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Zone US Nationals 2022

I recently played in the 2022 Zone Laser Tag U.S. Championships alongside some of the most skillful Zone players in the country. I joined together with friends on the Blood, Sweat and Beers team (BSB) for an experience that was both a challenge and a privilege considering I am a player without a home Zone site. More accurately, it’s not just that I am without a home site, but at present there is no competition Zone site for practice anywhere in the entire state of New York, so my only opportunities to play these days are the arenas I visit when I travel. So, it was a delight to return to Ultrazone Bailey’s Crossroads in Falls Church, VA where I got to join with friends who I’ve met all along my journey.

RNT and Travis also fall into the “triple digit club” for laser tag arena visits and I have known both of them through Armageddon for several years. C.K. and I had played together on a team at Battle for the Fort in Indiana a few years back and I had last seen Dan (Voltron) at his site in Bensalem, PA when I was passing through only a couple of months ago. It was great to be on a team with some fun people!

When I arrived at Ultrazone on Friday night (night one of team competition) everyone was relaxing and visiting at a cookout behind the building.

It was such a great way to chill with the other players before the tournament got underway.

We chatted with organizer Jason Elias about how nice it was that Liquid Death still and sparkling water was provided to the event courtesy of this company stepping up as a beverage sponsor.

Big props to Liquid Death for keeping us all hydrated at the Zone Nats!

By the end of this weekend our entire team had become fans of both the product…and the name! #LiquidDeath

We had a break in between (during which RNT and Travis and I went off to explore more local laser tag in the area) and when the competition got underway, we played overnight from a little after midnight right through 6:00 in the morning. Yes, I needed some coffee! :)

Seven teams rotated through three-team round robin competition all night, using only the bottom level of the Ultrazone arena, which has stunning comic-inspired artwork all throughout.

I do love a brightly decorated arena and used the character images as location indicators, which I tried to commit to memory during the final rounds of Elimination, which were the only “practice” rounds I got prior to the event. I had not been present for side events earlier in the week. It has been years since I last played at this arena, so to navigate I was largely relying on finding the familiar faces in this labyrinth.

The competition was intense and I think there is so much to be gained and learned from tagging with players of this caliber. Many of the players had excellent feedback and suggestions, which I appreciated greatly when it was offered up in a friendly and supportive manor. I’m not going to sugar coat the fact that there were a couple of passive aggressive comments that could have been delivered more constructively, but for the most part I find this to be a generally positive community with whom I enjoyed some excellent, heightened levels of competition.

As the saying goes. I’ll sleep when I’m dead! I only got a couple of hours rest before making the most of my day in Virginia area (including playing at my 450th laser tag arena!) and enjoying the local region. I had carbo-loaded before night one of the tournament, but before night two, how about fondue?

Team competition on the second night didn’t get underway until 1:00 am, so at this point I mixed my Liquid Death with instant coffee to keep me going through the remainder of the games leading up to ascensions. It was 6:00 in the morning when our team was taken out of the competition, which was actually for the best because my boss was scheduled to get married ten hours later, so I had a long drive back to upstate New York ahead of me.

I received my tournament coin and headed back, feeling appreciative that I was able to be part of this event.

I want to offer my congratulations to Team Coast 2 Coast for winning this year’s Zone Laser Tag US Championships!

Special recognitions were given to these players as well:

MVP - Hellfire

Rookie of the Year - SD Cratie

All Stars - Arkangel, Lil D, Skywalker, Mumin and Hellfire

Tournaments are fun for me because I always leave with improved skills (never stop learning), new friends and awesome memories, which I reflected on during my drive back home.

Did I make it back in time for the wedding? Barely! If we had advanced any further, I definitely would have missed the ceremony, but as it happens, I got into town and changed clothes for the wedding with only twenty minutes to spare! When Liz says “we’re all wearing pink” I knew I had better show up on time, in pink.

For the remainder of the night I tried to stay awake to recount my stories from the weekend (most people wanted to know why it is that we play overnights) as the lack of sleep was starting to catch up with me. However, it was a long, exhausting and exhilarating weekend playing Zone Nats 2022 and now all that was left was to repeat my perpetual mantra…coffee, please!

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