In the grim darkness of Dallas, an esport is being born.

In the grim darkness of a storm-soaked Dallas, Texas, an esport is being born.

Warhammer 40,000 steps into esports at Dreamhack Dallas

Looking at a Warhammer 40,000 tournament, even the most veteran StarCraft esports fan could be forgiven for getting deja vu. Marines in blue power armor doing battle against alien bugs bent on consuming the galaxy, ancient aliens wielding immense psychic power after the fall of their civilization, but this isn't a 2016 KeSPA cup VOD.

The battlefield isn't taking place on a server, it's unfolding on a 60"x44" neoprene mat with measuring tapes, six-sided dice, decks of cards, and gorgeously painted plastic miniatures.

Unlike a professional game of StarCraft, what's happening at Dreamhack Dallas isn't entirely 1v1, it's an 8v8 teams game, and the format almost resembles a MOBA's character selection draft more than anything else.

Each team selects eight of Warhammer's available 26 factions and creates eight separate forces with zero overlap between them. When the teams meet, they engage in a back-and-forth drafting process to determine the eight 1v1 games to be played out over the next three or so hours.

Dreamhack Dallas 2024 is hosting an invitational Warhammer 40,000 tournament between four teams. This is a big step for a tabletop wargame continuing to enter a digital era, being invited into one of the most-recognized esport events where legends have risen and fallen.

We've sat down with each of the teams to get a quick breakdown of the players and their lists so you can enjoy the event with easy consultation. The Dreamhack Dallas Team Invitational is being broadcast by TacticalTortoise.

DreamHack Dallas Team Invitational teams

Like any established esport, Warhammer 40,000's competitive scene has its own player history and mythology. At Dreamhack Dallas, a handful of some of the most iconic and accomplished players in the scene are meeting to do battle.

We've spoken to the teams and consulted the relevant Ecclesiarchical texts, here are the folks braving Dallas' inclement weather in the Chilling Rain this weekend to duke it out in this exhibition.

Art of War

Art of War is very likely the most widely recognized and renowned Warhammer organization, with two of the players on the roster having founded the team. This multi-platform hybrid coaching, content, and competitive juggernaut has an absolute murderer's row of top-table experience for this weekend's roster.

Art of War hasn't failed to win a team tournament that they attended since 2021, and while this weekend is an exhibition, they show no plans of getting any practice soon. There's even some fun inter-roster rivalry, as dyed-in-the-wool Art of War members John Lennon and Anthony Vanella have adopted the star-spangled bandana to play for Team USA this weekend.

Art of War are big sharks in a big pond, and the other three teams have their work cut out for them when it comes to facing this eight-man roster.

Alex MacDougall - Alex has ‘Ogopogo’ on the back of his jersey for a reason, this mythical monster haunts the Okanagan Lake area of British Columbia, emerging to terrorize the local populace by consistently taking down tournaments all across the coast along with a seemingly-yearly appearance rampaging his way to the final stages of LVO. Alex is one of the single best Tyranids and Genestealer Cults specialists on the face of the planet and needs to prove his competitive pedigree to absolutely nobody. A tenured member of Art of War, Alex is a threat to take any tournament he enters, and an enormous asset in team play. Alex’s Genestealer Cults Ascension Day army uses incredible recursion and map mobility to drag out a battle of attrition, supplementing his cults with some interesting Imperial Guard allies to round out the list.

Jack Harpster - If there's one thing Jack Harpster is known for, it's being able to win enormous events with lists and factions he hasn't practiced, a talent even his fellow Art of War members are continually baffled by. Jack is a versatile powerhouse, able to compete at the highest levels with a staggering array of factions. Another longtime Art of War member, his depth of competitive experience continues to push him to the forefront of the tournament scene in both singles and team play. Previously ITC and LVO champion with Blood Angels, Jack is putting a heretical spin on enraged marines in red power armor and channeling his inner Yahtzee pro with World Eaters this weekend.

Nick Nanavati - Nick Nanavati is a man of many nicknames, “The Brown Magic”, and “The Tom Brady of Warhammer 40k”, but a rose by any other name is still one of the most accomplished Warhammer players in the world. Nick is widely considered to be one of the first superstar breakout talents the game had, and now, nearing two decades later, he's still a monster on the tabletop. Competitive Warhammer's journey towards esports-dom can hardly be mentioned without having to kiss the ring, and for good reason. The founder of Art of War, Nick pioneered the world of competitive 40k content and play at the same time, successes akimbo. There’s not a faction under the sun Nick wouldn’t be a credible threat on, but this time he’s bringing one of his signatures, Chaos Daemons. Nick’s list brings enormous, durable threats and a motley of support pieces to pick up points while his towering daemonic monsters clear the way.

Kasra Houshidar: Kasra Houshidar is an Ultramarines specialist from the Pacific Northwest, and a juggernaut of the artistic side of the hobby. It doesn’t matter where the meta sits, this imperial loyalist is collecting bodies with his blue power armor. Kasra is a member of Team Canada’s WTC coaching staff, a world-class miniature painter, a graduate of Art of War's coaching program under Nick's tutelage, a paragon of the community, and for transparency’s sake, a dear friend to the author. He favors toolbox armies, with a wide array of answers and options, that allow him to flex on-the-spot thinking and reactive play. He’s playing an Ultramarines Vanguard Spearhead army that uses heavy-hitting elite units and mobile scoring pieces to outmaneuver his opponents, all the while punishing them with devastating ranged damage.

Piotr Zawiła-Niedźwiecki: Likely better known by "Typhus", Piotr is at the spear-tip of the single most accomplished WTC team in the game's history, Poland. Serial WTC champions, Piotr and his Polish teammates have helped pioneer team play, and many teams look to emulate their methods of talent acquisition and practice for sustained success. A recent inductee to the Art of War team, and member of Stat Check with Into The Matrix, he joins Sascha playing for the first time at a team event under the Art of War jersey. With Sascha taking Sisters, Typhus was moved from his position as Adepta adept to another T3 dice manipulation faction, Aeldari. Typhus' list forgoes either Avatar for more Drukhari allies and individual units.

Quentin Johnson: Quentin has gone from one of Art of War's new recruits to a content powerhouse and presence synonymous with the team in no time. Starting the edition with an absurd competitive tear on Aeldari, including an incredible performance at the WTC Warmasters event, Quentin is repenting for his Fate Dice sins early in the edition and has offloaded D-Cannon duty to Typhus. Instead, he'll be bringing his beloved Death Guard, something he's been putting up numbers on in recent months. Quentin's Death Guard list offers an incredibly hard-to-shift presence backed up by triple PBCs that can close potentially dangerous differentials into near-tie outcomes while other team members hoover up the points.

Richard Siegler - The doctor is in. For all the loving banter that this Art of War founder gets for allegedly being a robot designed to crush opponents' dreams on the tabletop, his track record doesn't disprove the thesis. Richard Siegler is a player whose last-minute arrival at his triumphant LVO felt like The Undertaker's bell tolling through an unsuspecting arena, everyone in the ring suddenly in far more danger as he appears from nowhere. Siegler is bringing one of his iconic factions in the T'au Empire, which Nick Nanavati describes as being able to play "anybody, on any table." Leaning into the new Mont'ka detachment's speed, Siegler's list brings mobile guns and scoring pieces to keep that differential close.

Sacsha Edelkraut: Another very accomplished Space Marine specialist taking down tournaments in his own time, Sascha is one of Art of War's latest inductees. Given the faction restriction in teams, Sascha's Unforgiven stepped aside to allow Kasra's Ultramarines through. Instead, Sascha has picked up the Sisters of Battle from Typhus, one step down in toughness to keep his power armor. Sascha's list brings heaps of MSU goodness to activation lock opponents, establish board control, and bring home high points totals with relative consistency thanks to Miracle Dice.

Team USA

Team USA is the national Warhammer 40,00 team for the United States, competing at the WTC every year to represent the United States in the most prestigious competition 40k has to offer. Team USA has undergone major changes in the past several years, wholly restarting their practices when it comes to rosters, recruitment, and more. Every member on the roster this weekend is an accomplished player in their own right, with several historic figures on top of that.

Anthony Vanella: Team USA's first vice-captain burst onto the Warhammer competitive scene post-COVID, rapidly climbing the ladder to become a world-class player and presence. With the apt nickname "Violence", this melee army aficionado is known for his teamplay focus and consistent ability to pull huge differential scores. As a member of Team USA, Anthony has helped reshape how the national team approaches talent acquisition and practice. A founding member of the Stat Check podcast network, Anthony seems to be on a flight to a European teams event every third week as he hones his chainaxe for the big lights of WTC. Anthony is bringing his signature World Eaters, ready to barrel through ruined walls to pull differential points from his opponents' cold hands.

Brian Jones: Imperial Knights might not be the current hotness in singles, but Brian Jones is one of the best Imperial Knights players on the face of the planet and 2023's #1 ITC Imperial Knights player. A one-loss performance at LVO and Best Overall at the recent Dallas Open with a gorgeously painted army prove Brian's ability to contest the best in both hobby and competitive play. A member of Team America for two years, Brian brings tons of experience and faction expertise to the table, something he'll get the chance to flex this week at Dallas. Brian's list brings three large Knight chassis with three Helverins for a simple but unusual broadly defender-oriented archetype.

John Lennon: Team USA's Floridian vice-captain may have burst onto the scene with the "Boy King" moniker, but he has collected so many accolades that this king is more Once And Future. John is a tremendously accomplished Warhammer 40,000 player will a laundry list of event wins and impressive performances. A long-established Art of War member, he's also a core part of the newly rejuvenated WTC approach and spoke at length about his commitment to making Team USA WTC the best roster on the face of the planet. John is bringing a list he's been testing and honing for many months, with great success, having lost a single game in all of 2024 (22-1). pulling out the Invasion Fleet Tyranids to offer a powerful tool for neutralizing high-scoring opponents and consistent primary mission disruption.

Lukas Troller: Lukas Troller is one of the PNW trifecta being brought to bear by Team USA at Dallas. A recent breakout talent specializing in Orks and Chaos Knights, Lukas saw his WTC debut in 2023 and joins his fellow Best In Faction: Next Generation alums and Take All Comers hosts Tyler Bortel and Nicholas Ohlsen-Johnson on the roster this weekend. Lukas is bringing the full power of the new Ork codex to bear with a Green Tide list that promises to consistently collect points while disrupting enemy scoring with sheer numbers. Team USA boasts world-class faction specialists across the board, and Lukas brings the double whammy of experience coupled with powerful new rules.

Nicholas Ohlsen-Johnson: The Notorious NOJ may have been the first player to win a large tournament with the Leagues of Votann, but he's sticking to his 10th edition guns with Necrons for Dallas and his playing debut with Team USA. Another member of the Take All Comers crew, Nick boasts a recent major win at Cascade Clash with the new Necrons codex. Slamming the full 18 Wraiths and triple Technomancer, NOJ's Canoptek Court follows the Josh Roberts-esque shell that's seen significant success in the past several months.

Sean Nayden: There's too much to be said about the unanimously elected captain of Team USA for one bio, but we'll try. Put simply, Sean is one of the GOATs of 40k. Known historically for dominant Eldar play, he's back at it again this weekend. Sean stepped out of WTC retirement to help shepherd Team USA's future and remains the one constant throughout the team's lifetime. Seemingly unable to miss LVO top cut if he tried, the accolades and trophies for Sean floweth over. Sean's Aeldari list opts for the Yncarne and Skyweavers to compliment a relatively stock-standard meta Aeldari shell.

Tyler Bortel - The final part of the TAC Triforce, Tyler Bortel is a noted Forces of the Hivemind specialist in his second year with Team USA. This will be Tyler's playing debut for Team USA, joining his friend NOJ for their first time at the table in the jersey for an event. Tyler brings his iconic Genestealer Cults, opening Tyranids up for Lennon, despite recent outings with the Hypercrypt Legion, it was all a plan generations in the making. Tyler's list plays out some of the logical evolutions of Imperial Guard allying in Genestealer Cults, complete with Tauroxes, Cyclopses, and Cadians and Catchans for cheap bodies.

Zaak Kerstetter: Champion of the Rock Mountain Open 2024, and Blood Angels specialist Zak Kerstetter is being set up in Engagement Range of his opponents from strategic reserves in Dallas this weekend. The final member of Team USA is another powerful attacker meant to be paired into a favorable matchup and turned into a veritable waterfall of points. A member of the victorious Team USA roster that took down Pyra Cup earlier this year, Zaak is repping his one true love in red power armor.

Professional Tabletop

Professional Tabletop (Pro Tabletop) is another icon of Warhammer 40,000 content and competition. Founders of the National Tabletop League, Pro Tabletop were some of the first to solidify 40k broadcasts as a staple of competitive events. Now expanding to an international standard of competition for team play in the United States and Canada, it's hard to find somebody doing more for on-the-ground talent development and competitive standardization than the Pro Tabletop team. But don't let all that event organizing and community building convince you that they don't have a roster full of truly terrifying 40k competitors.

Bradley Weir: Vice Captain of the roster Bradley Weir is a staple of Pro Tabletop's competitive team play, and he's able to unleash his specialty Adepta Sororitas yet again this weekend. Running it back from a second-place finish at the American Team Championship to Art of War, Brad is one of several Pro Tabletop players with a chance for an ATC finals rematch in Round 2 on Saturday. His Sisters list brings all the biggest hits in triplicate, Arco-flagellants, Penitent Engines, Seraphim, and Zephyrim.

Damien Owens: Damien Owens is another veteran Pro Tabletop teams member, and also another faction specialist running it back from ATC. Damien is one happy Ork player with the new codex rules, but his list choice might surprise. Interestingly, Damien isn't going with Green Tide or Bully Boys, instead opting for the more elite War Horde detachment. Bringing a walloping 9 characters, Damien is supporting a few key infantry pieces along with some seriously punchy threats in Squighog Boyz galore.

Jaime Paris: Jaime Paris completed his very own Saga of Russ bursting into the public eye with a great season culminating in a Cinderella story Charityhammer performance, and has continued to impress ever since. Finding his stride as a Space Wolves specialist, Jaime's record continues to be impressive. A 2023 starter at WTC, 3rd place at BFS 2024, 2nd place at Warmasters, 3rd at ATC 2023, the trophies don't stop. Jaime has maybe wandered a bit too far into the warp looking for Russ, as he's brought a cutthroat list from the new Chaos Space Marines codex and Renegade Raiders detachment. Jaime is sporting the full 30 Warp Talons, so expect to see the new hotness to be showcased when Jaime hits the stream.

Joe MacMillan - Joe MacMillan is a lifetime competitive gamer who made the jump to Warhammer 40,000 in 9th edition. Joe was a Team USA starter in 2023, won 8TC and Battle For Salvation Teams 2023, placed 2nd at GW Kansas City, and has plenty of individual performances of his own. This time he's bringing six Dreadknight chassis, a brick of terminators, and tons of reactive play through the Teleport Strike Force.

Mac Stiel - Mac Stiel has been in 40k since 2nd edition, and has seen it all. He's a longtime lover of an underdog faction, but he's taking a break to take the Thousand Sons for a ride at Dallas. With the recent points help, Mac is bringing a pretty classic Rubric-centric archetype built around Magnus and a bevy of Cabal Points.

Nick Fuller - Nick is a lifelong Tyranids lover since he first discovered them in 4th edition. So much so, his metal Biovore will be making an appearance this weekend, in all of its glory. Nick took down 8TC with Pro Tabletop, and is bringing his Vanguard Onslaught to outscore and outmaneuver his opponents.

Thomas Byrd: Thomas Byrd is the OG Ultramarines specialist, even Kasra will admit it. He's as large of a presence in the community as he is in real life. A founder of Pro Tabletop and Warzone Atlanta, he's helped navigate 40k's tournament scene since the early days. He's a core force behind the NTL, and has a long and prodigious history of community-building, event organizing, and otherwise helping build the bedrock that led the community to where it is now. He's a starting player for the 2024 South Korean WTC team, and has a wide array of tournament wins and podiums, both teams and singles. Thomas brings a classic Gladius toolbox shell that gives him answers for all sorts of problems.

Walter Langedorf - Walter has been pushing Necrons across the table for 22 years, and he's never looked back. He's won Adepticon, 'Ardboyz Round 2, and Battle for Stones River, placed second at Kansas City, and more. He was part of the victorious 8TC PTT roster and is looking forward to collecting more teams trophies. He's bringing an interesting Awakened Dynasty list with more characters than other datasheets.

United Midwest Project

United Midwest Project knows they're the underdogs here, but that's far from victory being out of reach. A competitive initiative started out of Chicago and Indianapolis, they're being joined by a few East Coast freeblades to take on the competition at Dallas. Their roster boasts a ton of incredible players, and UMP poses as genuine a threat as any other going into round one today.

Alex Ing - Alex Ing has been with UMP for about a year and is one of the more East Coast-oriented players that has joined the roster as of late. A Necron specialist with success at teams events already in the season, he's made the jump from Hypercrypt to Canoptek Court for the event.

Ben Cherwien - This is Ben's first time teaming up with UMP, but he's no stranger to competitive 40k. With an absolutely huge LVO performance, and a GW Chicago Top 8, Ben's been on a hot streak that shows no signs of cooling down. Wielding the new Chaos Space Marines Codex, Ben is bringing the fast and furious Renegade Raiders detachment that promises to leverage his skillset for melee-capable power armor factions.

Ben Frederiksen - If there's a brain behind the pairings for UMP, it's Ben Frederiksen. Ben's been with the team for multiple years after moving to Indianapolis and is bringing that experience to bear for the team this weekend. Luckily, all that brain power going into pairings won't hurt his performance, since UMP has stuck him on a low-action triple Land Raider Grey Knights archetype will plenty more Dreadknights.

Casey Glynn - Casey is another first-time team up for UMP, but he's joining Ben Cherwien as deadly mercenaries for the UMP crew. A marine specialist, UMP is putting a lot of faith in Casey to bring home big differentials with his Blood Angels on the attack. He's bringing a fast, sleek Sons of Sanguinius list that can push the issue and create massive points gaps.

Daniel Sansone - Daniel is the reason there's a UMP in the first place, having taken over the club and helped rebrand it after the old local club fell apart. He's been playing competitive since 9th and has a playstyle that suits differential scoring very well. He's bringing Death Guard, a faction that reinforces that ability to keep hard games close and finish easy games strong. Triple PBCs and Morty are supported by a motley of MSU mission pieces and 30 Plague Marines.

Matt Estrada - Matt Estrada is going to be pushing the T'au Empire codex as far as he can. As one of the team's expected high-scorers, Matt is using Mont'ka, like many T'au lists right now. The speed of additional Assault weapons and the consistency of Lethal hits allow this elite-heavy and hull-heavy archetype to get out on the board and cause problems for its foes.

Nick Keever - Another first-time team-up for UMP, from central Illinois, Nick Keever actually fought against UMP with Ben Cherwien at ATC. A starting member of Iceland's WTC team, he helped arrange a scrim with Belgium's WTC team that the team saw as crucial for their preparation. Practicing Thousand Sons for WTC, Nick is here to put all that prep to work against other world-class players.

Steven Pampreen - Steven Pampreen, vice-captain, is one of the team's other designated big-scorers. Taking a Green Tide list that supplements the usual carpet of Boyz with two Kill Rigs. Steven has been doing great scoring large differentials for the team at ATC, and is an Ork Specialist ready to flex the power of the new codex, as well as test it out into the new CSM.

Those are all of the players and lists at the Dreamhack Dallas Team Invitational this weekend! Make sure to tune in to TacticalTortoise to catch the games on Saturday and Sunday.