The European Team Championships (ETC for short) is personally the peak of my 40k year competitively. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it is essentially the Olympics for our beloved hobby where each nation assembles teams of their 8 best players and duke it out for the right to claim themselves as world champions. This was my 6th year attending, and since my time on the team USA has never even managed to make the podium. Until now. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, we’ve always seemed to get in our own way. However, with that said, we never gave up. As a team we’ve constantly grown and evolved, interchanging different players, army compositions, and even mentalities. It seems that finally we’ve found a formula that works for us.
If you’re interested in learning more about the ETC you can find out here.
So, enough back story, let’s deep dive into Team America’s ETC experience. At ETC your round 1 opponent is known weeks before the tournament, and lists are all public knowledge. We were set to play against France round one. France is historically one of the top teams, and last year they beat us by a singular battle point. A round is scored based on the composite battle score of all 8 players added together. A player can score between 0 and 20 points in his game, and a team needs 87 total points to win the round, so last year we lost to France 73-87, just one point from a draw.
Based on our preparation this year we all felt really good match up wise to France. As a team we ran countless theoretical practice pairings against France, with respect to the exact mission we knew we were playing them in. In nearly all of the scenarios we scored 90-100 points, so going in this was our round to lose.
During game day, our beloved Captain Vect… I mean Sean gave us all a much needed pep talk and we showed up do work. Based on our assumption we won pairings pretty well, so then it was just on our players to deliver. The round started off strong with me being the first to finish with 19 points, and Tony soon after with a full 20. However, not all was sunshine and rainbows for team USA. Gonyo’s game took a turn for the worst, when a Daemon Prince and a PBC decided to just become completely unkillable and ended up with 2 points, and Chester went 2nd in a game where first turn was huge, and then his game went all the way to turn 7 which dropped his score all the way down to a 1. In the other corner Rose finally finished against France’s Eldar player who won singles the day before with a perfect 100/100. Nick Rose scored 19 points for us this round! So we’re sitting there with 61 points and 3 games to go. Steve Pampreen missed an ETC FAQ ruling about how ruins work, and his projected win started to flip. Kurt’s game started out really badly because he was getting demolished in maelstroms early, but it started to turn around as he killed all of his opponent’s offense on turn 5. We needed his game to go late. Finally, Sean’s game was looking good, but he was likely going to run into issues with the clock.
Kurt managed pull out 8 points from his Nid match which brought us to 69. Things were not looking good for Pampreen, and he ended up getting a 0 unfortunately, which put all the emphasis onto Sean to score 18 points. Sean unfortunately, only managed 15, so we ended up in a draw. Everyone was disappointed with the draw, but at least it wasn’t a loss. Then the unthinkable happened! Somehow, it came to light that Pampreen miscalculated his score, and he actually earned a 3, putting us exactly at 87! I swear you could’ve heard our girlish screams back in America after we ended up getting our vengeance upon France by exactly one point!
Next round we were set to play Australia. They are always a super fun bunch, and a real treat to play. We hadn’t done nearly enough prep work for this and it showed a bit in our pairings. We made one during pairings which led to me and Gonyo flipping our matches, and in total probably costing the team about 13 points. Thankfully it didn’t matter too much.
This round was much less climactic than our last. We started out the gate with 3 huge wins, and Kurt’s game which we thought was going to be a 0 for us got flipped to an 18, because scarabs OP. He actually scored his 18 points with 5 models left, and none were vaults. Gonyo and I both ended up losing our matches, but that was too be expected due to our pairings snafu. We beat Australia 118-42, which shot us up into 5th.
|Gonyo- Custodes||Death Guard||0|
We were set to play against Poland in the morning. Poland is a team we’ve never beaten. Ever. They’ve won ETC multiple times, and after Germany (the other ETC super power) suffered two losses on day one, Poland was the team to beat. However, unlike France, this time we kept losing our practice pairings to them. Once game time finally came around, Captain Sean gave us the much needed, let’s just do this pep talk, and we all put our big boy pants on and buckled up. Due to, in my opinion, many many mistakes from the Polish team in pairings we were actually in a very favorable spot.
We got Gonyo into Knights which is the fastest one way ticket to 0-ville you can find, and we got Steve into Chaos Knights and Magnus, which he simply could not decide if he could take or not. Well Skark, one of the best players on the Polish team decided for him, and he walked away with another 0. Kurt Tony and Rose responded by tabling there 3 opponents for 20-0 on all of them. So out of 5 games, we’re sitting at 60 point, with 3 to go.
I was playing the best game of 40k of my life against 100 genestealers and 3 Flyrants in a progressive mission, and was on track to table him. On turn 5 he had 3 genestealers left, to my much more significant army. We had an entire crowd of Americans and Polish players gathered round to watch the finale. If it goes to 6, I score a 20 for tabling him, and if it ends on 5, I only score a 10 due to the mission. And up comes the 2. Looks like were not out of the woods yet. Sean made a horrible mistake on turn 1, and was never really able to recover unfortunately with a solid 0. We were at 70 points with just Chester’s game to go, and then the man, the myth, the legend, Brad Mother******* Chester pulls out the 17! We won by 1 point again!
|Chester- CSM||Dark Eldar||17|
After that we all got lunch, and we all tried to support those of us who got 0s, to help them bounce back. Our team morale and support for one another was the highest it’s ever been, and that was truly integral to our success. It’s of the utmost importance to pick up the players who dropped the ball in any given round, so we can move forward as a team and really push for the gold. We were really a cohesive team this year.
So, now we’re playing Belarus, in round 4. My game for this was streamed onto glasshammer gaming, and you can find it on twitch. This was another round where we completely outpaired/outlisted our opponents. All of us fought hard and didn’t give an inch. Sean redeemed himself with a 20 point tabling in 45 minutes, and Chester, me and tony followed close behind for 80 points out of the gate. With 4 games to go we were already at 80. Kurt Rose and Pampreen all floated in the 7, 8, 9 range, which were fantastic as far as losses go, and even Gonyo managed to win a game with 16!
That match launched us into second to play Russia in the morning.
Round 5 vs Russia, we paired fairly well, and ended up in a solid place. However, I made a critical miscalculation on turn 1, and put myself in a very deep hole where I was basically down an entire spear unit on turn 1 with nothing to show for it. From there on, I played like my life depended on it, and one of the best games of 40k I’ve ever had with Sergey from Russia. He was really a gentlemen, and one of the most precise players I’ve ever seen. in the end I just couldn’t come back quickly enough and ended up with a 5 point loss on turn 6. The rest of our team seemed to be doing well across the board though. Kurt and Gonyo both got 0’s against Tau and Knights respectively, but that’s very much to be expected. We then won the other 5 matches with 3 20’s an 18, and a 13 for a total round score of 96.
|Gonyo- Custodes||Chaos Knights||0|
Our team was so close, 5-0 was a place we’ve never even seen before. Not only that, but we were an entire match point ahead of Spain, who we were set to play in the finals. Meaning, we only needed to draw to win. We all had a team huddle, and then got down to business.
Against Spain, we paired very conservatively to minimize risk, which is very much a decision you can make when you’re in the driver’s seat going into the finals. However, things started rough. Rose, Chester, and Pampreen all got seized on, and in my game I straight lost the roll to go first which was huge in that match. Our wonderful coach Werner was freaking out about the round, and the rough spot we started in, but after a turn or 2 into the games it became apparent that our recovery was real, and the light at the end of the tunnel grew closer and closer with each minute. We took Spain to town finishing 116-44
And with that we won the ETC. Not only was this a momentous accomplishment for our team, but also for our country! I could not be more proud of my team, nor more happy about how we al worked together. We had ben preparing for this moment since last year’s ETC, and for some of us, we’ve been dreaming of it for years. I can’t thank our supporters enough for this, without their constant input, love, encouragement, we would have never come this far.