The Tippmann X7 Phenom Atlantic Tactical Woodsball League (ATWL) playoffs and championship were played on Saturday October 1, 2011 at the official field of the league Mersey Road Paintball in East River Nova Scotia, Canada.
Players woke on October 1st to torrential rains and high winds generated by Hurricane Ophelia off the coast. After perfect weather during the first three events players needed an entirely different skill set to play in low visibility, when paint was much less accurate and water would get into everything.
The league used a simple playoff format. The first place team from the regular season played against the fourth place team, while the second place team played the third place team. The winner from each game would advance to the championship.
To eliminate any kind of field layout advantage the teams played each other twice, once from either end of the field. The game format from the regular season continued in the playoffs, a team would earn points for every minute they held one of the three flag stations during a 20 minute match.
The first game of the day was an exciting match between the Moncton Spartans and the home field Mersey Road Predators. The fourth place Spartans held a slim lead until the last five minutes of the match. At the end of the game the Predators pushed forward, taking all flag stations, winning the match - 185 to 100.
The second match was a battle of past champions. The 2010 champion Anthraxx fighting against the 2009 champion Nova Scotia Mercenaries. Anthraxx started the match strong quickly capturing all flag stations. The Mercenaries were unable to mount any sustained pressure, and were beaten by Anthraxx - 160 to 60
In match three the Predators picked their game up a notch to defeat the Spartans - 250 to 60. The point total for both matches gave the Predators a win for the game and a spot in the championship.
The final spot in the championship would be decided in the second match between Anthraxx and the NS Mercenaries. The Mercenaries had a large deficit to overcome after the first match but were confident that their previous experience would help propel them to the finals.
The Mercenaries experience and poise showed as the team pushed hard from the start of the match to take the initiative away from Anthraxx. The defending champs Anthraxx battled their way back into the game but a rush made by the Mercs at the end handed Anthraxx a defeat. The Mercenaries prevailed but would they earn enough points to overcome the Anthraxx lead from match one and advance to the championship.
Soggy teams sat nervously in the staging area, while the referee squad totalled the points from the playoff round. When score sheets compiled and the points tallied, the incredible effort and heroic play of the Mercenaries in match four came up just short. The Mercenaries won match two but Team Anthraxx defeated the Mercenaries by a mere 60 points overall.
The championship was set between Anthraxx and the Mersey Road Predators. The bronze medal would be fought for by the Nova Scotia Mercenaries and Moncton Spartans.
After a short break to clean the fog out of goggles, retape porting and electronics, the water logged teams took to the field for the final four match climax of the 2011 ATWL season.
The bronze medal matches were the closest of the season. The Spartans upped their game with the end of the season in sight, and traded matches with the Mercenaries. The Spartans gave it their all but the former champs were too strong. The Mercenaries emerged victorious capturing the bronze medal.
The long season came down to two matches to decide the 2011 ATWL champions. Both the Predators and Anthraxx played a cautious style in first match. It looked like neither team wanted to make a mistake that would cost them the championship. The first match ended with the Predators doubling up on Anthraxx 160 to 80.
The final match was a battle back and forth with multiple flag changes, aggressive fire and movement, and bunkering moves. In the end the Mersey Road Predators came out on top to become the 2011 Tippmann X7 Phenom Atlantic Tactical Woodsball League Champions.
Prior to the awards ceremony League Commissioner Bruce Johnston of the Tippinators was pleased to see spontaneous of handshakes and back slaps between the players.
“Having the players standing in the pouring rain exchanging congratulation was great to see.” said Johnston “It shows that the players are here for competition, but more importantly, to have a great time playing paintball”
The first award given out was the one Johnston considered to be the most important, The Most Sportsmanlike Player was awarded to Jeff Barrieau of the Moncton Spartans.
“Whether his team was up or down, Jeff gave it all he had every time he was on the field.” Johnston commented, “If you want to know the right way to play paintball, watch this guy [Barrieau]”. For his efforts Barrieau received a trophy, marker and tee shirt provided by PBL Sports.
League sponsor PBL Action Sports from Montreal Quebec, also supplied markers and shirts awarded to team captains; Jim Langlois of the first place Predators, Ryan Cox of second place Anthraxx, and Kevin Whynot of the third place Mercenaries.
The ATWL’s lead sponsor Tippmann Sports supplied the prizes for the winning teams. Tippmann provided t-shirts for the third place Mercenaries, digi cam NXe 4+3+3 woodsball harnesses for second place Anthraxx and markers for the championship Predators.
The Tippinators would like to thank the players for putting on a great show and the sponsors for their generous support in 2011. The Tipps are already organizing the 2012 season which we know will be even better, rain or shine.
All the league photos are posted to Facebook - AWTL photos on Facebook