Reserve pilots were gathered in the Kappas system on Sunday for the first of what is planned to be a series of tournaments designed to help train pilots in pod pilot combat. ADM Otireya came up with the single-elimination tournament, and teams were announced on Thursday, giving them only a few days to prepare for battle. The tournament was restricted to tech 1 ships and equipment only, to level the playing field as much as possible.
The first two battles were both surprising upsets. In the first, CAPT Svetlana Scarlet's Celestis and LCDR Trion Kadeshi's Vexor dismantled the team of ADM Derrys Otireya's Arbitrator and LCDR Terry "Mookuh" Hijakosji's Maller. Neither of the two Gallente ships was significantly damaged, as CAPT Scarlet managed to use sensor dampners and her superior speed to hold the two Amarr cruisers at bay while LCDR Kadeshi's drones took them apart.
In the second battle, Reserve favorite CAPT Ladel Teravada, in his Omen, and CDR Wolfgang Jager's Rupture were beaten by a powerful combination of CDR Zevrik's microwarp drive-equipped Moa and LCDR Cierra Astris' Caracal, once again thanks to sensor dampners. After the fight, both CDR Jager and CAPT Teravada blamed their loss on being too slow to switch targets to the Moa.
The third fight again showed the power of the Moa-Caracal combination, as LCDR Hurs Sokira and new recruit MIDN Hamish Grayson, respectively, took down LT Marithin Sanalis' Celestis and LT Ayari's Caracal by going straight for the Caldari missile cruiser first. It was unable to withstand the powerful blaster fire of LCDR Sokira's Moa, going down even as MIDN Grayson's Caracal fell to missile fire as well. With the Caracal and its missile firepower gone, it was only a matter of time before the Moa closed in and eliminated LT Sanalis' Celestis.
Both semifinal rounds were marred by technical problems, leading to somewhat unsatisfying victories for the two winning teams. In the first semifinal match, CAPT Scarlet and LCDR Kadeshi, in their winning Celestis-Vexor combination, went up against CDR Zevrik and LCDR Astris, again in the Moa-Caracal setup. Unfortunately, LCDR Astris warped in too far from the engagement zone and was disqualified, even as CDR Zevrik was torn apart by LCDR Kadeshi's blaster-setup Vexor in no time. Though most observers agreed Scarlet and Kadeshi would have won even if she hadn't been disqualified, the victory was a bit less satisfying than hoped.
In the second semifinal, LCDR Sokira's Moa and MIDN Grayson's Caracal went up against LT Minjak Gosok, in an Arbitrator he had just trained for for the tournament, and new recruit MIDN Blake Pelentar in a Caracal. It looked as if LCDR Sokira's team had a commanding head start, as he barrelled in on LT Gosok and dropped his Arbitrator deep into structure early on, but then, due to a HUD error, he assumed that the Amarr cruiser had been destroyed and switched targets, leaving LT Gosok barely alive, but with his drones still active. As both the Caracalswent down, LCDR Sokira assumed he had won and warped off before LT Gosok had been defeated. As he had warped off, he was disqualified, and LT Gosok's team went through to the finals. Sokira was angry at the results, but admitted he only had himself to blame and wished the declared winners luck against CAPT Scarlet's dominant team.
Compared to the previous matches, considerably less surprising -- once again, CAPT Scarlet and LCDR Kadeshi's powerful Celestis-Vexor team was able to use sensor dampners to great effect, though LT Gosok's drones, unlike those of ADM Otireya, were able to deploy and close the distance to the Celestis before she could do so. Unfortunately, he had chosen Ogre heavy drones, which were too slow to catch the fast-moving Gallente ship on afterburner. Before they could pound her armor to dust, LT Gosok was taken out himself, leaving them dead in space. Once the Arbitrator had fallen, it was only a matter of time before MIDN Pelentar's cruiser was also destroyed by the Gallente ships.
As CAPT Scarlet and LCDR Kadeshi each took home the prize of 50M ISK and a Caldari Navy Hookbill, they congratulated the other pilots on a well-fought tourney, and looked forward to the next tournament. "I don't think we'll see anyone nearly so dominant in the next tournament," said CAPT Scarlet. "Trion and I were very worried we would run into magnetometric ECM in the finals, having used the same two ships in each of the previous matches. We took a gamble that the other teams would not be as prepared or flexible as we were, and we pulled it off -- but I have no doubt everyone will be learning from their mistakes and adapting for the next time, especially if more lead time is given by the CFO."