Following an announcement last year that EVE’s annual Alliance Tournament would be “co-sponsored” by the UK-based EVE fan organization EVE_NT, which removed it from CCP’s direct oversight and raised suspicions that it no longer represented a priority for the developer, CCP placed the event on “hiatus” for 2019, saying it wanted to focus on strengthening the experience for players before offering a new edition of the competition. The news drew generally negative responses from the player community and invited comparisons to CCP’s similarly unusual decision not to offer a conventional Fanfest in 2019, instead substituting a series of regional social events in cities throughout Europe, North America, and Australia in place of the traditional large-scale springtime event in the developer’s home city of Reykjavik, Iceland. The loss of 2019’s Alliance Tournament leaves EVE Online’s community without either of the game’s major annual events.
Alliance Tournament XVI
EVE_NT, a long-time support organization for Eve Online tournaments and E-Sports play, took over the reins of the event for 2018’s Alliance Tournament XVI in what would become a transitional period for the competition. EVE_NT and CCP introduced major changes to the rewards for victory, notably forgoing the extraordinarily powerful and colossally expensive special edition ships traditionally awarded to champions, instead offering slightly modified Triglavian hulls, PLEX, SKINs, and in-game medals. The event saw the introduction of the new Triglavian ships, which dominated the tournament metagame, and also restricted teams to one of any individual hull classification. The match structure and overall appearance of the tournament remained largely consistent with past editions, however, contributing to a sense of hope that the tournament would live on under the guiding hand of EVE_NT.
The Tournament’s History
CCP introduced the Alliance Tournament in 2005 to provide a structured environment to test the PVP abilities of EVE’s various alliances. Since the sovereignty mechanics of the game generally favored large numbers and powerful, costly fleet compositions, the Alliance Tournament created a controlled experiment in raw PVP ability. Teams were limited to identical numbers and hull types, with timed rounds that pressured competitors to plan an aggressive strategy. However, the early years of the Alliance Tournament only confirmed that the most powerful alliances in EVE could dominate the tournament as well as other aspects of the game.
Band of Brothers (BoB), EVE’s original superpower, won the first three editions handily. It was only in 2007, with BoB locked in a sovereignty war against virtually every other alliance in EVE, that the tournament was successfully contested by a small, specialist alliance called HUN Reloaded. Following BoB’s collapse in 2009, one of the alliances responsible for its downfall, Pandemic Legion (PL), won three editions in a row, cementing its reputation for elite PVP prowess. This victory came at a cost, however. PL earned notoriety for spying on opponents and was even accused of bribing competitors to withdraw from rounds of the tournament. Subsequent editions favored tournament specialists such as HYDRA RELOADED, Tuskers, and VYDRA RELOLDED, though PL returned to the victor’s podium once more in 2015.
The three-week-long Alliance Tournament has established a nearly mythical status among the game’s PVP warriors as the ultimate test of combat ability—the Ironman Triathlon, the world championship of EVE Online. The top teams scheduled dozens or even hundreds of hours of practice for each fleet composition intended for the tournament. Matches became choreographed dances of subtle maneuvering and controlled destruction. Even the media coverage ascended to the highest standards of professional journalism, with game developers, members of the Council of Stellar Management (EVE’s player-elected senate), and noted personalities from EVE’s various communities joining to offer commentary over live video streams. EVE Online, long marketed as a game that allowed players to write their own stories, offered up the Alliance Tournament as the ultimate opportunity to seize glory.
Hiatus, Reactions, and the Future of Alliance Tournament
Given the centrality of the Alliance Tournament to EVE’s annual calendar of events, as well as the opportunity it provided for small alliances to challenge the game’s superpowers on an even footing, it is unsurprising that CCP’s announcement drew wilting criticism from the community, with developers offering milquetoast replies such as CCP Falcon’s note that “[CCP would] honestly like to look at how we support grassroots tournament initiatives that come from the community a lot more – there’s quite a few of them out there that have proven to be very successful.” In other words, CCP would like players to organize their own tournaments and forget about the vaunted Alliance Tournament.
These developments, coupled with CCP’s retreat from the annual Fanfest event, create an uneasy atmosphere for the player community in 2019. Although CCP has indicated both Alliance Tournament and Fanfest will allegedly return to a familiar format after the current year’s hiatus, players could be forgiven for wondering whether these changes portend larger shifts for the game and its developer. If the responses to CCP’s announcement are any indication, that is precisely the concern for many members of EVE Online’s community.
At this point, INN can announce that the Anger Games 3 Redux, run by Hogyoku member Sothrasil, is in early planning stages. Said competition is aiming to run in early August, but this date relies on some CCP support. We will be sure to update you on this as more information becomes available.