Alliance Tournament XIV: Those who remain – Top 4Apothne
The final weekend looms closer, 56 teams have been eliminated from the running over the past two weekends, but this does beg a question. Who remains?
The Winners Bracket Finalists
Not exactly a surprise to anyone, Tuskers and PL were the two teams most were picking to win the tournament this year.
Match #1 vs Iron Armada
Match #33 vs Complaints Department
Match #81 vs Spectre Fleet Alliance
Match #105 vs Northern Coalition.
Match #117a vs WE FORM VOLTA
Match #117b vs WE FORM VOLTA
Flagship: Scorpion Navy Issue
- Raven State Issue #1 – survived
- Etana #33 – lost
- Core: Scorpion Navy, Minmatar CS & T2 Logistics Cruiser, Support: T3Ds + Bombers
- ATXIII TFI core w/ Blackbirds
Bans: Barghest (2) Vindicator (2) Curse (1) Etana (1) Guardian (2) Oneiros (2) Confessor (1) Hyena (1)
Pandemic Legion has only really shown two setup archetypes so far: Single Scorpion Navy Issue, double Minmatar Command Ship, single T2 Logistics Cruiser and T3Ds with bombers for support for the majority of their matches with one ECM flavoured TFI core. In their Match #1 against Iron Armada it came with the 3.5 trillion and extraordinarily rare Raven State Issue instead of one of the Minmatar CSs, downgrading a T3D to a Hyena to help apply the insane damage the battleships are putting out, then swapping the second CS to a Vulture for maximum links and tank.
Match #33 saw PL against Complaints Department, a high-sec wardeccing outfit who will be deservedly boasting about this game for years to come, as PL dropped the Raven State for a stronger support wing, but fielded an Etana to keep up with the shock and awe. Unfortunately, they faced Complaint’s flagship Bhaalgorn, and if there’s one thing a Flaghorn is good at, it’s negating opposing logistics. Initially, Complaints tried to break other parts of the PL team but as they lost ships and it became clear they were losing they decided to bloody PLs nose on the way out. They threw everything onto it and they took down PL’s Etana shortly before losing the match.
Match #81 saw PL face Spectre fleet’s all-BS max, hull-tanking setup. All hull-tank setups really aren’t “top-tier” as one of my colleagues may refer to teams, but they do have so much EHP and such a good damage output, that you do have to fly near-perfectly. Especially if you’re short on long-range tackle to not get caught and lose key ships before you have spent the age it takes to burn through their EHP. PL had the advantage here of facing an undermanned, multiracial comp with ECM, which makes the ECM all the stronger.
Match #105 was (without meaning any disrespect to their prior opponents) PLs first real challenge against a strong team, Northern Coalition, in what turned out to be one of the best games in AT history. NC. brought a double RHML Barghest “headshot” comp, excellent at nuking opposing logistics in the first reload, a similar concept to what some teams refer to as “Kingslayer” teams. In the support wing, NC. had a very different philosophy to PL who have been showing a strong T3D win with a small number of bombers and DPS support, instead choosing LML ships which are excellent at killing support wings, if less effective to cores.
PL immediately got to work on DHB Wildcat’s flagship Barghest, focusing on the “core” of the NC. team, while NC. focused on the PL logistics and support wing. After the initial trade, PL had their core Sleipnirs and SNI against two Caracals, a Drake, a Cerberus and a Vigil. HABIT however then decided to give us all a heart attack by boundary-ing both Sleipnirs on a bait Drake at the edge of the arena, also knocking the Drake out of bounds. Running out of missiles in the last few seconds of the match, team captain Dancul1001 managed to kill the two Caracals to bring it back on points for an extraordinarily narrow win. Notably PL did manage to kill a Cambion in this match, remaining the only team to have killed one in tournament play.
In the winners semifinals PL met WE FORM VOLTA, winners of ATX under Verge of Collapse, previously on the Triumvirate team. In match #117a, VOLTA brought a massive missile all-in in the shape of Rattlesnakes, Navy Scorpions and bombers, to attempt to kill either the PL flagship (which PL fortunately did not field), or the Raven State issue which PL had shown first round. Trading the first match in a best of 3 to guarantee them an advantage of not having to face those two ships for the rest of the tournament. The PL T3D wing evaporated the VOLTA bombers, losing only a regular SNI, Sleipnir and Scimitar before they had cleaner up VOLTAs team.
In match #117b PL brought effectively the same setup, this time switching the Sleipnirs out for Claymores. They faced in VOLTA a setup known in tournament social circles as “KingSlayer”, a semi-all-in using the combo of Hyenas and Typhoon hulls to nuke opposing logistics before working down the rest of an enemy team, relying on heavy reps bots to tank supplemented by T1 logistics themselves. Tinkeng did an excellent job in the Scimitar, keeping himself and his team (mostly) alive, while PL put pressure on the VOLTA Hyenas (to mitigate incoming damage) and kill the vanilla Phoon, which has much less EHP than the navy variants, taking a significant portion of the VOLTA DPS off field. By the time Tinkeng went down, PL had traded him and Casper24 in the Svipul for the Typhoon, Augoror, both Hyenas and one of the Purifiers of the VOLTA team.
Pandemic Legion are the only team left in the tournament to not drop a single game, confirming their status as heavy favourites for yet another year. They are, however, about to face the next team most commonly picked to be this year’s winners, The Tuskers Co.
The Tuskers Co.
Match #25 vs WAFFLES.
Match #45 vs Rote Kapelle
Match #87 vs Mercenary Coalition
Match #108 vs THE R0NIN
Match #118a vs The Afterlife.
Match #118b vs The Afterlife.
Match #118c vs The Afterlife.
- Fiend #25 – survived
- Etana #118a – lost
- NScorp, 2 Sleips, T2 Cruiser logistics and Fiend with Bomber and Interdictor support, + EWAR frig
- Bhaal + NBCs & Bombers
- TFIs + Bombers w/ Gnosis
- Double NScorp /w LML support & bombers
- RLML kite team
- Barghest + Fleet Phoons w/ Bombers and Cruors
Bans: Barghest (1) Bhaalgorn (1) Typhoon Fleet Issue (2) Curse (1) Guardian (3) Oneiros (3) Blackbird (1) Deacon (1) Thalia (1)
Unlike Pandemic Legion, we have seen several distinct setups from The Tuskers Co. In their first match against WAFFLES, we saw Tuskers bring a comp similar to one we have also seen from NC., a Navy Scorpion + Minmatar CS team with a Fiend, here supported by Flycatchers (excellent anti-support) and bombers (supplementary DPS). Waffle brought a DPS heavy Hull-tanking setup of Federation hulls supported by bombers for a very DPS heavy team. I discussed earlier the strengths and weaknesses of hull-tank tams, and Tuskers calmly and methodically took as much damage off field and quickly as possible by going bottom up the ship list, losing only a Navy Scorpion at the very end of the match.
Match #45 saw Tuskers face a team well known for their tournament prowess (if waning in modern times) in Rote Kapelle. Tuskers brought the new core archetype of this tournament, Bhaalgorn + Navy BCs against Rote, fielding a similar setup to what we have seen from PL so far, swapping the SNI for a Rattlesnake and mixing in two Kitsunes for ECM support. Navy Hurricanes, Harbingers and Brutixes all get tracking bonuses on their hulls, which combined with Hyena webs makes for the death of any support wing, even T3Ds. We saw it go to town this match on Rote Kapelle’s, before finally turning on the Rote Kapelle core, winning the match without losing a single ship.
In Match #87 the Tuskers fielded the same setups, swapping the Oneiros for a Guardian due to MCs ban. MC. brought a wild Amarr team of Double Bhaal, Damnation, Scorpion, double Deacon, double Arbitrator and double Purifier. While not a common setup, this actually has a lot of tools that are very effective against the Tusker team. TDs from the Arbis will help massively against the Navy BCs, allowing the logi frigs to more easily mitigate damage.
Two Bhaalgorns can keep one down with neuts and webs to spare to control the rest of the Tuskers team, effectively shutting down their logistics. The ECM of the Scorpion further mitigates incoming damage as well as having the potential to get that key jam on the logistics. Sadly for MC., things did not go that way. Tuskers still managed to explodify the MC bombers, taking most of the DPS off the MC. team and then, even with the Bhaal pressure, Tuskers tanked their way through the rest of the match, slowly working through MCs remaining ships.
Next Tuskers faced The R0NIN in Match #108, fielding a super-heavy missile team of Barghests, double TFI with a support wing of almost all bombers, against a oddball Vindi/Bhaal/NMega team from R0NIN supported by Command Destroyers, a Crucifier and a Merlin. Tuskers respect banned Deacon/Thalia, knowing R0NIN had showed strong usage of Logistics frigates in the open practices. When the match began, Tuskers cleverly used the Hyena webs to keep the Navy mega and Vindis close range DPS from their team for as long as possible, all the while pounding them with their insane long-range missile DPS. Breaking R0NINs core allowed them to be able to tank out the rest of the match, losing only a bomber along the way.
In the winners bracket semifinals, Tuskers had a fantastic Bo3 with The Afterlife, starting in Match #118a with a very sexy (and expensive) Caldari team; two Navy Scorpions, an Etana, Navy Drake for links, a Cerb, two Jackdaws and a Flycatcher for anti-support then two Manticore stealth bombers for supplementary missile DPS. The Afterlife. showed us their insane double Paladin team which made me feel like it was two years ago in the Bastion meta, with a Bhaal, Augoror, CDs for links, two Blackbirds for ECM and two Hounds for more damage.
The Afterlife threw their jams on the Tuskers Etana and anti-support, picking up a bomber off the bat. After a little positioning, The Afterlife went balls-deep on one of the Tuskers Navy Scorpions. With a combination of neuts and good-profile DPS it go very low but did not break, but having kept all their own ships alive The AFterlife managed to tackle and neut the Tuskers Etana which had had to come in close to apply full reps which was quickly dispatched. Logistics, down and despite killing The Afterlife Augoror, it was all over for The Tuskers who lost the rest of their ships in short order.
Down a game in their best of three, The Tuskers knew they had to bring something special in Match #118b to avoid being knocked into the loser’s bracket. Tuskers brought out one of my favourite AT archetypes, the “Rapid Light Kite” team. Imagine if the Balanced Legion Orthrus was an AT team, this is what it would look like. Facing the same Paladin team from The Afterlife., Tuskers nuked Afterlife’s Augoror with their first reload of RLMLs, mitigating incoming damage with a mix of ECM and guidance disruptors. Tuskers then played to the strengths of light missiles, tearing through The Tuskers support, only getting in danger when their Cerberus and Orthrus occasionally got webbed. By the time they lost their first ship, Afterlife. were down to two.
Tying the series up 1-1, Tuskers went into Match #118c with the same team as they brought against THE R0NIN, a crazy missile spam. The Afterlife. banned out from bringing a Bhaalgorn replaced it with a TFI, going up to T2 logistics and dropping the two Blackbirds to two more bombers. As tends to be the case with missile heavy teams, Tuskers nuked Afterlife’s logistics straight off the bat, effectively being in full command of the game for the rest of the match. Unsurprisingly, killing your opponents logistics without ceding any of your own ships is a pretty good way to start a match.
The Tuskers Co. are this year’s great hope to end Pandemic Legion’s reign of terror. Can they go all the way? We’ll find out this weekend as they have guaranteed themselves, along with PL. a final 3 finish in this year’s tournament.
The Gatekeepers of the Losers Bracket
Falling in the winners bracket semifinals, these teams represent the final bosses of those who have fought tooth and nail through the gruelling losers bracket thus far.
WE FORM VOLTA
Match #11 vs Affirmative.
Match #38 vs Feign Disorder
Match #83 vs Hard Knocks Citizens
Match #106 vs Villore Accords
Match #117a vs Pandemic Legion
Match #117b vs Pandemic Legion
Uniques Fielded: None.
- Double Barghest, Scimi, Cerb, Hyenas and Bombers
- SNI, double Minmatar CS, T3D support win with bombers
- Rattlesnake/Nscorp/Bomber allin
Bans: Widow (2) Barghest (1) Scorpion Navy Issue (1) Sleipnir (2) Cerberus (4) Kitsune (2)
VOLTA are a damn scary team this year, using very aggressive, damage heavy comps to power their way to victory. In match 1 we got out first look at their barghest headshot comp, tons of damage from the Barghs and bombers with a Cerb for anti-support and Hyenas to help get all that damage on target. They faced a super heavy ECM team from Affirmative in Match #11, but the jams failed to make much of an impact and VOLTA said through their first round.
In Match #38 we saw VOLTA bring effectively the same team that PL has been showing all the way through the tournament, up against Feign Disorders take on the Bhall + Navy BCs archetype with logistics frigates. Unfortunately for Feign Disorder, logistics frigates get rolled over by T3Ds and Sleipnirs, both Deacons falling simultaneously with one of their Navy Harbingers from the VOLTA missile damage.
Against Hard Knocks Citizens in Match #83 VOLTA brought the good old TFI core with Blackbirds, again a team we have seen PL field this year in a near-mirror matchup. The jam war waged for two minutes until suddenly the HKC Oneiros was caught and killed. Again, a logistics traded for nothing leading to a quick and absolute victory.
In Match #106 against the #MachMoaMeta team Villore Accords, VOLTA went back to their Barghest team and just steamrolled the Villore support, though unlike other teams Villore did manage to give VOLTA a bloody nose before they fell, killing a Hyena, Jackdaw and even one of the VOLTA Barghests before losing the match.
I’m going to omit the VOLTA series against Pandemic Legion here as I have already covered it above.
Match #23 vs Psychotic Tendencies
Match #44 vs Circle-Of-Two
Match #86 vs Brave Collective
Match #107 vs Exodus
Match #118a vs The Tuskers Co.
Match #118b vs The Tuskers Co.
Match #118c vs The Tuskers Co.
Flagship: Bhaalgorn (Destroyed)
Uniques Fielded: None.
- ATXIII-style TFI core w/ T3Ds, including an ECM variant with blackbirds
- Double Astarte, double Curse w/ bombers and a Vigilant
- Double Bhaal w/ ECM & Bombers
- Double Paladin with Bhaalgorn, Command Destroyers, Blackbirds and bombers, including a variant without the blackbirds and more bombers, using a TFI when the Bhaalgorn was banned.
Bans: Curse (1) Orthrus (1) Blackbird (3) Hyena (3) Kitsune (5) Svipul (1)
I love The Afterlife. team, they’re absolutely wild in the best way possible. Double gorram Paladin team man! Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start from the first weekend.
In Match #23 Afterlife showed us pretty much exactly last year’s most popular team, adjusted for the new points and 10 capsuleer team rules. Fighting against TISHUs logi-frig supported gallente rush, after T3Ds murdered the assault frigates, they managed to screen some of the blaster damage with T3Ds which allowed them to burn through TISHUs DPS from a safe distance.
Against Co2 in Match #44, Afterlife brought a team formation similar to one we have also seen from VYDRA RELOLED, using double Curses. Facing a Minmatar rush team from Co2, the TDs on the Curses had great effect on the Co2 Machariel and Sleipnirs, allowing them to safely neut out the Basilisk and take down the rest of the Co2 team without receiving any remote assistance. Cruelly, and in my mind intentionally, The Afterlife. made sure to kill every last Co2 ships in front of the Basilisk, powerless to help its comrades before finally being executed itself to finish the match.
In Match #86 against Brave Collective, The Afterlife. went back to the good old TFI core, this time spicing it up as other teams have with two Blackbirds. Brave brought the same team we’ve seen PL run throughout the tournament, a single SNI with two Sleipnirs, supported by a T3D wing and two bombers for extra damage.
This was actually a pretty great match, a Brave Sleipnir breaking simultaneously with an Afterlife TFI. The Sleipnir broke first, and with that damage off the field the TFI pulled back reps, leading the Afterlife. to go on to win the match. Seriously though, that match was won on a knife edge and Brave could easily have been the ones I am writing about here in Afterlife’s place.
Match #107 saw The Afterlife. face their first tournament heavyweight in Exodus., bringing a cool double Bhaalgorn team with a Rook, Astarte, T1 logi, Pontifex, Blackbird and bombers against Exodus’s take on the Bhaalgorn/NBC team. Afterlife managed to get enough jams rolling to both mitigate enough damage for their own reps to hold, but also remove reps long enough to take down one of Exodus’s Navy battlecruisers.
Exodus fought back hard, focusing down the Afterlife Augoror, but they lost another Navy Battlecruiser before it went down. With that initial poor trade from Exodus and ECM getting exponentially stronger against fewer targets, The Afterlife. snowballed to victory, securing themselves a place in the winners bracket semifinals.
Once again, I’m going to omit The Afterlife’s series against The Tuskers as I have covered it above.
All of these teams have put on a fantastic show this year and rightfully deserve their place in the (current) top four of the bracket. I could not be more excited to see what they bring us this weekend.
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