The 2017 National Xball League (NXL) season has come and gone. The season ended with the largest ever World Cup event in Orlando, featuring over 400 teams playing across various divisions and formats. In the professional division, we saw Edmonton Impact win the cup with a thrilling victory over San Diego Dynasty and take the series crown.

Each year the NXL makes 5 stops across the United States, hosting tournaments in Las Vegas, Dallas, Atlantic City, Chicago and ultimately the World Cup in Orlando. The events allow teams, 16 in the pro division, to accumulate points based on their performance. The series winner is crowned after the final event, which is the yearly World Cup.

Impact repeats as champs

The 2017 season showcased one of the most dominant team performances in tournament history. Edmonton Impact, though starting the season slower than they would have liked, won the final two events to repeat as series champions. They also were able to double this feat abroad by winning the European "Millenium Series" further adding to their trophy haul.

While not being able to win every event, in order to have a chance at the series crown a team cannot suffer a bad tournament. Impact was incredibly consistent as they added two 2nd place finishes and a 4th place finish on top of the two tournament wins. This type of consistency was unmatched as they enjoyed a comfortable margin over 2nd place San Antonio X-Factor

Rounding out the top 5 were Tampa Bay Damage, San Diego Dynasty, and Houston Heat.

Can anyone knock off Impact next year?

The recent success over the past several seasons has placed a huge target on Impact. Teams know going in what kind of talent they're up against and they always bring their best. The real question though is can any of them knock Impact off of the throne that they have so tightly controlled?

San Diego Dynasty is the first team to come to mind as they had one of their better seasons in recent memory this year. They were once the sole alphas in the tournament world and they seem poised to make another run at it before more of the original squad reaches retirement.

The other teams to watch out for all come from the state of Texas. Houston Heat has built a solid professional squad that has at times been unbeatable. Regaining that form is something that is well within their capabilities. San Antonio X-Factor has also been on the cusp of greatness for several years. The homegrown team has steadily risen through the ranks since their inception and are also a force to be reckoned with.

Lastly, recent newcomers to the pro division AC Dallas have shown consistent improvement and look to establish themselves among the game's elite. They took Impact to OT at the Chicago finals before ultimately losing. 2018 could be a big year for the young team.

Looking ahead to 2018

The winter off-season is always a grind as players train as best they can be given the weather conditions. Preparing for the first event in March is tougher for teams from the cold weather areas of the U.S. Nonetheless, the show must go own so players make due with what they have.

The NXL has already announced that they will be returning to the same five cities in 2018. The overall response from the venues was positive and the record-breaking attendance numbers are surely a good sign for the future. Replicating that success in 2018 won't be easy, but doing so will continue the upward trend of tournament Paintball as it continues to seek legitimacy among the mainstream of sports in this country.