Let me start by saying that I love the Alliance Tournament. I watched the later rounds of last year's tournament, and I think its fantastic. The best alliances in Eve clash in a fair, organized system not based on who can bring more supercapitals or numbers. Its all about who concocted the better team and then outflew the others.
A few days ago, CCP announced the ATX rules, and there were a few small tweaks. The most interesting were the points rebalancing, as was well laid out at Scram Web, and the reduced time for rounds, which was discussed at Eve Opportunist. The other big thing that happened was all of the rebalancing and new ships introduced with Crucible. ATX could have a very new look to it.
The Alliance Tournament format changes are going to have a big impact. The average point per ship went from 10 to 8.33, which is a significant decline I'd argue. A few ships did get their point values lowered, but I'm not sure if its enough to combat the ship number increase from 10 ships to 12. I played around with some numbers in excel, and I couldn't decide on any clear cut winning teams, so I tried to model them after previous year's teams.
The core of what I saw was 3-4 high DPS ships to start. These were often anchored by Sleipnirs, T3's or Faction Battleships, such as Vindicators. That's 48-60 points of your total right off the bat. Most teams were then supplemented by Logistics, which makes sense. Another 12 points right there, bringing you to a minimum of 60 points by only counting four out of your twelve ships. That means we've got 40 points for 8 ships, or an average of 5 points per ship after the core 3 DPS ships and the logi. Recons can make the difference in a fight, but even one will cost you 14 points, rounding out to a minimum of 74 points & 7 ships remaining (3.71 points/ship remaining). At that point, its your call to tack on seven Assault Frigs/Interdictors/Destroyers/Frigates.
I'm certainly no expert, but here's a team I would consider trying based on these "truths" of successful alliance tournament teams from past years:
This setup, modeled after 0utbreak's team from the final match last year, uses all 12 ships, but only 98 points. The problem with adding two more ships to the field without a team point increase is that it is difficult to tack on anything larger than a Frigate or Destroyer class ship.
The other option is to do some larger rearranging. If you take out the Huginn (or equivalent Recon) and the Assault Frigates you can add two Tier 3 BC's. The downside is that 2 Assault Frigates have their place taken by regular Frigates. Regardless, it still makes for an interesting setup, and it hits 100 points on the dot.
I think I like this team better despite the lack of a Recon. Its a very quick team, and between the Sleipnirs and the Tornadoes, there is a ton of DPS to neutralize the enemy fleet. The best part is probably the Tornadoes ability to project damage while keeping range. The Sleipnirs can brawl up close supported by the Scimitar while the Tier 3's skirmish along the edges of the arena. This team should not have any trouble keeping the match under the new 10 minute time limit.
The theory-crafting is one of the best parts about the Alliance Tournament in my eyes. I'm by no means an expert on the situation, but I'd love to be behind the scenes with the people who are. Its events like this why I would push for some type of arena combat in Eve. Just the thought of creating these teams and testing them out in a fair combat environment is so damn cool. On a roam, you would never trade a Huginn for a Rifter if that's what your fleet really needed, but those are the sacrifices you have to make for the Alliance Tournament. I'm very much looking forward to the beginnings of the event this year. I'll probably continue to theory-craft and if I come up with anything good, I'll be sure to share.