Written by CLAUS STAAL
We did an extensive tournament report from UK Nationals 2018, and while I was kind of preparing for the same kind of report from the inaugural UK Grand Championship 2019, it feels as if information has been pretty scarce from the tournament. At least that's been my perception. Which is a bit weird considering that the UK Grand Championship 2019 is likely to be one of the largest Grand Championships on European soil this year (even if it's not continental Europe)! I guess, the UK has sort of made a point of this the last couple of years ... alright ... enough.
If FFG Organized Play were your only source of information regarding the Grand Championship, you'd be perfectly excused if you thought it never happened. There hasn't been a single post regarding the event this weekend. Not a single photo. Not even of the winner. NOTHING! Just check out their FB-Page here. I do know the name of the winner of the Costume Contest at the L5R Grand Kotei though.
This tournament report is also likely to be the last in the current meta as we are expecting the imminent arrival of a new holocron, which means that it'll fairly soon be a historical document. I guess most Destiny players will be believe the world to be a better place as soon as that happens though.
All the top16 decks are listed at the end of the article, but you should stick around for the other parts as well ... I've tried to make it relatively short and to the point (well ... you guys know me).
1. RINSE, REPEAT, RINSE, REPEAT ...
I'm quite confident that the UK Grand Championship will not be the largest Grand Championship in Europe this year (I'm expecting the Spanish Grand Championship to be so), but funnily enough, the attendance in 2019 is EXACTLY the same as last year!! 102 PLAYERS showed up for the event, and while that's actually a bit disappointing seeing how Destiny events are generally growing across Europe, it's nonetheless ok'ish amid rumours that a number of players didn't attend due to dissatisfaction with the meta, prizes, etc. Including a number of the top players from last year.
The number of attendees weren't the only repeat from the UK Nationals 2018 though ... take a close look at the final standings from last year and then compare with this year. Both have been organised into a Challonge bracket (the number indicating their Swiss standing).
THAT'S RIGHT ... Greg Pike fought his way through 8 Swiss Rounds on Day 1 and four Top Cut rounds on Day 2 to be crowned Grand Champion retaining his title from last year! That's impressive to say the least, and the feat of doing back-to-back Grand Championships (which used to be National Championships) has only been managed once before by Australian National Champion Blake Moody!
CONGRATS to Greg Pike! And also a huge congrats to Sarah Evans for finishing runner-up! Mind you that Sarah also managed a top4 finish at the European Championship a year ago and has had strong finishes ever since (including a Regional Championship)! I'm certain, if she manages the trip, that she'll be a force to be reckoned with at Worlds 2019.
(Photo credit: Simon Willis)
It is also interesting that Greg Pike, both years, before being crowned Champion had to fight his way to the top from the bottom half of the top cut! Being top of Swiss is surely a curse!
2. THE STREAM ...
If it at all had been possible for me to join the UK Grand Championship I would have and it would most likely have been to run the stream from the event, but unfortunately life got in the way ...Thanks to Paul Hardman,the organiser of the charity event The Cantina Royale, a stream was still provided, which was recast on Twitch by our friends from The Hyperloops for the swiss rounds on day 1, and run and commented by our trusty YOUR Destiny team member Simon Willis aka Sith Holocron on his YouTube Channel for the top cut!
May I just add that using transparent tokens for a stream is AWFUL ...
3. SOME NUMBERS ...
While heroes are by no means dead in the meta, they are conversely not doing particularly well. Although, I'm still waiting for the exact numbers from the event, I'm assuming that the total representation of Hero/Villain decks were not far off the 50/50 mark, maybe 40/60, but for the top cut (top 16) the representation was:
For those numbers to be representative of the entire field, it would have to have been 80% villain, which is unlikely even with the current state of the meta ... but then again, these numbers could be indicative of a number of factors, but heroes really do seem to need some love. 2 of the 3 hero decks represented in the top cut were mill decks, which also currently seems to be the strongest archetype for heroes.It's also curious how the top16 character teams have leaned heavily towards 2wide as opposed to 3wide, which is generally considered stronger. I assume many players expected a mill heavy meta - to combat 3wide support based decks - which should put 2wide decks in a fairly strong position. Many, it would seem, have subscribed to an aggro platform. ePhasma/Sentinel probably the clearest symptom of this.
Voices have been crying out for the imminent nerfing of Snoke, and while I agree with the general sentiment that he's quite limiting for any future deck building, we might want to take a look at the two naughty henchmen: Watto and Wat Tambor. Watto, in particular, seems to be the go-to guy for any deck relying on a strong first round ramp to get the engine started. Now, it might be worth remembering that Watto AND Snoke both were represented in two of the Top 4 decks at the event! Might be somewhat premature to put the discussion on Snoke to rest (even if the meta - at glance - does look fairly diversified).
4. THE UNHOLY TRINITY+
We do live in a time of heavy supports though and few are as strong and hard hitting as THE UNHOLY TRINITY! And usually they are accompanied by the Fickle Mercenaries, at least as long as the deck includes Entourage. In the Top 16 decks the best supports in the game were represented as follows (at least 1 copy in the deck):
60% of the decks included the indomitable Vader's Fist and looking at villain decks isolated, which are the only decks that can run Vader's Fist and Megablaster Troopers (apart from Marauder decks), a whopping 75% included Vader's Fist and 66% brought Megablaster Troopers to the party. The numbers in [bracket] indicate how many copies were included across the Top 16 decks. It really does feel like both the Fist and Megablasters are no-brainer choices for most villain players.
5. THE SURPRISES ...
There were a few surprises amongst the Top 16 decks, and although there's always room for the odd deck out, I still think it's worth mentioning that this fine gentleman did show up amongst the final 16 decks and maybe even more impressively managed to go 7-1 in swiss and end up 3rd seed. Congrats to Iain Gardiner for that great run and making Darth Vader a Terror To Behold once more!
It'd also be remiss not to mention Mark Lockett's, one of the ardent YOUR Destiny patrons, fine run with Iden Versio. It's not too often we get to see that sassy imperial officer at the top tables.
One notable absentee from the top16 decks was the eMace/eSatine deck, popularised by the Destiny Council, and a deck that has generally done well in the current meta and also seems to be fairly popular (again, I'm stating this without actually having all the numbers for the event). This might be more based on my gut feeling and not really supported by tournament results though. The stock list looks something like this:
I guess the biggest surprise was probably Carl Harrison's amazing 8-0 run, topping the swiss standings, with eSnoke/eTarkin. I even saw a few people on Discord joking about the crazy European meta. May I just remind you that attendance at European Destiny events are at the monent eclipsing that of their US counterparts.
The deck had popped up as a contender at the Galactic Qualifier in Atlanta a week earlier, managing 15-3 over the course of two Standard events and two Standard Escape Pods, and we published the deck analysis just a few days prior to the Grand Championship. To see it doing so exceedingly well at the UK Grand Championship still took me by surprise.
6. TOP 16 DECK LISTS:
(Photo Credit: Nikoletta Strong)
The decks are only listed in the round in which they were eliminated from the tournament and in descending order from the standings after Day 1.
7. TOP8 DECK
8. TOP4 DECKS:
10. GRAND CHAMPION:
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