So, we’ve finished Q2 and come to the mid-point of the season, here some sporting leagues might take a rest week, run an invitational, or otherwise break up the pace. Here, we are simply going to keep throwing the teams against each other until they break. My tip is to watch Brett Thomas Thomas, as a commentator he tends to fall off in the 7th game of an evening so his 7th game of the season could be one to watch.
After great encouragement from those who read this blog in its development I’ve been asked to warn you all; make sure you have snacks and a drink as this is a hell of a blog that comes with both pretty charts and recommended viewing to break it up. And I’ll say this now, end of season is likely to be worse.
Returning to the realms of match statistics however I’d like to start this blog as I did the one before. With a look at how the overall meta is shaping up. With two more weeks of play and time to react this should potentially give us an oversight of how the season will go on:
We see a fairly even split between shield and armour now and each maintaining roughly even records with no logi set ups falling far behind. It is worth noting all of the frigate logi set ups have been shield oriented, 3 being Burst picks, 2 for and 1 against the Sudden Otters in the Minors, and a Bantam for V0LTA in the Majors.
In all nothing major can be drawn from this that we didn’t already know. Logi is strong and popular, running without it is rarely successful. Frigate logi has had mixed success but isn’t as popular or quite as successful as it’s cruiser counterpart.
One major shift this last week has been that of the Red vs Blue stats. Where it was previously drastically in favour of the blue side of the draft it’s now swung back to a mild edge for red, 4 and 3 for the past week. Potentially a sign that the imbalance in the draft was not a true one, and simply created by teams not understanding the meta and so setting up power on the blue side of the draft where they are now stripping it away.
On the other hand this may be a blip in an overall trend. The next quarter will be interesting to watch to see if it was. For now it points to an abatement in the howling dogs that seek Bei. And if it continues it could see the tournament level out, something the meta seems to only now be doing.
Recent bans have seen a significant shift, no longer leaning so heavily on early battleship bans and instead seeing a more balanced approach across the entire upper end of ships. This includes a far greater balance between shield and armour than was previously present. This is likely a major contributor in the recent trend of losses for shield composition as they no longer have such free access to their key and desired ships as they did.
A key example of this came in Clevergirls vs Team Johnny, where a brutal draft left Team Johnny with limited options for their battleship choice. The primary three choices for shield battleships, the Rokh, Tempest and Typhoon, had all been banned out, two by Team Johnny themselves. The arguable 4th choice shield battleship in the Hyperion had been taken out as well. Off this Team Johnny ended up taking the Raven, a unique pick. Though Battle Dog may well have had a solid plan in taking it; the Clevergirls team were likely not too unhappy seeing such an unfavoured pick come out and took a dominating victory in the match.
The Osprey has felt defeat in the last fortnight, losing its undefeated record as well as its perfect protector status in the Major Leagues. Whether it has fallen to sustained pressure or overwhelming firepower the losses of the Osprey can be attributed to losses for the shield meta in general as well as a decoupling from the Ferox links that give it such strong damage mitigation, forced by a more aggressive and switched on draft.
In the last two weeks we’ve seen the Ferox fall a little from grace as well. Taking a record of only 1 from 5 in the last fortnight and picking up 6 bans in the process the Ferox no longer has the free reign it once did. Both numbers speak to teams reacting to its presence in the meta. Whether they take The Other Team approach of locking it away with pre- emptive bans, perhaps key in their two red side victories against shield teams last week, or simply smash through its team, the Ferox is no longer an unknown and unchecked element.
One of the biggest shifts coming into this season of the Championship has been the addition of bursts to battlecruisers. With the rework and introduction of piloting skill to their use, they have been added to the combat battlecruisers offering team wide benefits and versatility from the new scripting mechanic. This has lead to a dramatic shift towards the Combat Battlecruisers over the more damaging and maneuverable Attack Battlecruisers.
The choice of burst ship has shown a considerable bias in the kind of links teams are looking for with more than 80% being taken by the various tank bursts and 33.3% by the Ferox alone. This last value points to the considerable strength of the new Ferox, as the other Skirmish Burst ship has only seen one pick in the Championship, losing that match.
The Skirmish links it brings however are of great value, leading to its sheer popularity, along with a self-synergistic fitting with good damage and tank. So desired has this ship become that captains have spoken seriously about taking it into armour compositions, though this may point more to the weaknesses of the Brutix.
Across the four weeks of play that we’ve seen though it’s become clear that the Combat Battlecruisers are here to stay. With the recent week of play showing both more bans and more defeats being handed to the Ferox expect it to drop out of favour somewhat, though its strength will always keep it close to the top.
A, perhaps surprisingly, popular trend has been that of taking off tanked battleships, that is a battleship that does not match the logistics of the team it fits into. This will often be done when a team feels their matching options are not sufficient and the benefits of an off tank ship outway the lost synergies. An interesting variation was the off tank Slasher taken by Clevergirls, intending to support it with logistics bots from the rest of the composition, it had mixed results. Though it’s potential value to throw off another team in the draft phase shouldn’t be underestimated.
The most popular choice for this has been the Hyperion, taken twice in shield comps during the championship and more in the recent EVE_NT Cup. Its nature as a strong, locally tanked, brawling platform has been key to this. Its large drone bay also allows it to interact with a shield team as it would armour by providing additional repping power.
The two other cases of this have been more interesting. Pandi taking an Apocalypse in an Offline shield comp during their match against Templis. Being an Amarr battleship it has a strong local tank and its nature as a long range sustained damage platform is unmatched in shield battleships beyond the already banned Typhoon, however the Tempest may be a contender. This to one side it took victory after an extended fight against TheLastSparton in Templis’ sole remaining Armageddon.
The final example comes from V0LTA in picking a Dominix into an armour composition. Annie Gardet piloted the recently changed Dominix, now a shield tank as it fell less than two minutes into the match against The Other Team. Despite this it helped take out The Other Team logistics, an Osprey piloted by Anariasis, however V0LTA failed to make any more headway and were handed a loss with their damage so drastically reduced.
Another potential surprise has come in the low key, but regular, appearance of logistics frigates. Undefeated in the Majors, though with mixed results in the Minors, the choice to take frigate over cruiser logistics is one with risk and reward. The obvious risk being the reduced repping power, taking a 50% or more slash down from that of a cruiser equivalent before you start looking at the survivability of the logistics ship itself.
The less obvious risk is the lack of screening ships, due to the format taking such a frigate takes away from the sparse support wing teams have, meaning they have to seek equivalents in destroyer slot or else accept a slower tackle platform of a heavier ship. The benefit however is free pick of the cruiser slot, though free pick here can be roughly equivocated with the Caracal. A strong source of additional, potent and high application damage.
Generally considered the 5th valid cruiser pick this is key to most frigate logistics based set ups and what biases them all into the shield pick. It can provide the same kind of rush damage potential seen in the no logistics comps with additional staying power and the ability to go into the longer games far better. In a format where logistics can rarely offer absolute security the logistics frigates can be seen as a middle ground between the two extremes and so far it’s efficacy seems in a similar place.
Mid Season Lookback
Down to the wire: Longest Domination Match
A demonstration of piloting skill in the elegant dance the two teams made for so much of the match. With the Rokh of Lord Colin held for so long by Deyze’s Slasher the match began to pivot around the Sudden Otters Battleship. However damage from Exodunks finally caught and the long stalemate began to fall apart as Nika NOisER was taken out, letting Exodunks snowball through. Then, in the final seconds, Lord Colin was taken out to secure a dominating victory, and prove once more that Rokh’s can be stopped. 9:56 was the final time making this the longest match we’ve had that finished due to ship destruction and we are unlikely to see longer, though we can hope.
Last Man Standing: Bloodiest Match
A lesson in how to use a no Logi team from Team Pretty building huge damage potential in their comp and using it in a massive strike on the Typhoon of Battle Dog though the Oracle of Cyrics provides crucial damage for breaking the shields even trading Ancientlexy in the Rifter as well to bring it down. However this call panned out as they went on to break the Osprey, their own ships given considerable time by the removal of so much damage from Team Johnny. Eventually this trading left just Tehebil1 in a Ferox to contest Dxella in the Tempest, a bout won by Dxella as the neut pressure and immense damage of the Tempest finished off the fleeing Ferox. With only one ship left to hold the field this bloodbath was everything a rush comp hopes to achieve, massive destruction and an edge gained in the midst of it all.
Over In a Flash: Shortest Match
“One man deserves the credit, one man deserves to blame,” to quote a Tom Leher lyric. This flash in the pan hinged on an early mistake by anddor Hita, a mistimed Micro Jump Drive activation took his Hyperion out of bounds. With this major damage and control source out of the equation the Scorpion of killa542 provided the control, and with the Exequror of Artimus Albosa survivability, to take Nasty Boyz to victory. At 3:55 this was the quickest match of the Championship, making it at least a mercifully brief chapter in the Powers Ducks competitive record.
Did We Win?: Least Destructive Match
Perhaps a look at how the previous match might have gone, this fight saw Templis take the slow methodical game plan with Scorpion and Exequror providing a lot of survivability for the team. However even with TheLastSpartan trying to disrupt with jams their damage wasn’t enough to break through to reps Per Ole could send out from a Scythe. Eventually against the more damaging and link reinforced team from Exodunks the Dragoon of Dale Sturtevant and the Oracle of Super Chair fell. Having dropped the 2 points of the destroyer early and failing to make the damage of the Oracle count to score any back before they lost it Templis ended up behind to a fully functioning composition of Exodunks. A testimony to the durability of the Scoprion Exequror pairing however that this endured though to time meaning this was the lowest scoring match in the first half of the Spring Championship.
The most seen ship of the tournament so far, bar the Apocalypse from the transition sequences, is the Talwar. Slipping into shield comps well and providing reliable damage the Talwar is a popular pick for its ability to get value in most compositions and relative survivability for its class.
Arguably the most feared battleship, the supreme fire platform that is the Apocalypse has drawn 20 bans acrosses 28 matches. Being evenly banned by both sides speaks to the intimidation factor of this hull, with double application bonuses and a full rack of Mega Pulse Lasers it can put down considerable firepower on a multitude of targets. Outside of this it’s been picked into 6 matches with a strong record of winning 4 of them.
The winningest ship of them all. Chalking up more wins than any other ship is the rifter with 10. A strong win percentage as well at 62.5% over its 16 matches. This can be attributed to the strength of the Rifter as a tackle frigate. Boasting a strong tank, though not on par with the Punisher or Merlin the Rifter crucially brings both a Scram and a Web allowing it to pin down ships harder than the tackle frigs that bring one or the other. This versatility and control power puts it on the top tier of tackle frigates.
Chalking up 10 total losses is the Talwar, though not too surprising for the most picked ship the poor win rate across all of these points to its rather vanilla contribution to a composition. Bringing low level, high application damage on a survivable platform is valuable, but a lack of major utility and certainly not game changing damage leaves the Talwar in a filler category. Though rarely outclassed by any single ship it can be outclassed in most compositions by at least one. It is a pick that often loses to teams with a deeper understanding of their composition who will pick ships with stronger character and so stronger synergy.
Destroyed: Talwar, Algos
A dubious honour, the most destroyed ship is split between the Talwar and Algos with 11 loss mails each. With both seeing a huge number of picks 17 and 15 respectively this stat speaks little to the nature of the ships and more to the nature of the class. Sporting little tank improvement over the tougher frigates and a larger sig to boot they are vulnerable targets at most points in a match. Though the Talwar is a relatively survivable destroyer with its MWD bonus its position here talks to its high loss rate where it can be easily enough cleaned up later in a fight.
Having survived the most matches is an accolade taken by the Ferox. The fact is has survived all 9 matches it’s won can be attributed to the strength of the Ferox’s most recent iteration. With a still solid tank, long range weapons and a skirmish link to enhance its mobility and survivability the Ferox can keep itself in a favourable position while dishing out strong damage. However every single loss it has suffered has involved its death pointing even more to its lynchpin position in a team composition and the value of, above other traits, its burst.
Wins: The Other Team
Putting in a dominant performance at the top of the Major League the undefeated Other Team have so far picked up 4 wins from 4 games, both records uncontested in either league. Despite only 1 dominating victory The Other Team have dropped only 5 points across their matches so far, another record they hold.
Losses: ProviShotz, Phalanx, Power Ducks, Footwork
Holding mutual positions at the bottom of their respective leagues are four teams with something to prove. In the Majors ProviShotz and Phalanx are sitting at 0 from 3, with 4 matches to go there is potential for a change of form to keep either team in the Major league. However a matchup between the two in their schedules could prove crucial if they aim to retain their place in the Majors. In the Minors Power Ducks and Footwork sit at 1 from 4. With reasonably strong schedules to go these teams will have a tough road to securing a Major League place if they seek it. With a win under their belt each and half a season to go we are likely to see these teams proving they deserved a place in the League.
The performance of the Footwork team relative to the rest of the League does point to the sheer strength of the teams coming up from the EVE_NT Cup. As the only returning team in the Minor Leagues they’ve had their work cut out to keep up with the fresh blood. All in all this makes the idea of relegation more daunting for the Minor League teams, with requalification only possible through another brutal cup.
Varied: Team Johnny, Shout out Volta
The most varied team of the Spring Championship so far has been Team Johnny, picking a whopping 17 ships across 4 matches. These include every single logi cruiser as well as Championship unique picks like the Raven, Brutix and Atron, though the merit of these has been disputed. A special shout out however has to go to V0LTA who have so far never repeated a ship pick in their 3 matches.
At the other end of the scale we have Templis, who have only picked 7 different ships in their 3 games, appearing set on a Rifter, Dragoon, Exequror, Oracle, Armageddon comp, only deviating when elements are banned away, however a Scorpion pick in their Exodus match is as major a deviation as one ship might allow.
I will wrap this up with the same graph I did before, the incredibly information rich meta summary that is this scatter plot. However this week I see a welcome improvement in it as the trend line no longer curves anywhere near so drastically. We also see a more level line. Overall this points to a better understood and more varied meta. Though we still have severe outliers, we see a huge variety of picks, the most contested picks are far from game endingdishing out strong damage. However every single loss it has suffered has involved it. The pool of played ships is growing broader, this is not to say new ships were picked, though we saw many unique picks in Q2, but we are seeing more play across a wider group of ships, and not just sporadic picks as the power picks are taken away,
In all we are seeing a meta level out, and certainly after the last week we go into the second half of the season far less sure of what is the path to victory. The Rokh, Ferox and Osprey have all been proved mortal, armour has proved itself still relevant and the red side of the draft has begun to hold its own. Well, we can hope. With four more weeks of competition we have a lot of space for upsets, position swaps and still more surprises to emerge from this Championship I’m sure.