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43 Teams submitted a Flagship. 25 of those are the Leshak. 5 are Scorpion Navy Issues. 2 Bhaalgorns. 2 of the new Praxis and 2 Rattles. 1 Golem, Vargur, Macharial, Geddon, Barghest, Nightmare, and Paladin. 63% of all Flagships this year will be new ships that have never appeared in the AT before. That's huge. And exciting.
First of all the Leshak is a powerful choice for a Flagship. All the criteria are there. It is a beast on the battlefield, especially in an enclosed box situation. Damage application is insane. And it benefits from the freedom to fit faction/officer mods. Secondarily it will be a hugely popular ban choice in this year's tournament, which means you won't be able to bring one if it isn't your Flagship. (Even if the hull is among the banned ships, you can still bring your Flagship.) This is critical in deciding which ship gets that designation on your team each year.
I want to be clear, every team has to make this decision on their own. And I'm not trying to throw shade on anyone specifically - but this post is about the Flagship choices. So I am going to talk about them. In particular the Praxis and Nightmare choices. There are other questionable choices being made in this list, but let's give those teams the benefit of the doubt. It is obvious that certain people have convinced themselves that RML spam is going to be a thing this year. And while it might make an attempt at being a thing, I don't believe it will be successful.
The Praxis is the Gnosis big sister. And when I say big I mean BIG. If you haven't been in space next to this Battleship yet, it is monstrous. I can't wait to watch them in the tournament. But like the Gnosis the Praxis is a Jack-of-all-Trades and Master of none ship. Remember ship bonuses? The idea of a Flagship is to maximize those bonuses under the influence of Faction/Officer mods. A Geddon Flagship is a lot like a Bhaalgorn, as an example. Those faction neuts are brutal. In my opinion I don't see the same net gain from a Praxis Flagship. I also don't believe that the Praxis will be a popular ban. Especially after the first weekend. But, as always, I'm willing to be proven wrong.
Unlike the Praxis however, the Nightmare is just a confusing choice. And I love the ship personally. We've fielded Nightmare comps before in the NEO and we tried to build some comps around them a few years ago for the AT. Double Nightmare comps can be quite effective with the right support. But I don't like them in this tournament. Sadly the real reason for that is something I can't reveal right now. Some thoughts and opinions must remain OpSec for now. Again, I could possibly be wrong.
Last year our team picked a Geddon Flagship. We weren't alone, but the big winner last year was the Bhaalgorn. It was probably picked by 50%+ of the teams then. So I know exactly what it feels like to be off-meta before any matches are played. So for all of those teams out there that picked an off-meta ship, be of good cheer. It is only one of a thousand choices that will impact the outcome of matches. Only one. Every match gets played out on the field of battle and sometimes the odd choice, the off-kilter decision, the lag, the boundary violation, the ecm landing or not landing, the range, the jumps, the... well you get the idea.
The HYPE is real.