Alliance Tournament Histories: Pandemic Legion vs. HYDRA RELOADED – Part One

 

Spanning a decade and a half of combat, the history of the Alliance Tournament is one that might easily be forgotten to the annals of time. The incredible work of Andrew Groen and others has served to record and share the incredible stories of the history of our game, and I believe our beloved tournament has its own few narratives of equal caliber which deserve repeated telling to future generations of EVE pilots (including myself!). Further, it does not require a mass corralling of nerds in huge alliances to make your name in the tournament scene. As few as a dozen pilots with the dedication, talent and resources can come out of nowhere to change the face of the competition.

Pandemic Legion is the only group to take multiple titles, which presently stand at five

Aside from Band of Brothers, who won the first three tournaments, Pandemic Legion is the only group to take multiple titles, which presently stand at five. That means that Pandemic Legion have won one in every three they have entered. Pandemic Legion as a team have historically focused on what we refer to as theorycrafting and metagaming; i.e that they would have the deepest roster of practiced team compositions to bring, and through spying on their opponents and almost psychic banning strategy they would win the match before even being teleported to Jove space, where the matches take place. AT15 marks only the second time in their twelve years of competing that they have finished outside the Top 4, and both times this was due to being disqualified by HYDRA RELOADED.

HYDRA RELOADED offer a polar opposite to the style of Pandemic Legion. While they were, and are, some of the best when it comes to theorycrafting and metagaming, it is through extreme levels of optimisation and precision in their team construction and execution on the field of battle that they succeed. If Pandemic Legion win by forcing you to bring a comp that is automatically countered by theirs, HYDRA win by rendering what you bring irrelevant and winning through superior piloting and decision making. That said, HYDRA also have a history of taking a, shall we call, “unique” interpretation of the rules as seen in ATs 9 and 13.

HYDRA win by rendering what you bring irrelevanT

Spanning the latter half of the tournament’s history so far, PL vs HYDRA has been the definitive rivalry in the tournament scene. Few teams could approach the level of competition of the ongoing war between the two throughout the years and not be left by the wayside battered and bruised as both PL and HYDRA single-mindedly destroyed the competition to beat each other and take the crown. In HYDRA’s first three tournament appearances, Pandemic Legion were the only team to beat them. Pandemic Legion have had to beat HYDRA in the finals for two of their five AT victories, and the only two times in their total ELEVEN appearances Pandemic Legion has failed to achieve top four was due to being eliminated by HYDRA. In the AT, five matches have given us eleven games, each anxiously watched and cheered by legions of nerds around the globe.

We should, however, start at the beginning, in AT8. For each tournament I will post the videos FIRST, so if you want to watch the matches before I spoil them, watch before reading any further in each section.

AT8 Finals-Hell Hath No Fury Like A Goberius Scorned

commentary by Kil2 (now CCP Rise) and Angel Hun

AT8 was HYDRA’s first tournament, and their participation is entirely due to the previous life of our beloved CEO of Pandemic Horde, Gobbins. As the story goes, Gobbins had something of a falling out with PL, especially their leadership, and especially especially Shamis. The following is what Garmon (of Garmonation fame), who with Duncan Tanner should be considered something like the Shadoo and Shamis of Pandemic Legion, had to say about the events leading up to AT8:

“The only reason Hydra Reloaded exists as a tournament team is because of Gobbins.

The only reason Hydra Reloaded exists as a tournament team is because of Gobbins

In 2009, AT7, Gobbins helped PL a lot with theorycrafting, and IIRC, he was the most influential theory crafter at the time, he made their winning bomber setup, which PL had used many times. Due to :drama: he didn’t get his Mimir, a PL member actually gave him a Mimir later on though, and when Gobbins gave it to me to fly, I nearly lost it several times. 

After Gobbins left PL, he started flying with Genos with his corp, eXceed. No idea how we met initially, all I remember is that we were having loads of fun, roaming in Providence. He would often FC my guys when I’m not around, and I’d often FC his guy when he wasn’t around.

When Providence got invaded by Atlast & U’K & AAA etc. Hydra joined Providence, and Gobbins and his crew helped us out; much fun was had. Anyway, before AT8, I just remember Gobbins suggesting that we give it a shot; he thought we had a shot because we were not terrible. For tournament prep, Gobbins organized everything. My favorite memories is raivi spying on us 23/7, and Gobbins going to PL testing space and actively fighting them for a few hours. Shamis seemed pretty pissed at the time.

For the tournament itself, all I did was FC (and funding), Gobbins & other people did pretty much everything else. Gobbins flew around Jove space after the first game. He got banned from the AT on his char. He had to fly a character that couldn’t use T2 drones, in a Myrmidon, lol.”



In the words of Elise Randolph, who needs no introduction:

“The Gobbins storyline is rather funny. Gobbins, in his youth, was not always agreeable and very steadfast in his beliefs.  After AT7 (PL vs CO2 finals), Gobbins and Shamis got into it quite a bit which resulted in Gobbins leaving. In those days, PL paid out every AT pilot with an AT ship, but because Gobbins left, Shamis opted out of giving him the ship. Gobbins then went on to Hydra and, by all accounts, taught them the PL style of training for the AT. At the time, PL was basically the only super-mega tryhard team and their style of practice for the tournament saw them dominate quite a bit.

With Gobbins moving to Hydra, he brought not only that style but the drive for AT glory. Previously, Hydra pilots had never seriously competed in an AT. In AT8, Hydra came in 2nd to PL which was very much a showdown between Gobbins and Shamis.”

Gobbins through sheer force of will marshalled HYDRA

You can read more about serious spaceship drama in the thread Garmon has linked. Regardless, this period of the alliance tournament was the true height of PL’s tournament career. They had won AT6 and AT7, and would go on to win AT8 to match BoB’s triple crown of AT1-3. PL’s dominance was absolute in the way that BoB’s was in the years before, if not moreso. Gobbins through sheer force of will marshalled HYDRA into what would be PL’s nemesis for the better part of the following decade up to the modern day. AT8 may have not been their time to shine, but it started the ball rolling on a tournament history which can only be compared to the likes of Boxer vs Yellow, Mango vs Armada, SKT vs KT, Diago vs Justin Wong, or Flash vs Jaedong. (If you get all those references without Google you are a fucking nerd).

Garmon continued: “Gobbins held my hand, did most of the work. Used what he had learned from his time in PL, and we got second in our first ever tournament thanks to him.” (a secondary account of the situation can be found in this Reddit thread)



And finally, we have Gobbin’s take on the whole thing, which fills in the rest of the picture:

“Regarding what happened: HYDRA at the time had zero AT experience (nothing).

When the slot auction came up, Garmon didn’t even bother putting in a bid, he forgot. You can ask him to confirm. In general I remember him stating later that he hadn’t really taken the whole thing seriously until we passed the round-robin, that was the moment he realized we had a real shot.

So first of all there was the training and testing – none of them were familiar with any of it, and we had PL spying on us (Raivi) every practice. There was no separate test systems at the time, so we had to fight the meta back. I taught them how to do that. I remember we were so good at it Shamis ended up leaquing a bit on the eve forums after we disrupted PL’s practice in response. (have a quick skim its pretty hilarious)

Then came tourney day. The tourney that year had an initial round-robin and then a direct elimination bracket. No losers brackets.

I looked at the brackets and had us forfeit our match

Here is something absolutely key I did, which I bet even Garmon might not remember: I looked at the brackets and had us forfeit our match against Agony Empire so we would be seeded in a different bracket and avoid PL until the finals. Basically CCP had setup the post-robin seed in such dumb way you could game it and avoid certain teams **as long as you killed a lot of shit in the game you lost**. Here is the video. Some of the explanation is in the comments and also poor Kil2 wasn’t in on the plan and had to watch the shit show.

Another problem the HYDRA team had that year was that it wasn’t at all used to the tourney ‘game day pressure’. Garmon especially was a total nervous wreck; you can ask him, Duncan or Fmerc for confirmation. But if not.. we have:

Exhibit A) Garmon moving before the fight in the round robin qualifier match 

and Exhibit B) Garmon moving before the fight in the first game of the final day 

Second place that year were 50x AT frigs. HYDRA was not a rich alliance so I am sure this was crucial to financing their next AT, with the experience and confidence acquired by placing second place helping out too.

I don’t think they would have gotten second place that year without me, because to be fair I am not even sure they had that much interest signing up to begin with. On top of that, they were basically delivered the whole PL tourney know-how on a platter in terms of theroycrafting and practice routines, meta game tricks, final-day discipline and all that jazz. Again these were guys with zero tourney experience, remember that.”



The match itself is an almost perfect representation of the dynamic between PL and HYDRA, with HYDRA bringing a three Rook extreme control setup and Pandemic Legion bringing a pure Minmatar Rush. HYDRA brought a comp that allowed them to slow down the match and out-execute, whereas PL leant into a hard counter either by accident on purpose, I don’t know. Either way, HYDRA were obliterated and PL thusly take their third crown.

Game Score: 1-0
Match Score: 1-0

AT9 – C-C-C-Combobreaker

commentary by Kil2 (now CCP Rise) and Shadoo

As mentioned previously, Pandemic Legion are dominant. Three Gold Medals and already 2-0 in group stages for AT9. Between the conclusion of AT8 and AT9 the PL forums are leaked, revealing to the entire community PLs training routine, how they fit their ships, how they plan… everything. It revealed to the whole playerbase the best practices and years of theorycrafting, development and discussion by the leaders of the tournament scene. Imagine if the internal logs of Microsoft’s programming and R&D department were released, that’s effectively what happened here.

Gobbins continues:

“The next year they instantly hit it off like a rocket practicing in wormholes and fielding a double team (Outbreak + HYDRA) Scoring first and second place.

Now maybe they would have done that anyways, or maybe some of the meta shit I taught them (which I myself had learned in PL) ended up resonating with them, but afterwards they basically had one year to stew and think of ways to counter-cuck Raivi/PL. I don’t know. Keep in mind that Raivi, as I said above, constantly followed them and their practices and taunted them that year which I think triggered the whole wormholes thing and aggressive spying by HYDRA back against PL In the following tourneys.

Having said that it might have just been a matter of time until the star of HYDRA would have started shining anyways, but my guess is it would have been delayed at least 1+ extra years.”

To note: Raivi is now better known as CCP Fozzie



Despite Pandemic Legion starting the tournament as to be expectred, as in really well, with HYDRA they faced the exact same setup they used to defeat HYDRA the previous year, and as tends to happen against Minmatar Rush, lose their Logistics early in the match without managing to put a dent in any of the HYDRA team. Despite losing a few ships and receiving a very lucrative (especially back in those days) 20 billion ISK bribe to self-destruct, HYDRA snowballed into victory and lead to PL’s first defeat in the Alliance Tournament in four years. No team since, including PL, have managed to get consecutive tournament victories.

In fact, PL then go on to lose to Darkside. in their following game. Admittedly, fintroll did get the money back after the game was over, but for the briefest moment HYDRA had done the unthinkable, both beating and scamming PL, but it ended up walking away with just beating PL.

for the briefest moment HYDRA had done the unthinkable, both beating and scamming PL

HYDRA should have sailed to victory from this point. In the grand finals of the entire tournament, Outbreak. won the match using, you guessed it, that Minmatar Rush comp. However, despite taking no losses and leaving HYDRA with only a Vindicator, Oneiros and Maulus, Outbreak. stopped shooting and allow Laedy’s Vindicator to kill their entire team, including their own Oneiros. You can watch the infamous game here. The collusion rules back then were much less well defined and strict, and are so now in large part due to these finals. 

What happened was that their practice partners Outbreak., headed up by Duncan Tanner, were found to be working together a little too closely to the point where CCP took action, expressedly prohibiting B-teams or teams that CCP saw as too closely linked. Also caught in this was the SniggWaffe alliance YOUR VOTES DON’T COUNT, who were unrelated to the whole affair, but had a close relationship with PL. The linked thread is at the very end of the logs of the old forums and while there are MANY player threads about this issue, this is the only official one I could find.

Game Score: 1-1
Match Score: 1-1



I would like to add a special thank you at the end here for those who have been so helpful to me in writing this series. Bluemelon, Elise Randolph, Gobbins, MrRive and Garmon all supplied me with far more depth and insight into these events than i expected to be able to wring from them with almost no cajoling. Also Andrew Groen for his enthusiasm and advice in how to approach EVE Histories.

 

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Tags: apothne

About the author

Apothne

Apothne is a proud member of Sniggerdly and an experienced roaming FC. He is a Guest FC and Lecturer for EVE University and anyone who invites him to ramble on their comms for a few hours. He is currently one of the most active and experienced player commentators for EVE Tournaments, including hosting and casting AT XII-XV and all #EVE_NT leagues, as well as the Amarr Championships on stage at Fanfest 2016.


  • Viince_Snetterton

    Interesting read. Good to get confirmation that CCP employee is as much a PL pawn as expected.