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Eve Online alliance crumbles thanks to coup, online tumult bleeds into real-world threats

5,000 players suddenly cut off from their leadership, and one potentially from his own hands

A tiny player ship flies toward a colossal space station silhouetted behind a distant planet.
Citadels were introduced into Eve Online last year. They represent thousands of hours of in-game effort by hundreds of players. Circle of Two just had all of theirs stolen overnight.

This time last year, the world of Eve Online was still reeling from a massive war that upturned the game’s balance of power. Word comes today that a major alliance at the center of that war has crumbled, thanks to a coup orchestrated by its own members. And with more than 5,000 players potentially set adrift, tensions are running high.

How high? A major figure in the game just threatened to cut off the hands of another player.

Eve is a famously complex massively multiplayer online game set in a science-fiction universe. Rather than playing the game on separate shards scattered around the world, all of its players share the same in-game universe, which leads to all manner of intrigue. For instance, in March 2016, a months-long war began thanks to a massive mercenary funded by an in-game casino magnate named Lenny Kravitz2.

Today’s drama actually features one of the player alliances at the center of that conflict, a group known as Circle of Two (CO2). It seems that, in the dark of night, a senior member of that alliance took the keys to the kingdom and turned them over to the enemy.

Information is still flooding in from Polygon’s sources inside the game world, but what we know now is that ships and equipment totalling around one trillion ISK (Eve’s in-game currency) were stolen outright. Most importantly, the alliance’s in-game starbases — massive fortifications known as citadels — have changed hands.

And in whose hands are they now? None other than those of the Goonswarm, led by the self-styled emperor Alex "The Mittani" Gianturco, and his allies.

Sources tell me that a player known as The Judge hatched the plot after a recent visit to Iceland, home of the game’s developer CCP. They were there to take part in the proceedings of Eve’s elected board of player advocates, an organization known as the Council of Stellar Management. During that real-life meeting, agents from Gianturco’s Goonswarm flipped The Judge to their side and helped him orchestrate the coup.

When the news broke, the leader of CO2 — a player known as gigX — came on the alliance’s chat room with a personal threat: "The Judge feel free to use your hands by typing here," gigX wrote, "while you still can."

As PC Gamer reports, the chat was broadcast live on Twitch. After it ai, gigX was permanently banned from Eve Online by CCP.

In the meantime, the bulk of the CO2 alliance is trapped inside their own starbases, which they no longer control. They’ll have to run a blockade to escape, and while most of them will be able to make it to safety, Circle of Two is effectively destroyed thanks to a traitor in their own ranks.

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