May is always a great month to experience every year here in the Midwest. The sun decides to come out and play after the harsh winters and the weather for the most part is very tolerable as we reach temperatures in the 70s (farenheit for my non-American readers). May also brings one of the finest scenario paintball games in existence, Living Legends which is held annually at CPX Sports in Joliet, IL. For three days people from all across the nation flock to Illinois to play paintball, win prizes, make friends and create memories that will last a lifetime. This particular weekend in May brought a beautiful mixture of paint and mud as it had rained relentlessly in the area before the sun broke free. Living Legends was always an event I had heard about and one I've wanted to attend, I just didn't have the ability to as far as cost goes. Since I'm living in Minnesota now, the trek to Sweet Home Chicago was a little more manageable for me so after some coercing from my friend Calvin, I was on my way Friday morning. For the most part, the drive was uneventful. Wisconsin doesn't really offer much for scenery, just a lot of woods. When I arrived to CPX, it was dark, chilly and muddy which ended up being a ton of fun! When I arrived I immediately geared up to go play in the pump game they hold before the event truly starts. Even though my vision was getting worse from my mask fogging up and it getting progressively dark out, I was able to shoot a few guys which isn't too bad for a guy that hadn't played in over a year.
Saturday morning brought the start of Living Legends along with general excitement and sunshine. You could tell there was a buzz going around, everyone was anxious to get out and play. As the general crowd started forming towards the main area for announcements and rules from Viper, the guy who produces the event, I came across a couple of interesting characters. Scenario events are great because unlike tournaments that require clothing to match you get a big mix of players that will go all out with what they're wearing. Some people are more content with just the bare essentials, others will get creative with what they wear out on the field. My favorite had to be kilt man that I saw in the main area. You also get people that will dress up in BDUs, tactical gear, etc. Big events like this are really fun to see just because of how diverse everything is.
There were two teams for this event, Horde and New Empire and according to officials, the Horde wiped the floor with New Empire as the scoring margin wasn't even close. For this event I was with the PbN Modsquad and in a previous blog post about Decay of Nations I mentioned that we're hardly on time for anything. This event was different because not only did people make it to the field in the morning, they were able to get to the insertion point before the game had even started. It was truly a rare sight to see. Walking to the insertion point was fun as even I was getting anxious to see the games start because I had never seen an event quite of this size before. When we got to the 10 minute countdown my anxiety started to flair up as I was standing in the perfect spot to get the opening break.
The great thing about shooting a scenario event is that I'm free to walk around wherever I want. With tournaments I'm limited to the sideline only so there's only so much I can really do. Since I had the freedom to walk anywhere I was able to get some pretty unique angles that I've never been able to get before with shooting paintball, I also got shot a bunch of times by players thinking I was part of the game but that was to be expected. I normally don't like shooting down on subjects but since I was able to get up higher than my natural height it provided for some interesting photos I was able to capture. I was also able to get up into a big sky lift that my fellow photographer James was able to get access for us to use for Saturday and Sunday. If I had a 300mm lens, it would've been perfect for use up there. Saturday was a good day of shooting, I also got to play a little which was just as fun
Saturday photo dump:
Sunday was absolutely gorgeous. A few clouds in the sky with a slight breeze, you really couldn't have asked for a better day to play some paintball. There was a lot of anticipation in the air to get the Final Battle started, which is the highlight of the event for most. Thousands of players fighting for control of a central hill with slapsticks at the apex for people to score points with. It's a blood bath and it's one of those things where it's hard to form into words just how chaotic it is. It's really something you have to see for yourself. Before the Final Battle starts there's a game that starts to let people sort of warm up first before the big event.
I find it difficult at times to express how much I love paintball, but I am very thankful for the friendships I've formed, the laughs I've shared and the good times I've had. These weekends are always such a treat for me and I look forward to them every chance I'm able to go. I hope to make it out to the field more often this Summer. My return is coming! Here's also some hard proof that I do in fact play paintball:
Gear List (thanks Chris):
70-200 f/2.8 L IS