Your favorite team. You’ve been rooting for them all season long. When the big tournament rolls around — say, SMITE’s recent Spring Masters event — you watch them play one best of three and… that’s it. They lost. They’re out.
Is this exciting? Knowing a team could go home after their first set? Or is this poor tournament design?
Take Dota 2’s most recent event, the Kiev Major. Instead of just getting right to the eliminations like in SMITE’s Masters event, teams first advanced through the Group Stages. It was four rounds of best-of-three games where teams played opponents with the same win-loss record as them, meaning those who went 3-0 only had to play three sets while those who dropped a set had to play four. The results determined the bracketing for the Main Event, which was single elimination best-of-three games with a best-of-five finals.
This meant that at minimum, even if a team was eliminated at the earliest opportunity, fans could watch them play four sets. Meanwhile, at SMITE’s Spring Masters, Dire Wolves, Isurus, LG and SoaR were all eliminated after just one.
Pern thinks the current system has “no hype” and “group play is so much more exciting.”
But it’s not just about the spectators. Playing more matches allows opponents to adjust to each other’s play style and perhaps come back later in the tournament to beat a team to which they had previously lost.
There are also budding regions like Australia and Latin America that don’t get to scrim North American and European teams regularly due to high ping. How are these scenes supposed to advance when they only get to play experienced teams a handful of times every year?
Of course, there are higher costs involved with running a longer tournament. But aren’t there also profits at stake for maintaining viewership throughout a lengthier event?
It’s certainly food for thought.