2 January 2006

Caldari State Alliance PvP Chamionship!

On the evening of 22nd December 2005 I noticed a post in the BoB forum regarding a thread on the Eve-O forums regarding an alliance PvP championship. Naturally this caught my eye and I followed the link for a quick read before toggling back to our forum to read everyone's comments so far.

The key early discussions were twofold and probably best summarised by the following quotes..

"how we gonna choose?

Molle, Gal & BL ?"
as we wondered who would be in the team and ..

"I've been trying to imagine all possible situations."
..as we tried to wrestle with possible tactics.

The team had to be submitted by 12:00 on the 26th, Boxing Day no less, so we only had 4 days to sort out a team and do that over the holiday period with half the guys away from Eve doing family stuff at least intermitantly if not constantly.

Job one was to sort out our tactics, then fit pilots to ships to tactics in order to select the team. We settled on our tactics very quickly thanks to our tactical mastermind TWD (a few of us would have got to the same answer he did 'eventually' honest!). Our tactics are on record in plenty of public places now so no harm in discussing some of them here, which I will in more detail below, but suffice to say for now that we pretty quickly arrived at the CNR, Eagle and Taranis combo.

Reading the thread back, the discussion amongst BoB leadership appears to be quite brief from initial post to deciding the team etc.. I guess that reflects how much direct communication we have with each other in game, on irc and on teamspeak that so much of this was sorted through sidebar discussions over the 2-3 days with little use of the forum.

I was actually out of touch over christmas other than very brief forum access and then due to a problem posting I couldn't actually confirm I would be flying in the tournament until quite late, so our team was actually agreed as TWD, Alasse, DBP and myself as reserve (with SirMolle spectator, of course!).

It's an interesting insight into how we work that when we all finally got onto irc together, I confirmed I could make all the matches and so a quick discussion started as to whether dbp or I should be the battleship pilot (we'd already picked the CNR, hence all the Caldari lovers in the team) . The interesting point was the fact that no-one was at all precious about being in the team, all we all wanted was a good showing (WIN!) from BoB and personal considerations were way way down the list. So a conversation along the lines of "you fly it mate", "no you fly it", "well I think you should fly because...", "ah but you can ....", "yeah maybe but I really don't care so long as we put the right team out.." ensued! In the end I don't think it would have made a great deal of difference who piloted the BS the deciding factor was simply that one of us had cybernetics lvl 5 and (at the time) the other didn't. It's just a micro-example of why there's never any difficulties between the BoB corps, we're all focused on one objective - winning Eve as a team.

Our corp/alliance channels and forums were buzzing with talk about the championship, who we'd have to face, tactics, ships, team etc. We made the decision to keep the team a secret outside of the CEO's, Directors and actual team simply to give us at least one round where our opponents would really not be sure of who they were facing and in what ships. So other than about 2% of BoB pilots no-one in the alliance had a clue who was representing BoB or in what ships until the first fight started.

The tournament schedule was finally published on 27th December, in this thread on the Eve-O forums. We drew Phoenix Alliance, our old enemy, in the first round and very quickly worked out that we may have to fight Mercenary Coalition (who were strongly fancied) quite early in the tournament in order to progress. Also on our side of the tournament and potential oponents that I certainly thought required some consideration were The Rock (Homo, Jim Raynor, Tyrrax etc.), Lotka Volterra (the Shinra guys) and our enemies down south Vertigo Coalition.

I actually bet on BoB, how shameful is that betting on yourself? I put 10m on BoB as a laugh with Omber Zombie, just so I could say I'd wagered something on the tournament. To be honest I actually favoured The Rock and [5] to meet in the final, I thought The Rock's experience, skills and resources would defeat everyone on our side of the draw and that [5] with Kayosoni's Rattlesnake would be pretty much unbeatable on their side of the tournament. I just didn't feel right betting on someone else though!

I was so incredibly excited about the tournament, probably exaggerated by the incredibly short timescales involved (8 days from announcement we were in the ring!), that I could think about very little else and spent a fair amount of time pratting about with CNR setups rather than working or doing the 100 other things in Eve I should have been!

On the evening of the first round I got out of work early and was a nervous wreck, seriously I know it's only a game but I was like shaking, so ploughed through a bottle of red wine by the time we had to fight just to calm my nerves! The first fight against PA was at 17:40 on the 28th of December, we had to be ready 30 mins before our fight so final rushing around for ammo etc was completed by about 5pm that day. It was only at about 5pm that the rest of my team finally told me about the chat channel for competitors that I was supposed to be in! Our communication is so very good, oh yes! Actually it was probably my nerves and attention span that caused me to miss that fact until almost the last minute!

The participants channel was a good laugh before, during and after fights every day of the championship. All the usual in game 'hate' was shelved or toned down into pretty good banter, the harshest of the banter being reserved for everyone's friends and allies rather than in game enemies. That for me was a very positive point of these championships, (almost) everyone participating did so in good humour, with respect for the other participants and kept the usual in game animosities sensibly in check.

I'll link to Galaxions excellent commentary of the event so you can get his reports on how the fights went, my memory of what actually went on in the fights is a bit blurred and unreliable. As I look back I can remember setting up for each fight then everything goes into fast forward as I remember the fight itself and slows down again afterwards! Conversely when it actually happened the lead up to the fight seemed to pass very quickly and in a confused nervous rush, whilst during the fight itself I could concentrate, see clearly, think things through with clarity and almost felt that we were in slow motion... then as soon as the fight had finished it seemed that it had passed in the blink of an eye. Amazing what adrenalin and memory can do!

Another great resource throughout the tournament was provided by Stratego of RKK, who took the CCP schedule and updated it himself after every fight to show the current status of the competition.


Round 1

I was a bag of nerves before round one, I think I must have checked my fitting, drone bay and cargohold/ammo about 40 times before we were transported to RU- where the tournament was being held. We grouped up and formed a gang before being transported to the arena. I don't remember who arrived first, us or the PA but pretty quickly we were faced off 50km appart and ready to rumble. Lemonde started proceedings and we got straight on with our gameplan. Our tactics, as stated, have been broadly published so there's no harm in saying we went into the first fight intending to take down the HAC first, then the support and then the battleship.

The fight passed very quickly with only one hiccups and (sorry PA) I have to say was a total walk over and a real confidence builder. The only problem we had was that killing the enemy Stilletto, which seemed curiously unwilling to get stuck in and kept clear of the fight until the end, which we didn't nab early as planned but took out last. The enemy dominix was hitting me for about 40 damage at one point, goodness knows what with, my T2 Cruise absolutely ripped into him though.

Galaxion's Ship Report & Commentary

Round 2

In the second round at 17:40 on the 29th December we faced the little known Nova Republic.

Another relatively early finish from work to get home in time for our second round fight and doubly excited because we potentially had two fights tonight, with the third round following on later in the evening.

Nova fielded an ordinary battleship, a Megathron, an Ishtar and a Wolf and the fact that it was only a normal battleship, I have to say, calmed my nerves down a lot. I was less nervous than the first night because I knew what to expect and we had at the very least not suffered the shame of going out to our old enemy PA in the first round. However, the desire to proceed further was also kicking in now and I decided I really wanted to get to the semi-final and that then I'd be happy.

We decided that Alasse and TWD would go after the AF first, I'd start on the HAC, they'd join me to finish the HAC off and then we'd go for the Megathron (which we knew I could tank for a month in the CNR if I had to).

Now's probably a good time to point out that when I say 'we decided' what I really mean is TWD told us this was how to play it! My ego reminds me that I came to some of the same conclusions as he did regarding how to approach a couple of the fights and my ego assures me that I would surely have reached the same conclusions as he did regarding all the other fights if I had just had a little more time! Of course thats bollocks and the absolute truth of the matter is that TWD is a genius at small gang tactics in Eve, which is what this scenario equated to, and the experience of 3 years of war in Eve leading such gangs inspired his tactical leadership of our team throughout the whole tournament. The man is an Eve god and should be respected as such. Back to the fight after that sychophantic ramble ;)

The Wolf popped very quickly to fire from TWD and Alasse but whilst they dealt with it I turned my CNR's firepower onto the HAC. Amusingly the poor Ishtar had died by the time Alasse and TWD killed the wolf, precision missiles are mucho fun against frigs and cruisers! We all jumped on the Megathron and he died in short order, our quickest fight in the tournament I think although rivaled by the PA fight, both of which were over in under two minutes.

Galaxion's Ship Report
Galaxion's Commentary

Round 3

In the third round at 22:00 on the 29th December we faced Aegis Militia a roleplay alliance that we had little experience or knowledge of.

I think I must have listened to the Eve-Radio commentary for every fight except our own at this point being absolutely enthralled by the proceedings, fascinated by the ships & setups used and incredibly curious about the tactics employed by each team, particularly those we would be facing. It seems half of Eve is equally enthralled with forum threads exploding with activity, irc channels positively buzzing, corp/alliance chat discussing little else other than the championships and Eve-Radio hitting record listener numbers.

You'd think that after two fights I'd have been fairly calm by the time the third came around and I probably would have been if it weren't for the fact that Aegis Militia, our next opponents, had knocked the Mercenary Coalition out of the tournament in the first round and the minmatar roleplayers Electus Matari in the second round. In both fights they had used a stock Tempest but with a tanking setup that looked absolutely indestructable! So my would have been calmness was instead replaced by concern that this Tempest would tank my damage, suck my cap dry and fubar my shield tank, thereby costing me my CNR and the team our chance at the title.

Imagine my 'relief' a.k.a horror to see that Aegis Militia had upped the ante and brought along a Machariel! So at this point I'm remembering that indestructible Tempest AM used in rounds one and two but with more hit points, more firepower and more speed... bugger! We have a gameplan and stick to it, going for the enemy HAC first, then their frigate. The Zealot dies fairly quickly and at that point the enemy Retribution has no future with an Eagle, Taranis and CNR all focusing fire on it. The AM Machariel warped right up to us and we had a very hairy moment when he had NOS'd Alasse's cap dry, if the Machariel had not switched it's attention to me at that time Alasse would probably have gone down. Alasse managed to get out of NOS range and clear whilst the Machariel and I pounded on each other and my cap gradually decreased as I was heavily NOS'd.

Although I had a cap booster on with charges left I actually decided to stop boosting my cap and let it sit at zero towards the end of the fight to nullify the Machariel's endless ability to tank. The fact that we had the Eagle and CNR's firepower on the Machariel started to break it's tank anyway and it soon went down whilst inflicting minimal shield damage to my CNR.

Galaxion's Ship Report
Galaxion's Commentary
Aegis Militia Video Of The Fight

Quarter Final

In the Quarter Final at 20:30 on the 30th December we fought Tribal Souls, an alliance we have very good relations with in the south of Eve.

I drove from the south of England up to my brother's place (DoctorGonzo) on friday to fight in the final rounds of the tournament up at his house, where I was staying for New Year anyway. I was actually not too nervous on the final day, although the road conditions were making me a little concerned that I might actually not get up north and logged on at my brother's in time for the first fight. I arrived with about an hour to spare and logged onto irc and into game to a flurry of "where the hell have you been slacker?" and "have you got everything you need?" type questions!

We were actually ready in plenty of time and I was really looking forward to the evening's fights. The quarter final against Tribal Souls meant I'd be fighting against some allies and against another Caldari Navy Raven team. Knowing the power of our Caldari Navy Raven I wasn't looking forward to facing another. However, we'd discussed our gameplan and decided by this time that we knew what the key to winning these fights was and guided by TWD as always we decided to concentrate on eliminating the HAC as quickly as possible to give us a firepower edge over the enemy battleship.

In order for our tactic to work we were reliant on keeping Alasse alive as long as possible and for the first time in this fight adapted our tactics to focus on that objective. I had been training throughout the day a skill I had missing so that we could use shield maintenance drones as well as a shield transfer array on Alasse's Eagle powered by my CNR.

When the fight kicked off we followed our plan targeting the Cerberus and the Hawk of Tribal souls first and second respectively. Our ship setups and ammunition choices proved decisive again with the HAC and AF of Tribal Souls both down to our concentrated fire within a minute. As we expected the CNR of Tribal target's Alasse's Eagle so after the CNR's first volley is in the air I deployed 5 medium shield maintenance drones onto Alasse along with a medium shield transfer array. Alasse managed to successfully tank the Tribal CNR for pretty much the entire fight in this manner. The CNR deployed some weaponry, possibly it's drones, to take TWD out and succeeded but finally buckled under our combined firepower.

I was elated after this fight because I knew we'd made the semifinals, which is what I really wanted to achieve. It was incredibly important to me, as I'm sure it was to the other guys in the team, to give a really good showing for BoB. Heaven knows we give it some on the forums sometimes and to get away with that you need to be able to prove it in game. I felt that getting tothe semi's was enough proof in this scenario that we were able to back up our words and reputation in game. Of course I was already thinking on to the final and were it not for our next opponents I would have been feeling a lot more confident at that point!

Galaxion's Pre-Fight Build Up
Galaxion's Ship Report
Galaxion's Commentary

Semi Final

In the Semi Final at 22:00 on the 30th December we faced The Rock, a team we were very familiar with and quite concerned about facing given that they included the very experienced pilots Homo Erectus, Jim Raynor and Tyrrax Thork and also given the fact that they were known to have a selection of faction battleships of considerable power to select amongst, so their tactics would be unpredictable and difficult to cope with.

Having said that The Rock were likely to be unpredictable we had amongst ourselves decided that in all likelihood they would deploy a Caldari Navy Raven (we knew they had access to one), we suspected there was also a possibility of a Rattlesnake (we didn't know if they had one but we knew how effective they are, suspected Jim could fly one and were therefore prepared for one to come out of the woodwork) and we believed that they would not risk the Imperial Apoc or Armageddon against us (a little bit of hubris on our part perhaps but we thought that anyone sensible would judge it unnecessarily risky to use one against us).

So our fears were confirmed when we were transported to the field of battle, The Rock had indeed switched Jim Raynor (who I was convinved had far better missile skills than me and possibly a full crystal set of implants, whereas I only had a set of low grade in!) into a Caldari Navy Raven. With Homo Erectus flying a Gaurdian Logistics Cruiser (oh fuck!) and Tyrrax in a Crusader.

I'm a little bit worried at this point that Alasse and I aren't going to be able to break the Logistics cruiser's tank (which was formidable) before Jim broke Alasse's tank that I was again supporting with drones and shield transfers. True to form the Logistics Cruiser is a swine to take down, luckily Alasse is holding just as well against The Rock's CNR. Both teams attempted to take out each other's maintenance drones which we succeeded more quickly than The Rock did.

After finally getting the right ammo type and all 7 launchers firing at the same time my volleys and Alasse's supporting fire break the tank of the Gaurdian and bring it down. TWD's Taranis pops as does Tyraxx's Crusader as Alasse and I switch our attention to Jim in the CNR, who I am convinced is far better equiped to fly it in terms of skills and implants than I am. I've lost all my maintenance drones at this point and we struggle to maintain Alasse's tank under Jim's concentrated fire. Alasse finally pops and we are left with CNR vs CNR. The irony of the situation is that the CNR I am flying I bought off Jim about 3-4 months previously! As Jim has already been heavily battered whilst taking out Alasse I win the dual of the Navy Raven's and have a chuckle about the irony of my ship's origins!

Galaxion's Ship Report
Galaxion's Commentary

A Note About Eve-Radio

There's a few things I want to say about Eve-Radio and any place in the second half of this tale would be an appropriate place to go through them so I'll do it now before I talk about the final!

Firstly I thought that the commentary was laughable and utter shite on the first night, better but distractingly amusing due to the DJ being pissed on Stella Artois on the second night and by the final night highly entertaining, very exciting and actually pretty damn good. By the time we got to the quarter and semi finals I had continued my unbroken run of listening to the commentary of every fight on Eve-Radio. The post fight analysis of Levin, Ifni and Urban Mongrel was fantastic as well, after every one of our fights I was waiting to hear what the guys would say about our performance.

Secondly I think that in terms of overall engagement, publicising, entertaining, backing and covering the whole event Eve-Radio were absolute stars. I have never known another event in Eve engender such a huge amount of interest and enthral so many people over a three day period. Eve-Radio's coverage was absolutely integral to making the whole experience so highly engaging, I think despite the crap job of the commentators at the start Eve-Radio deserve a gold star for this one!

The Final

The final of the Caldari State sponsored Alliance PvP Championship between BoB and Kaos Empire took place at 00:00 on 30th December 2005.

I have to say that I was getting exceedingly excited and quite hammered by this point! I never believed that we would make the finals, shame on me for not realising that my mates would cover my inadequacies and take us through to the final with their amazing knowledge, experience and coolness under fire. We spent a mad hour or two with all in game channels, eve-mail, irc and teamspeak going absolutely mental about us getting into the final whilst we tried to get ships replaced, ammo replaced and drones replaced. In between the semi-final and final I was getting chased around in a bestower picking up shield maintenance drones by a war target in a cruiser. Eventually my brother's wisdom overcame my half-cut excitement fueled idiocy and prompted some of the corp to help out clearing the way and fetching me the stuff I needed! Daft that I was far too wound up and excited to remember to ask for help when I needed it!

We were ready on time and moved to the Polaris system where the background scene of the cosmos had been changed to a firey hell-like panorama of red and orange nebulai - quite the backdrop to what was to follow!

We knew with Kaos Empire that we would most likely be facing the Gallente Navy Megathron which had killed 2 Caldari Navy Ravens in earlier rounds on it's progression to the final. The other two Kaos pilots would be flying a Deimos and an Ishkur, very Gallente! I can't say I was overly confident facing a team who had killed two CNR's already and was about ready to read mine it's last rites! However, we also knew we had a solid gameplan with some surprise elements.

Our strategy throughout the whole tournament was to take out the enemy HAC and support more quickly than they took out ours so that we could get a firepower advantage as early in the fight as possible to give us leverage against finishing off extremely tough battleship tanks. We'd studied Kaos's tactics in previous fights though and were sure that the Navy Megathron was equiped with remote armour repairers and nosferatu/neutralisers only i.e. no guns but was boosting a Deimos set up for maximum damage delivery.

The answer from our perspective was easy, don't get caught up in the trap that other teams had when fighting Kaos and bang away endlessly on the uber-remote tanked Deimos to no avail whilst the Navy Megathron sucks away all our BS' cap and the Deimos pounds it to death whilst happily tanking away. More specifically and in brief... take out the Megathron first!

The fight started as we confirmed that the Navy Megathron had indeed got no guns mounted and that our plan would go ahead. I locked and began firing on the Mega annihalating it's shields and hitting heavily into armour within 3 volleys thanks to having just the right Fury Cruise loaded. The Navy Mega started armour tanking at it approached us.

The Kaos Deimos supports the Navy Megathron with armour maintenance drones, whilst I support Alasse with shield maintenance drones and a shield transfer array. The Navy Mega is taking all our fire and Alasse is being orbitted and shot at by the Diemos. We go for the armour drones and then continue pounding on the mega which is starting to NOS me and I'm burning through 800 cap charges to keep my shield tank running as the Diemos switches to beating on me. My cap runs out and shield tank breaks as the Navy Mega is going into structure.

I have literally no cap at this point, am getting beat on bad by the Deimos and am watching my cap booster deliver cap to hit shield boost and then my hardeners if there is any cap left each cycle before I get hit by nos/neuts again. I'm doing that as the Navy Mega pops and I am down to half structure. I finally get a volley of cruise onto the HAC and am, it feels, a mere millisecond from hitting my shield booster again when the Deimos finishes off my Navy Raven.

Alasse is left on his own in an Eagle with a Deimos and an Ishkur literally sat on his head, I and we all are sure that this is it, we are fucked and we are out. A miracle then happens! Alasse is tanking the Deimos and the Ishtur as TWD harries Alasse with questions about what his status is, what the enemy ship's statuses are etc.. TWD then directs Alasse to take out the last of the armour rep drones repping the Deimos. Alasse has two assault launchers firing at this point as he struggled for cap to tank and fire his guns. Two assault launchers take out the last drone then switch to the Deimos and slowly begin eating through it's armour and into structure.

I was absolutely convinced we were out and beginning to think of all the ways to put a brave face on my dissappointment at not winning having come so far. Then I hear Alasse say the Deimos is going into structure, my heart started pounding again as we all encouraged him to keep going and started to beleive we might pull this out of the fire after all.

Despite being up against a close range HAC in a medium range setup, despite being critically low on cap and out of cap booster charges and despite being nos'd by the Ishkur Alasse managed to tank both enemy ship's damage and take out the Deimos. Hearing Alasse report the Ishkur's shield, then armour and finally hull being worn down by his assault launchers (as he reassured us he had plenty of ammo left!) was just incredible and when the Ishkur finally went pop I was awestruck!

OMFGHOLYSHI-ITEWTFBBQWE'VEONLYGONEANDWONIT!!

Galaxion's Ship Report
Galaxion's Commentary
Levin's Movie Of The Final

Total Kills and Losses For The Tournament

Kills

1st - Dominix
2nd - Megathron
3rd - Machariel
Qtr - Caldari Navy Raven
Semi - Caldari Navy Raven
Final - Navy Megathron

1st - Eagle
2nd - Ishtar
3rd - Zealot
Qtr - Cerberus
Semi - Gaurdian
Final - Deimos

1st - Stilletto
2nd - Wolf
3rd - Retribution
Qtr - Hawk
Semi - Crusader
Final - Ishkur

Losses

1 x Caldari Navy Raven
1 x Eagle
4 x Taranis

The Awards Ceremony & Aftermath

I have to admit to being totally thunderstruck that we'd won and proud as hell to have been a part of it with two such quality pilots as TWD and Alasse. I was a bit of a space cadet immediately after we'd won and during the award ceremony mostly out of total disbelief that we'd pulled it off (being distracted by a mass of convo's in game, convos in irc and congratulatory eve-mails didn't help with my concentration at the ceremony either!). I know we in BoB can be pretty vocal about our abilities at times and are perceived as being quite arrogant but we're also very very conscious our opponents abilities and are respectful of skillful opponents when we meet them, so I was genuinely amazed and happy that we'd pulled it off against such good opposition because the opposition was of exceptionally high calibre.

As I said the ceremony was a blur but it's worth just explaining the prizes:-

Defeated semi-finalists [5] and The Rock received a Caldari Navy Raven and two Caldari Navy Caracals as prizes.

The defeated finalists and second placed team, Kaos Empire, received a Caldari Carrier and two Caldari Navy Ravens as prizes.

The winning team received a Caldari Mothership (Wyvern) and two Caldari Navy Ravens as prizes.

It was interesting to note the Kaos prizes going up on auction in the sell forum on Eve-O within hours of the end of the tournament.

We actually got interviewed for Eve Radio after the fight and I was a) a bit tipsy by that point (1am after 3 fights, a bottle of red wine and more...) and b) pretty fucking giddy with excitement that we'd won. It shows at the start of the interview where the guy asks us to introduce ourselves and Alasse and I immediately talk over each other! Then Alasse gets his introduction out, I do mine but then like an idiot go to say 'and of course, the planning mastermind... TWD!!' thinking to get right out in the open what a hero he was for masterminding it all. To my embarassment on playback it sounds awfully like I am referring to myself and being big headed! I can assure you I felt most humble and in awe of TWD's skills at that point.... besides which I'm much more expansive and direct when I'm being arrogant!! o.O

I also seem to have a disturbing little chuckle to myself before answering a couple of questions in that interview so as you can imagine I'm not all that fond of it and think that all in all it sounds like I'm some kind of demented egomaniac ;)


I still can't get over what a fantastic event this has been, how engaged so many people have been, how supportive all our alliance were or how bloody amazing it is to have won!

8 comments:

Galaxion said...

From Galaxion:

BL, Alasse and TWD = win!!one

Great read into the mind of some of the best pilots in BoB.

Drantis said...

Yeah nice read BL - Who I also find out is a Yorkshire Lad LOL

Well done to Alasse and TWD too.

D>

Twaddle said...

Ever the drama queen BL.

Well done to Alasse and TWD for the carry job. ;)

P.S.
I think you spelt Thorrk wrong.

Blacklight said...

Twaddle, why are you always so irritatingly right?

Hoarmey said...

Great write up, wish i could get back to eve, been about 2 yrs i think..
Been readin through your blogs nice to hear some old familiar names.
Congrats to BNC/BoB from an old eve HMMI and mankind Nazgul

Blacklight said...

Hoar, look up myself or Lungorthin if you do ever manage to get back into Eve.

Would be good to see you online again!

Heartless_ said...

Damn I'll never get to this point in EVE... game so slow it hurts -_-

Blacklight said...

Hehe everyone can get there in the end, it just takes a little time and patience and of course a lot of beer ;)