Justin Rabackoff: Staying At A High Level Part 2

Justin Rabackoff, better know as simply Jrab, is the son of paintball legend Steve Rabackoff, but as good as the Steve was, his son has eclipsed his on-field accomplishments. Coming into this season Jrab has something to prove, because he did not play up to his potential while taking the field for Tampa Bay Damage. One could argue the public had too high an expectation for him, he did finish ranked 19th overall, but after the paintball we all watched him play in 2010 and 2011, he was expected to contend for the Top Gun title, which was won by his old teammate Alexandr Berdnikov from Moscow Red Legion. The 2013 season is about to kick off in Dallas March 14th-18th, and Jrab was picked up in the off-season by Edmonton Impact, who also brought in Dave Bains and Greg Siewers, to add to their already stellar line up. They are one of the favorites to take Houston Heat’s title. Paintball Access’ Matty Marshall sat down with Jrab to get his thoughts on the year and this level of performance last year.

This is Part Two of his interview. Read Part one here.

Historically, you’re a really good player. On your good days, you are one of the best, if not the best, depending on the day, or the tournament. Now, I don’t know if it was just an issue of you not being able to mesh with the Tampa Bay organization or maybe I don’t know if they put you in the right spot or if you didn’t demand to play in one spot or whatever it was.
Obviously you don’t want to be that guy who’s is hard to work with, but look what happened to Marcello (Margott) at World Cup, Moscow played him out of position and he had a bad event. Up until that point he was the # 1 guy in the world, and he lost that spot because of that specific move.
Did you think that’s it? If you had to put your finger on the pulse of what happened to you last year. It’s not like you did abysmal, you were 2nd in the G Rating (Kill count), but you weren’t in the Top Ten (Jrab was ranked 19th on the leader board). People expected you to be constantly one of the top five or the top ten players in every tournament.

I think that when I went to that team, they were a winning team. Obviously, they won the World Cup their previous year, in 2011.

Yep, they were a World Championship team for sure.

Exactly, so I went to that team as a “Whatever you guys need, I will go play” type guy. And for me, I’m a killer, I can go up in the front and kill. Even as an insert guy, even if my front guy dies, I’m jumping in there, I’m still shooting people out. The issue is, I think, in the first part of the year at least, I played in the back, I was starting in the back center filling out, not really playing the aggressor, up in your face, non-stop paintball I normally play. But it’s not that I wasn’t getting it done in the back you know what I mean? But I feel like even in the stats, Back Players (the 3s) aren’t getting the love they need because they don’t do the stats on shooting off the break, things like that.

Well, we watched and counted those kills too, obviously it is a little bit easier to see if somebody shot someone by running them down, but ..

Of course, of course.

But you know it’s not even just the stats, it’s not about guys just saying, “Oh let’s look at the stats and see how he did”, you know? It was just one of those things where I think it comes down to a positional issue because you became paintball famous by being the first guy to attack on the snake side, mostly, and being a terror doing that is when you rose to dominance, and you weren’t that guy on Damage. Are you going to be that guy on Impact? I mean, they already have a really good 1 on the snake side– Justin Cornell is one of the best.

And see, that’s the beauty of playing with Justin Cornell, I feel like we can play that “1”. And the way we were playing Dynasty was not like oh you’re the “1” on the “2”, it was “Ok, you do this I do that” and whoever gets in there first gets in there. So we were both playing super aggressive when the time came. We could both get the job done and I think that is where we are going to be a powerful combo on the snake side because I feel like we kind of played the same; we can both be aggressive and we can also sit back and shoot you in the face.

Well the thing about you and Justin, the two Justins (laughs), is that you’re both real seasoned. You guys have played A LOT of high-level paintball and you’ve won tournaments. It’s not like you guys are rookie level, really aggressive, really talented “1s”, you both can play situational paintball, and do what needs to be done based on the situation. So I agree with you, I think that’s a pretty powerful duo on that snake side, but it’s going to come down to execution for you two. Because again, everybody is good now. The way I look at it, there are at least eight teams who could potentially win a tournament this year. Really. Which is pretty crazy to think about, makes it really exciting to watch obviously because you don’t know what is going to happen next. But it is going to come down to execution, desire, effort, who wants it more.

And it’s going to be super interesting with this field. You can even get, since it is so aggressive, you can get these teams to run around like monkeys, it’s going to be a matter of beating them down on the snake or beating them down on the D-side. The one thing that I like a lot about this field is it is a lot of heads up, snap shooting battles. Almost like a one-on-one gunfight most of the time. But between Justin Cornell and myself I feel like we’re solid because we were pretty good at hiding and we could go head to head against you too. So for me, and I think I can speak for him as well, going down that snake side it is going to be a lot of heads up fights, and I think that is why we played really well together over there.

I am excited to see what you guys are going to bring for Dallas and the whole year. Honestly, I really think Impact made the right moves, big moves during the offseason. How is Greg Siewers doing out there?

He’s playing super good. We did combination between him and Ryan Moorhead on the D-side and they are both front guys, like me and Justin Cornell, and they were flying down that side. So between the two of them, they are playing super solid, super consistent, and it is going to be interesting come tournament time. I feel like everyone on Impact, across the board, is played pretty well against Dynasty at practice but as always, it’s going to be different at the event. We have a big practice against Heat coming up before the event, so we can really see where we’re at before tournament time and what we need to fix.
Well, good luck this year, can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

See how Jrab and Impact perform at the first event! Make sure to mark your calendars for March 14th-17th as the first PSP event of the 2013 season is brought to live by Paintball Access!

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