I am emotionally drained and a little drunk, so this blog post won't be one of my best. It may be one of my more honest though.
Why am I in this condition? Because I've just run the EVE Online Alliance Tournament
gauntlet. Not as a competitor, nor as an organiser, not really even as a commentator (other than some Twitter and chat channel randomness). However, as a spectator, I was fully invested. A month of weekends, almost* every match.
Given EVE Online's complex socio-entertainment strands and internet devilry, the Alliance Tournament is not really an easy experience to quantify, especially after a bottle of
Rioja (edit: it turns out I can't spell "Rioja" after drinking Rioja) and some spiced rum. But, despite never having left my own home, I feel as if I've participated in a community experience as well as a sporting one. Over the last few weeks I've been entertained as much by the characters who have presented the exploding spaceship championships as the exploding spaceships themselves. Perhaps moreso.
Together with five impressively knowledgeable and articulate fellas whom I let dictate my weekends through my computer monitor, I've taken a rollercoaster ride to equal any football World Cup, Superbowl or Olympic Games. It's simply a matter of investment and - as much as it chagrins me that I may have picked the phrase up from doing too many Mittani impersonations - these are my people
. I couldn't give a crap about football, that weird thing Americans have done with rugby or even the upcoming London Olympics. But I do respect the time, effort and dedication that my fellow internet spaceship nerds have put into organising and competing in the EVE Online Alliance Tournament.
The Alliance Tournament is the premiere internet sports event with something to appeal to everyone from chess enthusiasts, to psychologists, to sporting purists. There is no doubt in my mind that I have just witnessed excellence on many levels; the set design, the organisation and preparation, some frankly superb camera work with sub-par tools and some really entertaining brilliance from the competing alliances.
But if you're looking for a studious and learned breakdown of matches, go somewhere else, this is Freebooted, I'm no good at "serious". What I really want to do is honour the five excellent "experts" who have shared their wisdom with us for the past few weekends. And by honour, I mean ridicule in a warm and friendly manner.
Let's look at the guys who were sent out to Iceland to explain to us what the hell was going on.
Lazarus Telraven (@Laztel)
Possibly constructed in CCP's secret cloning vats specifically for the purpose of Alliance Tournament commentary, Lazarus looks like he may have been grown from the DNA of Creative Director Torfi Frans Olafsson. The vagaries of whether they are legally brothers or father and son is still to be worked out, but his Goonswarm alliance affiliation gives him access to plenty of legal representation.
Special ATX Skill:
|Lazarus Telraven clone, CCP TorfiFrans|
"Knowledge" - he delivered the true pronunciation of "Sleipnir" - SLAYP-neer.
|Zastrow clone, Peewee Herman|
Erudite and affable, Zastrow is perhaps the most refined of the the EVE experts. His apparent humility and gentle humour set him poles apart from his evil Goon twin, The Mittani. Primary distributor of "Purple Dong" medals, Zastrow is apparently the soft centre of Goonswarm but a knowledgeable and articulate commentator.
Special ATX Skill: Power-drill juggling.
Michael Bolton III (@MichaelBoltonII)
The Tournament funny man, MB3's presentation style is an acquired taste for some, but is refreshingly irreverent for those who do 'get him'. Bringing a unique zest to the team, MB3 is at his most entertaining when working alongside/annoying Kil2. Easy to underestimate, but when focused he clearly knows his spaceships.
Special ATX Skill:
|Michael Bolton III clone, Rudyard Kipling|
That moustache, especially with CCP Affinity's modifications in the final matches.
Kil2 is the PvPer's PvPer. Renowned for his solo combat prowess, his apparent reserved nature gives him almost superhuman powers of analysis. Very centred and intense, Kil2 gives the impression that he tolerates the rest of the human race only because he's expected to. However, his rugged loner persona both melts and is fortified by the presence of Michael Bolton III. The Mulder-Scully will-they/won't they dynamic between the two could go either way.
Special ATX Skill:
|Kil2 clone, actor Zachary Quinto|
Bringing the art of silent comedy into the 21st Century by saying nothing but telling everything in the presence of MBIII.
I suspect this man is not entirely human. His EVE knowledge and ability to compute team setup parameters is frightening. Cool and collected even when he insists he is excited, the walking Aryan supercomputer is apparently the reason for Pandemic Legion's previous tournament successes. PL have not won the tournament since Raivi became a commentator and it is easy to see what a loss his contribution would be.
Special ATX skill:
|Raivi clone, Deep Blue|
Thanks fellas, you all did a superb job of making the details entertaining and transparent to the layman. The community owes you beer (but I'm hoping CCP are picking up the tab).
And congratulations to the surprise winners and first-time ATX champions, Verge of Collapse - proving that the key to success is to punch harder than the other guy.
(*as a married man, compromises must be made)