London Nexus Captain Ash Chaplen recounts the season so far.
Its a long season, and its not always an easy ride.
The weekend hadn’t started well. It was only Friday morning in fact, so the weekend hadn’t started at all. That evening we were heading to practise with Breakout Spa, at their field in Belgium, the weekend before the 3rd Millennium series event in London. Annoyingly Shaun had to work late, then we hit London’s famous rush hour traffic. This meant we missed not one, but two ferry crossings to France. Then when we finally made it onto a boat it took what seemed like an eternity to get across the Channel. Plus it was full of sea-sick children. We ended up arriving at our destination at 4am – 5hrs later than planned.
For those of you that don’t know, Nexus is a young team going through (another) rebuild. The average age is now just 19, and I’m the oldest at 26. Most of the guys have played no more than 5 pro tournaments. Despite our inexperience there is a lot of potential in our ranks, and a real hunger to win. We’ve already shown flashes of what is possible, but we’re still trying to find the consistency you need to deliver a ‘W’.
It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Nexus. This is our 10th straight weekend of paintball, the 17th weekend since we held tryouts at the end of January. Combine that with a full-time job (or school for some of the kids on the team) and you have a pretty demanding schedule. No matter what anyone says, that takes its toll on you and you need to know how to handle it, both physically and mentally.
Our practise for The 2nd event in Bitburg, Germany, had been near-perfect and we were feeling very confident going into the event despite a potentially tricky group. Only for the team to miss the cut on point spread – basically if we had dropped one less point when we beat Dynasty we would have gone through in their place, instead they went through and won the event. That is how fine the margins are in the CPL (Pro Division) this year.
Still, no time to stop and feel sorry for ourselves. A week later we were all at the tryouts for the UK nations cup team, with myself and Jay Ford being picked to represent Team UK along side a few former Nexus players. In the same week we also parted ways with Liam Holmes; he was one of the new kids we picked up in January, Liam had been the best player at tryouts by far, but things just weren’t working out for him and we let him go. I really hope he comes back next year a stronger player and proves us wrong, but again, no time to stop and dwell on it, our home event is coming up and that is our focus now.
The next two practises were frustratingly flat. We made the long trip ‘up north’ to Birmingham Disruptions home field, only to be told after half a days play we had to stop. The site wasn’t allowed to be open that weekend due to a village show nearby. With no alternative venues available, we had to pack up and head home. The next week we finally got to play 2 full days, but the team struggled to get going. We ran drills and break outs with Relentless – a solid D2 team that we practise with a lot at our home field; BricketWood Paintball. Overall it wasn’t our best weekend, but you just need to push through those hard days and not let it get the better of you.
So, back in Belgium. Going off of 3hrs sleep, we arrived at Breakouts field for what turned into a really productive weekend. We were joined by German DYE team Comin At Ya, a Semi-Pro team who are looking strong heading into this event. Over 2 days, playing lots of points we figured out a few kinks in our approach to this layout and moved a few players around to get the right guys in the right spots. Its hard to come by good teams to practise with, but both teams were great to work with and we all got a lot out of the weekend. Thankfully the ride home was far less traumatic too.
Going into a major event its all about building momentum. You dont want to peak early, just keep maintaining that upward curve. The disappointment of Germany was a tough pill to swallow, we have to use that to drive us forward. I dont want to feel like that again and I know the guys feel the same. We will have a home crowd behind us and we will have to dig deep and find that extra quality in our performance if we are to succeed.