The grand Alliance Tournament (AT) is well into its 12th year (ATXII).  The last two weekends have already set up the elimination rounds and championship finals – which are set for this weekend. So don’t miss it. In case RL has been standing in the way of your Alliance Tournament fix, you can catch previous matches here, and previous year AT’s here.

Alliance Tournament Primer

The AT has no direct effect on the EVE universe aside from the prize ships awarded that can be used in New Eden but are rarely flown. In case you are wondering which are this year’s prize ships, check out Akrasjel Lanate’s video, which showcases both the Chameleon and the Whiptail:

The matches take place in an isolated region restricted to CCP Games, in Jovian space.  You can see the region in the north-east part of the EVE map. Teams usually practice months prior, away from prying eyes in deep wormholes of the test server. So planning, practice and matches are essentially outside EVE and have no direct bearing on the current events.

It wasn’t always this way.  The Alliance Tournament had repercussions inside New Eden.  The Caldari State sponsored the first tournament, during December of ’05, back when CCP Games liked to role play anything players actions, including exploits like the siege of Yulai. CCP Games later separated technical announcements from having an in-game voice.  Around that time the AT graduated from a lore based event to become what it is today; a “televised” e-sport showcase of small gang PVP prowess. Much like EVE Online it evolved from a little role playing event into a serious Meta-competition.

Part of its success was due to EVE Radio and EVE TV coverage. By 2009 (AT6), the tournament was shown on EVE TV to 12,000 viewers (up from 7,000 the year before) and a record setting 51,000 concurrent players in-game. Most transfixed on an exhilarating finale between tournament favorite R.U.R (The Ronin) vs Pandemic Legion.  That excitement led right into the Apocrypha Expansion days later and CCP took note of their incredible momentum. But the cost was too high, tying up staff for way too long and another tournament would be impossible if changers were not made. Since then only the final weekend has been televised in EVE Studios and Devs rarely make newsworthy

 

A Serious Business

Today the AT is serious business.  The prizes are so valuable some players wake from the dead every year to participate.  Some Alliances exist only to compete, then slide back into their coffins when it is over. Team selections start months before and training is a serious commitment. Some even have dedicated tournament characters that max out skills for particular roles – skills most other pvpers don’t bother getting to level 5.  The ships created from the prize BPO’s are among the most valuable in EVE Online – desired even above Titans.  They are more than worth the effort.

Fans take it seriously too.  On a few occasions teams have thrown matches and earned the ire of the viewers – like CODE recently did.  The biggest fiasco happened during the grand finale of the ninth Alliance Tournament when Hydra Reloaded and its sparring partner; Outbreak had in the words of the organizers “Worked together as a single unit in order to game the competition“. Pandemic Legion, one of EVE Online’s most infamous alliances, won utilizing metagaming tactics and old fasioned spying the year before, Hydra beat them at their own game in the semi-finals but practically insult viewers by not taking the finals seriously – capping a great tournament with a listless final match.

Of course, there are other notable EVE Online PVP tournaments; the Fanfest PVP Tournaments and the CCP Games sanctioned New Eden Open, COLOSSUS championships (dead), Inter Alliance Industrial Cup (dead), etc. but none have the draw power that the AT has. It’s more interesting to cheer for your alliance or an allied alliance. Interstellar political rivalries get settled in grudge matches for all to see and tournament favorites return to surprise the viewers again.

Great Moments, Expensive Losses

A driving force in EVE is to belong to the “right” group, and this tournament puts that into sharp focus. New players pick who they want to belong to (some day). New alliance can make a name for themselves like Verge of Collapse (AT10 champs) or “over the hill” alliances can reassert their authority like PL coming back from a 0-2 to win a 3-2 championship (AT11).

Winning is nice but a good showing may be all you need. Nulli Secunda winning with unconventional fleets, expert piloting by Rote Kapell, perfect execution of fleet doctrine by Agony Unleashed – all these favorably raise the visibility of their alliance and attract higher quality pvpers.

Dynastic AT winners include BOB (1-3), Pandemic Legion (6-8,11), both politically preeminent alliances of their time (BOB is basically NC. now), and both highly exclusive clubs. Other teams are tournament royalty by consistently placing well; Hydra Reloaded, HUN Reloaded, The G0Dfathers, THE R0NIN (also as R.U.R), WE FORM VOLTRON. Exodus. Dead Terrorists. Most of these teams are tournament teams, not very influential in EVE so recruiting may not be important. The true winners of the AT are the alliances that are politically active and also have good tournament reputations; Agony Empire, CVA, Shadow Cartel, Rote Kapelle, Nulli Secunda, Cult of War.  They leverage their wins into attracting better pvpers to help hold sov or patrol their homes.

 

Star Fraction brings down the Band of Brothers (BoB) Dynasty

An unbeatable BoB three years running boasts a fleet that cannot be beat and they were right up to that day.  Star Fraction used a 10 DPS heavy thorax’s – a rush team that laid waste and stunned the audience.

Turning point at 1:30

IAC vs COW Imperial Navy Apocalypse down

On 10 December 2006, the Interstellar Alcohol Conglomerate (IAC) lost one of the only five Apocalypse Imperial Issue (Impoc) battleships known to exist in New Eden. These were thought indestructible but with time and stopping power, Cult of War pilots were able to show differently. After failed ransom attempted the doomed ship’s fate was sealed. The EVE TV studio personnel were audibly hooting and hollering in the background until they and the commentators fell silent, speechless.

Drama starts building at 9:00, Winning moment 13:23

Incidentally, the sister ship and last remaining Apocalypse of its kind was used as part of the legendary Guiding Hand Social Clubs assassination of Mirial, CEO of Ubiqua Seraph. You can read about this in the (UK) PC Gamer article “Murder Incorporated: The story of Eve Online’s most devastating assassins. (2006)” A must read for any EVE fan.

 

Epic Bait Curse

Alliance Tournament VI Quarter Finals Pandemic Legion vs Cult of War.  Pandemic Legion managed to create an ultimate baiting curse by loading an extra-large shield booster on a cruiser.  CCP took note.  You can hear the studio reacting.

Drama at 2:40

 

Circle-of-Two fields 3 Freki’s  (30 billion ISK each).

Each year’s winner of the tournament is awarded special ships with augmented abilities as trophies. Sometimes those find their way back into the tournament as they did here:

Drama starts at 3:10.

 

Those are some of the dramatic moments in Alliance Tournament history, but there are many more, and many more to come specially with the finals just around the corner, so stay tuned and if you feel there is a memorable fight I might have overlook, please make sure to comemnt about it. Until next time.

– Matterall

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