Hail Mary setups, for extra points, are possible. The rule explaining this is not on the Rules page, but rather in the Format section of the tournament website. Nutty.
Intentional Handicaps(It is the Format page that also details the 25% win bonus.)
If a team begins the match with less points value worth of ships than their opponent, and wins the match, they score extra ranking points equal to the difference in the two teams' values.
So, is a zero point team really out of the tournament? Perhaps not. It really depends on whether CCP is allowing any meta-gaming. But I'll touch on that after constructing a possible week two match that could send a zero point team into the group stage.
Test Alliance and No Holes Barred both have zero points. They are fighting each other on Saturday. Let's say Test really really wants to get to the group stage. How? Well, Test builds a 10 point team. No Holes Barred builds a 50 point team. If Test Alliance wins, they earn 50 + 40 = 90 points, plus their 25% win bonus for a total of 112.5 points. Which should be more than enough to get into the group stage.
But, how does a 10 point team win against a 50 point team? With ISK. Test Alliance offers No Holes Barred some large sum, let's say 50B ISK, to put together 50 points of terrible fits, basically to throw the match. Let the 10 points worth of Test ships blow up all 50 points of No Holes ships.
This year, CCP banned alliances from fielding more than one team, the B and C team rule. Which is fine, in my books, since it allows more alliances to participate, who might not have been able to otherwise. According to their rules page, CCP may in fact be banning all obvious meta-gaming is obvious during the tournament, disallowing all thrown matches of the super-obvious variety. The following rule can be found on the Rules page:
PenaltiesPotentially banning meta-gaming? Paying other alliances to throw matches is a time-honoured tradition of the Alliance tournament.
For Alliance Tournament X the referees can call a match null and void or declare a result if they believe that one of the teams is not competing. This tournament is designed to showcase the talents of pilots and should be entertaining.
As it stands, if No Holes and Test Alliance go head-to-head, 50 point setup versus 50 point setup, neither team stands any chance, whatsoever, of getting into the group stage. Meta-gaming plays an important role here. One team gets to advance (most likely) and the other gets some phat ISK for the alliance war chest.
My interest level in the first day of competition during week two has dropped significantly. The majority of those matches mean nothing. At least with meta-gaming, the spectator is left to wonder whether any backroom funny business has gone on before each match.
Bit of a shame really, if scenarios, like the one I outlined above, are not allowed to happen. That's taking CCP's paranoia, over the Hydra/Outbreak final from last year, a bit too far.