If you read FLG articles routinely then you’re probably aware of this weekly series I have been doing on the ITC rankings for 40k and their changes week to week. I get a few questions quite often now that I’ve been doing this for about 8 weeks and it’s become relatively popular. Many of the questions revolve around 3 themes. First, how do I get my scores put in because the TO says he talked to blah blah blah? Second, how are the factions determined and how is scoring done? Third, how do I get into the top ranks of the ITC, what are these people all doing right that I am not?
For the first category of questions, the answer is pretty simple. Check directly with Best Coast Pairings about your event. Make sure you have the event name and TO correct. Then check with your TO, I hate to say it but there have been a few times I have heard of where the local TO was passing the buck onto BCP/ITC when in fact they hadn’t done the reporting properly etc. When trying to figure out an issue I will tell you what I tell my students, be as precise as possible with your questions, design the questions to get the answers you’re seeking and ask the question more than once to try and determine the validity of the answer. If you’re a TO reading this and your reaction is to yell at me to shut up, maybe, just maybe, you should go check those score reports you did and make sure they were actually done.
Now that I am done igniting the flames of the TOs of the world, let’s go ahead and discuss how the ITC is scored. Luckily there is a handy rundown of that here. I am not an expert on how the ITC rankings, factions scoring, or team scoring works. I do know that the FLG site could definitely use a bit of work updating their menus for the ITC and how the information about how it all works is disseminated to the ITC participants. That said, both FLG and BCP do a tremendous job supplying us with something that no one else ever has. I am truly grateful for all the hard work that TOs across the country do for competitive 40k, for the hard work put in by Reece/Frankie and the FLG crew in making the ITC a reality, and to Paul McKelvey and the gang at Best Coast Pairings for giving us a tool that makes the ITC ranks a reality, and TOs lives much easier.
The third question I get often, as I said earlier, is about how to do better in the rankings. To discuss that I wanted to take this week’s article and look at the top 10 and the top 50 in the ITC currently and see what these fine specimens of 40k prowess have in common and how players can hope to attain such levels of competitive prowess.
Before we dive into what puts these players high up in the rankings let’s analyze some changes from last week! The top two spots have been Josh Death and Matt Root for the entire time I have been writing these articles this season. That’s not only impressive, but it’s testament to the importance of finishing big at the Major tournaments, not just RTTs and GTs. This week the top 10 is cracked by some new names from last week.
Bruce Merker: Bruce joins us in the number 3 spot this week, with a 1st place at a Major and a 6th place at another, combined with strong RTT scores it isn’t surprising that Bruce has risen high on the back of his Alaitoc lists.
Andrew Ford: Andrew joins the top 10 this week with multiple strong finishes and a few wins using a mix of different Aeldari factions to claw his way into 4th place.
Jessica Bowman: Jessica has been kicking ass and taking names with index Necrons early in the season and now has a full codex at her disposal. Recently finishing 19th at Broadside Bash coupled with 3 first place showings in local RTTs has given her a huge push in the overall ITC rankings and gives her a solid position to push for best Necron at seasons end.
Matthew Allee: Matthew is doing something many players, besides Sean Nayden, haven’t been doing lately. That is performing well with multiple factions. From 1k Sons to Orks, Dhrukhair (index) to Chaos, Aeldari, and most recently a first-place showing at The Alamo GT (major) with Kabal of the Black Heart, Matthew has been showing his 40k proficiencies while piloting multiple different factions. Well done, and welcome to the 8th overall spot in the ITC.
Anthony Bellm: Anthony has been featured in these articles for several weeks as the most proficient Tau player so far in the ITC this season. Having started out with the hamstrung Tau Index he has continued to excel with their very potent codex, welcome back to the top 10 Tony.
When you look at all those players it is striking the things their scores have in common. They all have played enough events to have 4-5 games count for the ITC. They all have 1st place, or very high, finishes at Majors and GTs, I said and not or which is true for most of them, and they all have 1st place finishes at RTTs. That’s the top 10, what does it take to be in the top 50 though? To be in the top 50 of the ITC, out of the 3184 players currently participating with scores, there are a few things that it seems you must do. While coming up with this I focused on a few of the names from the top 50 you’re likely to recognize and a few you might not: Paul Bowman, Nick Rose, Brandon Grant, Thomas Hegstrom-Oakey, Aurelio Correa, Aaron Aelong, Jordan Stein, Tony Thebeau, and John Lennon. They represent a wide range of the top 50 and have a diverse set of armies etc. So what do they all have in common, that factors into getting you into the top 50 in the ITC?
- They play a lot. I don’t just mean a lot of tournaments, which is important give me a second, they play a lot of 40k, period. They know the game because they play it often and analyze it regularly. They also participate in a large number of tournaments, which increases their chances of performing really well and getting the most ITC points possible.
- Big events. All of them, with the exception of one and he’s representative of a small number of the top 50, has played in at least one Major and done well.
- Top 10 situations. They all have a large number of top 10 finishes at events they participate in. None of them is perfect, they have some bad finishes at events but more often than not when push comes to shove, the shove their way into the top 10 to get those points.
- Faction Focus. They are, for the most part, very faction focused, meaning they aren’t jumping from faction to faction regularly. None of them is chasing the flavor of the month, attempting to find the next OP loophole to exploit. They all play factions from event to event that are either very similar or play in a complimentary way to their previous faction. Just look at the top 50 and then look at the top faction rankings, that correlation in names is not a coincidence.
So how do you improve to get into the top 50 of the ITC? I suggest, and any of you in the top 50 please correct me if I am off base here, starting with picking a faction and becoming fluent with it. It could be as broad as Loyal Astartes (Dark Angels, ok maybe not the best one to pick to start the loyalist talk, Ultramarines, Blood Angels, Death Watch etc.) or as specific as Novhok Dynasty Necrons. Once you chose the faction become fluent with it, that means play 40k with that faction a lot. Until you know your lists and units backward and forwards, you know what units can and cannot achieve on the table. Attend some big events, GT and Major level, and aim high. Try to get into those top 10 situations at every event you attend whether it’s a local 10 man RTT or a 300 player Major Event, aim high and finish high to get those points. If you’ve prepared yourself properly for an event then you should come out in good shape, but when you bring the latest hotness masquerading as a pink Black Templars crusade in disguise, you’re asking to finish low and out of ITC score relevancy. Once you’ve figured out how you will achieve the items up there on the list of 4 I would suggest one more item.
Physical Training: The long events, the GTs, and Majors, take a toll on you believe it or not. The standing, bending over at odd angles, the getting up and down to check line of sight coupled together with any particular physical limitation you may or may not have and you start to see why many of the best 40k players are relatively fit. It takes a certain amount of stamina to get through several days of stressful games with low tables, hard floors, and lots of walking. Prepare for it! Even if it’s just taking walks every day leading up to the event you’d be surprised just how much being physically active and fit can help you with your day to day jobs and life.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s article, please let me know what you liked and what you’d like to see in future articles.
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