Alliance Tournament 10; Culture change

This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss EVE’s upcoming tenth Alliance Tournament.

The rules for Alliance Tournament X were published last week, and the entry lottery/auction slots procedure should soon be announced.  What I found most striking about the announcement though, was this;

As well as changing some of the rules to ensure the tournament brings new tactics and set ups, we have also added rules to ensure that the spirit of the tournament remains competitive and entertaining.

What do they mean by that?  Here’s two interesting little additions to the tenth edition rule book of spaceship tournaments;

We will be actively removing those alliances that try and add a ‘B’ or ‘C’ team. We want everyone to have a fair chance but stacking the deck in this manner will not be permitted. This removal will also include the main alliance if we detect anyone trying to field more than one team.

So the first one, banning ‘B’ and ‘C’ teams.  Clearly this is about keeping the tournament ‘competitive’ and to also allow for greater numbers of players to have a shot at taking part.  In previous tournaments there have been clear cases of larger alliances fielding multiple teams with obvious benefits; you have to get knocked out at least twice for one…  In a previous tournament, and I’m not going to go digging to check the number, the tournament champions Band of Brothers were fielding a unique and supposedly ‘unbeatable’ setup; which their ‘B’ team alliance also happened to be using to dominate the competition.  Right up until Star Fraction annihilated it with a beautifully brutal ten Thorax showing that was. 😉

But the point stands, there is some obvious ‘abuse’ of alt alliances regularly used that prevents other players from getting a team into the fixtures at all, and it somewhat reduces the significance of each victory and defeat.  So its a good change, hopefully the threat of being caught and disqualified will deter alliances from attempting to sneak a second team through.

And the second point;

Alliance Tournament referees can now call a match null and void or declare a result if they feel a team is not competing or throwing a game. This will be entirely at the discretion of the tournament referees.

This one is something of a double-edged sword.  There have been matches in previous tournaments

This was the AT9 final between Outbreak. and HYDRA RELOADED.

The 13 minute climax of the month long tournament (not counting months of training and build up for the competitors) was about 4mins of PVP and then 9 long minutes of utter farce.  Was not great viewing to end the tournament on.

Now Hydra & Outbreak had been training partners while preparing for the tournament, and Outbreak. later said that they felt that Hydra, who had been the senior partner in their preparations, should take the top spot.  And so Outbreak threw the match after dominating it so that Hydra would be crowned champions.  This was not for most people a very satisfying end to an otherwise good tournament hence CCP’s new rules change; thou shalt not throw the match.

I do generally agree with this change because it should eliminate horribly ‘fixed’ and dismal matches such as the AT9 final.  But its not entirely ‘good’ news.  The Alliance Tournament has at times show cased the EVE sandbox at its most political and nefarious.  There have been matches where one side accepted (and even offered) payoffs to throw a match or simply to suicide individual ships.  This has been done to influence point scores across brackets to allow one team to progress or to deny another.

Not everyone agrees with such meta gaming, but the fact that it can and does happen has added drama and intrigue to the tournament that you otherwise would not see.  The tournament stream has become something of a publicity event for EVE in which CCP showcase upcoming stuff and the game itself is put on show.  Not just the spaceships and PVP, but the community too.  A major part of EVE’s fame (and infamy) are the tales of grand strategy and devious plotting.

These tournament shenanigans have served to bring the sandbox politics to a live audience and although they might not be ‘good sportsmanship’ they are very much a part of EVE-Online.  Causality, if you will.

Its a shame that Hydra and Outbreak had to go and play out that final match as they did.  Had they gone into it as a straight up competitive match and played out as such then we might still have drama and intrigue to look forwards to in AT10.  It should still prove fun, but I won’t be waiting for that first act of mercenary skulduggery this time round.

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