Congratulations to TRI the VERGE for winning SCL5! You know, every time I think Verge of Collapse's success in tournament flying might be a fluke, they do something to convince me otherwise. Like winning the SCL. ;-) They flew some of the best matches of the day today with some really intriguing comps. They deserved to win.
Second place goes to Team Footwork which continues to be a solid contender in the SCL. Their pilots are going to surprise some people come the next iteration of the New Eden Open. They've now had lots of practice in the tournament format. One of the new teams, Dunktown Abbey, took third. Lots of teams put on displays of good flying and fleet comps, though: in particular, I was kind of amused by a Paladin-Sentinel comp executed against a blaster heavy team to
perfection, using the Sentinels and other tackle frigates to isolate and
neuter the opposing team's heavy blaster ships while their own heavy
ships went after the rear echelon (and tore it up). It was a masterful
display of EVE tactics and individual flying.
EDIT (11/Nov/2013): The original article credited the Paladin-Sentinel comp to TRI the VERGE, which they did not field. I regret the error. It was still the best comp and best flying of the day, though. ;-)
Surprise of the weekend in terms of EVE ships and tactics goes to the Paladin. Long regarded as the worst marauder for anything but PvE (and only moderately good at that), it showed dramatically improved capabilities again and again with bastion mode's massive increase to its long-range striking power with pulse lasers. Just as impressive in its own way was the new Golem. At one point today, a single Golem was able to tank nearly an entire enemy fleet more or less perpetually using only two non-Ancillary XL Shield Boosters and a pair of Heavy Cap Boosters. It was really quite impressive.
Biggest disappointment of the day was the viewership numbers, which averaged in the mid- to high 200s most of the day. There just wasn't a whole lot of advance publicity this time around. The EVE player base that enjoys tournament play continues to be a very small subset of the overall EVE player base. It didn't help there was a major League of Legends tournament this weekend as well. eSports in New Eden continues to struggle.
The technical issues that were rampant in the tournament UI yesterday were more or less corrected today. I was amused at how the large number of marauder-based teams usually managed to break the defense bar. You can definitely see when a marauder enters bastion mode: the pink bar representing active repairs in use instantly doubles or triples in length. With more points in play for the NEO and perhaps for the next Alliance Tournament, that defense bar is probably going to need some work. Similarly, the points cost for marauders in future tournaments is definitely going to have to be looked at, something I'm sure CCP Fozzie is thinking about very hard already. I only remember one marauder being killed all weekend, a Vargur that the No Boundaries team poured their hearts into killing. While they were successful, the time and energy they put into the task cost them the match.
The CCP guests were fine today, with the highlight being CCP Eterne talking about the new player training initiative that he's been running. Unsurprisingly, the session he ran on "How to make ISK" has been the most popular so far. He stated that each of the training sessions will eventually be recorded and made available on CCP's Youtube channel, something that I completely support.
I caused a tiny bit of confusion by pointing out yesterday that SOMERblink was not a sponsor of SCL5 despite them still being visible on the SCL website. The reason for that is simple enough: the website hadn't been updated yet. These sorts of things are pretty commonplace when it's a player-run website...
Studio host Xander Phoena did a fine job today but also got to learn what a marathon hosting an all-day session of the SCL can be. He was assisted now and then by Alekseyev Karrde, who also stepped in to commentate matches from time to time.(1) Bacchanalian, Apathetic Brent, Elendar, and Dark Soldat all did fine jobs with their commentary duties, though Dark Soldat's puns and word games continued unchecked throughout the day. I got to troll Brent fairly mercilessly when he got so busy responding to both one of these word games and some Teamspeak text chatter that he completely missed a major turning point during one of the key matches. "You had one job!" as the saying goes... The resulting exchange produced the quote of the day after a bit more word-play and is the title of this blog post. But that was a minor quibble in what was otherwise a good job done by all the commentators. In short, the staff did a great job and the action was constant throughout the day.
It's just a pity the audience wasn't bigger! Finding a way to get EVE players to engage with tournament-style content is going to be key to a successful CCP eSports strategy... assuming they still want to have one. Next up in the tournament schedule should be the second iteration of CCP's New Eden Open. I really look forward to seeing what iterations CCP throws at the format to hopefully increase player engagement.
Congrats again to the SCL staff and to the winners of SCL5!
(1) In a clear conflict of interest, Xander took virtually every opportunity he could to troll Aleks mercilessly about who had the better pod-cast... ;-)