(Editor's note: This is an opinion piece and should be read as such. If you do not like opinion pieces, do not read on.)
And so the final weekend of the New Eden Open came and went. The technical issues that had plagued the tournament throughout the previous weekends came back with a vengeance; it was at least an hour before any action was seen on Saturday. CCP Fozzie was replaced on the commentator team by CCP Dolan and CCP Falcon, a pair who are about as entertaining as the EU discussing the budget deficit (for those that enjoy that type of thing, my condolences). With the hour long delay in technical issues, the tortured conversation between the commentary team members was noticeable and sent the audience numbers plummeting to around 2,500 people, a full 1,000-1,500 down from the opening weekends.
With the tournament finally over, there rests a niggling question: was it worth it? To CCP and own3D, the answer would be yes, it was a success; the viewer numbers were more or less consistent throughout the tournament weekends. Despite the struggles with technical difficulties, the small core audience that had any interest in the tournament to begin with were not put off - guaranteeing viewership in the low thousands. Frequent mentions of ‘future New Eden Open’ pretty much spelt out the success with which CCP has viewed this tournament, yet if you ask the majority of pilots playing EVE Online the overwhelming response is one of "what tournament?" The lack of identity with any of the teams in this tournament, the notion that it was too soon after the more widely watched and followed Alliance tournament, as well as a general apathy towards the Open were all apparent through the three weekends that the New Eden Open graced the internet. Barring a few celebrity pilots that have flown magnificently in previous Alliance Tournaments and captured something of a following, the teams might well have been called Random Team A versus Random Team B - especially to the new viewer. Perhaps the one saving grace for the Open was the banning of ships before matches, although the argument that it was meant to spice things up is severely lacking, seeing as the usual team setups were fielded again and again.
The question of whether it was worth it, however, doesn’t just stop at the format of the tournament; it extends to the commentary team, the technical quality of the Open and so forth. For me, the Open was a resounding failure on this part. The only member of the commentary team, who I felt did magnificently, was CCP Fozzie. Of course, he has had experience commentating in previous Alliance Tournaments. Otherwise it was a cesspit of awkwardness and one-upmanship between the other commentators, punctuated by stretches of what I referred to in my previous article as the 'nodding head' syndrome. What the Open needs in future is a dedicated commentary team, experienced EVE pilots who have been in the game for some time, who know what they are talking about. This is what made previous Alliance Tournaments so watchable, as the intellect and knowledge between commentators was so high. Moving on to the quality of the show, this again was severely lacking. The show suffered from both sound and blue screen issues from Weekend One to the final day.
As far as the actual matches were concerned, there were occasional flashes of brilliance and excitement in this Open, with several high profile targets exploding. However, strategies were also repeated; overall, there was nothing that made people sit up and want to see more.
That’s not to take anything away from the pilots that showed up. They showed the grit and determination that EVE pilots are known for. Despite months of theory crafting, training and gelling as a team, it all boiled down to whether pilots could handle the heat. For the eventual winners, Asine Hitama's team, they operated under pressure better than anyone else. It is a shame that only a minority of people in EVE Online actually cared.
The New Eden Open has come and gone, with more of a whimper than a snarl. The victors collected their winnings, CCP slapped each other’s backs in exultation at a job well done, and the overwhelming majority of EVE Online players continued killing red plus signs and drilling rocks in space with lasers. For myself, the New Eden Open was a huge failure. Significant work needs to be done for me to want to watch it again.
Results of the final weekend: