In the first day of an EVE_NT Collides finals weekend, Warlords of the Deep faced off against Hard Knocks in a battle for third place. With a number of pilots fresh from their battles in the Amarr Championship, would the Hard Knocks team be able to fend off against the Warlords? Or would the Warlords bring their long-standing strong form and tear apart Hard Knocks?
Both Hard Knocks and Warlords fielded a familiar setup for the first round - command ship, double tech 3 destroyer, tech 2 logi and a fast-and-toothy ship. With Hard Knocks going armour against the shield comp of Warlords. the match opened with tactical positioning and both teams testing the logi pilots by switching targets. First blood came to Hard Knocks, dropping a Warlords Svipul thanks to ECM drones successfully jamming out their Scimitar logi. The lack of reps allowed the Hard Knocks team to make short work of the Stiletto and second Svipul of the shield team, while a boundary violation by the drone-plagued Scimitar and the slow death of the Warlords Sleipnir drew the match to a complete victory for Hard Knocks.
Shield comps for both sides in round 2, with Warlords choosing two heavy-hitting Barghests over the Minmatar rush setup from Hard Knocks. With a Bantam and a Raptor dropping in rapid succession, Hard Knocks were once again dominating 5v3 while their own Scimitar remained stable at low armour as the faster Svipuls and Garmur picked off the remaining Bantam before working down the two Barghests. A second clean sweep for Hard Knocks, seemingly a force to be reckoned in this 3rd/4th playoff.
Switching back to an armour comp for round 3, Warlords returned in their Barghest/Bantam setup to see if they could fare better against the repping power of the Hard Knocks Guardian. A great rush effort from the Warlords Raptor and Bantams got great early tackle and damage onto the Guardian, quickly dropping it to low armour while the Hard Knocks team struggled to react and reposition to defend their logi. In a complete reversal from the first two matches, Warlords dominated the match with the huge damage output from the two battleships combined with the coordinated targeting from the smaller ships. A match down but definitely not out, Warlords pulled out their own flawless victory to lead us in to match 4.
Hard Knocks entered round 4 with a Rapid Light Missile comp of Cerberus and Navy Caracal, shredding through one of the Warlords Maledictions and causing the Warlords Vigil to boundary violate in an attempt to break away. With no logistics on the Warlords team, it would be down to the pair of Scorpion Navy Issues to work their way through their faster opponents- and work through them, they did. First order of business was to take down the Hard Knocks Scythe, quickly swinging things back in Warlords' favour as the combined firepower of two target painters and firepower from the Scorpions slowly chewed through the rest of the Caldari ships. A fifth match would be needed to decide who would be taking the 3rd place title.
The final match promised to be an armour brawl, with both teams bringing speed, control and logistics. Warlords' Daredevil made a valiant attempt to rush in and disrupt the repping power of the Hard Knocks Guardian, getting him well into armour before his team caught up and took him down. With the Hard Knocks logi dropping shortly afterwards, they managed to trade for a Confessor by bringing back the ECM drones on the Warlords Oneiros. The one-for-one trades continued as the Brutix of Hard Knocks exploded shortly before the Warlords' second Confessor, but the Oneiros powered his way through all incoming damage and forced a stalemate. Everything would come down to points - despite only having two ships left, the Damnation and Oneiros of Warlords were higher in points value than the twenty points that two frigates and a Typhoon left on grid for Hard Knocks. It seemed like Hard Knocks had to knuckle down and focus fire in order to pull back a win, but their Amarr Championship experiences actually backfired a little as the team failed to realise the points were not in their favour until it was too late. The final match and third place victory went to Warlords of the Deep with three wins to two.
Congratulations to Warlords of the Deep, picking up IGC Victory skins for the Typhoon and giving the finals weekend of the inaugural EVE_NT Collides series a great start.