This weekend, something unique in my experience is happening in New Eden: the first player-driven, CCP-sponsored EVE PvP tournament.
Last year around this time, you might recall that I participated in the "Syndicate Alliance Tournament." This was an informal player-driven PvP tournament of eight alliances that lived in Syndicate at that time. This tournament was put together by by Apathetic Brent from Rote Kapelle, with some help from pBump and TimNeilson from Clockwork Pineapple. It was a fun, informal event that took place on a system in Tranquility. Syndicate alliances provided security for the event, but it was probably low profile enough that it didn't draw too much attention except from players that participated in it.
As you're all aware, CCP is really wanting to break into the eSports market and hosted the first officially-sponsored, non Alliance Tournament this past year. This time, instead of a PvP tournament of alliances living in Syndicate, Apathetic Brent and Dradius Calvantia (both from Rote) and famed PvPer GunniiH have organized a true open player tournament. Like last year's tournament, eight teams are participating, but this time they do not officially represent their alliances.
Further, this group intends to host continuing player-sponsored PvP tournaments under the banner of the Syndicate Competitive League.
The first tournament is this weekend, February 23 and 24, with matches starting at 1600 EVE time on Saturday and the final match scheduled for 2300 EVE time on Sunday. This is apparently going to be typical of SCL tournaments: small groups of players, with fast matches taking place over a single weekend. You can find more details on the SCL website, but the rules are essentially similar to Alliance Tournament/New Eden Open rules. Matches will be streamed live by TwitchTV, and will take place on the Singularity/Buckingham test server, taking ISK out of the equation. This will put the tournament participants on much more even footing, which ought to make for some interesting matches.
All of this would be fairly extraordinary... but there's one more interesting wrinkle: CCP is providing substantial support to this tournament! In addition to the matches taking place on the test server, CCP has graciously agreed to provide logistical support in the form of allowing fights to take place in the test server's Jove space. They will be providing GMs to teleport tourney participants to the fight systems in a manner similar to their own tournaments, which will prevent uninvolved parties from interfering with the proceedings. Matches will be fully commentated by players as well. For this first tournament, the commentators will be Brent, Bacchanalian, Seldarine, and Lazarus Telraven.
The teams involved this weekend are a nice cross-section of New Eden, with a lot of familiar names involved. In particular, the Rote guys will probably be rooting for "The Reputation Cartel" team, captained by Bob Shaftoes, that had a strong showing during the NEO. That said, the "Warlords of the Deep" team, captained by Duncan Tanner, has to be regarded as the favorite to win this thing. They're made up of a lot of famous tournament names from Hydra Reloaded "and a few friends." Amusingly, this team describes itself as having been "over-qualified" for AT10...
Pretty cool stuff all the way around, sez I! I'm only sorry that I can't participate this time around. My recent trip interfered with my ability to practice for this, and that whole CSM thing is happening too... ah well. I'll enjoy being a spectator for this one, I guess. ;-) Good luck to everyone involved this weekend!