A Teachable Moment from LVO 40k Championships

Hello everyone, Geoff “iNcontroL” Robinson here discussing for your reading pleasure the streamed etiquette incident that went down at the LVO and how we can benefit from this moment in time.

What Happened:

Two of the best players you can experience playing Warhammer40k squared off in an advanced round of the 2018 LVO. These players are Alexander Fennel and Tony Grippando. For the purpose of this article, if you could do me the solid: when you see either name please make the sign of the cross and mutter “long may he reign” when we refer to Alex and can you squint and grit your teeth (not too hard) and mutter “please don’t say that name” when you read Tony. It will set the theme nicely.

This match was streamed. This is an important part of this because we aren’t selling out stadiums (YET) but we do have the awesome luxury of being viewers on a stream due to the fantastic dedication to make that possible by the FLG crew. Fortunately/Unfortunately this also means we have over a thousand people ready to bare witness to how we play and what is going on. It can also add stress and can make an already difficult situation, even more so. I say this not as an excuse but rather as a way to set the table for what is to come.

The match featured Alex (long may he reign) playing Space Wolves (mostly) and Tony playing Aeldareeeeeeee (Eldar). Both players had recently been selected by Sean Nayden (Team USA’s Captain) to be members of Team USA to go off to a foreign land and underperform at the ETC. A huge honor in Warhammer 40,000 and of course something we all take very seriously. Aside from tha Alex and Tony have competed, practiced and socialized as they are both top players in a community that while growing is still very small.

Tony’s deployment/first turn took something along the lines of 1 hour. This is incredibly inefficient and when the total game is supposed to be 2.5 hours can also become a problem. Whether that factored in or not I do not know as I have not asked Alex (long may he reign) directly but speeding up the remainder of the game is expected. When the time came for Alex (long may he reign) to take his turn he began by deploying one of his Assassins. This is something you would need to do “at the end of the movement phase.” This isn’t nothing by the way. Sometimes where we want to drop those deep strikers is in a place occupied by normally deployed units OR how far something advances and thus can then synergize with the unit arriving from reserves can also benefit from knowing exactly where something like an Assassin would be. Bottom line: Alex moved improperly and he knew it. Alex doesn’t contest this and freely admitted it on the stream. Tony Super-Helpful-Here-Let-Me-Measure-That-For-You Grippando was NOT WRONG in enforcing a order of operations mistake on Alex. But, but… butttttttttttttttttt — it was wrong to do it. The worst part? We all know it. Nobody on the stream, at the event or wearing the skin of Tony or Alex for one second thought it was OK. I will get to that later though.

Alex having not moved his entire army, an army of which is made up mostly of assault units called it then and there only moments later deciding to play it out. The game however was mostly over and we didn’t get to see two top tier players duke it out but rather one player exemplifying class and another (unfortunately) embodying what many would call the worst side of Warhammer 40,000 competitive play.

The game would result in Tony winning only to then face Nick Nanovati who would “Tony him” and jump his overall ITC score by ONE POINT to win $4,000, tons of prizes AND the title of ITC and LVO 40k champion.. WOAH. If people wanted justice.. well, they got it. But lets break down this event and talk about how we can all walk away from this better people.

Tony Grippando

Tony by the way, is not a bad guy. In fact, he is super nice. Am I saying this because he could crush my head like a pineapple with his rippling muscles and strangely perfectly angled jaw? Nope. In my time I was pretty buff too.. but we can talk about my body at a later date and preferably after I’ve been exercising for awhile. Tony is a top tier player who had a helluva year. His ATC team won for like, the 4th time? Which is amazing. He was at the top of the ITC which considering it has 7,000+ people involved is incredible AND he was in the top 8 at the LVO. But beyond that I’ve been around Tony and whether you want to believe it or not I am here to tell you he is a nice guy. Perhaps more relevant though is that he LOVES Warhammer 40,000 and competes at the highest level. That could be the excuse we make here for him. Surrounded by his peers at the final tourney of the circuit he was a few wins away from realizing his goals/dreams and nothing was going to stop him. Tony is also a young guy and in my experience in THESE moments specifically you can sometimes act out of character to help get that final push across the line.

Excuses or not the etiquette and “code of conduct” we Warhammer 40,000 players hold ourselves to IS important. It’s unofficial (in most competitions) but it’s unversally known. Had Alex’s movement been anything but him trying to speed up the game what Tony said/did wouldn’t be looked down on. We all make mistakes. But to help him measure out a move you were then going to point out signifies the end of his phase.. knowing this was clearly not what he intended is the kind of Warhammer 40,000 WE DON’T WANT TO WIN BY. We’ve all met “that guy” and if you haven’t? There is someone who is reluctant to attend a tourney because of the stereotype of “that guy.” Now, in my experience this kind of thing is rare and most people would never do what Tony did.. especially to a teammate, friend and in the final rounds of the biggest Warhammer 40,000 tourney _ever_. If you are interested in a big debate on how this is incorrect or “#TonywasFramed” please take it elsewhere. I am not stating my own personal opinion I am sharing with you the incredibly established sentiment that is universally known on matters such as these. What should Tony have done? I’m fond of saying things like “Hey Alex, you have to do this at the end of the phase. Remember that please! I don’t want to give you more mulligans” or “hey man they come in at the end” etc etc. With a player like Alex you are only saying that once and he is realizing that you are going to be tight on order of operations and he will act accordingly. This is the part where a lot of people feign ignorance and start saying “WHERE DO WE DRAW THE LINE? If a dude gets killed in overwatch do we let him TAKE IT BACK?” No, no you silly, silly internet troll. That is again where we reference the unfortunately unofficial “code of conduct” in Warhammer 40,000 which can loosely be described as “do I want to win that way?” or “is what I am doing making my opponent feel icky?” — for some this is too nebulous and they will be frustrated that it isn’t written in a tome or carried around on a leatherbound book and chain from a 30 foot tall robot judicator but we aren’t there yet.

Besides.. it isn’t like we don’t have role models on how to act at a Warhammer40k tourney…

Alexander Fennel

Having already broken down the incident I will simply talk about his reaction. Alex could have flipped out, he could have stormed off or.. being half British he could have removed his white satin glove, slapped tony and then tossed his “piping” hot tea in the face of the foe.

But Alex didn’t do those things.

Alex instead thought about it, realized he was technically in the wrong, assessed that he was strategically behind and probably couldn’t win (he was right) and said “good game.” He then thought better of it and declared he wanted to put on a show for the stream (immediately thought of others). They played it out with Tony almost never mentioning the incident and while crippled and behind Alex put up a fight and gave the stream viewers something to watch. Had he quit and walked away the FLG stream which organized front-page coverage for this event would have had a 2.5 hour block of nothing and lost viewers. The viewers would have ONLY the incident to watch and nothing more.

If that hasn’t made you happy yet, wait, there is more. Watching this particular game was the co-founder of Riot Games. Heard of them? They make a little game called League of Legends. Marc Merill was so moved by the show of sportsmanship that Alex displayed he tweeted saying he wanted to donate a $5,000 sportsmanship award in honor of the class act that is Alex. Upon hearing this Alex began to go to work on forwarding 100% of this $5,000 donation to a children’s hospital fund which has at this stage morphed into Alex’s employers also pledging to match the donation to the Children’s Hospital! Literally, the high-ground you thought Alex was perched on was merely an illusion…he’s like 6 levels higher and we can all only hope to aspire to that level of class.

The Teachable Moment

Winning is important and getting those accolades might not mean that much to all of you but to the top tier competitors in our little world of Warhammer 40,000 it IS very important. What Tony did to some might not be that big of a deal and to others is the worst offense…either way the take-away-thing for us here is that you don’t want to win that way. Be gracious, friendly and jovial. Be stoic, serious and tight. Both are fine. But bridging those play styles needs to be a gentleman. A class act or a role model. If you are doing something that calls into question those things and you are fighting for a title…maybe think about that? We’ve had people win major tourneys but when the path to get there is marred with drama or shadiness we don’t even talk about the win. That moment is tarnished. Alex took the loss and made it into a win. He is inspiring the best part of Warhammer 40,000 which is being a damn good general AND A BETTER HUMAN. As someone who…is known to be a bit snarky and maybe even a pinch mean from time to time I too can learn from Alex. I want to be that kind of opponent. The one where people respect the list, fear the general and look forward to the honor of squaring off with them knowing that if they win they outsmarted / played him and didn’t fall victim to Alex getting rules wrong in his favor, playing “gotcha” hammer or going back on his word.

We are lucky to have players like Tony with his great skill and tremendous ability. We are just SUPER lucky to have players like Alex who can show us how to conduct ourselves and turn a potentially stinker moment into one of the greatest shows of sportsmanship to ever grace Warhammer 40,000.

Editor: with Tony’s permission, I (Reecius) wanted to add in this bit of a private conversation between he and I as I think it is important to remember that we’re all human, we all get caught up and make choices that we may regret later but that there is always room for forgiveness. As a matched play community, let’s use this as an opportunity to continue to play our best and be our best, too.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

83 Responses to “A Teachable Moment from LVO 40k Championships”

  1. Nick Wenker February 1, 2018 12:42 pm #

    Great article. Doesn’t matter if it’s high school debate or a video game or Warhammer or any other competitive hobby – even the most competitive person has a choice in how they want to win and with how much class. Next year at LVO I definitely want to make time to introduce myself to Geoff. Thanks also to Reece and Frankie and FLG and all the volunteer judges for the great event.

  2. morlakii February 1, 2018 12:58 pm #

    Awesome write-up. Also wanted to congratulate you on your first round with Aelong that was similarly plagued with frustration. Thanks to the dudes at Heroic Intervention we remote folk were able to watch. Seeing Aelong not keep score on his end the entire game and then attempt to pull a fast one on points was shocking.

    Mad props for letting him roll it out, even if it aided in costing you a win. Sportsmanship is everything.

    • iNcontroL February 1, 2018 5:58 pm #

      Thanks man. I try and practice what I preach.. TRY.

      • abusepuppy February 1, 2018 10:12 pm #

        Just so you know, I’m not saying that I am a 40K hitman for hire who is willing to “make disappear” problem players…

        …But I _am_ saying that you might want to check out http://www.40khitmanforhire.onion and just, y’know, see where it leads you.

  3. SaltyJohn February 1, 2018 1:02 pm #

    Great work Geoff, this was really well done and highlights the issues and where to go from here excellently. You were the perfect guy to have write this article.

    • iNcontroL February 1, 2018 5:58 pm #

      thanks man!

  4. Randex434 February 1, 2018 1:16 pm #

    Wait, now we have to behave according to social norms and conventions? But then how will i replace the satisfaction I currently get from berating my opponent about how inferior they are to me at playing space toys?
    All kidding aside this is a great article. I think it’s important for prominent players like Geoff to beat the drum of sportsmanship but IMO the best part is Reece’s addendum showing how most often the “villain” is just someone who is tired/emotional/caught up in the moment and unaware of how they look to others. That is a good life lesson for all situations not just competitive 40k.
    Keep up the great work guys.

    • Nick Wenker February 1, 2018 1:22 pm #

      Good point. I think if we’re going to criticize someone for taking the game too seriously we should hold ourselves to the same standard and not overreact when someone makes an error of poor judgement during a game.

      • Petey Pab February 1, 2018 3:54 pm #

        Lol, Brilliant!

  5. Fulcrum February 1, 2018 1:34 pm #

    Well said. Karma was quick in this instance. Unfortunate that it happened on stream for naysayers to use on their anti-waac soap boxes.

  6. Tark34 February 1, 2018 1:40 pm #

    I think taking an hour for his first turn was just as bad as making a fuss about deployment.

    • Beau February 1, 2018 9:02 pm #

      yes hour for the first turn is rediculous. That would mean in fairness Alex would have an hour first turn, then they both get 15 minutes for turn 2, then game over?

  7. Ishagu February 1, 2018 1:46 pm #

    How you win is as important as winning itself.

  8. Dr. Ice February 1, 2018 1:49 pm #

    Alex just pisses me off. *please continue below*

    2 years ago at The Nova he gave me the biggest ass whoopin I’ve ever received while playing 40k for closing in on 10 years. It is also one of the enjoyable games I’ve ever played against one of the nicest guys I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing against. Seeing that I was clearly outclassed ( and worst matchup ever for the mission, Nids(me) vs DA Bikes with SW on relic ) I started bombarding him with questions after the game. What could I have done differently, his ideas on list construction etc. and he talked to me for a good 20 minutes and never once got annoyed or asked me to leave him alone. The literal gold standard of what I hope to play against every round at a major event ( minus the ass whoopin ).

    Also he pisses me off because he snapped fired a bolter 3 times in a row and grounded/killed my warlord. What a load of crap.

    • Petey Pab February 1, 2018 2:03 pm #

      That fiend! What a monster. How dare he act like a perfect gentleman?!

      • Dr. Ice February 1, 2018 7:57 pm #

        I know right! What a sinister human being.

  9. CKuno February 1, 2018 1:50 pm #

    While you can’t excuse his behavior and would like to think we’re all better than that, the specter of a $4,000 cash prize would probably turn me into a bitter rules lawyer pretty quickly as well. Not an excuse, simply a circumstance.

    • AngryPanda February 1, 2018 2:07 pm #

      Wish I could say no way I’d act like that. But give me tired, overhyped and a cash prize in sight and I’m not sure I’d act the way I’d like. Can only hope I would and be glad I’ll never get into that situation.

    • SaltyJohn February 1, 2018 2:31 pm #

      It’s a decent point that can’t be ignored. I too don’t know for sure how I would act in this situation, but I hope I would remain a good opponent.

      • AngryPanda February 1, 2018 3:58 pm #

        What I can say for sure is that I would never have had the patience to put up with it. And saying sure thing, f… off while packing in my army would have made the whole thing just look way worse. So extra respect for being chill enough to not let it turn into a scene and just shrugging it off.

        • SaltyJohn February 2, 2018 9:15 am #

          Yes, it’s a toss up with me. I have never just packed up and left a game, but I definitely have had games where I have closed off from the game and become very disengaged with what’s happening. If that happened on stream I am sure it would come across badly.

    • Reecius February 2, 2018 9:56 am #

      I have never found a cash prize, unless massive, to alter my behavior. For most of the truly competitive gamers I know it is more about the thrill of victory than it is about the prizes.

      We’re still at a point where you spend as close to as much or more money to get in position to win the cash prize than you get form it, to be honest. I don’t think it influences people as much as you may think it does, but of course, that is going to vary from person to person.

  10. Agent X February 1, 2018 2:11 pm #

    *The following is written in sarcasm font

    Since the apology expressly says “finals” and not “semi-finals” Tony is clearly limiting his apology to what happened to him when facing Nick instead of what Tony did to Alex.

    *end sarcasm font*

    If that seems stupid it is an example of RAW/strict interpretation failing. We aren’t robots and communication is not 100% accurate even when we all speak the same language. Don’t be a D to somebody else. Be willing to let some rules go in the interest of sportsmanship.

    I hope this entire event becomes a positive learning experience for the 40k community and holy crap is Alex an amazing person.

    Also…slow play needs to be on the discussion agenda. The chess clocks in the final match had a serious impact

  11. Juggernut February 1, 2018 2:11 pm #

    The article speaks for itself. This comment is in regard to the text from Tony and Reece’s response:

    I think Reece is absolutely right that we’re all only human, people make mistakes and do crappy things, etc. The guy’s not a murderer or anything, it’s totally understandable to do what he did although everyone (him included, as evidenced by his message) wishes he didn’t do it.

    What I reject is someone who says, “this is not me” or “this is not the kind of person I am.”

    No. The fact that he did it proves that this is exactly the kind of person he is. It doesn’t make him a villain or whatever, it just means he’s human. Who we are is not only influenced by the “good” things we do, or the habit of mostly doing “good” things. It’s all of it. Own that.

    • WestRider February 1, 2018 4:46 pm #

      What we do in high-pressure situations usually shows who we truly are, I find. Sort of like “in vino, veritas”, except with adrenaline instead of ethanol.

    • Reecius February 2, 2018 9:58 am #

      Yeah, like we said, it was a dick move and not something we ever want to see again but not something that makes you a villain as you noted. Just poor judgement.

  12. Tom Sawyer February 1, 2018 2:23 pm #

    Geoff coming in clutch once again, this is why I sub to this man on twitch. Great write up, and super relevant I think to not only 40k players, but anyone who loves competition in general. It’s easy to get carried away, but HOW you win is often more important than winning itself.

    Also if I’m reading this correctly, an order of operations mistake in the LVO, if enforced, makes you lose a phase? Dang that’s pretty rough but most people are probably forgiving/accommodating.

    • Reecius February 2, 2018 9:58 am #

      It can and while technically correct, it was the way it went down that made it look like such poor sportsmanship.

  13. Tom Sawyer February 1, 2018 2:27 pm #

    Excelling write up Geoff, this is why I sub to this man on twitch. Super relevant article not only for 40K players, but for people who participate in competition in general. People won’t remember you for winning, they’ll remember how you won. The prize and stakes at hand can definitely get the better of us, but it’s important to be true to yourself and the community when you play.

    • Tom Sawyer February 1, 2018 2:29 pm #


  14. GhostValley February 1, 2018 2:29 pm #

    Great article. I hope Tony makes it to the top tables next year and can demonstrate what we hope he has learned from this. And I can honestly say that Alex is the man I could not have been. Hats off

    As an aside, I’ve been playing 40k for almost 20 years and have attended many tournaments. I have had mediocre games and fantastic games. I have never had a truly awful experience. Not in almost two decades.
    Anyone who hasn’t gone to a tournament – do not let this dissuade you. Tournaments are such an amazing way to experience the hobby – and first hand LVO is a great one to start with.

    • Reecius February 2, 2018 9:59 am #

      Same. I have only ever had 1 truly awful game in a tournament and I have played in hundreds of tournament games.

  15. happy_inquisitor February 1, 2018 2:44 pm #

    I honestly think that is one of the most eloquent articles I have seen posted in a long while.


    I had not heard about the follow-up. Alex lost in a game of toy soldiers and won in the game of life.

    • iNcontroL February 1, 2018 5:59 pm #

      you make me blush.. thank you <3

  16. Marandamir February 1, 2018 2:46 pm #

    Thank you for this article. When people hear about incidents second hand you don’t see the whole picture and it can really tarnish stuff that had nothing to do with it. For example, I heard that major tournaments are competitive and can get rough but I also heard they were fun. I had a desire to participate in one at some point but after reading about this incident I had dropped the idea of attending LVO or another big tournament as I assumed the ‘competitive and rough’ stereotype was accurate and everyone played like this. So hearing not only the real details but also a neutral perspective on the situation was awesome. People are human and crap happens. I’m sure Tony will learn from it and in the end a charity is going to do some awesome stuff with that donation, which would not have occurred if the situation didn’t happen. Live and learn from it and maybe someday I’ll get out to a grand tourney and get trounced by one of these awesome players 😛

    • Reecius February 2, 2018 10:00 am #

      99% of the games at a big event are just fun. These types of incidents get all the press but are relatively uncommon.

  17. Ytook February 1, 2018 3:06 pm #

    Very well said. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s a shame Tony’s was so wildly broadcast but here we are.

    I’m sure I’d make an ass of myself some way in a situation that pressured, luckily I’m not good at the game or list writing so I won’t have a chance anytime soon 😛

  18. Embrace Your Inner Geek February 1, 2018 3:16 pm #

    A few years ago in 5th, I was playing in a small RTT. My opponent placed some terminators in reserve. At that time you had to declare whether they were deep striking or walking on. If you didn’t declare they were deep striking, they walked on. HE didn’t declare they were deep striking. They were Chaos Terminators with combi plasmas, so of course I knew he intended they would deep strike. In my head I was thinking “please declare they’re deep striking, please declare they’re deep striking”, because I knew, if he didn’t, things would get ugly when he brought them on. But he said nothing. When he brought them in from reserve I insisted he walk them on from the back of the board.

    Why am I telling the world this story ….. I guess my point is that everybody makes mistakes. We’ve all done stuff we’re not proud of. In the heat of the moment, when you’re focused on winning, you make bad decisions. A red mist descends and you do stupid things. We’re all human.

    I’m happy to say that, after saying “sorry, but you cannot deep strike these because you never declared they were deep striking” I had a moment of clarity, realised what an ass I was being, and let him deep strike, but that’s not the point.

    The point is nobody’s perfect. We’ve all done stupid things we regret. We learn, we grow, and we move on.

    • Reecius February 2, 2018 10:00 am #

      Thanks for sharing the story. We’ve all had moments like that, myself included.

  19. OnlyHuman February 1, 2018 3:53 pm #

    Couple things to keep in mind here; The gaming hall was loud and I mean LOUD. These guys had been playing for several hours over the span of two days. Lastly, a cash prize is a hell of thing to aim for. With that being said, It’s sad that players feel the need to act in such a manner. It’s a shame really, having this sort of thing broadcast out to really hammer home the point that in the most competitive environment these guys who are known to be well above the casual player, know their rules, and have a certain level of respect for one another act this way. If I were new to the scene or thinking about getting into it, I simple wouldn’t. No matter what the prize is. My only experience with these specific individuals is through what was broadcaster and how other players spoke of their opponents. Walking around the event hall it was pretty clear that Tony’s behavior wasn’t isolated to just that game or even to just him.

  20. WestRider February 1, 2018 4:54 pm #

    For me, what it comes down to is that I always want to win by bringing a better list and/or playing a better game of 40K on the table, not by something done outside the Game itself. Metagame issues like rules debates, time limits, limitations of space around the table, whatever, are part of the thing, but I prefer to try to minimize their impact whenever I can, rather than take advantage of them.

  21. Homeskillet February 1, 2018 4:56 pm #

    I’ve played against Tony at Adepticon, and was very surprised to hear about this incident. He was nothing but cordial (if a little serious), and was a great sport. Writing this article as a teachable moment hits the nail on the head. Well done, let’s move on and fight with our plastic dollies!

    • Reecius February 2, 2018 10:01 am #

      That has been my experience playing against him, too.

  22. JAM February 1, 2018 5:11 pm #

    So I tried posting this on the “Competitive 40K” Facebook page, and they booted me from the entire page, apparently the truth doesn’t fly there.

    Alex and Tony both agreed pre-game to play by INTENT for time’s sake.

    Tony burned over an hour on his first turn thus leaving Alex pinched for time.

    Alex fudged the order of operations and let Tony help him with deepstriker’s placement DURING his movement phase instead of at the end, in an effort to multitask those operations to save time.

    Alex’s intent was obviously NEVER to forgo his entire movement phase. Tony stabbed Alex in the back by invalidating their pre game agreeement. At the very least Tony should have asked “hey do you intend to place these deepstrikers now, thus ending the movement phase?”, instead of insidiously trapping Alex by helping him with deepstriking models knowing full well Alex wasn’t done moving everything yet…

    Sorry, but this article is not accurate. It helps no one to gloss over bad behavior with some B.S. revisionist history of what actually happened.

    Lessons were learned and this example should be a lesson to future players. Let the truth be told.

    • Agent X February 1, 2018 5:46 pm #

      Let me preface this by saying I am 100% Alex in this situation.

      The reason nobody is talking about the “intent” agreement is because there is no proof that both sides actually made that agreement from the twitch recording.

      I know because I was part of the twitch crowd watching it happen and we all tried to hunt down the clip for FLG to review when they asked us.

      This clip gives you the “intent” context


      Alex is the one clearly saying he will “not play that game” and will honor intent and not screw Tony. Tony kind of “uh huh” responds. That is not a mutual agreement to play intent. Tony acknowledged Alex’s offer. He didn’t expressly say he would do the same.

    • Agent X February 1, 2018 5:50 pm #

      That clip I pasted may not work (was copied from somewhere else and shortened)

      Here is the full link direct from twitch


      • OnlyHuman February 1, 2018 6:12 pm #

        It’s just sad that there’s no real consequence for this type of poor behavior. Tony himself even apologized acknowledging that it was in poor taste. Outside of a this article painting this type of scenario as a “rare” occurrence from a “nice guy” there really isn’t any reason not to try and be that type of player. It got him a spot on a team travelling to another country to play even more. If the intent of this article was start dialog and propose changes to discourage this type of behavior that would be one thing. It doesn’t do that at all. I believe JAM is spot on with his post of trying to “gloss over bad behavior”

        • MotoMojo February 1, 2018 7:07 pm #

          Absolutely agree, JAM is spot on.

          Reading through this, watching the clip a few times leads me to appreciate this article/thread, emphasize the need to call-out and hold Tony-behavior accountable (1+ hour for 1st move, abusing intent, WTF? that’s why we have chess clocks), and most importantly applaud Alex’s complete embodiment of a gentleman’s class and grace under fire.

          iBRAVO! Alex, long may you reign!

        • David February 1, 2018 7:41 pm #

          I guess you could travel to where he plays and spit on him if it will make you feel better.

        • Sean February 2, 2018 5:59 am #

          For accuracy and completeness. Winning this game did not earn tony a spot on any team. He had previously been selected for said team. His actions towards his teammates on that day have cost him said spot on said team.

          • OnlyHuman February 2, 2018 6:55 am

            Is there a source for this? I’m curious to see if it was in fact this one specific incident that cost him the spot or if it was due to unrelated factors. If that’s the case, why wasn’t this mentioned in the article?

          • Sean February 2, 2018 7:50 am

            I don’t need a source. It’s as I said.

          • Venkarel February 2, 2018 10:28 am

            I had heard that he lost his spot on team america. If this is Sean Nayden then he would be a good source as he is the captain. One thing though he should have lost his spot for doing this to anyone, not just his teammate.

          • Sean February 2, 2018 11:16 am

            Venkarel the fact remains that the three people he played were his teammates. And no single action led to the decision. So while we could speak in hypotheticals I prefer to stick to the facts.

          • OnlyHuman February 2, 2018 2:53 pm

            Seeing someone being punished for poor sportsmanship would be a good deterrent towards future ill mannered players. Hopefully we’ll see the focus shift from the drama to actual solutions and punishments for this type of behavior.

            ???would have responded below but couldn’t???

          • happy_inquisitor February 3, 2018 8:54 am

            When these sorts of things happen it is probably best for all concerned that the player is dropped, at least for the next event.

            It may not feel like a good thing to the player concerned but a little time for reflection and for everything to cool down is needed. Tony may need a little time to think over why his actions caused such a reaction and the last thing he needs is to walk into a competitive situation with a target painted on him.

            Sounds like good team captaincy to me.

    • Gigglesnipes February 1, 2018 5:56 pm #

      Actually, you’re wrong. That pre-game agreement was on something else entirely. You should ask the players involved, check your sources, and watch the last signals before you waste anyone else’s time.

      No wonder you were banned from a page that lets literally anyone in.

    • Adam S. February 1, 2018 9:37 pm #

      Cool story, bro

  23. Skallagoose February 1, 2018 6:20 pm #

    I often go to the Portal, where players like Alex, Jared (also on the stream), and Nick N often play and test their lists out (I cant go to win apparently).

    I can honestly say that i used to be “that guy” in my local group before playing with those guys. I’ll never forget my first game against alex in 7th where my psychic powers were all the WRONG ONES and we both knew it. He said something to me i will never forget when i knew i was going to lose from round 1… “Its a game with grown men playing with little toys”, mind you his “toys” were pink necrons with hello-kitties slapped on.

    It was seriously this game where i realized you dont need to be “that guy” to win; and you likely wont win a tournament with that attitude either. Its better to have fun and just B-S around for 2.5 hours having a laugh and LOSE than to put yourself down to that level.

    This entire past year i annoyed every GT i went to. I paid, went, played my butt off- got in top 8. Dropped out before day 2. I just wanted to go to have fun, have a challenge, and meet some cool new people.

    Sorry for the long post- confessions of a reformed “that guy”

    • Reecius February 2, 2018 10:02 am #

      Good story! And yeah, we can all change the way we look at and play the game.

  24. Dbiesto February 1, 2018 6:26 pm #

    Earlier in the year something similar did happen to me when I moxed up the psychic phase and the shooting phase.

    “Okay so that is my movement phase. Now shooting phase. “. I measure the distance to something, and then remember psychic phase is first.

    Me: “Before I shoot, I need to use my powers.”

    Opponent: “You already said shooting phase and measured. You can no longer use psychic powers this turn.”

    He ended up winning the tournament, and was also a chill guy. People will cash in on mistakes if they catch them. In the tournament scene, if you do something out of order or by mistake and opponent says no rewinds on something you can either waste time playing or argue, call over a judge and waste 10+ minutes. Mistakes are made, and as Alex proved, you just gotta keep moving forward and remember those mistakes for future games.

    If it isnt casual play, expect people to cash in on any mistakes made. Its part of the game, and I learned the hard way that day.

  25. Davis Centis February 1, 2018 6:42 pm #

    Great write up! And fantastic work from all involved. Definitely this is a trying moment, but one that it will be important to learn from.

    Part of me feels like we should be more stringent on rules, but if we do so we HAVE to reduce the size of the game. There’s no way we can do a “correctly” performed game at the 2000 point size.

    Otherwise, if we’re going to keep 2000 points, then we need to have rules that enforce “intent of play”. Either way, at the high level, with money on the line, we need to make a decision one way or another.

  26. Luke February 1, 2018 6:44 pm #


    Thanks for the perspective. Great article all around

  27. fredster4050 February 1, 2018 7:17 pm #

    It could be argued we are seeing the best and the worst of Warhammer being played out at the crucible of the LVO.

    Huge crowds gather, many players from across the US and abroad have gathered to test their mettle against one another, armies have been made ready, the boards in place and the scene is set for the Battle Royale we have come to expect.

    After many rounds of fighting it is down to the last 8, two very experienced players step forth, taking the best lists they can design (or find), they prepare to duke it out in front of us with the aim of making their way to the final.

    We note that at least half the list in the top 8 are the same list, its probably a conspiracy, so that’ll keep us safe, after all the CIA must be behind it…

    The armies and lists are considered, the world watches, who would come out on top, the anticipation grows of the spectacle to come and then shock-horror, unsportsmanlike behaviour enters the fray. This just seems to heighten the tension, the onlookers, judges, and others stay mute, after all this is a massive event, this is the LVO, this is Warhammer 40,000 for Christ’s sake!

    We know what happens next…

    Maybe this is something we wanted to see, a reflection of of the duality of the gamer in ourselves, or those around us, our struggle not to be ‘that guy’, the hero vs the villain, good vs evil, order against chaos.

    We feel for the noble loser, who whilst losing, retains his honour and is lauded and applauded for his virtue, the winner castigated for his actions, his win by any means approach is eventually brought to justice in the last round. Clearly his actions don’t pay and will be a salutary lesson to us all ‘Don’t play like Tony, that was bad play….B-A-D’.

    Then we will go home safe in the knowledge that someone got his comeuppance in the end and that the downcast hero is a hero in our hearts at least!

    It is disputed what he actually said but the great American academic WE Demming is quoted as saying ‘Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets’. Regardless of his actual quotation this often repeated statement has great resonance here.

    The LVO and other tournaments like it, create this environment in our hobby, the kudos of winning, the list building and refining, the endless podcasts of comparison, the statistics of the kill, added to that the title, the cash prize, the vanity of it all!

    Tony is simply a product of the system that was perfectly designed to produce players like him, and also players like Alex. They are both on the same bell curve of distribution that we all lie on, if we play this system, this way. The fact that 50% of the top 8 lists are the same is a product of the system as well, not a reflection of the individual. We should neither celebrate not condemn either of them without celebrating or condemning ourselves first, as the Backstreets Boys rightly said ‘I want it that way’.

    The question to AJ, Nick, Kevin, Howie and Brian is – Do we actually want it this way?

    Let’s consider GW, after all they are at the heart of it all, aren’t they! Surely this is actually some diabolical plot by those imperialist Brits to have us all fighting for the top table places by good means or evil, whilst they, in probably some giant sort of blue vulture costume, cackle and laugh at us pitiless wretches spending our precious time and cash on their products! Maybe, just maybe…

    In the latest iteration of their rule-books for WH40K and AoS they list matched play behind open play and narrative play, third place, lowest, last, least, if you will.
    Do they consider the pinnacle of their product to be the tournament system?

    Demming keeps repeating his (mis)quote….

    So you can strive for that perfect list, to ruin all before you and whether you do it with a smile or a grimace, as the nice guy or the douche, you are still following Abaddon’s path.

    If we play this system, this way, we should expect these results, every time, all the time.

    I mean let’s face it whoever heard of a mass participation event based on a good story, the joy of just playing, relieving some fictitious battle of the future-past, when did people find the enjoyment in that, of a good story told and a good time had, why have any of that, when we can have a WINNER!

  28. Nate Goodfellow February 1, 2018 8:31 pm #

    I have read a couple articles following up on the incident, and saw some people on the stream defending Tony and saying “He’s not normally like that…” That is exactly the person he is, he has the potential to change, but that is who he is, we are not the people we strive to be when its easy, we are the people who come forward when things are tough or the stress is high. When I was in the military, no one who came back from a war zone deployment was ever judged by their character on base, they were judged by how they handled themselves when it mattered, and when it mattered, Tony took the easy way out to get a victory, and that will have to stay with him for the rest of his life! He had a long opportunity to take it back as they discussed just ending the game there or playing it out for the stream, so it wasn’t a gut decision, he said his piece and stuck by it, Apologizing the next day doesn’t change what happened, especially considering that an entire hour had already passed when Alex was put in that situation on his first turn…

  29. CWDub February 1, 2018 8:32 pm #

    Is it weird that I read this article in Geoff’s voice?

    Very well said, Geoff. And also kudos to FLG for covering this transparently on Signals and Tony for apologizing and growing from it.

  30. JOSHBOB1985 February 2, 2018 4:31 am #

    Haha I also read it in Geoffs voice. I think it’s the way he writes.

    If Alex had thought quicker maybe he could have said he was pre-measuring and marking things out with the models. I do that when I’m deepstriking 20 guardians so that I don’t move someone into the space they need to land. Assuming that’s legal of course, but the alternative would be marking it with dice or something and that just wastes time.

  31. SquatYoMomma February 2, 2018 8:08 am #

    nice guy my ass! real person came out, someone punch him in his dick

    • CWDub February 2, 2018 9:40 am #

      You can’t take a single snapshot of someone and then use it to forever reference that person as a whole. Was he a dick in that round on stream? Yup. Does that mean Tony walks around acting like a dick 24/7? Not from what Reece and iNcontroL have said.

    • Reecius February 2, 2018 10:04 am #

      We don’t advocate dick punches just for behaving like one here at FLG.

      • AngryPanda February 2, 2018 10:08 am #

        As someone who has acted in punch-able ways more than once, I always appreciate people with the self-control to wait and see if it is a pattern or just a bad day.

  32. Brakhal February 2, 2018 8:27 am #

    Great article, as all your content.

    I’m sorry for Tony Grippando, as he commited the bigger mistake in the tournament, blinded by the atractive of success. The crowd doesn’t forgive easily.

    What players at this level should never forget is that they’re the closest thing to spectacle professionals in the wargaming scene. Excellence, like Alex Fennel showed, is the most basic thing on the stage.

    About timming, I think it is not just a problem for gaming, but for streaming. Nobody wants to watch a boring 1 hour long player turn, even if the players want to agree to play whithout a clock. As a spectator, I want to see the action keep going, and at least 5 turn games in a couple hours. Rule designers and TOs who want to stream their games should consider how important is to deliver a good spectacle in to the top tier competitive scene.

  33. Bambam February 2, 2018 1:19 pm #

    The only winner here is Alex.

    If Tony played a horde guard list an hour for first turn might be excusable, but Eldar? Come on.

    Also the anti WAAC sentiment this has stirred up is completely accurate, he made a call to win, even though it was in poor sportsmanship, that’s the definition of WAAC. Stop trying to down play his shitty behaviour

    Tony potentially slow played and then capitalised on a mistake he helped his opponent make. That’s an awful way to win any sort of contest.

    Anyway hats off to Alex for playing it out

  34. Farsath February 2, 2018 2:59 pm #

    A) Are there not referees at these events? Is there not an actual rule about this in the game?
    Having an admin pass judgement on the situation would resolve a lot of this grey area where players are just expected to follow conventions.

    If organizers don’t have a rule set that sets time limits or have someone who can make final rulings on the spot they are making it even harder on themselves to become legitimate.

    B) Is missing one turn really an auto loss?

    • rivercitygaming February 3, 2018 7:48 am #

      A) i. Yes ii. No

      B) Watch the clip, yes in this instance it definitely is

  35. Douglas February 2, 2018 8:26 pm #

    I thought it was a well written article, but I don’t feel it addressed the real issue, of sportsmanship, being the accusations of slow play. It seemed pretty clear to everyone, that Tony was intentionally running down the clock, and his gotcha moment with Andy just doubled down on that. Tony took an hour to play his turn 1, and then denied his opponent a movement phase. I’m personally not so upset about the gotcha moment itself, I’m upset about the apparently clear tactic that he was running in ensuring his opponent had no actual time to play the game. That seems to me to be the bigger issue in competitive play today.

    You guys are the de-facto leaders of the competitive circuit at this point, but I’ve seen no mention of plans to actually do something about slow play. Do you have any?

  36. Pyrothem February 2, 2018 10:04 pm #

    Thanks Geoff for the article. This is exactly what this community needed to hear from someone with your unique experience. You are a gamer first but have become a twitch-hold name through being one of the best game commentators.
    LVO has become massive and there are still a ton that can’t make it and love to watch, those in charge would to well to listen to your advice. Hell about 70% of the reason I still watch SC2 games is guys like you commenting, there is quite a bit of dull parts of the game that skillful guys like you can use that time to teach and with the amount of factions and different lists, I think it might work.

  37. Mexican Jesus February 3, 2018 1:49 am #

    Let me just say this. After watching the LVO streams it didn’t leave me with any inclination of wanting to attend a 40k tournament. And it was no just down to the bad sportsmanship and games not going the full amount of turns. (wich is needed to let the better player win and if the game ends turn 2 -3 the game is pretty much useless and should just count as a draw)
    It was also down to the lists and how they are counted as. Like for example, there was list called Space Wolves when in fact it was just another Imperium list.
    You really need to put in encourages to play pure codex lists and not just for balance issues since its never a good idea to have some being able to choose from a plethora of different codices as it gives unfair advantages to one side in list building. This will most likely become more prevalent as more “single” codex armies gets realest.

    Until then ill pretty much stick to Infinity tournaments were everything runs more cleanly even in a highly competitive environment. (Al i can say is what i saw in the LVO streams i have never seen in any Infinity tournament, and they are even more rules heavy than 40k)

  38. Jural February 4, 2018 2:55 pm #

    Alex is a gentleman and probably handled this 1000 times better than I would have. That being said, had it been me and his situation I would have expected that once my opponent called me on it I couldn’t move again. It was a legitimate mistake.

    Admittedly, I don’t think I would’ve held my opponent accountable for mistake like that given the time constraints. But with the heat of the moment not upon me right now, I can see that if an opponent did that to me it would probably be a reasonable thing.

    And agreed that this is not a minor thing. If I was playing a friendly game I would definitely point this out to my opponent, and expect him to point the same out to me. If I was practicing for GT… most likely We would stop as actually happened in the game.

    But as usual- Geoff hits the nail on the head. I stopped going to tournaments a few years ago when some douchebag at BAO pulled a rule out of left field, couldn’t tell me where he got it from (turned out he WAS right) then when I agreed and the match was basically over, threw a hissy fit when I tried to call the match and forfeit. So we sat there for three more turns mean not moving any models or rolling any dice and him “playing out the victory“. My 6 -year-old daughter was there with me, when the game ended I picked up my models left and I’ve not been back to a FLG tournament.

  39. CrusherJoe February 4, 2018 8:55 pm #

    So one thing I keep wanting to see mentioned in this story — but haven’t seen so far — is that while yes, Tony did an egregious thing…Nick is just as guilty of the poor sportsmanship that Tony is. Nick seems to be getting a pass for it, though, because of what Tony did before to Alex.

    That’s simply not fair. I watched the stream. I heard Nick say more than once, “I don’t like to win games like this,” and yet, he still did it. I guess his desire to win overcame his desire for personal integrity.

    The real story here isn’t just Tony’s display of poor sportsmanship, it’s also Nick’s — and that should be discussed. Nick did the exact same thing Tony did, and yet it’s somehow okay because of Tony’s pas misdeed? That doesn’t make him some avatar of karma or some warrior for justice. Nope, it means he has situational ethics and traded his dignity and self-respect for a win, and justified it because of what Tony did.

    I’m not saying Tony wasn’t in the wrong — he clearly was.

    What I’m saying is Nick is *just as guilty* of poor sportsmanship as Tony, and he *should not* be given a pass on that behavior, nor should he be treated as some kind of hero.

    Nick is no hero. He’s

    Whatever you all think that Tony is, that’s also what Nick is.

    Think about that, and let’s not let anyone get away with displays of awful sportsmanship.

  40. Simon Foley February 11, 2018 1:17 am #

    I hope BOTH players learnt from it, and Reece’s edit at the end was probably the best bit. Valuable teaching moment aside, it’s a very poorly written article, in a “why use a 100 words when I could use a 1000” kind of way. Takes a very circuitous route to the crux of the matter, taking a whole lot of digressions / diversions en route. I get that there were attempts to inject levity…but I was ready it thinking “get to the point already!!!”

  41. Sugarlessllama February 14, 2018 4:30 pm #

    Here is what bugs me about this whole thing: “Tony is not that kind of person”. Reecius states this, and Tony tries to say it.

    But no, Tony is that type of person. He is because that is what he did.

    Over and over again people keep saying “He was caught up in the event.” Yeah, so was Alex. Here is the thing, it is because he was caught up in the event that we know that Tony is that type of person. Because when push came to shove, his gut instinct was to be the worst kind of competitor.

    It is in these moments that character is not built, but instead revealed.

    When did we forget that?

    And in that moment Tony revealed his true character.

    And the more we give these people a pass for “being caught up in the moment”, the more we are going to have these kinds of moments. We get this behavior because we tolerate it. I dare say we even venerate it. Nick got $4,000 for being just as bad as Tony. When people like Nick and Tony are rewarded for their poor behavior we get more people behaving like Nick and Tony.

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