Earlier today (May 18), CCP released a dev blog detailing plans for the Alliance Tournament XVI. This information has been hotly anticipated ever since Fanfest in April, where CCP revealed that this iteration of the Alliance Tournament would be going ahead in partnership with the EVE-NT section of Nashh Kadavr’s PlusTen Gaming organisation. The future of the AT had been in question ever since the departure of the previous AT organiser CCP Logibro in October 2017, so to have this part of the community continue is something of a relief to many players.
This AT will follow a very similar format to 2017s AT XV. Alliance applications must be received by CCP no later than 23:59 UTc on May 27, with characters in a team needing to be a part of their respective alliance by downtime on May 22. Once the entry deadline has passed, 32 of the 64 spots will have been allocated, taken either by returning top-16 alliances from the last tournament or by winning silent auction bids. There will then be a feeder round on the tournament server Thunderdome, occurring on June 9 and 10, comprised of every other alliance on the list. This feeder round will decide the final 32 entrants to AT XVI, after which the match seeds will be generated and released.
The AT elimination rounds will be conducted across 4 consecutive weekends, with the first matches played on July 28 and the final conducted on August 18. This Tournament also follows recent tradition and has an NPC faction sponsor; this year, it is the Society of Conscious Thought, known for introducing new technologies to New Eden, as well as distributing special ship hulls. This sponsorship also comes with the standard reduction in point values for respective faction hulls, meaning that this year, the Sunesis, Gnosis, and Praxis are two points less than their fellow T1 class hulls. This year, we also see point increases to T1 Combat and Navy Battlecruisers, following AT XVs exceptionally BC-heavy meta, with other notable point changes for Assault Frigates, Recon Ships, and Logistics Frigates. Also notable is the lack of point change for Heavy Assault Cruisers, a ship class that has seen significant balance work in recent months, which, combined with the point changes for smaller hulls, suggests that CCP are hoping to see a faster and more dynamic tournament with a focus on smaller ship classes than last year.
Other important changes that will affect the AT meta this year are the reintroduced restriction of T1 damage drones, and the significant changes made to flagship rules. For the first time in a number of years, declared flagship vessels may be any battleship hull, including T2 Marauder and Black Ops hulls. This year, flagships will be allowed to ignore the T2 restrictions to weapons, specific utility mids such as Warp Scramblers, Warp Disruptors, Stasis Grapplers, and a wide range of other modules including weapon upgrades, Armour and Shield buffer and repair modules modules, and more. Additionally, flagships will be the only ships allowed to sport the new and more powerful Mutaplasmid-enhanced modules released into the game on May 29 with the “Into The Abyss” patch. Full details can be found within the dev blog.
Other important changes to the main tournament are that every match on the Tranquillity server will be subject to three bans per team where it has historically only been two. Also, on the final weekend, matches will be conducted in a best of three and a best of five for the Grand Final – in these ‘series’ matches, a team winning a match will not be able to use the specific hulls from their match composition for the duration of the series. This means the eventual Champion alliance will need to have three completely unique team compositions in order to be successful in the Grand Final, in what again seems to be an attempt to force a more dynamic tournament this time around.
All told, this set of rule changes has a lot of potential to create an enjoyable atmosphere both for viewers seeing the action on stream and for the team members, who will need to push their piloting skill even further to find success this year.