Here is the link to the POD#1 Lists.
Analysis is after the break.
In Their Own Words:
Brobafett: I'm a So Cal local, have played Armada since Massing at Sullust, and have always been the bridesmaid never the bride when it comes to big tournament win. I did win dice at worlds 2017 however, playing a pre-Boarding Team Avenger and a Rhymerball, one of the better Imperial finishes of that tournament. I'm a vassal regular, and most days if you log in you can find me in the lobby looking for a pick up game. Last year in the world cup I took a janky fleet I shambled together the night before and got my teeth kicked in, so this year I am hoping to at least have a strong showing!
mhd: I've played in the previous 2 vassal world using Imperial swarms and not finished on the bottom. Having seen the light and converted to the Church of Garm Bel Iblis, all ye' behold him and quake, I am here to spread the good word of Garm. Those that are willing to convert to the Church of Garm shall be spared, those that are unwilling to convert will allowed to think about their choices in the sweet vacuum of space.
Rikash: Have been Top 3 in SC in the San Antonio area, first (along with Vergilius) in a San Antonio team tournament, and top 4 in the Dallas regionals at GeekOut.
Moodswing: I've played in the world cup previously, and had moderate success in regional tournaments. Last year, I won Gautier MS regional, and then finished 43rd at worlds 2017.
This is a really strong POD in terms of players within it, with no one a clear favorite in terms of just straight up skill. Brobafett was one of the first to make the qualifiers as a Mulligan, mhd made a Blackjack to qualify, and Rikash claimed a bounty! Only Moodswing5537 didn't pre-qualify, and he's a veteran of previous World Cups (though without a spectacular showing in 2017), and a Regional Champion. Let's look at their lists to see who holds advantages:
Brobafett's list looks like a variant of the 2+3 Rebel lists that have gained much notoriety of late, and who's Imperial version won the 2018 Martinsburg Regional just last weekend. One combat ship (probably the fattest Demolisher anyone will see, as it is the flagship for Motti), a squadron pusher (Quasar Fire) and three transports to round things out. A 7 squadron / 133 point fighter screen fills out the rest of the list, but isn't really set to shoot ships all that well, with only Maarek Steele and Morna Kee bringing reasonable anti-ship capabilities, and Col. Jendon merely supporting one or the other. However, he is in the right POD for this, because there is a strong squadron compliment in 2 of the 3 other lists, which he should be able to pick off. Also at 391, his bid is the second best of the lists. His worst matchup should be Moodswing, who out activates him, outbids him, and doesn't play the squadron game with only a token screen.
mhd on the other hand goes for Garm, and a large flagship in the MC80 Assault, which he has loaded out for bear. Yavaris and Asoka will be able to push 3 squadrons for 2 turns at least, and his 3 VCX's means that he can doubletap those Yavaris squadrons at extreme range. He also looks like he is going for token shenanigans between the VCXs, and his fleet name. Two transports round out his list, and with one having Adar Tallon and the other Comms Net and Hondo, he's able to really maximize his squadrons, especially Ten Numb. For squadrons, in addition to Numb, he has gone hull heavy, with Gold Squadron (6 hull) being the lowest of the bunch. YT-1300s and VCX-100's finish up the squadron list. Like Brobafett, his list doesn't have that much anti-ship bombing from the fighters, but with Yavaris / Adar Tallon out, he can get multiple attacks out of his best fighters if he does point them at a target. His biggest dangers are that his bid isn't the highest of the bunch (393) though he may want to go second anyway. He has the lowest activation count of any of the lists (4) and the worst deployments (7). Also, he doesn't have any Intel for his squadrons, so he won't be freeing them up if they get engaged in a bad way. His worst matchup is with Brobafett, who out bids him, out activates him, and wants to eat his squadrons.
Rikash looks like the 2+3 Imperial even more than Brobafett does, packing Sloane to make his squadrons more of a dual threat. He also takes a VSD instead of a Quasar, which is slightly more robust if it is engaged. His Demolisher is also the flagship, but isn't quite so fat, skipping Engine Techs and Tua. For squadrons, he hasn't brought much in the way of anti-ship, but with Sloane aboard, his squadrons can do some double duty. With 10 squadrons, he also has the most deployments of the POD at 10 drops, and 5 activations put him around the middle of the pack. His worst matchup should be mhd, who's squadrons are more efficient than his, and can potentially earn their points back.
Moodswing5537 has gone Mon Mothma MC30c speed for his list, and has gotten lucky to draw 3 opponents who haven't committed to bombers, deployments, or a high bid. His bid at 385 is by far the highest of the POD, his 3 Torpedo Frigates are prickly, especially when going first, and he should be able to last / first his attacks against the squadron heavy players he is matched up with. If he can play above his previous World Cup levels, he could find himself the dark horse to win the POD. His worst matchup is probably mhd, who's Yavaris / Adar Tallon squadrons have the potential to crack MC30s left out of position.
POD Winner - mhd
POD Runnerup - Moodswing5537
Moodswing has the best matchups of the POD, but I think mhd's list synergy and his history of play are enough to carry him to his second trip to the elimination round, and first POD victory.
There's no dedicated bomber force in the pod, so mood could run rampant here. In the squadron clash, I have a hard time picking between Broba and Rikash. Rikash looks more balanced, but Broba's inclusion of Dengar and Cienna could be enough to sway a squadron fight. Mhd, while well positioned to knock off mood with those Defiance XI7s, I think is too heavily invested in the squadron game that he's not going to win. Without Intel, those VCXs he intends to use for token shenanigans are extremely likely to get locked down and killed early on. Perhaps Ten will be able to pick up the slack, but I think both Imperial squadron balls are too much for him to handle.
Pod Winner: Moodswing
Pod Runner-up: Rikash
Pod Winner: Moodswing
Pod Runner-up: Rikash