We are fast approaching the final weekend of what I believe is shaping up to be the best Alliance Tournament in the history of New Eden. Four teams remain in the Winners or Undefeated brackets, so let’s have a look at how they’ve done.
The Tuskers Co.
Dunked: Cynosural Field Theory, The Initiative., Feign Disorder, Exodus.
Tuskers are a team everyone knew were strong, but possibly not strong enough to make it to the final weekend undefeated. There are teams who have had harder runs through the winners bracket, but three flawless victories, one against Exodus. no less, is something special. The only match where they did lose ships was against Feign Disorder, where they lost a Gila and a Heretic.
Speaking of ships, let’s take a look at their setups: In three of their four matches they have shown an armour comp consisting of their Flag-geddon and two Eos as big-ticket ships, with either three Vexors (against Cyno and Initiative) or two Vexors and a Celestis (against Exodus.). In each case where they have brought this setup they have not lost a single ship, and seem to try to ban out the Minmatar/Gila setup we’ve seen be the mainstay of the tournament thus far, in addition to Rattlesnake comps. They also seem to like to see the ‘Geddon banned, allowing them to break through it with their flagship. In their match against Feign disorder, they brought their take on the Minmatar command ship/Gila archetype with a Claymore, three Gilas and an Orthrus as their mainline ships. In all of Tuskers matches, they have been very consistent with an exceptionally well flown support of three Heretics and two Maulus, which gives them both a great amount of control and a very strong way to deal with frigate/destroyer based support wings of their opposition.
Tuskers’ first match of the tournament was against Cynosural Field Theory, which was something of a standoff as Cyno brought a metric crapton of rep drones in their own armour/Eos comp, meaning Tuskers could not contend their reps without going all-in. After a few minutes, they go all in on Cyno, nabbing a few support ships before burning through Tinkerhell’s Oneiros whereupon it MJDs away at the last second. Impressively Tuskers lose nothing in the process, winning the match. In match two Tuskers bring exactly the same setup and are met by a Meepo (or armour-tanked Tinker) from The Initiative., constructed around a very tanky Proteus T3 logi with a Guardian feeding it cap. The rest of the team was two Eos, one regular and one Navy Dominix. Despite getting dangerously close to losing their Flag-geddon on multiple occasions, Tuskers break the local tank of Graphos’ Proteus, shattering The Initiative’s composition and winning the match.
Against Feign Disorder, Tuskers mix things up with their aforementioned Gila comp. Despite this being the match where Tuskers actually lost ships, I thought they flew particularly well overall; at the start of the match they pull back and allow Feign to come into them, nuking Feign’s two Worms straight off the bat. Many teams take a passive approach, but Tuskers poke and prod with their faster ships, tempting their opponents to lurch into the fray at a disadvantageous position. Worms are usually the last ships to die in matches they are brought, as they are exceptionally fast and have a great tank. They do however represent a significant amount of DPS that can apply very well, making them useful to get off field. Feign then burn in, but the Tuskers surround them, managing to take apart Feign’s Vexor hulls even under reps by the use of well placed target painters and webs, securing them the match.
In Tuskers we see a group that can put together the core archetypes of the tournament well, then fly them outstandingly, with precision and great decision making. I do hope however that they have some more fleet setups prepared for the final weekend, especially alternatives to the triple Heretic plus two Maulus base, as continuing to repeat any setup against the top-tier teams will see you countered and quickly dispatched. Their next opponents, Camel, have shown how quickly they can decimate such support wings in their most recent match against TNT, but I feel they absolutely have the potential to give Camel a damn good fight.
The Camel Empire
Dunked: LowSechnaya Sholupen, Fourth District, M.I.F, Tactical Narcotics Team
I am genuinely terrified of The Camel Empire. They are this year’s new hotness, seemingly unstoppable in their blaze through the tournament bracket. Practice partners of Tournament royalty HYDRA, Camel are a team that can bring anything, focusing on exceptionally strong control compositions where they ban Marauders, primarily the Golem, to make sure their EWAR is effective. Many teams roll damp heavy, but Camel also mix in jams, making them even more of a threat. Camel are a team who seem to have an answer to every counter-ban, bringing significantly different compositions in each match to remain unpredictable while still maintaining the core philosophy of maximum control with exactly the right amount of DPS to get kills.
Like their next opponents the Tuskers, Camel love bringing the triple Heretic and two Maulus base, but they go so far as to throw in either a bonused ECM Frigate, Celestis or a third Maulus on top. They are one of the few teams not to show a triple Gila setup, instead usually preferring to rely on Command Ships or Rattlesnakes (they also have a Flagglesnake waiting in the wings). This supports their huge control base by giving them access to pilot-efficient, tanky-high DPS platforms with the potential to run a high number of links to further increase the effectiveness of the whole group.
In their first match Camel brought a Rattlesnakes against LowSechnaya Sholupen’s Bhaalgorn/Typhoon comp, maintaining range while damping off the Cruise missiles of the Typhoons. Camel quickly nuked the paper-thin stealth bombers which represented a significant amount of DPS, then pounced on the battleships. In their match against Fourth District they brought double Gila, double Claymore against a peculiar Meepo (or armour Tinker) of a logi Legion with three Proteus, a Rapier, Eos and two Talwars. In theory this is a scary fleet – the Rapier holds something down while the group slowly moves over to it as a whole and applies face-melting DPS. Unfortunately for Fourth, Camel quickly identify the weak points, volleying the Talwars and nuking the relatively low tanked Rapier. With their tackle gone, Fourth had no way to force Camel into range of their DPS and were shot down from a safe distance.
Match three, Camel face a Heretic ban and a fairly normal Minmatar/Gila comp, but simply replace them with Flycatchers and roll two Celestis with triple Sleipnir. The match starts with both teams at good range, but one of the Camel Celestis baits M.I.F into chasing part of their team into Camel’s DPS, while the rest of M.I.F are damped and jammed. Camel trade a Maulus and Kitsune for a Gila, Worm and Sabre, giving them a great advantage to DPS while both teams still have logi on the field. The rest of the match is Camel twisting themselves around the M.I.F team like a Boa constrictor, nuking anything that tries to suicide tackle their logi or gets slightly out of position. In match four, Camel face the up-and-comers TNT, and show their first armour team; double Eos and double Ishtar with their usual EWAR support. TNT have a somewhat similar comp, but with the Rote-tastic slab of double Armageddon. This match to me showed that Camel were more than winning because of EWAR superiority; the speed with which they annihilated the TNT support wing was absolutely staggering, it felt like watching a Legolas fight scene in LotR. Without their support wing TNT made a Disney mashup, Cinderella: Catching Fire.
Camel have shown they are a force to reckoned with – you have to bring a serious setup to have a chance of facing them, but their over-reliance on EWAR and predictability in Golem bans makes me worried for the teams they face now that will note and take advantage of that predictability. If any of these four teams need to mix up their comps in the final weekend, it’s Camel.
Dunked: The Afterlife, Shadow Cartel, Gorgon Empire, Rote Kapelle
Four time AT winners, last year overtaking BoB’s record in total AT wins and the reigning champions; PL are more than ever the team to beat this year. With a shaky start, they finally seem to have their game faces on as of last weekend and are rightly the scariest team in the tournament going into the final weekend. Having looked more closely, I think it’s fair to say PL have had the hardest path through the winners bracket of any team, forced to beat the Darkside infused Afterlife, Shadow Cartel who took them to the ragged edge and have been dunking everyone else, the again Darkside bolstered Gorgon Empire and most recently tournament veterans Rote Kapelle. PL have shown some scary comps this tournament, teams are so scared of their Tinker ability the Tengu was banned in their first two matches, with PL consistently banning Maulus which many of the other top-tier teams have been using as a mainstay of their comps.
The Afterlife faked out by banning the Tengu then bringing a Loki-based Tinker, which is a bold move against the group most famous for it, even though the Loki is significantly weaker. PL know exactly how to deconstruct it however, and by bumping the Loki out of position toppled Afterlife like a Jenga tower with their Caldari master race Rattlesnake + Merlin hull comp. PL’s match against Shadow Cartel was easily the most exciting of the second weekend, possibly the closest match in the history of the tournament. Shadow bring their signature frig-logi mega-DPS comp made of a bunch of Gallente drone boats supported by two Celestis and the classic triple Heretic anti-support. PL bring the shield equivalent, Bursts supporting more Gallente drone boats with Gilas, replacing Heretics with Worms. Disaster strikes PL as both of their Bursts boundry violate, losing two Gilas as well in trade only for an Eos. Ships trade back and forth largely with Cartel in the lead until PL pull it back and the score is tied at 56 points apiece. After a few more explosions the score is once again tied at 72-72. The clock is counting down to the end of the match, and paik’s Eos is glaringly close to structure, when one of the Cartel Heretics boundry violates giving PL a four point lead, but if the Eos dies Cartel win the match, taking down the reigning champions. Paik’s Eos does die, but it’s 417 milliseconds too late, knocking Cartel into the losers bracket where they have been tearing it up, and propelling PL onto their next match, bruised but intact.
PL entered the third weekend looking like a shadow of their former selves, with two close wins and many piloting errors, I’m sure Gorgon were salivating at the chance to take out PL. Sadly for Gorgon, it was not to be. PL take the opportunity with the Tengu unbanned to go back to one of their classic archetypes, a tinker consisting of a Golem, Eos, two Ishtars, a VNI and three Vexors. In another close scrape of Eos survivability, PL bait-tank their Eos against the first round of Gorgon’s RLM comp, going likely far further than PL had expected into the depths of structure before the reload cycle hit. With their tank holding, PL steadfastly burn through each of Gorgon’s ships, securing them the win. In their most recent match, PL provide another fantastic match by showing everyone that sentries are definitely still a thing in the Alliance Tournament. Bringing the Golem for an EWAR-immune drone assign and mega-bonused TPs, PL drop Bouncers from an Eos, two Ishtars, a VNI and three regular Vexors before starbursting to different MJUs, making them almost impossible to catch and stop the Sentry volley hammer that easily slices through even the incredible tank of Rote’s Eos. This was a comp unlike anything we have seen fielded thus far in the tournament this year, and I think it will be one many try to borrow inspiration from in the Loser’s bracket in the coming weekend.
PL have shown themselves (at last) to be a inventive and highly unpredictable team, who know the ins and outs of each setup to the last infinitesimal detail. However, they have already had to show four different team setups, meaning they will have less setups in their back pocket to pull out for the first time in the final weekend. That said, I think PL are one of few teams who can have that many setups theorycrafted and practiced well, making them as usual, the heavy favourites to win the whole damn thing.
Dunked: Fidelas Constans, Surely You’re Joking, HYDRA RELOADED.
Having absorbed HUN, Nulli are a super solid team. They seem to love involving Eos into their fleets, even using it instead of the more standard Sleipnir/Claymore in Gila comps. The were looking good before last weekend, but beeing the first team other than PL to beat Hydra in four years of tournaments has put them in the forefront of everyone’s mind. The levels of smug on forums are both intoxicating and well deserved. Thus far Nulli have shown two comps, in their first three matches they iterated slightly on a double Eos plus cruiser drone boat core, focusing less on EWAR than the other teams left in the winners bracket but still making good use of it, favouring cruiser EWAR hulls.
Nulli had a pretty easy time in their first weekend, dunking the Minmatar recon plus Navy Domi team we see some of the lower tier teams bring because big DPS numbers are cool. After nuking FCON’s Scimitar and Huginn, there was no chance of the Domi’s DPS ever applying so they took out the Maulus support and went to work on the battleships. In their second match Nulli faced a kind of weird Cerb team, but SYJ just balled up and let Nulli kill them without putting up much of a fight.
Nulli’s first two weekends didn’t really test them too hard, but going against RvB would be their first challenge. RvB actually bring effectively the same comp that Nulli brought in their first two matches, whereas Nulli switch to armour tanking, replacing Gilas with a bunch of Vexors and a VNI, with two Celestis and a Blackbird for control. This, as Elise would say, was a super gucci match to watch, both teams rushed to kill each other’s logistics, but the bonused EWAR and better focus fire of Nulli gave them a huge advantage, killing the Scimitar much faster than they lost their Oneiros, giving them a headstart on the DPS race that was the rest of the match. Nulli then went on to face Hydra, a team I don’t think many people expected them to beat. Hydra banned out a shield tinker, so Nulli took that to mean they should bring an armour one instead made of a Golem, ‘Geddon, two Eos, with a Proteus logi and two Jaguars to round off their points. Looking at the match from a purely technical point of view, it was pretty straightforward and almost a forgone conclusion as soon as the ships landed on grid. Hydra did not have the tools to break the Nulli’s reps, but Nulli had the DPS to kill Hydra’s Oneiros after which it would just be a case of cleaning up the rest of the team and not making any dumb mistakes. What made this match spectacular was that Hydra decided to mass boundary violate to end the match as soon as possible after they knew they had lost, and the fact that Hydra were the heavy favourites. I may have gotten a little overexcited with Bacc on stream, but let’s not dwell on that.
Overall Nulli have proven to be a very solid team, but need to prove that their win against Hydra was not a fluke to cement themselves as a true tournament powerhouse. It will be no easy feat however, given that they face the reigning champions and favourites to win the whole thing in the winners semifinals.
Each of these teams have shown they are very competent pilots with good decision making, but with the exception of PL they have also clung to a small number of core ideas in the setups that they have brought. Whether this alludes to a lack of preparation or holding their cards to their chest remains to be seen, but the teams that will do well this weekend in the Bo3s will be ones who can adapt to what their opponents throw at them game to game. All of them will need to bring an incredible amount of stamina, both mentally and in their ship setups as they fight their way to be this year’s AT winner, especially with such strong teams waiting for them hungrily in the losers bracket.should they falter.
Addendum: In the match between Pandemic Legion and The Afterlife, the cause of death for the Afterlife Loki was not a bump but an ASB reloaded by mistake. The bump meant that it still could not have been fed cap and would have died if it had not been reloading, but the reload was the primary cause.
Tags: apothne, ATXII, Camel Empire, Nulli Secunda, pandemic legion, tuskers
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.