Interview with STC 2018 winners, Team Dojo-1

This past weekend 36 coaches travelled to North Carolina to compete in the most competitive US Team Tournament of 2018. Thirteen of the top 50 US coaches were present for this event, including two who were ranked in the top 10. The 36 coaches formed twelve teams of three and at the end of the day Team Dojo-1, coached by Mike Rhodes, Joshua White and Jake Smith came out on top.  Congratulations!

Left to right: Joshua White, Jake Smith, Mike Rhodes


Thanks!  First off, I want to take a minute to thank our host for this year’s event (John Stokes) for organizing the event and setting everything up.  John found a great venue at Triskelion Brewing Company which is located in downtown Hendersonville, North Carolina.  The brewery is brand new with tons of great beer and outdoor space.  For the event we had the second floor, and bar, all to ourselves which was essentially an open loft to the rest of the brewery. Another big shout out to community legend Lon Sims for TOing this event allowing John to play.  Lon did a great job promoting and running a smooth clean event with no issues (which is saying a lot when you have almost forty men in a brewery).  We hope to continue the tradition next year and rotate the site again so that every meta will have a chance to host.  Thanks again to everyone who traveled from afar to make this event diverse and really fun to play in. 


Dan: On the day before the tournament, I released an article on Midwestwargaming that ranked the teams I felt were the favorites to win or were a potential underdog; as you all know, in the original submission, I did not include Dojo-1 in any of my rankings. I overlooked your team entirely.

I bring this up again because I believe my error in judgement was shared by much of the country. Nobody other than Southerners predicted that you guys had a shot at winning. Why do you think that you all were being overlooked by us Yankees?


Josh:  We don’t get a chance to travel a lot nationally.  This was our first year at Spring Fling and we didn’t have a great showing.  In addition, we did not play any competitive events at Steamcon last year.  We try to support our local metas, so we play a lot of events here in Greenville, Asheville, Charleston, Atlanta, Raleigh, and some meet ups in Columbia. 


Mike: Piggy backing off of Josh, we haven’t been able to win one of these huge events out right.  I was able to win two twenty plus man events last year and Josh has won some smaller tournaments in Raleigh and Asheville but we haven’t had much exposure with these wins.


Jake: To these guys points, my win last year at the team tournament was a very small under the radar event that didn’t get even half as much exposure as this year’s event.  In addition to this I haven’t had the greatest competitive season with my home team (Alchemists) catching a nerf bat and searching for a new guild amongst the new releases Blacksmiths and Farmers. In addition, we haven’t had a strong social media presence, Lack of a podcast, YouTube channel, twitch, etc. has kept us under the radar.  Other players that participate in things like this have more of a name brand than we do globally and nationally.


Dan: Let’s see if we can’t build your guys’ brand a bit more. Tell me about your nicknames. Mike “Drunk Master” Rhodes, Josh “Well Oiled Machine” White and Jake “Fun Table” Smith.


Josh: The name well oiled machine comes from Pin Vice’s legendary play.  I’ve been playing Pinny V and missing four dice kicks since the day she released in Season 2 and for the longest time have been the only Engineer player who has stuck with them.  The name just seemed to fit.

Mike: The Dojo team is known to enjoy several refreshments before, during, and after tournaments.  This name took life after my two tournament wins last year when I may have used the alcohol to fuel my victories.  On a side note my play seems to ebb and flow with the drinks.  It’s not near as bad as everyone makes it out to be it was just a fun name to go along with the reputation we get at local events.  I mean honestly, how many groups of guys do you see pre-gaming and tailgating Guild Ball events???

Jake: Yikes, so this stems from a couple of events I played in this year where I really thought things should have turned out differently with my results.  Whether due to bad play or unforeseen circumstances I told myself I was done trying to play competitively and now I was just going to have fun.  Just put me at the fun table I told everyone, and it stuck.  To be honest, I have enjoyed the game a lot more since after not putting so much pressure on myself to win or podium every time I play.


Dan: Jake, you went undefeated with your Brewers at the STC and even managed to take down the Hero of Hammer, Joshua Nichols in the final round. Peter Kain from the GUBS wants to know “What will Jake’s new nickname be now that he’s off the fun table?”


Jake: So much pressure…. since the big win in the finals (which I was dropped to fall on that sword so that Josh and Mike could get favorable matchups) I’ve been given the “Captain” nod.  So that being said I’m getting pressure on the “Captain” front, “El Capitan”, “Oh captain, my captain”, “Captain Dojo”, or “Dojo Captain”.  I guess we will see how it plays out in the next couple of weeks.  Either way I’m super proud to play with these guys and wouldn’t trade it for anything.


 Dan: Let’s talk tactics. Unlike a regular tournament, team tournaments provide the coaches with the opportunity to manipulate the matchups with their blind drop and choice drop selections. What were some of Dojo-1’s thought processes and tactics during these selections?

Jake: So, going into the event Mike and Josh had been playing exceptionally well.  The plan in most rounds was to drop one of the two of them and then make a decision based on comfort level and matchups for the remaining two.  With Mike playing Union we thought he would be able to handle the most matchups.  

Josh: Essentially we dropped Mike the first three rounds because we thought that no matter who they paired against him he could win.  We thought that with Mike playing Union in this event it would make it harder for other teams to pair up on him to get an advantage.  Based off of Longshanks the only real weakness Vet Rage has is Shark and there were only three fish players in the event.  Luckily, we didn’t see any of them. 

Mike:  With Josh playing Engineers and Jake fairly new at playing Brewers we wanted to try to get them the best matchup as possible to be successful.  I think we were able to achieve this as Jake played two mirror matches which he felt comfortable with and an Engineer game which is a great matchup for Brewers.  With Josh we were able to have him play into Blacksmiths, Brewers, and Union the first three rounds which he has had a ton of practice against playing Jake and myself.  The last round was very interesting.  We were trying to protect me from the Mason match as I had lost in the third round to a Mason player and have not had much luck against them historically.  The second half of this is we wanted to get Jake onto the Blacksmith matchup or dive on his sword matching up against Josh Nichols who is a top 5 player in the country leaving Josh and myself to pick up the other two wins.  We felt good about Josh playing into the Union match again so as it turned out we got the exact matchup we wanted and Jake was able to pull out a huge upset.


Dan: Shane Walker from the GUBS wants to know, “Is there any difference in approach for choosing your 10 or preparation for a team event?”


Josh: As far as picking the ten it’s like any tournament.  You want to make sure your list can handle anything.  The only nuance in the team event is you can’t use the same Union players.  I rarely use Union, so it didn’t matter and Jake had Hemlocke in his ten which Engineers don’t have access to.


Mike: I think more importantly than picking the ten is picking your guilds.  Josh has been a long time Engineer player and Jake had been playing well with the new look Brewers.  I love to bounce around from guild to guild and we had initially decided on me playing Hunters in this event.  The thought process was that it could give us some favorable matchups on top of being an all comers list as they have two very different play styles in Guild.  That being said the Falconers box got delayed and I was able to get some games in with Pride.  It just made sense in the end to take Union as they don’t have a lot of bad match ups.


These models were not allowed for the STC

Dan: Followup to that question. This tournament did not allow any of the new Faithful models as legal options. If the Faithful were included how would any of you had switched up your team choices or your 10-man rosters, if so, how and why?


Josh:  There was nothing new in that box that Engineers could have taken so it really didn’t matter.  Lon did a good job getting ahead of it disallowing Faithful models from the start as there were some concerns about availability to everyone as the original release date was the Friday before the event.


Mike:  I most likely would have thrown seasoned Spigot and Vet Fangtooth in my ten but other than that none of the models would have changed our game plan about how we approached the event.  We didn’t really see any of those models being a match ups game breaker if we had to play against them.


Jake:  As a long time Alchemist player I would have probably thrown Vet Calculus in for some practice games to see how she worked with the current build, but I think eventually I would have settled back into Brewers as they currently have way less problems that Alchemists do with matchups.  Also, Vet Cinder may have had to happen…more to come on that soon.


Dan:  The South is known for its love of Hunters yet John Stokes from team Beer City was the only coach to bring the Hunters to this tournament. Why do you think there was such little Hunters turnout for the STC?


Josh:  I think it was a combination of a lot of things, the main one being the delay on the Falconers box.  A lot of people had their eyes set on that release to buff their Hunters team and with the delay some people lost some interest just like Mike did.


Mike: Josh is right, the delay hurt but also the Exiles box brought some Hunters players back to other guilds.  Pete Kain and Allen Bradley both slid back to Brewers (who they had played a good bit before), one of our Dojo members Alex Veinberg moved on to Fish after getting his guild purist badge on Longshanks, and Brandon Lynch from Georgia was having a lot of fun playing Ratcatchers and Morts.


Dan: Besides Hunters, the south is also known for pairing Guild Ball tournaments with lots of booze. Chad Dickenson from the GUBS wants to know “How many combined total beers did you all consume while winning the tournament?”


Jake:  Beers? You mean dice oil?  Let’s see if we can even recall.  I think the easiest way is to break it down into parts: Pregame tailgating, event, and post event celebration.  Pretty sure I had three before the event, nine during, and one plus my victory growler fill after.

Josh:  I’m thinking two, eight, and four


Mike: Three, seven, and five for me. 

So roughly…17+14+15…46? #dojogaming


Dan: Now that you all are major tournament champions I’m sure there are people out there who would be excited for the chance to play against any of you. What’s the next major tournament or convention you guys will be going to?


Josh: I’ll be headed to Gencon next week and will be playing in the Friday Guild Ball tournament.  After that I’ll most likely be at Steamcon, work allowing.


Jake: I won’t be at Steamcon due to a family vacation but will be at Adepticon next year.  On a side note we will be doing some more events locally between now and then.  The next one being in Columbia in September.  Last a quick selfish plug for my tournament Old Jake’s HOWZAT that will be coming up again next spring after Adepticon.


Mike: I’m expecting my first child (baby boy) around Steamcon so I won’t be attending this year even though it was a blast last year.  I will most likely be at Adepticon next and HOWZAT as well.


Dan: Season 4 is coming out soon. We’ve slowly been getting spoilers from Jaime Giblin. What’s one thing each of you would like to see in Season 4 that hasn’t already been revealed?


Josh: My biggest wish is that they bring the lesser used models back into the fold.  There’s too many players out there, even with the new 12-man lineups, that don’t get used competitively. 

Some of the S3 models hoping to see more play in S4.


Mike:  I think the game is in a really good spot now and I’m just enjoying watching them clean up a lot of the wording and small nuances that have nagged the game for a while now.


Jake: I agree with Mike and Josh.  I think that they are already doing a great job cleaning up some things and I’m sure they will rebalance some players and guilds, fingers crossed on Alchemists.  The only other off the wall thing I would like to see is a draft system for plot cards instead of a random draw.  It’s a huge advantage to get both sevens and a six when pulling cards.  Also, more chibis!


Dan: Last question, where can people follow you guys or ask you questions if they want to know more about your tactics or your wisdom?


Jake: We have a couple of social media accounts for the Dojo that we would love for anyone to reach out to us on.

Instagram handle is thedojogaming_sc

Twitter handle is TheDojoGamingSC


You can also find us on the Steamforged Forums:


Jake: the_dojo_jake

Mike: jmrhode1

Josh: theonefish


Quick thanks to Dan for taking the time to out of his schedule to reach out to us for this interview.  We hope you enjoyed the content and we look forward to hearing from, and meeting, more Guild Ballers in the near future.


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