2013, however, the team will compete in both classes in the national tournament.
“We’ve been doing a lot of fundraising to get ready for this event,” Layman said.
The team competes in the Midwestern Great Lakes Series with other schools in the region and play using Class AA rules.
This fall, the team has finished first in both events they have entered without losing a match.
The first was in October at their home field in Alliance at the TPA Paintball field.
They beat Kent State in the final match of the round robin tournament, which included teams from universities like Miami (Ohio), Ohio University, Saginaw Valley State, Kent State, two teams from UA, and Central Michigan.
The second event was earlier this month in Flint, Mich. at CRU Paintball.
In a round robin tournament, the Zips came out on top against the Ohio State University in the final match in overtime.
They competed against teams from SVSU, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Miami (Ohio), OSU and two other teams from Michigan.
Competitive paintball is played on a field 140 feet by 170 feet.
There are inflatable bunkers placed symmetrically on the field for protection.
There are five players on each team that start in the back and the center of the field on their respective sides.
There is a flag in the center of the field, and the goal of the game is to capture the flag and hang it on the opponent’s side of the field.
When a team successfully pins the flag on the opponent’s side, they get a point.
A match is decided when a team wins two out of three points.
If a player is shot anywhere on their body or equipment, they are out for that point.
According to Layman, each team usually plays five matches, and the top four scorers move into a single elimination bracket.
The team will participate in two events, one in February and one in March, before nationals in April.
They will compete in the Class A national tournament this year for the first time.
“Class A should be a challenge, but we’re ready,” Layman said.
The Class A tournament generally comprises 20-25 colleges. The tournament lasts two days and is played slightly different from matches in Class AA.
Class A matches are two 12-minute halves.
There is no point limit, so when a team scores a point, the game clock stops and the two teams have two minutes to reload and get back to their respective sides.
After the two minutes are up, the game clock starts again and the teams play until the next point.
Whoever has the most points at the end of the match wins.
The tournament is round-robin style, and the top scorers go into a single elimination tournament.
The Class AA national tournament will be more familiar to the Zips, where they will be one of about 50 schools.
After preliminary play, the top 24 scorers move into a single elimination tournament.
The top eight receive a bye and are automatically placed in the Ocho Finals or the round of 16.
All the Class A matches can be watched through a live stream at paintballaccess.com, and the final match is aired on the Fox College Sports channel.
“We are definitely looking forward to nationals and winning a national championship for Akron,” Layman said.