The GOAT: An Interview with LVO and ITC Champion Richard Siegler

An article by    Gaming Interview Tactics Warhammer 40k        0

The 2020 Las Vegas Open 40k Championships Tournament wrapped up Sunday night, putting an end to another ITC season. Emerging victorious after 9 rounds (plus a nightmare round) of some of the hardest-fought 40k games ever played, Richard Siegler once again emerged victorious, firmly staking his claim in the ground as one of the best 40k players in the world. Goonhammer sat down with Richard after his win to discuss the experience, his thoughts on the meta, and what’s next. 

Note: We previously interviewed Richard immediately following his win at the Pro TableTop Open in Atlanta in November 2019, which you can find here. If you’re interested in some of the more basic “who are you” and “how did you get started” questions, or questions about his T’au armies, we cover them in that interview.

Richard’s List

+++ Richard’s LVO List – 10 CP, 2,000 pts +++

Iron Hands Battalion Detachment (598 pts, +5 CP)

HQ: Chaplain Venerable Dreadnought w/Twin Lascannon, CCW, Storm Bolter
HQ: Chaplain Venerable Dreadnought w/Twin Lascannon, CCW, Storm Bolter

Troops: Intercessors (x5) w/Stalker Bolt Rifle, Sgt. Chainsword
Troops: Intercessors (x5) w/Stalker Bolt Rifle, Sgt. Chainsword
Troops: Intercessors (x5) w/Stalker Bolt Rifle, Sgt. Power Fist

Iron Hands Battalion Detachment (698 pts, +3 CP)
Specialist Detachment: Indomitus Crusaders

HQ: Iron Father Feirros
HQ: Primaris Lieutenant w/Power Sword

Troops: Intercessors (x10) w/Stalker Bolt Rifle, Sgt. Thunder Hammer
Troops: Intercessors (x10) w/Stalker Bolt Rifle, Sgt. Power Fist
Troops: Intercessors (x5) w/Stalker Bolt Rifle, Sgt. Power Fist

Elites: Primaris Apothecary, Stratagem: Chief Apothecary (-1 CP)

Iron Hands Spearhead Detachment (704 pts, +1 CP)

HQ: Chaplain Venerable Dreadnought w/Twin Lascannon, CCW, Storm Bolter

HS: Eliminator Squad x3 w/Bolt Sniper Rifles, Camo Cloaks
HS: Eliminator Squad x3 w/Bolt Sniper Rifles, Camo Cloaks
HS: Eliminator Squad x3 w/Bolt Sniper Rifles, Camo Cloaks
HS: Relic Leviathan Dreadnought w/2x Storm cannon Array, 3x Hunter-Killer Missile, 2x Heavy Flamer, WARLORD

 

Siegler in the Finals against Brad Chester. Credit: 40kstats

The Basics

Q. Welcome back, and congratulations on your win at LVO! We suspected that you might be back here last time we interviewed you after the PTT Atlanta Open. So let’s start here: How does it feel to be the Best Player in the World, and what does it mean to you to be in this spot?

I know this is going to be a boring answer, but I don’t think there is a single “best player” in 40k. I think there are a couple dozen guys in the scene who are all outstanding players who could win a super major with their game knowledge, practice reps, favorable matchups and all the other factors that go into winning an event. I think one of the things that has allowed me to go 9-0 twice and 10-0 once this year has been my mentality. I don’t really ever feel stressed or pressure during my matches because I enjoy treating each match as an opportunity to get to know someone and test our overall skills against one another.  It’s never about trying to get people on rules interactions or timing issues. So I think treating each match as a social event foremost has really helped me enjoy the spectacle of the game whether it is on stream, top table at a super major, or just an RTT match.

Q.Let’s walk back this year. You’ve been on a tear through the second half of the 2019-2020 ITC season, with wins at NOVA, PTT Atlanta, Warzone: Atlanta, the Armageddon Series, and now LVO. Which one was the toughest? Which victory meant the most? Which event was your favorite?

Honestly, I enjoyed each of them in their own right because it was my first time participating in them and there was something unique and compelling about all of them.  For NOVA, it was the first major that I had won and I had not originally planned to go due to teaching obligations, but managed it last minute without any practice of the missions.  For Warzone, I was able to once again thrive in a non-ITC mission set and stake my claim to number one in the South, easily one of the most competitive regions for 40k. For Pro tabletop, I got to participate in the first major esports venture into 40k and join the other top players at the event in demonstrating the high standard of sportsmanship that I think is fundamental to a thriving competitive 40k scene.  And for LVO, I was able to help my wonderful Brohammer teammates in securing best team in the ITC, along with achieving personal goal of winning the ITC.

Q. We’ve written about it at length on Goonhammer, but we’d love your thoughts on the meta right now. Is it healthy? Unhealthy? Are there any factions you think can break marines’ dominance?

Personally I think that the meta from the spring FAQ until the Iron Hands supplement was the best it had been in 8th edition, requiring only slight tweaks to Plaguebearers and Thousand Sons casters as well as Eldar flyers. It was not perfect, but I felt a lot of different armies had the chance to compete. The Marine supplements add so many new and powerful rules that they are in a class of their own. However, if we removed the supplements right now, Chaos and Eldar would be dominant due to the extra layer of rules they have received since Psychic Awakening.  So I think it is fundamentally a problem with how Games Workshop writes and distributes rules. There is too great a lag time between giving each faction a new set of rules that match the power of the latest release. Then you have the issue of consistent quality, so while Tyranids received their psychic awakening, they gained a handful of new rules that are useful and many rules that will never be utilized.

Editor’s Note: Richard previously advocated for digital rules in our post-PTT Atlanta interview, and we agree wholeheartedly.

Q. Is there anything that people are freaking out about right now that just isn’t that big a deal?

I don’t think there is anything fundamentally broken about the stock Leviathan dreadnought.  It’s the combination of stratagems and Iron Hands rules that make it absurd.

 

Richard’s marines using the new terrain layouts. Credit: 40kstats

The List and This Event

Q. After a full season of playing T’au, you switched to Iron Hands for LVO. What led you to that decision?

Based on the faith and fury supplement, I knew that T’au were going to struggle in the new meta because rules like Alpha Legion’s conceal, the stacking of minuses to hit on non-FLY keyword units, along with Iron Hands gaining access to a 5+++ (editor’s note: The ability to ignore wounds on a 5+) on their infantry meant that it was going to be even more of an uphill battle to beat top players running Chaos and marine lists. I was also helping my teammates John Lennon, Ruben Fernandez and Rich Martin in designing an Iron Hands list for LVO and within several iterations we found a variant that I didn’t believe I could beat with T’au.

Q. Coming into this event, were there any opponents or lists you didn’t want to be matched against? Are there any bad matchups for this list?

I felt like the toughest match-ups would be Chaos possessed lists since so many great players brought them and thus I teched hard for it with the 9 Eliminators, as well as the supreme firepower of lists like those piloted by Mani Cheema and Malik Amin-Rubio. Raven Guard and Iron Hands lists were, of course, going to be tough as well.

Q. Let’s talk about that final game for a moment. You seemed more tentative with your movement out of the gate against Brad Chester. What was your strategy coming into the game?

My strategy was to preserve my intercessors for as long as possible and play for the late game. Due to the nature of single elimination, points did not matter so winning by one point or drawing but winning on points destroyed is just as good as tabling your opponent. So I was committed to keeping the game close and not giving Brad the opportunity to trade hyper efficiently into my infantry with his grav devastator centurions or his assault centurions. I also wanted to force him to drop his scouts out in my firing lanes if he wanted to achieve headhunter points. Brad played it superbly though and if I did not kill his 3 infiltrators with my eliminators to earn kill and kill more that would have allowed Brad to continue playing cagey.

Q. LVO changed things up with the terrain rules, with standardized layouts for the top tables shortly before the event this year. How do you feel about the terrain rules? Did the changes improve the competition overall? Did they have any impact on your list choices and play style?

I am a big fan of standardized terrain, which was easily one of my favorite parts of the Pro Tabletop format. So LVO committing to keeping the top tables competitive was an excellent decision in my mind. It did not end up impacting the list design itself, but it did allow for a cagey style of play against serious shooting armies and also like the ITC mission design encouraged going 2nd in many different match-ups.

Q. Moving into the 2020-2021 season, will you stick with Space Marines? Does the idea of new T’au rules in Psychic Awakening call to you? Or is there something else? You mentioned last time that Blood Angels and Grey Knights were among your favorite armies — any chance we’ll you see you piloting one of those soon?

I will definitely be experimenting with new Grey Knight and Blood Angel lists since the new rules for them are both powerful and flavorful. However, I will also still be playing T’au regularly starting with the Canhammer team tournament in February. I’m hoping T’au receive some additional tools to deal with the raw power of marines, Chaos, and Eldar.

 

Misc

Q. How much time do you spend preparing for an event like LVO? And how do you find a way to balance gaming and everything else in your life?

Fortunately, the team environment that I participate in allows me to not have to play every single matchup to keep up with the meta.  Instead, in the case of the Iron Hands list we designed, each of our ATC team who was running it focused on specific matchups and reported back to the group about how best to deploy, overall strategy, secondaries, counter plays, etc.  I will admit that since NOVA I have not put as much work into my dissertation as I would have liked so hopefully the lull in the early 2020 season will allow me to do a bit of catching up.

Q. What’s your favorite army or faction in 40k outside of competitive performance? Lore, models, nifty combos – however you want to define it.

The Inquisition is my favorite of the factions in the lore, specifically Gregor Eisenhorn and Gideon Ravenor.  Those black library books are my favorite. I am very excited for the live-action big budget Eisenhorn tv series.

Q. Are there any other games you play besides 40k?

StarCraft was my game for a very long time starting with Brood War and then Starcraft II. I still follow the StarCraft esports scene. I also enjoy single-player games like Bioshock, Mass Effect, and Dead Space, but I don’t play any other games competitively.

Q. Any advice for the aspiring tournament players out there just getting started with competitive 40k?

The biggest difference between me at the beginning of the season and the end of the season is the sheer amount of reps I have gotten against other top players.  Every game is a learning experience and the best way to learn is playing against great players. I also think that being a part of a team environment with like-minded players is a tremendous help exploring different lists, strategies, and styles.

Q. What’s next for you in 2020? How do you top an already stellar 2019 campaign?

Truthfully, it’s going to be very difficult to match a season like this.  My main goal will be to help Team America win the World Team Championships. Also, I will be part of the Art of War content creation team starting soon where players like myself, Nick Nanavati and Mark Perry will be live streaming matched play games on twitch, so please check us out on social media. I also want to thank my sponsors team Obey Alliance, Warpfire Miniatures, Big Bear 3d, and 3d6 Wargaming.

Thanks again, and good luck in 2020!

 

More to Come

If you’re interested in reading more about this year’s LVO, you’re in luck–over the next two weeks we’ll have reports from multiple Goonhammer authors, plus analysis of lists for 40k, Age of Sigmar, and Kill Team. And as always, if you have any questions, notes, or feedback, feel free to drop them in the comments below, or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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