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Jack Armstrong

England Team Selection Criteria / Debate

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Morning all,

There has been lots of chat on twitter over the last few days about the ETC selection process, most of it positive and constructive but as always on Twitter it’s really hard to get points across effectively.

As a preface, most of you who know me know that I’m competitive and my over riding goal of attending 5 previous ETC’s is winning the event and I would do anything I could to try and help the team achieve this.  With that in mind I have always wanted the best ‘team’ to be selected.  As I have been out with these people on 2-3 trips a year as well as numerous planning sessions they have all become my good friends, but it’s because they were selected not why.

With AoS we have a new dawn for the ETC and I’m very happy to listen to any proposals for how we can make the processes more transparent and get a better team – as that means we are more likely to win which would make me happy.

A bit of history.  England have taken a team to the 7/8/9th Ed for the 10 years this year and it got to quite an established process with a formal charter and application, etc.  Last year there was the first AoS ETC which no one from the community was interested in attending.  This year it was open again and Tom M volunteered to restart the process for AoS and to my knowledge has used lots of the precedents set by the previous fantasy days ETC selection and charter. 

Tom posted on TGA and lots of social media about the team and set out his broad criteria for selection here:

There were 12 applicants who all had to fill in a relatively detailed application form and of them 6 were successful.  Of the 6 3 had prior ETC experience and 3 didn’t, so 3 ‘new caps’ and all three of this had previously represented England or another country at 6N for some international experience.  A slight tangent but the 6N team for this year has been announced and of the 8 people selected 4 of them are ‘new caps’ as this has historically always been an effective way to get new people into the England set up.  From my point of view this is pretty much the perfect balance between taking experienced players and bringing in fresh blood (I honestly don’t know if this was planned or not but well done to Tony and Tom!).

The committee chooses the teams and has historically been comprised of Captain, Captains nominee, ex player not attending, 2 x community reps.  Captain has been selected by the outgoing team as its then their responsibility to plan and manage the rest of the year (remember captain can be playing or non playing with a mixture of both over the years).  As we didn’t have this set up this year Tom selected the committee but looking at the names on it he had a decent selection from across the tournament scene.

Players are then invited to apply via an application form and are then considered by the selection committee.  To my knowledge things such as tournament performance, sportsmanship, team ethos, social media persona, army, finances are all taken into account.  It’s hard to separate it from rankings as they are a predictor of ability but for me the key is a year when Mark Borland was a selector and he was asking me (as an applicant) not whether I had won or lost a game/event but who and what I had played.  As someone who has won a fair few tournaments I can assure everyone that you can play better and have a much tougher tournament coming 20th than someone who has won it with a bunny run (I have had a fair few of those and I know it).  That is why for me rankings are only a small part and winning tournaments isn’t important, it’s people who are consistent in their finishes and who regularly play against and beat other top opponents.  I can’t remember who said this but a few years ago it was something along the lines of ‘I want to be in team England ETC, so I’m going to travel to and play against all the existing team England players until I get better than them and then I’ll be in the team – it worked.

So overall I am positive and happy with our approach, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the best one, nor that it shouldn’t be changed (I just had a large hand in coming up with it over the years so hopefully I like it!).  The reason a number of people, including me, have been defensive of it on the internet is because lots of the other suggestions we have tried over the years and they haven’t worked.  Of course that doesn’t mean they wont work if tried again, but please listen to us who have been around a bit (the old boys) as hopefully our experience should count for something.

Let’s look at some of the critisisms and suggestions hopefully in a reasonably balanced way:

-          You need international experience but how can you get it? 

-          My answer to this has been get onto a 6N team or another team tournament (Blood Tithe and there was one in Ireland recently).  Darren didn’t make it onto the England 6N team last year, so he played for Wales and we were impressed by all of their lists which he had a large part in writing and his ability on the table so he has got on the team.  Also I can think of about 5 people who have travelled over with the ETC team as a helper to experience it, be with the team and build their credentials for next year.  Mark and Tom I think both did this and used it as a stepping stone for getting into the main team.  Anyone is welcome.

-          It’s subjective / pick your friends

o   This is really tricky.  There are lots of different approaches across the different ETC teams from pure top rankings, top ranked person picks their team, top four ranked pick their team, national selection, previous team stay on unless they don’t want to go, etc.  The only purely objective one would be top 6 in the ranking, in my personal opinion this wouldn’t make the best ‘team’ but if that’s what people want I’m more than happy to give it a go.  The one thing I do know is that for each and every one of those teams across Fantasy, 40k, Flames of War and now AoS is that when teams are announced some people aren’t happy with how they were selected.  There is no perfect solution that makes everyone happy, so the fact that there has been so much debate doesn’t mean that the approach is wrong.  It also doesn’t mean that it’s right.

o   I can think of far too many people over the years who haven’t been liked by some of the selection committee who have been picked anyways based on their performances and attitude.  Generally everyone then realises that we are all nice people and learn to get a long (a few exceptions!) but I’ve never personally seen people just pick on friends – almost the opposite, if you’re best friends with a selector you need to prove doubly as hard why you deserve it to avoid claims of nepotism (that worked!).

o   There was a charter written for 8th which stated what England want from their ETC team – which turned out to be winning but in the right way.  Hence why we went down the route of looking at playing ability but also conduct.  Bryan wrote it about 4-5 years ago and it went out to the community for debate and feedback and then it’s been amended each year since.  We probably need a new one now for AoS but this was a starting point.

o   Some people have suggested a community vote/selection.  I’m definitely for this in principle for selecting the selectors (don’t think you could choose a team by vote just logistically).  Guessing people could get nominated or put themselves up for it by a certain date and then get voted in.  The issue is how do you decide who gets a vote?  We have discussed this as an option before to be honest and this is where we hit the brick wall.  Registered on rankings?  That includes people out of England and only a subset of the community.  Any English Warhammer player?  How do you stop someone just making up lots of names and votes.  My suggestion for this which I would be happy to proceed is that anyone who wants to be part of the discussion/vote would register as part of the ETC for a nominal fee - £5/10 and then they would get to vote on the charter and selection committee.  All money raised each year would pay for that years team ticket entries.  I honestly don’t see any other way of doing it logistically but happy to take suggestions.

o   One point raised is on some people in the team have not had as good years as other people who haven’t (judged on rankings).  One of the key things selectors look for is reliability and consistency, hence why prior experience as part of the team is essential as is an interest in being part of the ETC team.  I can think of very few people who have been accepted into the team on their first application (as points out on Twitter both myself and Russ only got in second time around).  This is mainly due to wanting people who are really committed to going – as we have had as many as 4 drop outs in a year which is a nightmare for the team and really throws everything.  That particular year was one when we invited some newer faces who had been winning a couple of events and they were the ones who dropped on us.  I’m not saying this means it’s right to not pick newer people, but as it’s a relatively long-term commitment we are after people who will stick it out.

I’m running out of suggestions and think so much has been bandied around over the last few days that a few things have got lost.  Let me leave it on these points:

-          We all want England to do the best it can at the ETC.

-          We all want the selection process to be fair, personally I also want it to be about more than just recent results or rankings.

-          We all would love there to be no dissent each year a team is announced and anyone who has any well thought out solutions I, and I’m sure the rest of the current team and wider community would love to hear them.

-          Lastly I know most people who have been involved in the twitter thread in person and you’re all really nice people when I’ve met you and played you.  Twitter sometimes doesn’t come across well so can everyone please keep this in perspective and anyone wanting to apply for England in the future for 6N and ETC I fully encourage you to do so.

Lots of love and peace,

Jack

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Some really interesting points. I'll have a proper read and reply in a bit. I've just picked the kids up from school so I've only been able to skim read. You're right though, this definitely seems a better forum than Twitter. Much easier to put forward a balanced argument. 

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Thanks for putting together this post!

I'll hold my hands up and say my initial reaction was "oh the usual crew" when I saw the list & the first couple of comments* - however I then put my rational head on.  At the end of the day this is a team of 6 individuals who are representing England - if I don't recognise the people on the list, that's when the selection process needs to be questioned.  Surely we need those high caliber well known members of the community - the ones who have earned a reputation for being an expert matched play gamer but with a really good attitude to go with it?  The 6 players in the list certainly fulfill that criteria.

One suggestion that I would put forward for the next ETC, would be to put the selection post up within the General Discussion area rather than the Events area as it would have a lot more visibility (though I can see the logic of putting it in the Events area). 

* I actually think I saw the comments before the list

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My thoughts and questions;

What is the purpose of creating a team to attend the ETC?  Is it to represent the country, is it to prove England is the best at AoS, is it to develop the English (and UK) community?

If its to win, why bother with selection criteria at all, just someone pick the best team and enter and ignore everyones complaints. 

If its to build the community why have strong criteria on experience but then have so many repeat ETC attendees on the team. There need to be spaces on the team for new players to aim for (is 1 or 2 enough?), otherwise people wont and you dont build the communities capabilities and subsequent years are just repeats of the same team with minor changes.

Does there need to be a cap on how many times you can attend the ETC, or a limit on consecutive attendances?  Would this allow new players in? would the detriment to the 'capability' of the team be worth the trade off for the benefit to the community?

<could someone who has an interest in ETC plot the English team members over the last few years (WFB days) to show how much/little change there has been.  This would be a good clear way answer many questions that have been asked about team turnover>

"You need international experience"  Do you? Why? Team tournament experience i can understand but what does international give you, especially if it just 6N (why not say if so) which is a clear english speaking tournament.

6N team.  If we have an 'international' team what is the link. If you get picked for 6N this year why are you not auto considered for ETC, why is the ETC team not picked from the current 6N team as a primary choice.  Or, if 6N is considered a feeder/experience builder, why not put in restrictions such as 'no 6N players from this year can be in the same years ETC team'.  Heck if 6N an experience builder why not put restriction on the 6N team to make that mostly new players who have never played in either before, if that event has restrictions you cant fairly use attendance at it as a criteria for ETC. 

 

Anyway these are just thoughts for discussion. I have no hand in ETC events and have no real interest in them other than what feeds back into the community as a player.

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Stato just a couple of quick answers (sorry don't have time for a more detailed response'.

For the ETC there are currently 40 capped players and it's been running 10 years so that's an average of 4 new caps a year so that's pretty perfect in my personal opinion.

For the 'international experience' bit, I don't know how much this will hold true for AoS, but for Fantasy the EU scene was so drastically different to how we played the game in the UK that it was almost a different game.  Every year the new players on the team would want to take the lists that did well in the UK meta and the more experienced players would tell them they wouldn't work.  They would then take them to Denmark (ETC warm up event) and get smashed most games and start listening to us.  They would then get to the main event and after 1-2 games the light bulb would go on and they would say thank god they listened! (honestly this happened too many times to count, ask any capped England player).  I don't know if this will we the same for the AoS ETC but everything was mainly done using the precedent from Fantasy.

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That's a really interesting last point Jack. When you get the chance, would you care to expand? How was the 'meta' different/the reason why the lists didn't work in Europe but did in the UK?

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28 minutes ago, Jack Armstrong said:

Stato just a couple of quick answers (sorry don't have time for a more detailed response'.

For the ETC there are currently 40 capped players and it's been running 10 years so that's an average of 4 new caps a year so that's pretty perfect in my personal opinion.

For the 'international experience' bit, I don't know how much this will hold true for AoS, but for Fantasy the EU scene was so drastically different to how we played the game in the UK that it was almost a different game.  Every year the new players on the team would want to take the lists that did well in the UK meta and the more experienced players would tell them they wouldn't work.  They would then take them to Denmark (ETC warm up event) and get smashed most games and start listening to us.  They would then get to the main event and after 1-2 games the light bulb would go on and they would say thank god they listened! (honestly this happened too many times to count, ask any capped England player).  I don't know if this will we the same for the AoS ETC but everything was mainly done using the precedent from Fantasy.

Good answers (and example why this is better than twitter!)

Think a 'England team timeline' would expand on your point to show its not the 'old boys club' it appears at first glance, plus it would be a nice thing to see who has put in effort (and their own time/money) to be on the England ETC team.

The 6N was the only example I saw given of international experience, clearly from your answer this is not the case and broader experience is required (justifiably). Perhaps more suitable qualifying events need to be identified for future criteria.

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LHW (Laurie?).  It's a really hard thing to explain (and I've done it many times over the 5 ETC's I've been to, well done to me first year and then done to others!).

They just built these really bizarre army lists that you would never see in the UK scene at all, or lists that looked similar that they would then play completely  differently.  People would be used to taking their UK list to tournaments and smashing people 20-0 and not be prepared for the negative play (I don't mean that in a person way but in a 'I'm going to force you to come to me to eek out every point and then smash you when you do').  Which just meant that lists had to be built in different ways to compete.  Sometimes we did have lists that forced the meta a bit (Nick Pyms 90 blood letters is an example I remember) but we often made the mistake of trialing them in Denmark and then they were copied and/or countered before we got there.

Next time your at an event ask an ETC Vet (old boy) and they will explain better.

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The people attempting to organise ETC in 2018 posted a thread in the events section of this forum and garnered zero responses (you can search for it). Four teams attended it last year (France, Poland, Russia, Croatia.... I think?) - none from the UK. AFAIK the organisers subsequently reached out to people they knew from other editions of Warhammer to generate some traction, which they managed, culminating in Toms posting in the very same forum, along with Twitter - canvassing for applications. I don't recall a lot of interest or attention at the time - digs about tuna cans and bucket of bug armies notwithstanding - and practically zero interest in it until the team announcement the other day. The requesting of applications via Twitter and TGA garnered 12 applications. One of them was me - I didn't make the grade 😭

My takeaway from this preamble is that no one cared much for ETC prior to Tom taking up the mantle, and very, very few people showed an interest until the team announcement. At which every second person in the 'Aos Community' claimed to have a dog in the fight, moral outrage ensured, and people lost their minds  - on all sides of the argument.

As far as selection criteria goes I can't argue against what's already been put into place. It seems pretty robust and Jack has done great work to break it down. There's a high emphasis on ability with a lot of contributing factors. For sure Ben can count himself unlucky this time around, but the competition was pretty stiff from 'new' faces  Jack and Darren, given that the other guys comprising the team won the 6 nations last summer, ergo underpinning their 'have models will travel' credentials. To the questions about where to garner this Team / International experience - there are many team events now, not least Bloodtithe (my own) which to some degree overlapped ETC AoS. Doing well in these will no doubt hold people in good stead and will also tick the 'International opponents' box. Not for nothing were a French team from last years Bloodtithe noted to have their own 'French Meta'. This was evidence of what Jack says above. There are plenty of overseas tournaments and returning victorious from one of those will surely bolster anyone's credentials.

It sits ill at ease with me, this 'demand for representation without input', and the entitled tweets about public votes amongst the Warhammer community. Books have been written about what constitutes a community and no one can reasonably cover that here. What is known is that an entity exists and is openly accessible to all; run, supported and peopled by people from the 'community' who are already in varied ways net contributors to that 'community'. If people say 'oh it's an old boys club, they only pick their mates' well then - you're never going to be part of anything better... better than a snarky tweet, or comment on Discord. 

It's good this is being discussed in plain site. I don't think their is to much wrong with in general, engagement, criteria or composition. Everything can be improved, but I really think this is a case of minor tweaks not major surgery. 

Edited by Marc Wilson
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Great post Marc thanks for your considered input.

 

Agree it’s probably more about evolution than revolution!

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As with all things clear rules and objective measures are good.

Taking all the top in ranking would not lead to a good team as you have no idea if the personality or armies mesh well.

I would recommend auto invites to say the top 3 thou. That way it aleast gives an objective way for ppl who felt the process was unfair to get on the team in future years.

It probably leds to the same team anyway... however it adds an element of openness to the process.

Edited by svnvaldez

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On 1/10/2019 at 9:57 AM, Lhw said:

That's a really interesting last point Jack. When you get the chance, would you care to expand? How was the 'meta' different/the reason why the lists didn't work in Europe but did in the UK?

One reason is that lists in the UK are designed to work in a singles event - so a strong list will be built to take on all comers or at the least the armies you would expect to see on the top tables. 

 

In a match up situation you don't need to take such a list - you may well meet a list that would be poor in a singles event, but has been built specifically to take down certain armies or excel in certain scenarios. It doesn't need to take on one and all as it will be protected and pulled out in the match up process against a favourable opponent.  (If anyone hasn't looked into the ETC match up process I would recommend they google the 9thAge ETC pack from last year, just for the match up process and how heavily this can influence games/armies) 

 

For example a 4 Stonehorn list might be poor in a singles list as a mixed destro - but perhaps it would do well against DoK as it could pick off the hags. Or shooty STormcast etc.  You don't need to think 'how will my army perform at an event' and more build an army for certain instances or scenarios (largely depends on how the pack ends up) - so you might want to take (as a team) a mix of lists - perhaps an elite shooty build, a swarm list, smash list, healing/summoning list, etc.  If you just take a reg tourney build for each army chosen you could come unstuck against a team that has put more thought into specific match ups and taken more esoteric lists as a result. 

Also local meta means they're approaching the game in different ways. The UK scene doesn't have much shooty stuff right now, so rush and smash lists are doing well. But perhaps in another country they're seeing some success in some more shooty builds. Thinking outside the box a little or just have different influences locally. 

 

A good example is Dwarfs from 6-8th ed. They were very poor in singles as struggled to win big in games. But they're great at castling up and getting a draw. Lots of countries would take a Dwarf list just to draw 10-10 in every game. Put the list up against someone's smash list and you have an opponent that expected to win 20-0 suddenly getting a 10-10 draw meaning that the opposing team are 10 down on expectations........ meanwhile you look to get a smashy list of your own against something it can beat big. 

 

AoS doesn't have a 20-0 system, but I would expect to see some variance on win mechanic/scoring/scenario.  ETC hammer and Warhammer have long been different from one another (which is another kettle of fish entirely in how the ETC packs influence UK event packs and not something I was overly keen on myself....) 

 

 

 

 

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