As odd as it sounds, I need to start this article by saying it’s not a joke. Being that my last article was a thought experiment with a fake story, I want to make it clear that this article is about a very real person who won a very real tournament (in fact you can even look it up on Best Coast Pairings).
With that out of the way, lets begin…
Nathan isn’t someone you would have guessed would be in the top 4 of the Masters event at Blood and Gears, and yet he not only made it to the second day undefeated, but he then won it all on the second day. The reason you wouldn’t have guessed he would be there is that you don’t normally see him at events, as he typically is a ‘stay at home gamer’, and the events he goes to he’s normally in the middle of the pack or in the bottom half. Yet despite this he triumphed over all to become, what I would call, an ideal champion.
To start with I’d like to talk about his game play. Nathan plays Grymkin, and fairly typical Dreamer list. What he has done though is dedicated himself to that list, playing it over and over, until he knows it inside and out. This pays off on the table where he’s able to cleanly and consistently perform his turns with no errors, and focus on what the army needs to do to win (take out enemy heavies and grind to an eventual win). A Dreamer list can do a lot of interesting things, and Nathan knows how to use them to systematically take out threats, lock down scenario, and threaten the enemy caster. This may sound common, but it really isn’t, as many players find it difficult to play a single list for so long, and most players don’t play as cleanly and as consistently as they think they do.
One of the things that really makes Nathan an ideal champion though isn’t what he does on the game board, but more what he does while he plays. Nathan is one of the most relaxed and laid-back players you’ll see. Even during the semi-final, and final games of Masters, where most people would be feeling stressed, Nathan was sitting back and just enjoying the game as if it was any other casual game being played some random evening with a beer and movie in the background. This calm also likely means he doesn’t make emotional mistakes, but more importantly it helps the other player be at ease and enjoy the game more as well. He’ll ask rules questions, confirm charge lanes, and check interactions like anyone, but it’s done more in a tone of asking how your day is going rather than coming across as a challenge or edging for tactical position. Often competitive gamers are generalized as ‘serious’, ‘calculating’, and ‘strict’, but Nathan redefines this and exemplifies what all gamers should strive to be: relaxed and enjoying the moment win or lose.
The final thing that rounds out this ideal champion is his focus on the overall hobby. Not only did Nathan win 1st in the Masters event, he also won 1st in the painting competition. This was less of a surprise as his Grymkin are painted beautifully and he even has a custom tray that he built for them. Again, the stereotype for a competitive gamer would be someone who just focused on winning, and likely only has the models that are ‘best’, with no need to paint them as they are ready to move on to the next ‘best’, but Nathan is one of those gamers who embraces all parts of the hobby and invests the time to construct and paint every single one of his models to the best of his abilities, and that dedication paid off as it gave him not one but two 1st place trophies at the event, proving him to be the best overall gamer that day.
There are many champions out there, as there are tournaments every week, but it’s important that we take time to notice ones like Nathan that really exemplify everything that a champion should be: Clean and precise in his game play, friendly and relaxed, and an ambassador for the hobby as a whole. I’m not sure when will be the next time Nathan will be seen in the winners circle again, and I’m sure he doesn’t even care if he is, but I’m glad to see him winning this one, and showing everyone what an ideal champion should be.