Will Oliver Lang Return to Dynasty?
by Chris Iaquinta
In the last ten years, no paintballer alive has enjoyed quite the same level of success as pro phenom Oliver Lang. His time on Dynasty lead to a record number of both national and world championships, and from there he was lured away to the LA Ironmen with the most lucrative paid salary offer in paintball history. He helped return the Ironmen to winning form, but a couple of lackluster seasons recently has the internet buzzing as to whether or not Oliver Lang may return to Dynasty now that his DYE Paintball contract has expired.
DYE could absolutely attempt to resign Lang for another lengthy contract, but can they match the six-figure salary they've been paying him for the last couple years? Is it even worth it anymore? The LA Ironmen have only been competing in one major tournament series, and haven't been all that successful lately. As for their marketing efforts, it doesn't aapear that Lang has been featured as prominently in as many DYE promotions as before. Combined with the poor overall economic state of the paintball industry in general, one is left to wonder as to whether or not any paintballer is worth a huge paycheck to any one paintball company right now. Pro sponsorships have evaporated down to almost nothing for all but the very elite teams, and professional players have been hocking their own personal equipment on Facebook just to make ends meet.
If DYE isn't ready to continue the payday for Lang, a move back to Dynasty seems completely possible, but at what cost to the boys from San Diego? Dynasty has long been one of the most heavily sponsored teams in paintball, but even they more than likely would not be able to set aside a considerable salary to entice Oliver into a return. If anything, the main lure that Dynasty has to offer is the fact that their squad right now is poised to have a better overall 2011 season than the Ironmen, one that could be bolstered even further by the return of one of their key players.
Rumors maintain that DYE will be running the Ironmen on a tight budget next season, which will probably result in the team sticking solely with competing in the PSP, with perhaps a handful of international events. Dynasty however is expected to continue to play both the PSP and NPPL for 2011, and the return of Oliver should make it easier to get a few extra sponsorship dollars so that the team can travel as extensively overseas as they've done before in the past.
Considering how many tournaments Lang has won in his storied history, you have to wonder if his decision will be driven mainly by the financial aspects of a new deal, or whether or not he would like to finish what will likely be the tail end of his career over the next few years continuing to be as competitive as possible. Oliver has made efforts to stablize his finances outside of the game, which could also play an important factor. Some might say that he should return to Dynasty out of loyalty, but many forget that Lang actually made his pro debut with the Ironmen, and later left that incarnation of the team to play with his childhood friends on the at the time newly formed Dynasty.
A third option still remains, and that is the possibility that another team such as the Russian Legion, Edmonton Impact or Tampa Bay Damage could make a surprise move and sign Lang for the next season. While it seems unlikely, take into consideration that a powerhouse team such as Damage, who had an incredible 2010 season, could be looking at a vastly increased sponsorship allowance, plus one can assume they are operating at a lower total salary cost than that of both Dynasty and the Ironmen. As an end result, a team like Damage may have more funds in the team bank to be able to throw towards Oliver than a team where the entire roster has been getting salaries for years.
Personally, I'd love to see Oliver back with Dynasty. You can argue that the team was at their absolute peak with him on board, both as competitors and as ambassadors, and it would be a great story for the entire industry to latch on to as our sport tries to claw its way out of the economic downturn. PaintBall.com will be investigating this story further, so stay tuned to these pages for more on this matter as it develops.