The first weekend of the Third Alliance Tournament has finished and as it has come to be expected famous names have fallen by the wayside whilst unheralded groups have invigorated the championships.
Going into the second weekend Mercenary Coalition, one of the pre-tournament favourites having little chance to qualify for the later stages, likewise one of the Southern powers Lotka Volterra became the hunted not the hunter. On the other side of the equation four teams have secured maximum points; Exquisite Malevolance, Axiom Empire, Against ALL Authorities and almost inevitably Band of Brothers.
Interference to the holo-feed made some of earlier fights available only to a select group of VIPs but for those that did see, Nebula Rasa's usage of four Navy Vexors certainly surprised Fimbulwinter. For every team that spent weeks on their tactics there was an equal amount of competitors that simply rushed their opponents, giving them as little time as possible to think.
This philosophy was proven when SMASH Alliance stormed Serenus Letum with two Brutixes and two Cyclones, leaving a Raven, Vulture, Curse and Maulus in their wake.
With the organisers having tweaked with the rules from the previous alliance tournament, a few teams had problems staying in the designated fighting area whilst the allowance of dampeners and ECM added a new tactical twist to proceedings. The logistics drones which dominated the last tournament were also disallowed increasing the necessity for tactical thinking over out tanking the opposition.
Target painting came into its own, eagerly demonstrated by Axiom Empire as they cruised to a flawless victory over Enemies of Carlotta on Day One. Meanwhile the Maulus was the ship of choice for many teams who wanted to dampen the spirits and ships of their opponents.
A candidate for best fight on Day One was clearly DeStInY against Edge of Sanity, as the former took the early lead destroying a Curse, Jaguar and Muninn only for the lone remaining Megathron to weave a dance of deadly destruction leaving only an Ishkur remaining in a classic one versus one. Both ships ran out of capacitor and with the Ishkur having its compliment of drones in the field, things looked bleak for the battleship.
Even more so when the smaller ship got itself out of webifying range, but in its attempts to evade the Megathron it left the arena and was thus disqualified, leaving one rather relieved battleship pilot and what remained of his vessel.
Some say it was arrogance others style that saw Interstellar Alcohol Conglomerate field an Imperial Issue Apocalypse. The pride of the Amarrian Navy proved to be something of an ammunition magnet but survived its encounters and allowed their Curse to wreak havoc as The Red Skull found out to their cost.
Mercenary Coalition's bad weekend started with some highly creative tactics in using a smart bomb enabled Machariel fitted for ‘bumping’ enemies out of the arena. But faced by three Navy Issue Caracals, MC's small ships were always going to have difficulties and although the Machariel did get one victim in a Curse, it managed to succumb to the same fate as its victim and was disqualified.
Day One ended with something of a testimony to previous tournaments as the Coalition of Carebear Killers resurrected the popular all Gallente line-up and drone swarmed Dusk and Dawn.
The second day saw some interesting developments, Serenus Letum became the first team to forfeit their one billion ISK, teams kept their last opponent alive longer so they could loot their victims, Interstellar Alcohol Conglomerate were guilty of using the wrong cargo container to hold capacitor charges but nonetheless were the first team tarred as 'cheaters' whilst we also saw the first ransom delivered and paid for.
A back and forth tie between IAC and Terra Incognita was eventually decided when a sharp-eyed observer noted that the container holding capacitor charges was a standard medium issue and not a regular jettisoned container, causing the disqualification of the former.
Having notched the first three kills, Terra tried to scatter and go for the points win but when they lost their own Curse and a Celestis it was they that needed to kill one of the remaining Absolution or Imperial Apocalypse. Once again the three Navy Caracals proved a useful tactic but with two minutes remaining they were unable to get their target below 20% armour, but the result was to change.
An all battlecruiser affair saw Cult of War hand a resounding defeat to Anarchy Empire only for BoB to go one better against Exuro Mortis and Against ALL Authorities continued the theme of perfect victories against Dusk and Dawn.
In the final match of the day The Sani Sabik showed admirable tanking skills and an opportunist streak when having three ships left against a lone Coalition of Carebear Killers Eos and ransomed it for 100m which was paid and allowed to survive.
If the first two days had been eye-opening, Day Three capped it off with some fantastic action. From the off pod pilots clamoured round their holoscreens to view proceedings and they were not disappointed. Firmus Ixion won the premiere event, with its Dominix proving to be the last man standing.
The smaller ships were not much of a factor and once FIX's Absolution managed to outlast Insurgency's Machariel it was still a close encounter. In the end it was the passive tanking of a Nighthawk versus a battleship having to go on the defensive and with only a fifth of its hull left, the Dominix's drones finally broke through and killed the last Insurgent.
Fimbulwinter proved to be no pushovers as they gained a comprehensive victory over the disappointing LV, whilst Nebula Rasa's four Navy Vexor approach did not help them against Stain Empire in something of a tactical bout. Serenus Letum attempted the second ransom of the tournament but were turned down and proceeded to blast a Navy Megathron to smithereens, despite another ransom attempt apparently proving to be successful.
The first showing of The Five and a Rokh ended in victory for the former and a fiery finish for the latter whilst Exquisite Malevolance eked out a points victory over Ascendant Frontier with the only kill of the contest a Navy Hookbill.
To the delight of tournament official, Axiom Empire secured a flawless victory over DeStInY whilst fielding an all-Caldari team consisting of a Caldari Navy Raven, Vulture, Cerberus and two Merlins. Not only that but they managed to maintain a 100% tank at the end, truly a victory for Caldari ingenuity.
Once again there was a sequence of crushing victories as BoB humbled Anarchy Empire, Euphoria Unleashed bested Exuro Mortis in a match that saw at one stage seven out of the ten ships on view with no shields and AAA inflicted a loss on Coalition of Carebear Killers.
Arguably the most tense and decisive battle of the day occurred when IAC and MC matched up. The winner would advance and loser left to reflect on what might have been. Once again IAC’s ‘Team Tyraxx’ fielded the impressive Imperial Apocalypse but MC's tactics of concentrating on the support first yielded superb initial results with both Mauluses and IAC's Curse downed. However, the turning event of the bout was when the Eos of MC required remote armour repairing but was out of range of the Raven Navy Issue. With the Eos and Curse removed from the battlefield, IAC did not have to worry about any Nosferatu problems and proceeded to systematically remove MC ships from the contest.
In the final match of the day The Sani Sabik beat Otherworld Empire Productions on a points decision in a slugfest of support. OEP losing their Rokh with just over a minute to go swung the tie in Sani's favour.