Goonhammer Previews the 2023 WCW Warhammer 40,000 Tournament

It’s been over a year in the making, but the first ever World Championships of Warhammer has arrived and later this week some of the biggest names in Warhammer-based tabletop gaming will descend on Atlanta to square off for the title of World Champion (and other prizes). For 40k alone 176 players have come from 34 countries across five continents for the most meaningful and globally supported Games Workshop event yet! And to cover that, this week we will break down the tournament format for the Warhammer 40,000 competitive event, review the groups of the Group Stage, and highlight several of the players vying for the top spot.

Faction Representation

To begin, let’s take a look at the faction breakdown of the event.

WCW Factional Representation

Every 40k faction will be represented at the World Championship. If you have been paying any attention at all to the Warhammer 40,000 meta, you could have probably guessed the three most common factions we’d see. At the top of the board are Aeldari, Space Marines, and Chaos Space Marines. Rounding out the top five are the Tau and World Eaters. In total and individually, these five factions are overrepresented and will comprise 61.3% of all factions played at the event. The next seven factions; Leagues of Votann, Necrons, Adeptus Custodes, Astra Militarum, Chaos Knights, Adeptus Sororitas, and Genestealer Cults are slightly underrepresented and individually make up between 3% and 5% of played factions and combine for 26.1% of played factions. The final 9 factions represented contribute 1-2% of total representation at 12.6% and are Thousand Sons, Death Guard, Tyranids, Orks, Grey Knights, Chaos Daemons, Drukhari, Imperial Knights, and Adeptus Mechanicus.

WCW Space Marine Breakdown

Space Marines being a popular faction is a surprise to no one, and they are tied with Aeldari as the most popular faction at the event. With a new book and a bevy of detachment options as well as their traditional chapter options, Space Marines will have a variety of looks and play types to offer opponents throughout the event. Here we can see the cross-section of those chapters selected by the attendees of the event, most prominent of which are the Black Templars followed by Dark Angels. In terms of the detachment types, the standout favorite is the Ironstorm Spearhead, accounting for just a hair under one-third of all detachments. Gladius is the second most common detachment followed by Firestorm and Vanguard as third most common.

Tournament Format

This year’s GW Finale format has been broken up into two phases: the first is a Group Stage consisting of five rounds over the Thursday and Friday of the event. The second phase is a double-elimination Championship Bracket of up to 7 additional games on Saturday and Sunday. In the Group Stage, players are broken into eight groups of 22 players each, who will then play 5 matches. The champion of each group will then advance to the second phase, the Championship Bracket, to determine the champion. The remaining players will go into a World Bracket of up to three additional games to compete for country accolades based on their group stage records.

What are those accolades you might ask? Best General (Champions Bracket winner), Best Overall (combined generalship and paint score), and Best Painted for the event overall will be awarded.  Games Workshop will also recognize the top three players by nation in the following categories: Overall Score, Generalship Score, Paint Score, Victory Points Score, and Faction Ranking. The accolades don’t stop there, as the overall players who are the best within their faction (as determined by competitive score) will also be awarded – congratulations to the two players who selected Imperial Knights and Adeptus Mechanicus for the event. Additionally, sportsmanship awards may be won over the course of the event for sporting behavior and tabletop professionalism, and a special recognition award will be given to one attendee who has embodied the spirit of the event throughout the weekend. A country Team Spirit award will also be given to the country demonstrating commitment to building a global Warhammer Community throughout the event.

Finally, in the World Bracket, Gold medal awards will be rewarded to all individuals who finish 3-0 after going 4-1 during the Group Stage. All players finishing 3-0 in the 3-2 or 2-3 brackets will receive a Silver Medal, and all players finishing 3-0 in the 1-4 or 0-5 brackets will receive a Bronze Medal. These medals will contribute to a country’s overall medal count for the event.

That’s a lot of recognition!

Group Stage

With 22 players in each of the eight groupings and five rounds of play, it is likely that only a single undefeated will remain after round four in each group. That means that in round five we may see some upsets that result in a cluster of 4-1 group finishers. The champion that then moves on to the Championship Bracket will be first determined by the Opponent Win Percentage metric that assesses a player’s overall strength of schedule vs their competitors. The player with the highest strength of schedule (or most difficult set of competitors) will be determined as the group champion.

Below you can see the breakdown of each group including their country representation and global ELO ranking as tracked by the team at Stat Check. In the coming days we will look to further discuss each of these groups.

Group 1

WCW 40k Group One

Group 2

WCW 40k Group Two

Group 3

WCW 40k Group Three

Group 4

WCW 40k Group Four

Group 5

WCW 40k Group Five

Group 6

WCW 40k Group Six

Group 7

WCW 40k Group Seven

Group 8

WCW 40k Group Eight


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 the 168 players who don’t make it into the Championship Bracket will move to the Worlds Bracket. Each player will continue to play three additional games against similar record opponents. These games will contribute points up onto the country leader boards that will play go towards a country’s overall performance.

Tune in over the next few days as we profile some of the attendees above, including:

This weekend promises to be one the most exciting weekends ever in Warhammer and we can’t wait to follow along!

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