Dynasty’s Triumphant Return To The Top

Dynasty’s Triumphant Return To The Top

Dynasty surprised a lot of people in 2020 by winning the World Cup. Ryan Greenspan took home every possible award a player can win. Prior to that, the boys in blue hadn’t won an X-Ball event since the NXL Las Vegas Open in March 2017. There were some who believed that they only won World Cup due to a lack of competition caused by a crazy COVID-19 year. If you asked around, the people’s favorites for 2021 were mostly other teams (ones with heavy financial backing). For those of us that have followed tournament paintball for the last 20 years, it's pretty obvious that you can never count out The Dragon. Dynasty is the most successful tournament team in existence, with some of the best players that have ever stepped onto the field. But still, not many expected them to dominate 2021 the way they did. 

Dynasty’s strongest years are believed to be the early 2000’s, when their core was composed of some of the best players today, only they were in their early 20’s. So how did Dynasty have such a successful year? How did they navigate injuries, changes in coaching staff, and losing Tyler Harmon (one of their best players) to Houston Heat? I’ve been watching them closely on and off the field, so let’s unpack Dynasty’s 2021 success.

Obviously, ending 2020 with a World Cup win was a huge confidence builder for the team. It spoke an undeniable truth in sports; That the well-funded super squads aren’t the only show in town. That the brothers who love playing FOR each other can win despite insurmountable odds. With such a powerful ending to 2020, Dynasty was poised to blast into 2021 with unshakeable confidence. Then the challenges came.

One of the main changes in the beginning of the 2021 season was the loss of Rusty Glaze and the return of  Kevin “SK” Bredthauer as the main coach of Dynasty. Kevin has been very successful coaching some of the top teams over the years, including Damage and Ironmen, but has been off the scene the last couple of years. Rusty coached Dynasty over several years and has helped them win many tournaments. Many believed finding a coach to replace Rusty would be impossible. So, why was Kevin the right choice and why was it so important for the team? Dynasty is filled with superstars and as everyone knows, superstars can be difficult to coach, so there aren’t many people around that these guys would listen to, and more importantly respect. Kevin is one of the few that has a voice that can be heard in the Dynasty huddle, as he has proven himself as a teammate, coach, and master of the game. 

The early part of 2021 would mean more challenges and changes for Dynasty. They picked up some new players that at the time, were unknown. In addition Ryan Greenspan was playing a lot less due to a back injury. The boys in blue did not look solid, and they weren’t playing as a unit. Actually, they looked pretty far from the team that won World Cup in 2020. Their 2021 season started with a 10th place finish at the NXL Sunshine State Major. Behind the scenes there was also another major shocker approaching: Tyler Harmon was unhappy and he was looking for a new home. The team didn't know this yet, but in the back of his mind, Tyler probably knew he was on his way out. With Ryan hurt and Tyler’s exit pending, the team was in a vulnerable place.

As the season continued, Dynasty made the most out of their series of unfortunate events. As Ryan took a back seat from playing, he focused on working with Kevin on other parts of the team. Ryan’s absence on the field could’ve been catastrophic, but as great teams prove time after time, it’s not about 1 player. Great teams will pick up the slack and grow from the challenges, and this is exactly what Dynasty did. They finished 3rd in June at the NXL Mid Atlantic Major. The needle was moving in the right direction, and by the time Ryan was healthy enough to play again, the team was stronger and had learned to perform without him on the field. This allowed Ryan to take to the field with a renewed sense of reckless abandonment. He came back playing some of the best paintball we have ever seen him play, which is saying a lot.

As if to further illustrate that “it’s not about 1 player”, Tyler’s departure seemed to have minimal impact on the team’s performance. Tyler is undoubtedly one of the most proficient players that has ever played the game, but his departure made more of an emotional impact than it did anything else. During the first team practice after Tyler’s departure, the team’s feelings were tense, but at the same time there was something huge brewing! The whole team had fire in their eyes. There was something for them to prove again; That The Dragon is bigger than any individual player,  and this concept made the whole team step up. This concept is not new to Dynasty. Some of us still remember Oliver Lang leaving his brothers to play for the Ironmen (TWICE). The second time it was a huge shock for the team, but they came back even stronger. By this fact, some could argue Tyler Harmon leaving Dynasty actually made the team stronger.

The challenges present early in the 2021 season gave Coach Kevin the opportunity to dial in a new winning formula. So let’s talk about some of Kevin’s staff changes in 2021 and how they might have impacted the rest of the boys in blue. Kevin had to make a tough call cutting Grayson before heading to the Chicago Windy City Major. This move coincidentally sparked a huge confidence boost in Mike Urena. I don't even know where Mike came from, but this kid has some heart, talent, and he wants to win. Kevin put his trust in him by giving him a bunch of playing time and Mike didn't disappoint.

Another quiet player stepped up as well: Blake Yarber. Blake has always been a solid player, but during the last two events he portrayed a higher level of confidence, leadership, and execution. Blake was a shining star at World Cup. How did the Dynasty organization get this star to shine? After Tyler’s departure, Dynasty brought on Marcello Margott and Blake Yarber as part-owners of the team. Did it mean a big pile of cash? Probably not, but the value of being trusted as an owner of the most iconic paintball team in history is sure to boost confidence. Maybe it helped, maybe not, but it was definitely the right move for Dynasty. Marcello and Blake played their hearts out and both earned MVP Awards after their win at Cup.

The last piece of the puzzle was Alex Fraige. Alex has been a paintball icon for over 20 years, but in the last few years it seemed that he was focusing more on other aspects of life, such as family and business. It seemed that Dynasty and competitive paintball was falling behind on his priority list. Apparently, the COVID-19 year changed everything. Being away from paintball resparked something inside this guy! At practice before the NXL Chicago Windy City Major we saw a better Alex. He was having fun, the team was having fun with him, he cared, and he was playing really well! This same Alex showed up to the NXL Chicago Windy City Major, played absolutely insane, and earned the MVP Award while helping Dynasty finish in 1st place. The 20 year old Alex would’ve been proud to watch the almost 40 year old Alex still slaying it on the field. Although some of the speed and athleticism may be harder to come by, Alex still plays the game methodically, aggressive, and without fear. Alex went out there on every point with determination to shoot as many people as he could. When others stopped and wanted to stay alive, Alex went forward and bunkered the guy in front of him. The attitude and the fire inside this guy is absolutely infectious. If the Dragon was hurting a little by Ryan’s injury and Tyler leaving, Alex fixed that with his attitude! 

The backbone of any team is the players and these guys might be making the best Dynasty since the early 2000’s. Ryan Greenspan, Alex Fraige, Yosh Rau, Marcello Margott, Arturo Adrande, Blake Yarber, Mike Urena, Dalton, Kevin Bredhauer and Brandon Short you guys all deserve the MVP of 2021. We’re excited to see what’s in store for Dynasty in 2022.

: By Mikko Huttunen , @mikko358

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    great , well written. great team

  • Ryan W

    Great article 👍🎯

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