Two weeks ago, an EVE Online veteran received some difficult news. Christopher “Chappy78” Chapman found out that the pancreatic cancer he had been fighting off was not only back, but the prognosis was not good. This news also came the week before Chappy’s birthday. Facing down the barrel of such terrible news, he turned to EVE Online’s official forums to make a request. He wanted one last battle in EVE to say goodbye to the game and the community he loved. Thousands of EVE Online players gave it to him.
“It is my last birthday,” Chappy wrote on the EVE forums on June 22. “Last week I found out my cancer came back and it is terminal. So I am running a capital slash sub-capital fleet and I am hoping to get a huge fight.” Chappy wanted to stage a massive battle so that he could lose as much of his remaining EVE assets as possible, while he could still enjoy the process. The post rocketed in popularity immediately, with representatives from groups all around EVE Online, as well as CCP Games employees, pledging to be there for the clash. From single pilots to the largest organizations in EVE, players made the trek to the chosen battlefield.
Birthday fleets are a long-standing tradition in EVE. They generally involve players gathering a few of their friends together and making their stand against some other similar-sized force that they randomly run into in space. Memorial fleets are also very common, with players coming together in the name of a lost friend to celebrate their friendship in the way they always had before: by blowing up spaceships. Usually, the result of a post like Chappy’s would have been a sizable turnout full of people looking to commit spaceship violence in the name of a good cause. What actually happened was far beyond anything anyone could have predicted.
World War Chappy, as the battle would be called the next day, featured over 2000 pilots clashing together, either in celebration of Chappy’s life, raging against cancer, or just trying to show a random spaceship nerd a good time. Fleets from most of the major EVE Online player empires showed up, EVE Online streamers warped in with rare and expensive ships to sacrifice in the battle, and CCP Convict, a community manager for EVE Online, appeared in the system flying one of EVE’s crown jewels, an Erebus-class Titan.
The battle raged for hours and hours, with several players being destroyed, finding another ship and piling back into the fray. Chappy succeeded in his goal of losing his capital-class spaceships, with well over 100 individual players getting credit for the destruction. The morning after the devastation of World War Chappy, the EVE Online subreddit was flooded with pictures, videos and dedications to the fight the night before.
In the days since the battle, Chappy has posted that he is going to fight the cancer: “Originally I was not going to opt for treatment that the Dr’s offered for my stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer due to I knew what it would do to me, having seen it with the many others in my family I lost to cancer,” he wrote, but he changed his mind after talking it over with his son. He’ll be hosting another bash on July 11 to retire his character for good: “If the treatments go well hopefully you will see Chappy78 Chapman fly in EVE once again after I am better, but I am getting to where I can’t play for long and have decided to lay Chappy78 Chapman to rest in peace on my dad’s birthday, who passed in 2005 from cancer on his birthday,” he wrote. “Also I want to break some EVE records this time.” Players are already promising to be there.