Welcome to this week’s blog AND post number 200!
Its’ actually quite unbelievable that I’ve written 200 of these now, spanning 4 years and posting almost every week.
Absolute insanity. If you’d have asked me when I started if I thought this is where things would be right now, I’d have laughed. In your face.
But here I am, writing blogs, being invited on podcasts, running a national team and hosting tournaments.
But there’s no time for reflection this week. Literally. It’s been pretty crazy and I’m REALLY low on time to get this out so let’s GOOOOOOOOOO!
The main bit…
After months and months of planning, promoting and organising the Welsh Open 2023, it finally happened!
Now, if you’ve read the blog lately or if you’d heard me guest on the Sith Taker Snapshots podcast last week then you’ll know that, having initially planned to not play in the tournament that I was going to be taking part.
Well, with a handful of drops on the morning that put us at 53 players. Now, the whole time we’ve been planning this tournament my primary goal has been for the most number of people possible to have the best time and so I took the decision to drop from the event so that we didn’t have any bye rounds straight off the bat.
And you know what? I’m glad I did.
Controversial, I know.
As much as I’d have loved to play many rounds of X-Wing and pit myself and my rag tag non- meta list against some of the best pilots in the UK, by the time we got to the middle of round 2 I know that there would have been issues.
I was handing out participation prizes round by round, keeping track of bounties, taking pictures, posting out updates and answering judge calls and arc checks. It wasn’t full throttle the whole time but if Mark had been doing it solo it would have been too much and I’d have been playing my games feeling guilty and stressed.
So, after those drops we now had 52 players ready to challenge to be the very first Welsh Open champion and get themselves a Worlds invite!. Not bad for our first one!
The main event was very hard fought and after 5 long rounds of dice rolling and dial setting, the Northeners definitely came out on top with 3 Steel City X-Wingers and 3 Sith Takers in the top 8 of swiss.
A few drops plus a top 16 cut meant that cut places went down to 20th position, getting father and son Dave and Seth Bryan into the cut!
Moving to day 2, the top cut brought some very tight results as players got knocked out with some pretty fine margins.
Eventually we got to the final with Dom Flannigan (of the Firecast Focus and 186th Squadron) went up against John ‘BL’ Brooksbank-Levery from York Garrison.
A close game would have been great for the viewers but John’s Barrage Rockets coupled with Saturation Salvo compounded Dom’s very average (at best!) dice and some savvy bomb dropping accelerated the result, giving Jojhn the victory, the trophy and the Worlds 2024 invite!
If you’d like to see the final standings then check out the Longshanks event page:
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!
We also ran a side event on day 2 for those who didn’t make it into cut with it’s own prize structure and trophy!
A few people had gone home after day 1 so we had an initial 15 players for the day 2 event but we allowed players from the first two rounds of cut to drop in if they wanted to play (although in order to keep the prizes as well spread out as possible, they came in with no bye wins).
After 4 rounds of general fun and merriment using Extended lists in places, we had a winner and another Northener with Tom Morris of Steel City X-Wing going 4-0 and taking the win and the trophy!
Again, if you’d like to see some info on the tournament then you can check out the Longshanks page here:
Apologies in advance if you do, there’s 12 test users in there as I worked out how to add cut players in later. It turns out you don’t need to use the test players by the way!
All in all, both days were really, REALLY good fun. For me, at least! I did get the general impression that most people were having a good time (bad dice aside, of course!) and many seemed very impressed with two things in particular, the venue and the prizes!
As for me, while it was a little disappointing for a brief moment not to be playing, it was 100% the right decision and actually, I hadn’t imagined that spending two days around but NOT playing X-Wing would be as enjoyable as it was. I really got a kick out of being part of setting up and running something for other people to enjoy and it turns out that I really love giving things away to people and seeing the joy it brings!
So, our first larger scale event is all done and dusted! And we think it went pretty well!
I want to say some MASSIVE thank you’s because there were many people involved in this event being what it was.
I want to thank Firecast Focus (and Phil Pond in particular for commentating solo most of the weekend!) for coming along and streaming the event. You were epic as always and having you in to stream really feels like it validates the event. I highly recommend heading to their Twitch channel and subscribing to support them!
I also need to shout out the Best Burnett Nikki for assisting Phil on the stream , handling the overlay and for being awesome in general. And of course I need to give a very special mention to Rosalie for being SO helpful while she was around on Sunday. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Huge thanks to Jon and Michaela from Cog O Two who not only made a good chunk of our prize support for the two events but hand delivered it, coming down to spend the Saturday with us. You guys are amazing!
Thanks to Vector Squadron Creative. Both Martyn and Mike contributed independently with design work (Mike the Predator alt arts and Martyn the event logos and dial covers AND brought along some very lovely dice trays!). You guys are both genuinely lovely, kind and talented!
I want to thank Firestorm Games for being excellent hosts, we had everything we needed and opening up early on both days made things so much easier for us in terms of organisation.
I want to give a special shout out to Dan Eicher. This epic human does all of the design work on my Patreon goodies and very kindly agreed to do the same for the Welsh Open. The response to the alt arts was amazing and You more than played your part in that. Thank you sir!
I need to give a very special thank you to the legendary Louis Leong too. The unofficial OP kits that he’s been producing for the last year or so have been powering our tournaments and this was no different. We had custom alt arts, dial covers, metal objective tokens and some of the new metal Mandalorian helmet tokens to give out as prizes and right at the last moment he sent on some additional official alt arts from Worlds as well!
Getting more local, I want to give a HUGE thank you to fellow Exile Alex Jensterle for making a beautiful stand for the trophy. It looked beautiful!
I also want to thank Paul Westwood, Steve Boulton and Chris Fear for their contributions leading up to and during the event.
Lastly I need to thank Mark and Josh Hall. Josh has 3D printed a huge amount of our prize support (the trophies, the Mando heads, dial covers and Grogus!), it’s been an epic task and he undertook it brilliantly.
And Mark. Our TO ‘The Manager’. He worked tirelessly in the background setting up and then running the event. He prompted and pushed me to get things done when I was slacking off (not that I didn’t have an excuse!), he kept us on track, kept conversations going with Firestorm and brought wisdom and experience when discussing all aspects of the event.
He ran the show extremely well on the day and when I was sequestered onto stream overlay duty on day 2 he proceeded to run the side event as well (with a little help!) without missing a beat or batting an eyelid.
Mark, you’re an absolute legend and the X-Wing community is blessed to have you. As am I.
Alright, that’s enough soppy nonsense for today I think! It’s probably about the right time to tell you that….
WE’RE DOING IT ALL AGAIN NEXT YEAR!
Yes, while sorting prizes in the store on Friday afternoon, Mark caught Andy (the organised play managed for Firestorm) and casually asked for a date for next year (despite the panic on my face!).
And so, in 2024 the next Welsh Open will be held on the 6th and 7th of July!
There’s a Facebook event page up already and once tickets go live I will be spamming it across all the platforms I can find. We had an absolute blast doing this and we can’t wait to do it again!
So I guess that’s it for post number 200. It’s been a bit different but still good. I hope. You be the judge!
I think I will (finally!) be taking that week off next week so I’ll see you back here in two weeks time after I’ve had some more sleep and unpacked some boxes from moving house, ok? Ok, cool.
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