Hello, fellow Warhammer 40k fans! SaltyJohn from TFG Radio, and one of the Las Vegas Open Head Judges, here to bring you my weekly article on the ITC. This week let’s take a look at someone who should be in the top 10 but isn’t.
Running something like the ITC is complex. It requires a lot of moving parts, buy-in from independent events, the players at events, and it involves independent companies like Best Coast Pairings. There are a few levels where this can go wrong and cause issues. One such issue is that our current top 10 is missing someone, who by my calculation, should be in the top 10. But through the fault of his own, and it would seem the slow response of the people in charge of rectifying errors, he is missing. Steven Pampreen is a phenomenal player, and he should, I believe be in 9th place overall but is instead he is in 23rd! This is because Steven began the season using a pseudonym, Bilbo Baggins, and not his real name.
It was not uncommon early on in the ITC for players to use pseudonyms, or nicknames, rather than their real names. As time has gone by though this is not only less rare, it is discouraged. Steven changed early on in the season to using his real name but this has had the consequence that his 3rd place Adepticon finish, which amounts to 237.38 points, is being left out of his score, and instead is a score for “bilbo baggins”. I interviewed Steven for this week’s article for two reasons. First, he should be in the top 10, and second, he has a real chance of winning LVO.
SaltyJohn: You’ve been highly ranked in the ITC for several seasons now. Has it had a major impact on you personally when it comes to how you approach your hobby?
Steven Pampreen: Definitely. I get a lot more friend requests than I did before. Mostly from fellow nerds but also clearly scam profiles that Nick Brown somehow always accepts and subjects his friend list too.
The other change has been in preparation for events. People talk about the meta a lot but for me, I generally make a list of the players at the event first, then look at what armies they’re playing. I find it has been much more informative than looking at the total players.
When we got second at ATC in 2018, out of the two or three hundred players, I practiced against 6 players lists and actually played 3 of them. Similar to Montreal Warzone, I practiced for two players and built my list specifically to counter those two players and figured I could just outplay any inadvertently bad matchups.
SaltyJohn: You’ve also spent a huge portion of that time on the rankings board under a pseudonym “Bilbo Baggins”, why did you choose to operate under a pseudonym for the ITC for so long and why are you changing now?
Steven Pampreen: Well, I did it originally because I was worried about some scandal breaking out and my name getting smeared on the internet.
But I felt it slightly unsporting when I walked up to the table and people were unaware of who they were playing. I also wanted to just have everything in one profile so it was easier to view but that turned out to be much harder than I thought.
SaltyJohn: Where did you cut your teeth to make the run you have these past few seasons competitively?
Steven Pampreen: My first big finish was 7th at Adepticon several years ago. My roommate had moved out of our two-bedroom a few months before our lease ran out. So I had an extra room and set up a 40k table.
For over a week, I spent most of every night after work playing both sides of matchups. It helped tremendously. The meta was much more stagnant at that time so you could pretty much play every match up. I try to do the same now but it’s much harder. Not to mention I have a wife now!
SaltyJohn: You played a large portion of this season as Orks, Genestealer Cults, and then Astartes. What inspires you to switch from one faction to the next over the course of the season? Is it simply power creep, or are there other factors?
Steven Pampreen: Well, I’m an Ork player at heart. So I played them as much as I could. However, my goal for this year was to finish in the top 10, so I’m going to prioritize the best army that I can play. For most of the season, that was Orks and I was pretty thrilled.
I did GSC for a hot minute at ETC to make our team armies work but didn’t play them as a serious singles army.
Astartes well, if you’re reading this you’ve probably read 40kstats.com or listened to stats center or maybe peaked out from behind your rock. Marines shattered the power curve.
I like my Orks but not enough to lose with them. In the past year, I’ve lost two games back to back once, to Jim Vessal and then Nick Nanavati. My Orks went 5-0 to win Montreal Warzone, then marines came out, and I went 0-4 against people who aren’t ranked 1 and 4 in the world. So I put the Orks away and “borrow hammered” a whole army.
SaltyJohn: You played a large portion of this season as Orks, Genestealer Cults, and then Astartes. Do you find it frustrating that you couldn’t just continue to play a list with the same basic design the whole season? If so how? If not, why not?
Steven Pampreen: I’m fine with being forced to play different designed lists throughout the year but I really dislike being forced out of my Orks. Since Renegade Open last year, I played with nearly every single unit in the codex except for buggies and walkers. I am fine with being flexible with what units the codex plays depending on meta but marines busted the power curve so it wasn’t a matter of adapting, they are just better. This is why every single player who prioritizes winning overpainting concerns, faction placing, or trying to be unique is playing marines. Maybe that will change after Chapter Approved but I’m not convinced.
Eliminators, assault centurions, and tremor shells removed Orks or at least my army from contention. Orks have ridiculously flimsy characters and 9 eliminators behind a wall will kill 2 Weird Boys, assault centurions will kill infinite grots, and tremor shells neuter da jumping boys.
SaltyJohn: Besides having a great time, because it’s Vegas, what are you planning for LVO? What will you be bringing to the table and how, if at all, do you plan to prepare for it?
Steven Pampreen: Well, my wife will coming and the last tournament she came to Team USA won a world championship so I’ve got that going for me.
Thankfully I live in a hub of solid players in Boston so we will be practicing like crazy I’m sure.
I’ll take a second look at everything after Chapter Approved but army wise I’ll likely be stuck playing marines.
Thanks to Steven for agreeing to answer some questions about his season so far and his plans for LVO! Let me know in the comments if there are specific players you’d like to hear from as we head into Las Vegas Open time.
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