This week the paintball player often regarded as the best in the world retired from professional paintball, Oliver "Ollie" Lang. Earlier in the week he told pbnation.com:
"...I'm done playing my friend. On to the next chapter of life, it's thrilling and terrifying at the same time but I feel alive and fully supported to roll into my next phase of human development."
No paintballer has enjoyed the same level of success as pro phenomenon Oliver Lang. His time at Dynasty has led to a record breaking amount of championship wins and his passion and sheer skill is said to have influenced paintball immeasurably. Lang is also one of the few players to play professional paintball as his only occupation and make a comfortable living doing so.
In the infancy of his career Lang began playing local tournaments and establishing paintball connections, determined to compete at the highest level he began getting recognition from recognised players and at the tender age of 17 was playing for a professional paintball team - the SC Ironmen.
In 2002 Lang joined the year old San Diego Dynasty team alongside his childhood friends. Despite being the new kids on the block he and his team took first place in the pro division and at just 22, Lang was awarded the International Paintball Player of the Year award.
"Paintball has been my ultimate teacher, I am forever grateful for the opportunities is has given me. The places I have been and the people I have met are invaluable. It has taught me thy dreams do come true and your infinite possibilities lay before you to accept the challenge and triumph" – Oliver Lang
It’s believed Lang innovated paintball, encompassing styles years ahead of his time and highlighting necessary skills such as the importance of running and shooting. Furthermore it’s said he pioneered the in your face aggression in paintball as demonstrated in 2002 at the LA Open Semi Finals when fields were much bigger – he continued to perfect this technique over the next decade.
This clip from Cereal Killerz by Monkey with a Gun gives a great insight into the man at the time:
Paintballer Matt Marshall has stated that Lang “wins so frequently, plays our sport so instinctually, and gobbles up life on the road at such a frantic and furious pace”
In 2006 Lang left Dynasty to re-join the Ironmen returning them to winning form and made paintball history when Dye paid him to do so with a hefty pay out of $100,000. During his time with Ironmen they won back to back World Cups in 2007 and 2008.
Once his contract with DYE was up, In 2011, Lang re-joined Dynasty once more and that year they went on to win the first PSP event of 2011, defeating the reigning champions Russian Legion. Planet Eclipse made this documentary about the team and his return:
The winning streak didn’t stop there as he continued his dream year and led Dynasty to a first place finish in Paris in the first Millennium Series event. The pinnacle being Dynasty’s 50th professional win at the first NPPL event.
Lang and his team have achieved more wins than any other professional paintball team winning one third of all professional paintball events ever played. They have become icons in the sport continuing to push boundaries and paving the way for paintball hopefuls.
Later in 2011 Lang released “Principles of Paintball” a DVD teaching rookies the tricks and tips that have led him to numerous world titles and countless wins - keen to tutor hopeful players.
In 2015 Lang took a break from Pro Paintball in the US, and played Millenniums only with Russian team the Polar Bears, alongside his longtime team mate from Dynasty, Ryan Greenspan. He returned to play the last event of the season in the US with Dynasty, NXL World Cup. Buoyed by his return, Dynasty went on to defeat Houston Heat in one of the great games of paintball. If you haven't already seen it, check out the final here.
The win meant Dynasty put together an incredible streak of winning a pro event every year for fifteen years back to back. Planet Eclipse made an amazing documentary we would full recommend watching about Dynasty winning that event and completing that streak:
In 2016 Ollie didn't play Millenniums, just NXL, but Dynasty had a very mixed season, finishing 2nd, 10th, 7th, 2nd and finally 8th across the season. 2016 season rankings left them 6th overall.
In recent years, whilst playing less paintball, Lang has spent a lot of time travelling the world and in that time he's become a very spiritual person and discovered a love for art, writing, poetry and photography.
Lang has been notably absent from any of Dynasty's photos and videos in the build up to the NXL season opener, so the news may have been partially expected by some. Following the news, tributes appeared social media from fellow pro paintballers that have played with and against Oliver over the years:
Oliver, in our eyes you are the greatest of all time. Thanks for the memories and for everything you've done for our beloved game.
You can follow Oliver Lang's adventures after paintball life here: