It’s another highlight of the Calendar year. I love this event. A year ago I came here with Boba Fett and Kath Scarlet and made it to number 48 out of 350, it’s where I met Rasta for the first time and watched his emotional win last year, still one of those moments that live with you. I can go on and on about the memories this event gave me, and a trip down memory lane is fun, but we’re not here for the memories. This year there are 470+ of us. Flight on on Saturay and Flight Two and this is one of the toughest events anywhere in the world.
I am not expecting to do as well as I did last year. I mean, the meta has moved on and while the Firespray was considered “not great” last year, it’s probably even a little worse of this year, but I don’t care. Boba, Guri and I have come to have some fun, see some friends and enjoy one of the most prestigious events in the calendar. Knowing that 2.0 is coming had totally changed how I see the game at the moment. All the things I don’t enjoy playing against are going to be around and at the top tables, I could take a list designed to compete at the highest levels but knowing that I’ll never have to see a TLT again in 3 months time has just made me think “why wait”.
I’m not going to dwell on my games at all, save to mention my game with Matt Cook who was flying Dash Poe, we met in hyperspace and played an incredible match. Boba got PS0 and died, Dash got PS0 and died and then Poe and Guri spent the last 45 minutes trying to kill each other. I lost by 2 MoV but have never enjoyed losing a game quite as much!
I only played 7 games this weekend, went a total of 2-5, I spent most of my days watching my friends play games and enjoying hanging out with people.
A few weeks back Ian Courtney wrote a compelling blog which touched on why squadrons are so cool to be a part of, have a read of that, I think this week may well touch on several things he mentions.
The X-Wing Community is something that I have talked about a lot, we all know it’s something a bit special, and we are lucky to have it. I go to a fair few events, more than most I’ll wager, since I started writing 15 months ago I have entered 85 tournaments, travelled to a lot of places and met a lot of people. It’s awesome.
Cause of work I had been in Birmingham since Wednesday so dropped in on Friday to say hello to the guys flying, the Warlords were there in force, and as most people know I have a (not so secret) love affair with them as a team. I count it a genuine honour to count Rasta, Sim, Kev Bellamy, Ash Brookes, Steve Theobald and Ben Cox (among others) as genuine friends. I love their ethos and their ridiculous skill level, many hugs happened. I could list all the people I saw and hugged but there were 250 and I knew most of them!
I do have to give a special note to Richard Greenaway and more importantly his sons Simon and Tim. This family is brilliant, they are regulars at events across a lot of the UK and if you pair into them I recommend not looking across the table and thinking that you’re going to feel bad if you beat a child, firstly: they are very good at the game so may well beat you, but secondly they carry themselves with incredible maturity which does them no end of credit. As I greeted Richard I had this thrust into my hands which put a huge smile on my face. Richard nows just how much I love Battlestar Galactica and Vipers.
My next amazing greeting was from Rick Porsius, one of the Dutch guys to make it over for the event. Rick is lovely, he is so funny, so good at X-Wing and unbelievable generous. When I posted the picture of my Goldie Award surrounded by Boba’s he sent me a message saying “you’re missing one”. He gave me one of the two he has been able to get hold of with a huge smile on his face, how could I not be somewhat overwhelmed by receiving such a rare card.
But my day wasn’t done there. As has become a bit of a thing at major events we like to give each other things when we play games, for Euros and Nationals the 186th have had some 2.0 R1 templates made Cog’O’Two. I offered to get these painted up for the event and the rest of the guys in the squadron, led in this instance by Pete Wood, clubbed together to get me this as a thank you for getting them done:
The three best pieces of swag I have ever got at a tournament and I didn’t even play on Friday. This community is awesome.
I played on the Saturday, I didn’t go into the event expecting to do well, and I didn’t do very well, but I just didn’t care. So much was going on, so many great games to watch being played by top players I was happy just watching.
A truly emotive moment came when Alex Watkins was pulled into the middle of the gaming area. I don’t think it is overstating it to say the reason we have a European community IS because of this man, and he is moving onto another role. We are all happy to see his career progressing, but all gutted to see him go. I have made friends all over Europe because of his hard work. He has overseen all of our System Opens, both our European Championships and done it for other game systems too. The standing ovation he received from the room was but a gesture of the gratitude that the community owes him. I was emotional, Alex said he barely held it together.
Thank you Alex for everything you have done for us.
I also got to meet games designer Alex Davy, which was a total pleasure, Alex was running games of 2.0 and chatting to us, the fans of the game happily sharing things that we are all going to be very excited about in a few months time. Apparently Boba Guri is going to be quite good, and so is Boba Fenn. He told me I may need to look for other things to fly if I want to consider myself an X-wing hipster come September. I like to think I’ve earned to right to fly these ships when they’re actually really competitive!
Whilst I didn’t do well, the 186th had a great day, between Friday and Saturday we were able to put 11 members into day two, that’s basically half of the active membership of the team qualifying for the cut in the second biggest tournament of all time, we were pretty pleased with that. We went out for a meal on Saturday night as a group, bringing a few friends with us and the atmosphere was fantastic. As the pairings for the cut of death came up the conversation was all about who was playing against what.
Sunday was the cut, and the tension of going straight to a 110 man knock out was crazy. After two rounds there were only a couple of 186th left and it was looking a bit grim for the team. The euphoria of having had so many members in turned into a bit of worry. But when Ben Lee is the man you’re pinning your hopes on, you know they’re in good hands. Ben had to play some amazing people and brilliant games to get there.
His game game against Adam Stainton was one of the most intense experiences I have ever seen. Adam had Nym left on 4 health and Ben had the Inquisitor on 3. Ben had a target locked shot on Nym roll triple blanks into triple blanks which meant time was running out for him. Adams nym flying was superb and as time was called on the game most of the on-looking crowd felt that Adam was going to win it. But Ben didn’t give up.
On the final engagement nym lanched his last harpoons at Ben, three of them hitting. The inquisitor took 2 damage, Ben saving his focus because there would be no other turn coming, being alive is all that mattered. Then Ben returned fire, focus, blank, blank. Target lock. Focus, hit, crit. Nym failed to evade. 4 hull, 3 damage cards and only a major explosion or a double damage could give him the win. Adam incredibly sportingly played his part in the drama dealing out the two damage cards and then slowly flipping the third over for the crit, which was a double damage. The most unbelievable ending to a game I have ever seen.
In his top 8 match Ben Lee would go on to face my good friend Simran Pone. A few months ago Sim was a bit down on the game, but as I have said before and will say again, this guys is one of the best, and totally deserved to be sitting in the top 8 at Euros. A mirror match between the palp aces. Ben will be the first to admit that Sim’s advice over the last few months has helped him get better with the list and the game between the two was brilliant. I was gutted that Sim lost it, I love that guy so much, but I was also delighted Ben won.
Meanwhile in Hyperspace Alex Birt of the 186th Podcast was undefeated, and about to start playing against Simeon Dellapina to try and stay undefeated and win a ticket to Coruscant, again two players where I wanted both to win.
Into the semi-Final and Ben had to face THE Jack Mooney flying Ghost Fenn. Firstly Ben couldn’t hurt Fenn at all while the ghost tore the Lambda to shreds. Then Quickdraw took 6 volleys of TLT fire without taking any damage at all. It was just bizarre to watch. With the Inquisitor and Quickdraw on the table the ghost’s days were numbered, but what a match up up. Zeb vs those two was only ever going to end one way.
Jack as ever was an incredible sport and showed why he is one of the worlds very best X-Wing players.
As this game finished the 186th chat had this photo flash up in it:
Alex had gone undefeated in hyperspace, finished top by 108 MoV and won his spot at Coruscant!
In the final Ben was facing Dutchman, Wouter Ouwehand, the only undefeated player in the tournament, running RAClo and Quickdraw. Blocking was a huge part of the game and Kylo never got to show anyone the darkside. Ben’s Quickdraw scraped through while Wouter’s didn’t and the Decimator just can’t take on three ships single handed.
After painful defeats at worlds and coming so close so often, one of the nicest men in the world won his first major title!
This game is about more than winning, more than beating your opponent. It’s about more than having great dice, or terrible crits at the wrong time. I played 7 games out of a possible 14 and only won 2, yet this was probably the best X-Wing weekend I can remember. The bonds with the guys in the 186th, the friendships I have been lucky enough to gain with people all over the world through this game, and getting to see a load of them over the weekend made Euros the greatest event I have ever been to. We are lucky.
I’m going to put the 67% target on hold for a few months, that can kick off again when 2.0 lands. (it’s currently at 59% by the way) because I’m not here to compete at the top tables for a while, I want to have some fun, fly things that I want to try out and hopefully never see a TLT or Miranda against me ever again!
101 days until 2.0
Next Time: I DON’T WIN ANYTHING (again)
If you want to find tournaments to play in then head over to the 186th Tournament Calendar and see what’s going on.
thank you to Jesper Hills for a bunch of these photos!