Are You Not Amused?: Alliance Tournament XI Day Three in Pictures (Part Two)
For some competitors, the third day of EVE Online's Alliance Tournament XI competition was about consolidating their position in the winners bracket, ensuring a shorter less arduous route to the final. Losing at this stage would mean a fall from grace into the longer, tougher path the to the laurels of victory via the loser's bracket.
But for those who had already suffered a defeat, they faced a desperate fight for survival, the next loss being their last.
Behind the scenes, team captains and tacticians plot and scheme to out-think and out fight their opponents. There may also be skullduggery; with spying, the buying and selling of information, and even performance-related bribes all possible in the murky metagame of EVE Online.
In part one of our day three coverage, we have already seen the last of 10 alliance teams. This second part gives an overview of the remaining six matches from the loser's bracket and six of the eight as-yet undefeated teams as they go head to head.
Match #75: Urine Alliance vs. Shadow Cartel
Accidental tournament mascot, the Dominix battleship, featured heavily in this match, with no less than 7 making an appearance after neither team chose to ban it.
The battle quickly swung in Shadow Cartel's favour as they swept Urine Alliance's supporting assault frigates and cruisers from the field, but not without losses.
When Urine Alliance's Oneiros logistics cruiser fell in the second minute of the match, they had been facing an uphill struggle, and gave a good account of themselves despite the inevitable loss as they leave the competition an Shadow Cartel holds onto their position in the loser's bracket.
Match #76: SOLAR FLEET vs. M.I.F
The Russian alliance team M.I.F (including GameSkinny featured pilot, BSL) fielded only 6 ships in an out-and-out "tinkertank" fleet which, if run well, would be tough to break. However, SOLAR FLEET had brought a fleet full of heavy-hitting ships which they'd chosen to place in the centre of the field with every intention of getting up close and personal to delvier high damage.
The tense match passed with few losses as SOLAR FLEET pounded on M.I.F, destroying their Osprey cruiser for 10 points but making little headway thereafter. Meanwhile M.I.F had managed to snatch a points advantage by destroying Iroha Lee's Oneiros logistics cruiser, creating a nervy problem for SOLAR FLEET who now needed to kill something but could not afford to lose anything else.
Despite having significantly less damage output than their opponents, M.I.F played a canny game and forced SOLAR FLEET to overcommit and suffer further losses, giving M.I.F a cautiously fought victory.
Match #77: Heretic Initiative vs. Confederation of xXPIZZAXx
So confident of victory were Confederation of xXPIZZAXx that they chose to spend 3 of their points and one vital ship position on a non-combat Noctis salvage ship (flown by Anzsi), whose design and purpose is solely to recover useable material from wreckages. Despite this disadvantage and the loss of their Bhaalgorn battleship, they tore through Heretic Initiative's fleet in a few short minutes.
With the battle all but over, the entire Confederation of xXPIZZAXx fleet toyed with the last Heretic Initiative pilot, MrWhitei God, like a cat would play with a captive mouse. This was a deliberate ploy to allow Anzsi's Noctis time to loot all the wrecks. If the enemy were completely destroyed, the match would be declared over and the opportunity for salvage would be lost.
Content they'd had their fill of battlefield goodies, MrWhitei God's Deimos is finally put to the sword in the distance as Anzsi nonchalantly continues to rifle through the pockets of fallen enemies.
Match #79: The Obsidian Front vs. Drunk 'n' Disorderly
Drunk 'n' Disorderly's loss of Braincandy's Vindicator battleship in under a minute puts The Obsidian Front into a strong early lead, making Drunk 'n' Disorderly's decision to bring a non-combat Iteron hauler to loot the field look a little optimistic. The second Vindicator buckles quickly too, with only an Obsidian Front Thorax cruiser taken in reply.
With little ability to inflict damage remaining, Drunk 'n' Disorderly are quickly routed, leaving only a smartbombing Damnation command ship flown by Lexx Jonian and N. Jarin's comically outgunned Iteron hauler.
Unsurprisingly, neither survive the remaining five minutes, giving The Obsidian Front a convincing victory and a stay of execution in the loser's bracket. Drunk 'n' Disorderly are left to ride the beer moped home.
Match #79: Sadistica Alliance vs. No Holes Barred
Long minutes passed with blows being exchanged and weaknesses being probed before it became a race to kill the opposing logistics cruiser, with Sadistica Alliance's assault the more successful, seeing the No Holes Barred Oneiros and a Heron frigate fall approaching the 5 minute mark. But a minute later Chale'aan's Oneiros also fell, bringing the points close again.
No Holes Barred left any chance of a comeback too late as Sadistica Alliance mercilessly worked their way through the opposing fleet. Here we see the Sadistica Kronos marauder battleships pounding a No Holes Barred Vigilant faction cruiser into scrap.
A convincing win for Sadistica Alliance sends No Holes Barred back to their wormhole.
Match #80: The Kadeshi vs. W-Space
The Kadeshi unexpectedly found themselves in the losers bracket after a defeat to Drunk 'n' Disorderly, but found their feet in their next match. W-Space, still smarting from their loss to The Initiative., have just dropped down into the losers bracket. The two alliances meet to determine who survives and who goes home.
As the commentators assessed the match to come, the versatile Gnosis battlecruiser was identified as a good indicator of the strategy planned. The cameraman obligingly zoomed in on the fitted array of heavy neutron blasters, suggesting W-Space was planning a close-range smash-and-grab.
Things didn't go quite to plan as The Kadeshi successfully countered W-Space's strategy, quickly eliminating W-Space's strike force and comfortably mopping up the remainder of their fleet whilst only suffering two Vexor cruiser losses.
Match #81: YOUR VOTES DON'T COUNT vs. THE R0NIN
The Your Votes Don't Count versus THE R0NIN match started with both sides clearly intending to slug it out at close range, the majority of ships present congregated around the centre marker of the arena. This would be a match unlikely to go the distance.
Early advantage THE R0NIN, as the destruction of Ryu Chaos' Vindicator battleship and the vital logistics support of dei'ro's Oneiros cruiser saw Your Votes Don't Count on the ropes. Here we see Btweeduizend's Vindicator suffering a similar fate.
Despite a late showing from Your Votes Don't Count which saw several ships in THE R0NIN's support fleet destroyed, there was no way back for Your Votes Don't Count and THE R0NIN roam on.
Match #82: Verge of Collapse vs. Rote Kapelle
This match included two of our featured pilots, Verge of Collapse's WarGod and Rote Kapelle's Ripard Teg, and was always set to be tie of the round. Verge of Collapse are the current champions, but Rote Kapelle is a formidable organisation. The huge respect each team had for the other was evident as an incredibly cagey game of cat-and-mouse began with 5 minutes of fleet manoeuvers as the two sides jockeyed for a positional advantage, hoping to force a mistake from the other side.
It was at the turn of the 5 minute mark that the deadlock was shattered by the explosive destruction of the Verge of CollapseTyphoon Fleet Issue battleship flown by taylor04. Gasps across the internet abound as the reality that the tournament title holders could now be facing an early defeat sunk in.
The really was no way back for Verge of Collapse and their fleet quickly collapsed after the Typhoon loss, managing only one consolation kill in reply. In a turn of events few could have predicted, Verge of Collapse would now drop down into the losers bracket, making that path to the final even less inviting for everyone else. Rote Kapelle move on up.
Match #83: Late Night Alliance vs. Test Alliance Please Ignore
Test Alliance Please Ignore favour three Hyperion battleships whilst Late Night Alliance bring a trio of the sinister-looking Bhaalgorn faction battleships, the bridge section of one visible above.
The parasitic capacitor-draining effects of the Bhaalgorns cripple Test Alliance Please Ignore's ability to deal significant damage and their Hyperion strike force is left foundering as they are picked apart. Here, featured pilot Taco Rice is powerless in his Hyperion as a Bhaalgorn watches his inevitable demise.
Test Alliance Please Ignore are consigned to the losers bracket as Late Night Alliance progress into the last 8 undefeated teams.
Match #84: Transmission Lost vs. Exodus.
The match between Transmission Lost and Exodus. proves to be a slow-burning confrontation as both teams bring highly defensive Dominix battleship setups which will be hard to penetrate due to the intricate nature of the chain-linked resource-sharing "tinker tank" strategies both sides employ.
As expected, significant time passes as each team probes the other for chinks in the armour or gaps in the chain. Eventually, it is Transmission Lost who are caught napping as Bloemkoolsaus' vital Basilisk logistics cruiser takes a series of unsurvivable volleys and their defenses start to unravel.
Still solidly defended and tasting blood, Exodus. move in for the kill and eviscerate Transmission Lost's fleet without taking any losses. Vytone's Dominix battleship takes some missile fire, but with an army of repair drones already circling, there is little fear.
Match #85: DarkSide. vs. Darkness of Despair
With darkness a shared theme in the names of these two alliances, it is perhaps unsurprising that they also share a similar taste in strategy as both teams field very similar Dominix battleship focused fleets. The single point advantage held by Darkness of Despair is as a result of Darkside. only spending 99 of the 100 points available, the remainder contributing to the opposition's score. This meant that the onus would be on Darkside. to attack, lest they lose on a point technicality.
The majority of the match passed with both teams maintaining their distance. Darkness of Despair were clearly content to hold their one point lead, leaving Darkside. to make their move. Which they were leaving very late...
Then, with seconds to go Darkside. struck out like a predator pack hunting a herd and picking on the weakest, slowest prey. A daring smash-and-grab kill saw Dirty Koyote's 2-point Punisher frigate explode without time for reply. Darkside.'s patience and precision took the match by a single point.
Match #86: Ministry of Inappropriate Footwork vs. HYDRA RELOADED
Tournament favourites HYDRA RELOADED had already demolished two opponents without losing a single ship. Ministry of Inappropriate Footwork had made a good account of themselves in their previous two matches, but were the clear underdogs here. Here, the tactical view shows HYDRA RELOADED (in blue), including featured pilot HaartSp in a Myrmidon battlecruiser, confidently spread their formation as they execute their strategy.
Six minutes later and the last Ministry of Inappropriate Footwork Proteus strategic cruiser, flown by Sly Jr, explodes as HYDRA RELOADED frigates circle the fallen pilot's pod.
HYDRA RELOADED didn't even seem to break a sweat in their third flawless victory. After seeing the supremely competent display, tournament commentator Bacchanalian issues a chilling warning to the other competitors to bring the day to a close:
"If you aren't afraid of HYDRA RELOADED, you should be."