If the first day was the definition of perfect, the second and third days were the complete opposite of that. We woke up early for our morning game and at that moment the weather seemed fine. A bit chilly but still sunny. There was a small hope in our minds that the weatherman would have predicted wrong and the rainstorm would just vanish in to thin air… It didn’t. The other thing to darken our day was a error made by the Marshalls on our Friday scores. Before our second game on Friday one of our younger players returned our player list to the Marshalls as needed. Only this time they asked for a signature on the paper. Not knowing any better the signature was given and that was it. Only after the game we noticed that we weren’t asked a confirmation on the score of the game and to our surprise the Marshalls had messed up the final score. The score on the card said 3-2 instead of 4-2. We tried to change this with the organizers but even the word of the Stockholm Ignition captain didn’t help. The messed up score stayed on the board and would cause havoc to our upcoming games.
Game 3: Helsinki Cyclone – FL Charms 2-4
If our scores would have been correct this game would have been only a ranking game. Our two wins and ED points would have taken us to the “Sunday club” with any result and we’d almost certainly win our group. Now though the situation had changed. With a win we’d win our group but with a bad enough ass kicking we might even drop to third on our group and lose the whole Sunday position. This of course put an enormous pressure on our young team and to top that off we’d be playing the Charms who’s style is very tricky to play against. All who’ve played against the girls know that they are like chameleons. Almost invisible, seem to move very, very slow but all of a sudden shoot you in the face from the nearest bunker. The game started horridly from our part. The charms kept taking the center bunkers (which we couldn’t get to) and shoot out our strong dorido side. Before we knew it we were losing 0 – 3 and on our way to the boys choir (yes… it’s a Finnish saying). At that moment we found out the hard way the true advantage of having a coach on the side of the field. Sam and Domi, where were you when we needed you the most!?! Something had to have been done earlier but better late then never… eh… actually no. We changed our plan and started winning points, we managed to take two points taking the game to 2-3 but then were struck by the statistical unlucky point. Two markers down and one player off the break meant we’d loose the fight 2-4. We’d kept our Sunday spot with this score but we’d Finnish second in our group.
After our game it started raining. A bunch of us went back to our hotel to get some shut eye and to get out of the rain. A couple of us stayed to wait it out… Big mistake! When we got back to the fields many hours later, it was still raining and the guys who stayed were more like standing icicles. It seemed that the weather gods had abandoned paintball again as so many times this season. Maybe they had, but not us, at least not all the way. 15 minutes before our fourth game started the weather cleared and yet again we could play in pretty good conditions.
Game 4: Helsinki Cyclone – Aggression the Hague 3-4
I really don’t understand the ranking system in the Millennium. To my mind it seems logical that the group A winner would play against the group B second and vice versa, while the group C winner would play the group D second and so forth… Still our opponent was the winner of group A while we were the second from group G and we weren’t even the on the last group… Conspiracy theories have been built with far less reason. The problem here off course was that Aggression was the number one team on the division and even though it’s true that you have to win all you opponents to win the tournament the first game after the preliminaries is always the hardest. This is the game were you have to switch you mental mode from the “lets see what we can accomplish” to the “every point counts”. You always wish to have the “easiest” opponent on the first game… we had the toughest possible. The game was unbelievably tight. We took the first point, they took the second, we took the third and so on. When the game time ended the score was 3-3 and we were going to the sudden death overtime. On overtime the game changes in my opinion. The team that wins there is not the more skilled team, but the more experienced. You need a certain mental state so you won’t loose your cool. Our young team has had to learn this lesson with quite a lot of overtimes this season. We were ready. From the break both teams lost one and after a short while it was 3 vs.3. Then we got the advantage taking out one more of the Aggression guys. We took the 50 on both snake and dorido side with Wilhe and Tolik. Jesse took the M on the Center. The two Aggression players left were in the back corners and we knew they wouldn’t be able to hold long. I was walking away with my hand on my head thinking “we got this, It’s ours” when I saw one of the Marshalls running to Jesse, taking him out and running straight to Wilhe and taking him out as well. A 1-4-1 and it was all over…
Finn ‘o’clock. Since the first “Sunday” game was actually on Saturday we a lot of time on our hands. We got some food, drank a couple of beers and felt tired, sad and just a little bit cheated.
Day 3 – The Sunday
The Saturday weather had been bad but it was nothing compared to Sunday. It rained the whole day from morning to night and not as drizzle but like poured from a huge bucket. Nevertheless we went to see the big boys of the CPL play their games. We’ve learned many years ago that you need only one thing on top of your game gear to take with you to a Millennium and that’s a raincoat. Everything else is actually extra and cool and fun, but never ever forget the raincoat. Our guys even invented an innovative way to keep warm while in the rain. Red wine stashed inside you coat keeps you and the wine in perfect temperature. The only problem is to open the corks of the bottles, which we also solved. Check from the video if you can find the ingenious opening method. After the games were over we had managed to clear out the bad vibes from our minds and were again enjoying the Paris Millennium to the fullest. Not even the unforeseen and not so nice events that were forthcoming could ruin this night.
A quick pop to the hotel, a beer maybe two and off to dinner to a wonderful Italian place in Val d’Europe. After dinner we went to a bar right beside the restaurant and were joined by Ash Chaplan and the Ignition boys. It was awesome to see our international friends again. After the bar closed we went to the Swedes hotel for just one more for the road. The night was brilliant even though the bartender didn’t know how to make a Hot Shot and my jacket got stolen and the first hotel clerk wouldn’t order us a taxi. He kept saying that there is no Taxies available. It’s funny that the clerk of the next hotel on the road didn’t share this opinion and ordered us a cab which came right away. I wonder if he really thought so or if he just didn’t want serve drunken tourists. If the latter, he should find a new job… And to the thief who stole my jacket if you’re reading this: next time you steal a jacket check the pockets before you run out. In your haste you dropped the only thing of value in there. The video camera. Now you got a worn out jacket and headphones with ear wax on them. Douchebag!
Yet another epilogue
Monday came with the usual headache and a strange taste in the mouth. It seemed that the hangover ferry had yet again visited, taken all of our money leaving only coins and pissed in our mouths before going out the door… Everyone else except Sami that is, who was convinced that he had gotten sick from something he ate and the Sparta yelling to the huge porcelain microphone had nothing to do with the fact that he had been drinking beer all the time since Thursday. Damn that foreign food I say!
All and all the Millennium still keeps its shine. It’s just so much fun to be in a real tournament and not on a muddy hayfield in the middle of nowhere. And of course it’s always brilliant to see our paintball cousins from abroad. We’ll be back… We’ll definitely be back.