The Good, the Bad and the UglyForlorn Wongraven
For the past three weekends my focus has been on the New Eden Open II. While I couldn’t personally take part because of real life, I enjoyed the little I was able to do for the Pandemic Legion team. Three or four times I was able to log into Sisi and do some testing with the team. Many of our usual suspects for the tournament team were also busy with real life or were simply tired from the long Halloween War and needed a break. As a result, Agmar Money Team only had about 20 active members. This is not enough to have two teams each training day, stop spies watching our fights and spy on other teams at the same time as well as fitting every new concept and at least three replacements overnight. In the end that led to the poor performance of Pandemic Legion’s team compared to Alliance Tournament XI, getting kicked out after three matches. Nevertheless I see NEOII as a success for CCP and the teams who participated. But there are always was to improve, so let’s take a look at what went well and what went, well, not so well.
The modified double-elimination format that CCP started with ATXI is the optimal way to both entertain viewers and give teams a chance to recover from mistakes. While some viewers may say that the longer breaks between fights on the last weekend is too long, I can guarantee from personal experience that for the teams it is needed due to the constant rush to prepare for the next match. The 30 minutes are packed what with being moved back to Empire and choosing bans. Then you have to decide on the next fleet and prepare your ship, checking ammo and implants. About 10 minutes before the next match your ship gets locked for rules check then when everything is ok, you get moved to Jove space at your beacon. Thanks to CCP Veritas’ work most of the old and long process of GMs checking fittings has been automated which gives pilots a five minute window for a short bio break between matches, vital when you are in the time-consuming losers bracket.
The broadcast team did an amazing job, even with some minor technical issues at the beginning of the tournament. Thank you, CCP Loxy and the team!
The in-house commentators CCP Bro, CCP Fozzie and CCP Dolan were a good mix. CCP Fozzie always shines with his knowledge of the meta even though he often has to bite his tongue to avoid giving vital tips to the teams during their matches. While the stream is slightly delayed, good teams can monitor the broadcast and give hints to their FCs during the match. Many people give CCP Dolan a lot of stick for his comments and his love for the on-set screen but compared to his first performance in ATIX he is like another person. You can see that he has put in the effort to learn game mechanics and the meta and I enjoy his wittiness and optimism. CCP Bro’s first appearance as successor of CCP Soundwave can be summed up as success. The general consensus from the pilots that talked with him during the Fanfest tournaments (which CCP Bro organizes) was that he is a nice guy, but lacks individuality as commentator. It is hard to walk in Soundwave’s shoes and I am sure CCP Bro will find his own way soon.
The live audience on the final day of the tournament was a really good idea. Unfortunately CCP didn’t interact with the audience, except for a small interview at the end of the broadcast with the legendary GHSC thief, tournament veteran and team captain Tyrrax Thorrk and the ‘Flagsbane of New Eden’ Hlynurth. Of course, CCP could not predict how many EVE nerds would turn up to the studio, but as long as there is good entertainment, drinks and EVE gifts, I am sure my Icelandic HABIT bros will head over at every opportunity.
CCP’s promotion was sub-par, which is a mistake they should not repeat. There was one devblog to announce NEOII and one devblog after the final weekend. When you want people to follow your e-sports event, you must ensure that people know with proper promotion and communication. For example, they could have made a tournament themed header for the official forum a few weeks ahead of ANY tournament without additional costs. There was one little banner on the launcher for a period of time, but many people still bypass the this for whatever reason. The client allows small banners on the bottom of the screen of your character selection window, yet I only saw one banner for a NEOII related PLEX offer on the last tournament weekend. This was too little, too late. CCP boasted about the fact that they were on Twitch.tv’s frontpage with nickfuzzeh’s stream from B-R4RB, yet they didn’t use their own promotion tools to keep their new subscribers interested in PvP tournaments.
While the other commentators did a good job, CCP Rise seems to be more and more detached from the tournament meta. He seems to be distracted and confused sometimes, making basic game mechanic mistakes. At one point it appeared he didn’t know the rules and was surprised at the low number of pilots allowed per team. Maybe he has issues dividing TQ and future dev plans with ships and mod rebalances for later expansions. I was happy he didn’t appear on the final weekend, instead attending GDC.
Training on Singularity is incredibly problematic and makes training a lot difficult than it should be. While Pandemic Legion prays for Duality be made available for training for ATXII as Hydra has suggested already, the reasons why it should be made available again for future tournaments are not within the locked training systems. Even with CCP’s modern systems, it is often a pain to patch to the latest Singularity build; patching often fails and the client has to be repaired. The low bandwidth for Sisi patches also plays a part, especially when you have to wait three hours for a 700MB patch. Last year Duality used the same build number as TQ, allowing play from one client install and you never ran into issues like missing settings or crashes due to early code.
The twelve man limit on a tournament team from the current NEOII ruleset is too low, even in CCP Rise’s eyes. That mistake should not be repeated. When you have a large tournament team, half the crew gets demotivated because they know they won’t be able to fly in actual matches. Suddenly one of your small 12 man team can’t make it on the day and you are forced to use a weaker setup or enter the arena with less points because he was the only pilot with the particular skill-set you required. And you have a guy online that can do that he but wasn’t allowed in the team due to that rule… Yeah, far from ideal.
So the tournament scene in Eve is healthy but with a few changes and tweaks here and there coupled with better promotion from CCP themselves, we may have something that proves exciting for the wider world of e-sports, not just Eve Online players.