CZ Minutes: AT vs. EVE

With the Alliance Tournament XII in full swing much of the community is discussing everything from the latest meta and technical issues, to AT presentation and its relevance to EVE itself. Over the years the AT has developed a life of its own. A number of the alliance teams are virtually unknown outside of the tournament and the meta is distinctly different from that of PvP on Tranquility. It is so much so that routine PvP-ers on TQ can have a hard time following the commentary and understanding what’s going on because the fits and comps are so different. Many of the tactics employed would never work outside the arena, and likewise, teams that bring a TQ mentality to AT tend to lose horribly. Is the Alliance Tournament a good showcase for EVE PvP? Should it be? Is the divergence between AT and EVE the natural progression of an emerging e-sport? Mangala: I love the AT. For me it has always represented a pretty pure form of EVEs PvP even with the limits imposed – and hey coming from RvB I am used to accepting arbitrary rules and guidelines along with my PvP!  I have found AT PvP an amazing way to show off EVE to people, as its considerably easier to explain than all the mechanics of large scale fights (and the politics behind them). Makes for great TV when I do want to sit down with friends and show the game off to them – so much so that the last 3 ATs have become a substitute for football as they screened out of season. How thats going to work now the AT is running concurrent with the premier league, I don’t know. As for whether AT coverage has the same draw as other esports. I generally don’t like e-sports so I am kinda the wrong person to ask. I will try though. Thats probably because I really do not like the games one tends to see as e-sports, they just are not my scene. And watching a bunch of pseudo athletes play games I do not like is a waste of time.  The main problem with the AT – or the NEO or the SCL or Theomacy or my own RvB tournaments – as e-sports, is that EVE is niche. The mechanics may be pretty easy to explain, but many many non-EVE folks don’t get beyond the spreadsheets in space bullshit, or the “waaahhh you took my stuff” nonsense, and until you can smash those preconceptions it will forever remain a niche within the e-sport world, despite how thrilling it can be when compared to crap like LOL, SC2, and all those type of things. Now in the opening paragraph I note that it is mentioned that routine TQ PvPers can have a hard time following AT style pvp. I will admit that once upon a time that was the case for me. I started watching around ATVII and for a few tournaments didn’t quite “get it”.  Then one year it just clicked, I had been seeing/experiencing many of the core mechanics displayed in an average AT match, just spread over longer, larger fights, and even some of the tactics used in AT matches had a basis in the combat of the day. That latter isn’t so much the case today unless you look at drone meta, but the point I am trying to make is, that you can follow it if you bear a few things in mind such as AT fight length versus your small gang fight length, experience of pilots, the necessity to purposely plan for victory, not just accidentally fall into it like you do in many small engagements on TQ. Apoth: The AT is badass in that it promotes my two favourite things in EVE PvP, piloting skill and intelligent decision making both in long term planning and reactively. Not only do you have to carefully design multiple ship compositions, being meticulous over every last module and considering how it will work with the team, you have to in-match make decisions as how you want to approach the enemy team and deal with the decisions they are making as they make them. While each comp has it’s own style of engaging, you still have to make decisions within that depending on what your opponent brings. We’ve seen that beautifully this year as while everyone is kind of on the Eos/Gila Drone train, every single team is making different choices on how that core idea translates into a comp, and how it needs to be supported. On top of this, people are looking at the popular themes and trying to come up with something that will directly counter it, while not automatically being so niche that it loses to everything else. The AT is a fantastic way to showcase a very “pure” style of PvP, without the roaming, blobbing or mass bluing. You have a set of constraints that create a box for you to work in, but the other team does too and it’s a combination of those limits that allows the teams to show that they are more intelligent and better pilots than anyone else. PL-bump Hendrick: The AT is a good showcase of a different type of PVP in EVE. It’s like trying to compare an airsoft game with an actual war. They’re not directly the same but share a lot of the same principles and concepts, that and watching an airsoft game from the sidelines is more entertaining than watching the Ferguson Police Department…err…I mean US Military destroy your home. Oddly enough, despite minor technical issues, the Alliance Tournament is regularly more well ran than MLGs, and other e-sports events. I know, it’s shocking that CCP are more competent at something than someone else but it’s one thing I’d imagine they would want to get right. It’s their yearly spectacle that draws in non-EVE players to watch (at least in the non-EVE crowds I run with). I’m really happy CCP adjusted the prize payout structure a bit to make people who aren’t the top two have some more incentive to do well. It might upset people who buy and trade those ships because it could devalue them, but at the same time they’re already going to be obscenely expensive. I just wish they’d get rid of that annoying player caster who is from Britain. Everyone else is wonderful but him. Apoth: Jealousy is a cruel mistress Hendrick. Hendrick: I’m sorry you think criticism is jealously 🙁 That said, at least you’re not hated on like Squeebles is. Apoth: Squeebs gets the both the most vocal support and the most vocal criticism. I’m quite glad not to have to deal with it to be honest. Speaking of the casters, Elise is pretty much exactly what I expected; exceptionally knowledgeable, totally chill and professional unless he’s splooshing over Taylor Swift or an Orthrus. Bacc (who I will be sharing a room with) is our vet who has been advising the rest of us what to expect when we get to Iceland, as well has having a pretty detailed game knowledge as you’d expect from a Rote member. Squeebs holds very strong opinions on what the game is to him, what he views is good and bad and woe betide anyone who disagrees with him and can’t back it up. I think I’m a bit like an over excited puppy, just happy to be there while being a bit oblivious as to what’s actually going on. It’s definitely a different experience from my days casting StarCraft II for a variety of reasons, but at a core level it’s also exactly the same. Getting back in the chair after so long was really comforting, like when I pick up my Trombone after not playing if for an extended period. Cilvius: Personally I love e-sports, I am constantly watching livestreams on Twitch and keeping up with the various tournaments for SC2, LoL, and Dota 2.  I think the AT is a pretty entertaining e-sport in and of itself even if it doesn’t represent the actual PvP meta on TQ.  I think given the nature of EVE having the AT run much differently from actual PvP on TQ is fine, as it would take an entirely new reimagining of the AT to make it feel more like TQ, and what would the benefit of that be?  Viewers who play the game know that PvP isn’t really like that.  Viewers who don’t actually play EVE won’t really know the difference unless they decide to get into the game after watching the tournament.  An argument can be made that the AT should attempt to represent PvP in EVE “correctly” but I think that may be more trouble than it is worth to be honest. ATXIIXander: I love the AT because along with the likes of NEO and SCL, it’s a chance to see what two sides can do in a PvP match unhindered. There’s no risk of hotdrops, no boosters, nothing – it’s as pure as Eve PvP gets. While it isn’t necessarily reflective of what happens on TQ, it is a beautiful thing to watch two skilled and drilled sides dance around the arena in a knife-edge contest. I don’t think that even though it is so different to PvP on TQ, that somehow devalues it. The production values over the past few years have been decent, the commentary team get better and better every year and with additions such as the 3D match viewer, it’s definitely on the ascendancy as an esport. What I would love to see is an AT app for Android/iOS that allows you to watch what is going on in the arena in real time and scroll around and zoom in and out actually during the match. Formula One has something similar. Maybe something that CREST could make happen? Cilvius: I would definitely like some better ways to view what is happening, an app like that sounds interesting. One of my biggest gripes with the AT has been the camera controls for the matches. I’m not so much blaming the person running the observer view for the tournament, I’m moreso blaming the controls we have for EVE at the moment. On TQ in a normal environment you don’t really need other sorts of controls to view fights because you are in them and unable to control that stuff at the time. In the AT I think we would benefit from some better camera control (the tracking camera was a nice start). The problem is whether it is worth the time and money to create controls like that for something that will probably only see use in tournaments. Tarek: Of course the AT is not like realistic PVP, but that is not a problem as far as I see it. If people watch a boxing match or a martial arts movie, they also do not expect a realistic streetfight. I really like watching the AT exactly because of the reasons why one would watch a martial arts movie: to see great combat moves. If there is one thing I find a bit sad about AT then it is the entry requirements. Basically if you can afford to fit your ships super blingy and use the most expensive implants, you wont make it far. That being said, there are still matches which get decided because of great tactical moves. The first match of Pandemic Legion this year showed that pretty nicely. They could not break the tinker setup of their opponents until they bumped that logistics Loki out of range. That was just amazing. Unfortunately what you see while watching often does not show you such things in a way so you can notice them. Great praise goes to for providing that replay feature. Without that not even the commentators would have noticed it.
Speaking of which. I have no problem with any of the current commentators, they are all decent enough. Previously Dolan seriously got on my nerves with his non-funny jokes and distracting tangents. I want a commentator to comment what is going on, not act like a bad stand-up comedian. Niden: The AT is certainly an awesome time for those of us who understand what’s going on. However, it should be considered that the AT is also a showcase for high-level PvP and EVE itself, often viewed by people who are new in the game (or PvP) and even people who don’t play EVE. Often the commentators will use an advanced lingo that assumes the viewer is relatively deep in the game. A new player isn’t going to understand what “Yeah, damps are landing on that Scimi, while their tackle seems to me sig-tanking the Rattlers” means, to them that could be “Yeah, XXX are landing on that XXX, while their XXX seems to be XXX the XXX.” I watch a lot of MMA, and one of the things that really got me into the sport is Joe Rogan who’s the ‘colour’ commentator for UFC. The reason is that when two guys are on the ground working their Jiu-Jitsu Joe explains what’s happening in such a way that you don’t need to have had any time on the mat to understand. Thanks to him I really got into it and have been training MMA and BJJ for three years now. I realise that the AT doesn’t have the kind of budget that UFC does and that there’s a time issue, but certainly some inspiration can be taken from that. Essentially the commentary and the way AT is displayed could be much more new-player friendly and get them excited about what’s going on, being the proverbial Joe Rogan of EVE for those that are new to it or those considering to try it out. PS: God damn that second PL match! I was literally on the edge of my seat with my hands in the air and my jaw on the ground. Who cares about football or MMA when you have a match like that going on? 🙂  
Tags: ATXII, cz minutes

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12 year EVE veteran, Snuffed Out scumbag, writer, graphic artist, producer, Editor-in-Chief of Crossing Zebras and the second most influential player in EVE, according to EVE Onion.