Four Fights Worth Watching, Part Two
The quality of action and the quantity of carnage did not decrease as the tournament moved deeper into the match-ups. With more advanced scouting available courtesy of Eve TV, fleet make-ups were adjusted and the battles became more tactical in nature, but no less enthralling.
Aunni Ti Tsuun Consortium (ATTC) saw action in another tight battle on Day Three, lining up against Aftermath Alliance (AA) in another duel of drones versus missiles. ATTC warped in a repeat of their line-up from Day Two, nine Caracals and a Blackbird, but this time they were opposed by four Ishtars, four Maulus, and a Scimitar.
Maulus made an appearance in most battles across the 7 days of the tournament, favoured for its cheap costs both to build and field within the tournament rules, as well as its ability to effectively dampen opposing fleets. Nearly always called as a primary target at the opening to every engagement, a Maulus rarely survived the first 5 minutes, but AA had other plans.
Straight from the go signal, the ATTC onslaught was vicious with an Ishtar falling before its drones had closed the gap between the two squads. But when the drones did hit the Caldari ships, the damage meters started ebbing red like a bloody wave breaking on shore, with damage overwhelming the Blackbird quickly and then flowing on to the Caracals. Bereft of their EW support, the ATTC boats began to come apart one small piece at a time.
Undaunted, the Caracals continued to pound away at the AA Ishtars and Maulus, but just as the damage began to look fatal for an AA pilot, the Scimitar proved the value of a serious logistics ship, bringing its team mates back from the brink of destruction and ensuring their continued lashing of the opponent. Eventually able to take down both an Ishtar and a Maulus, the Caracals finally fell to the swarm and gave AA the “total hell death” victory.
Neither Pandemic Legion (PL) nor THE R0NIN (TR) managed to squeeze a Caracal into their Day Four match up, but the fight was every bit as vicious and closely contested as our other favourites. PL warped in two Vigils to illuminate targeting options for their three Raven class battleships, with three faction frigate Daredevils playing support. Opposing the functional block of grey that were the Caldari battleships, two sleek Amarrian Abaddon class battleships were joined by a Drake, and seven Caldari Navy Hookbill class frigates for TR.
With the PL fleet largely damped and unable to lock targets to start the fight, the Hookbills swarmed in close to start pouring on the damage from high velocity orbits around the larger ships. PL drones were launched but target-less under the EW blanket being laid down by TR, and there was an eerie silence from the three PL Ravens with most observers silently counting away the 10 seconds it would take them to reload their launchers with F.O.F missiles.
The Eve TV cameras were rocked when the first salvo had finally been fired, and it signalled chaos breaking loose in the arena. The PL drones went from lifelessly hanging in space to swarming through the TR fleet, lock having been established. With damage starting to creep up on both sides, TR began focusing their attacks, laying into a Raven and a Vigil heavily, with both Abaddons melting through the Raven’s tank. As one Abaddon and their Drake were being pushed low into their armor defences, TR shifted their focus from the drifting wreckage of one Raven to the next live target while F.O.F missiles continue to mash the short range Hookbill assault.
Many of the Hookbills were going into armor themselves, but it became obvious that TR had not been planning on offering the frigates up for pawns as they were managing to repair their own damaged systems fast enough to mitigate the unfocused fire they were encountering. A second Raven exploded under the constant assault, but the PL drone attack was beginning to take a serious toll on one Abaddon and the Drake, dealing heavy blows to both and forcing the TR team to slow their assault on the final Raven to save capacitor for repairing their wounded comrades.
The close quarters combat had also begun to take its toll on the Hookbills, with the durable little brawlers beginning to fall and it appeared the tide of the battle may have begun to shift in PL favour. Sending the Drake to the salvage yard may actually have hurt the PL team, however, as shortly after it exploded TR dropped any pretence of repairing the heavy damage to the wounded Abaddon, opting instead to focus all of their remaining power on eliminating the last Raven before it could cause any more losses to their gang. Few ships can resist that kind of concentrated firepower, and the Raven soon went down.
The Abaddon had won the battleship side of the encounter, but the Hookbill were not fairing as well against the rest of the PL crew. With five minutes remaining, the only ships still operational were the two Abbadon and two Hookbills, up against the three Daredevils and two Vigils. While the PL damage output was sufficient to clean up the last two TR frigates, neither team could muster enough energy to eliminate the other, leaving TR to win the match on points.
Strategy, cunning and a bit of luck all played into the tournament, and even a pilot who has never seen a day of combat could enjoy the spectacle. Whether it be a few dozen heavy missiles streaking across the arena, or a swarm of Tech II drones intent on tearing ships apart, it would be hard not to be awed by the displays of power on hand in nearly every match.