Honor & Tradition with Ronin

roninThe name Ronin might conjure up images of wild looking, sword-wielding men with shaved foreheads as the masterless Japanese swordsmen of old are often portrayed in movies. However, Team MacDev Ronin fight their battles with high-end paintball markers instead of katanas although they can, sometimes, look a bit wild. Although masterless like their medieval Japanese namesakes, Team MacDev Ronin is however not without leadership.

PaintballNews.Asia caught up with Ronin’s founder and coach Alan “Ace” Lian recently for his thoughts on the team’s past, present and future!

Who is your team?
We’re Team MacDev Ronin and we compete in the Malaysian Paintball Official Circuit (MPOC) in Division 1.

How did you come up with the team name?
Well, we’ve always been a big fan of the Japanese samurai era and we actually came up with several ‘themes’ such as Samurai, Banzai, Ninja, Bushido and so on. But at the end we came up with the name Ronin because it meant samurai without a master and at the time when Ronin was formed, we each had our very own individual character. We later added our sponsor’s name MacDev in front because we were the very first team in Asia to be officially sponsored by MacDev Australia and 7 years later we still shoot the very best!
When was the team formed?
Team MD Ronin was formed in late 2003 when the very first international speedball tournament (Nations Cup) in Malaysia was organised. We started off just playing a lot of scenario paintball at our home field at Paintball TAG, and when the idea came to compete in the Nations Cup we got coached into learning the ways of speedball and its rules and regulations.

What type of paintball do you play?
We started off playing a lot of scenario paintball at the multi-level indoor facility at Paintball TAG but we found speedball even more exciting because both teams have to play in a pre-determined size field with inflatable bunkers and both teams had to win the game at a given time limit. We had to move and think faster!

How are you doing with that?
We’ve been competing at various tournaments at National and International levels. We’ve competed in both National Leagues such as the Malaysian Paintball Official Circuit (MPOC) and Malaysian National Paintball League (MY-NPL) in division 1. They both vary in terms of format of play such as 5-Man, 7-Man and 5-Man Xball. We’ve been competing in the last 7 years and we’ve finished in the Top 2 of the national rankings.

We’ve also competed at International tournaments such as the annual World Cup Asia where we became the first and only Malaysian team to have qualified for the finals twice - finishing 2nd in 2008 and 4th in 2010. But the highlight of our team’s paintball journey was when we represented Malaysia (Asia) in Paris (France) at the Inter-Continental Cup and also competed in division 2 in the European Millennium Series in 2009.

Along the way we’ve been awarded with several Special Awards such as “Asia Cup Best Player Award” in 2005, “MY-NPL Best Malaysian Paintball Club” in 2008, and “WCA Best Nation Award” in 2010.

Are you all friends off the field?
Most of us have been playing for years together and we are more like family now.

Where is your home field?
We train at Paintball TAG at Bukit Kiara Club where there is a full Millennium set of bunkers.

Is there anything that makes your team unique?
Well, I would say that we have a team of young players but with many years of playing experience which I feel is very rare and not easy to come by because its experience usually comes with age. So you would expect see older players but in Ronin we’ve players ranging from as young as 19 to 26 years old.

Who are your sponsors?

We’ve been really blessed to have had a long standing sponsor in MacDev Australia who support us with our markers, air systems, and clothing. We’ve been shooting all of their range of markers such as the Cyborgs and at present use the Clone VXs. We also work very closely with MacDev in giving them feedback on their product performance in order to improve future products.

Team MD Ronin is also sponsored by our home field Paintball TAG in terms of paint for our training sessions and we would like to thank Bernard Cheng and the rest of the Paintball TAG staff for all of their support. Recently we secured another sponsorship by our local paintball store here in Malaysia with our Empire gears from Kee Sports. We would also like to thank Paul and Nick from Napshot Paintball.

How well do you feel you played at your last event?
Well, finishing 2nd place I guess we played pretty well while losing only 1 match going into the finals. Unfortunately, a blatant mistake by a ref cost us the match in the finals. (interview conducted prior to Leg 5 of MPOC)

Do you have a coach?
I have been Ronin’s founder and coach since our formation but since we have learned a lot from our friends who are international professional paintball players, every team member will contribute his/her ideas to the team.

How much time do you devote to practice?
The team trains every Sunday with a lot of fitness and drills for 3 to 4 hours ending with some gameplays at the end of the day.

How do you break up your practice time?
Just like in any other sport we spend a lot of time devoted to a tough fitness program. This is followed with a lot of drills to develop our personal skills. There are not many skills that you need to learn in paintball, so doing repetitive drills on these skills are most important.

Who is your biggest competition or rival?
Every team in Division 1 are tough competition. You can’t let your guard down or underestimate any of them, you do that and you will lose the match.

Where do you see the team in 1 year, 3 years, or 5 years?
We have competed in all of the major leagues in Malaysia for the last 7 years, so we hope to maybe compete more international tournaments next year like the PALS Series.

Are there any goals you’ve made for yourselves?
Well, my personal goals especially for my age is to make sure I stay healthy and injury free for as long as I still love competing.

Is practice harder after you lose?
No, it just makes us practice even harder because we feel ‘pissed-off’!

How would someone join the team?
Most of our players are still young with experience, so we seldom bring in new players but the unforseen can always happen so we have the required number of players if it does happen. We do not hold a tryout session for whoever’s interested, but rather we scout for potential players whom we can train up.

Do you have a website or Facebook page?
Yes we do. Our website is www.ronin-paintball.com and we are at Facebook under the the name of Team MacDev Ronin. We also have a section under MacDev in PBNation paintball forum.

What do you think is the perfect roster size and why?

For the Xball format that we currently play, we have a roster of 10 to 12 players with a maximum of 9 players per tournament. This is the most grueling and physically challenged format of paintball because a team can play up to 10 games a match against a particular team, and sometimes we may need to rotate the whole 5-man team at different stages of the match. Give your team a ‘fresh pairs of legs’ can sometimes do a lot of good against your opponent who may be tired.

What do you find the hardest about paintball?
Well, I would say the finance part! [laughs] Many may not agree with me but even for a team like us it is not easy to play 5 tournaments yet alone 10 in a year! Unfortunately the prizemoney that a team may win most often do not even come close to covering the money spent on the paint that we use! That is why we are always very grateful to any sponsors who may step in to help support us.

What 3 things/suggestions/improvements would help make paintball more popular in your area/state/country?

1)    Make it even more affordable for all teams to train and compete.
2)    Higher division teams help to train new teams who have just started playing.
3)    Legalise paintball as a sport.

Special thanks to Victor William for assisting with this story and Alan Lian for the interview

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