Last year, I wrote a pair of posts generally going over what being in the Alliance Tournament is like. And while I'm not going to cover that old ground, I do want to point those posts because they are still perfectly valid. The only thing that really changed from last year to this year in terms of what's in those posts is that the broadcast delay between when we would start fighting and when all of you would watch all of us start fighting was greatly shortened this year. Last year, we could generally watch the back halves of our own matches. This year, not so much. It was a minor change.
Even before tourney training season started, I quite frankly felt like this was going to be a "rebuilding" year for Rote Kapelle. We lost:
- two really good tournament pilots to ExodusDOT (where one in particular did a great job with them);
- two more pilots to being tournament commentators;
- one more to internal alliance drama (see that first post above); and,
- three more were affected by RL issues and could only fly with us infrequently.
There's no question, though, that we were impacted by this year's mechanics in a myriad of ways. Our budget this year was quite small and of that budget, if my math is accurate about 35% went into implants and another 50% went into our entry fee. Ships were actually the smallest part of the budget and I believe there were only four ships in our tourney hangar worth more than a billion ISK each (of those, we only fielded one). I was not a happy camper with this year's silent auction method for choosing tournament slots. I advised Bob Shaftoes right from the get-go to low-ball our bid a little bit; didn't happen. I'm almost completely positive we massively overpaid to enter but of course only a few people know if that's so... and they ain't telling.
That also meant that the Rote Kapelle team was run by a remarkably small number of people: there were really about five or six key participants and we worked our butts off. That's the disadvantage of a small alliance entering the Alliance Tournament and any other small alliances that do so should go into it with your eyes open on that score. Another disadvantage of being a small alliance is that you end up practicing with partners and while that helps you see the gaps in your own thinking, it of course also feeds right into tournament meta-gaming.
Because there were fewer available pilots this year, I was pressed into more important roles, which was nice. That said, I was also kind of pigeon-holed this year. Every ship I flew this year had a link fitted and most had three or more. I trained Ripard into Marauders V this year... not necessary. I trained an alt into Black Ops V... also not necessary. I pumped a ton of SP into drones this past year (finally closing what's always been an embarrassing gap in Ripard's skills profile) and while drones were indeed a huge meta this year, I only flew one second-tier drone ship.
Either because of all this or because of my increasing tournament experience, I was much less nervous about matches this year. I was able to come into them very comfortably feeling like it was just another small gang fight with very little on the line. But as a result, I also feel like I flew a lot better this year than I did last. Going over my own flying, I found only very minor piloting errors and nothing that could have swung any of our matches. But it does have me hoping I'll be tapped for more challenging ships next year. Last year -- spent primarily in frigates -- was far more challenge for my flying skills and I think I grew more as an EVE player as a result.
Community Fansite accounts (which includes CSM accounts) aren't allowed to fly in the New Eden Open and my involvement with the SCL back-end means that I'm not allowed to fly there either. That means I likely won't be flying in another tournament until AT12, if I do. There's lots of time between now and then, anything could happen, and who knows where I'll be a year from now. But I'll of course continue to take a keen interest in tournament flying over the next 12 months. It's quite likely I'll commentate for the SCL more than once in the coming year as CSM duties permit.
All in all, though, I can't help but feeling a little depressed about the whole endeavor and I'm not sure there's a good reason why. It might be because we won our first three matches so convincingly and then unexpectedly folded. It might be because I'm positive we couldn't have followed the path that PL did. More on that in my next post. And it might be because as ever, a failed tournament run has stirred up a lot of internal alliance drama. This happens to the alliance I'm in every year whether I'm on the team or not. But like a badly-failed love affair, I'll be happy when I can put this year's AT behind me and forget about it.
Not quite there yet. One more post.