No speed limit for Highway Star

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hws_01Paintball has been played in Thailand since the late 90's with recball fields sprouting up all over the country to cater for locals and tourists alike. Tournament paintball in the country has grown at pace with its close neighbours Malaysia and with teams like Infernal leading the way,  it is no surprise that teams from Thailand are now highly regarded in the region for their fast-paced playing styles and skills.

PaintballNews.asia recently caught up with team Highway Star, another Division 1 team from Thailand who have helped raise the standards for Thai tournament paintball. Thanawat Songwathana aka 'Kaii' founded Highway Star in 2007 after returning from America where he played in the NPPL, PSP and CFOA. Three years later and the squad now has two teams Highway Star and Highway Star Kids that compete at local and regional paintball tournaments. We talked to Kaii about the Highway Star journey so far.



Q. How long have you been playing paintball and how did you first get started?
It was back in 2005 when I was in North Carolina, USA. I went to a small scenario paintball field with a big group of friends and I got hooked right after that day. I started look all over the internet researching in every aspect about paintball and finally ended up buying an electronic copy-cat-Spyder as my first marker.

Q. How big was the tournament paintball scene in Thailand when he tried to form the team? Were there regular Thailand based tournaments to play in?
Typically, there will be a competition at least 3 times each year in Thailand organized by PBTC (Paintball Thailand Club) where Highway Star (HWS) participated since the beginning of the team. HWS played Division 1 from the start. However, we played Division 2 in World Cup, Malaysia from year 2007-2008 and played Division 1 from year 2009 until now.

Q. How did you come up with the team name Highway Star?
It's because our playing style. We are fast and furious ! So we wanted something that represents rock n' roll, unique and classic which a song called "Highway Star" from Deep Purple answered all the questions.
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Q. You’ve had some experience playing tournaments in the States. Do you have other players on your team who started playing overseas or did they all start playing paintball in Thailand?
Yes, Dennis played many Millennium Series in Europe before he joined HWS. Josh played some tournament in Australia and Daz played some tourny in UK.

Q. Has it been hard to find players to play tournament paintball in Thailand?
There are always recreational and walk-on players who interest in paintball. You will be able to see them at the field in every weekends. If you want to look for the one who is getting more serious playing paintball, it was difficult back in few years ago due to the cost of equipment and paint. But now everything in Thailand is changed, as we have many paintball dealers who help us saving dough in the pocket, website pbthailand.com as central community for Thai painballers, paint prices is about 50% cheaper comparing to the past and so on. Therefore, you will be able to see new teams from Thailand coming to World Cup in Malaysia in every years.

Q. What about paintball gear? Are there any restrictions that effect buying paintball equipment or playing paintball in Thailand?
Yes, and you need to know that! You cannot order markers from the online store in States (or any countries outside Thailand) or let someone ship your marker to your door in Thailand. The problem now is that paintball marker is still deemed to be a gun, which you have to obtain a permit. However, it will not effect ballers buying gear from dealers or playing paintball in Thailand, as the government has now realized that playing paintball is a sport.

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Q. HWS are now playing Division 1. What division did the team play in when it first started playing tournament paintball?
We always play Division 1 in Thailand, but we played Division 2 in the first and second year (2007-2008) at World Cup, Malaysia.

Q. Does the team have a coach? How often do you train as a team?
We are actually coaching each other but there was a small training (clinic) in January 2010 with Marvin Lee (formerly XSV) that was awesome. So hopefully he will come back soon to Thailand and help us as a coach.

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Q. Do you train with any of the other Thai teams like Infernal or Alien 11 or do most local teams do their own thing?
Most of the time we train with other teams at our home field at Combat62. Teams like Infernal and Alien11 also play at their  own home fields which we visit sometimes when we want something different.

Q. How much has the Thai tournament paintball scene changed in the past few years? Is it growing steadily or have things slowed down due to factors like the financial crisis or the Thai political problems?
Paintball in Thailand is growing steadily step by step with no effected from such factors. It is all about demand and supply. The cost of gear and paint price are now a lot cheaper than before. As long as we have new players stepping in and spending more, the cost will be decreased so younger players or kids will be able to buy their own gears. Once they get to that, they will start a new team and we will have even more new faces to play with.

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Q. Who are the most dangerous players on HWS and why?
I cannot say who because we play as a team and everyone is ready to replace and play in any positions. However, each players have a unique character such as Dennis is an anger, Takeshi plays with spirits, Oum is crazy and powerful, Gorn is young and smart, Bomb is fast, Siva is a snake eater, Fluke is immortal etc.

Q. Does the team (or an player) have any other involvement in paintball besides playing?
Some of us are the moderators of pbthailand.com and Boat is Thailand Mac Dev dealer.

Q. So far what has been the highest achievement for Highway Star?
2nd place, Paintball Thailand Cup in 2009 and 9th place, Pattaya Paintball International Cup in 2010.

Q. Your team has been around for a few years now. What qualities does a team need to ensure they survive longer than one season of paintball?
First, you must love paintball. Second, you need to be loyal in the family as HWS is more than just a paintball team. Third, kiss my hands and welcome to the family !  :P

Q. What goals have HWS set to achieve for 2010?
Of course, we will try to win in every tournament.

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HWS 2010:
Kai, Dennis, Takeshi, Oum, Gorn, Fluke, Siva, Bomb, boyd and Oak.

Ages from: 17 to 40

Team Sponsors: None

Home Field: Combat Zone 62

All images © of HWS - Wesley and Fluke. Thanks to Kaii and Takeshi for their time and wish the HWS family all the best for the future.

Visit the Highway Star website.