And on the 6th Day... Champions Will Rise: ATXI Finals
EVE Online is a game of extremes. In very few respects does anything involving EVE Online take the middle ground and the eSports extravaganza which is the eleventh Alliance Tournament has been no different.
Over the last three weekends, the show that has been laid on by CCP Games has been impressive, from the smooth and professional presentation of the competition on the TwitchTV livestream to the spectacle itself.
Having watching the Alliance Tournament evolve as a spectator event over the years, the current format and the delivery of the action does an excellent job of demystifying EVE's internet spaceship combat for the casual viewer whilst presenting the details for the more weathered eye.
It is no small challenge creating a watchable eSports event from a game engine set in vast open areas of three-dimensional space where the action can take place across a few hundred metres or over 100 kilometres - sometimes at the same time. Across all three axis.
Despite that, fans of science fiction, eSports and MMOs can all find something to love about the Alliance Tournament. Granted, it's not for everyone – like any sport, the viewer has to invest a bit of time to get to grips with the eccentricities and minutiae of the format, rules, and strategies; but while you do there are stunning starscapes to admire, blistering weapons exchanges to enjoy, and exploding spaceships to cheer at.
A Cast of Thousands
But beyond the sheen of the presentation and the cloud of statistics, mechanics and tactics, it is worth noting the impressive achievements of the competitors. Each of 64 teams comprising upwards of 12 players has spent months attempting to perfect every detail of their attempt to win the title. Behind the actual competitors is an alliance of hundreds of players who fund the competition efforts and provide the materials - much the same was as a Formula 1 team has pit crews - the sponsors and industrial corporations backing them.
This underlines the key fact that, although the tournament might be considered the antithesis of EVE Online's emergent sandbox status, it is very much woven into the dynamic fabric, with each teams tournament assets being entirely sourced from the single-shard economy of New Eden.
In the competition, the matches themselves require intricate preparation and planning, and are delicately poised games of the most complicated version of Rock, Paper, Scissors conceivable, relying entirely on the cohesion, communication, and reactions of those involved.
The efforts and the explosions have been genuinely epic, with edge-of-the-seat moments, daring smash and grabs, risky manoeuvres, tragic injustices, and absolute demolitions.
Now, on the final day, there are only four teams left. This year's champions somewhere among them.
The semi-final matches will be Best of Threes, seeing the two undefeated teams, Exodus. and HYDRA RELOADED face off for a final place, whilst the strongest survivors of the losers bracket, Pandemic Legion and THE R0NIN lock horns.
What follows is a brief overview of the final four and the journey each team has taken:
- Pandemic Legion and THE R0NIN
- Exodus. and HYDRA RELOADED