It’s been a trying, troubled season for Chicago Aftershock (ranked 11th), the second longest running team in the PSP after the Los Angeles Ironmen. After spending the last few years rebuilding the squad into a competitive team, even taking 2nd place at the World Cup just two years ago, they were decimated in the offseason, as most of the talent they had worked to build left the team for Houston Heat and Los Angeles Infamous.
Paintball Legend Mikey Bruno, one of the most charismatic players from the team’s heyday in the mid to late nineties was brought in by team owner Renick Miller to coach last season. He brought in a bunch of untested divisional players who have been unleashing an exciting but unsuccessful full-field attack all season long.
They’ve been able to stay in some games based on aggression alone, but the big problem they have is survivability; they get into good positions and put teams on their heels, but they die out of the their spots way too often. They also draw too many penalties with their wild style.
Aftershock knows these are their weakness and have been working hard on fixing them. But leaders need to emerge from this young squad if they want to move up the ranks. They can’t look to Coach Bruno for all the answers; players like Davey Simmons (104th overall) and AJ Lawhead (65th overall) need to assert themselves and become the mental rocks other members of the team can respect and count on; there is no success in the deep PSP pro field without internal leaders.
They need to have players like Kirk Wozny (91th overall), Simmons, and Lawhead get into the important bunkers, but have them stay alive. Their recent new pick up, Caleb Aduhl (ranked 48th overall) is the team highest ranked player and looks to be a big asset. He is listed as a front player but spent most of his first event with the team (Mid Atlantic Open) inserting from the back positions, so it will be interesting to see where Coach Bruno places him this event. Trevor Regan (122nd) will be back in the line up for Cup, and could make an impact on the field.
One of the advantages for Chicago is their front player’s ability to play any of the front positions, to be versatile, so where Bruno is going to focus his attack is anyone’s guess. But regardless of where the attack goes, back players Andrew Rodriguez (77th overall) and Chris Jansen (82nd overall) need to close the gap between the front players who have done a good job of getting up the field, and put themselves in position to help their front guys, and take their spots should they lose them early.
But ‘Shock has their work cut out for them at the World Cup, an event the team became famous for dominating, because the field this year is very, very deep. They’re bracket is tough, with San Antonio X-Factor (6th), Moscow Red Legion (5th), Los Angeles Infamous (tied for 2nd), and Chattanooga CEP (12th). Win or lose, it will be entertaining to watch one of the most aggressive franchises the sport has ever scene.