This week I wanted to continue what I did last week where we took a quick look at the current standings and then got some insight into a region, this week the UK/Europe, then some more feedback from some of the top players themselves! Before that though a quick shout out once again to Best Coast Pairings for really making the ITC and this article a reality.
There were quite a few events this past weekend and some movement in the main leaderboard. To hear about some of the GTs from last weekend you can give Chapter Tactics and Signals from the Frontline a listen, both their episodes touch on some of the happenings of the past weekend. So here is a look at the top 10 in the ITC this week.
Not a whole lot of movement in the top 3 but we have a few names rotating into the top 10 this week. John Lennon, Nick Gower, Daniel Olivas are some names mentioned before but are now part of the firmly 500 club and in the top 10 this week. Before I go too much into the top player talk, let’s talk about Europe.
James Mackenzie from the UK, currently in the number 1 spot in that region, reached out to me to give me a little insight into the 40k tournament scene across the pond! According to James:
“I can only really speak to the UK tournament scene, even then I’m a relative newbie on it. Having only been playing competitively for the past couple of years. The ETC has a strong hold on the UK scene, voraciously supported by those used to playing that format. I won’t get into the debate of ETC vs ITC format, I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of it on forums/facebook and the like. Personally, I prefer the ITC missions and we are slowly seeing growth in tournaments running ITC format. What we are seeing is a dramatic rise in events reporting to the ITC rankings. Most of the major events taking place in the UK (and there’s quite a few) are reporting to the rankings for the first time this season. This means the competition in the Uk (and by extension Europe) is becoming much more fierce for the top of the regional rankings. Including the previously ETC majors are putting a lot more points on offer and drawing people who perhaps would have avoided some of the larger events, which are largely seen as the ETC boys club by many, into participating in them. Offering a much more diverse crowd. The UK’s largest event even drew some of the USA players across the ocean to participate (I’ll comment no further on the LGT, I think that subjects been done to death) which was interesting. They brought with them a different approach to the game and a change to the meta. I had the pleasure of playing Josh Death when he was over here and it goes down as one of my favorite games of 40k ever. I think the inclusion and gradual creep of ITC into the UK meta are changing it a little as well. ETC favor skewed lists, with the ability to either camp objectives and be completely unkillable (see 80+ nurglings at London) over to the tabling giving max points which favor the extremely killy lists with little to no scoring (Gulliman and 4 stormravens springs to mind.) The ITC is more rewarding of balanced lists and I think you’re starting to see that bleed through. It’s certainly something I aim to do with my armies, preferring a blend of board control, speed and some hitting power to going outright hammer or anvil skew lists.”
Thank you to James for weighing in on the UK scene and the meta as he is seeing it across the pond. I find the different areas 40k is played in to be really fascinating and I hope you enjoy hearing about them. As always if you think you have something to contribute about your region or faction let me know, I would love to hear it!
This week I have interviews to post from James Mackenzie, John Lennon, and Don Hooson. John is relatively new to the top 10 in the ITC and Don is a really well-known player who has been in and out of the top spots all season so far.
Question 1: How long have you been playing 40k? How long have you been playing it competitively?
James: 20 years casually. Competitively the last 3 or 4 years.
John: I started playing 40k at the tail end of fourth edition, but didn’t start attending tournaments until 5th edition. Sixth is when I started actually competing, however.
Don: I’ve played 40k for about 14. I have only been playing competitively for about 3 years, though.
Question 2: What got you into the hobby originally?
James: My next door neighbor had the 3rd edition starter set when I was 10. I got some ork boyz for a birthday and was hooked.
John: The Lord of the Rings game got me started, but I quickly switched to the sci-fi game in the same store that had a lot more people playing it.
Don: I joined 40k when I was 16, shortly after becoming enamored with my Skaven in WHFB. My friend introduced me to 40k Tau. I loved the Gundam Wing series, so it was an easy transition.
Question 3: What is your favorite part about playing 40k competitively? example: do you enjoy list theory, math hammer, the competition, the camaraderie, your team etc
James: The community as a whole has been a lot of fun, events show a great community spirit and I find myself coming away with more friends from each one. I’m also lucky to play at a great club with an active group of tournament goer who makes up my team.
John: The social aspect is what keeps me playing, I love traveling to events and meeting new people, and there’s a great group of gamers in the area that keeps me invested in the hobby. But, I can’t deny that the thrill of victory is pretty nice too!
Don: I have always had a competitive attitude towards most things, even with my fairly type B personality. I enjoy testing myself and finding odd combinations that work, somehow. I will admit, though, I am in it because of the people I meet. I have met many friends and many great people through the hobby. It is the people that bring me back to the game week after week, month after month.
Question 4: If you’re on a team, what role does your team play in your competitive 40k life? Is it a support mechanism, sounding board, just a group of friends? etc.
James: I’m a part of Team MMX (a splinter of Hull’s Angels.) they are friends, regularly put up with me trying out some horrendous combos on them and a good sounding board for daft ideas too. In the UK a few of them are ranked pretty well too so we have some good practice.
John: My gaming club, Brohammer, started off as a group of friends that liked to hang out and play games, but we picked up a lot of steam this year competitively, and they’ve really helped me up my play and practice against top-notch opponents.
Don: I have a great team. The Scorched Earth Renegades are a great support group. They help to get practice against certain list archetypes. It is a group of close friends that is always growing. We also like to push each other to improve every time we show up on the table.
Question 5: What is your take so far on the ITC and BCP now that it’s several seasons in?
James: I didn’t really start following the ITC until a couple of years ago. Picking it up watching the last LVO of 7th edition. Started pushing to play in my local area and in my first season recording a score I won the UK! It’s growing dramatically in the UK now, I’ve already passed the number of events and the score I won with last year and I’ve no doubt that won’t win it again. Fortunately, there are plenty more events emerging. The UK scene although dominated by ETC missions does seem to be swaying over to ITC rankings. As for BCP, I’m a big fan, I’m a TO as well as a player and find it so much easier than using the good old spreadsheet. really handy at larger events to be able to see pairings and rankings as you play too.
John: I love the ITC and what it has done for the tournament scene, I have never seen as many events in Florida as we have now. The BCP app is constantly improving, which is very fun to see.
Don: The ITC is a pillar that has held the community aloft and encouraged competitive play, especially in my community. I honestly believe that. BCP has made the life of the tournament organizer a much simpler. Having the ability to pair people quickly and even allow self-scoring has made the TO position a much more “hands-on” approach to govern games. You aren’t buried under piles of score sheets. This also allows for player audits to help out with accuracy. From the player side of things, the app helps to create an easy tournament experience, where you can find your tables and pairings quickly, without having to climb over people to find such information. For a spectator, being ankle to actively see the scores, lists, and rankings of all of these events is wonderful. It is starting to feel like a real competitive event, like e-sports for tables.
Question 6: What do you attribute your success so far this season to the most?
James: Playing a lot of games with the same faction, knowing my army and just playing. Attend events with a friendly attitude and a decent army you know inside out. You’ll do ok.
John: Definitely the group I practice with. Four members of Brohammer are currently holding a best in faction spot, which means I get to play against some of the best competition in the country and I always feel ready for whatever I may see at different events.
Don: The majority of my success has been to the creation of odd lists that people are willing to let me playtest. Whether it was from the 10 PBCs to the triple defilers to the Harlequins and Asuryani allies, I have had a great group that helps me to figure out all of these lists and allows me to fine-tune them.
Question 7: How do you prepare for events, big and small? Do you have a routine or regimen?
James: Bigger events take more focus as they are worth more. For a GT or Major, I’ll practice the missions and my list. Tweaking to suit the scoring format (though I naturally default to the ITC champions mission set up as its what we play locally when not practicing a specific faction.) For smaller events, I’m either practicing a list for a GT/Major so play that, even though it’s not tailored to the small event or I tend to grab what I fancy and roll with it.
John: Just by playing games and playing the missions, to make sure I don’t let a silly mistake cost me a game. Playing a list a dozen times or more lets me squeeze a little more efficiency out of my units by changing around the upgrades that I wouldn’t have seen the value of just on paper.
Don: I will admit that my preparation for events tends to be lax. I play games against teammates that want competitive practice. I do, however, study the codexes as they come out. Ignorance is no excuse for a loss, to me. I do tend to play almost every army, so their hammering goes through my mind constantly. I get to hear a lot of the experiences my fellow death guard players get. “Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it.”
Question 8: What faction do you play? Why?
James: Tyranids/Genestealer Cult. I see the Imperium of man as the bad guys. Chaos isn’t much better. But I love aliens, I actually have a bunch of the prodos games alien miniature range in my genestealer cults army. There’s certainly a lot of inspiration taken from there. That and I love converting stuff up and the much more organic feel of Tyranid monsters vs tanks.
John: I hop around a little like everyone else, but Tyranids and Genestealer Cults are my favorites by a mile. I absolutely love the alien feel to them, and how their troops are expendable chaff used only to accomplish a goal.
Don: My main faction for 8th has been Death Guard. I was a fan of Mortarion and the legion in general, aside from Typhus. He can get bent. The reason I went competitive with Death Guard, though, was to prove that the PBC was under-costed and a powerful unit when the codex came out. Then CA came out and the dropped the cost by 10 points a tank. Then the boogeyman list of 10 PBCs came out. Ultimately my plan to make GW aware of their fault was a failure. The Tyranids Flyrants spam did more to curb spam than I ever could. Now I run the Death Guard to prove that other units are great. I am working on making defilers great again. I play Harlequins, Craftworlds, Drukhari, daemons, CSM, 1ksons, space marines, BA, DA, GK, IK, sisters, IG, Orkz, NIDS, Ad Mech, Custodes, and Tau as well.
I really enjoyed the responses I received from these 3 gentleman. It’s cool to hear what everyone has in common when it comes to being a competitor for the top spots in the ITC and what they do, say, think that is different. Next week I hope to talk to the winner of the Gentleman’s GT in Las Vegas and give you a more in depth look at the different Region leaders and Faction shake ups that have been going down. Thanks for reading and as always let me know what you think in the comments!
And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!