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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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

AT11 Commentator Review

I have several AT11 wrap-up posts that I want to write (matter of fact, there will be two today), but I want to start with an easy one: what I thought of the commentators.

Let's start with overall.  Overall, I thought this was the best team of commentators CCP has ever put up for one of these.  Nobody was particularly obnoxious, embarrassing, or unwatchable.  Everyone involved put on a great show, did their homework, and worked well together as a group.  Looking at the team as an overall group, the only glaring omission was a lack of diversity.  Every previous year that I've watched has at least one female even if she was in an "interviewer" role.  This year there were no ladies and no people of color present.  So that's something for CCP to work on for next year.

I've already noted that CCP was trying to make the commentary team look a little more formal with button-down shirts and blazers.  Call me undecided on this change.  CCP is kind of informal anyway and the Alliance Tournament certainly is (except traditionally on final's weekend) so I'm not sure if this succeeded or not.  We'll see if this continues into the NEO later this year.

Individually (CCP employees in experience order, players in alphabetical order)...

CCP Soundwave.  Panel: 10/10.
He continues to be the gold standard for keeping panel discussions light, fun, and interesting.  Amusingly, he looked kinda scruffy this year compared to the rest of the panel.  That would have fit in fine with previous years but in a year when CCP was trying to formal up the gig a little bit he looked a tiny bit out of place sometimes.  But he paired up well with everyone involved, kept discussion moving, kept things on track and on schedule.  He's going to be sorely missed and will be hard to replace.  That kind of job is a lot harder than he makes it look.  You need an affable but strong and unifying presence on the right side of the screen and I personally can only think of one other CCP employee who could maybe pull it off next year, CCP Guard.(1)

CCP Fozzie.  Panel: 9/10.  Match: 9.5/10.
He was the strongest overall member of the commentary team which makes perfect sense given all the experience he has at it.  He's slightly stronger in the commentary booth where he can wield his encyclopedic knowledge of the game and his ability to explain complex concepts in simple terms to even the newest EVE player.  In the panel discussions, he had a tendency to get a little overwhelmed sometimes by the others which was a shame because there were lots of times I wanted to get his take on some subject and he was drowned out by the others.  Fozzie's greatest strength is that he could pair up with just about anyone in the booth and make it work... with one rather glaring exception (which I'll get to).

CCP Dolan.  Panel: 8.5/10.  Match: 7.5/10.
As I keep saying, Dolan continues to improve every time he appears.  This time, he was particularly strong in the panel format where he has a nice mix of humor and knowledge.  He rigorously did his homework before each day's matches and has combined this with a reasonably large and growing stock of experience on EVE ships and tactics.  He's still a little weak in hands-on tournament experience and this prevents him from being a true expert.  I recommend he sneak onto someone's SCL team to pick up more tournament flying experience.  I took off one point from his match score for his continued inability to contain and channel his emotions during a close match.  This is definitely something he needs to work on before his next tournament.

CCP Rise.  Panel: 6.5/10.  Match 8.5/10.
Rise's strength is definitely in the booth where his piloting knowledge is self-evident.  Everywhere else?  Someone give this poor man a cookie or a teddy bear or something!  He just looked so gosh-darned depressed and distracted through a lot of the proceedings on the panel.  Maybe some of this was nerves?  While "Kil2" has been a tourney commentator before and has done a fine job, this was the first year for "Rise."  But a lot of it was probably just the grind of match after match after match.  By the last day, Soundwave looked a little tired and so did Rise.  I know Rise can do better than this and he perked up whenever he was in the booth commenting on something specific.

Apathetic Brent.  Panel: 7/10.  Match 8.5/10.
Like Rise, Brent's strength was definitely in the booth where his experience in tournament piloting was definitely shown off to good effect.  He noted important things happening on the field right away and did a great job first of making players aware of them and then making it clear why those things were important.  He was in his element, comfortable, and enthusiastic without being over-excited the way Dolan and Shadoo sometimes were.  But on the panel, he sometimes looked a little bit uncomfortable.  A lot of this was clearly nervousness but some of it was just him trying too hard to come off as likeable and engaging.  Best advice for Brent: relax and let it come naturally.  Overall, he did a good job.

Bacchanalian.  Panel: 8/10.  Match 9.5/10.
He's a natural at this!  A lot of this was experience commentating on SCL matches over the last year, but Bacch did a fantastic job both in the panel and in the booth, particularly the latter where he was (IMO) the best match commentator of AT11.  But he was also quite good on the panel, smooth, professional, knowledgeable, and still having some fun.  He was clearly nervous the first day (day three of the tourney) but by day four he had settled into a groove and he only got stronger as AT11 went on.  After Fozzie, he was the second-best overall commentator of AT11.  He should be an easy pick for player commentator for next year if he wants to return.

Shadoo.  Panel: 9/10.  Match 6/10.
Shadoo describes himself as more of a color commentator rather than an expert, which I don't think is quite fair.  He's really really good in the panel discussions where he has a broad knowledge of EVE's alliances, overall tactics, and background information.  And when he gets animated in a panel discussion, he's a hoot to watch and listen to.  Those famous eyebrows of his practically become a second commentator in their own right.  In the booth, though, he's not nearly as good.  Worst booth pairing of AT11?  Shadoo and Fozzie.  Fozzie wouldn't interrupt a monologuing psychotic and Shadoo would interrupt his own priest.  So in combination they were almost painful to watch.(2)  Still, Shadoo wasn't bad, just a little obvious and repetitive sometimes (I'm not sure I can handle hearing that someone is losing huuuuge chunks of armor again for a while...).

So all in all, a really great commentary team!  Unlike previous tournaments, there was nobody bad and everyone had strong moments.  The commentary team next year has some big big shoes to fill.  Excellent work, everyone!

(1) CCP Dolan isn't strong enough, CCP Falcon isn't affable enough, CCP Fozzie is too polite.
(2) Knowing the outcome in advance, re-watch the final PL/Hydra match if you don't believe me.


  1. confirmed: jester hates emotion

  2. Huuuuge chunks of armor, you say?


  3. Hes taking MASSIVE Damage!

  4. Wasn't Rise out sick a day or two before the final weekend and had stayed up late ish for the interview on Eve Radio the night before? He just looked tired to me.

    1. I listened to the Eve Radio interview. Rise got food poisoning.

  5. "He's [Dolan's] still a little weak in hands-on tournament experience and this prevents him from being a true expert."

    Um... how about just saying "no hands-on tournament experience whatsoever", as well as "very little actual PVP experience"?

    Dolan has always been a spectator, not a player. He can talk about game play & mechanics, but he can't actually manage to coordinate them when playing - he is simply bad at the game. And, he is absolutely useless in any fleet, since he is always too busy talking and screwing around, rather than listening to the FC. So, while watching him flounder in the SCL would be amusing, it would not gain him much useful experience - like a blind man with no arms and no legs playing in a tennis tournament, for the "experience".

    But, you seem to prefer people who yak and ramble off-topic, but have little, if any, actual ability or experience. I'm rather thankful that CCP did *not* allow Dolan to comment *all* of the matches - I did not need to mute audio for the entire tournament.

    Going forward, I'd much rather continue to see folks like Brent and Bacch, and even Rise/Kil2, as expert commentators. At least, they have flown the ships - almost every time Dolan opens his mouth, he makes it perfectly clear that he's never actually flown most of these ships, nor used most of the weapons/modules in PVP combat.

    Soundwave gets a +1, too, because, although his own hands-on experience is now somewhat lacking, he keeps the panel commentary moving along and on track, and has no problem with smacking down on Dolan, when necessary.

  6. In my oppinion, every commentator lost a point during the moments when a unique was about to die, I would very much prefer a calm and collected commentary instead of pleadings torwards the vessel in question to lose the last sliver of hull hp.

    Other than that, the commentators were absolutely awesome, Fozzie/Bacch was probably the best pairing I have witnessed so far.

  7. Get rid of Shadoo in the booth. He was awful. You're being entirely too generous to him. I was generally pleased with most everyone else they put in the booth.

    The whole panel format is just dumb to me. They seem to be trying to project an image "like ESPN", but I hate that format on ESPN with professionals doing it. With amateurs attempting it, it's downright unwatchable. Don't get me wrong, the knowledge in it is great. It's just really dull, forced, and stretches out for entirely too long. They should rethink what they're doing between matches, dump Dolan and Shadoo out of the booth, but keep the other in-game commentaries.

    And I agree: Fozzie was spectacular in the booth. Even as a somewhat newer player watching his first AT, I found Fozzie's commentary about what was happening added to the match without being obnoxious or distracting. More like him please! I'd almost rather they just not bother with camera work at all though. Let me focus on the action on the screen. Treat commentators almost like its radio. They're better heard and not seen.

  8. CCP Rise/Kil2 has always been the Debbie Downer of the Alliance Tournament. Nothing new there...

  9. "This year there were no ladies and no people of color present. So that's something for CCP to work on for next year."

    I wouldn't say that's something they need to "work on"... You field the team you think is going to do the best job. That should be regardless of colour or sex. If you're picking someone because they're female, Asian, black, or whatever, then you're effectively being sexist/racist. You're singling them out over something they can't control, and purely for the fact that they have one or more of these features (black/female/etc) which has zero impact on their ability to perform well in their chosen field (commentating space battles).

    I don't really agree with that...

    Rest of the post is great though. CSM obviously isn't slowing you down Teg. Keep at it lad!

    1. People buy products from people who look like them. That isn't supposition, that's business fact hard-learned after a couple of decades. Diversity isn't something that makes a business feel good, it's a business advantage.

    2. I would say they should only add a person like that female, black or other; if said person applies and can do a good job. I'm sure there are people out there who could do the job but they also have to want to be there. I actually liked it better without a female distraction from years past. In previous years except for female devs on the panel talking about a game feature, I thought it was actually more sexist to have the females in the naive interviewer role.

      This felt more like Rambo, where its was all about the action without the romance thrown on the side just to appeal to a wider audience.

      Is the Alliance tournement something they are putting on mostly for current players, or something that is to bring new types of people into the game?

    3. So you think of AT as a sales pitch? Hmm. Maybe they should get CCP Mintchip to do it.

      Even granting your suggestion that the point of AT is to woo customers, it seems to me that there is a strong argument that you should trawl for customers among those that actually like your game. If your existing customer demographic is 96% male and 95% white, that may because you are sexist and racist and evil. Or, it may be because your game appeals strongly to men and not to women, and similarly it appeals to whites and not blacks. (I believe the latter explanation is correct.) Given that almost all white men (or even all white male gamers) do not play Eve, I would contend that the place to look for new customers is there. And certainly keeping existing customers ought be a concern for the profit-maximizing AT; and here, even more so, appealing to white male gamers is going to be the profit-maximizing move.

  10. I keep remembering CCP Soundwave's USB hub Rifter deal - If you buy 1 you get one BUT if you buy 2 you get two. I lolled. His delivery was everything.

  11. Wow, overall positive but harsh! I agree with the lack of diversity, but I thought every commentator was quite good and had few real complaints about any of them. Fozzie/Shadoo, IMO, was better than you give them credit for, and really channeled a lot of excitement in the final match that the other commentators wouldn't have had.

    My only complaint was that KIL2/Rise was outright mean at times, both to teams and corps/alliances (e.g. RVB). Also, what's up with him saying he used to play eve? Come to think of it, before he got hired, he was on a long break from eve, so maybe he never actually returned to the gamn.


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