2/10 Paintball

About 2/10 Paintball - the Background

David Cloyd I love the Olympic Games; I have since the first time that I heard about them and before I watched them for the first time - and watching them sealed it for me.

The same thing was true for me about paintball: I loved the idea from the first word about it and playing it sealed it, thoroughly.

Driving home after my second day of play, I started imagining - dreaming - about paintball in the Olympics, and it dominated my thoughts for quite a time. My question, to myself, was, “What form of paintball would make it into the Olympic Games?”

I knew even then that paintball in general was heading in a different direction. The amount of paint being used in recreational games and tournaments was in a steep rise and I knew that wasn’t going to be what would work in the Games.

I knew that the form of paintball that made it into the Olympic Games would have to emphasize the person and not the shooting, it would need to emphasize the person’s ability to move and move well - athleticism - and that it would need to favor players who could think quickly on their feet, shoot well, play well as individuals and also work well as a team.

More than anything else, I knew it would need to remove volume shooting, so I knew also that very limited paint would be a part of this format. Initially, I wasn’t sure about how little the limit should be, but I knew it couldn’t be much and should allow the player’s ability to move and strategize to be the main focus.

Challenging would be part of this form of play.

I also knew, with total certainty, that four other elements would need to be present in this
still-being-created format:

  • It would have to be fun - a blast - for players to play,
  • It would have to be great fun to watch,
  • It would need to be easy to video or televise and
  • It would need to inspire a certain percentage of the people watching into action; they would want to get up and do something - anything.

My idea was that the last point mentioned needed to be present in order for the format to be a big hit, much like what you might see when kids watch a football game and then immediately rush outside to play.

Very-limited-paint fit all of those, but the other main piece - team size - came when I saw a sport on TV just a couple of years before it was introduced as an exhibition sport in the Olympic Games - beach volleyball: two-player volleyball teams made up of the best indoor (six-player teams) volleyball players who were looking for a bigger, more skillful challenge.

I instantly realized THAT was it: two-player paintball teams! For players, it would be easy to form a team: one phone call and you were done. Expenses and sponsors should be much easier to take care of. It would be easy to watch and easy to video/televise. It should be very easy to referee properly.

With that part settled, I immediately turned my attention back to the paint limit and the other details about the play (including whether it should be played as speedball, woodsball or both).

My first, instant thought about the paint limit was that twenty balls per player would be right, but I looked at it again in the next half-second and realized that was too much: I knew skilled players who would see twenty balls the same as two-hundred - way too many. So I looked at the fact that there were two opposing players and that five balls to eliminate one player should be plenty (still maybe too much), so ten balls per player would be at least the starting point, figuring that it was also probably just right.

The details fell in nicely around those two stable points (two-player teams and ten balls per player), with the ideas of two flags (one for each team), multiple games making up a match between two teams and freezing the field during paint-checks being three other, central concepts.

Even though I procrastinated for years, the idea and dream for this format, which I called
“2-man/10-ball Paintball”, or “2/10 Paintball” for short, was rarely out of my mind for more than a few days.

In late-2006, I simply looked at the fact that I still hadn’t made the format real, hadn’t brought it to “life” and decided to end the lack of motion on this and bring it into existence.

The first trail-run was done at a Florida field (that no longer exists, but will hold a fond place for me just because it was the first-step location) in mid-2007. The most wonderful thing about this day was that I saw every one of the elements mentioned above happen (except the video element, but knew that if it was fun to watch and easy to watch from the sidelines, we were highly likely to be good-to-go on the video as well). I saw each element happen in the following ways: the players were so excited and having so much fun that they were running themselves into exhaustion instead of stopping the play, the spectators (all very jaded [little or no interest because of experiencing something too many times] paintball viewers) kept gathering in greater number until everyone not playing had their faces pressed against the netting, the refs were yelling “This is awesome!” between games and several of the young players who had been watching wanted to get their gear back out of their cars and join in.

The last thing that happened during the time after that that I saw as a great pointer to the future of the 2/10 format was that no matter who I talked to about the format - paintball enthusiasts or non-paintballers, they all got the concept perfectly and almost always became highly enthused about it, even if they started out with some skepticism.

I am aware that the evolution of the 2/10 format could and probably will continue beyond simply growth in popularity, such as more games per match at the higher levels of play, placing the flags at the ends of the field instead of the center and maybe lowering the paint limit to 10 balls per team instead of per player (once again, at the higher levels of play). It could be discovered that the current format is excellent as is, and that is fine, too (that would be another form of evolution.)

So, here we go! Changing the world through paintball. Because bringing greater skill, athleticism, teamwork, honesty and honor to paintball play also brings it into the lives of anyone and everyone who plays or watches it. That changes and improves lives. And that changes and improves the world.

Putting it into the Olympic Games would make it a part of what is probably the last, clearly-enhancing mankind-encompassing activity on the globe. Let it be!

Dave Cloyd
Creator and Founder of the 2/10 Paintball format