Speedball is one of the two distinct game variants in the sport of paintball. It is a general term for a game in which the playing field is composed of bunkers, of the same location and number on each side of the field, that provide an equal playing field for each team competing. It was created in this way to give a better format for competitive paintball, both in playing and viewing the games.
GeneralPaintball is considered to be the most widely played extreme sport in the United States. This success can be attributed to the rapid growth in popularity of speedball. Speedball has evolved paintball into a more formalized game. With growing support and establishment of growing professional leagues, speedball has become one of the more popular extreme sports. While, the format for each league is different, the competitive nature of its teams and spectators remain tremendous. Paintball, in the past, has been thought of as a recreational activity but speedball, with its organization, has turned it into a true sport. Professional speedball teams are characterized by athleticism, coaching, team practices, corporate endorsements, extensive media coverage, and a dedicated fan following.
HistoryIn the 1980s and 90s tournament paintball was strictly played in the woods. Because of different terrains the playing field was different at every park. However, a popular playing field in Southern California called SC Village featured a field bereft of trees or natural cover and just contained roofless plywood buildings. This was the favorite of many players because of its fast paced action. This is what started a new format of paintball that became known as speedball. The field was tweaked and worked with to adjust to players liking until 1996 when the first fully inflatable field was unveiled by Brass Eagle. This type of field would eventually be phased into most tournament paintball leagues in the United States.
Speedball is a team game usually involving 3, 5 or 7 players per team. Speedball is normally characterized by a smaller playing field, inflatable bunkers, and a short game time. To succeed in this format one must gain individual skills and teamwork such as aggressive movement and non-stop communication. Because of the small size of the field and the small bunkers, both teams easily see each other, so this type of paintball is based on aggressiveness, marker handling, strategic movements, and communication. Players also wear different attire. Speedballers do not need to wear camouflage, so they opt to wear brightly colored jerseys and pants.
Tournament speedball usually entails a points system, but varies from league to league. In the NPPL, opposing flag format, points are awarded for staying in the game the whole round, shooting someone out, grabbing the flag, and hanging the flag. PSP is "center flag" format, meaning that there is a flag in the center of the field on the 50-yard line. A team is a awarded a point everytime the flag is captured and hung on the opposing teams start box.
Contrary to some beliefs, any type of marker is eligible for competition in this format, but the most common are markers with electronic trigger/firing systems. Such markers may be capable of rates of fire reaching or exceeding 20 paintballs per second using electronically assisted firing modes.
There are a variety of paintball leagues that employ speedball as their format for tournaments. Two of the main national leagues are the NPPL (National Professional Paintball League) and the PSP which owns the professional Xball league the NXL. Each has their own professional and amateur divisions and has slightly different rules. The Millennium Series is Europe's national league and features rules and styles of game play similar to that of the PSP and NPPL. These leagues have seen tremedous growth within the past 5 years.
Sponsorships, television endorsements, extensive media coverage, and nation wide events have all pushed the leagues into mainstream popularity. In 2007, at World Cup, the most popular PSP event located at Disney’s Wide World of Sports® Complex, boasted over 35,000 spectators and featured 373 teams.
There are also numerous regional and local events all over the world, including most paintball fields which many times host their own events.
Although there are no official positions used for the purposes of scorekeeping, most paintballers use three broad terms to describe positions: front, mid or center, and back. Front players are the pawns in speedball. They are typically fast and small, and take most of the field at the start of the game. They shoot very little compared to a back player but are the main source of eliminations, usually stationed in two types of bunkers: the snake or dorito. Mid players are the "plan b" of a paintball team, usually playing an insert position where if a front player were to get shot out they would fill into their spot and take over the front players role. Mid players will also relay information that starts from the back players (having the best field of vision) to the front players (with relatively no field of vision). Back players' main goal is to protect the front players and relay information to the entire team. They are the ones that are shooting hoppers of paint at the start of the game hoping to lane the opposing front players. Back players come on the field with upwards of 7-10 pods.
speedball in French: Speedball (paintball)