We will start the Q3 blog with a guest graph, provided for us this week by LL Anum, captain of the Power Ducks team. Here we see the improvement of the Lazerhawks team across the first three quarters of the Minor League Championship. From a difficult start against NT Cup champions Nasty Boyz and Minor League leaders Exodunks they have shown an improvement in form, taking a crucial win against Footwork. Most recently there was a huge upset in the battle of animal teams as the Fusion Pigeons defeated Sudden Otters.
Looking forward this climb in win rate can be extrapolated to a 150% rate in Q4 of this season. If Uber Kestrels do in fact win 3 of their upcoming 2 games; we will have a very interesting table indeed with them even challenging for the top spot if all 3 are dominating victories. This would be scary for teams such as Clevergirls and The Other Team who, though they look to be strong competitors into next year’s Major Leagues, won’t be able to compete with up to 80 points that the Torchlight Buzzards could get out of 28 that are available to most teams.
On the other hand, extrapolation is like the arena boundary, there are some merits to flirting with it, but jumping in head long is a danger that the Hyper Geese should know all too well.
So to depart from the realms of fantasy and return to the realms of analysis. We will start this week with an ever present but generally less and less surprising graph. Armour is still more successful than shield, shield a little more popular, frigate logi hit and miss and no logi means little success.
So how about we mix things up a little here and look at side popularity for the two main meta styles.
Though initially quite mucky this graph shows some interesting points. One of the interesting ones is the zagzag property of it. This is reflected in the comparison of picks between the minors and majors overall, pointing to distinct priorities within their own drafting metas. This can be broken down more clearly below.
Okay, the word clearly may have been optimistic here. This graph shows the meta choices in given scenarios. Divided between Red on the left, Blue on the right, Minors on the top and Majors on the bottom the quadrants break down the metas played. Here you can see the distinction between Majors and Minors fairly clearly.
In the Majors we see a strong tendency towards Blue shield and Red armour. In the Minor’s this gets flipped with Blue choosing more often to go Armour and Red taking shield. Though we see some variation in Blue picks with shield still making up a fair number of their picks the Minor Red side doesn’t vary onto armour often, taking it less frequently than either frigate logistics or logiless compositions.
We also see that frigate logi has never been taken on the Blue side of the draft. Despite the fact no logi compositions have been. These are a little anomalous however. With the Major League example being taken by The Charlatans after their draft was sadly derailed by connection issues. The Minor League example was an interesting no holds barred match between Footwork and Make Amarr Great Again, in which no form of logistics was picked. And interesting look at what eve tournaments might be.
Returning to the chronology of it all however you see two growing trends across the season. Blue shield and Red armour. This has been a fairly constant thing in the Major League, and something we can expect to see in the finals for sure, but both have been growing in popularity in the Minors. In fact only in Q3 have we seen a Minor League team get an armour composition on red side. Plasma Falcons in their aforementioned victory over Sudden Otters and Exodunks in their dominating victory over Footwork.
Inevitably this had lead to declines in Blue armour picks as >95% of Blue side compositions include logistics so there is little neutral ground between the shield and armour camps.
Returning to the subject of extrapolation there is one piece of extrapolation that I feel I can safely make. The Other Team will continued to the end of the season undefeated. So far undefeated, though more bloodied in their latest 15-4 victory over second place Clevergirls than in any match so far. Having secured the victory the final match in securing this incredible season will be against Phalanx, a team that has so far been unable to pick up victory.
The Other Team’s undefeated reign is hard to pin on anything in particular, if only because in a record with no losses there is a lack of contrast with which to find what they have been doing well. Splitting their matches into red and blue side matches however gives lead to something we can analyse:
Thrasher, Osprey, Ferox, Rohk, Every, Single, Match, (Nearly).
Typically an AB frigate will be added to this. And this is the only team we’ve seen go so far in their faith in this little sub-class of ships as to pick the Kestrel when Team Pretty picked the more favoured Slasher away. Together this provides an incredibly strong team, with the support wing mixing survivability with decent highly applicable damage, and a top end that synergizes with its core to put damage where it’s needed.
However we also see adaptability. Against V0LTA the Rokh is overlooked for a Typhoon, whose huge long range damage allowed them to instantly attack the weak link of a shield tanked Dominix at the top end of the armour composition V0LTA drafted. The choice of the Typhoon here allowing them to apply pressure to a long range ship that would have been able to avoid the point blank damage of a Rokh.
On Red side their play has been more interesting to look at. Though a match against Provi-Shotz saw them take shield it was a compromised version of their blue side standard. This involved giving up the Ferox to their own bans and the Thrasher to Provi-Shotz picks, though getting their critical Osprey logi due to a more open banning phase by Provi-Shotz.
Typically however they’re forced into armour by the standard Blue side double logi bans and shield preference. Here we’ve seen them damage control in their draft and produce solid armour meta compositions, including the now classical drone boat destroyer and battlecruiser picks. We also saw them throw a considerable curveball against The Charlatans, with an effectively used Griffin pick.
We see them placing greater value on the Ferox than many other teams, always banning it when red and always picking it when blue. I believe this speaks to the priorities of the team. While the Ferox is no longer the dominant force that is was, having dropped to a 55% win rate, it is the only valid skirmish link platform by many accounts. In that it brings the ability to enhance benefits of piloting well, by improving damage mitigation and allowing better control of positioning.
By controlling this Ferox pick The Other Team solidify their goals for each match, to out-pilot their opponents. And with an undefeated record, and the Championship in their pocket, it’s hard to argue they aren’t the team to do it. Drafting a solid team in each of their matches they ensure that are at least not disadvantaged and take what advantages they can and allow skill to bring them the victory. As such their drafts are rarely anything spectacular but their matches often are.
In recent weeks we’ve seen Red side securing more victories and gone are the weeks of 5-2 and 6-1 biases for Blue side. A key factor in this has been an understanding of the Meta for teams. Early on the Blue side power of first picking the Logistics cruiser and Battlecruiser allowed them to control the top end of an unrefined game space in the draft. With both of these being crucial to defining a composition, if a team ends up being without the picks they want here and lacks good substitutes, they’d be at a significant disadvantage, as Red side often found themselves in early weeks.
As we’ve seen the Championships progress we’ve seen the Red side become more versatile, but by no means less effective than Blue. Frigate logi, still picked exclusively from the Red side has given them options to move around the double logi bans Blue side so often throws out. A better understanding of power picks has refined their banning away from the pure armour battleship bans of early weeks. Though the void between the sides still exists in the Minors where over 60% of matches go to the Blue side; in the Majors there isn’t even a 5% margin between them. Shown in the chart earlier the Red side in the Minors is the most varied between the metas, inevitably this causes them problems, especially a large number of drafts taking the unsuccessful no logi comps.
You can pin this lack of adaptability in the Minor League to a single stat potentially. The number of unique ships which each team has picked is nearly 20% higher in the Major League. The ability to adapt a composition as required and not lean on specific picks match to match is a strong one. Even in the Minors, comparing the top 4 teams to the bottom 4 teams reveals a 10% difference in the number of unique picks.
Though of course a factor which would have diminishing returns, being able to comfortably use a variety of ships and compositions gives you the tools to take advantages in the draft or at least mitigate damage. This should of course be taken with a pinch of salt as teams will have trained compositions and options they have not played.
With that in mind a few interesting statistics, especially so late in the season, do emerge. Sadly in the last week Team Johnny have lost not just a match to Clevergirls but also the title of most varied team. Clevergirls have overtaken them and have now played more than 30% of the available ships for the format.
At the other end of the spectrum Team Pretty and Make Amarr Great Again have never played a shield based composition. In fact Make Amarr great Again have only picked 12 different ships throughout the Championship, 30% down on the overall average of 17.5. Impressively true to their name they have suck to just one Amarr frigate for the entire championship: the Punisher.
On a bittersweet note the compromised draft by The Charlatans did produce the most unique single draft of the tournament with 4 unique picks. Only by having picked the Talos in the Battlecruiser slot could it have been made an utterly unique team.
With the Finals ahead of us we could see the most volatile week yet in terms of drafting with teams throwing out hail marys. Or, with so much data to draw on, we could see some of the most calculated and optimized drafts yet. Personally I hope to see teams focus on what they are comfortable with to try and maximise their capacity to out-pilot opponents. But this is EVE and min-maxing is what we do, so we can expect nothing less here, I’m sure. With everyone from Exodunks to the Tesla Coil Owls fighting for position in the Minors and Cleversgirls through to Team Pretty still battling for it in the Majors there is a lot on the line.