Way of the Exploding Spaceships: EVE Online Alliance Tournament XI Day One Review

Day One of EVE's yearly eSports extravaganza saw decimations, accusations and palpitations. Starting as it means to go on with reigning champions Verge of Collapse pulling off an impressive comeback.
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The first day of the eleventh EVE Online Alliance Tournament came to a close after 32 dramatic spaceship clashes.

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Things are off to a pretty positive start.

Overall, it was a smooth first day, with no delays or technical issues aside from some intermittent TwitchTV-related jittery streaming in the latter half of the day as the viewing audience broke the 11,000 mark. It’s not unreasonable to expect this to be addressed on future days now CCP and Twitch have a measure of audience engagement.

The commentary was provided by three familiar faces, former tournament player pundits turned developers; the human super-computer CCP Fozzie (based on the Raivi blueprint), the ever-solid Zachary Quinto clone CCP Rise (formerly Kil2) and the eccentric but loveable CCP Dolan (née Michael Bolton III).

On subsequent weekends we will also have the well-honed talents of player commentators Bacchanalian and Apathetic Brent (regular commentators from the player-organised Syndicate Competitive League competition) and the machiavellian player favourite Shadoo.

The Dominant Dominix

The competition itself went well, with every one of the competing alliance teams playing out their first match. Today is the only day on which no team can be eliminated, so even though half of the participants are now 50 percent of their way toward the exit, a team that has suffered an initial stumble could still go on to take the title.

Every year’s tournament seems to have its iconic and popular ships, with fleet compositions built to support particular core favourites. In the past we’ve seen regular appearances from teams relying on Kronos marauders, Tengu strategic cruisers, the ever-popular Sleipnir command battlecruisers and the fast-but-deadly Machariel faction battleships.

However, the wholesale ship rebalancing that has taken place over the last year or so has completely rewritten the playbooks and we’re seeing new trends rising. The Gallente Dominix battleship (unkindly described as the space potato) has seen some favour in the early matches and the Heron frigate has been identified as the ship which provides the cheapest mid-slot to tournament points ratio in-game, meaning it can fit more useful support gear.

Of the many entertaining clashes that took place over the course of the day, three in particular stood out…

The Battles of Champions

Reigning champions Verge of Collapse took on contenders Outbreak. in what transpired to be battle of the Dominixes.

Outbreak. took the early advantage by successfully targeting the Verge of Collapse support fleet and successfully whittling them down with minimal losses, leaving Verge of Collapse with only four ships, including their 3 Dominixes. However, the surviving Verge of Collapse ships somehow managed to focus fire and down an enemy battleship despite Outbreak.’s still active Oneiros logistics cruiser whose sole purpose was to mitigate incoming damage.

This meant that although Outbreak. had torn through Verge of Collapse’s entire support fleet, destroying eight ships whilst losing only one, they had now lost much of their ability to inflict any more damage. As the tide turned, Outbreak.’s pilots could only watch as Verge of Collapse began to fight back, successfully destroying more ships. Ultimately, Verge of Collapse found the points they needed to secure a dramatic comeback, whilst Outbreak. had frustratingly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

It was genuinely nail-biting stuff, even for the neutral observer. I cannot imagine the tension that involved pilots and their supporters must have been experiencing.

There were some interesting opinions on exactly what might have happened. During the match, commentator CCP Dolan explained Outbreak.’s early lead was “thrown away by bad positioning.” However, on Twitter, inbound commentator Shadoo offered other possible explanations.

Given the devious nature of EVE’s metagame, it’s certainly worth taking into consideration.

The Good Fights

The M.I.F. versus Angeli Mortis clash saw Angeli Mortis’s support fleet quickly destroyed by an M.I.F. assault, leaving only an impenetrable triple Scorpion Navy Issue “tinkertank”* setup to stand firm against a full MIF onslaught, leaving the last minutes breathless as MIF went evasive to prevent giving away points that would erode their lead. They lost one of their 3 Sleipnirs which closed their previous clear points lead to 27-16. A second Sleipnir loss would see them staring at defeat. They held.

There were many other scintillating matches; particularly The Obsidian Front vs The Initiative.‘s tit-for-tat match to the wire, with both sides holding and losing the lead repeatedly before The Initiative. finally took the win.

For the full results, check out the tournament bracket at the end of day 1 and don’t forget to tune in tomorrow to find out who will be the first to leave the competition.

*A Tinkertank is EVE jargon for a complex symbiotic setup where a number of ships share resources in order to provide a self-sufficient energy and defence network which is hard to penetrate.

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Mat Westhorpe
Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.