OK, brass tacks, as I've talked about this for a bit now.
I don't believe in national championships, superlatives, etc. in this hobby of ours. It's too heterogeneous on multiple levels, from list building to local skill ranges to mission formats by tournament to scoring by tournament, etc.
As such, you can't have a national championship that actually means anything. What you can do, however, is host a high quality, neutral site Invitational for the best performers from some of the bigger and/or better events country (and eventually world) wide, to at least give people a taste of some great players all going at it within a format that ensures all games are tough and well measured.
So what are a few things you can count on for the Invitational in terms of format, before I get to the "how do I attend?" and "what does it mean" and "why are you doing this" etc.
1) Well-versed and well-rehearsed referees at every table. Refereeing 40k is an important thing to get "right" if you're going to do it, but it accomplishes a few things that are very important ...
- Prevents almost all forms of cheating
- Prevents major rules arguments
- Prevents attitude bullying people into submission
3) Prizes. Our plan is cash prizes at this point, BIG cash prizes. Some people object to this as bringing out the "worst" in competitors, but here's the reason that isn't actually going to be as big a deal (and trust me a little - everyone complained sportsmanship would be a big deal at the Open when we divorced it completely from competitive score and ... it was one of the least dramatic tournaments I've seen, and others had seen by their testimony) ...
- Referees - Referees at tables enforcing legal movement, legal play, resolving and presiding over rules disputes, etc. basically nullify a TON of the "problems" that can be encountered in this regard
- Quality Qualification - The heads of the tournaments and leagues and such that are being given a few invitations each are being spoken to at length about the attendance of great PEOPLE, not just great competitors; everyone should be quite good at the game, must have a fully painted army, etc., but must also be a great sport; assholes will not be invited, nor tolerated at the event ... being a dick will be the quickest way to NOT win any cash
- Preventative Maintenance - We spoke via e-mail with every attendee of the open AT LENGTH, via a series of newsletters leading up to it. These belabored the importance of behavior and representing not just oneself, but one's hobby in an appropriate fashion; we also warned about how hawkishly we'd be monitoring things.
- In short, the Referees will solve it most; example - we had a person who scored lowest sports bludgeon several of his opponents into losses by cheating the timer, being a general dick, etc.; I don't think he does this on purpose, as much as subconsciously when he really wants to win; when he went up against his last opponent and we were aware of it by then, and stationed a judge just hanging out at the table all game. His behavior became that of a perfect gentleman. It works, seriously.
- Douches are douches, gentlemen are gentlemen, etc. - It's widely known people who are douchey act like douches even just to win pride, even to win their 4th game when they are 0-3 already, even to win a few plastic toy soldiers, and yes, even potentially to win a thousand dollars cash. Managing these issues, addressing them with format, judging approach, rules, etc., is how you fix it ... not ... giving up on your prizes. Fear is stupid, proactive problem resolution is awesome. Not going forward with an AWESOME prize idea because you're "afraid" of a jerk is ... well, come on now. That's not how you become a successful tournament. You preempt and proactively address problems, you don't shy away from them.
So, how do I get invited to the Invitational?
Well, there are two options here
- Perform well enough in the singles 40k events at ...
- NOVA Open 2010 (Yes, these have already been handed out)
- Adepticon 2011 (4 Invitations)
- WarGamesCon 2011 (4 Invitations)
- Battle for Salvation 2010 (2 Invitations)
- Bolter Beach 2011 (2 Invitations)
- Several other events still TBD, including at least one in California, probably one in Utah, and one or two more in New England and PA
- Find a way to legitimately earn an at-large invitation; I will hand out a few of these, based upon a wide number of factors (including but not limited to: reputation, noteworthy success across numerous events, rankingshq, etc.)
Next up, What does it mean?
Well, formally speaking, nothing. If all goes as planned, you will get to claim some bragging rights against a pretty talented field if you do well, and you'll win some really nice swag. We're not trying to claim "competitive national championship" status here; it's simply an invitational 5-round, 32-player tournament occurring during the NOVA Open 2011 Convention Weekend. The prizes and competition are your reason to come ... not any kind of claim of "bestest field of competitors evar!!!!111"
Finally, Why are you doing this?
This component is about bringing the tournament scene closer together, about giving cred to tournaments that put on a really great show and giving them a way to sorta prove that, about giving tournament organizers a little bit of bragging right shots when the people THEY send to the Invitational win it :) ... in short, again, about bringing us all a little closer together, and about adding a little pomp, pizazz and spectator-pleasing fanfare to our tournament scene. Every convention has its own unique flair and themes, and one of ours is getting some of the big name heavy hitters from around the 40k world together to duke it out; we got this rolling with our Whiskey Challenges last year, and getting it going again more with an Invitational is another way to go about it. I want all the tough top players out there to have a few ways to go about at least trying to really prove it, and the more we get all the tournaments buzzing together, sending players back and forth, and having little events where bragging rights can be gained helps get this all rolling even more. Besides, one of the claims everybody always has about any tournament is that regardless of the missions and scoring and format and yatta yatta, the winner(s) clubbed baby seals along the way. Here's a shot for anyone who comes to know right from the get go, not a single easy fight'll even luck its way into their path.
Well, or so we hope.