From a Starcraft and League of Legends background, "Esports" is a very strange word to use in conjunction with EVE. I think it implies a specific type of game balance, one that promotes player skill over anything else. EVE is anything but in its default state. While CCP could set something up so the entrants have access to equal-SP characters to remove imbalances, they obviously haven't. Same with ship and module access.It is possible to make EVE into a competitive esport, but it would require work from CCP that they apparently don't want to do. First, you'd have to change tournament rules to give all players access to equal skillpoint characters. Either maximum skills or the same number of un-allotted points, but equal. Then you'd have to do the same with ships and modules: all players need equal access to them. After that, people need space to practice in a relatively consequence free environment. You aren't going to get good players without practice.A third important part of esports is allowing regular players to "live the dream". I'm not going to get into it, but part of why LoL is so successful is because Average Joe can watch MLG one evening, see something cool, then pop into League and try it out himself. Obviously, this isn't the case in EVE.tl:dr- Esports is possible in EVE, but CCP doesn't understand what it is or how to promote it.
Not With A Bang, But With A Buck
The New Eden Open Tournament begins this weekend! If you are thinking to yourself "wow, that snuck up on me," you aren’t alone. Announced some time ago by CCP, in association with own3D.tv, the tournament sought to pit 32 privately constructed teams (as opposed to the Alliance-based teams of the long running Alliance Tournament) against each other in a single-stage, double-elimination gauntlet. The grand prize? A whopping $10,000 USD. However, response was somewhat lackluster from the EVE community upon the New Eden Open’s unveiling. Some questioned the prize pool, which was significantly less than the Alliance Tournament awards (though, to be fair, this is real money we’re talking about rather than the in-game assets awarded in the Alliance Tournament). Some cried foul at the scheduling of the tournament, with the crucial second of three weekends taking place over the U.S. Thanksgiving Holiday.
The price of entry was to be determined by an auction system, with 20 PLEX being the minimum bid. Naturally, some people vehemently disagreed with this price point. All of this bucking and whining seemed to make an impression on CCP, as did the overall apathy with which the EVE community was treating the whole thing. On October 19th, less than a month from kickoff, CCP Bro announced several changes to the tourney.
Now 50% Off! And That’s Not All!
In classic late night infomercial ad-man fashion, CCP announced that the minimum bid would be slashed by 50% - from 20 PLEX to 10 PLEX. They followed up this price reduction with a ‘that’s not all’ to boot, adding 275 PLEX to the prize pool as well as (at the time) unspecified prizes from Razer and Logitech. But the last minute additions to the tournament were not restricted to the entrants, for CCP will also be holding a lottery of sorts. On the December 2d broadcast, CCP will be announcing a key-word which viewers will then be able to enter in a forum thread to be entered into a drawing.
While we won’t know if that last bit will do anything to draw more viewers to CCP’s entry into eSports, what we do know is that the modifications to the PLEX minimum bid and prize pool had a somewhat lackluster effect. Of the 32 possible slots in the tournament, only 27 were filled. Of course, we may never know exactly how many of those 27 teams tossed their hats into the arena due to the entry and prize adjustments CCP made, but the fact that the tournament still came up 5 entrants short speaks volumes about the skepticism towards CCP’s endeavor.
About Those PLEX…
Prior to the auction, there was no real way to tell exactly how many teams would be entering the fray. In contrast to the Alliance Tournaments where all entrants belong to a single organization, the New Eden Open teams could be made up of ten random Jita spammers for all anyone knows. As a result, some teams entered with PLEX to spare, apparently dedicated to the tournament and determined not to miss out on a spot in it.
Tournament entrants Asine Hitma, Blue Ballers and Team Ineluctable all bid 40 or more PLEX in order to gain entry, with an additional nine teams bidding at least 20. When the end of the auction came, however, it was clear that five spots would remain empty, rendering the ‘auction’ a bit redundant. After the auction CCP elected to refund any PLEX bid in excess of the 10 required for entry. The end result is that there are more PLEX in the prize pool than PLEX in the entry process — something clearly not in CCP’s immediate best interest.
The other problem presented by the tournament team shortfall was that the shortage of teams could potentially play heck with the bracket schedules. The solution offered was for five teams to be chosen at random to receive a first round bye, giving them a significant edge in the tournament. For the curious, these teams are: Team Ineluctable; CAS; My Little Nulli; XXXMity; and Guiding Hand Social Club.
Who Are These Guys Anyways?
Why such an incredible edge? Because, unlike Alliance Tournaments, figuring out the favored makeup of an opposing team is very difficult. In Alliance Tournaments, it is increasingly common for spying and other metagame maneuvers to be employed in an effort to get an edge. With teams of randoms, this can be somewhat more problematic. By receiving that first round bye the five teams listed above will have exposure to their opponents.
However, it does appear that most teams have formed more or less along alliance lines. Notable among them:
- Expendables — HYDRA RELOADED and DarkSide.
- My Little Nulli — Nulli Secunda
- Oxygen Isonopes — Goonswarm Federation
- Perihelion Berylium Duralumin — Perihelion Alliance
- Why Dash — Pandemic Legion
- Africa’s Finest — Verge of Collapse (ATX Winners)
- Raiden. 58th Squadron — Raiden.
- The HUNS — HUN Reloaded (ATX Runners Up)
It goes without saying that due to a unique twist in the New Eden Open Tournament, past experience and even success in Alliance Tournaments is no guarantee of victory. Before each match, the Team Captains involved in the match have the opportunity to ban two ship types from the engagement. Similar in concept to peremptory challenges in court, the captains will take turns disqualifying any ship type of their choice. Once disqualified, that ship type may not be used by either team in the match.
The ability to adapt to these disqualifications would appear to be paramount to any team that truly hopes to win. The tournament officially opens on November 17th at 18:00 EVE Time.
Would You Like To Know More?
To find out more about the tournament, feel free to check out CCP’s New Eden Open site (for rules, complete schedule, etc.). For those interested in the human element, the lovely Arydanika of Voices from the Void podcast has conducted a series of interviews with the teams, which can all be found at www.wunder-bet.com (a gambling venture focused on the Tournament itself). We at TheMittani.com will also be providing coverage of the results after each weekend — so stay tuned!