The morning of April 6th is not likely to be one that Lychton Kondur will ever forget, if only because the knife-shaped hole in his back won’t let him. That morning, he awoke to find that everything he had spent two years building had been ripped away. During the night, Lychton Kondur was deposed.
When we talked via Skype, Lychton in a cab on his way to a meeting, he explained how he started in EVE. It’s a story that he shares in common with thousands: he had heard about an amazing and climactic battle and had to join.
“So I read about the fight the next day on one of the normal news sites—not a gaming website, I’m not a gamer,” Lychton told me. “It was just a, ‘hey, an EVE player lost a ten thousand dollar ship’—or whatever and I was like wow, that’s really cool, I too would like to blow up ships that are worth the equivalent of a Dodge Saturn.”
Lychton, his interest piqued, set off to Reddit to see if he could find others who were playing. There he answered the call of Matias Otero who, like Lychton, was also intrigued by the premise of EVE and wanted to find other new players to learn alongside with.
“Eighteen hours into my EVE career and we had created Brave Newbies,” Lychton said.
From two players who could barely figure out how to fly their ships, Brave Newbies exploded into a massive corporation that currently houses over ten thousand characters. Two years saw them rise into one of the biggest corporations in EVE Online, create the BRAVE alliance, become a key member of the HERO coalition, and eventually make a bid for the lucrative null-security space.
But as the alliance moved into Catch, a region of space notorious for its bloody conflicts, things quickly began to turn sour. Null-sec, the land of milk and honey, is also a land that is bought with the corpses and wreckage of thousands of pilots. BRAVE was embroiled in a bitter fight with a ruthless alliance known as Pandemic Legion.
“Our pilots were getting shaky. There was this big issue where the grind itself was becoming so laborious people didn’t want to fight,” Lychton said. “Now, in the background there was bad deals being made, whether or not I approved them—that’s not really the issue.”
“We’re used to having content all across New Eden, but we’re not used to having one group just keep hitting us, hitting us, hitting us.”
BRAVE were getting mauled by Pandemic Legion forces, and it was beginning to wear. Lychton told me that while he was away at EVE Fanfest, a critical issue had set the stage for his betrayal. A laptop hard drive failure knocked Lychton out of the captain’s chair and he was only able to communicate using out-of-game channels. While Lychton had left orders during his absence for players to hold the line against Pandemic Legion, hoping to broker some sort of deal during Fanfest, his second-in-command, Liquid Drisseg, made the call to abandon Catch.
The evacuation was a disaster. With Lychton mysteriously absent, Pandemic Legion unleashed hell on the retreating alliance, exterminating members with extreme prejudice. WIth no clear directive from their leader, BRAVE began to buckle. In an effort to mitigate dissent, Lychton sat with his council to affirm his commitment to them and explain how he would prevent future failures.
“Everybody was angry but acceptant, and I went to bed,” he said.
Two years of managing one of the largest, most popular alliances in the game was gone in the blink of an eye, the consequence of a decision that Lychton wasn’t even a part of. During the evening, Lychton had been voted out as executor of BRAVE, though he still retained control over Brave Newbies. His council—friends, advisors, all of them—had been swayed by another senior member, Anna Niedostepny, and with a single vote, Lychton was deposed; a king without a kingdom.
“I woke up in the morning on the way to my first day on my new contract job, realizing that I just lost 21 thousand newbies but I couldn’t do anything about it.”
Lychton was alone.
“It felt like I came home to my house and there was a Dear John letter and no furniture in the house. I lost everything.”
“It was gutting.”
Though Lychton still retained control over Brave Newbies, and Brave Newbies were still within BRAVE, he was reluctant to pull the corporation from the alliance.
“I realized that if I try to go and pull my 11 thousand newbies out of the collective, there would be this great big civil war,” Lychton said. “So I decided to take the high ground and just not deal with it.”
For Anna Niedostepny, the coup was a success. Lychton was gone and unwilling to spark controversy from within the ranks. Yet, as the dust began to settle and people began to talk, two players, aDAMNPATRIOT and Suev Raylap, began to ask questions.
“They found that there were all these crazy-ass anomalies,” Lychton said. “They asked me to go and fight for the alliance. I told him I was not going to do that.”
“If they want me back, they need to put me back of their own accord.”
But as it turns out, that’s exactly what the alliance leadership was wanting to do. The council had been exploited, they’re discontent and bitterness spun into a fervor by Anna Niedostepny and other dissenters. They used misinformation and poor communication as weapons, but as the truth behind the evacuation of Catch came to light, BRAVE began to realize the mistake they had made.
“I got the executorship back on Saturday morning,” Lychton said. “and I kicked the newly minted executor corp out to restore order.”
Since the dramatic coup, and the movement to reinstate Lychton, things have begun to return to normal. Lychton had stepped aside temporarily, placing June Ting as interim leader of HERO while he spent the last few weeks digging through the rubble. Preparations have been made to fortify BRAVE from a hostile takeover, including seeding the alliance with holding corporations to maintain a majority vote. Lychton himself, despite the betrayal, is confident that BRAVE can move forward and is doing everything he can to heal the wounds caused through exploitation and miscommunication.
“People didn’t feel that they could talk to me, and then I was using that silence as a validation that everything was okay,” Lychton said. “And that itself was the splinter that caused the resentment that created the seed for revolt.”
But as BRAVE and HERO begin the next chapter, relocating to a new region of space in null-sec, Lychton told me he has learned and is determined not to repeat the same mistakes.
“If anything else, I’m actually emboldened,” Lychton said. “I got a little bit complacent.”
During an address on Twitch, where Lychton addressed the coup and the future of HERO, he said it best when he signed off: “You come at the King, you better not miss.”