Backlash over SMITE Minor League announcement leads to changes

Yesterday, Hi-Rez announced details for the SMITE Minor League, which is the new name for the Challenger Circuit. While Hi-Rez’s post had a bright outlook on the future of the Minor League, the prizing and invited teams didn’t match up with earlier promises the developer had made, leading to immediate backlash from players.

SMITE Minor League

Empty promises?

In Season 4, Hi-Rez had said the following would happen in Season 5 of the CC:

  • Top Challenger Circuit players will make more money than bottom SMITE Pro League teams
  • Fall 2017 Challenger Circuit relegations were supposed to determine who was guaranteed spots in 2018
  • “Very strong weighting” would be given to the top six SPL teams in 2018

Inconsistencies

Hi-Rez was immediately called out by players like Spacestation Gaming’s Incon and Salsa Squadron’s Bruh for inconsistencies between what was promised and what yesterday’s announcement stated.

  • Salsa Squadron (who placed first in the Challenger Circuit in 2017) and Spacestation Gaming were not invited to the 2018 SMITE Minor League
  • Noble (fifth-seeded 2017 SPL team) and Vigilant (sixth-seeded 2017 SPL team) were not invited back to the SPL or the Challenger Circuit
  • Pay for top CC players, even including prizing, did not match up with earlier estimates

Lastly, concerns arose over players still not being paid for 2017:

Bruh ended his TwitLonger with the statement that “Hopefully Hi-Rez comes to their senses and does something to fix CC and the way they run their esports, otherwise this game is doomed to die.”

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Just hours after Incon, Bruh and other players made their cases, Esports Manager HiRezCooper posted an updated version of the announcement that included changes to “make good on the commitments that were made.”

Prizing will be increased for 1st and 2nd place to $12,500 per split. The top team will also qualify for a $10,000 LAN event where they will earn, at minimum, an additional $4,000.00. This allows the top teams in the SMITE Minor League to earn income more equivalent to Season 4 SPL Minimum levels.

The bottom two SPL teams & the top two Challenger Circuit teams, from Season 4, are automatically invited to the SMITE Minor League for Season 5. Any other team will have to compete through the open bracket + group stage process where the top team (1) from each group will qualify as the final two teams in the league.

We understand there was some confusion today and we wanted to make good on the commitments that were made. Season 5 offers completely new league, broadcasting, and prizing structures and we are very excited for the start of the season!

The adjustments have the approval of Incon, Bruh and other players. But what the heck happened back there?

SMITE Scrub’s take

Hi-Rez fixed the SMITE Minor League problems almost immediately, which is obviously a good thing. But was the ordeal a simple mistake? Or was Hi-Rez trying to pull a fast one and hope nobody noticed?

It’s worth noting that some of the statements were made by HiRezDan, who preceded HiRezCooper in his position. But how do you just forget to invite the top Challenger team from last year? That’s like forgetting to invite 2018 world champs eUnited back in the SPL.

Either way, it looks bad — it looks malicious if Hi-Rez knowingly went back on their earlier statements, and it looks sloppy if the prizing and invited teams were a miscommunication.

However, the announcement did have silver linings like giving the Minor League prime-time weekend broadcast spots on the official Hi-Rez Twitch channel, so perhaps they have their hearts in the right place with the Challenger scene after all.

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