Saturday, February 9, 2008

The 5th EVE Online Alliance PvP Tournament: Preliminary Thoughts

For starters, I'd like to take a minute to break down what the Tournament is, for those who have yet to experience this unique event. I have yet to see another game that is able to showcase its PvP the way CCP has already done multiple times through the webcasting of their biannual PvP tourney. Alliances, essentially a guild made up of guilds for non-EVE players, pay an entry fee to enter the tournament bracket. Then, for two specified weekends, they face off against one another in small gang combat. The rules have changed over time so that now, you can have up to a 10 on 10 fight, with different ship classes and sizes being slotted using a points system. To top it all off, CCP flies a handful of their players to Iceland for each of these tournaments to provide expert commentary and play by play for the matches. They then broadcast the matches live via webcast for their players to watch. It is a unique spectacle in the MMO community.

As a few of you know, I applied to be an expert on this year's Alliance PvP Tournament, but for reasons beyond my, and CCP's, control (namely the fact that I am in Japan right now) prevented me from making the final selection pool. I have no idea if I would have made it or not, honestly, but the only way to find out is to apply next time once I am stateside again, I suppose.

There has been a bit of controversy about some of the alliances in the tournament brackets this time around, or rather there has been a lot of rabbling about who is not in the brackets. Missing are heavy hitters such as Band of Brothers, HUN Reloaded (would-be defending champs), Red Alliance, and Terra Incognita. In their place are some relative unknowns, some of whom are almost assuredly alliances made solely for this purpose. Many people are understandably a bit put off by this, especially since the tournament bracket only allows for 40 entries as of the time of writing. The reason that many of this big names are missing is not due to a reluctance to compete, but rather the fact that registration is first come, first served.

In the past, this system has not failed CCP, and there have in fact been cases where reminders had to be put up in order to fill all 40 slots. With the expansion of the rules in the last tournament to allow more tactical flexibility and give less advantage to the insanely wealthy, however, more and more groups are willing to give it a chance. This means that some of the big dogs who thought they could rest on their laurels are instead going to be out in the cold. This is unfortunate, as it means that we will miss out on some good action, no doubt.

Now, many are clamoring for reserved spots to be set aside for those alliances in the PVP "elite." While I do agree that a reserved spot for the defending champion is a good idea, and possibly for the returning semi-finalists, I also think that it goes against what the tournament is all about. Last time, for example, a relatively unknown team (HUN Reloaded) took home the prize, with the heavy favorite (Band of Brothers) being knocked out by 10 Star Fraction Thoraxes. The playing field has been leveled a great deal recently, so I am all for letting the little guys have their shot at the PvP giants.

I think a better solution is to simply expand the brackets for next time. It's clearly a bit late to re-structure and re-schedule the plans of people who are already taking vacation from work to jaunt to Reykjavik for two weeks to do the commentary for this thing. My suggestion is that, instead of doing a 64 team bracket live on the air, that they do what television broadcasters do with sporting events, and simply don't show every one live. With most of the alliances, you have known quanitites, so you know who is likely to perform, and who is likely to fold. In the past, we've been kept waiting on the live broadcasts for teams to show, things to be fixed, etc. If there were more matches being recorded but not broadcast live, it gives the option of expanding the scheduling slots of the tournament without putting extra strain on the commentators, especially if some of the matches were recorded during the week days between the two weekends of the tournament.

My final answer to some of the big players not being in is, "Too bad." Of course, since my alliance is in, it's easy for me to say that. All the same, I think that this just demonstrates that EVE does have something for every group, and you don't have to be Goonswarm or BoB to participate on the epic stage in EVE.

The Fifth Alliance Tournament is scheduled to begin on February 29th, and run for two weekends.

For further discussion on the issue, check out Warp Drive Active Podcast #27 with Winterblink and Urban Mongral. I know they are also wanting to do a tournament preview show, so keep an eye out for that.


  1. Another solution that doesn't require a change of procedure for those hosting the event:

    Reserve slots for the top (half?) finishers from last tourney, and require other participants to bid for the remaining slots (and any slots declined by previous competitors).

  2. I think allowing a spot for the final four from the last one would be appropriate.