More eliminations preceeded the first set of best-of-3 matches, bringing with them more intriguing matches and interesting fleet setups. 8 places await on the final weekend of the Alliance Tournament, with all of these top-16 teams hoping to be there.
Moving is generally considered a good move in the world of battling Internet Spaceships. Dream Fleet seemed to throw that idea out of the window in their match against Paisti Syndicate, with neither of their Rapid Heavy Barghests moving a single metre until the last 2 and a half minutes of the match. Dream Fleet lost 2 bombers within 30 seconds, but there still seemed to be no fire from either of the faction battleships. With just a Vigil and Svipul down for Paisti, the Barghests finally opened first with less than 4 minutes to go. Dream Fleet managed to snag 5 kills into total, but the bizarre Barghest behaviour secured a win for Paisti.
Last Minute Win
Phoebe Freeport Republic have had a great run in this AT, but now faced a match against The R0NIN - who had only lost a single match to the might of The Tuskers. Despite the high provenance of their opponents, it was PFR who took first blood with the rapid destruction of a Kitsune. While R0NIN seemed focused on killing a Barghest and Hound, PFR worked their way through the rest of the lower-point ships. A burst of high damage dropped PFR's Scimitar from almost full shields to about a quarter structure in the blink of an eye, giving R0NIN a sudden 2-point lead. The ship trade began in earnest; R0NIN finally broke the first Barghest, then PFR retaliated by taking out a Guardian. R0NIN snagged the second Barghest and looked to be back on top, but PFR had been slowly working on one of the Fleet Typhoons- without any logi support, PFR secured the win with less than a minute on the clock.
Return of the Battle Badger
Villore Accords are known to be fond of their Machariels and Moas - but Badgers? In a move straight out of left field, Villore fielded a support Badger along with their Moas and a Bifrost as they faced Paisti Syndicate's more conventional setup. There were some interesting plays to go along with the unique choice of fleet comp, as Villore sent both of their Barghests into close quarters against Paisti's Navy Scorpion. Two dead Barghests later and Villore were left at the mercy of an almost untouched Paisti fleet, falling one by one with only their Scimitar surviving to time.
If It Ain't Broke
Reacting to a fight and choosing targeted bans can be a good line to take. After suffering their first defeat of the tournament in the first best-of-3 match against Pandemic Legion, We Form V0lta wisely banned out the Sleipnir. Undaunted, PL arrived in the arena for the second match with the same setup as before - just with the other Minmatar command ship. V0lta mixed up almost all of their own fleet composition - keeping just 2 Purifiers from their original lineup - but it just wasn't enough to counter the target calling and focus of the PL team. With their Augoror logi struggling to keep up and their Hyenas taken out early, V0lta didn't have the firepower to break the Claymores or Navy Scorpion of PL- and with V0lta defeated, Pandemic Legion are now guaranteed a top-3 place as we go into the final weekend.
Red & Gold vs AT X Bling
Marauders had seen fairly limited field time in this AT so far, but The Afterlife were about to change that as they brought a pair of Paladins to not one, but all three of their best-of-3 rounds against The Tuskers. With high damage output from Scorch crystals, it seemed to be a bit of an unexpected curveball to the Tuskers team - and especially to the Etana that Tuskers brought out to play. In a similar line of thinking to PL, The Afterlife threw the exact same fleet setup back out into the field for round 2 as Tuskers honoured their previous ban choices of the Guardian and Oneiros.
But this time, Tuskers were ready. Showing no mercy, Tuskers went straight for Afterlife's Augoror, followed quickly by the Magus and Pontifex. The focus and high alpha made short work of Afterlife's support ships, leaving just the slow-moving marauders and Bhaalgorn at the mercy of Rapid Light Cerberii, Orthruses, and Jackdaws. Afterlife's flagship Bhaalgorn was the last ship standing; with a full neut/smartbomb fit and no real damage output to speak of, it was all pilot Faffywaffy could do to burn towards a Micro Jump Unit and try to save the ship from death. He bought himself enough time to get to another MJU and align, but the Bhaalgorn's structure failed a fraction before the jump fired.
Tuskers seemed to be giving their opponents a fighting chance as the third and deciding match drew closer, swapping their logistics bans for Bhaalgorn and Curse. Both teams added an Oneiros to their setup - but Afterlife seemed commited to their Paladins and brought them back for one final round. Despite taking Tuskers' Barghest into low armour early on, it was Afterlife's Oneiros that fell first. The element of surprise was well and truly lost as The Tuskers fell back into their regular pattern of smart target calls and great coordination, conceding only their Oneiros and a Fleet Typhoon as they wiped out the Afterlife with 5 minutes to spare and setting up a strong 3-round match against Pandemic Legion on the final weekend of AT XIV.
We finally had to say farewell to Fraternity, A Band Apart, Mercenary Coalition, 404 Alliance Not Found, and Vydra Relolded as this second weekend wound up, all of whom will be invited back next year to fight again. The schedule for the finals weekend is shaping up with more titanic clashes; the victor of Exodus versus PFR will take on V0lta in the Elimination bracket, while either NC. or Paisti Syndicate will go up against The Afterlife.
Trivia - 7 Etanas have been confirmed killed since their arrival as an AT X prize ship. All of them have met their doom in Alliance Tournament matches, with Pandemic Legion and Hydra Reloaded losing 2 each.