Ainsley Baddeley is the man behind The Lucky15's and the CPPS Series paintball league in the UK. If you want to know how everything started and how he became team founder / owner and director of one of the coolest leagues paintball you need to read our little interview below.
Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little something about you?
My name is Ainsley Baddeley, i'm the founder and owner of the Lucky 15s. I started playing paintball over 20 years ago in the woods and was instantly hooked. The Luckys started 15 years ago after I won a bet at Cheltenham Horse races called a "Lucky 15 bet" where you choose 4 horses over 4 races on the day, and after placing a 7euro bet, I won nearly 4000euros. At the time I was playing in the woods with a group of friends regularly, so I used the money to help buy us matching gear and equipment (ego 5s If I recall!)..
We needed at team name, so the "Lucky 15s" seemed to fit and we went with the horse logo. We moved over to tournament paintball playing in the UK events that were dotted around back then eventually the Millennium series. Around 7 years ago, myself and team mate Dylan jumped at the chance to buy what was the CPPS series. It was quite a bit smaller then, but it was our local training field. We wanted to invest in the infrastructure and make an amazing facility for people to play events at and train. The rest is history as they say…
What else can you tell us about yourself?
I've been with my girlfriend Steph now for 15 years and she's my rock and supporter of all things paintball. She allowed me to follow my dream and honestly think if it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have had the support to do what I do. We had to sacrifice a "normal life" for this journey, but it's been worth every moment and she's been by my side the whole way.
I still love paintball to this day, only now, I live my paintball through seeing my team do well, from the enjoyment other people get from playing, winning, or simply showing up at the CPPS for the first time and being in shock at it's scale. It's a great honour, and there's a lot of people to thank. Ledz of Planet Eclipse is one of my best friends has been a huge supporter and mentor as well over the years, and there are countless people in the industry who have stood by us to make tournament paintball in the UK better.
Is it hard being a Team Founder and the CEO / founder of an entire league (CPPS)?
Not really......when we purchased the CPPS we both decided it was time for Dylan and I to stop playing competitive paintball and hang up our boots. The team then was developing into a younger (and more talented) squad, and we agreed that we couldn't play in the league that we owned, so the 2 needed to co exist independently. When we started the CPPS, the Luckys were a young squad and at the bottom of the "Elite Division" pile (our highest division at CPPS). Back then in 2013 it was the London Nexus, London Tigers, Birmingham Disruption glory days, and my guys only dreamt of one day being at the top of that pile. It took 4 more years for them to reach that goal and a lot of hours invested in training and nurturing of new talent. I think in the 2nd season we decided to create a 2nd team, which is probably the best thing we ever did as a team. I recognised that in the past, teams failed as they didn't have the players to replace individuals who retired or quit for whatever reason.
If the team was going to succeed and maintain a high level, we'd need to share our budget with new, younger players eager for the chance to play at the 1st team level. We didn't use them as a cash cow to fund the first team guys, and they trained together as one squad to aid in the rapid development of players. We still run the same format to this day, and currently both teams are sitting in 1st and 2nd place respectively in the Elite division at CPPS.
Is this the first time the Luckies play the DPL Bundesliga?
In a nutshell, yes, but there were a number of factors leading up to this decision. Last year the guys earned promotion from Semi pro in NXL Europe to compete in Pro for the 2019 season, however, after a strange winter, GI Sportz decided to pull out of NXL Europe. The team has long standing ties with GI Sportz, and are obviously one of our biggest sponsors alongside Planet Eclipse. The guys aren't totally funded like some pro teams in Europe by backers with deep pockets, and although I help as much as I can, I'm not in a financial position to fully support them. They still pay for the privilege of playing paintball as quite simply, they enjoy playing.
Any support they do get from our sponsors and myself/Dylan is greatly appreciated obviously, but they do it because they enjoy playing paintball with their friends. Anyway, minus GI Sportz from the NXL equation and the cost of even fielding at team at NXL Europe at the pro level being so high, we were at a pivotal moment for the team's history… call it destiny, but at this moment, DPL offered us an interesting alternative… to play in their highest division. We had heard about the DPL and seen their amazing livestreams, so we knew that the level was high, and that Russian players flew in to play the events for some squads. It offered us the opportunity to further develop some of our 2nd team squad by mixing them into our roster at DPL and at a fraction of the cost of NXL. We knew that if we took a pro spot in NXL Europe this year, our level of play wasn't quite there to truly compete yet, but the DPL would be a fantastic bridge to help raise our level of play and experience.
The guys are loving it so far. Everyone has been so welcoming and already made lots of new friends. This is one of the great things about paintball in my opinion… regardless of age, sex, religion or background, paintball unites without discrimination. To be able to travel to new places and have amazing adventures along the way is a massive bonus.
I'm writing this after the 3rd DPL event, where we had a great day, the highlight being beating Breakout Spa 4:2. They're a team who my guys have watched from the stands at over the years and are big fans. They showed their professionalism yesterday after the win by congratulating them immediately, true professionals.
Is there anything else you want to say?
A big thank you to Paintball.de for helping us organising our markers in and out of Germany - without you guys, we could not play!!!
Thank you very much Ainsley for the interview and your time.