This weekend marks the elimination rounds of Alliance Tournament XII (AT12) – a full 4 weekend gladiatorial style tournament for recognition and ridiculously valuable prizes. Ships will get wrecked! Some highly anticipated matches include Rote Kapelle vs Ministry of Inappropriate, and CVA vs Hydra Reloaded. Catch the action live on CCP Games Twitch site, this weekend.
Here’s a fantastic tool (link) by NULL-SEC.COM to review this tournament (and the previous one); complete with a 3d rendering of the match as it happened. It’s a fantastic way to see what each pilot was up to.
The Evolution of the Alliance Tournament
The EVE Alliance Tournament (AT) has been around for 9 years – and had 12 tournaments in that time. There have been two legitimate dynasties and a sprinkle of other winners. The wreckage produced in the tournaments amounts to tens if not hundreds of billions in ISK with – prizes worth even more. Tens of thousands of people view the tournament – some even know what they are watching.
The Alliance Tournament is now a juggernaut event that brings EVE Online to a standstill. It’s the World Cup of EVE, but with all the carnage of gladiatorial sport. A good showing can catapult an obscure alliance to great fame, or cement a respectable reputation as elite PVPers. A poor showing will embolden enemies and call into question an alliance’s sovereign holding strength. But it wasn’t always this way.
The Amarr Championship
The first well known tournament in EVE was waged in late 2003 (YC105), on behalf of the Amarr Houses of Power. The Amarr Championship (AC) was a an immersive RP live event that impacted the lore and history of the game itself. The participants were only five EVE players, chosen as champions, with the results determining the NPC successor to the Amarr Throne.
The participating champions were:
EVE Radio covered the event live over the internet. No known video of the of the event exists.
The final came down to Ecliptical vs Shrike, and Eliptical won. This victory, according to Amarr tradition, meant each head of the five Royal families would renounce their claim to the thrown and remove their self as a competing power by committing ritual suicide. The House of Kor-Azor would become the Emperor – without peer. The new Emperor named planet IV in the Kor-Azor system after his champion: Eclipticum.
As planned the defeated self-destructed their ships, however the runner-up Jayml Sarum’s body was never recovered. She later reappeared in the novel “EVE: The Empyrean Age,” taking power and annihilating the Minmatars Elders Fleet in an epic fight that launched the Faction Wars (2007 “Empyrean Age” Expansion), and established her as the long standing Empress.
Jamyl’s defeated champion, Shrike (aka SirMolle), went on to form Band of Brothers and the stage was set for the rise of the EVE’s first superpower. Shrike/SirMolle, would become one of EVE’s seminal players loved and hated by thousands; but, he was most especially vilified by a fledgling group of newbies known as Goonswarm. Shrike most recently lost a Titan in the historic battle for B-R5RB where she is memorialized with other famed titan pilots (Titanomachy).
Caldari Gaming Commission aka CCP Events
CCP Events team put an emphasis on player events in 2005 (YC107), in the form of the Caldari Gaming Commission. They kicked off the year with the COLLOSUS race which featured NPC Corp sponsored capsuleers racing through dangerous null sec space. Comedy Ensued:
“..A contestant activated her weapons before the race was officially started, pod-killing two of her fellow contestants…”
“The marathon race began in the depths of the Fountain region, where immediately racers were set upon by a blockade from the notorious Evolution Corporation, presumably out to help those of their members participating in the contest. The one-hundred-plus jump route then took racers through five waypoints across the entire northwestern face of the known universe. A fair few locations, such as a waypoint in the Cloud Ring region, played host to attackers hell-bent on destroying as many of their allies’ competitors as possible. The race ended in the depths of the Branch region, where racers came through the finish line after a final sprint heavily camped by hostile forces.”
Team Lai Dai capsuleers won the event, winning 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.
“The [Caldari Gaming Commission’s] promising to breathe new life into the gaming industry with further capsuleer events.” – EVE Online News
By the end of the year CCP followed through on planning more events by hastily announcing a pvp tournament for alliances.
Alliance Tournament 1 aka Caldari Alliance Championship
“The Caldari Gaming Commission announced their plans to host the largest capsuleer fighting tournament since the Amarr Championships.” – 24.12.2005 EVE Online News
The first Alliance Tournament was a simple RP/PVP affair with overtones of the Caldari preparing to war capsuleers and using the tournament as an intelligence gathering con. In reality, it had the core elements that make up the tournament we know today: Alliance only teams, secret fighting arena, 3rd party betting, etc. with Alliances being relatively new to EVE.
Unlike modern tournaments, this one had pre-determined ships types: Battleship, Cruiser, Frigate. No skill weighting was given so the early rounds had some terrible mismatches, every match eliminated the looser so the strong teams quickly cleared the weak ones.
The tournament began on December 29 and ended New Years EVE 2005. Teams had only 4 days to prepare their pilots. Despite complaints about the short notice, enthusiasm was high. EVE University hosted public betting services which easily reached hundreds of billions. Betting was as big then as it is now.
The humble tournament had little commentary – only the finals match by EVE Radio. No official video but each team was allowed to bring a hand full of fans to record their matches. Some of those videos exist on youtube which reveal just how young EVE Online was at the time. CCP treated the tournament as just another event so minimal staff was assigned to run it but they somehow pulled it off.
The Great Leveling Field
Tournament victories come down to the skills and coordination of pilots. Size, scale, and power of an alliance has no advantage in the arena making it a leveling field between null sec, low sec and empire (hi sec) alliances.
In AT1 a lesser known alliance, KOAS Empire, made a great showing and climbed all the way to the finals over the bodies of Stain Empire, Red Alliance and The Five. “Yet again KAOS Empire proved to be a tight team in this fight and fought their way into the finals with the most flawless victories of the championship.”(EVE Online News) A flawless victory meaning no ships lost from the winning side.
The celebrated underdog had to face the hated overlords of null sec, Band of Brothers (BoB). Not every large sovereignty holding alliance has skilled small gang PVPers, but BoB had the best of all worlds. Boasting to have the best PVPers pound for pound they eagerly awaited a chance to prove it.
“In a tremendously close battle, it came down to BOB’s sole-surviving Eagle-class Heavy Assault against a KAOS Deimos-class Heavy Assault and Ishkur-class Assault Frigate. In a remarkable display of shield-tanking, the Eagle triumphed, winning the first championship on behalf of the Band of Brothers.” – evelopedia
The eagle pilot was Alasse Cuthalion and he was the first “hero tanker” of the Alliance Tournaments. A tradition carried on through this day by commentaters.
BoB, led by SirMolle/Shrike from the Amarr Championship, had established themselves as the best PVPers in New Eden. KAOS Empire had won too. They made their mark and emerged from obscurity and gained instant respect of their peers – something only the alliance tournament can do.
“Although BOB have won the champion ship but u guys have a lot of my respect and congrats on your winnings” – Yazoul Samaiel, Sniggerdly, Pandemic Legion
Excitement revs up at 7:50
A New Tradition
The combination of gambling, loyalties to new alliances, combined with the action packed matches and a great finale made the event a huge success. CCP made plans to follow up and improve on it only 6 months later. There would be 2 tournaments per year, just like expansions.
Each tournament was bigger and bolder. Rules changes, prizes grew and teams began to train. CCP through support behind it; EVE TV coverage came online, a studio was assembled, dev interviews, player interviews, live commentary, game announcements were made and so on. It was evolving into a huge party and everyone was loving it – and betting on it.