Organising and planning
In the words of the legendary Murray Walker, it was Go, Go, Go! on the first Regional World Championship of the 2023 season, right here in sunny Birmingham, England. Despite the strong urge to play to defend my title after coming first at the same championship last year, I was aware that this was the first regional event in the UK since LGT back in October. Although LGT had been successful overall, it had left an unpleasant taste in the UK Legion community’s mouths after the backlash of “terrain-gate.” Therefore, I decided to forgo playing and instead offered to TO the event instead on behalf of Organized Play Events.
The pressure was on to run this event as successfully as possible. My first thing to address was the matter of terrain. I’ve always prided myself on ensuring I can have the best possible tables to play on, both thematically and on playability. The terrain had actually been sorted by OPE from the same suppliers of LGT which felt like it could be controversial based on the aforementioned issue. However, I had used this terrain before at my own event, MK:GT and it is more than sufficient to cover a 64-player event. It just takes a lot more creativity to make the layouts fit how the game plays.
The only real issue I have with this terrain is that it isn’t specifically designed for Legion and therefore lacks anything recognisable about Star Wars in it. This is luckily where my 10 tables came in which I had brought with me. I’ve taken time to ensure all of mine are themed after a planet or place in the Star Wars universe and include instantly recognisable. iconic items such as a crashed AT-AT, turbo laser turrets, a couple of banthas, or the tree platforms of Endor (patiently waiting for the Ewoks to arrive!). I also had some extra I could spread across some of the other tables if required.
With terrain sorted the next thing to sort was format. Last year’s event was four rounds on day one then top eight cut for day two with a side event. My personal experience from last year and most of the community’s complaint with this format was the four games in a single day. There was also the need to pay for accommodation without knowing if you’re going to attend day two (especially as accommodation is highly in demand due to the Expo taking place) and many people not caring for the side event since it contains no promos or prizes.
I decided to go with a straight 6 round swiss event. If we sold all 64 players, we would have a clear undefeated player. If we sold anything between 32 and 64 we wouldn’t need the sixth round but would still play it so the possibility of having our winner as a 5-1 keeps things exciting and not out of the running if you lose a single game.
We managed to push the event and fall one space short of a complete sell out! With 63 tickets sold we had 60 lists submitted and 60 players turn up for day one. The breakdown for factions is as follows.
There had been rumblings of a late points update due in the week prior to this event (which eventually was postponed) so it was no surprise that Empire was the most represented fraction in the end. So with no points change and no new releases since Worlds we saw pretty much the same Meta but the top 8 lists where not the same at all!
We also had a great representation with players coming from all over England, Scotland, Netherlands, Poland and Germany.
8th Józef Kula
Józef’s list is very similar to the Worlds winning list. Józef had decided to Bossk instead of Boba leaning even more into the range four gunline. I like the single Shoretrooper unit with recon to set up the gunline while the other two have offensive push so I imagine on turn one or two where they can move and shoot at range three and have potentially two aims and with the six black and 2 white dice can lead to a nice alpha strike, leaving a model or two alive and ready for one of the two bounty hunters to finish them off. Józef eventually finished with a score of 4-2 also managing to take out the infamous Dave Grant in round one! With his only two losses coming in the final two rounds, Józef should be proud of his result from the weekend.
7th Lee Macken
Lee was in one of the best positions all weekend. A few weeks prior he had won 7th City store championship and had his worlds invite already! Did that stop him for trying to now win some flights and hotels? Absolutely not! He could have gone for a casual or random list and try show off his skills with off meta, but instead, he continued to bring Blizzard Force. He brought his A-game too, with his only loss in round two to Johannes from Germany who is regarded as one of the best in Europe. With this being Lee’s first two-day event, he has shown he is keen to try his next one!
6th Oliver ‘CBT3’ Dier
Olly decided to bring his version of Blizzard Force with Commander Vader. Having made no changes since coming 5th at Worlds, he’s been hoping to win his invite for the next year’s World at an event soon. He fell just a little short but proved that he can submarine and take the easy route to the top eight after losing his first game! Olly was one of six Team UK players, along with Dave Grant and Lyla who all lost their first game which took us all a little by suprise! Maybe by the next Regional enough of the top players will have an invite and Olly can earn his by submarining next time.
5th Dennis Jenkel
With CIS appearing to be not as strong as previously been, Dennis seemed to take that personally and took it as a challenge to prove everyone else wrong. Double bounty is normally seen with Empire but I like this list. Having Bossk as a good long range pierce attack with the promise of many crits with Lying In Wait is a good counter against Dark Troopers. Cad Bane has lots of good tricks and can claim a bounty easily. The MagnaGuards are a good melee counter against a Jedi list while also offering a good range two firepower. Overall this is a really flexible and solid list, and it was in the hands of such a good player, It was disappointing to see him just fall short of earning his Worlds invite, especially with knocking the people’s champion out in round one! His only lost was to the fourth place finisher.
4th Artur “Mad Bull” Szyndler
Arturs list is a pure hero hammer list. Having four heroes and a choice of 13 command cards without even considering the six generics he could also take! This can leave your opponent guessing while also being able to catch them by surprise. What I found interesting while watching Artur’s games over the weekend and with speaking with other people about his list was that on paper when you look at the match ups he faced, he definitely didn’t seem the stronger of his opponents. Well, he sure proved us wrong! His first two games where against two melee focused lists including a Vader, Palp double LAAT list. Round three was against an invasion force while game four was against Dennis. His game five was against Józef and his final game was against Finn, taking Rebels to the final where you can watch it being played on stream (https://twitch.tv/thatsnomoonpodcast). I think all of this is a good credit to Artur’s skill who also made top 16 at Worlds 2023 and now has a ticket to Worlds 2024!
3rd Michał Kościelak
Michal was one of the few double Dark trooper lists in attendance. He had chosen to drop the Frag Launcher in exchange for giving each of his corps troop units a heavy. Not content just giving a HH-12 to any Storm or Shore Troopers, Michal decided to take three units of Death troopers all with HH-12 and the config. With this being imperial remnant the Death Troopers had an aim at the start of the turn and at range four, fire seven black with Impact 3 and suppressive. The free aim also helped with the fact that they have Precise 2 as well, leaving the second action for the unit to just be a recover action. This whole list is a pure gunline with no melee counter. Michal beat Blizzard Force and other match ups which I think on paper would have been at a disadvantage but he played it very well over the weekend and being the cause of Olly Dier’s loss in round one. His only loss all weekend was to a fellow teammate from Poland running Kallus, IG-88 and triple Dewback.
2nd Johannes J-I
Johannes is known as one of the best players in Europe and rightly so. His only loss all weekend was to the winner, but more importantly he did this with Clones. This is a solid Anakin clone gunline with triple BARCs all with RPS. I really like this meta decision; he has a lot of impact to deal with Dark Troopers along with three speeder units so if he has to play Bombing Run he can still do the mission with ease and the red saves makes the BARCs a little bit tankier than an empire speeder bike unit.
1st Finn P
After getting knocked out of Worlds in the top 16, Finn did not come to play around for this event and brought Blizzard Force all the way from Germany. He came with a mission to put Team UK back in its place and earn his ticket for next year. Unfortunately for him, he only had one opportunity to play (and beat) one of Team UK on-route to the top spot. After every game, each of his opponents told me how efficient and smooth he played his list whilst also being a wonderfully friendly opponent. His list is nothing we have not seen before – and efficient Blizzard Force with Operative Vader – but he plays a blinding game with it!
Best Painting Prizes
The best-painted model was chosen by AMG staff and was won by Chris Smith. Chris also won the best-painted unit as well whilst Justin Read picked up best-painted vehicle.
The best-painted army was left open as a community vote. In the end, the army that had the most votes was definitely the community clubbing together to have a laugh as the winner’s army is frequently called out as not a great paint job (all in jest!). The owner of said army definitely had the last laugh though as he walked away with the award! It’s definitely also a lesson in what happens when you open things up for a public vote (see: Boaty McBoatFace). However, we did give out a prize to the second best voted painted army for recognition of being the “true” best-painted army.
I think overall, our first European World Open Qualifier was successful and went off without any issues. All players had six great games of Legion and there was next to no negative feedback. It was great to take the opportunity to socialise with other players from across Europe going drinks and dinner together after day one which is always one of my favourite things about two days events. As mentioned at the top of the article, the points update was postponed until after this event and I think that if that wasn’t the case then I don’t think Blizzard Force would of been the top list. Having new points drop so close to such a big event would have seen people bring new and random things but some tried and tested lists like Johannes’ Anakin BARCs would still have shown up. I’m sure the players who did manage to finish in the top eight would also have the skills to have done it with other lists.