Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Monday, March 17, 2014

Six of eight

OK, let's get back to what I wanted to write about today instead of what I was forced to write about. I promised a post about what I think it takes to make a good tournament team in EVE Online. Yes, I'm going to ruffle more feathers. Here goes.

I'm going to start with a very basic analogy to explain the direction from which I'm going to come at this topic. Imagine a car racing team. I'm going to keep this very very simple. To have a successful car racing team, you need a good car, a good engine, and a good pit crew. All three are important. But which is the most important of the three? If you think about it for a bit, I think you will agree that a good car is the most important. A professional race car driver can drive me into the ground... unless he is in a Volkswagen Bug and I am in a Mustang Cobra SVT. In that case, it doesn't matter how good he is, he's not going to catch me.

Now let's look at EVE tournament teams from that perspective. There are eight factors that I believe make for a good tournament team:
  • Endurance (both in the tournament and in practice);
  • teamwork (including a good FC);
  • good piloting;
  • execution of plans (discipline);
  • comps or a good theory-crafter;
  • tournament experience;
  • meta-game skill (including practice partners); and,
  • ISK (including logistics).
Which is the most important? I'm being badgered here and there to recognize pilot skill as the most important. In actual fact, I believe pilot skill is sixth, maybe even seventh. Most important?

1. Comps or a good theory-crafter. It all starts here. If you don't have good comps, you have nothing! It doesn't matter if you have the best pilots in EVE. It doesn't matter if you practice 12 hours a day. It doesn't matter how much ISK you have. It doesn't matter how well your team flies together. If your comps are bad, you're not going to get very far at all. Lack of a good theory-crafter is why so many tournament teams are mediocre. Lack of a good theory-crafter is why the bar is set so high for new tournament teams.

Tyrrax Thorrk, not exactly a tournament newbie, was interviewed by CCP Guard as part of the close-out for the second NEO and he kind of bemoaned the fact that "it used to be you'd get some guys together, practice for a few hours a day, and you were in the semi-finals." Yeah, not so much any more. Today, you simply must understand the tourney metas. PL's whole team focuses on this every year now.

Now, if you don't have good comps or a good theory-crafter, that isn't necessarily the end of the world. We've seen a lot of EVE tournaments where teams realized what the meta was after the first weekend and quickly got up to speed on those metas and brought their own versions of them. We saw it in the second NEO: teams that didn't realize it from the start realized that double command ships were going to be a strong base for a comp and we saw teams bring various versions of it in the second weekend once they realized. I personally think double Eos or double Claymore were the most interesting versions of this, but we saw a lot of variations including double Damnation. That said, copying the metas of other people will get you into the semi-finals, but probably not much beyond that. To get farther, you're going to need...

2. Endurance (both in matches and in practice). This is the second most important. We saw this very clearly in the second NEO. Those teams that practiced the hardest got the farthest. This was clearly more important than pilot skill, clearly way more important than ISK or tournament experience. The importance of this factor increases every single tournament. You can take Duncan Tanner's "advice" and not take it seriously because this is just a game... but you'll lose if you do.

3. Teamwork. Again, we're seeing this factor become more and more important every single tournament. Those teams that work well together, split up responsibilities, have a good back bench with multiple FCs, and complement each other's skills do much better than those teams that have individually great pilots. Great individual pilots can pull off razzle-dazzle moves that create opportunities in a match, but teamwork is needed to exploit those opportunities. We see this every single tournament: team members that create opportunities that the team can't take advantage of. That often comes down to...

4. Execution and discipline. This is also more important than individual pilot skill. If you doubt it, go back and rewatch the matches between Warlords of the Deep and THINGY. Both teams often had great comps, both teams had great endurance, both teams had great teamwork. At which point it came down to which team executed. That team won.

5. Meta-game skill. This one is moving up the list and I believe in a tournament or two it will surpass execution. This was one of the big reasons for my post yesterday that raised so many hackles. This is defined as the ability and willingness to disrupt your opponent's practices for your own ends. At the highest level of tournament play, it's becoming a major factor in whether a team wins or not. Why is it higher than pilot skill? Because the meta-game includes finding and working with good practice partners. Doing this closes the holes in your comps and execution before you get taken to school in an actual tournament fight. Without a good practice partner in Exodus, there is simply no way WeHURT would have advanced as far as they did.

6. Good piloting. And here's good piloting, sixth on the list. It's important, sure. But it's not as important as the items above it. I firmly believe that a good tournament captain with good comps and a good practice partner could take a pile of relatively noobish pilots that were willing to put in the work and willing to follow orders really really far in the tournament. For instance, I personally believe this is proven every time The Reputation Cartel takes the field. Don't get me wrong: a lot of the Rep Cartel guys are great pilots, and a couple are stellar. But they often have a core of five or six relatively inexperienced pilots along too and this team is still competitive despite that.

The only reason good piloting is this high on the list is because skill points play a part, and that is a factor that good pilots have. They train the "tournament skills" and have the flying experience from using those skills in PvP that newer players will not. You can't use the double command ship meta without at least two Level 5 command ship pilots, for instance.

7. ISK. This one is slightly higher up the list for Alliance Tournaments, where "tourney ships" are on-and-off important. It's not a major factor yet (thankfully) but as best of threes and best of fives become more and more important in the tourney meta, expect to see this one climb up the list. If Rote Kapelle's run in AT11 hadn't been ended due to lack of endurance, it would have been ended due to lack of ISK. We were running out of money, ships, and implants toward the end there.

8. Tournament experience. It's important, but of the eight factors it's the least important. If it were more important, WeHURT wouldn't have made it to the top three in the second NEO.

So there's the list, in my order. You may begin arguing with me... now.

32 comments:

  1. I doubt I could beat an professional race car driver. I simply could not use the benefits of the better car. Unless it's in a straight line. I would simply could not control a car with that much horse power, sounds really hard to drive for someone without any experience.

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    1. True. The good race car pilot will pass you in his Bug on the curves, but you'll build up enough of a lead on the next straight-away that it wouldn't matter.

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  2. None of your other points are worth anything without good piloting.

    Bad piloting is what gets your logi scrambled, your huginn boundary violating and your support frigates hitting approach on uncontrolled sleipnirs.

    Bad piloting is what gets your logi repping the guy taking no damage, your damp ships losing damp wars, and your ravens burning out all their guns.

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    1. I didnt read this part at first

      but WOW! You consider SKILL POINTS to be part of GOOD PILOTING?

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    2. I think Jester is considering that even an average-to-new pilot might follow orders and pull off a maneuver at the right time, and that "good piloting' simply means doing those things a bit faster or with more finesse. Or *before* the order has to be given...but I guess that's what we'd call initiative.

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    3. Thats not at all what good piloting entails.

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    4. Call it "good pilots" instead of "good piloting" if you like. But yes, SP and *knowing what to train* are factors that a good pilot has. At the high end, I suspect training specialization is becoming a thing though I can't confirm it.

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    5. He does have a point, Jester. (forgive the pun) Why didn't you include skill points in the "comps" category instead?

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    6. and, Michael, you really should have paid attention to the tourney. The one quote i took away from the entire thing was this one quote: "biggest thing that determines success is being comfortable with what you're flying, and what it needs to do in the various situations it comes up against"

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    7. I flew for hydra in AT11

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    8. Because skill points are a basic resource available to the guy theory crafting the compositions.

      Okay so I have thirteen Sleipnirs allocated to me for this tournament ... damn it, I only have two Eos pilots to work with.

      My first EVE toon had skill points in just about every aspect of the game, from logistics to scanning to industry, split tank and weapons systems... My more recent toons tend to stick with one tank and train for a single class, or a single roletype, of ships (until literally maxed out)

      I imagine tournament pilot toons are something closer to the latter. But those toons with useful, workable SP allocations wouldnt exist if they weren't in the care of (or initially trained up by) someone with a good game sense (ie pilot 'skill')

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    9. You can buy characters off the bazaar. You also have months notice to train for the tournament.

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    10. Let me ask you this - you think if Hydra gave its entire theorycrafting forum to Mordus Angels or FCON, that either of those teams could come close to winning?

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  3. Also apart from AT ships, isk is a nonissue in the current tournament, where expensive implants are all banned. Most NEO comps were around 1b, and 3% implants are hardly going to break the bank.

    If your ENTIRE ALLIANCE cannot afford t2 fits on t2 or faction ships, then I think you need to examine your alliance finances.

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    1. A sizable fraction of Rote's budget for AT11 was spent on implants. Even at 3%, 70-100 million ISK * 12 pilots * a half dozen matches adds up FAST.

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    2. I'm surprised every pilot has to re-implant before every match. I assumed that most pilots would only use a small number of different sets, and that jump clones would allow you to keep those in your rotation.
      Are tournament compositions so different that you need an immense amount of different implant combinations that can't be parked on jump clones?

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    3. @flosch

      In the last two days, you need to be ready within ~10 - 20 minutes before you get moved by a GM. You can only jump clone every 19h.

      But in the first couple of matches it should be possible to reuse clones.

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    4. You CAN reuse somewhat, yes. But it's not 100%, even when it was me flying command ships again and again as I did in AT11, for instance.

      Amusingly, though, I DO still have an AT10 tournament clone, almost a full set of +5%s from when those were legal.

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  4. What I'd like to see as a follow-on post: that list of "tournament skills."

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    1. Caldari frigate III and some damps skills is all you need, mate.

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    2. Forgive my ignorance, but which damping ship has Caldari Frig III as a pre-req?

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    3. Electronic Attack Frigates V, weapon specialization V for the specific types of weapons you're going to fly, level V training in skills that push damps, target painters, and tracking disruptors to their limit of effectiveness, every sub-cap Navigation skill to V, Marauders V for PvP pilots, Repair Drone Operation V... the list is pretty endless.

      You could spend a couple of years training skills that you'll use infrequently if at all outside of tournaments.

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    4. You dont need all of them on every pilot. Specialize the characters. Frigate pilots dont need marauders V. Marauder pilots dont need signal suppression V. Command ship pilots dont need light missiles.

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    5. lets be fair, at the alliance tournament level, there is so much account sharing (easily 90%+ of the teams) going on that "needed skills" is practically moot unless you're BNI or something

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  5. "internet spaceships is serious business"

    If it was easy anyone could do it.

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  6. Should implants be banned entirely from the tournament to help level the playing field a bit?

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    1. I would say, ships and characters should be provided by ccp to 'level the playfield' further. Implants are not major part of the funds you spend on tourney anymore. Especially with new jumpclone skills which help to save you 2 implant sets per weekend - you have to destroy implants only when you have multiple fights per day and only if you have to fly completely other ship class or have different tanking type.

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  7. I don't think eSports will ever be a big thing in EVE Online. In there is one big difference between EVE and the big eSport games (StarCraft2,CounterStrike,League of Legends):

    There is no way a new team with new players can ever get into the tournaments. An important factor of the big eSport games is the fact, that every team starts every match with the same initial conditions. In League you start on summoners rift with your champion, everybody has his set of runes/masteries you buy your items and you can't say who won until the Nexus falls. In Starcraft you start with your base and some workers. In CS everybody got the same guns. In EVE ? Not so much. You need ISK for ships,fittings and you need an account that can fly these ships (all lvl5 preferred).

    How long does it take for a new team of new players, who started EVE after B-R to get into the Alliance tournament? SC2 and LoL have instant action where everybody can train their stuff and have fun with others and if they want to, they can start ranked mode and aim for the top 10. When you try to train ~15 man fleet PvP, you train beeing hotdropped, but not for an Alliance Tournament.

    Training PvP without loosing ships is not what EVE stands for, but it prevents eSports to be a big part of EVE

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    Replies
    1. SCL + participation in mass tests on sisi solves these problems. SCL is also more suitable for beginners.

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  8. Not a huge point but you mention that in the finals THINGY brought good comps. That is outright wrong. They brought really bad comps. Basically the same thing twice and failed hard. Stealth Bombers. The only way Stealth Bombers do well in the tourney environment is the opposing side does not shoot at them. Putting so many pilots in such fragile ships was a huge mistake and it cost THINGY any chance they had of winning their matches.

    That said, I usually can call the winners simply by looking at comps at the beginning of a match. I think it was AT 10 where I picked the winner 16 time in a row based on comps alone. Evoke screwed my streak by ether not using their Tacking Disruption or putting all 7 of them on a Minnie AF. This tournament was the first where your other points mattered. I think they had a good point system for now. Overall there were not any standout comps and everything seemed to have a counter, multiple in fact.

    Ashina

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