To the untrained eye EVE Online looks like bunch of floating colored boxes, but there is a lot more going on as we know. The tournament compares the same to the typical EVE player – it looks like a basic PVP tournament. The announcers help by pointing out what is going on but say little about what makes the tournament great. The history, the lineage, the rivalries, the motivations all heighten the drama by giving it meaning.
Alliance Tournament Setting
In the beginning New Eden was filled small corporations that first explored space to exploit it. The generated wealth lured pirate corporations into hijacking merchant ships as a full time profession. They lived off the proceeds. This in turn created the need for high-priced, professionalized mercenary contingency, and merc corps were formed to fill that space. This was the macro-professions cycle of life.
CCP grew the scale of the cycle when corps were able to form alliances, build player owned stations (POS), and later outposts in deep space through early game expansions. Plundering space became even more profitable in greater numbers so the scale of merchants grew, as did the number of predators. Pirate and Mercenary corps formed into pure PVP oriented alliances (like Curse Alliance) which expanded their roaming territory to multiple regions.
New Eden was still a vast expanse of cold space but now forcefully organized by overlords commanding small (25-50) battleship gangs at most – capital ships did not exist. Players in general were far fewer (11,000 concurrent record in 09/2004). Big dreams by comparison were to control an entire region were, like CVA did in Providence (late 2004). Counter to the utopic NRDS code of conduct, a seductive vision of superiority and dominance was forming and would be embodied most clearly in a group that called themselves the Band of Brothers (BOB).
By Summer 2005 winds of change were suffusing New Eden. A modern era of ruthless dominance rode on the tale of the summer expansion which featured; outposts, claimable sovereignty and dreadnaughts – the first capitals. Ironically called “Cold War” it was nothing of the sort, instead the new game mechanics immediately lit hot wars for sovereign space.
Early Sov Map, 02/2005
BOB was on the move in the northern regions of the map, targeting a very influential alliance known as Phoenix Alliance (PA). This conflict would be known as the Great Northern War (GNW). BOB and allies defeated PA and cleared them out, and took their space. There they eagerly awaited CCP to open Jovian space. PA fail cascaded as did their ally Curse Alliance a short time later. Unfortunately for BOB they stargate to Jovian space never lit up.
What was important about the GNW was that it marked the first modern war – coalitions, sov takeovers and failure cascades of the defeated. BOB changed the tenor of warfare from a semi-polite and honorable sport to lusty boot-on-your-face bloodsport. They shocked New Eden by rejecting the notion that there was enough space for everyone and through skill and diplomacy started the age of violent empire building and expansionist ambitions.
In reality BOB was full of players that dated back to the beginning of EVE. They formed some of the earliest corporations that are still around today:
They were highly skilled, creative, maybe even mechanics exploiters, and clearly wealthy. With every success they attracted even more high-grade PVPers and their power grew.
Incidentally remnants of the defeated Phoenix Alliance went on to create Morsus Mihi, Razor and other major alliances that formed the true Northern Coalition block – who later resettled the north and nurtured Goonswarm back to health after it was nearly destroyed from within. The Great Northern War laid the groundwork for rivalries that exist to this day – and why the CFC still consider themselves the underdog against PL/NC.
Alliance Tournament I (The Caldari Championships): Band of Brothers
When the first Alliance tournament (AT) was announced (aka Caldari Championships), BOB had something to prove – they were as good as their propaganda claimed. So they did, like a moving wall their 3-man team crushed and wiped opponents all the way to the finals, defeating their first two opponents in three minutes each. There were several good pvp teams in the tournament (despite only four days of prep time), of which BOB was only slightly concerned with one: Mercenary Coalition (MC). Fortunately MC was unexpectedly dell to Aegis Militia at a time when every match was an elimination one.
Even now most tournament teams are full of FC’s in their own right, but BOB also had and an exceptional FC, TWD, widely regarded EVE’s best pvper. He studied scenarios in search of an unbeatable combination of ships. They picked a single setup and drove it through the whole tournament. They also had rare and expensive Crystal plugins that were allowed at the time, which helped.
In the championship they came up against a very dynamic and skilled newcomer, KOAS alliance. KAOS had come up against setups similar to BOB’s and won so they daringly changed their strategy for the final match. The battle started out even, but when both opposing battleships blew up the battle fell to the heavy cruisers. The Eagle vs a Deimos duel lasted 12 minutes before BOB’s Eagle pilot Alasse Cuthalion downed his rival.
Cruiser fight starts at 10 minute mark
BOB were the champions. This added to their prestige and arrogance.
Alliance Tournament IIL Band of Brothers
The first true AT was AT2. Alliances were given proper time to prepare. CCP expanded teams to five members and used EVE TV to broadcast the competitions to 7,000 viewers. The biggest and best financed names stepped over challengers to get to the final 16:
This time BOB prepared well. Their returning team captain, TWD, again did the theory crafting and methodically searched for a winning setup with a few alternatives. Yet again, heavy tank and consistent DPS was in order. (Most good MMO pvpers want tank over DPS so when the dust settles they’re still standing and named among the winners.) Publically, BOB was getting criticized for using having low DPS. But they were already getting accustomed to criticism.
“The lead up to the finals had been very interesting from our point of view and the other most outspoken pilot against us in the competition was Tyrrax Thorrk. He had proclaimed that our tactics, our pilots and just about everything about us was useless. His strategy would win the competition and his team would barely need to turn up to take us and everyone else down. Thankfully though, our much mocked dmg output continued to pound the opposition.” – Grimster, Reikoku Forums
Amazingly there were many forfeits in the early tournaments and BOB benefited from two. Oncae again their only worry was Mercenary Coalition, but that never materialized as MC was knocked out by Ascendant Frontier (ASCN) for the chance to fight the defending champions.
In the final match, BOB held ASCN at bay with the help of Huginn, but could not get near enough to break their turtle tank. It was a stalemate. The match went the full length to 30 minutes and was decided by a tie-breaker frigate fight.
“Gunstar Zero flew our crow and right from the start proved to be the better pilot by selecting a slightly longer range, fast crow setup… more suited to a 1 vs 1 fight than the rocket crow that ASCN brought out.”
Alliance Tournament III: Band of Brothers
In 2006, AT3 had 15,000 viewers. Alliances pulled out all the stops. Interstellar Alcohol Conglomerate lost a priceless Imperial Apoc to Cult of War. It was high drama as ransom negotiation and after negotiation fell through until ultimately the ship met its demise The announcers and EVE TV crew oscillated between disbelief and excited laughter.
Ultimately it was the large and wealthy alliances that were able to attract highly skilled pilots that made it into the final rounds. Heavy favorite to challenge BOB, Mercenary Coalition, for the third time was knocked out before the finals. With the setups remaining largely the same – dense tanks and dps – the defending champions prevailed again winning the championship.
By now, CCP had figured the matches were getting to long due to strong tanks so they would outlaw pirate plugins in future tournaments. This had the side effect of making smaller, less finances alliances more competitive.
Alliance Tournament IV: HUN Reloaded
In AT4 (09/2007 same time Influence Map started up) the rules had changed again and now 10 members were allowed per team. Everyone was eager to see BOB vs newcomer Pandemic Legion. BOB was wining with ease having again created a setup that could counter all other prompting team captain TWD to declare the team “unbeatable”. These words widely reported and would haunt him soon after as they confidently stepped into the arena with a relative unknown, Star Fraction.
Star Fraction predicted what BOB would bring and countered by using all 10 spots with the same ship – Thorax. That made priority target calling for BOB difficult and their sheer numbers made jamming them all impossible. The speed of the attack with blasters, swarm of drones, and ECM systematically took BOB apart in what would become one of the most talked-about matches in tournament history. The announcers and studio crew at EVE TV must have been standing on their chairs with excitement like viewers at home were. Fist pumping celebration around the world as the tyrant king fell.
Just listen to the excitement at 2:30
Finally, in front of all of New Eden, BOB had been deposed and utterly embarrassed. They would not return to the tournament after that loss, having already made their mark on Tournament history by winning the first three AT’s, BOB had created an early tournament dynasty that would not be matched until years later by the next dynasty – Pandemic Legion.
With BOB eliminated the crown was up for grabs. Predictably Pandemic Legion (PL) reached the finals but instead of facing BOB they faced another new alliance, HUN Reloaded. HUN created a single fleet composition and executing it flawlessly that is their style to this day. They delivered a convincing beating to PL, annihilating them without losing a single ship. But the big story wasn’t about combat at all – it was how dreadful EVE TV was.
“The EVE playerbase seems to pride itself on being more mature than in other MMO’s. You don’t get better representation than in the tourneys, and that maturity should shine most there.”
“Verone and the VETO guys for example do an excellent job of being good natured and pretty even with everyone; but, some of them are just rubbish”.
“The conduct at times of the commentators and the so called “experts” was deplorable to say the least.”
“It is very sad that all EVE TV can field for guests and commentators is huge ego former players which really were never that great, non objective and bias tourney competitors that can only give us childish banter of no quality… this is the 5th tourney and from what I have seen the worst broadcasted one.” – All from EVE Forums from EVE Forums 03/2008
Here’s the final match between PL and HUN Reloaded, complete with sample of commentary.
Alliance Tournament V: Ev0ke
The following year in AT5 the big alliances fell early as smaller teams caught on. The defending champions HUNS were unable to overcome the talented newcomers, Ev0ke. They also defeated a great team Cry Havoc to get themselves to the finals.
PL was defeated by a fan favorite Triumvirate (TRI). Their semi-final fight with KIA was a tough match (some say best of the tournament) for them, but they prevailed. The final was an epic struggle but when it was all said and done, the small German based Evoke held the field. AT5 closed with another new champion.
Unfortunately EVE TV closed after AT5. CCP was exhausted from putting on 2 tournaments per year – along with 2 expansions, and the new DUST 514 development. Still at Fanfest 2008 they announced AT6 would indeed happen with the final days broadcast via web stream. Behind the scenes it was run by CCP volunteers who took their weekends and vacation time to put on the tournament. CCP time was dedicated the mysterious Apocrypha expansion.