Sigh ofRelief -

by: Daniel Woods, Captain of STK. 

photos by: RSH Media // Girl With a Camera

After a while you do start to think "are we ever going to win?" Not to say we hadn't come close recently -- we came 2nd months before at WCA in overtime. But it takes so much at and between each event, that to just fall short again and again starts to make you wonder.

Our PALS Thailand experience started this year like it has pretty much every time we set foot in Thailand... we struggled. On Friday, we lost all of our games. Nothing was working, we couldn't make it to our spots alive, we couldn't live even when we did make it out and we were getting penalties. Sometimes the team drives me mad... I know we can play better but we just can't hit our peak. I've tried being enthusiastic and positive when it gets like that to bring us back... and I've tried screaming and shouting. It can be frustrating and it’s compounded by the fact that neither approach seems to work. I guess we just run on feeling and nothing helps to get that feeling going manually.

We lost our first 3 matches, the first one against Demonic was close. We went up two points and then they came back two points. The score was tied with under 20 seconds left on the clock. We got a penalty and awarded Demonic a swing point. Next we played Raskal, who dismantled us 0-4. Then we played Infernal. We lost the first two points, then won a point -- I thought we'd reached a turning point, and then, another penalty.

The prelims were winding down, we had no wins, we were pretty certain we were going to be knocked out. I was Whatsapping friends back home my sad face.

The team poured in heaps of useful feedback. With it, we swapped up who was playing where and then everything just fell into place. We managed to draw out two victories against the toughest Perth Crisis we've ever seen in a 3-1 game, and the Xtioneers, 4-0. We played these games at our peak, and I remember feeling a bit frustrated that we'd just managed to hit it when it was quite possibly too late. Highlights for me were Farran consistently getting us a kill on the break, Stevie making it out wide, Timmy weaving up the middle and Nalds holding down the snake side.

But, with our meagre two wins we were just about resided to the fact we had to go home disappointed. As we were packing up, Amber informed us our point spread JUST enough to push us through the prelims and into the next round.

It was a relief, we all had minor hugs except Farran (he has a no-celebration policy).

Our first quarter final round game was against Crisis again. It was a long and tough match, but we were able to get up points and sit on our lead with the clock on our side. We won 4-1. And then we had to play Infernal. We were able to win our game against them as well, 4-0. This knocked Crisis out of the quarterfinal round and sent us and Infernal on.

Our semi-final matchup was against Demonic. By this point I think we had a strong grip on the field and our confidence had completely turned around from non-existent to feeling unstoppable. With some early break kills on both sides, there was a drawn out 3 vs 3 the first point, and after that we were able to stay on top of it and win 3-0, sending us through to the finals to verse Infernal again, who had defeated Aisawan in their semi-final.

In the pits before the game started, we shot some glances around suggesting "bring it in for a speech?" but instead just had some knowing-nods, a few high-fives and the consensus "nothing needs to be said." Confidence was high and I felt proud to be part of STK.

And then we won and it was cool. I felt, relieved if anything. I think it's the paintball cliche to say a win is relieving but it is! All that time between events practicing, the rollercoaster at the event itself, and then to come out on top... it's good.

We had a lot of help at the event from Perth friends. Thank you everyone. And Papi, Amber and Devon. Howie, Scott, both Adams, Bubba, Jeremy, May, Mick. Sorry if I missed anyone.

Most importantly, we are getting further and further along with our partnership with Dye and the amount of support we receive from them is truly appreciated. Rambo trialled the Rotor R2's at the event and loved it.

Thank you to our home field in Perth, WASP Paintball.

And thanks to the team for your commitment, time, money and friendship.