New Eden Racing Association Closes
An interview with Norrin Ellis, Team Manager of Venture Racing.
To start with, tell us about the Racing League. When was it created?
Oh, it’s been a long time. I believe the league has been around in one incarnation or another since 2006. Maybe before that. The ship classes allowed in the competition have changed over the years, and so has the season format. The tracks have been adapted as game mechanics necessitate it, too.
For the most part, however, the sport has been very consistent as far as rules and procedure go.
How long have you been a part of it?
I got involved as a spectator and fan around the end of the first season with my original character. I started racing as a hobbyist in Season 2, and I formed Venture Racing Team ( www.ventureracingteam.com ) with my partner, Takashi Kurosawa, for Season 4.
How many seasons have there been?
There were eight full seasons, and the current season that collapsed was the ninth.
Tell us about the racetracks and describe how the races were conducted. Also, how often were the races held?
Most recently, races were held once per week. The tracks consist of 15 secure audit log containers scattered through space. At the starting line, racers would be given the location of the first waypoint and a password for all the cans on the track.
Upon reaching the first location, racers approach the can, open it, and the bookmarks inside give the location of the next waypoint. Locations can have multiple waypoint cans in one spot, so there are opportunities to shoot each other or be shot by passers-by.
The last waypoint gives the location of the finish line, a station in highsec. Race order is determined by docking times.
Where were the races held?
Any region of empire space was valid. The regions for the season would be randomly selected prior to making the schedule. All waypoints were in lowsec. Starting and finish lines were highsec stations.
Races did not have to stay in one region though. It’s possible to start in Sinq Laison and end up in Kor-Azor.
Any notable FactionWar pilots in the racing league?
Graelyn is probably the biggest name I can think of off the top of my head. Esna Pitoojee joined my team last season, too. He didn’t have an opportunity to race often, though.
What kind of prizes did racers win?
The league had prize pools built primarily from sponsorship funds that were contributed. Racers and teams also pay registration fees that were paid out as prizes, after meeting administrative costs. In seasons past, some sponsors have also contributed ships or modules as prizes for winning or accomplishing other specific feats on the track.
As a team manager, I paid my racers simply for participating. The more often they raced and the better they performed, the larger share they received at the end of the season.
From your perspective, why did the League collapse?
It was a combination of things related to my scouting of the track. No one had ever scouted entire tracks. Racers typically didn’t know the layout or waypoints in advance. Occasionally, people would find a waypoint before the race and bookmark it, but it was never a systematic effort until I did it for the final race of last season.
Before I did it, I asked the league organizer if it was alright. The league’s position is that it was not against the rules, and no prohibition could’ve been enforced anyway, so I was permitted on the condition that I did not physically stalk the race organizer while she set up the tracks.
I continued scouting the tracks for the first, and only, two races of the current season. When our rivals realized what we were doing, they were a lot more agitated than I expected. Had the league organizer expected the degree of rage that ensued, she probably would’ve told me up front not to do it.
The league posted new rules to mitigate the benefits of scouting because, as I mentioned, banning scouting itself would be unenforceable. My team and I, along with a small minority of our rivals, were satisfied with this as the most feasible plan, but others insisted on an unenforceable regulatory scheme.
In the end, the league organizer decided it was no longer fun to run the events and decided not to continue.
As a friend said, it was a team effort that collapsed the league. I scouted the tracks. The league let me do it. The majority of our rivals couldn’t let it go and move forward.
How have you been affected by the closing of the League? Any fall out with other racers?
I think a lot of them blame me exclusively for the collapse. The tradition that developed over the years of not knowing the track prior to the race was simply accepted as law. The argument about what is and what is not in the spirit of the sport, however, ends at the point that I made my intentions clear to the league official and asked permission to break this tradition.
I’ve always trusted Gyra as the final arbiter of what is within the letter, as well as the spirit, of the rules. When she didn’t say no, I proceeded with a clear conscience.
There are a few outsiders that didn’t even race who have made a hobby of smearing my integrity at every opportunity, even before this incident, but I tend to ignore those folks.
Sometimes I do things I’m not exactly proud to admit. This wasn’t one of those things. Tracks were kept secret to prevent outsiders from setting up shop at the waypoints and ruining the events. The fact that racers never knew the layout was purely incidental.
Do you think the League will start again under new management?
I think that someone will eventually pick it up. Perhaps Gyra will get bored and decide to give it another go. In the meantime, I’m not going to dwell on it. EVE is supposed to be fun, and lamenting a loss isn’t fun. I’ve got other things on my plate to keep me occupied.
Thank you for the interview, any parting thoughts?
Games within the game are a great concept. It’s part of what made racing fun. For those who enjoy that sort of thing, I recommend EVE Online Hold’Em to play poker for ISK ( www.eohpoker.com ). Drop by the in-game channel EOH Poker to see what it’s about, and tell them Norrin sent you.
Yeah, shameless plug for the win.