Fresh blood and new champions(?)

For quite a long time tournaments (both online and offline) have been dominated by the same names nearly all the time, with an occasional outsider having success. Note that this is exclusively about winning tournaments, not finishing #2, #3, which often still is a great accomplishment.

No one reigns forever, the same applies to Stratego tournaments. New talents will often unfold into new champions, it just is a matter of time. When I played the oldest van Geffen junior during the 2017 Dutch championships, routine and experience was just barely enough to escape with a narrow victory, the difference being one piece (maj, min, min vs cap, min) in the end.

Every game has its generations,  players drop out (e.g. sports when people become too old to compete or simply drop out due to lack of enjoyment), making space for a new generation, or sometimes the new generation simply takes over, outclassing the ones that have dominated for a long period of time.

With the rise of Online Stratego improving has never been so easy before, lots of quality matches can be played throughout a day, quickly improving new players, even to the point where they could become top competitors after a while. There are those players that surprise you by having 10000 games on their name and yet, they still lack basic understanding, while also opposite cases are present, those who have not yet played a huge amount of games, but do have a decent / fair understanding of the game.

During the 2015 Dutch championships it was weird to see former 4 times world champion Erik van den Berg play against former world champion Johnny van Geffen on board 6 of the third round, despite both of them having won both prior rounds. The game ended in a draw. Erik ended #13 while Johnny finished #22. They both were and still are great players, it feels that they just no longer have the will to give their all in competitive games.

When looking at the current online Stratego ladder (4th of jan 2018), we see a second place for 'Spion...' with 1152 points, place #30 for 'Texaspete09' with exactly 1000 points, going a bit further down up to place 47 there is 'Major Nelson' with 955 points and the likes of 'Sevenseas' having broken the 1000 threshold previously, who also, not completely surprisingly, won the 2017 UK championships, outclassing one time WC Richard  and veteran Anthony. The youngsters are coming.

During the second WCO, the youngest van Geffen junior almost ended up winning the event, falling just a bit short in the very last round only to take the second place. Talented youngsters (van Geffen brothers, Sevenseas, Yellowhat, Master mind, Major Nelson and many others) will one day take over the crown from the current top. I just hope they let me win a 5th live WC before doing so 😉.

While the youngsters may not have the experience and may succumb under the pressure of winning a major title, they will eventually take it. They (especially after being close) will have the will to experience the thrill of winning a major title. The motivation is there, the skills are there. They get 3 chances a year (national championships, live WC and WCO) to meet with the best.

Top 4 boards during Dutch championships 2017 , 4/8 being youngsters. Round 6 out of 7.


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