San Antonio XFactor already kick-started their 2017 season with a victory at the NXL Winter Classic, which puts them in a very sweet place going in to the first 'proper' event of the 2017 NXL season.
After a solid and progressive 2016 season, XFactor had managed to put an impressive level of calm, organisation and unity into their play, but maintained their trademark aggression and unpredictable approach to every point.
As paintball fans, and as a sponsor, X-Factor excite us. So we took 5 with them.
FYI: CR: (Colt Roberts) / BB: (Billy Bernacchia) GG: (Grayson Goff)
PE: 2016 was a really strong year for you guys. Yes, we know you wanna be winning but you kept your fans super happy and genuinely looked like you were enjoying your paintball. What can we expect from XFactor in 2017?
CR: We hope that 2017 brings us up to the next level. We have been consistently finishing in the top 4 but we are looking to win a series championship. We feel that our two newest pick ups will be integral in us achieving that goal. Having LJ Woodley fill the glaring hole we’ve had in the center of the field and Clint Johnson deepening our roster as an all around player should be huge for us.
BB: Expect a lot more focus from X-Factor this year. Being so close all season, it just makes us all very hungry for that first place. We have all the right tools to be the top team this year, it will just take focus and dedication.
GG: We need a series championship and another World Cup win. There's nothing easy about that at all but that's exactly what I expect from us this year.
PE: We know that a lot of teams don’t like to play you guys. At any point of any event. Is unpredictability something you guys work on? Can you even work on that? Do you have your own plan or do you counter what you think the opponent’s plans are?
CR: I think every team wants to be unpredictable. We all have tendencies but keeping those disguised is key. I think you are able to work on this by disguising positioning and body language on the start gate as well as not falling into the trap of keep doing it until it doesn’t work. While I think you should ride what works for you as much as possible you can’t just continue to do the exact same thing and expect another team to not find a way to exploit it. Sometimes you have to throw a curve ball in there. We also try to tend to stay true to our strengths and while we do take into account what another team is doing, we also want to make them adjust to our playing style and not vice versa.
BB: I feel like we have so many weapons on our team and Coach Ryan Brand does such a good job scouting and game planning, you never know who the wild card may be in any game we play. We like to practice multiple attacking game plans, but ultimately it comes down to scouting our opponents, finding their weakness and countering.
GG: I think a lot of that credit goes to our coach Ryan Brand and him embracing the style we play. We feed off that aggressive energy but he also knows he has guys who can lock it down when called for. He's one of the few coaches out there that really can help a team turn around a losing match with the right adjustments and personnel.
PE: Which pro teams do you love to play against and hate to play against. And why.
CR: I personally love to play against any team that is going to come at us. That’s the style of play we are best at and I think it makes for exciting games. Teams that I hate to play against are teams that just sit and shoot lanes cross field and flood zones. They don’t want to engage in gun battles and would rather just make you attempt to run through their gun. Also teams that are very fluent in bounce shots are super annoying to play. I hate that they are part of the game now.
BB: I love to play Dynasty (you have to beat the best to be the best). Dynasty has won more than any other team out there and I feel we always have the best “nail biter” matches with them. I hate playing “4th tier teams”. Sometimes we are over confident and overlook some of the talent on these teams, making it more of a match than it should be.
GG: I love the opportunity to play against the best, It's a short list but everyone knows who they are. I hate playing the games "we're suppose to win." We've had problems with those types of games in the past and it's something I feel we've only recently fixed. We came into the league knowing everyone thought they'd smash us, we proved them wrong and I know there's a team out there wanting to do the same thing back to us. That scares me more than the heavy hittin' teams.
PE: Who were your old school paintball heroes growing through the game? And why?
CR: Mark Ayers was the first player I watched play that I was super impressed with. He played on Texas Storm, Farside, and Evil Factory team. He was never afraid to take risks. He was always looking to come on your side of the field and get some. That is fun to watch and makes for some dynamic plays. Eric Roberts from Avalanche was the first pro player I ever actually met. I met him at Warped Tour in San Antonio and he was such a fantastically humble guy that it really made an impression on me.
BB: Always looked up to Alex Fraige. Watching him as a premier front player always motivated me to play more like him. What can you say - He is a great guy, great leader, great player, still killing it.
GG: Brian 'BC' Cole. He never got the limelight like the rest of his peers but all the old school guys on Dynasty know they wouldn't have had the success they did without players like BC in the back doing the thankless job. I've always rooted for the lesser known but equally skilled guys because I know it takes more than 1 guy to win a paintball match.
PE: What’s your message to all the other pro teams in the NXL this year?
CR: Talk is cheap. We will let our message be stated on the field.
BB: See you in the snake.
GG: **** you!
Sounds like fighting talk. Vegas should be a riot!
Photo: George Fava