Alliance Tournament XIII, Obligatory Edition

This year’s prize skins should be labelled Perfunctory Edition; there’s nothing victorious about CCP’s efforts this time around. Have you ever watched Lethal Weapon 4? It’s not a bad movie, in a vacuum –bad guys still get shot, Mel Gibson isn’t awful to watch yet, and Danny Glover, at long last, really does get too old for this shit. It’s nothing special, though. It’s no Lethal Weapon 3, or 2, and doesn’t come close to the original. Lethal Weapon 4 exists, for our viewing pleasure, simply because the first three were great successes, so why not keep going. It could be said, I think, that the movie exists because the writers, producers, and stars of the series felt like they had to make another, not because they wanted to make it happen. I’m starting to get that same feeling about this year’s Alliance Tournament. While CCP’s commitment to competitive EVE tournaments has wavered a good bit since the departure of CCP Soundwave, we had hope earlier this year. After all, Fanfest’s headline event this year was actually about EVE, and was a competitive PVP contest – a far cry from 2014’s MMA absurdity. There was some small hope that, despite the cancellation of the New Eden Open, CCP might still care at least a little bit about presenting tournament content. We listened in Fanfest as Hilmar and the Valkyrie team spoke of their focus on creating a competitive game that would lend itself well to the rapidly growing esports community, and it gave us another small glimmer of hope that the higher-ups at CCP might be willing to give this one PVP event the makeover it deserved. After all, things get stale after a decade – it was time to mix things up, reinvent competitive EVE for the second decade, and move forward into a new chapter.

Camel The Camel Empire team walking on stage at Worlds Collide

What we’re getting, instead, seems to be the Lethal Weapon 4 of EVE tournaments. We’re getting a tournament compressed into three weekends instead of four, with fully half of the tournament’s content simply unavailable to viewers. That’s right. Last year, we had four weekends of commentated EVE tournament goodness. The first two over Skype, certainly, which is an understandable cost-cutting measure, but it was a nice change. This year, we’re going to get two weekends of commentating, and a first weekend viewable, if we’re lucky, as a series of colored status bars on I feel bad for alliances that will be eliminated on the first weekend. The time investment to prepare for the alliance tournament is massive, and it would be incredibly disappointing to see alliances participate in the tourney and never get the thrill of having their matches streamed live. It feels perfunctory – CCP knows they need to stream the last two weekends, but doesn’t seem to care enough to invest in providing the whole tournament, so they’re hoping they can get away with as little coverage, and effort, as possible. And what are we getting, commentators-wise, on those two weekends when CCP will be letting us watch this year’s only EVE tournament? We get three returning faces, and one new one. I love Elise, and Apothne and I are amazing friends, and I’m excited to see what Chessur brings to the table. I didn’t particularly love Squeebles’ work last year – he can talk for days, sure, but he doesn’t have nearly as much to say about tournament gameplay, or about EVE, as others do. His inclusion this year over a number of other candidates feels to me like an obligatory nod to the Twitch community, rather than an expression of his superiority over other candidates. We get Chessur brought in, sure, and it’s nice to see CCP take a bit of a node to EVE_NT_Collides, which has provided more excitement in the competitive EVE space in a few short weekends, than CCP has offered since last fall, but the absence of other members of that team are notable. It feels, again, as though CCP has taken the easy, obvious path forward. What about support for the teams? Don’t get me wrong – I’m thrilled Fozziesov is coming, and I’m excited to participate in the testing competition. That said, however, the availability of the Duality test server for training in previous years completely revolutionized the amount of effort sunk into the absurd metagaming that goes on around the tourney. While I’ll take this year’s outright statement over last year’s extended silence on the issue of Duality, making it clear that it won’t be available until, at the earliest, only a couple weeks before the tournament starts, is hardly useful. Teams will instead have to once again sink countless man-hours into taking every possible effort to isolate themselves on Singularity, while sinking even more effort into the logistics associated with AT testing. I understand that choices need to be made around deployment schedules, and Fozziesov shouldn’t take a backseat to anything, but there has to be a better solution than “tough shit.” I doubt we’ll see one, though – not from a CCP that’s already doing the bare minimum everywhere else. ATXII Speaking of the bare minimum, let’s move on to prizes. The prizes suck. The frigate’s bonuses are contradictory (yes, I’m aware dualprop is a thing – that doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea, or a good idea in this case, or that a ship so unique and valuable should have bonuses that so tightly restrict its effective uses.) And the cruiser? Please. A HIC that’s worth more than any supercap in the game, and still can’t receive remote reps, no matter how fast it can go? Who cares. If we see these used on TQ, I reckon we’ll see them in FW plexes as bait for combat recon ganks, safe from  heavy neuts, fighters, and all the other things that spell death for HICs on a daily basis. They’re essentially giving us a prize ship that’s designed to fill a role that is, ordinarily, filled with ships considered disposable. HICs don’t need to survive the whole fight – each one just needs to live long enough for the next one to take its place. Hardly a clever way to design a prize ship that should attract interest, passion, and enthusiasm from the competitors and audience.  It’s lazy – we’ve got Sanshas ships with interceptor and HIC bonuses applied, and some new skins. Nothing clever, nothing groundbreaking – just something easy to do. All this adds up to one thing, in my view. However much enthusiasm we may see from Guard and Logibro, this isn’t a tournament CCP wants to do. The format is largely unchanged, the prizes are uninspired, the broadcast plan is a bare-bones skeleton of its former self, we get to see the same faces back in the commentator booth, and we get the Lethal Weapon 4 of tournaments. To me, this can only indicate one thing: CCP feels it must have a tournament, even though it lacks both the interest and the focus necessary to deliver a truly awesome experience. If that’s the case, so be it – I just wish CCP would admit it. EVE is a tough nut to crack, as a sport – it’s unfriendly to watch for people who play it every day, let alone those outside of New Eden who are coming just to watch the competition. I don’t get the sense anyone at CCP has any energy to tackle this problem, nor the courage to admit to the playerbase that they’re really not sure what to do with the Alliance Tournament going forward. I’d be fine with that admission – to me, that honesty would be a welcome alternative to this obligatory, perfunctory, sequel, that we’ll be asked to watch for four short days in August.  
Tags: alliance tournament, ATXIII, Oh Takashawa

About the author

Oh Takashawa

Oh Takashawa enjoys smugness, spaceships, and burning unnecessary amounts of helium isotopes.