This is the second post where we delve into the brain archives of the big cheeses at Planet Eclipse as they tell us about their favourite memories from the last 25 years as a paintball company.
To some, a 3rd place medal is a sign of failure, or a symbol of not quite being good enough but not this one, this was so much more than 'just a medal'.
Why? Well, pull up a chair and we'll tell you.
The medal pictured below (in an amazingly cheap wallet, but pretty sweet at the time) is pretty obvious. It's actually written on it, well, on the plaque anyway. We won this at the Mayhem Masters (Europe's biggest paintball event) in 1993 with our up-and-coming team, the Banzai Bandits.
Some of you may not know this, but we're based 'Up North' (the North of England) and most of the best teams that have been around in the UK for years have been based 'Down South'. There had always been a very big North/South divide in terms of attitude and quality of teams, so when we rocked up at Holmbush (Down South) to take on the big boys from all over Europe, and the States, it was a huge deal for us. A rights of passage almost.
Our team, the Banzai Bandits, was made up of the following band of misfits: Jack Wood, Chris Morden, Julian Carr, Tess, Charlie, Brian Greenbank, Phil Cummins, Ian Duthie, Stewart Pailthorpe, Steve Horan and Myself (Ledz). We were all pretty young bucks at the time (I was just 23) and up against some seriously heavy hitting legendary teams, but we were up for it and gave it everything we had.
The event was a standard set up of 5 teams in a round robin finals. We played the Turks first and beat them with 10 players alive, which was nice. We then played the Eagles, which is when it went downhill and it all kicked off. They went mental (I didn’t really have any clue why because it was on the other tape and that was a long way away). The Eagles packed their bags and left, but not before they came over to our table and nearly kicked off. The Preds (Predators) stood up for us, which I will never forget; as I said, we were all pretty young and most of the teams were a lot younger, more lovers than fighters. That argument knocked the wind out of our sails and we lost the last two games against the Preds and Nam Wreckin Crew.
Final results were: Predators 1st, NWC 2nd, Banzai Bandits 3rd, Turks 4th, Eagles 5th.
So, why was this event and this result so important and memorable to me? The Banzai’s coming 3rd at this event was AMAZING. We were this up and coming team from ‘Up North’ that nobody really expected to do anything. We had also come 3rd in the Mayhem Warm-up the month earlier but the Mayhem Masters itself had all the best teams from Europe, and a few from the States. We had beaten NWC (flag in transit) and also beaten the Florida Terminators in our prelim bracket to get to the final so we were already buzzing. But to get 3rd just meant to me (and I hope the rest of the guys) that we were good enough. We weren’t making up the numbers any longer and we were definitely the best team from the North. We thought we were good but kept falling a little short. This was the seal of approval that we all needed to kick on. And kick on we did. For me this was a new era in UK Paintball. Time for the old boys to move aside - although we welcomed them stopping us from getting beaten up.
The result aside, the Banzai’s always had a good drink so always have lots of memories from the bar. I think this was the year we tried Cow tipping for the first time but could never get close enough to the cows. The one thing that really stood out to me though wasn’t at the event itself, but at the next time the Banzai’s played an event. It was at Koow Doow which we had played many many times before, so nothing new, but when we were walking into the base camp in the morning all these ‘Pro’ players from the Preds and Nam etc were saying ‘Morning’ to us. ‘Morning Ledz’ - nothing more than that, but to me that was HUGE. The established Pros at the time were a very different breed of players back then and the inner circle was very definitely closed, especially to Northerners, but by just saying ‘Morning’ it was like an acceptance into their gang.
The 3rd place at the 1993 Mayhem Masters meant one big thing to us. The Banzais had arrived.