Winning a tournament is like playing a game of chess. It is very strategy oriented. Even in beginner level competitions, if your team has no plan or some sort of working strategy, chances are high you will not even make it past the first round. While there are many different strategies used by very successful players, the best advice is to practice several and stick with what works in most situations. The variable is not knowing what the other team is going to do and you should be ready to change to another plan very quickly should you find your original strategy not working.
For a 3-man event, your number of guns is quite limited but it will be important to spread as many around the field as possible off the whistle. It’s best to try and get wide on the field. This means, try and send at least one player to a corner bunker or to a bunker on the side of the field as fast as possible. The corner works well, or the first snake bunker (snake 1) or even the snake insert bunker. The reason for this is to spread your team’s base of fire to make it difficult for the opposing team from coming to your side without passing through crossfire. This is called a ‘delay break’. An example of this strategy would be to have 1 player occupy the snake side of the field, 1 player to the dorito bunker side of the field and the 3rd player to the snake insert bunker or to the corner. The players would then fire steady streams of paintballs while trying to copy the movement of their opponents, moving to the same (but opposite) bunkers as them.
The delay break is beneficial because it will allow your team to move without being seen. When the opponent slides behind their bunker, the player will make and equal move into the mirror bunker. Since the opponent will be sliding into their bunker, they will not see the player move to their bunker. This means, when the opponent leans out of his bunker to take a shot at the player, he will be shooting at the wrong bunker. This tends to leave the opponent over exposed in his current spot which will allow the player to make an effective shot. If the player misses his shot, they will then need to become intelligently aggressive with immediate forward movement. Aggressive movement should only be made during windows of opportunity however. The player will shoot at the opponent which will cause the opponent to get behind his bunker, then it will be safe for the player to make a move to the next bunker. This will give the same effect as the delayed break. The opponent will come out shooting at the wrong bunker giving the player an opportunity to make a more effective shot at his opponent.
If the player finds they are unable to make the shot on their opponent, they need to communicate the opponent’s position to the rest of the team. The team should also be communicating where the other 2 opponents are on the field. Once all of the opponents’ positions have been voiced to the other members, the team should “cross the field”. This means the players on the left side of the field will shoot at the players on the right side of the field and vice versa. However, players on the right should still pay attention to the right side of the field and vice versa. Do not get tunnel vision stuck watching the one opponent you’re aiming at. This is a common distraction and can lead to the destruction of this strategy. When ‘crossing the field’ with fire, it often causes opponents to lean too far out on the opposite side of the bunker they’re hiding behind. For example, if a player on the left side of the field shoots at an opponent on the right side of the field, it will cause the opponent to lean more to the right side of the bunker, leaving an opening for the player on the right side of the field.
When any opponents have been eliminated, communication to the other team members of this is an alert for the team to start moving down the field after the remaining opponents. In a three versus three game, when one player is eliminated, the odds are highly stacked against the remaining two. A smart full three man team will turn on the heat and aggression to quickly try and corner the other opposing players. Trying to herd them into a close group of two is a great strategy whenever possible however difficult if the remaining two are spread far apart. When practicing, set up situations like this and give each player a specific role. Make sure the other players know about everyone else’s jobs and can fill into another spot should one get eliminated. With such small teams, this is a key point and should be done very quickly when a player goes down.
For a three man team, different roles include the Delay Break Player, Home Player and Runner. The Runner’s job is to move as quickly as possible into a predetermined bunker; he will not shoot off the initial whistle but rather immediately run to his spot. The Delay Break Player will provide cover fire for the runner on the opposite side of the field that the runner is on until they reach their spot. Once the runner makes it, the Delay Break Player should move into the mirror bunker opposite the runner. Off the break, the Home Player will provide cover fire on the same side of the field as the runner until he reaches his bunker position. Once this happens, the Home Player should constantly communicate to the other players everyone’s positions as well as info about the opposing team’s movement. Communication is not just the Home Player’s job however; the best teams communicate info as they receive it no matter what position they play.
While there are many variations of movement and nearly endless scenarios to practice, these are just a few strategies used in 3-man events to start the thought process. The best strategy is to be prepared by practicing several different plays so you are ready to switch gears when necessary at any time. Knowing how to read your opponents is something that comes with experience but will be an important part of making on the spot adjustments to your strategy. Find a strategy that works and stick with it. Once you find several strategies that work, use them until they don’t; don’t fix something that isn’t broken or make sudden new changes at the last minute you haven’t practiced. Opposing teams with experience will know you’re flying by the seat of your pants and take advantage of it right away. It’s best to stay with what you’ve practiced and take notes about what worked and what didn’t. Changes should be made during practice sessions and not in the middle of a competition.