Mike Paxson: The Wheel of Death Part 02

The Los Angeles Ironmen’s Mike Paxson sits down with Matty Marshall to discuss his team, and their performance at the MAO, and to see who is impressing the 13th ranked player in the world. Paxson has been around for over ten years, has won two World titles, and is one of the most respected players in the sport.

This is part 2 of his interview, read Part 1 here.

Who have been the teams that you’ve felt have played you guys the best this year?

It’s always weird, even from back in the day, or when we were actually really good and winning in 07/08, I’ve always felt like Damage is a really good match up for us. I don’t know if it’s our similar style of play, but they’ve always given us a really good run for our money. Vicious too, they played us real good at the World Cup last year on Sunday.

Yeah, they knocked you out of World Cup last year.

Exactly that’s what I’m saying, they beat us down, they are a good team. You can’t underestimate anyone in the pro tour. Look at CEP, you could say, “You should go put a train on those guys”, but if you get caught slipping, those guys will beat you. CEP should have beat Infamous last tournament.

That’s two tournaments in a row they gave Infamous a good run. Now, Infamous was already 3 & 0 going in to play that game, but still man, they’ve been putting points on the board, they are keeping it close, and look at 187 this year, they’ve almost beat the Russians twice; they beat you guys.

187 probably has the best fan base out of any team I know, their fans are rooting them along. You get shot they say, “Ahh, that’s what you get!” They are trying to get in your head

Yeah they have that chant… “1-8-7!”

You can hear ‘em, no matter what. It doesn’t get in my head, but if you were a kid out there, and they were cheering against you, it’s something you just have to deal with. But it’s amazing; it’s what the sport needs.

I’m a big fan of 187 because they came in this year fearless. Who is this team coming out of a town I’ve never heard of, Upton MA, with a bunch of players I’ve never heard of? I didn’t really know what to expect. I know they’ve been wrecking shop on the Divisional side of things for a while, and they in came highly touted, all the divisional guys I talked to when they were coming in said, “Oh, they are really good”. But you hear that and when you see guys step up, it’s like any step up in competition, you see guys go from college football to the NFL, or from college basketball to the NBA. The speed, the timing, the athleticism, everything is ratcheted up. It’s the same thing with paintball. And paintball is just a mental game; it’s why guys like you dominate.

You’re having one of the best years you’ve played, you’ve been dominating in the sport, you were in the top 10 of the rankings for a long time, and you’re a big dude, you’re well over 6ft tall, over 200lbs, but you’re still are able to play with the fastest most athletic guys in the league because you’re so mentally tough, and because you’re such a good gun fighter. That takes years of experience, and you’ve been playing top-level paintball for what 10 years now, 12 years now? But when 187 came in I was really impressed that their very first game – and if you’ve been following the league this year you’ve probably heard me talk about this – but their very first game coming out they play the Russians, take them into sudden death overtime, and 187 was up 5 to 2 early on. Now, look at your team, there’s a lot of these guys on your team that before this year nobody had even heard their names. You got guys like Eric Humphreys, Tok Hamel, and Alex Rodriguez; you got some really young, really talented guys out there. How do you see the guys on your team and where they are at right now?

It’s so funny at any given time you can say, “Man, that kid is so good”. Tok, or one of the kids, will have a game where we are losing or down a point and it gets down to a 1 to 1 and the kid wins it. Or our kids pull out a huge move and then we go on to win that game. Then they do it again and we are like “Wow, that kid is killin’ it”. It’s funny because you never know what to expect out there. It’s not like with Shorty (Brandon Short), Shorty is going to go here and he’s going to do his job and you will know right away from Shorty if he is not doing his job. Shorty goes out one day, gets shot right on the break, ok no big deal, goes out the next point and shoots 5 people. You’re like ok… what’s the difference. It’s just weird you never know what to expect from our kids; it’s a roller coaster ride.

Which is tough though, that’s really hard to build a winning team around. You want aggressive and talented guys, but it’s tough, we hear alot about consistency when you look at what’s happening at the top level on the sport. When you look at the teams who are doing well this year, who have won events, Damage won the first one, Heat won the second one, Infamous won the third, and then Heat came back and won the fourth. Those teams have depth, players that are clutch, and also have guys that are picking each other up. Look at Infamous– Siewers has stepped up this year, Nicky Cuba has been playing some damn good paintball, but points that Siewers or Cuba die, you have other Infamous players that will be picking up that slack, Brad McCurley was the MVP in the finals in Chicago, he wasn’t having the best event, but he goes in there for the most important moment of the entire tournament, shoots 4 guys, and wins. I don’t really see that out of your team yet in those clutch situations.

Bobby Aviles has been all over the place for Infamous too… and I also look at it this way too: those guys have played together for a few years, and it’s always that thing like, “Yeah man if we had 4 years to build this team, we could be really solid.” So I don’t know, with a little more seasoning, I can see a lot of good stuff out of all our kids.

If you had to send 4 guys from your team to roll out with you to play a point for $100,000, who would you go with?

(Thinks for second) Hmmm, Eric Humphries, Shorty, Raney (Stanczak), Ryan Martin. It’s a toss up between Ryan Martin or LJ (Justin Schwarz), LJ’s been playing really good.

Yeah he is, I can’t remember what game it was but you had three guys lighting it up on the dorito side this past event. Kyle Spicka started it off. I was calling the webcast and was like, “Man, Spicka just had a great point, if I’m LJ or Ryan Martin, I’d look at Spicka that point and say, ‘Woah, wait a second, I’m supposed to be the #1 Dorito guy”, so I’d want to get out there and get a good point in. Sure enough, LJ goes out the next point and he kills it, and then the next point Ryan Martin goes out there, and he killed it. I said, “If I’m SK, if I’m the coach of this team, this is what I want to see, guys trying to one-up each other, guys really taking it upon themselves to go out and win those points.”

Yeah, that internal competition is a big part of the game. Especially when your line is ready to go out, especially when the coach knows you’re struggling or something. At that point, when they put you in, you better show us something. I think that’s really necessary. I think we had more problems in the beginning when we had 7 guys, and SK was like “Hey screw it, I’m bringing in these kids”. So he brings in these kids, who had a lot of fire and wanted to play. Then we had 11 guys, and not everyone gets to play, someone has to sit, so everyone’s fighting for those top 10 spots. And it’s helped out a lot at practice too. I feel everybody’s ready, there, and sharp. At one point we had 12 guys, so we had to sit two.

Yeah it’s though, if you’re one of those 10 guys, cool, but you don’t want that 11th or 12th guy. Although in the back of your mind you’re like – specially if you’re one of the bottom 3 guys on the bubble– you’re thinking, this is going to be crazy because you’re going to be fighting it out. But if you’re the guy that’s running the show, if you’re the coach, you want that internal fight, because if you don’t have that, then you’re not going to have the sharpest team – unless you have some incredibly talented, focused, and committed guys who are hyper competitive. But there are always different ways to run teams. What do you see right now? Who’s killing it, who ‘s impressing you, styles of play, coaches, anything standing out to you?

Heat impresses me, you never know what to expect from them, they have a lot of good players who say, “Boom, here, let’s put this ball together and see how it rolls”. They are playing good, and they are pulling back when they need too, not just going out there and destroying people. When they’re down they find a way to pull it back, so they’re a good all around team. I didn’t know what to expect from them when they first came out this year, but now they’re one of the biggest, most impressive teams out there. They just kinda threw it together and made it roll.

Heat is definitely an impressive story. Jason Trosen, their coach, has done a real good job. It’s tough though because there aren’t a lot of coaches out there, let alone good coaches.

For me, I want to say, hands down, the best coach in the world is Shane.

Yeah, Shane Pestana.

You can’t get a better coach than Shane. SK has done real well, from what he has to work with and what he has going, he’s doing good.

Make sure to check out Mike Paxson and the rest of the Ironmen when they battle against the best teams in the game, at the biggest event of the year. Tune in as Paintball Access brings you the 2012 PSP World Cup, live and free, Oct 25-28th.

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