It’s the middle of summer, and the Big Game/Scenario paintball season is in full swing. Across the world gigantic paintball games are going down where hundreds, sometimes thousands, of players play at the same time. PBA’s Matty Marshall catches up with two of the players who have seen both sides of paintball, Bryce Thompson and Pete “Mr. U” Utschig.
Mr. U is a PSP World Champion who has been a part of the Big Game/Scenario scene for the past few years, and Thompson was a fixture in the South African tournament paintball scene before moving to New York.
These two have day jobs most people would love: Utschig is a NYC firefighter and Thompson is a fitness/fashion model and photographer, but their favorite thing to do on the weekend is find the biggest paintball battle possible as part of the Tactical Ironmen squad.
Matty: Obviously it’s a personal challenge to play tournament paintball, because of the level of commitment. But that’s why is so rewarding and fun, it’s a great life lesson to take on a goal and strive for something. But paintball has many sides, many facets, and with big games and scenarios you can find challenges too, and it’s any awesome experience, and that will help you out in the scenario side of things. But whether you play every weekend or once a year, it’s still a great experience. It’s also crazy how they are big games all over the world.
Mr. U: Bro, these guys in England, at this game we went to over there, they are insane, they play once a year, and they were dressed up in butler outfits, it was hilarious. But that’s their thing, they just want to go out with their friends, play paintball, shoot a bunch of people and get shot a hundred times, they just love it. There really are a lot of different options out there if you’re a paintball player.
So what is your favorite game you’ve played so far?
Mr. U: Oh man, I’ve been getting asked this a lot, but there are so many great ones. If you’re talking about just pure carnage, then it’s got to be ION, Invasion of Normandy in Pennsylvania. Because there are 4000 people out there, and when they start the first battle, man, you don’t have enough paint in your pack for the first ten seconds! You know how it is!
Yeah, one of the wildest paintball experiences I’ve ever had is at the Invasion of Normandy. It was insane, it was like a gigantic game of submission paintball, you just can’t shoot enough people to make a difference; it was crazy. Bryce what about for you?
Bryce: I’ve got to say the same thing. We were fighting it out, smoke grenades all around us, we were lying there waiting, waiting, and the enemy lines just pushed right past us, pushed literally right over us, like they were climbing the logs over the top of us, we were shooting them in the back, until one of them heard our markers, and looked back at the logs, where we were just lying there, and turned us into happy sauce. It happened so fast, one minute our team is up and the next minute, boom, dead, the huge wave had pushed past us.
Yeah, at a certain point, it doesn’t matter how good you are, if there are too many of them, you’re going to die and it’s going to be bad.
Mr. U: Yeah, what do you call it?
Your Glorious Death. (laughs)
Mr. U: Glorious death! (Laughs) Yeah, you know you’re going. And it’s going to hurt.
Bryce: Yeah, I’ve gotten to eat some paint for my glorious deaths too (laughs).
We got that from the movie, 300, when the Spartans are up on that ledge watching the Persian army assemble at for the Battle of Thermopylae. The other Greeks are scared, because fighting that many people seems like certain death, but the one Spartan is smiling. The other Greek asked why, and he said that somewhere down among the Persians there might be a soldier who could give him his glorious death. And when we started playing a lot of these big ass games, these huge gigantic paintball battles, we quickly realized a situation will present itself that you’re not going to make it out unscathed from and that’s awesome, because as a guy who played a lot of paintball over the years, that’s what you want.
That’s one of the purest moments, the reason you play the game. To get into some gnarly shit, something so awesome you get to tell a great story about it later, and it will be one of the best stories you have. Like if you just took a town away from the other team, and you’ve been holding it awhile and you’re low on paint, and their reinforcements are coming, and you see 200 players running toward you, and you say to yourself…
Mr. U: Let’s go! (laughs)
And this is going to hurt. (Laughs)
Bryce: I also love that battle for finding the best spot, like, we crawled through this swamp for I don’t know how long, deep mud, lost a shoe, and we popped out on the other side of their line, and all their guys were reinserting, and there was small window where I was in-between the front and back line, so I just ran at the front line as the back line was shooting at me, they had no idea. I got wiped out, but I took a few souls in my bag (laughs) if I had a camera on for that, it would have been amazing.
Another awesome point about these games, and paintball in general, is that kids are getting more and more out of shape these days. Bryce, you come from the fitness world.
And you said you burned 4000 calories that day you had the monitor on. And it’s so fun and you’re so in the moment you don’t think about how great a workout it is, you’re just having the time of your life out there. Taking your kids to play paintball is a great way to get them off the couch and away from video games.
Yeah if it wasn’t for the monitor I would of have no idea, I just wanted to make sure we drank enough and stayed hydrated. There was no lunch break for that one. We started at 11 and we went for 6 hours straight, and you’ve got to watch that.
Yeah sometime it’s really hot out there at these games.
Mr. U: But like you were saying, it’s like a real life Call of Duty, get off the couch and get into the game, be a part of the game. You can go out there and do whatever you want. You don’t have to be that good, if you get a group of guys together, you can do some damage, if you have a little bit of balls and a little bit of imagination.
Bryce: Yeah, you say get in the game, and with the GoPro and with everyone having cameras these days, it doesn’t have to be a “The fish was thiiiss big” story. Tactical used to be, yeah, I lay there and they came and I took out twenty guys with one shot. Now everyone can record the fun with their GoPro and throw it up on the TV or their computer, show people the fun they’re having and how many guys they shoot.
Mr. U: Yeah, Bryce has a great point, you used to tell these stories and no one would believe you, because they’re so crazy, like the story you have from D-Day where you where laying in the darkness at night on the side of hill, and every time a flare went up and the guys would charge at you, you’d destroy them.
Yeah, that was by far one of the best stories I have.
Mr. U: Imagine if you had a camera. It happened to me the other day, I told this story about going over the top of this hill and shooting 30 guys and they were like, “Yeah yeah yeah” And I was saying, “No, I really did”. I pulled up my Youtube channel and they couldn’t believe it, and they were like, “No way, you really did shoot 30 dudes!”
Bryce: I’ll tell people there were 4000 people at this game, and people won’t believe it, and I say, “I’m not making up a number because they were 100 people there and it looked like a lot, they were really 4000 people there.” So I’m like, hold on, Youtube, push play and they see it and say, “Wooow”
Good luck with the rest of you adventures. We’ll keep checking in with you guys.