To mix things up, this year's tournament will include a new "flagship" rule. Each team designates one Tech 1 or faction battleship as their flagship. That ship is given permission to upgrade some of its modules to expensive faction, officer, cosmos, and deadspace versions, making it much more powerful than a standard ship. It may upgrade one armour repairer or shield booster, electronic warfare modules, weapon upgrades and any high slot modules such as guns. The catch is that the ship's module layout must be decided on before the match and will be available to the enemy team.
This adds another tactical element to the tournament. Does your team send its flagship out with every team and risk being destroyed or do you hold it back for the final rounds? Do you fit your team out specifically to counter their flagship and risk them not using it? It remains to be seen what type of flagship people decide to use but with deadspace shield boosters repairing around double the amount a deadspace armour repairer can fix per second, teams may lean toward shield tanking setups. Additionally, while a full rack of officer turrets or launchers may cost too much, long-range officer energy neutralisers may be very effective. The addition of officer electronic warfare modules may also see a few unconventional flagship setups or tricked out Scorpions.
Another interesting rule change this year is the ability for a team to handicap themselves in exchange for bonus points if they win. If a team spend less than their designated 100 points on ships and win, they gain the left over points as a bonus on top of their kill points. For example, an alliance winning with just 80 points worth of ships would get 100 points plus the usual 25% for a win plus an extra 20 on top for a total of 145. However, if a team spends under 100 points and loses the match, the left over points will be automatically given to the opposing side. This rounds their total out to 100, which means even beating a 50 point team is still worth a 100 point victory. It's an interesting new rule set for what is always a fantastic event to watch.