Ladies and Gentlemen, it is that time of year again. The biggest, baddest, thrillingest, coolest, and other superlativest Warmachine and Hordes event of the year is almost upon us, which makes it my solemn duty to … predict the winners, like I did last year.
The setup of the survey is simple: ask all teams that went 5-1 or better last year, which teams they think will go 5-1 this year. To add some spice, I asked them for a dark horse too. A dark horse is a team no one is really preparing for, but who could really be good.
For reference, the following teams would get polled: Finland blue, both Australian teams, Poland Leaders, Germany Dichter Denker, and England Roses. I added some bonus people as well, because reasons.
I set upon my task by spamming people on Facebook. The first person to respond was the venerable Doctor Sascha Maisel, proud member of Germany Black, formerly known as Germany Dichter Denker.
He came up with the following list: Poland Wisents, Scotland Irn, Sweden Nobel, Germany Black, Finland Väinämöinen1 and Australia Koala.
Going by some twitter comments of the past weeks, this might be a list of usual suspects. The only twist there might be the nomination of Koala (with Jeff Galea, Pottsy, Aaron Whale and double Bates) over Echidna, with international superstars Tom Guan and Colin Hill, to name just two. I can understand that logic. A koala looks the most like the most dangerous Australian animal in existence … a dropbear2.
His dark horse pick was Austria 1 (or Austria Schnitzel, if I’m not mistaken). We’ll get to them later.
Anyway, after this good talk with Doctor Maisel my spam start to yield results. I catch a certain Tom Guan in his natural habitat, namely on a plane. He comes up with the following list: Australia Enchinda (sounds better than Echidna, you have to admit), Germany Black, Poland Wisents, Scotland Irn, Sweden Nobel and USA Red.
It becomes apparent here that the USA don’t really have one top team leading the charge. They have three very solid teams, but it seems we’re missing that one all-star lineup. Some say it might be the MK3 effect on team USA Blue, but all I hear are excuses. The Guan therefore seems to choose for the experience of Puryear and the pure star quality of Flanzer3, something I can’t blame him for.
His dark horse pick is Norway red. As a Belgian, I can’t ever admit that I would respect them enough to compare them to such a noble animal (I would rather use “troll” than “horse”4), but we’re totally in agreement about the dark part.
The next person to answer the call was Ryan Evans from England Roses. He went with the following list: Belgium Prinzesschen and the Fabulettes5, Germany Black, Poland Wisents, Scotland Irn, USA Red and Australia Echidna. In that order. For obvious reasons, he’s my new man crush now. Such fantastic choices. What a great guy.
As a dark horse pick, he went with Russia Wolves, something I really can’t disagree on. Awesome dude. So nice.
Anyway. The next person I managed to get a hold of was Marcin Mycek from Poland Wisents. He went with the following list: Sweden Nobel, Sweden Dynamite, Poland Wisents, USA Blue, Scotland Irn and Germany Black. There, the first vote for USA Blue, at least someone who can appreciate two former world champions in a single team.
His dark horse pick was Finland Väinämöinen. I protested, saying that the reigning champions were hardly dark horse material. A dark horse is a team that isn’t really on people’s radar. A team people aren’t really preparing for, but who could be good. Marcin’s succinct reply was: “that’s exactly them”. Can’t argue with that. Especially not since he added: “you can never be ready for Finland”. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a fact.
Meanwhile, Jeff Galea from Australia Koala got online, and he came up with the following lineup: Germany Black, Poland Wisents and Scotland Irn to go 5:1, and Australia Echidna to go 6:0. He decided not to vote on his own team. For reasons that have been repeated over and over again on social media, I can say that I understand.
So, out of my list of six, I had only the reigning champions to go. I contacted their captain, who forwarded my request to his most important advisor: Sauna Master Hermanni Raatevaara6. The verdict landed on Sweden Nobel, USA Red, Poland Wisents, Australia Echidna, Scotland Irn, and Germany Black.
As dark horse, he picked Finland Väinämöinen. Having had this discussion before, I dedided not to argue with him, and ask him what Väinämöinen actually meant. He’s a main character from the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala. That sounds rather boring, were it not for the fact that Väinämöinen is a bit of an old pervert, whose unsuccessful search for a wife is one of the central elements of the story. To give you an idea, one of his potential brides drowns herself rather than marrying him. Suitable enough for the name of a WTC team, if you ask me.
A quick count brings us Poland Wisents, Germany Black and Scotland Irn with a perfect score of 6 votes, with Nobel and Echidna lagging at 4 each.
So … time for extras. I for sure had to include the one man that got it all started, so, I present you Rickard Nilsson’s list: Germany Black, Poland Wisents, Sweden Nobel, Scotland Irn, Australia Echidna and, after some debate, USA Red. The Master of the Minions went with Norway Red as dark horse.
That still left a perfect score for one team I hadn’t contacted, so … Hello Billy Cruickshanks? His list looked as follows: Scotland Irn, Germany Black, Australia Echidna, Poland Wisents, Sweden Nobel and Australia Koala. No USA team, because apparently and according to the Scots, they are scrubs.
His dark horse pick was Austria Schnitzel, picked for the same reasons that Sascha mentioned … namely, The Don.
So, I put on my pinstriped consigliere suit, and went for a visit to the Casa. What happens in the Casa stays in the Casa, but I can tell you this: the Don decided that the top teams for this year’s WTC would come from the USA, Australia, Germany, Finland and Poland, and that I should keep an eye out for Austria Schnitzel. As if I wasn’t doing that already.
Since every survey about dark horses needs a dark horse respondent, Sascha hooked me up with Matthieu Vega from France’s answers: Australia Koala, England Roses, Germany Gold, Poland Wisents, Sweden Nobel and Usa Red, and as dark horse pick, he went with his own France Asterix – who can blame him, right?
So. I contacted Norbert Brunhuber to ascertain that he was still unbiased (he is), and then went on to counting the votes. The clear winner with the maximum vote count is Poland Wisents. Never finishing outside of the top three at a WTC seems to count for something. Next is Germany Black – the team is nearly unchanged from last year, and my guess is that no one beats these guys on sheer amount of practise games played.
Despite their 4-2 finish last year, Scotland Irn comes in third – winning the ETC last July strengthens their reputation, especially since they beat the Germans on the way there. Cruickshanks claims they didn’t prepare much (with Mk3 and all) but I don’t believe a word he says. In fourth place, we find Australia Echidna (obviously)7 and Sweden Nobel with seven votes each.
The drop-off is a bit steeper from then on, USA Red establishes itself as the dominant American team, Australia Koala is clearly on people’s radar, and so is Finland Väinämöinen, if you count dark horse votes as well.
Most nominated dark horse team is Austria Schnitzel – add a legend like the Don to hard hitters like Florian Hartmann, Wolfgang Weber, Stefan Riegler and Erich Hochauer, and you have a team that can beat anyone on a good day.
I think there isn’t much I can add to this overview, apart from maybe the clear absence of Canadian teams. They haven’t broken top 10 yet, maybe that’s a reason. Still, I’m keeping an eye on them as well, it could be their year this year.
About ourselves – according to this very representative sample, Team Belgium Prinzesschen and the Fabulettes is at the same level as Sweden Dynamite, USA Blue, England Roses and Germany Gold. Everyone knows, of course, that this is a lie. No one is at our level.
Joking aside, I’d be content with a 3-3 finish, and very happy with a 4-2. Anything above that would make me dance-on-the-tables-and-run-through-the-hall-naked extatic. Last year, Team Finland showed that anything can happen, and with MK3, everyone is even more in the dark. So … who knows.
See you all this weekend!
1 I assume this spelling has the correct amöünts of äccënts and the likes. Few sources bothered to add them. I decided to be different. Perkele.
2 Also, Koala has Jeff Galea. Cuty and cuddly at first glance, but deadly as a container of knives – exactly like a dropbear.
3 Sorry Billy Robin, Bret Fogel and David Smith, I really can’t put faces to your names. Come say hi this weekend, so we can erase that injustice.
4 In Norway, the phrase “yo momma is a troll” is more a statement of fact, rather than a taunt.
5 Yes, it’s Prinzesschen and the Fabulettes. Our other team is called Victorious Secret. Some sources apparently didn’t bother to add our full name, I chose to be different. Godvermiljaardefokkerdju. See also footnote 1.
6 When even Rickard Nilsson admits that he prefers to sauna the Raatevaara way, you know that the respect is rightfully earned. You can show your appreciation of a Raatevaara sauna session in beer, as long as it isn’t Heineken. Everyone knows that Heineken isn’t beer.
7 I get one fourth place joke, right? I mean, I’m not making any horse jokes already … right?