This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss the tenth Alliance Tournament.
When discussing how the Tenth Alliance Tournament has gone, I think that there are a couple of comparisons with AT9 which are well worth making. I’ll start with what for me was the big one.
AT9 was the first to be expanded to 64 teams and featured qualifying rounds of half-size teams. This was a widely welcomed evolution of the tournament and went down very well. It allowed twice as many alliances to compete as there were in AT8 and created an interesting new ‘gear shift’ in tactics and build design.
That was all to the good, but the coverage of AT9 got off to a very poor start; there was no live coverage at all available for the qualifiers. EVE TV covered the ‘tournament proper’ of the group stages onwards with the full studio presentation, yet the new qualifying rounds were not streamed or recorded and no audio-only coverage was allowed for either.
CCP’s position was that they were committing all of their resources to producing high quality coverage of the ‘important’ matches and did not have the resources to cover the qualifiers which were expected to be of a ‘lower standard’ anyway. This meant that half of the 64 teams were eliminated before the rest of the community got to see a shot fired.
If you haven’t figured it out already, I wasn’t happy about this state of affairs and wrote a letter of complaint to that effect. My thread became the unofficial focus of community disappointment that first weekend, through which many made their feelings clear. Although CCP might not have viewed the qualifiers as being an integral part of the tournament, the players most certainly did.
Turns out, CCP listened! In ATX, I was delighted to see the excellent standard of coverage afforded to the qualifiers. I think that the EVE TV team nailed it. Every match was live streamed and the commentators did a great job of following the matches from their homes. Budget constraints and, well, sanity will mean that we will probably never see all four weekends given full studio coverage, but the ATX qualifiers coverage was excellent.
The other big thing to mention is of course the new tournament graphics. CCP Veritas wins many internets for that work! For the first time ever, the audience was able to see electronic warfare being applied to every ship in the match as it happened. Also, in previous tournaments there would occasionally be issues with the camera clients losing locks mid-fight. Not any more! The new display was a very welcome addition indeed and added greatly to the presentation of the whole event.
Both of these points, to me, indicate something of an attitude change coming from CCP towards the tournament. When the AT9 qualifiers were not covered, CCP came out and reminded the community that the dev’s running the show were volunteers, and that there was no real ‘budget’ assigned to the tournament. The community responding with the simple attitude of “well there should be”. And now there is.
When the sign ups for ATX were announced, there was some controversy over the entry fees. Previously a 5 billion ISK fee then some slots pit up for an ISK auction, for ATX CCP were instead asking for 10 plex to enter the lottery and then a PLEX-based auction for the remaining slots. This made getting into the tournament immediately more expensive, with the cheapest auction slot I heard of going for no less than fourty plex!
Although some felt that it was an attempt by CCP to screw some more cash out of the players, this was really all about securing a proper budget for the tournament (through the value of redeemed PLEX) so that they could deliver full coverage and to invest in the quality of the coverage. I have devoted many an hour watching/listening to as much of every tournament that I could, and in ATX I could see the benefits of that investment.
I once described the opening of AT9 as ‘a community event to which the community was not invited’. I am delighted to describe ATX as the finest tournament to date. Both I and my fiancee (who doesn’t play EVE) spent Sunday sat on the sofa enjoying some of the very best EVE has to offer.
To all involved in the EVE TV team, a big well done and a heart-felt thank you.
P.S. – R.I.P. Michael Bolton’s moustache. 😉