As I've mentioned a couple of times, blog posting has been down around here a bit because of all the time I've put into our AT practice sessions in various ways. One of those ways was analysis of last year's results, so I'll start sharing some of that work here as the tournament progresses. I'm not much of a theory-crafter myself, but I've got pretty good skills in terms of fitting and comp "autopsies" to tell you what works and doesn't work. It's sort of reverse theory-crafting.
We're told the CSM helped with the random draw for the pre-qualifying matches during the May/June Summit. Unfortunately, CCP only saw fit to release the first weekend's schedule so far so we don't know what the second weekend is going to look like yet. Still, there should be some interesting fights during this first weekend.
These are some particular ones I myself am looking forward to, with who I think will win them in bold.
On Day 1 (June 30):
- 15:20 Solar Fleet vs. Dead Terrorists. Dead Terrorists were clearly at their peak in 2010, when they were an annoyance to Against ALL Authorities and various Russians. Last year, the alliance seemed to fail-cascade, but they've reincorporated this year, focusing more on low-sec small gang fights. It'll be interesting to see how they do.
- 16:20 Hun Reloaded vs. Perihelion Alliance. This one promises to just be goofy. Perihelion never seems to bring a normal comp if they can bring something off-the-wall instead.
- 16:40 Babylon 5.. vs. Nulli Secunda. Should be a curb-stomp. But should also be a fun-to-watch curb-stomp.
- 18:40 Darkside vs. RAZOR Alliance. This will easily be the best fight of the first weekend. Both Darkside and RAZOR made the semi-finals last year (they were in fact the two teams facing Hydra and... er... Hydra). Darkside is scarier than they seem to get credit for. They were the true second-place finishers in AT9 as far as I'm concerned.
- 20:00 Goonswarm Federation vs. Brick Squad. It'll be very interesting to see if Brick brings some variation of their vaunted Oracle gang to this match, perhaps three Oracles and three tackle frigs, or two Oracles and an Oneiros with the frigates? Brick are pretty damn good in small set-piece battles so I think they have the advantage here regardless.
On Day 2 (July 1):
- 16:00 Dystopia Alliance vs. Pandemic Legion. Should be another curb-stomp. But it will be interesting to see if PL brings something straight-forward, if they try to "wow the crowd" (and throw off analysis) a bit with something unusual. They might very well hold back a bit.
- 17:00 The RONIN vs. Dirt Nap Squad. This one should be entertainingly bad, sort of like a girl-on-girl slap-fight in a bad reality show or 80s movie. Both of these alliances have definitely over-estimated their own competence.(1) The loss-mails should be a wonder to behold, particularly on the DNS side.
- 18:40 Rote Kapelle vs PERCUSSIVE PIZZA TIME DIPLOMACY. OK, maybe this one's only interesting to me. ;-)
- 20:40 The G0dfathers vs. Test Alliance Please Ignore. I expect this to be the most one-sided match of the first weekend, likely surpassing even the PL match above.
A few general comments are in order, too.
The new six-person matches allow up to four ships of a give type. I think this was probably a mistake, but it's a mistake that's going to be taken advantage of by a lot of teams. Expect to see a lot of homogenous fleet make-ups. Probably, we'll see larger groups of smaller ships such as Assault Ships (which don't cost enough points this year, IMO). Tier 3 BCs with their heavy DPS will also be very big.
On the reverse side, though, expect to see a lot of use of the new Ancillary Shield Booster mod. This first iteration of it is clearly over-powered.(2) A lot of teams will be taking advantage of that. So this is going to be the "shield AT" with many fewer armor-based set-ups than last year. That's kind of fitting, considering the prizes are Caldari ships. But one result of this in the six-man matches is that they might be a little bit dull to watch. There may not be enough DPS on some teams to crack ASB tanks, particularly ASB tanks supplemented by a Scimitar.
Expect to see a lot of qualifying matches go the full ten minutes for this reason. Expect to see a surprising number of matches end with a lot of ships still on the field for this reason. But it ironically won't be as big of a deal in the 12-man matches, because 12 ships put out a hell of a lot more DPS than six. The ASBs won't be as big of a factor because of that. But CCP might see the impact of the ASBs in the qualifiers, over-react, and ban them in the group stage. I hope not, but they might.
Finally, hopefully this will be the last year that cruisers are less-than-useful in the AT. A choice between four Cyclones or Feroxes for 40 points or five T1 cruisers for 40 points is no choice at all. Even though five T1 cruisers plus one tier 1 BC with a link is a natural six-man, 50-point team, don't expect to see any such teams. Or if you do see them, expect them to lose pretty badly. Hopefully, the re-balancing of cruisers will take care of this for AT11.
Here's to some good fights and some good fun!
(1) I say that with all love, Trebor. <3 ;-)
(2) Yes it is. When you have to compare a T1 module to a dead-space module to find something comparable, it's over-powered.