In a time long past, Blood of Kittens made a name for itself, by exposing cheating in competitive Warhammer 40k. With the help of a trusty video camera I was able to capture folks cheating on the top tables across the country. People, also have sent me horror stories with organizers and players alike. Since Blood of Kittens started exposing this sort of thing, there has been many changes, with cheaters quitting the game to many events using video casting for their final matches.
Now, Blood of Kittens cannot claim responsibility for every positive change, but I like to think this site played a big part. The last couple years Blood of Kittens has tried to take a more positive tone when it comes to these sorts of things, only bringing up BIG stories when necessary. In that spirit, I bring you this story and how it illustrates a very real threat to large events and the players who play in them.
First off, I will be only using one name, I won't specifically call people out for their behavior this time. The reason for this is two-fold, first I want the focus on one person, and second the bad actors in this little play know who they are, and folks truly interested can figure it out. Moreover, this article is using Adepticon as an example, because how they act reflects on the rest of the community. Adepticon sits on top always trying to stay above the fray, but this time it needs a dose of realism.
So with that out-of-the-way where do we begin?
First, we start with a personal story. A few years back I had the joy of playing in a tournament where I was in contention for top honors. By game five I was paired against a good friend of mine; we both were excited to play each other for the first time in a tournament. As the game went on it became clear my friend was gaining the advantage, so with 30 minutes left on the clock, my friend, tired from not eating the whole day asked if we could just call the game a draw. If we drew I would still be in contention for Best Overall, where if I played out the game I had a good chance of losing. The choice was easy, I should take the draw and get some food.
Instead, I looked around at the other 100 other players and wondered about them. Me and my friend were about to without any real malice rig the system. It was at this moment, I told my friend to finish the game. He was grumpy at the prospect, so with low blood sugar rage he crushed me and my army. He went to play in the finals of the event, while I got kicked to the curb.
I had no regrets about my choice and didn't really think much about it until a few days ago, when I started getting reports from Adepticon.
First off, for all those old-timer competitive players Adepticon has a running joke; certain first round matchups seem to always occur, between the same people and groups forced to play each other. When groups related to Adepticon staff members never do. Odd for an event that always has hundreds of players. Now, this phenomenon is anecdotal and almost impossible to prove bad intent, but it gets to a bigger point.
Even the impression of shenanigans can be just as bad as the real thing. In a world lacking transparency, Adepticon stature makes it easy for anyone to make a joke and look away. Still, standard behavior for most events, large and small, fly right by Adepticon.
Should we wonder why Adepticon allows their staff members to participate in events where prizes exist? Then there the charity raffles where a Adepticon top staff member has won grand prizes. There are countless stories of event organizes winning the prizes from their own events. It is common practice for any organization to ban members from entering contests or participate for prizes the general public can enter. So, why does Adepticon continue to allow it? Why is Adepticon really the last big event not to publish their final missions beforehand?
Regardless of intention, this gives the impression of impropriety, but for Adepticon why should they care? Well, it can breed complacency, a complacency allowing "friends"of Adepticon to take advantage of the largest 40k tournament in the country.
Let me tell you another true story.
Joshua Taylor a player a few hours drive from Chicago goes to his first Adepticon this year, in fact Josh has only been playing Warhammer 40k for about a year. On the biggest stage at the biggest event Josh goes 4-0 on day one, in all the years of Adepticon this should assure him a seat to the championships on day 2. Now, in the Adeption rules primer the scoring confused Josh. So, Josh emailed Adeption weeks before the event wondering how exactly the scoring worked, but never got a response.
On the day of the tournament Josh asked a judge how getting into the Top 16 was determined and was told Win/Loss trumped everything, and even a second judge said going 4-0 meant he would make it in.
When the names for the Top 16 where announced Josh discovered he didn't make it. Instead, at least four players with ties made it ahead of him, because how Battlepoints were calculated. Under the system it is actually better to get two crushing victories and two minor losses for a score of 28 points, and a win loss record of 2-2, than to win four minor victories for a score of 24 points, and a win loss record of 4-0.
I guess that is the way Adepticon system works, but what if you are one of the top players in the world and have been for some time?
What if as a top player who are friends with other top players?
How could it affect things?
Well for some players it can make a real difference. A system has been growing where a who's who of élite players have developed some nice quid pro quo.
In a large event last year for instance, two of the top players in the country faced off in a finals match where one side conceded, so the other could secure a spot on ETC team, since the other participant had already gotten a spot. Now, this year at Adepticon different groups of players with the same élite status do the same thing, so certain players can go on to day 2, while new players like Josh don't. This rigging has happened before and will happen again. Since conceding gets once side a lot more points. Finally, certain élite players seem hell-bent on denying other players entre into certain groups, because of old grudges.
This behavior is avertable, for any event, but Adepticon needs to do something, the community holds it to a higher standard. Adepticon has a good record of changing course when prodded, I hope shinning a light on this sort of thing provides an opportunity for Adepticon to make changes, so every player regardless of pedigree can feel like they have a fair shot, and not beholden to the 40k good ol' boys of North America.
To the 40k good ol' boys club, I know most of you, for the most part you are good people, but I report for everyone, so don't get complacent by misbehaving, because I will call you out.
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