As most of our followers know, the X-Wing North American Championship recently took place at Gen Con 50 in Indiannappolis, ID. I was able to track down and interview Jakub Tepper, the only Imperial player to place in the top 16 (and top 8).
While I was glued to the Gold Squadron Podcast stream (THANK. YOU. The freaking Destiny Championships weren’t even streamed!), I noticed something that I noticed at Worlds a few months earlier: where are all the Imperials in high level play?
Now, I will freely admit that all of my losses can be attributed to one and only one thing: my own lack of play experience. It’s not luck, dice, Jumpmasters, the Palp nerf, Sabine, or anything else. With that being said, my motivation to conduct this interview was to find out what makes a high-level Imperial player tick, what they were doing right, and what we can all learn from them.
Unfortunately, I was unable to video or audio record the interview because Jakub’s work schedule is crazy, he travels all over the world, and we were routinely chatting across a dozen different time zones.
INTERVIEW WITH JAKUB TEPPER
ME: What is your gaming and Star Wars background?
JAKUB: I’ve been playing video games since the late 80s, but not so much board games. I remember playing Doom Trooper and MtG in the early 90s, touched a bit W40K at that time, and Pokemon TCG later. Since then, only video games until mid-2016, when my friends got me hooked into X-Wing.
I’ve been a fan of Star Wars since 90s, when I saw it for the first time. Never too serious, but loved the universe, characters and whole popculture phenomenon.
ME: When did you start playing X-Wing and when did it start to become competitive?
JAKUB: I’ve been playing for around a year, without other miniatures experience. I started playing at local tournaments pretty early and got beaten up every single week. I remember it took me about 2 months to win my first game! I was thinking about quitting already, but something kept telling me to keep playing until I finally win something.
ME: How much competitive success have you had before your Top 8 performance at Gen Con 2017?
JAKUB: Before that, I played in few major tournaments in Europe, but always was ending around 50-70th out of around 300. In the local scene in Poland, I placed 2nd and top 4 in the recent Store Championship season, also won a few local tournaments, nothing spectatular.
ME: Why did you choose to fly Imperials at Gen Con 2017?
JAKUB: Because that’s the only team I fly. I tried once to play Dash+Miranda at a friend’s home, but got 0:400 in two games and decided – never again. I just stick to what I know and what I like. Also, it’s much more satisfying to get some results with list that’s not necessarily the most popular one.
ME: What lists did you easily beat?
JAKUB: General rule for that list for me is – the less ships oponent has, the better. So usually Rey/Han + something is a good pairing for me. Also Dengar + Nym is fine if I’m able to destroy Nym before QD dies. Otherwise, Dengar vs just RAC is extremely difficult.
Still, really no easy wins here on Gen Con! I played against quite a few unorthodox lists which are hard to flight against, since you’re not sure what to expect!
ME: What lists did you lose to or have difficulty with?
JAKUB: “Four SHIT rebels.” I didn’t play against it this time, but I have never won against it before with my current list! In Gen Con swiss, I lost 2 matches: one was against super-experienced Nathaniel Moore and his Rey/Miranda and another one was against arebel swarm. Again, the more ships opponent has, the worse it is for me. Basically, any swarm can take my RAC out pretty fast.
ME: Would you make any changes to the list if you were going to another major event before the next FAQ/wave releases?
JAKUB: That’s a good question. Up until the very last moment, I wasn’t sure if I wanted Kylo Ren or Rebel Captive on RAC. Eventually, I went with the former and it was a good decision. So, for now, I won’t be changing anything. It’s super fun to fly!
ME: How much fun did you have at the event and was there a particular memory that you cherish?
JAKUB: Oh, that was a great experience! It was my first tournament in the US and I absolutely love the community! Every single guy I played against was extra nice, happy to talk, and have fun over the mat.
Also, I need to mention Paul, whom I met on the first day and we were hanging out till very end – he made top 16, so congrats to that guy too!
I won’t forget my last game, that’s for sure! It was my Decimator on 4HP versus my opponent’s Scurgg on 3HP. We’re at range 2 and I shoot with TL: hit, crit, blank. Reroll the blank with TL – BLANK AGAIN! He rolls blank, both damage goes in, he’s left on 1.
Then, he shoots with Cruise Missiles: hit hit crit blank. He rerolls the blank into a hit and GAME OVER. The Scurgg survived at 1HP just because I couldn’t get even a focus (which would have changed into a crit) out of the one die. He went to Top 4, I lost. Emotions to the end, great game!!
ME: What is X-Wing doing right and what could it do to make it better?
JAKUB: Not sure if it’s actually thanks to FFG, but the community around this game is outstanding. I absolutely love to go to any tournaments there are and compete with players from around the world. There’s a lot of talk about how this ship or that ship is OP, but at this moment I find it more or less balanced. There will be always easier to play builds – and that’s good too. X-Wing works pretty much like paper/rock/scissors and that’s as good as it gets I think.
ME: Finally, what’s the next step for you?
JAKUB: The nationals season is about to start, so mid-September I’ll compete in the Polish edition. I am looking forward to that, but since the whole Polish community was rooting for me at Gen Con and they know how well I did – the pressure is on! I won’t be surprised if I do really poorly because of that as well. Still, I plan to have a lot of fun with the game and people that play it. Fly casual!!
Rear Admiral Chiraneau (65)
There you have it. The answer is and has always been to fly a list you are comfortable with and to have fun with it.
We wish Jakub the best of luck at the Polish Nationals.
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