by "Samurai Mike" Wanczyk
So you wanna play Cup? The plan is to fly to Orlando play with the best of the best maybe bring home some prizes, a trophy, and most importantly the bragging rights. That's the plan right? Well I'm here to tell you that even though it sounds good in your living room the task of going to Cup requires a little extra effort. It all depends on how you and your teammates want it handled. I prefer to have things go as smooth as possible but you have to expect some bumps along the way. Here's some tips on preparing for this event based on my experience at the 2001 event.
The first thing you need to do is get the entry fee turned in. In the case of World Cup you can either pay with a credit card on-line (which is the preferred method according to the people who run the show). Or you can send it in via the courier of your choice, which is my personal preference, because you can get a person to physically sign for it (in most cases) and then you have someone to call when they say they have not received your team's entry. A word to the wise go with the post office's overnight mail it is by far the cheapest method (around $12). UPS and FED-EX are not obligated to get a signature if the package is not sent to a business, and in the case of Cup your $650 entry goes to a residence. In my case the person was not home at the time my entry arrived so guess what UPS did? You guessed it they left it on the porch!! Exposed to the elements so for about 2 days we were left to wonder whether or not our entry was kicked under the door mat or if Rover next door buried it with his chew toy. The moral is use the Post Office and get a signature.
After you make sure your entry is taken care of you need to secure airfare and hotel. Shop around on this one. Cheap airfare is out there it all depends on what time you're willing to leave and return and how many stops you're willing to tolerate. Just remember more stops equals more chances for the airline to lose your gear. Our cost ranged from $160 per person round trip with one stop to $230 per person non-stop. Also if at all possible get the whole team to travel together. I'm a big fan of this because you all leave together and arrive together and this helps alleviate some of the travel related stress. Hotels are another big deal, after all you do need a place to crash. The tournament providers actually did a decent job on getting a deal with the Days Inn. It was a two room suite with a kitchen. This is a great deal since its only $60 a night and sleeps at least six and its not too far from the event either.
Transportation is another important piece of the puzzle. Get the largest vehicle you can. Parking passes for the event are scarce one vehicle per five-man team and two per ten man team are allowed in the staging area. So unless you want to drag all of your gear from the distant land of "spectator parking", try and get all of your gear in one vehicle.
Okay you've made it to Orlando. Your entry wasn't lost, you got a smoking deal on airfare, the hotel wasn't too bad and you managed to get a fifteen-passenger van. Now the fun begins. The rest are all tournament basics. Get there early, walk the fields to death, bring a cheap rain poncho (we did get rained on), and oh yeah, you'll probably have to wait for the fields to be put up. We waited for two hours after the scheduled time. Last but not least get some paint. This is one of the easiest tasks because you can get whatever paint you want and it will be cheap. We got marballizer for $47 a case, which is a good deal considering we usually pay $65-75 and it was fresh off the semi which was fresh from the factory.
Now that you have all the "tournament" stuff out of the way, you've played your eight games, watched some Pro's play, and shot every last ball you had at the chrono station its time to check out the trade show. But before we get to that, one more word of advice, buy all of the gear you think you will need before you go. All the dumb stuff like batteries for hoppers and timers, extra pods, parts kits and any thing else you absolutely need to play a major tournament. Don't expect to get it when you get there because chances are the manufacturer that brought three semi trailers worth of stuff will run out of the part or piece you need, trust me on this one. Now onto the trade show. What can I say it was very impressive. I have never seen more paintball related people, magazines, and gear in one area than there were at the 2001 World Cup. All the big guys were there JT, WDP, Warped Sportz, Kingman, Kapp, and the list goes on and on. You really have to see and experience it to believe it.
This was my first experience at World Cup and I can't wait to go back again. While I was there I had the opportunity to talk with many different people from all over the world. I asked some of the players what the best and worst thing about the tournament was and these are some of the responses I got:
It was a unique experience watching a game where neither team spoke a word of English. Teams literally came from around the globe to play against the best players in the world. Its bad enough we had to fly 3,000 miles I couldn't imagine coming all the way from Russia or Korea. Overall this year's World Cup was a great experience and I would definitely recommend it to anyone thinking about going. Just be prepared for the unexpected because if it can happen it will happen, but most importantly, play fair and play safe.
I'll meet you in the middle