This Week in the ITC: a Pre-LSO Check-In with Sean Nayden

Hello Warhammer 40k fans, SaltyJohn here from TFG Radio bringing you a quick interview with current ITC Number One Sean Nayden, prior to the Lone Star Open!

The second new Frontline Gaming event of the 2021 ITC season is almost upon us! The Lone Star Open is this weekend and it’s shaping up to be a really great tournament with some very talented players and some interesting new terrain rules and placement guidelines to hopefully help players mitigate some of the issues with 9th edition 40k so far. Here is the top 10 going into the weekend.

Sean Nayden is still holding strong onto his number one slot, and he will be in attendance at the Lone Star Open this weekend. If you don’t already, be sure to follow Sean on Instagram at Sean_nayden he is a phenomenal painter besides being an accomplished player.

Sean has put together an impressive early-season in 2021. Typically Sean is a player who doesn’t really make a run at things until later in the season, in fact usually around this time is when Sean would be starting to go to some of the bigger events. This year though Sean has come out strong and hard from the beginning, and with LSO this weekend he is poised to try to get another big batch of ITC points. He was gracious enough to answer a few quick questions of mine.

  • John: You’re well known in the Hobby for winning the Renaissance Man award at multiple Las Vegas Opens. Many people are of the opinion that Renman is actually the best award to win because it’s more indicative of the hobby as a whole. What are your thoughts on that, and are you constantly pushing yourself to win that award every year?
  • Sean: I really enjoy painting. Especially after spending a lot of time and energy to better myself at it constantly. I spend much more time and energy trying to become a better painter than I do playing the game. Once you’re a certain caliber of player the best goal you can achieve is a 1 loss average as only one of the many skilled players at any event will end the day with a 0 in the loss column. So getting a beautiful army ready gives you a chance at taking other awards like renman. That’s the award I chase when I enter an event as aside from a few other notables like Sasha edelkraut and pat macaneeny there aren’t many players with great armies that finish high in events.
Sean winning Renaissance Man at LVO 2019
  • John: What got you into the hobby originally?
  • Sean: I originally discovered the hobby at the activities fair of my high school freshman year.
  • John: What is your favorite part about playing 40k competitively? example: do you enjoy list theory, math hammer, the competition, the camaraderie, your team etc
  • Sean: I really enjoy the thrill of large events. When you can’t change anything else or tinker with your army and it’s time to see if you list and abilities can carry you through your opponents. The spectacle of big events and the bouncing ideas between teammates mid-event as you prep for matches is so exciting to me.
  • John: How did the pandemic affect your career playing Competitive 40k? Did you do anything during the various periods of closure that you found particularly helpful in preparing to play 40k competitively this season?
  • Sean: I spent a lot of time painting…. Like a lot. I took myself to a whole new level in terms of free hand work and higher-level techniques. Even started doing some commission work. Came out of the gate when events came back winning best overall at three straight events.
Some beautiful freehand on the cape.
Some beautiful freehand Eldar runes.
One of Sean’s great work in progress shots he likes to post on his Instagram.
  • John: What do you attribute your success so far this season to the most?
  • Sean: I think 9th edition fits my mindset very well. I was always known as an aggressive close-range player so the smaller board and the need to play progressive objectives fit my sensibilities well. It certainly helps that an army I was playing received a nice strong codex to give me a boost at a few events as well. Though I will point out that I did win an event before the codex was updated.
  • John: How do you prepare for events, big and small? Do you have a routine or regimen?
  • Sean: Try to talk about my list either in general with people on my twitch channel or in one on ones with friends. Get a few games in and tweak if I can. On plane trips to big events I like to think about my army and draw up deployments for reminders for different missions. And read through and talk plans for specific matchups once BCP data goes live for an event.
  • John: What are your impressions, and opinion, so far of the new Frontline Gaming events and the Games Workshop events that debuted this year?
  • Sean: I love frontline events. They are put on such a large scale. The Atlantic City events venue was great fun. I think frontline got caught in a weird space with terrain but I think they are taking some great steps to hopefully fix that for LSO with things like player-placed terrain and adding obscuring keywords to some of their flat pieces of forest terrain to make the boards more functional. I think player-placed terrain will be huge and needs a few more rules and caveats that will need to be tweaked going forward to make the most exciting games of 40K possible but this will be a great test for it.
  • John: What are you taking to the LSO and why?
  • Sean: I’m taking craftworlds eldar and harlequins. Craftworlds have been the big backbone of my aeldari lists for the entire edition. And so I’ve cut my drukhari to show that they certainly weren’t the main reason for me winning games. Also, I think harlequins have fantastic strategems and abilities that can’t be mirrored elsewhere and was using them a ton before events came back…. And only stopped using them because they felt so wrong haha. But now no one thinks of them as being broken so I guess it’s ok to bring them back out again. This past month I’ve actually played the least 40K that I’ve played in the past year and have zero experience against the new admech so I find myself in a much more theory-based area instead of the practical approach I prefer. So should be interesting. But I’ll chase that 1 loss average all the same.

Thank you again to Sean for taking the time to let me ask him some questions, I know he is busy getting ready for the Lone Star Open. Good luck to all of you who are reading this that will be at the LSO, or any other event you might be attending this weekend. This will be the last “This Week in the ITC” article from me for a few weeks because I am going on vacation but when I get back there will be a lot to discuss, I am sure.

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



About SaltyJohn

John has been playing Warhammer 40k since the 3rd edition box set with Space Marines, Dark Eldar, and weird green palm trees were in the set. He is currently a 40k Head Judge for the Las Vegas Open, the largest 40k tournament in the world. An avid board gamer, a huge fan of video games, and a guest spot on Geek and Sundry as a "Historian" during an episode of "Game the Game" round out his geek credentials. You can catch "Salty" John on TFG Radio's Twitch Show, and Podcast, as well as find him streaming video games on Twitch on the TFG Radio Twitch page from time to time.
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