One of the World’s Best Carcassonne Players Comes from Kajaani

Otto Ikonen, a 25-year-old game design student at Kajaani University of Applied Sciences, took Finland’s national team to the Carcassonne World Championship for the first time. 

Many know Carcassonne as a board game, but it is also fiercely contested online on Board Game Arena. In the game, players take turns drawing tiles consisting of city, road, field sections, and monasteries. Using these tiles, players aim to build features on the game board and accumulate their points. The Carcassonne World Championship has been organized on Board Game Arena for several years now. 

Finland’s national team participated for the first time this spring, alongside 35 other countries. 

– I gathered a 10-player team from those who did well in Finland’s Carcassonne Championships and from active Board Game Arena players. 

The team remained in the group stage. 

Finland competed in a group that included Belarus, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Portugal, and the United States. In each match, a five-player team represented Finland, with each player competing in two games against an opponent from the opposite team. 

– In our first attempt, we only faced losses, but we will surely be stronger in next year’s competition. 

In Carcassonne, as in many other board games, Asian countries dominate. Japan has three world championships and China has one. The winner of the 2024 championship will be decided later during the summer. 

In the game, players earn points by building, but at a competitive level, the most important skill to have is to disrupt your opponent’s attempts at building. Success in the game requires attentiveness and a desire to improve. 

Ikonen is ranked number one 

In individual games, Ikonen is one of the world’s finest, and he has long held the top spot in the Board Game Arena point rankings under the alias Nallerheim. 

– Carcassonne is my passion, and my goal is to create a bigger community around the game in Finland as well. 

Globally, there’s a lot of enthusiasts, and the community is compact. 

– I have made friends all over the world. In addition to online play, the game is also played in the traditional board game version, and I will travel to the individual World Championship again this summer. 

Ikonen, who has actively participated in The Union of Professional Engineers’ events, will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in game programming in the autumn of 2024. 

– One of my projects during my studies involved database programming for Carcassonne. I also have a YouTube channel focused on the game. My dream is that this board game could somehow be a part of my future job. 

Text and photo: Mikko Sormunen

Translation: Akseli Sormunen

Caption: Otto Ikonen is one of the world’s best Carcassonne players.