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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Paintball in the New Sunday Times

Paintball is more than just a casual sport, writes MAX KOH

Armed with jerseys, masks and guns — oops, markers — a bunch of guys and girls entered the field with one goal. Like Jason Bourne, they were out to get the enemy, and not get eliminated. One shot and the person is down on the ground.

No, it’s not a computer game played tamely at the desk, but something far more exciting — paintball. The pain of getting hit is very real.

Once considered a casual sport, played on weekends and during team-building sessions for corporations, paintball is getting serious.

The recent Paintball World Cup Asia (WCA) organised by PALS Events saw more than 118 teams from 40 countries descending on Bukit Jalil last November.

Local teams such as Dark Angels and Rock’n’Rolla have a strict weekly practice regime and have competed in international tournaments. “There are 12 million serious paintball players in the world. Today, the game is played in 104 countries,” says Amber Wong, the head of media and promotions for PALS Events, and a member of paintball team Rock’n’Rolla.

Paintball is a competitive sport where players in teams eliminate each other by shooting paint pellets at each other using a special gun called a paintball marker. The game can take place indoor or outdoor, with natural or artificial terrain.

There are two game variants — speedball and recball.

Recball is a military-type game played in a natural setting such as a jungle. The players reenact actual military situations and settings such as Black Hawk Down.

Speedball is played in a confined playing field with inflatable bunkers and an equal number of players on each side.

“This makes for a fast-paced game and is a popular format for competitive paintball. WCA and the local leagues follow this type,” says Nicholas Chan, captain of Dark Angels.

“Winning a game is dependent on these factors as well as employing the right marking techniques.” The WCA saw the teams competing in four divisions, each separated by the level of skills. “There are no rules to stop rookies joining the first division (called Elite) but they cannot join the lower divisions after that,” adds Chan.

Team Hostile Intentions from Australia took home the grand prize for the first division at the WCA last year.

The tournament also saw the teenage team Vindicated clinching seventh place in the Fourth Division. Many believe that paintball is an expensive sport. “For rookies, most equipment and gear are provided in a game and it costs between RM100 and RM200 for a team of five to 10 players,” says Chan.

For serious paintballers, there are two paintball leagues to join in Malaysia: Malaysian Paintball Official Circuit (MPOC) and Malaysia National Paintball League (NPL). The two differ in format, organisation, playing styles and have their own set of teams. The MPOC leads to the World Cup Asia (WCA).

“The WCA was established five years ago to cater to the local needs for a tournament. It is the only tournament of its standard in Asia,” says Wong.

The 2010 season of the Malaysian Paintball Official Circuit kicked off on Jan 23-24 at the Xtion Paintball Park, Kompleks Sukan Negara, Bukit Jalil.

The tournament leads up to the World Cup Asia 2010. Over 60 teams are in the first leg, vying for RM50,000 in cash and goods to be won throughout the season, Says Wong: “It’s like being part of an action film. The adrenaline rush is addictive.” To find out more about the sport and the leagues, visit or You can also call Allan Phang (019-6667932, 012-3062583, or Amber Wong (012-3345630,

*Article from New Sunday Times.