Who's Who: ETC Wild Card Predictions

(Click on images for larger versions of charts.)

With the season approaching its end, all WAAC eyes turn to the ETC selection process. This year's captain faces the prospect of choosing four players from the tournament scene to join the three automatic qualifiers. As noted in our ETC review last summer, in-tournament pairings, overall list choices and player skill are the three key elements of a strong ETC performance. We cannot yet shed light on the first two factors but I think we can examine the latter. Can we identity the strongest contenders for wildcard slots, when considering only their results in the run-up to selection?

Before I continue, a disclaimer, there's always a danger when you comment on a process that is still underway. I should state that I'm not involved in team selection for the 40k ETC team in any way, this post is merely an off-shoot of all my previous posts on documenting actual (as opposed to rumoured) trends in the tournament scene. The initial two charts are drawn solely from the fully ranking 1750/1850 point, ETC style tournaments in this season. I have not included results from the last season as I believe that we're better served looking at recent form. I've excluded BannerCon from the initial charts, simply due to the small number of attendees. However, both Bannercon and all the Highlander style tournaments are covered in the charts in the second half of the post. The actual analysis excludes Northern Irish players but they have been included in the charts if anyone is curious to see the full picture.
We'll be starting with the first tournament of the 2011 qualification period, Q-Con and the charts are competely up to date. As of the time of writing, Itzacon and Retcon are the only remaining large tournaments. We could see some late changes to the following.

Top Threes

When we look at the number of top three finishes achieved this year, there is a single player who is, without question, the strongest performing player in Ireland. This is Paul Quigley with six trips to the podium in ETC-style events. Richard Flood and Alec Cornelius follow with four high placings apiece. These players look likely to take the automatic qualifying spots. With almost half of all 2012 podium spots held by this elite group, the rest of us are clearly well behind.

Our actul interest lies further down. We must look to the remaining top table players to see who's likely to make the team. Jan Karnowski, Philip Johnston and Jannik Rottgen are the other three best performing players on the tournament scene. Two of these players are ineligible for the Irish team (one has played for the Northern Irish team, one has played for the German team) but Phil is eligible and in a strong position.

When Team Northern Ireland-declared players and the captain, Mike Tangney, are stripped out, we are left with Dan Ahern, Brian McKenzie, Philip Johnston, Tristram Hills and Peter Scott as the only other players to finish in the top three in an ETC tournament this year. I find the notion of these five players competing four open slots rather appealing. But how to separate them?

Top Fives

When we widen the net to include all top 5 finishes, the same players continue to lead the table but we get some additional chasers and some division within the initial chasing six. The captain Mike, Brian, Dan and Philip all slip a little ahead, with Phil maintaining his lead over the others. Tristram and Peter fall a bit behind.

Widening the net also introduces Ivan Sheehan, Jay McKeown, Darren Kerwick, Brian Leonard and Eoin O'Mahony to the list of potential inductees, as all have have turned in at least one top table performances during the season but have not finished in the top three.

Other Top Threes

Now, some of you will be muttering that you've done rather well in other tournaments, so if I include BannerCon and the Highlander tournaments, do we get more contenders? Yes, we do. Admittedly, it's of wildly varying quality with Encore winner, Sam Santijirakun, being forced to line up alongside Warpcon/Gaelcon not-winner, Joseph Cullen. Joining them are Dave Coleman, Luke Osborne, Mervyn Murphy, Ulick O'Sullivan, Caolan Gibbons, Gary Griffith and Jason Clark.

Other Top Fives 

If we stretch our net to breaking point and include all top five finishers from every tournament regardless of format or numbers, Merlin Goss, Donal Carroll and Paul O'Donoghue slip into the tables as contenders.

We see that the pool of available talent could vary from a high-performing but severely limited pool of five players to a more open pool of twenty-three players, all of whom can point to some form of tournament success.

Alphabetical Grading System
There's a distinct pecking order appearing and I've tried to document it below. The players are listed in no particular order within their grades. Northern players are, again, cruelly excluded. I've also stripped out Brian, Joe and Ulick who have defected to the Irish Flames of War team.

Grade A- Almost Dead-Cert Qualified
Mike Tangney (Auto-qualifies,otherwise would have been Grade B)
Richard Flood
Paul Quigley
Alec Cornelius

We see that the three best players have, barring a major upset, secured their places alongside the captain. This isn't really a surprise and bodes well for the team. The fact that the auto-qualifying captain would most likely have grabbed a wildcard slot regardless is also good news. It's likely that we'll see Grey Knights, Necrons, Dark Eldar, Eldar/Tyranids come from here.

Grade B- Very Probable Wildcards
Dan Ahern
Philip Johnston

There are two players who are close behind the auto-qualifiers, omitting either of these would be difficult to justify, as things stand. Phil, certainly, would grab the Space Wolves slot and Dan has a strong track record with a range of codexes.

Grade C- Strong Contenders
Tristram Hills
Peter Scott

There are also two stragglers who fall only slightly behind the six mentioned above, it's probable that one will make the team. The armies fit well with both Imperial Guard and Chaos being unlocked for the overall team.

Grade D- Also in the Running
Eoin O'Mahony
Ivan Sheehan
Brian Leonard
Jay McKeown
Darran Kerwick

There's an additional group of five players whose performances haven't been to the same standard but have had some success in ETC style tournaments. If some of the above are passed over, we might see these players recruited to provide specific builds/codexes. The issue for most of these players is that their codex of choice is likely to have been claimed by someone higher in the pecking order. Jay's Grey Knights and Ivan's Guard, I suspect, would appear to be likely victims.

Grade E- The Herd of Hopefuls
Dave Coleman
Luke Osborne
Ralph Risk
Mervyn Murphy
Caolan Gibbons
Gary Griffith
Sam Santijirakun
Colin Murray

When we stretch the criteria further, there are an additional eight players with tournament success outside the ETC format. They may not be able to point to any top five finishes within the format but there are other factors at play in team selection. It may prove that a uncommon build is needed and someone within this group is suited to the role. From reports on the Highlander format, that would be something involving Stormravens.

Grade F- Chasing down the Pack
Merlin Goss
Paul O'Donoghue
Donal Carroll

And a further three with smaller successes. I'd be very surprised if the wildcards came from this far down but if a Daemons player is called for, it is possible that Merlin is called on. The rest of us have nothing to do but reflect on our failings and try for a few top level finishes next year.

Just for the sake of giving ye a chance to call me on it later (and because the title of the post demands it), I'll attempt some predictions. I'm betting that three of the wildcards will be Dan, Peter and Phil. I suspect that Dan might be handed the Guard list, which he has experience with. That bounces Tristram out of the race and leaves the last slot free. At a wild guess, Eoin with a Highlander FunBus-inspired Blood Angels list.

EDIT: I'm informed that Luke Osborne is captaining the South African team and that Jannik has declared for the Irish team. If so, then I'd predict that he'd certainly grab the fourth wildcard slot.

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