This years EVE Fanfest in Iceland hosted the second EVE: Valkyrie tournament and the worlds second live streamed Virtual Reality Tournament. To enter each participant had to take parts in a single 5v5 matches on Friday, once a participant had completed a match their name would then be entered into a draw for the tournament itself. The more matches you played, the more times you had your name entered into the tournament. Indeed the record for most number of entries was a staggering nineteen!
The draw began at 10:30am on Saturday morning, the night after the pub crawl, many attendees were hung over, many had not slept, several more even failed to turn up in time. But for those who did make it, and despite fuzzy heads the tension was high. Each person wondering if their names would get drawn? Had they played enough times to tip the scales of chance in their favour? These hardcore pilots wanted to be in the tournament no matter what.
About an hour later, all the names has been drawn ? 80 people making up the 16 competing teams.
Each team was made up of a diverse mix of players. Not only were there a big selection of rookie players but there were also some strong experienced competitors amongst them. A good number of competitors from last years tournament had returned looking for an opportunity to take another shot at the big prize. But even more focus was on the winners of last years tournament as they have now had some 6 months of Alpha testing behind them and were considered the real heavyweights of the competition. With this each team had to quickly asses their own strengths and weaknesses before being thrown into the tournament matches. Each team theory crafted squad compositions and set ups, but with so many unknowns there were no easy answers, even the most experienced of players couldn't say with any certainty that any one strategy would work best.
[caption id="attachment_1895" align="aligncenter" width="960"] Photograph by Brynjar Snaer from the EVE: Valkyrie Facebook Page[/caption]
As the opening rounds of the tournament got under way any apprehension slowly melted away as people once again became lost in the raw, adrenaline pumping fun of competing against other players ? this time with a trip to Vegas on the line.
As the tournament progressed and the teams observed their opponents matches which played out on the massive screen within the Valkyrie hall, so each team began to develop and refine their strategies. In many of the matches to casual observers it appeared the teams were wary of engaging each other. But in reality they were probing for holes and weaknesses in their opponents formations while at the same time offering bait to pull them into traps. Both sides seeking that perfect moment to swoop in and claim those decisive kills while preventing their opponent from doing the same.
The opening rounds passed and the tournament entered the the quarter-finals for the winners. Many of the competitors were growing in confidence after realising that, despite any perceived advantage teams may have had from their more experienced players, no one team really outshone the other. Only two teams with the two pilots from the pre-alpha showing any real distinction above the others, but even then their teams weren't winning any truly convincing victories.
The quarters pass, and the final four teams made it through to the semi-finals.
EVE Fragfest (Greg, QuantumDelta, Rodsur, Flash, Jeral) vs Redshirts (SilverBullet, RZL, Agrakari, Jerek, Flea)
There was a lot of anticipation in the room, the action started with EVE Fragfest pushing up heavily, occupying the central area of the map. While the Redshirts hung back at their carrier.
Quantum Delta moved close to the formation of the Redshirts, ducks into them and engages. Redshirts respond in kind but it's a trap, a feint, The Redshirts had been baited into an engagement. Quantum Delta and Greg picked up the first kills, with Flash and Rodsur supporting and Jeral assisting on all the initial kills, breaking up the enemy formation.
Redshirts team seem a little stunned at this as they formed back up taking the brief opportunity to talk out tactics, 4 kills down with only 3 minutes remaining they had a mountain to climb.
Once the Redshirts had regained their composure they formed up and re-engaged, they score one kill back, but lost a few more in the process. They almost succeeded in picking up two more with Quantum Delta getting very close to going down if it wasn't for the support from Flash keeping him up. With no more time and only one final chance, Redshirts team went in again for one last try, the teams engage with a minute left but the gamble fails to pay off. Quantum Delta and Greg pick up another 2 kills for EVE Fragfest as Flash continued to provide nearly unbreakable support. The Redshirts were ultimately now too far behind to make up the gap.
On review the Redshirts relied too heavily on the Displacer ? a ship that has the lowest maximum potential, but is one of the most newbie friendly ships. It aims for you, but unless you coordinate your fire and keep at range, it's difficult to guarantee damage. An experienced pilot will know the Displacers biggest weakness is to get up close and personal where its guns have trouble hitting you. EVE Fragfest uses this to their advantage and as a result the Redshirts teams DPS was cut in half. Redshirts didn't adapt tactics accordingly, which brought an end to their tournament run.
It was then time for the penultimate match before the finals:
Invaders (Wan5, Tern, Canceller, Ladel, Fragsolo) vs Team Recovery (Loz_Kias, Xarti, Gosti, Jin'taan, Gulphares)
The start of this match both teams proceeded cautiously in comparison to the match between EVE Fragfest Vs Redshirts. Team Recovery themselves had good reason to be cautions as the Invaders has Wan5 among their number, the number one ranked pilot in the world. But while Wan5 had been guiding this team in the previous matches, Invaders decided to hand over the reigns to Ladel during the match. This would freeing Wan5 up to focus taking down opposing players.
A very slow 3 minutes passed as both teams skirted around each other waiting for the correct moment to strike. Jintaan and Wan5 go in to engage and quickly begin trading ships. Even so while the majority of Team Recovery were focused on taking down Wan5 but they fail to do so. All the while Wan5 kept picking up kills and assists.
The Invaders regrouped regrouped and switched tactics and despite coming under a lot of pressure from Team Recovery they stubbornly refused to lose any ships, picking up kills slowly as they go, but more than anything ? staying alive, losing only 1 more ship in the entire engagement, they finish off Jin'taans teams with a dominant showing. The final score: 10-3.
[caption id="attachment_1898" align="aligncenter" width="983"] The EVE Fanfest 2016 Valkyrie Tournament Results[/caption]
Invaders (Wan5, Tern, Canceller, Ladel, Fragsolo) Vs EVE Fragfest (Greg, QuantumDelta, Rodsur, Flash, Jeral)
The finals begin and 3 minutes pass EVE Fragfest team pushed up all the way to the Invaders carrier at which point Wan5 rushes out to meet them. Both teams tryed the tested the bait and switch tactic seen through the tourney, but neither fall for it, so Quantum Delta uses the opportunity to sweep around the asteroid on full burn and lines up, quickly taking down Wan5 but at the same time leaving himself open to the rest of the Invaders team and quickly meeting the same fate. Spurred on by the kill, The Invaders start piling on the pressure while keeping it together, staying grouped and focused, using the advantage they gained from camping at their carrier very effectively and slowly but surely the Invaders managed to start pulling the advantage ahead of EVE Fragfest securing a well deserved victory.
Just underlining how important teamwork is, and how open the tournament can be, the two stronger players of each team (Quantum Delta and Wan5) were made almost ineffective by other team members to the point where on most occasions all they could do was to try their best to avoid being picked off. But non more excelled themselves more on the Invaders team captain Ladel and their excellent support pilot Canceler, keeping the team coordinated and kept kills coming in. While on the opposite on EVE Fragfest the support pilots of Rodsur and Flash did outstanding work throughout the tournament. The tournament was incredible from start to finish, so many pilots and teams with potential, so many rivalries and camaraderies all boiled down to nothing more than the team with the most skill and better teamwork.
[caption id="attachment_1900" align="aligncenter" width="960"] Photography by Owen Fiene from the EVE: Valkyrie Facebook Page[/caption]
Team Invaders, made up of team members Wan5, Tern, Canceller, Ladel, Fragsolo, will be flown out to EVE: Vegas on October 28 to defend their title of EVE Valkyrie World Champions - will you be on the team that takes it from them?
You can watch the full finals below.