For the first time, I'm getting a glimpse of all the back-channel meta-game dealings that go on behind tournament matches. And they're... ummm... impressive. The top tier tournament teams have opponents they'd rather face in later matches and are working to do what they can to assist the efforts of people fighting those opponents. And that's doubly true this year since one of these top tier teams can knock out a DarkSide or a HUN Reloaded or a Verge of Collapse in one fight instead of three. So better to see tough teams knocked out early, if you can manage it.
So tomorrow, it's possible we'll see close matches... but it's just as possible we'll see surprising white-washes because one team told a second team what a third team was bringing.
The story for Rote Kapelle? We have a very tough day. It's almost impossibly tough as the schedule is right now. First, to make it to Sunday, we have to fight three matches tomorrow. Our first match is at 1630 EVE, which isn't too bad. But right now, if we win that match, our second is at 1930 EVE and our third (if we win the second) is at 2000... 30 minutes after the second match.
Put another way, bans for each match have to be in 45 minutes before each match which means that theoretically we'd have to put in bans for the third match before we even fight the second match! I'm kidding, of course: we'd have to turn in our bans instantly after completing our second match and then we'd have a whole 10-12 minutes to decide on and get into a comp (with all implants plugged in and ready to go) before we're teleported to our third match. It's crazy! Needless to say, I started begging CCP Veritas last Sunday to rearrange the schedule some for tomorrow because this situation comes up repeatedly for a number of teams tomorrow, including all four of the current top teams. No word yet on whether this will happen.
The advantages that Rote bring to the table start with our captain, Bob Shaftoes, who is very experienced at running lots of matches per day. This is quite typical of the Syndicate Competitive League. We also have lots of really experienced high SP pilots. Our disadvantages are that we're desperately poor and we have a limited number of pilots in our alliance, which means we have a limited amount of time to practice and limited logistics. As I said, we're hoping that the professionals will help us along here and there by tripping at the finish line...
Anyway, we're now down to 16 teams: four teams (ExodusDOT, THE R0NIN, HYDRA RELOADED, and Pandemic Legion) in the winner's bracket and 12 teams (including Rote) in the loser's bracket. We lose eight teams in the first eight matches; all of them are loser's bracket matches and right now we only know who's fighting in four of those.
- Match 109: SCUM v. CVA. In my view, SCUM is the weaker team. They've had the easier schedule and they've struggled with it. CVA has had a much tougher schedule and have acquitted themselves well. So I expect CVA to take this one pretty handily. That said, SCUM wins the Endurance Medal for this AT: they've been in the loser's bracket since the very beginning.
- Match 110: YOUR VOTES DON'T COUNT v. Verge of Collapse. This is potentially going to be the first close match of the day. But I have a lot of respect for Verge of Collapse and I think they're going to take it.
- Match 111: HUN Reloaded v. Agony Empire. If the previous match isn't the closest of the first four, this one will be. I personally think HUN is going to take this. But there's a very real possibility that we'll see either razzle-dazzle or mirrored tinker in this match, which would throw this to a coin flip.
- Match 112: Darkness of Despair v. Ministry of Inappropriate Footwork. Inappropriate Footwork has done really well considering their bracket, beating both G0dfathers and Kill It With Fire, losing only to HYDRA. I think they'll beat Darkness in a fairly close match.
- Match 113: (CVA) v. DarkSide. DarkSide will crush whomever gets this far.
- Match 114: (Verge of Collapse) v. The Initiative. Pick 'em. This one's going to be really close and will come down to the meta-game. If I were a betting individual, I'd bet Verge.
- Match 115: (HUN Reloaded) v. Rote Kapelle. Obviously, we're going to win this one, thus punching both last year's #1 and #2 teams in the nose. Because that's what Rote does.
- Match 116: (Ministry of Inappropriate Footwork) v. Late Night Alliance. I think Inappropriate Footwork will sneak past yet another opponent here.
- Match 117: THE R0NIN v. Exodus. This one is the first "best of three" and should be a set of really really good matches. That said, I think Exodus is going to take this one in a set of squeakers.
- Match 118: HYDRA RELOADED v. Pandemic Legion. As I write this, there is 83 billion ISK bet on the first fight of this match! Right now, the odds favor HYDRA and so do I. PL is really going to have to bring out their A-game to push HYDRA into the loser's bracket and I frankly don't think they're going to do it.
- Match 119: (DarkSide) v. (Verge of Collapse). Oh dear Heaven do I hope this match happens. That would be fun to watch. Both of these teams scare me, but DarkSide scares me just a little bit more.
- Match 120: (Rote Kapelle) v. (Ministry of Inappropriate Footwork). Whether we win or HUN/Agony wins, I expect whomever faces Inappropriate Footwork here will finally put an end to AT11's best alliance name. If it's not us, it'll be HUN here.
- Match 121: (DarkSide) v. (THE R0NIN). This has the potential to be another fantastic match. If it goes down this way, it'll be another squeaker which I think DarkSide will take.
- Match 122: (Rote Kapelle) v. (Pandemic Legion). If this one goes down this way, this is a rematch of last year's most exciting match. PL will pull out allllll the stops to try to beat us. If it's not us at this point, it's HUN Reloaded here, which is a rematch of last year's second best match. Same difference: PL will be out for revenge-flavored blood.
- HYDRA RELOADED (undefeated);
- Exodus (undefeaated);
- DarkSide (elimination);
- either Rote Kapelle or HUN Reloaded (elimination).
(1) Except the ones we're fighting, of course...