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Team Scotland – Neil Powell’s ETC Experience

Hey Glasshammer readers!

I’m sure if you follow this page and subscribe to it’s excellent content, you have a pretty solid understanding of competitive 40k, and are more than likely pretty familiar with the ETC tournament that’s run every year at various host nations across Europe.

So, with that in mind, I won’t delve too deep into what the ETC is;
In the unlikely event that some of you are in the dark and haven’t got a scooby about what I’m going to wang on about for the next 40 or 50 minutes* (*not true, even I can’t stand the sound of my own inner monologue for that long), the ETC is essentially the World Championships of 40k.

It’s an event made up of 8 player teams, that represent their respective countries, and play in a 6 round Swiss-paired tournament, in a bid to claim bragging rights as the number one team the World. At least for 12 months.
The clock starts now U.S.A. so best get your chat on fast 😉

Team Selection – How does it work?

As a playing member for Team Scotland, Glasshammer have asked me to tell you guys a little about how our team is selected, our tournament preparation and our experience at this years event.

I’ll do my best to keep this anecdotal, with minimal drivel and the occasional tidbit of useful information, but as a notorious gobshite (for those unsure on British slang, this means someone talking a load of rubbish), I cant promise you anything.

Historically, Team Scotland had earned a reputation for being one of the most sociable and fun, but perhaps a bit of a soft touch on the tabletop.

This year was my 4th ETC with Team Scotland, and without a doubt the one in which I felt the most confident that our team was best placed to cause an upset. I joined the team in 2015, Scottish 40k was in a very different place back then, with a dearth of players interested in competitive play. A last minute drop out left the boys scrambling to find a replacement, and probably because I was the only tit prepared to step in, I was taken to fill the void.

For me, attending that ETC was a game changing moment. I fell in love with the tournaments format, the size and scale of the event and the unbelievable sense of acceptance and enthusiasm from all these nerds collected in one place, playing a game we all adore. The gaming level and the social aspect was completely off the chart. I knew I wanted more.

On the table, the team performed modestly, but much better than we expected, which planted a seed that we were capable of even more.

We came away from it knowing that if we wanted to improve our performance it was up to us to rip up the script and start again.

 

We as team members knew we needed to take on the responsibility and be committed to making grass route changes in the way that we structured and ran Team Scotland. The core of that playing team still remains in our 2018 squad today.

The last 4 years has seen us steadily re-engage with the 40k community in Scotland, with much help from former and current team members Liam O’Shea and Innes Wilson and their fantastic podcast “Caledonian Deathwatch Radio.’

The Scottish tournament scene

We’ve increased our presence at Scottish based tournaments and gaming clubs, and our team members that are based south of the wall, including the plastic Scots, like me, have made sure that we get ourselves to Scotland for events a couple of times a year, so that the community at least has some semblance of who these knobbers representing Team Scotland actually are.

There is no hard and fast rule to how ETC teams are picked, and each country is afforded the right to structure their selection however they see fit.

Before we wrung in the changes, the team was often seen as being an exclusive boys club where the same players only picked their mates, so we have made strides to change this perception and operate a transparent selection process.

Anyone can put their name up to be captain of the team, although even being captain doesn’t guarantee them a playing place on the team.

Anyone who has represented the team in the last 3 years is entitled to a vote on the captaincy candidates. The winner takes the hot-seat.

We run a rankings system that collects the results of any eligible Scottish player that has expressed their interest in representing the team. Over the course of 12 months these points accrued will give us a system where by which we can see how players are performing at which events and what armies they are playing with.

The top 3 players at the end of the selection year automatically qualify for the team. Then together, based on their understanding of the meta and the players best suited to fill expected requirements, they pick the next two players. Those 5 pick players 6 and 7. Finally, those 7 select player 8, who is usually selected to round out any holes in the current roster.

To put it into perspective, in 2015 we couldn’t fill 8 spots. Our current rankings has over 30 players fighting it out for a place, and more requesting to be added all the time.

Since 2015 we have had 14 new players represent the team.

Playtesting and Goals

Once the team is picked, the list talk starts. Our aim as players is to play in as many events as possible and try out a variety of lists. No idea is a bad idea. Unless it’s one of mine. My ideas are usually terrible.

Once we lock down our lists and assign them to players for an upcoming event, be it the 6 Nations or the ETC, it’s all steam ahead. Practice, practice, practice. Play your list wherever and whenever you can. This will make the difference when you get to the event between getting 5 points out of a terrible match up and getting 0. Or 20 points out of a great matchup instead of 15.

Those 5 points could be the difference between the team winning the round or losing it. The team is the sum of it’s parts and way more important than any one individual player, so everyone has to check their ego at the door.

Like I said three hours ago when you started reading this, this year I felt we were ready to surprise a few faces. Since that 2015 event we’ve been slowly threatening it. We lost a round to the mighty Germans by 1pt in 2016. A previously unthinkable result. We collected a team best 7pts and finished 9th overall, which was our highest placing until this year.

In 2017, we drew our match with the Swedes and beat Ukraine, who as anyone will tell you are two extremely strong teams.

So onto this year and with a full 12 months of 8th ed behind us, we knew that on our day, we were capable of beating anyone.

Our captain, Tim Dagnell had taken a hands off approach to running the team, ensuring open communication, task delegation and that all decisions were always made in the best interests of the team.

Outside of routinely falling asleep during round pairings so he could leave Bernard Lee to get on with outfoxing our opponents, distraction free (true story), he went as far as to drop himself from a playing spot when life commitments prevented him from getting in enough gaming time to do the team justice.

That was just one of many unselfish choices he made which was fundamental in building a sense of camaraderie and spirit within our team.
A spirit the likes I haven’t experienced since my teens, when me and the rejects in my school football team went on that epic Dorset Cup run. LEGENDARY.
If you’ve never heard about it, you simply must not be about 35 years old and from Bournemouth, Dorset.

With a genuine sense of belief in each other and the team, this ETC Team Scotland finally delivered on the goal we set ourselves on the way home from Prague back in 2015.

We didn’t have an easy run of it either. Over the weekend we played 6 fantastic teams. Fantastic not only in the sense of their gaming skill, but perhaps more importantly, also fantastic blokes, who all played in good sports and were great lads to throw dice around with.

The 2018 ETC Journey

First up was a Canadian team who were sporting one or two familiar faces from the UK, including Scotland’s own Gav Herritage (we only lent him to you, so hands off now).
We pulled off a comfortable win to get off to a good start.

Next we faced old rivals Belgium who’s lists gave us a fright in pairings, but Bernie pulled out a bit of the ‘Fortnum magic’ and out paired them, and Duncan stole unlikely points with canny play to allow us to deliver a strong win and keep the train rolling.

As a result, we squared off against Denmark, who outside of being 9 of the coolest guys at the entire event, have generally been about one step ahead of us these past couple of years in terms of their development. Their lists, in a head to head had the edge on ours, and whilst Bernie paired us as best as we could hope for, unfortunately they had a bit too much for us this time, handing us our only defeat of the weekend.

Now normally a defeat means you drop down and with any luck, you next play a team considered to be second tier.
To give you a football analogy, you’ve got your top tier sides like Spurs and the two Manchester clubs. Then you’ve got the next level down, like Burnley, Everton, Leicester, Southampton, Newcastle, Watford……and Arsenal.

But having won two out of three games, we were sitting in a shark tank with a blood red steak glued to our testicles and throwing chum in the water. Some big fish had lost a game at this point, including powerhouses like Poland, Germany and England and they were all looking for a smaller fish like us to feast on.

We were matched with Poland, who historically are the greatest 40k team ever to compete in the ETC, with more wins than anyone else.

It was the make or break moment of our tournament. Time to work on some magic. If we lost, it would be as every person outside of the 10 of us wearing the shirt had expected. But if we were going to stand up, then it had to be now.

Bernie once again smashed out the pairings and the team fought tooth and nail, point by point. Across the matchups our lads stuck to the plan and with a couple of exceptional performances, notably from everyone’s favourite 40k reprobate and serial nudist, Blacky, and Colm with his broke as fuck DE list, we brought home a wide victory. It was the victory we needed, and more over, the victory we deserved.

Freeeeeedom!!!!! – England vs Scotland

If there had been any doubt before, this only cemented in our minds that this team could take on anyone. And as if fate would have it, we were paired to play the Auld enemy England in round 5.

The banter between all the home nations is simply that, just good banter. The fact is we all see each other at events in the UK all the time, so throughout the teams we all have great friendships.
I believe we genuinely wish each other the very best of luck and success at every Team event.

But…. this is still Scotland vs England at the ETC, the winner one foot away from the podium, so fuck that noise, we were coming to take them apart!! Lol.

Momentum is priceless in a tournament environment, and we had built it steadily. Fresh from the Poland win, and a night to reflect on pairings, we felt confident that we had England’s number this time around. Once again, Bernard paired us favourably, and then the team delivered with excellent performances from Bernard himself and Aidhan in particular to get us over the line and give us a strong win over England and within touching distance of the big boys table.

Our final game was against last years runaway winners, Russia, who had up to this point lost only to the eventual winners, USA.

For the only time in the event, you could argue that we walked away from the pairings feeling that we maybe could have done a little better. The emphasis was definitely now on our boys to hit the top end of their predictions, or it would seem that we might fall at the final hurdle and be going home empty handed. The gallant losers that gave it their best shot but came up short.

But in words that William Wallace may or may not have said before charging across the battlefield at the enemy when potentially overmatched……..

“Yer da sells Avon and yer ma punts coonsil!”

Into the games and Innes was staring at a horrible pairing, against an opponent fully expecting to push his poop in. He rallied, and pulled out a sensational victory.
Ricky went toe to toe with his opponent knowing one of them was getting tabled. He stood and traded until the last bomb landed flush on the chin and he took his guy out.
Kris ran the line as coach and kept a tight eye on who was predicting what scores, informed the lads who needed to push, who needed to pull back.
Tim enforced a recount on a score tally from one finished game which bought us another point.

Results

We dug in and when all was said and done, we were 5 points shy of winning the round, but had secured a draw, which was enough to guarantee us 3rd place and put us on the podium for the first time ever.

To say we were pleased, possibly doesn’t do it justice. Lol.

To top this off, the day before we had been informed that the team had also been nominated for best painted for the 8 armies we had taken. Most of the models were done by our players, but we’ve got to give a big nod also to Chris Gent, who contributed greatly, painting one full army an elements of at least 3 others.

To also win that award really felt like a massive reward for all the effort the team had collectively put in over the past 12 months and beyond.

For me what the weekend felt like can be best summed up in this picture –

With us winning best painted and 3rd place, it’s given the team a place to continue from, and hopefully will inspire more Scottish players who are perhaps on the fringes of competitive play to get involved and push the team on once again.

The foundations have been laid so now we need to continue to build.

What does the future hold?

Anyone interested in the team can contact us via our Facebook page or approach us at any of the events we attend. You’ll usually find us with a beer in our hand a smile on our face. Except possibly me. Im a miserable looking twonk, but I assure you, we are all pretty amiable guys and always happy to chat to friends new and old alike.

Tourneykeeper holds the results from every game and every round from the ETC. For those that are interested click here 

The lists every player took can be found on there too incase you guys are looking for inspiration. I certainly saw one or two things that I liked the look of.

Anyhow…. if you’ve made it this far, you’ll be pleased to know that I’m done. I hope that there are at least a few things shoe horned in amongst my drivel that made it worth the read, and I look forward to catching all somewhere down the road.

Congrats to both the USA and Denmark on their respective 1st and 2nd place finishes, and on a personal note, I want to once again thank all my opponents and especially my team mates for an amazing weekend.

Cheers;

Neil

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