How we found the best players on our paintball team (Part 6): Laning

As we mentioned in the last post, being in a 5v4 is a great place to be. Your odds of winning the point just went from an even 50/50 to almost 75%!

So how do you get to a 5v4? One way, in a word: laning.

As many of you already know, laning is one of the easiest ways to get an elimination. You don’t have to gun battle somebody out. You don’t have to run anywhere to get somebody. You figure out where they are going, put a stream of paint there and BOOM, they’re out.

“Want to win a race, just run really fast”

You are probably saying: “That’s great Alex but not everyone is good at laning!”

Ah ha! Very true.

Our next challenge in collecting the statistics was how to measure laning. We started out by creating a definition:

A player eliminated in the first X seconds of a game counts as being “laned out”

We experimented with several values for X ranging from five to thirty seconds and we finally settled on fifteen. That gave us the right balance between eliminations that came from early gun battles (which we don’t consider laning) and getting out after a slightly delayed break out.

One of our other biggest questions as we were tracking these numbers: how do college players compare to, say, professional players when it comes to laning? We assumed that pros are probably much better but how much?

Thanks to a rather interesting twist of fate, we found out! It turns out that four of the players on the pro team Vicious were currently enrolled students at the University of Nebraska-Omaha(UN-O). This made them eligible to enter the National Collegiate Paintball Association (NCPA) National Championships, which they did.

This stirred up some controversy as some of the teams didn’t think this was fair but I was excited to finally see how top college teams faired against pros. I remember watching UN-O’s first point of their first match. All of their players superman dove into their bunkers, even the bunkers right next to the back center. My assistant coach, Ryan, commented that laning must be pretty good in the pros if you had to always dive into a bunker.

As the points progressed and we gathered more data on UN-O, the number on pro laning vs NCPA laning become pretty obvious. On average, a college Class A team will get at least one elimination from laning about 30% of the time.

Percentage of points a regular team lanes someone out


UN-O on the other hand, was getting a lane elimination almost 85% of the time! That’s incredible. That would be the equivalent of two regular college teams playing each other but one team only starting with four players instead of five. From what we know about 5v4 winning odds, you can probably guess that UN-O proceeded to stomp all over the competition.

Percentage of points UN-O laned someone out


What’s even more amazing is that they did the above with only SIX players on the roster. That means their lines were running back to back points in Florida heat AND laning people out at almost TRIPLE the rate of regular college teams.

Moral of the story: work on your laning kids!

Up next in the series: who’s better: new players or old players?

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