Goonhammer Previews the 2023 WCW Kill Team Tournament

Hello readers and fellow competitive Kill Team enthusiasts! The World Championships of Kill Team are this week and we are extremely excited for what’s shaping up to be the toughest event the game has ever seen.

To kick off our coverage this week we’re breaking down this weekend’s Kill Team event. With more than 10 countries represented and 37 competitors, this is a huge step up from the previous year’s finale. As we take a look at the team selections it seems that Games Workshop has not quite hit the sweet spot with balancing the meta as attendees have clearly settled on Kommandos as their preferred path to victory – mirroring last year’s abundance of Hunter Clade teams among the finalists. The last two years have been a tough road for GW balance-wise and while we’re in a pretty good spot all things considered, there’s still clearly work to be done.

WCW Meta, look at those Greenskins

This year’s format has been broken up into two phases: A group stage followed by a 3-round bracket stage. In the Group Stage, players are broken into four groups of 8-9 players each, who will play 5 matches over Thursday and Friday, with the top two players from each pool progressing to the 8-player Championship Bracket, a 6-round double-elimination tournament to determine the champion. The remaining players will go into the World Bracket to compete for country accolades.

What are those accolades you might ask? In addition to the Ultimate Winner, Games Workshop will recognize top players by nation in the following categories: Overall Score, Generalship Score, Paint Score, and VP Scored. The accolades don’t stop there, as players who are the best within their faction will also be awarded. So with that said, congratulations to those who selected Hunter Clade, Chaos Daemons, Hearthkyn, Phobos, and Gellerpox for scoring the best in faction right off the bat!

The Championship bracket will be similar to the 2022 finale, with a double-elimination bracket that could potentially see players going seven rounds, if the winner of the loser bracket wins their first match against the winner of the winner’s bracket. Top players of each bracket are ensured the chance at 1 loss before being taken out of the running for the best in the world.

On the other hand, the Worlds bracket is only three rounds, pairing players of similar skill levels from the Group stage. These games are meant to allow all players to complete the potentially 5 games that each country can score. For players representing smaller regions like Wales these games represent ways to earn points to compete against larger regions and prove that size truly means nothing in the world of miniature skirmishing!

Group Stages

With an odd number of players and big ITC player numbers littered throughout them, there’s certainly some favorites in each pod, each of which will have its own sub-meta. Below you’ll find our analysis of each group, and some loose predictions of where we expect things to go. (Note that ITC rankings were pulled 11-09-23)

Group 1 – Mirror of Minds

Mirror Realm

TC: Group 1 sees the north east face off against the rest of the world. With Shane, True, and Marc all repping their respective north east regions. Shane’s been on a tear with legionary all year and with 2 Kommandos in this pod I’m sure he’s excited to flay some orks. Meanwhile this pod includes the highest duplication count across the 3 groups, so it may end up becoming the mirror dimension. Mateusz’s inquisition agents may be perfectly situated in this group as Starstriders, Kommandos, Phobos, and Legionary all have critical ploys they rely on to drive their gameplans. For whoever ends up getting the bye: Hopefully it leads to you getting out of the group!

AoC: While Shane has been on a tear with Legionaries, he has his work cut out for him with the potential match-ups against Veteran Guardsman, Blooded, and two Starstriders players. Personally, I find Inquisitorial Agents much less enticing of a prospect now that their access to AP2 has been reduced, however they are still a strong meta-choice against Kommandos and Phobos. Legionaries suffer the least as they’re capable of circumventing Absolute Authority through the free ploy granted by their leader. For what it is worth my money is on Wallace and Shane in this bracket, while Ryan is the higher ranked player his victories have come from an array of teams, while Wallace and Shane have a majority of their recorded events under their selected teams. I think this familiarity will give them the edge going in.

Group 2 – The Pod with Compendium!

The Demon Pod

TC: My New York favoritism is showing, but I think Adrian is perfectly situated to make it out of this group. He’s got good matchups against Cultists, Starstriders, and Corsairs. With the experience to back it up. Meanwhile the Pacific Northwest has two representatives in this group meaning potentially they might team kill each other. The big question mark in the group is Chaos Demons, which is a team that can polarize some big match ups. When you have 12 dorks that crush people in melee, against 8-10 dorks. It can be a rough match to manage. With my first pick in the group being Adrian I would expect Starstriders, Cultists, and Corsairs to be rough. Leaving my second pick being Liam or Branden to make it out.

AoC: Given Adrian’s utter dominance with Kommandos I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins the whole thing at this point. I am actually more surprised that Liam, an experienced Kommando player in his own right, has decided to take Breachers. I understand perhaps wanting to take something different from everyone else, but considering Kommandos was the team that got him his ticket this might be a mistake. It is also interesting to see players taking Chaos Cultists despite Kommandos being such a popular meta choice. If this final sees Kommandos receiving a nerf, I can easily see Chaos Cultists quickly finding their legs as one of the top teams, but with so many Kommandos running around I feel they have very low odds of taking the top spot.

Group 3 – Rock and Stone

By god is that Hearthkyn?!

TC: Rock and Stone! Let the content mines flow deep in this group with John piloting Hearthkyn. While the group meta may not be favorable for them with 2 Orks and Cultists floating around. The group also looks toxic for its elite players between Breachers, Blooded, Kommandoz, and Cultists. All teams that have depressed overall elite player numbers. Especially when it’s Slaanesh & Tzeentch Legionary! This would be group that we’d expect some Orks to make it through, with the last spot being a touch of a wild card.

AoC: This is a really tricky bracket as some of the teams here perform REALLY well against others. Our Legionary player has opted for Tzeentch, which is the Blessing I personally prefer, and is fantastic against teams like Veteran Guard or Inquisitorial Agents, but does very little against Chaos Cultists or Kommandos. If Leander had taken Starstriders I’d have put this down as a bracket he would be poised to take, but I see no reason why he can’t make Veteran Guard work. As Travi mentioned I also fully expect one of the two Kommando players to also make it through this.

Group 4 – Veterans of the Finale

#1 and #2 from last years Finale meet in the groups

TC: This group sees some obvious favorites, with both worldwide #1 Ace and last year’s finale winner Orion. Orion’s favorite Gellerpox have seen a bevy of nerfs but he’s still one of the best to play the team. The two favorites meet a field with big names like KTO’s winner Jimmy, who qualified with Talons, now sporting the void armor of breachers. While players like Blayne and Pablo bring in some more out of the meta like Hunter Clade and Corsairs. This group notably avoids the multiple Ork players of groups 1-3, and sees a very healthy spread of team choices. It’s honestly anyone’s game, but we at Goonhammer expect Ace to make it out.

AoC: I suppose I’d be a fool to bet against “Ace” since he has been the number one for two years running, but as we saw in the finals last year, ITC rank doesn’t determine everything. That being said, Orion is returning to a much weaker Gellerpox team, while Ace has done nothing but wrack up lots of experience with victory after victory with Inquisition. I am going to go out on a limb and predict that if we are to see Chaos Cultist make it to the final bracket this will be the group we see it in as it has the fewest number of Kommandos to get in its way.

Bracket Stage

Once players make it through group stages, it’s onto the championship brackets and the worlds group play bracket. Championship play leads into a double elimination bracket, akin to a fighting game, where the sting of bad luck can be mitigated with a second game. This bracket does mean that the ultimate winner could ultimately play up to 7 games over the course of a weekend. For any players who’ve watched competitive fighting games, this bracket format will seem familiar.

Meanwhile 29-ish players who don’t make it into the championship finale, will move to a worlds bracket. Where each player can play enough games against similar record opponents. These games would throw points up onto the country leader boards. With each country holding onto the top 5 scores of each country even smaller countries can compete with the juggernauts like the US. As far as country competition goes, with Spain and the US bringing in the most players we’ll see which region really reigns supreme.

Tune in over the next few days as we show off the individual player profiles in the groups found here!

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