ATXV: Return of the HypeApothne
Jesus fucking christ oh my fucking god it’s happening, it’s really happening, AT season is upon us.
Okay, now that I’ve used up the amount of profanities I’m allowed to use per year on my CZ articles, let’s get down to why this is going to be an incredible Alliance Tournament. As soon as the rules come out, it will officially be the best time of the year.
The End of an Era
If you look at the past set of tournaments, they have each been sponsored by the main factions of EVE Online, starting with the empire factions and then expanding through the main pirate factions. For this final year, we have the Serpentis sponsoring the tournament which is exciting for two reasons:
Firstly, while it may not be a straight cost reduction on Serpentis hulls, (Vindicator, Vigilant, Daredevil), CCP Logibro indicated that if not, something analogous will be done to increase the viability and allure of running Serpentis ships in your team comps. While not the most popular battleship, the Vindicator has certainly retained a place in the AT meta over the years, and having tackle ships with 90% webs is certainly going to lead to some interesting possibilities.
This is the end of this run of major factions sponsoring the Alliance Tournament
Secondly, Serpentis themed AT prizeships. Oh. My. God. The Adrestia from the Gallente tournament is one of the most iconic and loved ships in the history of the tournament. Having a pirate faction Thorax hull (I swear to god Fozzie if you don’t give me a T2 serpent pirate penis…) can only be incredible, not to forget a T2 Daredevil, which has the potential to join the Chremoas as one of the strongest unique ships.
This is the end of this run of major factions sponsoring the Alliance Tournament. What CCP decide to do with ATXVI onwards is completely up in the air. This could be the end of AT prize ships with something else entirely replacing them. It could be that we start from the beginning again. We may have SoE and Mordus tournaments. Regardless, this is the end of the current stream of what we have come to expect for many aspects of the tournament, and if you were one of the lucky few in the EVE-sports roundtable at Fanfest you will know that Logibro has BIG plans for the future.
When Titans Collide
For many, even the clash of titan hulls in EVE Online has become commonplace. The proliferation of capitals and an industrial cold war means that having the opportunity to get you blood pumping, for some players at least, is getting harder to come by. Even for the oldest and most bitter pilots in EVE, the AT represents an opportunity for some of the highest skill, most adrenaline pumping, high stakes action in EVE. Months and months of training leading towards ten minute bouts and the team rosters this year are absolutely insane. I will be doing my usual full team summary when the full list of participants comes out, but for now I’d like to name just three of the top teams competing this year:
Fresh off their first victory, The Tuskers came into the tournament scene three years ago and have never failed to make it to the end of the bracket with convincing games. Even starting with such great results, each year they have shown incredible execution and constantly improving understanding of the meta, depth to their theorycrafting and ability to play the other teams. Their success has seen experienced tournament pilots from all over the scene flock to their banner to be a part of what they have created, giving team captain Suleiman Shouaa the pick of some of the finest pilots and minds in this generation of EVE players.
Pandemic Legion came second last year, and are pretty much the only team for whom people see that as failure. Having competed every year since AT IV, they have failed to make top four only once in a decade of competition. This giant bullseye on their back means beating Pandemic Legion in any stage of the tournament is the surest way for any team to make a name for themselves in the EVE-sports scene. In those years, it has only really been four separate groups of pilots who have proved themselves capable of taking them down in Triumvirate, Hydramel, The Tuskers and HUN Reloaded. That said, the Pandemic team has changed a lot over the years, and lost a lot of the old core with many new pilots (including myself) trying to learn from the older members and keep the legacy alive in the next decade.
HYDRA RELOADED – Reloaded again
As in the Marvel universe, every time Hydra goes away they only back stronger. HYDRA have always been the Yin to Pandemic Legion’s Yang, hitting each other and eliminating each other in the final rounds of year after year of tournaments. Having made it to first place on two separate occasions to be disqualified both times, Hydra do not have a seed to be automatically included in this year’s tournament but I can guarantee that if they do not make it in through the random draw they will be the highest bidders in the silent auction. Having spent the last year or so separated among other tournament teams or even taking a break, they have re-coalesced into potentially their strongest iteration yet. Just look at their evewho page for some of the most famous pilots in not only this generation of tournament pilots, but those of years gone by. If they can just keep their toes on the right side of the rules it is a strong likelihood that they will be keeping the trophy this time.
These three teams will be among the strongest competing this year, but more broadly speaking, gone are the days of a select few teams rolling through garbage until they meet each other in the finals. Each year, at least since I started covering the tournament, the middle- and lower-tier teams have seriously raised their game so that there are far more threats to the big boys, with the opportunity of upsets in every single match.
Production & Casters
We have ourselves a four week tournament with studio coverage on matches every single day, with the first two weeks being covered by the #EVE_NT crew and the second two by CCP themselves with their player commentators, giving us the highest production value with the broadest coverage we’ve ever seen. Thanks to the rejuvenation and growth of year-round tournaments with leagues such as #EVE_NT Majors and Minors, the RvB Cup, The Anger Games and others, tournament literacy among EVE players is at an all time high and the consistent practice and ability to gain experience means that we have a great pool of capable hosts and casters, as well as coverage on media sites and the usual forum posts.
Further, we now have more tools than ever to discuss and share the tournament with each other, thanks to the introduction of the Thunderdome server as well as publicly available replay tools, which has for some time has been kept behind closed doors.
Tell me what you want
As you may have seen in my reddit post, I am trying to figure out what kind of coverage you want to see from EVE tournaments. I only have so much time and a lot of that will be taken up with my annual team summaries, but I want to do as much coverage of as much meaningful content as I can, as well as hopefully encourage more people to write, stream, podcast and make videos about all things Alliance Tournament. So if you have any ideas or want any help getting started on your own tournament coverage, please don’t hesitate to hit me up on twitter @CallMeApoth or simply comment on this article.