Zachary Becker, organiser of the UK Tournament Circuit and London Grand Tournament convention, plans to run seven new super-major Warhammer 40k tournaments and double the number of tickets available across the whole circuit in 2024. Becker explained his plans to Wargamer in between rounds at the London GT convention this weekend.
The UK Tournament Circuit is the a massive independent organised play circuit for miniature wargames in the UK. In 2023 it organised 11 Warhammer 40k super-majors – tournaments with at least 250 seats – in different cities throughout the year, alongside tournaments for many other games.
Becker wants organised Warhammer 40k to have the same reach as football, so that players anywhere in the country are no more than two hours drive away from a super-major event where they can field their favorite Warhammer 40k faction against fresh opponents.
The UKTC will bring that goal closer to reality in 2024, opening seven new super-majors, all in new regions. “Unless you live in the tip of Cornwall” you’ll be within two hours of an event, Becker says, “And next we’d love to put one on in Glasgow” – the far north and south of the UK respectively. Existing events will balloon in size, from the 250-400 player range up to 500 player tournaments.
Becker says that interest in organised 40k tournaments has grown rapidly with the launch of Warhammer 40k 10th edition – though a little more rapidly in the United States than the UK, in no small part due to the UK’s cost of living crisis.
The UKTC has grown from comparatively humble beginnings. The project began with a conversation in a pub with some friends, shortly after Becker rediscovered Warhammer 40k as an adult.
They were disappointed that the UK had no organised play scene, compared to the strong offering in America. That led to the first London Grand Tournament in 2016, an 80 person 40k tournament that Becker says was the biggest in the UK at the time.
The tournament grew rapidly year on year, ballooning to 900 people in 2019. “We weren’t really prepared for the organisational time required”, Becker admits. But the “speed bump” gave Becker the prompt he needed to go full time as a tournament organiser.
COVID presented the next big change for the UKTC: “We had a lot of people contacting us when lockdowns were lifted, saying they’d love more events”. Becker took stock and decided to hire additional staff to make it feasible to run additional tournaments around the UK.
The London GT remains the UKTC’s largest event. This year it hosted tournaments for 14 game systems, including the UK Worlds qualifiers for Star Wars Legion, Star Wars X-Wing and Star Wars Armada, the UK nationals for A Song of Ice and Fire, and even the worlds for the long-defunct Warmaster.
The headline event was a massive 750 player Warhammer 40k tournament, Europe’s largest 40k tournament and the world’s second biggest, after the Las Vegas Open. Becker has his sights set on catching up with the American tournaments that first inspired him.
Reflecting on the growth of the UKTC, Becker says he’s most proud of the change in how 40k is played at a competitive level – the accessibility and quality of events that players can now access. While running a circuit is a far larger workload than a single event, it also gives far more opportunities to iterate and improve operations.
This year’s London GT was won by Liam Vessel commanding the Chaos Space Marines, beating out Hugo Richiardi’s Aeldari by a comfortable 86:65. The Aeldari remained a high-performing pick at the tournament, despite a recent nerf in Games Workshop’s most recent balance update.
The growing interest in organised Warhammer 40k reflects rising tides for the game as a whole. Check out this article about Games Workshop’s bumper payouts to shareholders to see how that’s affecting the company behind it all.