Weekend Tournament: UK Energon Open

Well, UK Energon Open was a thing, wasn’t it?

So a quick summary for those not familiar – the UK Energon Open was a tournament at the Dark Sphere megastore in Shepherd’s Bush, London. It was announced only a couple of months ago, with the big prize being an all expenses paid trip to the US to compete in the Energon Invitational… so kind of a big deal! There were also ‘lesser prizes’ like the last SDCC 2018 promo packs, eight Wave 1 uncut sheets and a staggering thirty-two 35th Anniversary Blaster vs Soundwave sets. Plus lots of extra spot prizes like boosters and goodies and all that.

A few weeks ago I actually wrote about how I was feeling about the competition and how I wanted to mostly hang back and play something weird rather than worry about the big prizes (since that’d mean trying to play the meta and I wasn’t really interested in that). You can read that here. However during the writing of that article I actually got asked if I would consider judging the event, so I said sure, seemed like the right thing to do. I would be working as a floor judge, working for Luke May of WOTC.

This was my first time judging a major tournament, I had very little sleep, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect… but I can now say I had a good time. I also got given some free stuff for my trouble, which was nice.

Calm before the storm…

Turn out was about 56 players, and it was great to see not only a large number of players from the local Brighton meta, but our neighbours in Chichester and Southampton too. It was also great to see familiar faces I’ve met over the last year outside of those scenes too, as well as meeting a few people I’ve only known on social media up until now. It was a very long day and I had to concentrate a lot (very hard when very tired)… so I apologise if at any time it felt like I was ignoring you; I was busy, I was trying my best to make sure everything was going okay, even though I’d have loved to just stand there and chat about various decklists people were cooking up.

The tournament was 6 rounds of 50 minutes each, then it went to a Top 8 knock-out tournament.

Round 3 in play

Huge mix of line-ups across the tournament; some familiar standards like classic bugs, cars, Major Shockwave, Superion, Blaster (let’s face it, it’s becoming pretty common isn’t it?), Metroplex, Devastator, the return of Nemesis decks, the recent Trigger Happy / Ion Storm deck, various General Prime-type lists. There were several really unique ones in the mix too – Dreadwing w/Firedrive did really well, Menasor, Dinobots, a Megatron Living Weapon / Lionizer which was very novel, an Orange Superion deck, even someone running Elita-1 with Skrapnel.

Major Shockwave vs General Megatron

Perhaps the biggest surprise though was a player taking General Megatron to 4-0 (admittedly including two Byes) and hitting the top table by Round 5; unfortunately that player had two pretty gruesome matches straight after and didn’t break the Top 8, but for a moment it was pretty exciting that a possible outsider deck was going to be in the play-offs.

Lee McAlpin posing for the camera.

Probably the most intense match I saw was Timothy Teo vs Mat Armstrong in Round 6, a General Prime vs Major Shockwave match, effectively playing for a spot in the Top 8. Shockwave was looking like he’d go down but he managed to stick around with an Energy Pack and a Sparring Gear, just absorbing hit after hit whilst still having a relatively high amount of Orange in his deck. The game ended up going to time, but was won on Shockwave‘s final turn. My hands were shaking, let alone the players! A little luck and maybe Mat could have done it, but the cards just weren’t in his favour.

Top 8

Top 8 consisted of Rhys Bradley, Chris McDonald, Timothy Teo (all running Shockwave), Francis Thomas, Simon Munday (both Superion), Joe Rodway (4-wide Cars), Ben Saunders (Blaster) and Ben Cottee (Ion Storm + Triggerhappy). Alas I didn’t get to see any of the Top 8 match between Rhys and Ben Cottee, but I saw the other three games. Both Superions got knocked out in two rounds by Blaster and Shockwave, leaving a grueling match between Shockwave and 4-wide Cars. These matches were not on the clock, so there was no going to time in these contests, which meant the match ended up being a tough but very thought-out slog. Having spoken to Joe beforehand, I knew he was a bit anxious about going up against Shockwave and the game was tight as hell, but Cars eventually prevailed and Joe won himself an SDCC pack…. which is annoying because he clearly already has a Cliffjumper. I’m not jealous at all.

Victorious Joe, just rubbing it in my face.

For Top 4, I mostly just stuck with the Shockwave face-off between Rhys and Chris… this had all the hallmarks of another slow game, but both players were lightning quick and watching the two Shockwaves slowly beat each other was almost dizzying. The amount of card draw and discard going on meant that both players were constantly losing hands and then building them back again. Another very close game that went 2-1 to Chris; likewise, Blaster vs Cars went 2-1 to Ben and Blaster.

Very shocking match

Which left the final – you can watch the stream here if you like, but I don’t think it fully captured the tense but also kind of jovial final game for the trip to America. I had been seeing a lot of secret actions all day, but I think in this one I was really seeing not only the secret actions in play, but the prediction of what they would be from the opposing side as well. This was really exciting and definitely made the game feel a bit more different and tactical. Despite some strong resistance from Chris, who took the second game after losing the first, this ended up being Blaster‘s day and Ben took the tournament.

Shockwave vs Blaster for the 40th anniversary set?

There’s definitely some cards I now have a massive amount of respect for – in particular I think Energy Pack and Gyro-Blaster did a hell of a lot of work, especially for the Major Shockwave players. I think everyone will be thinking about anti-utility tech for the next one, if they aren’t already (and you should be). Also, if you can master secret actions, I think they can take you very far. I think the best players this Saturday were the ones who had looked at Wave 3, and worked out how best to use every card in that set, rather than relying on old mentalities (people like me most likely!).

Swiss results.

I hope this becomes a regular thing in this country, I saw a lot of happy faces and people really excited about Transformers. For myself, I definitely would like to judge larger tournaments again… it’s tiring work, but I definitely felt more involved in things than if I had just been playing. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to do so again.

Anyhow, hope you enjoyed the pictures and the quick summary; regular Weekend write-ups should resume again soon!

Your UK champion Ben Saunders (also a terribly nice person, buy him a pint!)

Until next time.

Special Thanks to Luke May of WOTC and Alexi Tingey of Dark Sphere for taking me on this Saturday, and the entire Dark Sphere crew for all their help and the amazing work they did.

PS. Flip Flip Bang Bang is now on Facebook and Twitter. I’m endeavouring to only post once a week on non-local social media pages, so if you want to read posts as they happen, please follow the blog on your chosen Social Media platform. Thanks!

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