The Alliance Tournament has returned, having been on hiatus since 2018, with ATXVII officially kicking off this past weekend. It came out during some of the between match discussion that this was in large part due to the efforts of CCP Aurora.
I spent some time watching the first weekend of matches, though being on the Pacific coat means that they tend to start while I am still asleep. I do want to say that I am happy the AT is back. While I have my reservations about it and while it has not been without controversy, it does represent an aspect of the game that a segment of the player base enjoys, and in a sandbox game we’re all better off if groups can thrive in their part of the field.
That said, in watching this I am reminded once again what an abysmal spectator game EVE Online really is. It can work for a streamer where you can see their modules and overview, but from a third party perspective viewing a battle it is tough to get anything from what is being displayed on the screen.
Though, honestly, that might be a true reflection of being in such a battle where the visual of the game are often just so much chaos, where the brackets merge and overlap into an unreadable mess at times, and where the overview is often the only thing delivering useful information at a given moment. At that point as a viewer the match depends a lot on the announcers, and even the best of those can be wrong or off the mark in a game as complicated as EVE Online. Of course, when so many matches are pretty much decided in the first 30 seconds, maybe complexity isn’t the biggest issue.
As usual, there were some interesting matches and some complete wipes. I think the second match for What Could Possibly Go Wr0ng might have been the best morale wipe. They went in with an artillery Maelstrom core against LAZERHAWKS and just got stomped. One of several 100 to 0 results. But I had just been thinking about arty Maelstroms because, as I am coming up on a decade in null sec I have been looking back at some old posts, and the Maelstrom based Alpha Fleet was the first doctrine I flew in way back then. Greetings from 2011.
Probably the most exciting match for me was the second Goonswarm match against Deepwater Hooligans. GSF got wiped in its first match, going down 100 to 16 against Psychotic Tendencies, so everything was on the line for the second match.
I was away from my keyboard and missed the first five minutes of the second match, only pulling it up to find GSF down 55 to 18 with only two ships left on the field. It seemed like things were a foregone conclusion.
And then ren taka and Dirk Stertille managed to rack up a series of kills as the clock counted down, knocking out both DWH Eoses . If the Golem could have held on a bit longer it might have been the end for the Ishtars. But it could not, and its explosion seemed to call the match. But then the Navy Scorpion did kill one of the Ishtars and the score got close again, sitting at just 72 to 79 in favor of DWH. But Dirk couldn’t hold out for very long, and with less than a minute left in the match the Scorpion exploded and that was it for the match. Goons knocked out early once again.
That was probably not the absolute best match of the game (the Fraternity vs The Network match was something else) but it was a good one and one I was invested in. I bet all my channel points on Goons twice and lost twice.
It is interesting to see what comps were popular this year. There were a lot of command ships on the field. The Sleipner is usually pretty popular, but the Eos and the Nighthawk saw a lot of usage. There were also multiple attempts at battleship heavy compositions to try and bring as much damage to bear early in the match as possible. That worked a few times, but the mobility of command ships seemed the better choice in the first week.
All of which is a reminder of the esoteric nature of AT fleet comp theory crafting, where both teams are limited to ten ships and have a 100 points to spend on hulls in a pricing scheme setup by CCP. This leads to a very tight balance between hulls and fits and pilot skill to create a winning team, and the teams that spend the most time testing fits and practicing tactics tend to stand out as the tournament progresses. (And props to Arrival for putting a 22 billion ISK Barghest flagship on the field. The AT took place in TQ in the UUA-F4 system so you can see all the losses on zKillboard.)
So it was an interesting weekend for round one. We even got to see some teams secure prize ships as this time around the top 16 teams will all walk away with at least a few.
Marring all of this a bit was the whole turning kill mails into NFTs thing that CCP announced at the last minute, which went over like the proverbial lead balloon. Hilmar was out on Twitter hyping up the NFT aspect and meeting quite a bit of push back. The big defense for him was that these NFTs were less environmentally harmful than competing NFTs, with the tech bros he contracted with throwing links to dubious charts in his wake.
It is one of those things where I understand somebody like the CEO of Electronic Arts saying that NFTs and blockchain are the future of gaming. He is just jumping on the hype train to try and juice is stock price (and thus part of his compensation package) even as he admits in almost the next breath that he doesn’t know what his statement even means. (And even if they have no real benefit and plenty plenty of downside for video games.)
But Hilmar and EVE Online have a pretty small audience so it isn’t clear to me what benefit he thought he was bringing to the company by diving in with NFTs, which is currently little more than a haven for scams right now, and block chain, which represents the favored currency of criminals globally. This might be taking that “Be the Villain” ad campaign a bit too far. That 10% cut of all sales transactions for the kill mail NFTs seems more like an accounting encumbrance than a benefit.
But he was all in on VR to save the company too at one point.
Anyway, we’ll see what becomes of that in the long term as well I suppose.