A Worlds of Fun
This year I had the pleasure of attending the X-Wing 2019 World Championship in St. Paul, MN for the first time. I’ve always watched it from afar on stream, but this year I got to be part of it and I wanted to share my experience.
Little Fish, Big Pond
Thursday, I showed up to play side events. The arena felt huge, the tables stretched forever as the day 1A players gathered. I felt very small as I went to get my badge, where I got to fist bump Ryan Farmer of Fly Better podcast.
Then as I walked around, I ran into Deon of Gold Squadron Podcast setting for the stream (he was sick so give the man props for putting on a heck of stream when not at 100%). I even met and got to talk to Max Brookes, one of the current developers of X-wing.
Pods Farming, We Will Go
After I got my brush with X-Wing celebrities, I headed over to the side events area. This is where FFG runs various formats to earn prize wall tickets for all the cool and interesting Worlds-only items or just rare collectable like alt arts to templates. I settled on Hanger Bay because I wanted to warm up with my list for the Day 1B of Swiss on Friday.
I brought my Ric, Plo and Obie. First Hanger Bay pod was loaded with the several players from the around the world including Brazil, France, and the EU System Open’s Champion from Poland. Turns out every one else had the same idea – warm up for Friday. I knew the competition would be fierce, but I was feeling outclassed. I began to think it was going to be a long weekend of losses as I only won one game in that pod.
The next pod of players was led by Mr. District Foundry himself, Ken Cho. As it turns out, Ken’s dad graduated from K-State and he even visited recently on his move to Colorado and knew about Varsity Donuts. What are the odds?
This turned out to be the most fun I had all weekend. We farmed for 3 sets of pods, playing short games, where we mostly just joust. I had switched to my Republic Ion Beef list for most of these pods where I went head long at everyone.
This pod included a super nice lady from Norway (who made Day 2 cut with Rebel Beef). It was fun, relaxing and I had great conversations. At any rate, I finished out the day with a bunch of new friends, 17 prize wall tickets, and a smile on my face. I really didn’t care what was going to happen Friday.
I knew no matter what I was going to play 7 rounds today. I might go down in flames against a field of proven winners, but I was going to have fun, learn and mine some more prize wall tickets! I’m not going to full battle report each game as I wanted to touch on who and what I played against.
Round 1 – Louis Leong’s 4 CLT Jedi (0 Win – 1 Loss)
Louie is the UK maker of the metal cards I have seen on Reddit. And he gave me a double sided Plo / Obie! Man, I didn’t care if I lost this game, I was already a winner! He beat me at time on the last round of shooting. He is a super nice gentleman and turns out he even wrote an article I read in prep of Worlds along with Olie, the ultimate winner of Worlds. Small world.
Round 2 – Mitchel Hurst’s 5 Forward of Legend (1 Win – 1 Loss)
I’m horrible with some names but when Mitchel Hurst handed me a 5 Straight template and said “you might know me from” …it clicked. He was the guy who 5 forwarded over a rock with Quickdraw to kill Wedge in Denver System Open this year (and finished runner-up). So much for an easy bounce back game! He played QD, Kylo, Scorch and an Academy. Fortunately, I took all QD’s shields in one Round then ganged up on Kylo to finish out the game: 200-59. Mitch is a super nice guy and I had him sign my damage deck - how cool!
Round 3 – James Andrew Finlayson’s Ani in a Y-Wing (2 Wins – 1 Loss)
Another fellow from the UK, but this guy brought a fat Ani…in a Y-Wing. The mad man! He flew it well but I took Ani down but still just scraped out a 7-point win at time with a final set of shots that gave me ½ points on his CLT Mace. It was tense at some points, but least I had my 2nd win.
Round 4 – Kevin Brimage’s 4 U-Wings (2 Wins – 2 Losses)
Yikes. I knew this would be a thing, but I expected a Euro player, not Kevin from Texas! I got up on him by killing a U-Wing but then toward to the end I got greedy. Instead of running away with Obie, I 5K’ed and end up losing him at time in a 2-pt. loss. It was tough but he correctly punished me for my greedy mistake. Still it was a fun time and pleasure to play him. But now my back is completely against the wall, one more loss as I was out of the running for day 2.
Round 5 – Ethan Van Sant’s Chewie Pods (3 Wins – 2 Losses)
Ethan Santiago Rivera-Van Sant (Top 14 from 2019 North American Championship at GenCon) brought hands down the coolest & beautiful list of the entire weekend. Resistance Chewie with cute little pods and a transport. As the owner of the Wookiee Cup, how could I not be impressed? (Although, apparently, someone warned him to watch out for a guy with said cup). Sadly, he wasn’t too keen on facing my list but he gave it his best. I took off a couple of his pods in a single round and then he decided he had enough. He even tried to drop but later came back and asked if I would help him un-drop. I was more than happy to help him keep going as faction prizes were a big thing still. We had a good chat afterwards.
Round 6 – Kyle Juopperi’s 3 Scum Aces (4 Wins – 2 Losses)
Kyle is from North Carolina and was a 2018 NOVA US Nationals Top 32 finisher. For those that know me, I flew something similar in 1.0 and I wasn’t exactly happy to see he had a 11-point bid to go with it: Old T, Talonbane, and Fenn. Sense only works against one aces…not 3! Fortunately, he got really aggressive with Fenn & put him out of the fight while I picked off Old T and Talonbane. Obie put Fenn into Sense Hell with blocks, while regening shields for the next couple of rounds. It ended pretty quickly and left me with one last game for a chance at day 2.
Round 7 – Jake & the Fat Man (5 Win – 2 Losses)
I was stoked after round 6, until I read the name across from mine for table 16…Rasta Maice. Not only is he one of the most amazing miniature painters and modelers in the World, he is also the 2017 EU Champion (one of the biggest X-Wing events that rivals Worlds in number of players). This was like meeting your hero and doom at the same time. But you know what, we both still had to play the game.
On top of that, he laid down a badass looking Han and Jake, which I’ve only studied on film. It was a major positioning game. We traded ranged shots but Jake 5 forwarded swinging around my rear to get Outmaneuver shots. But Plo hung back and turned away from Han for a range 1 into Jake with TL and Focus. Jake was no more. After that it was my 3 aces versus Han. It still wasn’t but I traded Plo for permanent ½ on Han. When time was called 126 to 69, I couldn’t believe it was nearly 11:30 and I had made day 2 by beating Rasta. I didn’t think it could get any better than this.
Rasta congratulated me (he is such a class act) and gave me plenty of swag. He commented I rolled a total of 7 blanks the entire game. I’ll take his word for it as I try not to track that as it can drive one insane when variance goes against you.
On the day, I manged to make Top 64 and #2 Republic player which got me additional swag for both of those, just a another pleasant surprise to an already amazing day.
Cut to Saturday
I got some sleep and headed back to the arena for day 2 – the elimination bracket. Loss and you are done. I really didn’t plan for this so just decided to take it one game at time. Also I was reminded of a conversation with my dad when I played baseball – “don’t be satisfied with just making the playoffs”.
Top 98 – A Plo for your Echo
I arrived with time to setup early and talk to Kelly Adams who was flying Sia, Vader, Echo. He was Top 4 at the 2016 GenCon Nationals and this year top 25 in Adapticon System Open. We traded Echo for Plo but the problem for him is Plo was 69 pts and Echo 70 pts. We jockeyed for position the rest of the time but neither of us could get all guns on each other for meaningful shots. It ended with 1-point win for me, tough loss for him.
Top 64 – Same 4 U-Wings, different story
Rune Printzlau (Top 8 of Copenhagen System Open) from Denmark puts down 4 U-Wings, but a different load out, and pilot selection than Kevin did in Swiss. I can say he was one of the nicest players all day. Pleasure to talk to and play against. This time, I didn’t get greedy – and as Rune put it – I bait and switched him pretty hard. I took his entire list off the table before time.
Top 32 – Four the Resistance!
Dominick DiCarlo (Top 4 at Glendale AZ System Open) was up next with Jess, Fat Finn, Greer, and Cova. Fortunately, I have time with Resistance and know very much how this all flies even if I haven’t flown this particular variant. Unfortunately for Dominick he pretty much gave me Greer on a platter. After that, I just hunted Finn, then Cova, and all that was left was Jess when it was all over. He certainly flew Cova better than I have but alas it wasn’t enough. You’ll note I’m listing cut numbers here but at the time I had NO idea where I was. I just wanted to keep playing games. It wasn’t until Walker with Echo Base shared with me the Challonge bracket I had even a clue what I had done.
Top 16 – The Ace Killer
My last match up was against Alex Farley (Top 4 Glendale System Open 2018) and the Torkil Mux Ace Killer list. Quite possibly the worse match up out of other possible 15 lists in the top 16 for me. Oh well, I figured at least I knew what it did. As turns out I didn’t know how it was flown and that was fatal bit of information. I also didn’t get my rock placements right which I use to break up such lists. I made a small misjudgment on a rock with Ric (which was recoverable), but it was a 2 bank in with Plo that really hurt me instead of doing a 1 bank. Obie got hurt more than I expected against un-modified dice but I still managed to get close enough to almost pull a Hail Mary that was 2 dice away from a win. Honestly, it wasn’t my best game of the day and Alex just flat out flew me. Congrats to him on going on to make top 4. This is a game that was on stream so you can go catch it on Gold Squadron Podcast if you want, I know I will as you can only learn from your mistakes!
A Dream Run
8 Wins & 3 losses and Top 16 out of 415 players. That is by far better than anything I had even dreamed of achieving. I got favorable match ups and had some luck. It was just an amazing time overall. I ended up with 50 prize wall tickets in the end so I got a ton cool stuff including Plo Templates (not pictured, they ran out & had to mail them), Top 16 Templates (only 15 others in the whole world) and ton of alt-art cards.
But really, I met a lot of great people, played against the best in the World in some amazing games, and had an absolute blast doing so. It truly is the people and the community that make this game great. I look forward to going back next year just to see everyone!
Thanks to everyone locally, however – Manhattan, McPherson, Hutchinson, Kansas City and Wichita as well as both the Village Geek locations. That includes my family who supports my hobby despite it taking time away from them. I’d also like to shout out to the trainers at Body First that also helped me physically last the 12+ hour days.
It wouldn’t be possible without every place I’ve played and everyone I’ve played against. I learned a lot over the years and it goes to show Kansas and small-town players can compete against the world’s best. Get out there, give it a shot and who knows you might just find yourself on steam fighting at the World Championship!