Edmonton Impact. We want it all back!

2018 gave us some fantastic matchups in the NXL. And although some familiar patterns emerged as the season progressed, others were slowly forming behind the scenes which led to one of the most exciting NXL World Cups we've seen in a long while.

Unless you're Edmonton Impact, that is.

As one of, if not THE most professional and consistently successful team in NXL history, Impact played some outstanding paintball throughout the year with their eyes firmly fixed on two things. Winning a fourth NXL Pro Series (in a row) AND the NXL World Cup 3Peat.

Unfortunately for Impact, the best of the rest had other ideas. And in the course of one single match their dreams began to slip through their fingers. After losing to the Russians – which took the Cup 3Peat out of the equation – the Series title was in the hands of the paintball Gods and one match result. The NXL World Cup Final between Houston Heat and the Russian Legion.

And once the final buzzer sounded... it was all over. Done. Everything they'd worked towards all year was now gone. The work they'd put in at each event, their work between events, training, strategising, planning, bonding, was all for a 2nd place series finish. Which, if you know Impact, just is not good enough.

Add to that cocktail the loss of some key players in the 2018 off-season - Rayney, Keith and Dalton and you're looking a very bad end to what should have been an historic season for the team.

And that was that. 2018 done. A distant memory.

But now we're looking down the barrel of the 2019 season and only days away from the Las vegas Open. So we grabbed Bart Yachimec (team owner of Edmonton Impact) to ask him about that fateful event and what their plans are for Vegas and the year ahead.

First up, thanks for your time Bart and we appreciate you chatting about these negative issues. Most teams only wanna talk about the good stuff so it's refreshing and humbling for you to be open about the realities of competing at the highest levels in any sport.

So, here we go.

Before we get into the nasty side of things the 2019 NXL season is about to drop. What’s the mood like in the Impact camp?
The mood is real good in a lot of ways. I believe we have retooled with some real young talent with Tim and Alex and the addition of a veteran in Greg. I believe we may gotten a little off script in the way Impact performed this past year. With the New Blood in Camp Dave (Bains) and I believe we can go forward with everyone in one direction.

Let’s talk about this big, ugly, elephant in the room. World Cup 2018.
You're looking good, organised, players are on point, confident and whispers are that you're just gonna do it again. But the Russians had a different idea didn't they? What happened?
The Russian game really was one that we just did not manage or play well at all. We would lose a player off the break in every point and could not stop it. We did not adjust quick enough and I think as we dug a hole the game was just not turning for us. Sometimes you can feel if your team is ready or not and I think the Russians were 100% ready, committed and started quick. When we got behind in the count like we did we called a time out to settle down and we still could not turn it around.

We truly feel Impact gets beat by only beating itself but the Russians were red hot in that game and deserved all the credit on their win.

Is there literally a point where your playbook and ideas can hit a brick wall? Or would you say this was a rare occurrence for you guys? 
To be honest, I personally think Dave and I may over-coach sometimes with the guys, we try to prepare for every eventuality but the breakouts killed us. Looking back at that game we have learned from it; I think in certain fields you have to prepare to do certain things and in this case we did not have an adjustment for losing a player off the break in every point.

Did the 3Peat factor into any of the team conversation over the weekend? I mean, was it on everyone’s minds? Did you guys go to Cup thinking – we could be 4X Series and World Cup 3Peat champions… which is HUGE! So it must have hit pretty hard when it started to slip through your fingers.
We truly try and think of everything we need to do to prepare but thinking can get in everyone’s way and in this case we did talk with the guys about the 3Peat earlier in the year and maybe those talks and thoughts crept into our minds and we started to think about that and stopped just playing the game like we usually do, which ultimately hurt our flow.

And if you think about our whole 2018 season we lost one game in Chicago against XFactor and one game against the Russians and we lost the season series and a chance at the 3Peat. Tough to deal with and shows how important focus and flow is.


After your game we all thought it would be a Russian World Cup win. Were you surprised that Heat took it in the end?
The Russian / Heat game was a Barn Burner and full Kudos to Heat as they had to play the first morning game and that’s not easy. Follow that with a very tense game plan by both teams to double play the cans waiting for the first Kill in the game.

Are Heat now your number one target for taking what's yours, so to speak?
Going into this year with Heat being the Champions and winning both the series and World Cup is very special so they will have everyone shooting for them and playing their best to beat them. Not just us. It'll be a tough year for them but fun. And we'll enjoy trying to take it all back.

What can you expect from Impact v Heat matches in 2019? Will there a little more spice in the recipe than usual? A bit more personal?
The Impact /Heat games are always intense and probably more so because of our history with players being a part of Impact in the past. Heat had a great season and kept their focus. We didn't, which was our downfall. We'll have our focus back this year and will do our best to beat everybody, not just Heat.

Speaking of personal. You also lost players this year. Rayney, Dalton and Keith all flew the nest. How did you guys deal with this blow?
We lost three great guys in Raney, Keith and Dalton. Everyone has reasons to move on and I respect everyone to the point where we want you as a player in this game of paintball to play where you want to play and be happy playing. We miss guys obviously, but Playing Paintball is bigger than our team, so we try not to get too hung up on this.

We were impressed to see how quickly you moved to fill the gaps. What do those players bring to the team in 2019? Will they help the team tweak your style you play to avoid predicability?
Tim (Brusselback) played with DMG and is an aggressive snake player. Alex (Rosati) made the move from New York Xtreme and is a Dorito player that is an up-and-coming Justin Cornell repeat, so expect lots from him. And Greg (Siewers) needs no introduction, he's well established and was probably one of the best players on the Dorito side.

I believe with these new player changes we could have a very confident group that will be very focused on winning at all costs. JRab, for example, has not stopped preparing for this season. The guys are really wanting to get back on top. You've got to remember that we have some players that have not had the taste of winning aN NXL Pro Event and that is exciting for everyone.

Obviously the rumour mill went crazy and talk of Alex Goldman leaving started to surface too. How huge is it that players like Alex chose to stay true to the cause rather than jump? Loyalty is hard to find anywhere these days and I think fans also noticed this too.
Rumours of Alex Goldman moving on, or anyone else, is always going to be out there. If I look at Alex I saw a young man when he first started with us but now is mature person who has become so strong mentally, is a great guy and a total team player. He is so much fun to be around. This is Alex's longest time playing with one team and I am proud that he and I and the team have had the success we have had together. He has been a huge part of it and we plan on many, many more wins!


How does the most professional paintball team in the league, if not the World, come back and attack the season after losing so much yet being so close to taking it all?
It's kinda like starting all over again before we started to win, so we want it. We want it BAD.

When a team wins you look back and everything went great and the mistakes were really not mistakes, but when you lose... man, everything sticks out BIG and BOLD.

So yeah, 2019. NXL Pro Series title. NXL World Cup title. We're coming for them. We don’t plan on making a whole lot of mistakes this year and we have the right group of men that WANT IT ALL BACK! And will do what it takes to get it.

What can we expect from Impact this year? More of the same? Professional, organised, strategic? Or will there be a little more spice in the mix?
This coming year I feel the team is really wanting to get back what we lost. The season Championship and World Cup. After winning back-to-back World Cups and multiple Series Championships you miss having the titles.

I see this years Impact a more intense team in practice and much more focused on the little things plus we're a tighter group that is saying we are sticking together and playing for each other and wanting to win for each other. Nobody else.


Thoughts on Vegas?
The Vegas event really sets the tone for the year and is very important to get off to the right start. The field is a very different style and it will have some very interesting plays. There should be some great games.

Last words?
Edmonton Impact is looking forward to performing for all our fans, and haters, this year. At Vegas and at every other event. The Vegas event is an all time high for team count In the NXL so it’s going to be a wild event. It's Vegas Baby! And we want it!

As always, special thanks to all our sponsor and their great products and support.
GI / Virtue / Anthrax / Contract Killer / ANS / Gary Baum / Carbon / Ninja and finally Planet Eclipse who we've been together with since 2005.

Thanks Bart, much appreciated. Always a class act, even though we tried to poke the bear in many ways you still maintained what makes you and Impact great.

Good luck in Vegas and good luck for the rest of the 2019 season.