As most of you probably know by now A Band Apart's run in Alliance Tournament XIV came to a rather abrupt end yesterday at the hands of PFR. Kudos to them for a good fight and for their win over Ronin later in the day to make it to the third weekend. And best of luck in the rest of the tournament. You can't help but root for the team that knocked you out, especially when they are good people. So congratulations to PFR and to all the other winners from this past weekend.
Having played six matches this year (4-2) and two last year (0-2) I can tell you I have a new appreciation for the sheer amount of effort, willpower, stamina and determination it takes to succeed in the Alliance Tournament. I've always appreciated it, but until you actually live it... like anything in life. I can tell you we played over 200 practice matches leading up to the AT both on Singularity and Thunderdome. In addition many of our pilots also participated as part of other team's to help fill out their practices. And I can only imagine the number of hours spent working up comps, fits and theory-crafting. It is an incredible amount of work.
I've said this already, but it bears repeating - I am incredibly proud of our pilots. Despite the odds, real life commitments, and other challenges, they came thru and excelled. Top 16 is an excellent result in only our second year and they should all be proud of that accomplishment. I enjoyed every minute of the practices and the matches. Except for those two losses. Frankly I didn't enjoy those.
But I am confident that all of us learned and experienced a lot this year. All of which will only serve us well when it comes time to do it again next year. As I said in an earlier post, next year is our year. Our team is seasoned now, more experienced and they've seen for themselves what hard work, dedication and time spent gets you. And, maybe more importantly, they've each experienced first hand what the AT Meta really means from a practical standpoint. Until you fly in the AT the "meta" can be a joke, or at best a theoretical concept. But once you fly in the tournament and watch every match carefully, only then do you start to understand what it truly means. And why stepping outside of that concept is so dangerous.
Let me explain. Imagine hundreds of Eve nerds that are smarter than you spending hundreds and hundreds of hours theory-crafting fleet compositions and ship fits for months and months. (It is always best to assume that everyone else is smarter than you.) And you are doing this as well, as best you can, practicing with people that will practice with you. And then you show up for the first day and another team lands across from you in the arena. And you either know one of two things - 1) Our fleet is going to be ok, or 2) We screwed up somewhere. As the day goes along you notice all the other comps and trends start to emerge, common threads, similar ships, and tactics. This is the emerging reality of the tournament meta. Either your comps are along similar lines or you are in serious trouble. And yes, every year a few teams manage to buck the meta and win a few matches with something unique. This year it was hull-tanked Battleships, or Double Moas, or Double Paladins. But, just like every year previously, those eventually get wrecked.
In hindsight it is easy to see that both of our losses came upon a combination of Sleipnir compositions. While our missile based and Astarte based comps fared extremely well. In all of our matches our support wing excelled at their jobs, providing excellent control and dominating the other team's support in every match. This was expected. Our pilots are excellent. In the matches we lost the difference was in the survivability of our core dps. And in the Rock, Paper, Scissors environment of the AT, our two Minnie-based comps landed across from good counters. There is nothing inherently wrong here. Mostly bad luck, bad timing, and good counter punches from good teams.
Like I said above, until you participate in that insanity you cannot truly understand what a crazy journey it really is. And just how much of it comes down to the match-up you face in the arena.
There is nothing else like it in Eve. And I honestly can't wait to try again.
Best of luck to all the remaining teams.