February 17 was no ordinary day in Providence . It started out with a literal bang, as Yulai Federation,a Provi-Bloc alliance, took down a hostile Raitaru. It finished with a whimper – and the sound of jump freighters hauling all YF assets out of Providence entirely.
The Storm Before the Calm
A YF CTA formed up at approximately 15:30 EVE time on Saturday, February 27. A Raitaru owned by SWIGG formerly of WAFFLES and now part of PL was entering its final timer, and 22 YF pilots formed up to bash the structure. PL is heavily engaged in small-gang PvP against Provi-Bloc pilots, so the opportunity to put one over on them was irresistible. The structure went down in approximately 15 minutes, with no resistance whatsoever offered by by PL.
With so many pilots formed, and with PL IHubs and TCUs vulnerable across the YF “pocket” of space, the fleet switched over to entosis ships, with RLML Caracals for top cover. Over the course of the next hour and a half of operations, YF was almost entirely unopposed, except for one unfortunate pilot who tried to jump an entosis Griffin. By any possible measure, the fleet was an unqualified success: a serious push-back against PL sovereignty in the region, conducted by YF alone with no assistance from CVA or from any third party.
The Calm, and Then the Storm
However, at 17:30, just as the fleet was wrapping up its entosis operations, a meeting of YF corporation directors adjourned and dropped stunning news: YF was accepting an offer from TEST to join Legacy and be given six systems in Immensea. Immediately, corporation chat channels across Provi exploded. For the next few hours, news flew back and forth about such-and-such a corp that had decided to join CVA and stay in Provi, or such-and-such a corp who were going to join YF and evacuate to Immensea. Jump freighters and carriers began hauling out ships en masse. By 21:00, rumors were already starting to swirl about a mass evacuation from Provi, something far larger than the “withdrawal of non-combat ships” covered in INN’s last update.
Calling YF’s move a “bombshell” hardly does it justice. YF makes up nearly 10% of Provi-Bloc, so their departure hugely changes the calculus of the PL occupation of Providence. Much of the area where PL now holds sov belonged to YF before the invasion, and YF had been extremely active in contesting PL’s claims wherever possible, as evidenced by the aforementioned structure bash/entosis fleet. Without YF operating behind enemy lines, the rest of Provi-Bloc will have even more of a burden to bear.
PL/NC Crash In
On Sunday, just one day after the announcement, PL and NC descended on JEIV-E in the attempt to destroy a YF Sotiyo. In the ensuing 1200-pilot brawl, a Provi-Bloc fleet led by CVA and joined by TEST dreadnoughts absolutely wrecked the attackers, causing nearly 4b ISK in damage against losses of only 732m. One highlight of the battle was the CVA pilots repeatedly spamming in local chat a quote from INN’s second update on Providence, in which CVA FC Jin’taan said that he expected PL to have a hard time destroying Provi-Bloc’s structures – a prophecy which has indeed come true. The Sotiyo survived, and PL/NC had no choice but to impotently tether up on a nearby citadel and watch their efforts fail. They were even unable to take down a nearby Azbel that was in low power mode.
Unfortunately, in the next system over, a TEST fleet with a token presence from CVA was taken down in dramatic fashion. Caught unaware in transit, and outnumbered more than two to one, TEST fought hard but lost almost 150 ships, mostly Nightmares, for a total loss of nearly 39b ISK. NC/PL losses totalled barely 6b. The presence of over 400 pilots in Providence is a major statement for PL and NC – a statement that PL is serious about defending their newly conquered systems.
What’s Next For Provi?
In way, YF’s departure from Providence changes very little about the actual situation on the ground. Providence is still under assault from PL, who have shown no signs of relenting or withdrawing. Indeed, there is no reason to assume that PL would withdraw at all, even after the long-awaited station changes finally drop and PL is able to plunder the NPC citadels. Why would they not simply hang on to the space and rent it out to their lackeys?
A full-strength Provi-Bloc did as well as could be expected against PL for a month and a half, and most observers would agree that PL’s progress was embarrassingly slow considering their advantage in manpower and capital ships. However, as the third-largest coalition in the game, one would imagine that PanFam can essentially do what they want with Providence, until such a time as someone more powerful says no.
In the meantime, CVA and the other Provi-Bloc alliances – strengthened with several corporations which have left YF and are determined to stay in Providence – will continue defending their territory with all the strength they have. Everyone has always known the fight against PL would be uphill. However, Provi-Bloc has benefited extensively from TEST involvement during the past month, and they may very well see their former coalition-mates return to Provi as third-party pilots, bashing PL structures just like old times.
As in INN’s previous update, Blade Sharpenter, an FC from YF corporation MUSE LLP, gave a quote that seemed to sum things up for most YF pilots. “[The news of the move] was a shock. Literally out of nowhere, we have to pack up and leave. A lot of people, myself included, thought we were going to stay and continue fighting, right up until we got the mails telling us about evacuation. We were told days earlier that we were not evacuating. But this seems like it’s more than just an evacuation; we’re getting a new home. Part of me wonders if Legacy had plans to snipe some alliances/corps since the beginning when TEST started helping Provi, but it doesn’t really matter. Where we are going seems like it’s going to be an upgrade. At least I hope it is.” Blade’s mixture of grief and optimism were matched by numerous people across northern Providence, and the hope across YF is that there will be more optimism and less sorrow on the horizon.
Is there a place for friendly, medium-sized coalitions in the game? Is there a place for NRDS rules of engagement that welcome neutrals rather than treating them with suspicion? Perhaps. However, thanks to PanFam, Providence is no longer that place. And so, dear reader, wherever you are and whatever you’re drinking tonight, pour one out for Providence. Pour one out for good content. Pour one out for strong and independent pilots who want nothing more than to live freely and not be under the heel of PL jackboots. And, if the mood strikes you, bring a fleet to Providence and bash some PL heads in.