DEV BLOG SNIPAH: Alliance Tournament 8!

Hello eSports fans!

It is my proud duty to bring to you the details of Alliance Tournament VIII - it's like Alliance Tournament VII, but with an extra I!

Along with this blog release comes the latest update to the Alliance Tournament section of the site. Cast your eyes a little bit to the left, and a little bit downwards; almost...almost...there we go!  Both the rules and the format sections have been updated, so I'd like to explain some of the thought processes behind these updates.

We have seen quite a bit of evolution in the rules between tournaments five, six and seven, to the point where the rules in seven were praised so much that it kind of left me wondering where to go next. I spoke to a lot of people in-house over various ideas for changes to the way we do things, and we were kind of struggling to make a decision. Our next stop was the CSM, who were firmly of the belief that the rules are fine the way they are and that further evolution of the tournament would occur naturally with balance changes and ship changes in EVE. In the end, this made the decision; we would not completely rewrite the rules for Alliance Tournament VIII. So what did we change?

Well, the first major change is that pilots may only compete on behalf of alliances that they have been members of for a minimum of 60 days before the beginning of the tournament. Much like real life sports events, this creates a ‘transfer window' and will curtail some of the more undesirable methods of player-switching that sometimes take place in tournament teams. The second major change is that the maximum number allowed of any given ship type has gone up to three, from two. We felt that this limitation was a good thing but maybe a little too strict, and that three would still do the job of stopping complete homogeneity in team setups.

As far as points go, Heavy Assault Cruisers have gone down one point in cost, T1 cruisers drop two points, and faction cruisers go up by a point. These are the usual simple balance changes that will always occur; HACs were too expensive in AT VII, as were cruisers, partly by design as these ships had been so popular before. They should now be in line with other ships in cost vs effectiveness.

Now, on to format. The team selection procedure has been one of the toughest things to get right, so this time we're going to try a slightly different approach. 16 slots will be reserved for the top 16 finishers from Alliance Tournament VII, and 16 slots will be sold via auction. The remaining slots, however many that may be, will be allocated by random draw as in previous tournaments. The decision to use an auction method came about because it was something that we had already talked about - allowing the ‘big alliances' that have sometimes missed out on a tournament spot a way to leverage their size and make sure they get in to the tournament. The CSM brought this idea up also without it being mentioned, and since we were both on the same page it became a final decision. At this point we have not yet decided on the precise auction method; details will be announced in the alliance tournament forum soon.

We also have a slight change to the way teams score points through Intentional Handicapping. This is a system that allows teams to purposefully put themselves at a disadvantage in order to give themselves a large potential for scoring. The minimum number of points allowed per team has been reduced to 50. We don't expect this to hugely change the format, but it may allow for some interesting comebacks and does mean that teams who are happy with their setup, for example maybe somewhere in the 90-100 points range, can choose not to use any ‘filler' ships and instead aim to gain a few extra points. And now, for the grand finale...

Flagships!

"Aflagshipis the lead ship in a fleet of vessels, a designation given on account of being either the largest, fastest, newest, most heavily armed or, for publicity purposes, the best known. In military terms, it is a ship used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships__."

Flagships are the elite of your tournament team. They are the strongest, toughest, most damaging (and most expensive) ship you can field. Flagships must have a name, and successful flagships can become the stuff of tournament legend. The disadvantageous side of this, though, is that flagships are famous. As a tradeoff for their power, your opponents will know in advance what they are capable of when their setup is advertised for all to see. This raises the question of when you should field your flagship -if at all. Do you use it in the early rounds, and risk losing it? Do you save it for a late game where you may need some extra power? And if you do that, will your opponent predict it and counter it? And will we see some rare battleships fielded as flagships, heralding the return of the most expensive ships in Eve to the tournament? I'm excited just thinking about it.

And that, PvP lovers, brings us to the close of this summary of the changes for Alliance Tournament VIII. We hope you like the rules, both the things that have stayed the same and the things that have changed, and we hope you are looking forward to June 5th as much as we are! We have some more announcements we will be making in the leadup to the tournament, so stay glued to the news and keep a watchful eye on the tournament forum.

Until then - fly deadly!

On second thoughts, don't fly deadly. That's the worst signoff I've ever heard.