A WORD FROM OUR CHAMPIONS
We're edging closer to the end of our premiere year in the world of dart blaster team competition, and we've loved every moment so far. As we prepare to crown a champion team at the Dart Zone Pro Tournament in Rochester, New York, we want to take a moment and get to know the competitors who've made us proud. To that end, we've singled out the burning questions our community wants to know. Read on for answers from the Pro Tournament finalists.
Answers from Andrew Marino & Jackson Brischler
Q: How many years have you been playing this sport?
AM: 12 years at official events.
JB: I got into the hobby in 2008. Been doing this for over half my life! If you’re asking about competitive foam flinging: in 2017 I brought up the idea to the SENC (Southeast Nerf Club) of doing a competitive QuikFlag tournament (game type from Singapore players). That inspired the formation of the competitive club Atomic Dart League and may have influenced the initial FPT (I’ll check with Drac on that lol).
Q: How many years have you been with your team?
AM: Some members, over 10 years. Others of our team I met for the first time this year.
JB: We formed our team less than two weeks before the first qualifier!
Q: How often do you practice?
AM: Generally our club practices twice a month, but I get to about 4-5 events a year if I’m lucky these days. However, our club plays in much more casual games than the Dart Zone Pro Tournament runs.
JB: I personally play 2-3 times a month at local events. Our team members are scattered across the east coast, so it’s impossible to get more than 3 of us together at any local events. For all intents and purposes, as a team, we don’t practice at all!
Q: What excites you about the Blaster League?
AM: Mostly the exposure it brings to this hobby and the opportunities it brings with new products and advertising. But also as a way to bring a lot of long-time friends over the internet to one location where everyone can meet face to face.
JB: Besides being the realization of my friend’s dreams? The past decade has been so crazy in terms of growth; from being based in niche forums to having hobby-grade products on big box store shelves. The Blaster League represents the next big step for the hobby; sponsored, regulated, large-scale competition. There’s even more potential from here!
Q: Where do you see this sport going in the future?
AM: I think there’s a good chance we see more competitive events in the coming years. With legitimate teams that are founded for a league, backed by sponsors. I would love to see it become more international in its scope as well. There are plenty of very professional players in Singapore and Australia that would no doubt be extremely competitive with North America. Seeing dedicated teams compete with each other within a regular schedule would be unreal.
JB: Just to more places in general! It doesn’t have to be the “next big thing,” but hopefully with more public awareness, I’d love to see more clubs and competitions popping up all around the world!
Q: If there was one thing you could communicate to skeptics about this emerging sport, what would it be?
AM: While the Dart Zone Pro Tournament is a competition event first and foremost, the basis of this hobby revolves around its fun-factor and playfulness. It all boils down to the same games of tagging your friends with foam darts that many of us in this hobby have been doing since grade school. Dart blasting is a hobby that is not exclusive to one age, gender, or belief system. As long as safety is at the forefront, there are no limits to how you should play.
JB: I believe one of the biggest barriers to wider success (besides general awareness that the sport exists) is public perception. Most people view foam dart blasters as weak toys catered to children. But they can be used for casual fun, for intense high-FPS battles, or for anything in between! There is an incredible amount of versatility in terms of games, a relatively low cost of entry, and online and local communities that are always ready to help.
As long as you’re a good sport, you will definitely have a good time.
Q: What do you hope to do with the prize money if you win?
JB: I try not to think that far ahead so as to not get my hopes up, but besides saving the majority of it, I would treat myself to one or two full-price LEGO sets.
Q: Please highlight any personal stories (ex. Your personal/team road to get to the final) below.
JB: I had been less active in the hobby over 2020-21 due to life circumstances. I sold off my collection of hundreds of blasters until all I had left fit in a duffel bag. For all intents and purposes, I was out of the game, both mentally and physically.
I went on a month-long solo road trip around the U.S. and came back to a message from my teammate Andrew (aka Spud). I’ve known him and David (Carius) for over a decade — since we were all teenagers.
Andrew told me about the Foam Pro Tour, that the first qualifier was in two weeks, and he really wanted to get a team together. I was doubtful at first, but what really convinced me was when he reminded me how much teenage-us would have killed for something like this, and we owe it to our younger selves to go for it.
So we wrangled a few other teammates together, carpooled down to Orlando, and ended up qualifying for the FPT top 8!
To be honest, I’m super duper nervous about the final bracket. Seeing the seriousness of the other teams as they practice, I realize our team is very much the “Average Joes” of the tournament. I’m very confident in my and my teammates’ individual skills but working and playing as a team is a totally different skill set.
That being said, my goal is to do my best, have fun, and have no regrets, regardless of the outcome.
SEE YOU SOON!
The Dart Zone Blasters team is looking forward to seeing Pro Tournament finalists Combo #5 again when they compete for the championship title at the Dart Zone Pro Tournament.