Unbeknownst to me the small alliance our corp Holy Cookie is part of had applied for a spot in Alliance Tournament XV (AT XV). And lo and behold, we were granted entry to the feeder round, where 56 teams would be fighting for 32 of the total 64 spots in the tournament proper.
When our team captain sent an alliance-wide EVE mail asking who wanted to participate I didn’t jump at the opportunity right away. Too much responsibility, too much obligation to attend the trainings I thought.
Luckily Lakisa talked some sense into me. I’ve played EVE on and off for more than 11 years now, and I followed almost every AT with interest and sometimes much excitement. Why the heck would I voluntarily pass up the chance to fight in an AT myself at least once?
So I signed up and was accepted to the team. Soon we started our training.
The training as well as the feeder round itself takes place on the special event server Thunderdome. Every pilot there has all existing skills at Level 5.
This gave Lakisa the oppurtunity to train with us a couple of times. Just like me she had a blast, which I’m really happy about.
Most of us decided to train in ships they have good skills on TQ for right from the start though, since the tournament proper takes place there. I’m really glad that at almost 120 million SP I have pretty good skills for a lot of ships, including all Battlecruisers and Command BCs as well as all fleet boosting skills at level 5.
For about three weeks we fought lots of competing teams and tried different doctrines with mixed results. During the final week before feeder round we started to feel pretty comfortable though, and everyone had by then made his or her personal stupid mistakes, to hopefully not make them during the real matches.
Our first fight was scheduled for Saturday, June 10th, 18:30 EVE time. We gathered on Teamspeak two hours early, so nobody would be late to the party. There was lots of supposedly relaxed talking, but you could tell everybody was nervous. With good reason too, because the 28 teams winning their first fight would directly qualify for the AT, while the 28 losing teams would have to duke it out over three elimination rounds on Sunday. Only 4 of those 28 would qualify for the AT.
After the ship banning phase was over and our captain and our FC had decided on which doctrine we were going to fly, they announced who the other eight pilots going into the fight with them would be. I was really happy that I was one of them. Since I’d flown a Tengu with fleet boosts and ECM pretty often in training it was decided that I should pilot one of our two Blackbirds. This made me pretty nervous, because it’s such a vital role and can be more easily fucked up than “just” shooting at the right target with the right ammo.
About 5 minutes before the fight we were teleported to our warp-in spot by CCP Logibro. When told to do so we warped to the arena at our preassigned ranges. Our opponents, an alliance called senseless intentions, came in a setup we thought we could very well beat, but still tension was at it’s maximum now.
The countdown came, and the game was on. Our training efforts had paid off, everyone was on the ball and did their jobs, communication was clear and quick, and the enemy ships went down one by one. I was jammed two times during the fight, the first time by ECM drones they sent against me, the second time by my own Blackbird buddy. Well, shit happens. Fortunately by then we had as good as won. In the end we won 100:1 points, the one point for them being one point we didn’t actually field as our ships only cost 99 points total.
And with that we were qualified for Alliance Tournament XV. Yay us!
We will continue our training and prepare as best we can for it. Without a doubt it will be a lot harder right off the bat, what with fighting on TQ (with TQ skills and TQ funds). I seriously doubt we will field a flagship worth tens of billions, as many other alliances will surely do. Maybe our status as one of the unknown underdogs might help us out a bit. We’ll see.