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EVE's Alliance Tournament IX ends in controversy

Brendan Drain
Brendan Drain|@nyphur|June 20, 2011 11:00 AM
The Alliance Tournament is one of the highlights of the EVE Online calendar. Every year, tens of thousands of people tune in to watch teams from competing alliances battle it out in a massive knock-out style tournament. With rules in place to limit the number and value of ships a team can field, the Alliance Tournament is as close to a fair fight as you'll find in EVE. This year's tournament came to a close last night after two weekends of qualifying rounds, exciting knock-out matches and a controversial final.

Skip past the cut to find out how this year's tournament ended. Be warned that this post will spoil the outcome of the tournament. For those of you who missed the live stream, we'll be compiling an in-depth summary with links to videos of all the matches once CCP has uploaded the matches to YouTube.

The final round of this year's Alliance Tournament saw Hydra Reloaded facing off against Outbreak. Both teams had completely decimated opponents throughout the tournament, clearly earning their spots in the final. Hydra played a risky setup based on three damage-dealing vindicators and various support ships, and the team quickly found itself in trouble against Outbreak's traditional Minmatar rush setup. Two of Hydra's vindicators went down in what seemed like no time at all, and it was clear that Outbreak had won the match.

It was all a setup!

Instead of continuing on to kill the remaining vindicator, Outbreak appeared to stop fire and start attacking the inconsequential and hard-to-hit support ships. It didn't take long for viewers to figure out that Outbreak was throwing the match, as the remaining Vindicator tore through every ship one at a time. Disappointed viewers raged in the tournament comment box, and both Twitter and the EVE Online forums began to fill with rage over what was clearly a set-up fight.

Throughout the tournament, it became clear that Outbreak and Hydra were working together. Having spied on every team practicing on the EVE test server, they had a great deal of intelligence on each team's setups and strategies. They strategically fed this intel to specific teams in order to manipulate the match brackets, taking three-year reigning champions Pandemic Legion out of the competition and creating the possibility of Outbreak and Hydra being paired up in the final. To avoid competition spying on them, both teams set up shop in a wormhole to practice in secret. It's a perfect example of the EVE metagame in action, and it definitely paid off.

Both Hydra Reloaded and Outbreak promised that their final match would be a real one. After the match, Hydra apologised for the poor show, stating that the team was "planning on making it a hardcore brawl and to hopefully have it be a close match" but that "things didn't go as planned." Duncan of Hydra Reloaded posted a lengthy and in-depth summary of the group's goals in the alliance tournament, the road to victory, and the controversial final round.