Thoughts on WCS America Premier League Qualifier

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WCS America Premier League Qualifier was filled with controversies. Some were simply unthinkable, given the success of MLG as an experienced eSports tournament organiser. While some were out of their control, and they were given too much stick for these problems.

Totalbiscuit posted this video which sums up some of the key issues in the qualifier.


8:30 – 24:00

First of all, I believe the problems stated by Totalbiscuit are true. They are consistent to what many others who are involved in the WCS America Premier League Qualifier have brought up on various sites. However, that does not mean that I agree completely with his opinion.

512 players cap and double elimination

It is unfair to fault MLG for the participants cap and tournament format. This is because they are asked to organise an online tournament of this scale in such a short notice. As we all know, this new WCS structure was announced all of a sudden and the major stake holders were just as shocked as the fans. The schedule of the qualifiers for WCS America was announced on 10 April 2013 and the players had approximately nine days to register for the qualifier. The qualifier could have been better if more time was allocated to the qualifier itself  instead of just two days. I believe the participants cap and tournament format were affected by the schedule. More time could be scheduled for the actual qualifier itself instead of two.

Double elimination is the right format for the number of participants and the time scheduled.

Entry requirement

There was no entry requirement.

Another words, a bronze league player could compete in the premier league qualifier. To be fair, if there is no participants cap, I’m open to the idea of an open registration. The entry fee was removed after fans accused MLG to try to make a profit. I agree with Totalbiscuit that an entry fee could prevent non-competitive players from taking the limited spots. This is applicable to applications in various industries around the world. For example, it costs $100 to apply for PhD in am university. I doubt any troll will spend the $100 just to create unnecessary trouble for the admins.

“More worthy” players did not get to compete

Some players who claimed to have registered for the qualifier were cut from the 512 participants list.

To be fair, it is hard for me to judge if they indeed officially registered for the qualifier. Furthermore, their conversation with the MLG officials in a chat (assuming it is not fake) only demonstrates the poor organisation of MLG, but does not prove that the players have registered through the right channel.

It is unclear what happens when the number of registrations exceed 512. This is the root of the problem. Is it first come first serve? Or do they subjectively pick 512 players from the pool of applications?

Disqualification

There were a few high profile disqualifications for various reasons.

PhysicsLee was disqualified for hacking who was said to be a known hacker. I am a strong believer in “innocent until proven guilty”. I do not think that the problem is whether he is a known hacker prior the qualification. It is unfair to condemn a player when his account is not officially banned by Blizzard, albeit one can still creates another account which is a separate issue altogether. The allegation of hacking is a serious one and should not be judged based on community feedback only. I agree with MLG’s stand to allow him to compete until he is proven to be a hacker.

The players who were defeated by PhysicsLee protested that they should be entitled to compete in place of him after he was disqualified. Although it is unfair to simply disqualifying PhysicsLee but not recovering the damage done to these players, I think this is an acceptable decision. If MLG had problem to allocate more time, staffs and other resource for the qualifier, then they do not have the capability to fix this. Probably that would have snowballed to other problems if they allowed the affected players to play for the spot. I certainly feel for the affected players.

Another disqualification was given to a Chinese player, Comm, who played in place of another player, FruitBasket. In contrary to what many people, including Totalbiscuit, said, I believe the disqualification was well justified. It is a serious offense to have a player disguised as another and competed. These problems would not have happened if the qualifier was done offline, but sadly an offline qualifier was not possible for obvious reasons.

Hyun was disqualified as he was not allowed to participate in premier league qualifier outside of Korea in Season 1 since he was competing in WCS Korea Premier League. This is straight forward and I believe is a honest mistake by MLG. However, as a top notch eSports organiser, MLG should not make such error. Again, I feel for those who were defeated by Hyun.

Mistakes in brackets

A big bracket is not a reason. This is unforgivable. Period.

Undisclosed results

Sundance DiGiovanni officially stated that the reason to not disclose the results is to make spoiler-free viewing a possibility. I doubt that is the actual reason, but rather it is to sort things out internally before they release the results officially. Either way, it is silly.

wcs-america-season-1

Blizzard should also be responsible for many of the above problems.

Apparently, MLG did not have the capability to deliver the qualifiers and Blizzard should step in as they self-claimed the one who can put things together. The idea of the new WCS structure is a controversial one, as many do not share the optimism of Blizzard. Assuming the suggested benefits will be achieved in a matter of time, the damage done now can offset these benefits. It seems to me that Blizzard wanted Heart of the Swarm to be the turning point for eSports in Starcraft. However, the intention might be good, the execution is definitely poor. The change is too big and too sudden. The announcement should not be done one day prior to the GSL Season 2.

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