Hello Warhammer 40k fans, SaltyJohn here from TFG Radio to bring you my hot take on who has the best chance of winning the Bay Area Open 2019! The Bay Area Open is one of the marquee Warhammer 40k tournaments in the world and it’s the original Frontline Gaming event. I’ve been attending the Bay Area Open since the first one way back in 5th edition. I’ve missed two in all the years they’ve run it and it has always been a great time. Besides always having a large number of players it has also always drawn in players from across the US, and even some international players. This year the BAO is being held at the KublaCon in the Bay Area and instead of the traditional 6 round event it’s been in past years it will be run like the Las Vegas Open Championships. 6 rounds Friday-Saturday with a single elimination bracket tournament for the top 8 on Sunday! Quite an exciting way to run an event.
Attempting to predict the winner of an event is really difficult, just ask a bookie in Vegas about figuring the odds for the Masters in Golf, but I prefer to discuss players who have a chance to win rather than speculate about lists, codices, build types, that have a chance to win. The person playing the list has a lot more to do with if they win or lose a large event like the BAO than the list they are piloting. The best players will already be playing the best, most balanced, list based on the perceived meta that they can so it really boils down to player versus player at the top tables, which is where the cream rises to the top and a champion is crowned.
This year’s field is filled with great players, and I went through the list of registered players and picked out 10 players I think have the best chance of winning it all, based on their performance last year at BAO, LVO, other events, and personal experience with them. This is by no means comprehensive, there is obviously personal bias at play as I haven’t played everyone who is going, also this is in no particular order.
- Brandon Grant: LVO 2019 Champion, ITC 2018 Season Champion, two times Bay Area Open Champion, Champion of other events, Brandon has to be a favorite to win any event he enters. While he may not necessarily be the runaway favorite for any event he enters he certainly has to be considered to be one of the top 3 at least. Brandon is one of two players on this list that I have played, that I have never beaten. His knowledge of his list and the ITC missions is unparalleled in my opinion. You need only listen to his post LVO interviews to understand what I am talking about.
- Daniel Olivas: Currently ranked 125th overall, he is an excellent player who finished well last year in the ITC. With a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finish at events thus far in 2019 we are looking at a real contender. The question is, will the Ynnari changes affect his army drastically and has he had time to adapt? I wouldn’t count him out.
- Don Hooson: Currently ranked 41st overall. Coming off of multiple top 10 finishes Don is in a hunt for a big win. He is the reigning Bay Area Open champion edging out Geoff Robinson and myself last year. With his list already out there and circulating it is interesting to speculate on how it will do, but without some of the other major players’ lists up, or any of the mid-tier players lists out, it is hard to tell just how well this list will do.
- Geoff Robinson: Currently ranked 195th overall Geoff Robinson is another player, like Brandon Grant, who has to be placed on the short list of contenders to win any event he chooses to attend. Coming off a win at the Battle For Los Angeles GT, an event that was a shark tank of an event, Geoff is primed for another big run at the BAO. Last year he was barely edged out of the top spot in the final game with Don Hooson and I am sure Geoff is gunning to make that right this time around.
- Jeff Poole: Currently ranked 275th overall, Jeff Poole is a player that doesn’t attend a lot of big tournaments but has excellent showings whenever he does. Jeff is a fellow #REKT teammate of mine and he is easily one of the toughest players on our team to beat. He did well last year at the Bay Area Open, Las Vegas Open, and he made the top 8 at the LVO in 2018, most recently Jeff got 4th place at the Battle for LA in what I already mentioned was a field full of some great players.
- Jim Vesal: Currently ranked number 1 in the world according to ITC, do I really need to give you more of an explanation than that? Just look at his record so far. First place at 2 Majors and 2 GTs!? The man is a monster right now competitively and easily the man to beat next weekend. Smart money is on Jim Vesal in this field. Not that I am ranking this list, or picking a top pick or anything like that… In case you missed it I did an interview with Jim for my weekly article on the ITC for Frontline Gaming.
- Michael Timpe: Ranked 1225th overall. I know this seems like an odd choice at first but Michael is an extremely solid player who puts up a good showing at big tournaments regularly. He had a good run at LVO and at the last BAO, he went 5-1. He is a great, tactically minded player with the demeanor of a great player. Calm and collected. I played Michael round 5 at last year’s BAO and I was his only loss. He may seem like a dark horse, but bear in mind his performances in the past, as I can attest to, and the fact he has played in one RTT this season and won it. Playing Necrons.
- Ray Ahumada: Currently ranked 8th overall in the ITC and he won best Asuryani last year in the ITC. Ray has also been tearing up the So Cal scene this season and missed out on the top spot at the Battle for Los Angeles GT to Geoff Robinson by a super slim margin. He has a good batch of showings this year so far with every placing in the top 5! Ray is a force to be reckoned with on the tabletop, he is the only other player on the list besides Brandon Grant that I have played and never beaten. You should also listen to his podcast, it is not for the faint of heart or easily offended, but in my opinion, that’s what makes it great. The Veteran Gamer Reenlisted.
- Richard Siegler: Currently ranked 4th in the world overall in the ITC. Again this really doesn’t need much explaining. Easily one of the best Tau players in the world right now Richard is also killing it in the South. With no placing outside the top 10 for any event he has gone to and a Second place at a Major already this season Richard is traveling to California and looking to take that West Coast belt home for the South.
- Shane Watts: Ranked 47th overall and is representing the Golden Boys of 40k in a big way this season. Doing well with Custodes post FAQ will even be, conceivably, easier if Shane runs bikes at BAO. Again we see in Shane a player who has no finishes outside the top 10 logged for him this season thus far. He is also representing Peace Through Dakka, a team with a disturbing lack of Ork players, but if he continues performing as he has been I don’t think we’ll care. Shane has a legitimate shot at taking the BAO home, and it is going to be exciting to watch it all play out.
This year the BAO is set to be a truly different animal as Knights will definitely be featured much less prominently in the meta. With a lot fewer Castellans running around, and fewer Knights in general, I am really excited to see how the shift towards more hordes, more fly, more vehicles plays out among the top players but even more so in the mid-tier. For all the talk I put into predicting who from these 10 great players could win I must admit I find the mid-tier meta the most interesting to watch change and those are the true bread and butter players of the 40k competitive scene. They pay the bills so to speak, and I wonder if the new post Castellan meta has hit them yet or not.
As always let me know what you thought of the article in the comments! Who are your top picks to go all the way this year and wear the Belt of Russ as the new, or perhaps returning, Bay Area Open Warhammer 40k Champion?
And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!