The dust has only just settled on the inaugural Word Team Championship of Warmachine/Hordes however the attentions of gamers around the world are already turned towards the 2014 event in Poland. It is the nature of such a prestigious international competition that preparations begin many months before the players sit down at a table to compete for their country. There are so many layers of preparation to consider and work through as individuals and a team, if a nation hopes to be competitive at the WTC.
Players must decide their faction, the two warasters/warlocks they will use and then the actual make up of each list. Then each player must consider their choices in the context of the other 4 players in their team. The match up process in the WTC is without doubt one of the most important aspects of the tournament in terms of being successful. Many battles are decided in the match up process before a single dice is rolled. Countries that do not pay enough attention to the strategies of the match up process will find themselves on the losing end of matches against countries they believe they should have beaten. The WTC is a true team tournament and consideration of the team aspect before the event will go a long way to a nation’s success or otherwise.
My post today will focus on the very first thing a country must do as they prepare to compete at WTC 2014, and that is selecting the players that will be part of their team(s)!
In an amateur hobby like Warmachine/Hordes there are a lot of factors to consider when selecting 5 players to represent a country. First of all there is player availability as they consider the time and money commitment required to compete and then there is the challenge of getting 5 players that get along and are willing to work together, spend a lot of time together and travel together to compete in the tournament. So what is the best way to select the players to represent your country? There is no definitive answer to this. The selection process can vary depending on a lot of things specific to the country’s gaming scene like the number of eligible players, its geographical size and whether there are naturally segregated groups of players within the national scene.
Today I will discuss two countries (Australia and England) that have already published their WTC 2014 selection process. I have picked these two first of all since they are using completely different methods and secondly because I am intimately familiar with both tournament scenes having lived and played in both countries consistently over the last 3-4 years. The two methods Australia and England are using are not the only two ways to select a team, however they are perhaps the two most popular and obvious methods.
Team Playoff Tournament – Australia’s Method
Australia is an interesting one to consider due to the vast distance it is from Poland (well anywhere else in the world actually!). Despite the huge cost and commitment involved in an Australian team competing at an international war-gaming tournament the Aussies have a solid track record of attending them dating back to over 5 years ago when they first attended the Warhammer ETC. Australia is also a vast country with tournaments being held over 5,000 kms away from each other, so there are natural divides within the community based on geographical location. These are some of the contributing factors that make a subjective selection process (such as what England are using) not completely suitable.
For the 2014 WTC the Australian community is going to determine their team(s) by holding a play off tournament for pre-made teams of 5 players. This allows any community, club or group of friends to form teams and have a shot at representing Australia in an international event. This also means that the process of determining which players are available to attend and other logistics of that nature are passed down to each group to handle removing the need for a national register of players that are available. Another positive aspect of this method is that the teams are going to be 100% cohesive, they are already friends or club mates by nature of getting together to form the team and with a highly competitive play off tournament to get through they will also get first hand experience of the match up process under WTC tournament conditions.
A potential downside to this method is that the team that represents Australia may not necessarily be the best 5 individual players in the country. However the general consensus is that via this process the best collective team(s) will get through. Another interesting side note to this method is that there is not an “A” and “B” team if Australia gets 2 tickets. There are theoretically two teams of players with equal ability.
So far there are three teams that have nominated for the Australian play off tournament. The top team will get the 1st WTC ticket and if Australia is able to get a 2nd the runner up from the tournament will get that one. It will be interesting to see how the play off goes and how well Australia will do at the tournament after they did very well at the the OETC (precursor event to the WTC) in 2012.
Qualifying Events and Nomination Process – England’s Method
England are once again going down the route of a committee selecting the England teams from a group of eligible players. A player can become eligible for selection by doing well at one or more existing tournaments that have been announced as qualifiers. Once the eligible list of players is determined a selection weekend is held where the 5 man panel will put the players through their paces and select team captains and teams to represent England. It is a thorough process and theoretically will result in the 1st England team being picked comprising the best 5 tournament players in the country. If England get a 2nd ticket then the players that don’t get selected into the 1st team will be eligible to make the 2nd team.
This method has the benefit of getting dedicated players that have performed well in big events and also impressed the selectors in other areas outside of pure results on the table-top. It is a true selection process similar to sporting teams. The downside is that the selected team might consist of individuals that are not necessarily 100% compatible to work together in terms of personalities or factions they use. This method requires a strong team captain to ensure things go smoothly once the team is selected and for intelligent, discerning selectors that will consider all factors when selecting the team. The England scene is well established and has several high profile, active and dedicated individuals that will ensure the process is run correctly and also provide a pool of suitable people to be selectors. This is extremely important if this method is to be effective and accepted by the community.
An interesting side note is that at this year’s WTC the England “B” team actually outperformed the “A” team which is as much a testament to the strength in depth of the England tournament scene as to their selection process. However it can highlight how important it is for a team to be comprised of players working together and playing different roles to achieve a goal rather than just having the 5 strongest players put together. I will be quite keen to see which two teams England nominate and how they do at the 2014 event.
So there you have two countries on opposite sides of the world using two completely different methods to select their WTC teams. These are not the only two options, another is selecting players purely from a national tournament rankings system. This is suitable when a country’s community is not organised or structured enough to implement one of the other two methods or want to keep it simple and select players that do well at tournaments across an entire year. This method can also alleviate any potential arguments since there is zero subjectivity included in the process. It goes without saying the country that wishes to use this technique must have an establish and recognised national rankings system in the first place for this method to work!
The most important thing that any gaming community must think about when selecting their WTC team is to make it fair, transparent and open to all. For example the player that purchases the ticket does not necessarily gain a spot on a team, and players that attended the year before do not necessarily make it the following year. As a community one of the three methods discussed here should be implemented assuming of course there are more than 5 players that want to attend in the first place!
Part of the WTC charter includes the ability for the WTC Committee to assist countries if issues arise when selecting a team however we encourage all national communities to do their best to work together and select their teams in an amiable and fair way.
What method is your country using? Let us know your thoughts on the topic of selecting national teams for the WTC. We would love to hear them!
Until next time take care and happy gaming!
WTC Committee Member
ps – this post is a commentary by Andrew and the views and comments expressed in this post are not necessarily reflective of all WTC Committee members.
pss – I will be posting a series of these articles as we get closer to the WTC so hopefully you enjoyed it! 🙂