Penalty costs paintball title hopes

After advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCPA Championship, the club paintball team lost points because of an issue with a player’s equipment.

After advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCPA Championship, the club paintball team lost points because of an issue with a player’s equipment.

Courtesy Graham Plata/Temple Paintball Club Senior front Matthew Jacob shoots his paintball marker from behind a bunker.

All it took was two numbers – 10 and 0.5 – to end the Temple club paintball team’s national title hopes. Officials deducted 10 points from the team’s overall score because of one player’s paintball gun. The player’s gun shot 0.5 paintballs per second faster than what was allowed in the National Collegiate Paintball Association’s National Championship held in Lakeland, Fla., last Sunday.

Temple was in the midst of its best performance ever in nationals. The Owls started out in a 48-team field and made it to the final 24. From there, the field of 24 was split into four brackets. In those brackets, the top two teams received byes and did not have to play any games, while the other four played each other in a round robin. At the end of the round-robin play, the two teams with the most points advanced to face the teams with the byes.

In a typical paintball game, five players on each team begin at the back of the field in the “breakout” spot. A referee signals for the match to start, and those players dart for cover as the shooting begins.

“There’s a lot going on before a game in terms of the breakout,” senior back Jason Gaboury said. “There’s a lot of strategies like, ‘Are you going to run to a certain bunker, or are you going to sit there and shoot?’ You have to pick your lanes and try to visualize what the other team is going to do to you and try to capitalize and counter what they’re doing.”

The field is made up of a series of inflatable bunkers that the players use for cover. The layout of the bunkers varies from tournament to tournament.

“It keeps things fresh and fun, and it lets us try different stuff,” Gaboury said.

Each team can score as many as 100 points, with various ways to reach that total. At the center of each field sits a flag that teams can get 20 points for grabbing. The teams can earn an additional 50 points if they can carry the flag to their opponent’s breakout spot.

“Hanging the flag on the other side is usually accomplished after shooting everybody,” senior back Matthew Jacob said.

The remaining points are allocated based on how many players on a team are “alive,” in other words, how many have not been hit and how many opposing players have been shot at the end of the game. Each game has a five-minute time limit.

In Nationals, Temple found itself in round-robin play with Florida, Middle Tennessee State and Florida Gulf Coast. The Owls went 2-1 and finished with 200 overall points, which would have allowed the team to advance to the next round along with Florida Gulf Coast, which had 204 points. A technicality, however, brought play to a halt.

After Temple’s third game, referees checked the players’ equipment and discovered that one player’s gun shot 13 paintballs per second, half a paintball faster than what the NCPA allows.

As a result, the team was docked 10 points from its overall score, which allowed Middle Tennessee State, originally just two points behind the Owls, to advance instead of Temple. Jacob said the team had checked the equipment the night before to make sure it fell within the guidelines. He said that on subsequent measurements, it was difficult to determine if the player’s gun was set to NCPA standards.

“This was deliberated for a while with the head referees and then the head of the league,” Jacob said. “In the end, the penalty still stood, and that cost us our advancing to the next round.
“We earned our way in is how we see it,” he added. “We played well, and we played better than some teams that did advance.”

Despite being knocked out of the national championship, Temple still finishes its season ranked No. 6 in the country thanks to its performance in Nationals and its third straight Northeastern Intercollegiate Conference Championship. The Owls defeated then-No. 8 Navy (currently No. 4), 2-1, in the three-game series for the three-peat.

“This is the best we’ve done nationally, and I think we did better than the record will show,” Jacob said. “I’m disappointed with the way we got eliminated, but, at the same time, I’m pretty happy with the way we played.”

Brian Dzenis can be reached at

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