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,