Poland I’m Back
Well hello Poland I told you I’d see you soon. My first foray into international X-wing had been at the System Open in Krakow in February. That tournament I’d flown out with Rory Wilson (Current Captain of Scotland) and had a fantastic time of games and enjoying the night life, bonding with the likes of Alex Birt (who dislocated my shoulder) and Bob Dee who started me down the blogging road. I’d also been fortunate enough to meet some of the big names in Polish X-wing the likes of Bartosz Wojcicki and Lukasz Golonka (who won that event and had me fanboying out a little, OK a lot at the time). That solidified my love for the country (plus cheap good beer) and I knew I would have to come back even before Euros was announced to be there.
So here’s the thing, this is difficult to say and is a little break from my usual comedic self deprecating style. This is a bit of an insight into why this tournament so much to me. In terms of X-wing there are many who would like to have experienced my gaming year. I went 3-0 to start 3 System Opens. I won a number of events. I lost a Regional final on 1 Hull that if we had remembered Harpoon triggers I would have won, after making cuts across the country. I went Undefeated at Euros Hyperspace got my invite to Coruscant then went to America and finished above Paul Heaver and a host of other great players. I played in 3 different countries on the continent and met some of the best the game has to offer and the proudest moment of all I captained Team Scotland at their first ever X-wing ETC. However that’s just the gaming surface what only a few know is I have had the worst year of my life.
It started with my Grandmother passing away. I actually got the call at Element Regional. Fortunately I had Rory, Harrison Daly, Dave Wynne, Jamie Hewitt and Lyndon Hessing to look after me. As well as the wonderful JustPlay lads who put Jamie up so I could drown my sorrows. That’s the reason my name changed on Facebook my grandfather was known as Ted when she was ill I became Ted to her in conversation and it stuck. Since then I left my job as a civil servant and moved back from Scotland. I’ve suffered mentally and physically, putting on weight due to medication. I lost a number of friends after I was betrayed by someone I was very close with after months of telling him my issues. I struggled with being ostracised by some of those I respected and loved who decided to take sides in the matter. It was nearly the breaking point for me and the game especially with constant issues and rumours. Fortunately the support from around the world I received during that got me over it and I have bonded with many so I thank those who knew and helped. There is much more to life than just x-wing and fortunately I had people and other things to help overcome this.
Then most recently I got an eye infection due to being rundown. Many mentioned at Nerfherder (I haven’t written about that event because I’ve been off screens protecting my eye and also many others have had their say on the wonderful charity tournament) they thought I was just going for the pirate look. If others can wear outfits for an event why not an eyepatch. However it was out of necessity. Carl Walker the founder of the event recoiling at the sight of my swollen eye under the patch was both heartbreaking but hilarious. After Nerfherder I ended up having minor surgery but have been told I have permanent damage to the eye. Having had laser eye surgery 10 years ago its a bitter pill to swallow and one that has not helped my mood. I am still receiving treatment and hope to be able to gain some semblance of vision back in my left eye which is intermittently pained or blurred. So why say all this. Why air my pained year. You are here for the jokes and stories the travel gossip and drunken antics. That’s my niche I don’t have the rabid fanbase of the lovely Phil GC or the passion for one pilot and ship like Charles Berkhold or the in depth break down of a Stayontheleader. I’m the jokey here’s an event person. I write this because it’s not always a joke, there is someone beneath the character who sometimes needs some support. That is where this event came in.
Realistically I should have missed Nerfherder3 but I had Kei Taniguchi and two of my Scottish team staying with me. This System Open I could skip. However my tickets were bought as a Christmas present so there was a feeling of guilt if I didn’t go. Even on the way to the train station I was anxious and just wanted to turn back. Yet I didn’t because of one thing. The People. That week I had Jamie telling me how much he was looking forward to going away. Jordan McCann one of the Scots who had stayed with me weeks before had arranged the accommodation. Rasmus Vallin messaged to see if I had a ticket, someone who I had met in France who was making the trip over from Sweden. Bartosz had harassed me when I was doing commentary. Alex Bruce someone who has been very close over the year was chatting away as was my partner in crime from America James Finlayson. Ian Franklin had told me he was going over for his first international x-wing event and was looking for that group experience we have mentioned in so many blogs. Ashok Hemmings had landed with his brother OJ and was telling me of the hotel situation. Mitch Chivers had booked to come. Yet it was Lukazs the captain of Poland who convinced me. We have had something of a Bromance since ETC. I am probably his biggest fan and he was my pick to win in America. It was his words and how much he was looking forward to the event that convinced me to fly out. When people talk about the 'Community' this is what it really was. All of these people had spoken to me about going, players from around the world and I was part of that experience. I’m so grateful to all of those who spoke to me before and whilst I was away the support from my Teammates.
I decided to be relaxed if I was going to an event. I could barely see out of my left eye so Soontir was going to be put to one side since at Nerfherder silly mistakes with him lost me games straight away. Instead Fenn Rau who is more survivable when I cock up and leave him at range 1 was in the bag. I was going to have Palob since he's bloody annoying and finally Nym who I'd had success with and is basically area denial in the game.
My hope to be chilled out was crushed when I saw my first opponent’s name Arkadiusz Cala one of the best Poland has to offer and someone who had been in America with me mere months ago. Fenn Rau did exactly what I had taken him for evading a proton torpedo and range 1 from whisper with no tokens in the same turn. To the shock of everyone especially myself I had won.
Any elation was soon lost when I saw my round 2 opponent ex UK Nationals champion Faan. Well once again I fanboyed out a little as I had with Arkadiusz but this time I lost. Both had Whisper in their lists and my head was fried. I lost my next game and was soon out of the running. Still the more you played the more tickets for the Prize Wall so I stayed in and rooted on the rest of our lot. My two favourite Polish peeps went 5-1 as did Ashok and Mitch. Jamie who was 4-0 succumbed to the tough opposition and slipped to 4-2 as did Alex and James 2 Steaks.
With that we were ushered out of the venue relatively quickly and went for the now standard group meal. Sat in a faux Diner reminded me of Dennys with the likes of Jack Mooney and Jesper it was a nice touch from Jordan (I dont think he intended it that way but was nice) and we broke bread a group with Charles and Chris new additions to our travelling ensemble. From there well Facebook posts on UK pages and with the Krayts informed us that myself and Jordan stayed out till 6:30 seeing the nightlife of Gdansk and helping the local economy. With a solid 1 hours sleep it would be day 2 and Hyperspace or whatever funky name it was now called.
Regular readers will know on 0 sleep and hanging I tend to do quite well when I don't 'pull a Rory' and actually make it to Hyperspace. Winning my first game by the skin of my teeth helped with some confidence that maybe 5 wins could be possible as I'd switched in 4lom for Nym that morning. Round 2 I got to play yet another good looking player in Rolf Hilleberg. He pulled off a fantastic tractor beaming of his own ship to get my Fenn Rau and won the game quickly. He was such a lovely opponent and he lovingly gifted me some stickers for my bases to stop bumping. Rolf had also mentioned my blog and all though all my opponents where lovely he stole the show with his generosity and friendship. Thank you buddy and hope to see you soon.
With my hopes of an invite dashed I played out the rest of my games but left quickly to watch Ashok and Mitch. Both of whom were shocked I was so well behaved and sending comments to the UK pages to keep everyone up to date on their charges. Unfortunately only Mitch Chivers would go undefeated but it was a great weekend reinforcing friendships and building new ones with even maybe a Lithuanian Captain for the ETC as well.
The event itself was run to near perfection. Alec Thorne worked his arse off as did Vince Kingston. There were tough judge calls he had to make and having such a well respected expert helped. The expo that was on at the same time easily rivalled and in my opinion surpassed the UK version. The relaxed atmosphere helping everyone. The prize support was fantastic and have this spot glosses already in the bag quite nice. The only gripe being you can only use your prize tickets at one event so for those of us who intend to travel to more than one System Open you have to ensure its all spent on the weekend which is a bit annoying.
This blog maybe a little different and I hope to be back to a more regular posting with a couple of articles already waiting to be sent. This is kind of instead of a year in review which if there is call for I will happily chat about. I would also like to thank you for reading and understanding how much the help or supportive words of a few can go. As always YNWA and to my travel companions TYR.