Back after a short break with a packed article! Last time I interviewed Josh Death, the second place player overall in the ITC, and this week I talked to the current number one and a former ITC champion Matt Root. In the last two weeks, a lot has gone on in the world of the ITC. With 4 Majors two weekends ago, including the ATC, and a GT a lot of movement was expected on a few of the leaderboards but not much materialized. The Necron leaderboard for example still has Chad Layton, Jessica Bowman, and Red Powell separated by only 13 points between all 3. Many of the races for faction have ratcheted up, but with a lot of the same names involved. I predicted the last few weeks that one of the more interesting things to watch will be Imperial Knights and their effect on things. According to the Best Coast Pairings App, without which this would be a near impossible article to write each week, Imperial Knights are now the most represented faction at ITC events. The surge in popularity has created a shift in the meta for sure and a change in the Imperial Knights leaderboard, more on that later.
The Evolving Meta
While Imperial Knights have grown in popularity so has the need to combat them. Players are beginning to take things in their lists to deal with more high wound, high toughness targets, and for many armies that means cutting down on their anti-infantry weapons. I proffered the theory that this could create a rise in the number of horde armies we see. However, as the ITC is moving towards chess clocks more and more to combat slow play and hold players accountable the viability of a horde, outside the hands of the best players, may not be feasible competitively. Only time will tell really. Another thing to think about going into this weekend, and for me, that means the Bay Area Open, is the ubiquitous Astra Militarum CP Battery Battalion. Although Imperial Knights may be the most popular primary faction right now the AM CP Battery is a prominent part of many Imperial based lists. A decent way to deal with this part of the meta is to have a way to snipe out characters. The Character that makes the AM CP Battery work is a lovely Company Commander with the Grand Strategist Warlord Trait and the Kurov’s Aquila Relic. If you have a decent way to snipe at characters than this guy is probably easy to take out. At the very least it’s something you should consider when building a list, just like you should consider how to deal with a Castellan or multiple Knights these days.
The top 10, as I said, seems to be fairly well solidified at this point. There is of course still the possibility for major shakeups, but as of now it just isn’t happening. Below are 4 of the most important factions so far this year. I left Aeldari, Drukhari, and Tau off so I can discuss them another time. These factions represent some great performances from players in the top 10 now and previously in the season, there are also a few changes here and there on these leaderboards.
The current number 3 Tyranid player Alex Macdougall was gracious enough to take some time and talk to me about his current run at the ITC and top Tyranid player this season.
Question 1: How long have you been playing 40k? How long have you been playing it competitively? I’ve been playing 17 years and started playing comp about 3 to 4 years in.
Question 2: What got you into the hobby originally? A friend of mine showed me his models and I was already hugely into sci-fi so it wasn’t a hard sell.
Question 3: What is your favorite part about playing 40k competitively? example: do you enjoy list theory, math hammer, the competition, the camaraderie, your team etc The best part of 40k is the puzzle solving. My army vs theirs. How does it stack up? If I feel I’m at a disadvantage how do I solve that?
Question 4: If you’re on a team, what role does your team play in your competitive 40k life? Is it a support mechanism, a sounding board, just a group of friends? etc. I play for a team that’s actually quite far from me but we still get together at tournaments pretty regularly. being at an event with a team is just better. You’re just more invested in it when you are watching your friends do well too.
Question 5: What is your take so far on the ITC and BCP now that it’s several seasons in? The ITC and BCP are critical to 40k success. If you want something to succeed at something there have to be goals. A ranking system gives the player something to shoot for. something concrete to see proof of good play or improvement.
Question 6: What do you attribute your success so far this season to the most? Playing calmly. you don’t need to pull off the Greatest Plays Ever. you just need to limit your mistakes and it’s easy to make mistakes when you’re nervous.
Question 7: How do you prepare for events, big and small? Do you have a routine or regimen? I play a decent amount but usually with a very casual group. I have one dedicated practice partner who is a very good player. I also use BCP to do as much research as possible.
Question 8: What faction do you play? Why? Tyranids and friends for this season but I have Eldar and friends too.
Matt Root Q&A
I also reached out to fellow LVO Head Judge and current number one player in the ITC Matt Root, who also graciously agreed to give me feedback to include for all of you!
Question 1: How long have you been playing 40k? How long have you been playing it competitively? Been playing since the dawn of time. Competitively since 2012 or so.
Question 2: What got you into the hobby originally? My roommate. He regrets it to this day.
Question 3: What is your favorite part about playing 40k competitively? example: do you enjoy list theory, math hammer, the competition, the camaraderie, your team etc Yes. All of the above. It’s all amazing. I love pulling defeat from the jaws of victory. I love crushing your opponents before me and hearing the lamentations of their women.
Question 4: If you’re on a team, what role does your team play in your competitive 40k life? Is it a support mechanism, a sounding board, just a group of friends? etc. We run lists by each other and shit talk constantly. Like, really hurtful stuff. Good for your ego!
Question 5: What is your take so far on the ITC and BCP now that it’s several seasons in? I love them both! I am happy they have taken the mantle of making the competitive scene real. I don’t always agree with ITC but I think they’ve been 90% a force for good.
Question 6: What do you attribute your success so far this season to the most? Being flexible. You need to adapt to change in the meta and be willing to sell your soul in some dark unspoken bargain to win it all.
Question 7: How do you prepare for events, big and small? Do you have a routine or regimen? I mostly just playtest with friends, usually in situations that are disadvantageous to me. I let my opponent go first, I make myself fail charges, I assume things will go wrong. It’s a good way to learn how to deal with a disadvantage!
Question 8: What faction do you play? Why? All of them. Orks are the best. WHERES MY CODEX
Question 9: What was your biggest challenge in winning Adepticon this year? Giving up all of my pride and self-worth to be the guy who ran 7 flyrants.
Question 10: When you won the ITC title in the 2016 season, how did you organize yourself to make a run at winning the title? Did you start out with that as your goal or did it develop over time? So, initially, it was kind of an accident. I just ended up in first by playing at tournaments normally. After that, I took it more seriously, started intentionally attending large events and practicing with my warcon. Before LVO, I practiced a ton of missions against lists that were real problems for me. Then I sacrificed a goat.
Question 11: What are your goals for this ITC season? As the current ITC leader do you feel extra pressure to try and win it again and become the first repeat ITC winner? I’d love to try and get 1st again after a break for a year, but we will see if I actually have what it takes. Right now the best part of being the leader is being annoying on forums about how baller I am. I’m milking that for all it is worth. Also, pooping on certain problem players at a tournament makes me happy.
Thank you to both Alex and Matt for letting me bother them with questions and thanks for your wonderful, not so much you Matt, answers to my questions! Stay tuned for next week’s article which will probably include a fair amount about the Bay Area Open as I am attending that one as a player!
Oh, and of course, I am taking Imperial Knights in my army. Because, duh. Let me know what you thought in the comments!
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