This will be A Band Apart's 4th Alliance Tournament run. Our first year we were honestly not prepared and lost the first two matches to the G0dfathers and The Explicit Alliance. Being a first time Alliance in the tournament is rough. But it was a good learning experience and we decided to try and actually prepare for the next tournament. We went 4-2 the next time out and managed to break into the Top 16 finishers, which means better standings and an automatic bid. We won matches against Shadow Cartel, Spectre Fleet, Snuff, Methodical Alliance and lost matches against Villore Accords and PFR. Then last year we finished 11th in the tournament, winning matches against Slyce, Hard Knocks Citizens, and We Form Volta before losing to Lazerhawks and Brave.
We got really good at practicing and preparing for the early matches. Our issues the last two years have been in keeping up with the changing meta and adapting our approach to compensate. Both times when we lost matches, we probably should have won, but we failed to anticipate the impact of those changes. This is not a criticism against anyone specifically, our team worked hard and we all did the best we could. But in hindsight the shortcomings are more obvious.
Can we get over that hump this year and break into the final weekend? I have no idea. Not only is so much of the tournament a rock, paper, scissors situation (which it is), but this year changes to the rules have made it even more likely to be a hotbed of upsets. Not to mention the inclusion of three new ships that no one is super familiar with, the Precursor ships are certainly OP, but they are also NEW. Which means a significant lack of flying them around TQ and getting used to how they operate, engage, and work inside of gangs. But the biggest change is more foundational to any Comps that we, and others, had on our table. And that is the lack of doubles. Every ship has to be the only one on the field this year, so no double Eos, or double Gila, or double Blackbird, or double Bhaal comps allowed. And since doubles make up the core of pretty much every comp - it has been back to the blackboard for all of us.
As always it is impossible to predict what might happen. Our team is coming together and we are practicing hard. Our comps are starting to make sense and we are starting to understand where things are headed, at least for the opening weekend. We are a little over a month away from the July 28th start and things are looking good. Personally I feel great about the pilots I'm flying with and I think this has the chance to be a special group of players. When we are firing on all cylinders together it feels pretty damn strong.
We will always be underdogs in my mind, no matter what happens. I'd like nothing better than to improve over the last three years and see us make it to the final weekend. That is my personal goal. But no matter what happens we'll have fun and enjoy flying together, and when it is all said and done that is what truly matters.
Six weeks to go.