So, I surprised myself by actually being able to watch the matches today. That's not what I expected at all, so that was a pleasant surprise. So I watched all the matches today. And at first, I didn't think I was going to have a lot to write about for today. Then I really read through my notes and realized there was actually a lot going on.
First, the good. CCP Dolan settled back down this week, visibly reining himself in at several points. CCP Soundwave was right there ready to pounce on him if he said something outrageous. But Dolan resisted and didn't rise to the bait. He was not only more careful about not launching into too many irrelevancies, he was also more careful about his facts. All in all, much improved. Thumbs up! Soundwave and CCP Fozzie were also fine.
The background image on the green screen was better, as was green screening in general. No shadows and no ghost images today, which was nice. However, I still recommend either taking a rotary sander to the table top or painting it with some kind of matte color. We're still seeing a lot of weird reflections off the current table surface. I was also very pleased to see that CCP has dropped their attempts at the illusion of separate studios for in-match commentary versus between-match commentary. The sound guy was also generally better, with fewer thumps and bumps as headphones were taken on and off.
So all in all, the technical aspects of the tournament improved all around! I also like the new display with the pilot name, ship type, and distance from beacon. Thumbs up for that as well.
The not so good: viewership peaked today at about 3300 people, so viewership continues to be down week by week. Hopefully, the big portion of that was the U.S. Thanksgiving Day weekend. We'll see next weekend.
The matches themselves were... OK. As a matter of fact, I was kind of surprised how little drama there was surrounding most of the matches. And this was a day where there were a variety of prior Alliance Tournament ships in matches. From memory, there were a Cambion, two Vangels, and a Malice fielded by various teams today. But the only one that made a big impression was the Cambion. Dear Heaven does that thing shred frigates! The Cambion did its job, but if memory serves the team it was on lost its match.
So that was kind of the problem today: most of the matches just weren't all that memorable. One reason for that was there was a near total lack of rock-paper-scissors matches today. But even without that, a lot of the matches today were lost due to pilot error of one type or another, rather than being outright won by the winners because of good flying or good strategy. I think the most exciting match today was the Much Crying Old Experts last match which featured three Bhaalgorns and five Enyos split between the two teams. Despite being outnumbered in both Bhaalgorns and Enyos, the MCOE pilots won the match through good tactics and good flying. It was quite a tactical match... if you understand the game well. If you didn't, it was probably not all that interesting.
It didn't help that there was almost no time given to wrap up or talk about the matches before flowing into the next match, particularly late in the day. I know this is by design for the New Eden Open: CCP wants there to be a lot of exciting fights throughout the day and not as much chit-chat. But some chit-chat is needed to put the matches into context and allow players -- particularly new players -- to understand what they're seeing. Hell, at a couple of points today, the devs running the matches rushed slow matches along or threatened to end matches early when nothing was happening. Quite a change from past Alliance Tournaments! The ATs are positively leisurely by comparison.
My favorite comp today was one of the Something Else comps. Listed with point values for each ship: 2xKronos/17, 3xKitsune/5, Oneiros/13, 2xEnyo/4. I think that was a nice use of the definitive Kronos comps that littered the matches today. But it was such a nice mix of fast tackle, Kronos DPS, and the ability to jam out enemy Kronoses, which is exactly what the comp was used for. ;-)
Funniest moment today was again in the second Much Crying Old Experts match. During a preliminary match in AT10 versus Nulli Secunda, the Failheap Challenge team got torn up pretty hard by a three Broadsword team. So during their match against the Nulli-sponsored team today, the MCOE team (made up partially of FHC pilots) banned... the Broadsword. It was an in joke.
But it was a funny in joke. ;-) On to day four!