On January 26th, 2018 473 players traveled to Las Vegas to test their mettle, and roll dice to determine who could be the best functioning 40k player on 4 hours of sleep. Only 8 remain.
Another year another interesting top 8. We have some familiar faces in the top 8, and also some surprising new ones. I think the story everyone is going to focus on is the 4 Eldar players who dominated their competition with a combined 23-0-1 record though this should not be the case. I think the real story here lies in the journey. For example, Michael Brandt is the only GW community playtester to make the top 8 at the LVO, and could become the most successful one if he wins the entire thing (Good job GW, you picked a good one!). Or if you want to look at Joshua Death, who was just 1 wound away from letting a 5th Eldar player into the top 8. More importantly, a 5th Eldar player (Brad Chester) who could have easily won the entire thing. Lastly I think the real Cinderella story here is Mark Wright, who has never finished beyond 6th place in a large GT, and who has earned more points for his LVO performance than his 3 largest scores combined. With a pure Blood Angels list he is a true underdog story.
Let’s dive into the match ups and see who is going to make it out on top.
Quick top 8 Update: The warp messed with the match up results and Joshua Death’s final game with Brad Chester was recorded incorrectly. Josh Death has been replaced by Brad Chester who will be playing Mark Wright. Also, Alex Fennell is now playing Michael Brandt, and Tony Grippando is playing Sean Nayden. This changes my predictions significantly. Changes will be in red
Quarterfinals Match 1: Nick Nanavati (Ynnari Eldar) vs. Jeff Poole (Alaitoc Eldar)
Nanavati’s Eldar list is a lot more focused on abusing Ynnari rules and the “Cat Lady” Yvraine. He uses a variety of Eldar infantry to overwhelm the opposition and attack from a variety of different positions with a variety of weapons. Wave Serpents give Nick durability and protect his most valuable units. His list is considered by a lot as THE standard Eldar list in the meta right now. Jeff Poole has a unique Alaitoc based Eldar list with 3 Crimson Hunters, Illic Nightspear, and Storm Guardians in Wave Serpents. He still has all the usual suspects in Dark Reapers, Rangers, and Psykers, but also mixes it up with surprisingly solid Eldar-killers in Storm Guardians, and 3 Crimson Hunters for vehicle poaching and distractions. This game looks interesting on paper, but ultimately I think it will come down to whoever can control ruins and the center of the board. (My Prediciton: Nick 32, Jeff 21)
Quarterfinals Match 2: Michael Brandt (Blood Angels w/ Guard Allies) vs. Sean Nayden (Ynnari)
This match up is going to be extremely interesting. Both armies have plenty of bodies, board presence, and are clearly represented in all 4 phases of the game. I think this one, more than any other will come down to player skill. Michael does have a small advantage with his guard allies, but something tells me Sean Nayden is prepared, and is the favorite to win this game. Though this one will be a close game, with a lot of interesting interactions. (My Prediction: Michael 14, Sean 18)
Consider the above if these two end up playing later. For now, I think Michael has his work cut out for him in Alex Fennell. They both have similar lists, but I think Michael’s ability to hide his hard hitting close combat units in buildings gives him an edge (Pablo’s prediciton: Michael wins in a close, but decisive victory)
Quarterfinals Match 3: Tony Grippando (Aeldari) vs. Alex Fennell (Imperial Soup ft. Space Wolves)
The current ITC front runner Tony Grippando has his work cut out for him in Alex Fennell and his wacky Imperium list. Fennell is a veteran and has the experience and skills to beat Tony and potentially ruin his chances at winning the entire ITC, however i’m not sure his list has the ability to. Grippando is running a similar list to Nanavati’s but with some tweaks to fit his own playstyle. Fennell has a character heavy slugfest which is designed to mitigate the opponent’s shooting, while maximizing board presence, and deleting any units that are too slow to get out of the way. This match has a lot of upset potential, and it will come down to a few key charges and Grippando’s ability to spread Fennell out and isolate characters. (My Prediction: Tony 24, Alex 26)
Consider the above if these two end up playing later. Tony playing Sean Nayden is probably a nightmare matchup for Grippando. Tony has the capability of winning, but Nayden pulls out his best at the LVO and this game will come down to more skill than luck. Both players know what’s at stake here, and this will come down to whoever makes the first (and only) tiny mistake. (Pablo’s Prediciton: Nayden in a close game).
Quarterfinals Match 4: Mark Wright (Pure Blood Angels) vs. Joshua Death (Chaos Daemon Soup)
The ultimate underdog, Mark Wright, has his first real challenge in Joshua Death. I won’t jinx this match up too much because I want Mark to win. Josh Death is a serious competitor and 40k veteran. Mark will have his work cut out for him. (My Prediction: Mark wins…and the internet rejoices)
Semifinals Match 1: Nick Nanavati (Ynnari) vs. Brad Chester (Ynnari)
Nanavati held onto the lead early and showed why his list was the best Eldar list at the LVO. Despite going second Brad couldn’t withstand Nick’s early pressure and grab victory.
Semifinals Match 2: Alex Fennell (Imperium ft. Space Wolves) vs. Tony Grippando (Aeldari)
The winner of this match up knew their work would be cut out for them in either Brad Chester or Nanavati, however they never buckled under pressure. There was some controversy in this game, which gave Alex Fennell a chance to become what he did best. A Gentleman. Ultimately Grippando prevailed, but Fennell was the one who took the crowd’s favor. Other than that hiccup both players played very well and showcased their skill at the highest level.
Las Vegas Open 40k Championship Finals: Nick Nanavati vs. Tony Grippando
Instead of going into analysis about this game, i’m just going to list some interesting facts and stakes that this game represents.
- Neither Nick Nanavati, or Tony Grippando have ever been to a top 8 at the Las Vegas Open, and have both come very close multiple times. This game will prop either player into the history books as one of the best ever.
- Both players are playing for the best Eldar player, with very similar lists.
- If Nick Nanavati wins, Tony Grippando loses his lead in the ITC championship race, costing him a $4,00 cash prize.
- They are both members of the ETC American team and perform well there consistently.