Now in its second month, the SCL is a nearly entirely player-run EVE Online PvP tournament. The staff is mostly made up of Rote Kapelle veteran players: Apathetic Brent, GunniH, Bacchanalian, Namamai, and Ben Booley, along with Seldarine of Suddenly Spaceships and Arydanika of the Amok Corporation in Goonswarm. They are ably assisted by CCP Fozzie who provides technical assistance in the form of the UI that lists player ship health, speed, and e-war effects, as well as technical information about the ship comps for the in-match commentators, teleportation services to get the match underway, and the proverbial big red button that gets pushed when ships cross the edge of glory. ;-)
But other than Fozzie's help, it's all run by players! Now imagine one more of those players completely flaking out on you; another has a family emergency that limits his ability to participate. That's where your humble narrator came in. Late Friday afternoon, I was asked "Would you like to be a between match commentator, talk about the bans, talk about the match just ended, talk about the one coming up, maybe talk about about ships and tactics? You'd be on the air with Dani. In about 12 hours."
Hey Jester, how'd you like to look really dumb in front of a thousand people on a live stream?
I'm still trying to figure out why I said yes. Maybe it was the collective desperation in their voices. ;-)
I have to admit, though, it was a lot of fun! And people have been telling me that I did a pretty fair job of it, which was quite nice to hear. I don't think I made too many mistakes. Brent pulled me aside afterward and told me that the SCL was going to take possession of me one weekend a month for the rest of my natural life.
I don't know about that. :-P
Anyway, let's get to the event itself. There were eight teams involved this time, three of them -- TEST, Insurance Fraud, and the Reputation Cartel -- that were returning SCL teams. The remaining five -- Pandemic Legion, Last Huzzah, My Little Nulli, Guiding Hand Social Club, and Perihelion (P-Bomb). All in all, a really impressive roster of both teams and players! You could potentially argue that EVE Online eSports is having a slow start, but it's certainly not anything to do with player enthusiasm! Tournament veterans from right across New Eden were there and they were taking this thing every bit as seriously as a CCP-run tourney, which was quite nice to see.
Even better, I felt like the right teams were winning the matches, they were winning them due to good tactics and good flying, and I felt like each set of matches was better than the one before. That built right up to the finals, which was a best of five between Reputation Cartel and Pandemic Legion, and that match went the full five rounds before Pandemic Legion won it on the strength of some really good fleet compositions and execution. Congrats, PL! It was a well-deserved victory.
My overall favorite comp was a PL comp that they had to pull out to ensure victory against Tyrrax Thorrk's Guiding Hand Social Club team in the semi-finals: (a drone) Proteus, Legion, Myrmidon, Ishtar, and two Vexors. That's right: we're almost certainly going to see some drone-based comps in the Alliance Tournament this year! This one was a honey, with the Legion operating in a RR role and the rest of the ships providing energy transfers to power a full rack of bonused medium reps. The comp was devastating up close thanks to the large drone bays of all the ships involved, and even more devastating at range where the team could use Sentries. PL also did a great job with their bans. I mentioned during my commentary that I felt like the new ban mechanic in tourneys was still evolving and we hadn't seen how bans could be used tactically yet. But the PL team came the closest, though even they ran hot and cold, sometimes just banning the same comp over and over and other times banning reactively against what comp the team they fight brought last.
There were lots of other great comps as well, and a lot of really good flying. There was also a nice mix of in-your-face brawls which most players like, and more tactical-based battles of maneuver which I actually enjoy more (though many players find them boring).
Viewership on day one peaked at about 500 people, which was about the same as day one last time. Day two peaked at 867, which was a nice improvement over last time. And that was with very little CCP advertising of the event this time. So viewership was up, which was also really nice.
Equally nice was CCP support of the event. No fewer than eight CCP devs took time out of their weekend plans to attend and chat with Dani and myself. That's more than just about any EVE Online event outside Fanfest! They were:
- CCP Soundwave and CCP Guard, two men that obviously need no introductions;
- CCP Fozzie and CCP Rise, whose work on the ship balancing team likewise is familiar to all EVE players;
- CCP Bro, whose new title makes him responsible for EVE Online and DUST 514 eSports;
- CCP FoxFour, who is part of the team working on the EVE/DUST link;
- CCP Falcon, who is responsible for live events and who I got to talk to extensively about the Battle of Caldari Prime; and,
- CCP Dolan, who over the last week has been announced will be taking over for CCP Xhagen as the CSM liaison.
All the devs had really interesting things to say, though of course all of them were also being pretty coy in the run-up to Fanfest and not wanting to give much away that they'll be talking about in a couple of weeks. Still, a few interesting tidbits emerged.
- I got a chance to bitch to Falcon about more USTZ-friendly live events, something that he acknowledges is a problem. The trick there is that he has to coax volunteers from CCP staff to help and to run a USTZ event, those volunteers would have to stay up until two in the morning, even if the event were run on a weekend. Sigh.
- I got to press Soundwave about players starting the game in pirate factions and he admitted that the thought hadn't even really occurred to him! That surprised me. It means that those pirate noob ships are going to retain their value for a good while yet. But he did reveal that CCP is going to try to slightly dial back the importance of races within the factions (no surprise, since they no longer receive specific bonuses).
- Bro announced that AT11 will come first at the normal time this summer, and will then be followed by the second New Eden Open in the autumn (I teased him about not scheduling it on Thanksgiving and he promised he'd check for any relevant U.S. holidays and make sure future tourneys were scheduled to happen on those days).
- And Dolan said that we're going to see CCP promote the CSM election quite a bit this week, and gently implied that voting is a bit down from last year. In retrospect, that doesn't surprise me since we kinda had a lot of annoyed players not too long before this time last year...
There were also seven trivia questions, six of which were written by yours truly, with prizes given away for each one, and the overall event had five sponsors this time. Hopefully the latter trend will continue!
As I said earlier today, Dani is just a joy to work with and to talk to. I had chatted with her several times on her pod-cast, of course, but this was more informal and relaxed and I came away with it with a huge amount of respect for her abilities, enthusiasm, dedication, and professionalism. Not bad at all for a Goon. ;-) And of course my respect for my alliance-mates and Seldarine running this thing on a shoestring knows no bounds. Fantastic job, guys!
Syndicate Competitive League will be running once a month or so for the foreseeable future. Keep an eye on their website and on their Twitter account at @SyndicateCL for more information!